Pruning

01-31-2021The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Every branch that bears fruit must be pruned to bear more fruit. A friend of mine has a fruit tree that has been living for a number of years. Every winter the cold weather and heavy breeze kills more than half of the branches and leaves. If he does not prune the dead, it will spread and kill the whole tree. Therefore, he must prune what is wilted to save the rest of the tree. In turn, the tree grows bigger, stronger, and bears more fruit than before. The fruit doesn’t only multiply, but they are much more pleasing in their flavor.

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Favorite Scripture Passage

01-24-2021The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

During a parish Adult Formation Class in Washington, D.C. the question was asked, "In your time of discouragement, what is your favorite Scripture passage?"

A young man said, "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want" Psalm 23:1. A middle age woman said, "God is my refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" Psalm 46:1. Another woman said, "In this world you shall have tribulations, but be of good cheer, I have overcome this world" John 16:33-35.

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The Floodlight that Illuminates Jesus

01-17-2021The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

The Holy Spirit's distinctive role is to fulfill what we may call a floodlight ministry in relation to the Lord Jesus.

I remember walking to Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one winter evening to preach on the words, "He will glorify me" (John 16:14). Seeing the building floodlit as I turned a corner I realized that this was exactly the illustration my message needed.

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Remove Stumbling Blocks

01-10-2021The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

A lady in the north of Ireland said that every time she got down before God to pray, five cases of Irish Whiskey came up before her mind. She had taken them wrongfully one time when she was a housekeeper, and had not been able to pray since. She was advised to make restitution by her pastor, Father Hearn.

"But the person is dead," she said. "Are not some of the heirs living?" "Yes, a son." "Then go to that son and pay him back."

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Temptations

01-03-2021The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Think how many temptations we might face in an ordinary day.

Growling at the breakfast table - the temptation to unkindness.

Arguing over who should change the baby this time - the temptation to selfishness.

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Christmas Service

12-27-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

As we begin a new calendar year let me offer some thoughts about making Christian Service a joy.

An amusing story was told to me by the retired manager of a New York hotel which hosted many large Catholic functions. The great Paderewski occupied a suite there a number of years ago during one of his seasons at Carnegie Hall. It was his custom to practice for a couple of hours every morning on the magnificent instrument that he had brought with him.

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Light is more powerful than darkness.

12-20-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Christmas can still arrive when you least expect it, sometimes in the most unexpected manner. A priest friend of mine relates a story of an elderly woman named Stella Thornhope who was struggling with her first Christmas alone. Her husband had died just a few months prior through a slow developing cancer. Now, several days before Christmas, she was almost snowed in by a brutal weather system. She felt terribly alone--so much so she decided she was not going to decorate for Christmas.

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Act with Generosity

12-13-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Two hundred years ago, in the early 19th Century, as astonishing as it may seem, Christmas in Great Britain had become almost extinct.

The Times newspaper did not mention Christmas once between 1790 and 1835. Not once!

However, Charles Dickens was instrumental in reviving Christmas during the Victorian era. He wrote his book A Christmas Carol in 1843 for several reasons.

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Five Smooth Stones

12-06-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

In 1 Samuel 17, we have the thrilling story of David, the modest shepherd boy who slew Goliath, the arrogant giant of Gath. The drama of that event so occupies our attention that the spiritual lessons contained in the more minute details may escape our notice.

Today, therefore, I'd like to consider the  importance of the expression "five smooth stones."  Why more than one stone? Wasn't David a man of faith? Did he doubt that God would give him perfect timing and aim as he used his trusty sling to take on the enemy of the Lord? (Certainly he needed only a single small pebble to accomplish his mission.

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Bring Sin into the Light

11-29-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Sin demands to have a person be alone. It withdraws the individual from the community. The more isolated a person is, the more destructive will be the power of sin over him or her, and the more deeply the person becomes involved in it, the more disastrous is the isolation.

Sin wants to remain unknown. It shuns the light. In the darkness of the unexpressed, it poisons the whole being of a person.

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The Long Process of Healing

11-22-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

Healing takes time, patience and determination to persevere through the long process of healing.

It’s not easy, but it is the reality of the healing process.

A good friend recently told me his own experience with the healing process of his right knee. About two years ago he had a total right knee replacement. When his knee started acting up and hindering his walking he wanted his knee to be better right now - not tomorrow. He wanted a microwave healing. He wanted immediate results from his first surgery. He wanted it fixed now, because he had things to do and he was tired of waiting for it to heal!

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The Holy Spirit brings forth Charisms

11-15-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church. He gives life, he brings forth different charisms (gifts) which enrich the people of God and, above all, he creates unity among believers: from the many he makes one body, the Body of Christ. The Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy Spirit; he fulfills all things.

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Your Choice

11-08-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Dear Friend,

A man named Peter inherited a huge land grant, but the will provided that he could choose land in either Chile or Brazil. He chose Brazil. Unhappily, if he had chosen Chile, he would have received his inheritance in land on which they had recently discovered uranium, gold and silver. But he chose Brazil.

When he arrived in Brazil he had to choose between receiving his inheritance in a coffee plantation or land with Brazil nut trees. He chose the nut trees, and immediately the bottom fell out of the nut market, but coffee futures went up two dollars a pound. The government took control of the nut farm for back taxes, and Peter was left destitute.

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Taters

11-01-2020The Pastor's PenFr. Matthew R. Paratore, S.T.L., J.C.L.

Here is a little simple meditation. It is about "Taters."

Some people are very bossy and like to tell others what to do, but don't want to soil their own hands. Too many chiefs and not enough Indians. They are called "Dick Taters".

Some people never seem motivated to participate, but are just content to watch while others do the work. They are called "Speck Taters".

Some people never do anything to help, but are gifted at finding fault with the way others do the work. They are called "Comment Taters".

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