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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Leaving a Lasting Impact

01-31-2021Gospel Meditation© LPi

Most of us are quiet people who desire to live a good and holy life, promote the values and mission of the Gospel as best we can and desire to one day inherit the surprise of life eternal God promises to us. We are not trail blazers. We are simple people who want to do the simple things of life well. But there are others who left a more profound impact along the way of the paths they walked. Folks like Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King, Thomas Merton, Gandhi, St. Teresa of Calcutta, and many others left lasting impacts and legacies. Like Moses, they show us by word and deed who God is and what integrity and a purpose driven life look like. They show us how to be holy. We need Moses people like these to give us inspiration, hope and an example of holy living.

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Give Until It Hurts

01-24-2021Everyday Stewardship - Recognize God in Your Ordinary MomentsTracy Earl Welliver, MTS

One of the characteristics of Everyday Stewardship is to be committed — to persevere daily in a way of life acknowledging that everything belongs to God. I know, I know. Easier said than done.

Just ask Zebedee. It’s quite an image we get from the Gospel, after all. “So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.” There was Zebedee, about his business, mending nets with his two sons, who were undoubtedly his best workers, they had to have been more dedicated than the hired men, who worked for wages rather than for family. And in an instant off they go, following this strange man.

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The Challenge of Living

01-24-2021Gospel Meditation© LPi

It was a normal day by all accounts, but John just wasn’t feeling himself. He was a little lightheaded and out of sorts. Later in the afternoon, he experienced a sharp pain in his chest and arm. Quick thinking and action brought John to the emergency department with a diagnosis of a significant heart attack. Surviving this ordeal, he found himself face to face with his cardiologist, having an honest conversation about things that needed to change. “I came close to death,” John found himself thinking.

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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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Come and You Will See

01-17-2021Gospel Meditation© LPi

Our faith is not just about ideas. It's really about having an encounter with God and, in particular, the Risen Christ! Once w e give ourselves over to the notion of God's presence, w e have to train ourselves to listen for God's voice and b e attentive to God's call. Having companions on our faith journeys is so incredibly important as they can help us fine-tune our listening skills and discern God's voice from others w e may be hearing. Faith is all about having these profound encounters not only with God but with our brothers and sisters, and creation itself. Anyone or anything that is alive with God's presence becomes an occasion for God to speak and call us to deeper graces and experiences. "Come, and you will see."

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The Baptism of the Lord

01-10-2021Gospel Meditation

We need history. We need it in order to understand ourselves, personally and collectively. The pieces of our histories may not have always been the most positive, honest, exemplary, dignified, proud and best moments of our lives, but they are ours. We have to acknowledge, remember, accept, and often heal them. We cannot forget them or pretend that they never existed. As horrible as the atrocities of events like Auschwitz, brutal injustices committed throughout the human journey, or personal painful experiences in our own stories, we need to remember. These times when humanity in general or people in particular have lost their way are times that need to be reconciled and redeemed.

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When God Whispers

01-10-2021Everyday Stewardship - Recognize God in Your Ordinary Moments

“You don’t need to shout. My hearing works just fine.”

Are you a parent that has used that one on your kids? I’m not sure at what age they realize that the volume of their voice doesn’t correlate to the likelihood of receiving a favorable reply — it might be sometime in the teenage years, when the talking slows down altogether. But I’ve got to admit, it would be nice if God always gave us a loud and dramatic sign when He wanted something — the booming voice and the torn-open heavens (“This is my beloved Son!”) really get the message across. Sometimes I find myself envious of the Apostles, who were able to witness such things in person.

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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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Wise Men See God in the Simple Things

01-03-2021Everyday Stewardship - Recognize God in Your Ordinary Moments

If you’re on social media, you have probably seen a meme going around that features this quote: “God has a plan for your life. The enemy has a plan for your life. Be ready for both. Just be wise enough to know which one to battle and which one to embrace.” There were certainly two competing plans for the Magi: God’s and Herod’s. And, wise as they supposedly were, it wasn’t entirely easy for the Magi to discern which was which.

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The Epiphany of the Lord

01-03-2021Gospel Meditation© LPi

“Where is that thing?” mumbled Bob as he searched frantically on his dimly lit desk for the current electric bill. “I know I put it right on top of these papers this morning!” Growing in frustration and bordering on anger, he flies stuff around, moves books and opines why simple tasks need to be so hard. Enter his wife, who calmly says, “Maybe it would help if you put the light on, dear.” The desk light goes on and lo and behold, there is the electric bill right where Bob left it earlier. All it took was a little light!

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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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Brilliant: 25 Catholic Scientists, Mathematicians, and Supersmart People by Warren David

01-01-2021Recommended Reading

Think faith and science don’t go together? Think again! It’s important to teach children at a young age that faith and science are complementary! Too many people today—adults and children—think that faith and science don’t go together. In fact, many people who leave the Catholic Church report that they don’t believe faith is compatible with science. Sadly, one study found that the median age of people who leave the Church is surprisingly young: thirteen.

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