Saturday, November 18, 2017

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, November 19th, 2017

Twenty-Third Sunday after Trinity, November 19th, 2017

"For our citizenship is in Heaven;"  (Philippians 3:17 ff)

Whenever we go somewhere out of town such as on a day trip or we are travelling to another state, my wife is "amazed"  . . . . my choice of word, not hers . . . . at how fast we get there.  She says I drive fast.  I don't think I drive that fast.  Well, I try not to because:  A) I'm too scared of getting pulled over and getting a ticket; and B) I can't afford the ticket.  Let's just put it this way:  when I start driving I continue driving and driving and driving.  I keep my mind focused on our destination and I don't let anything get between me and where I'm going.  Well, of course there are things that always show you down no matter what:  slow-down's  due to construction . . . or a crash . . . or a stalled vehicle.  Then there are also detours that might slow you down as well.  And you always have to make allowances for bathroom breaks and getting something to eat while you are on the road.  But to the determined driver such as myself, these are only minor inconveniences on the road towards my destination.  Remember that song "Ain't No Mountain High Enough?"  I like the version by Diana Ross best, I think.  But the lyrics in this song demonstrate the determination in a human being to get to the destination:  "Ain't no mountain high enough .   . . . . Ain't no valley low enough    .. . . . . Ain't no river wide enough . . . to keep me from getting to you."   All of us are determined in something, aren't we?  Some of us are determined to get to our destination far away.  Some of us are determined to get promoted or to get another position where we work.  Some of us are determined to obtain a certain item that we would like to possess; whether that item be a new pair of sneakers or a new appliance or a new house.  We save and we work overtime and we cut corners so that we can earn the money to get what we want.  Again, all of us can think of something where we are determined to get something and we will not let anything or anyone get in our way.

In the Third Chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Philippians, St. Paul is reminding the young church who and what they truly are:  "For our citizenship is in Heaven."  In other words, your feet may be here on earth but you need to remember that your heart should be in Heaven.   Let me say that again just so it will sink in:  we need to remember that our heart should be in Heaven and NOT here on earth.  For so many people, their heart is anywhere BUT Heaven.  Their heart is in their possessions . . . their treasures . . . their riches.  Their heart is in their career or getting promotions or getting wealthier.  Their heart is in getting high or drunk.  "For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."  (St. Matthew 6:21)  St. Paul is reminding all of us that our true citizenship is in Heaven and we should keep our mind focused accordingly.  Too many of us forget that fact because our minds get too occupied on the latest distraction that the world throws our way.  Do you ever notice that us human beings are never content?   We never seem to be happy . . . at least for very long.  We get focused on one thing and we work and work and work until we get whatever we were working on.  And we are satisfied for about .. . . . . oh, a minute or two . . . . and then our mind gets diverted to something else that grabs our attention for the time being.  St. Paul is saying to each one of us:  "Hey!  You are a citizen of Heaven!  You are a child of the Most High!  You already have a mansion waiting for you up above!  Why are you messing around with this nonsense down here?"  Let our prayer be today that we keep focused on who we are and what we are.  Let us not get our attention diverted from the fact that our true citizenship is in Heaven and keep our minds focused on that fact.

St. Margaret Church meets each and every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM.  Come hear the Word of God preached from the King James Version and the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  Join us as we receive the Precious Body and Blood of Our Blessed Saviour at Communion time.  We worship at the beautiful chapel at Marquette Manor, which is located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity, November 12, 2017

Twenty-Second Sunday after Trinity, November 12, 2017

". . . . that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment
(Philippians 1:3 ff)

The Epistle to the Philippians has been called by some the "Epistle of Joy" because it is in this epistle that St. Paul makes the point that he does rejoice.  As such, he is asking the Philippians the question, "Do you rejoice?"  Being joyful is certainly a human emotion.  We are joyful just as we are sad.  We are happy just as we are angry.  Depending of course on our mood and circumstances, we can experience just about any mood.  For example, I may be anxious and joyful about going to Opening Day of the baseball season and then I find out the weather forecast calls for Storms all day.  As a result I am then disappointed and sad instead of happy and joyful.  Again, human beings have the potential to "love" all kinds of things, don't we?  We "love" food, for instance.  If you would ask me the question as to what kinds of food do you enjoy, more than likely I would respond:  "Oh, I just love fried chicken."  Or I might say that I love to eat German food.  Again, it is not limited to food as to what we "love."   If someone happens to mention a show out of the blue that you like and you jump in, "Oh, I just love that show!"  "I just love that move."  Human beings tend to "love" all kinds of things:  fads . . . . clothing . . . shoes. . . .  food . . . . Hollywood stars . . . . sports teams . . . . hobbies . . . .  We could go on and on.  We love what we are interested in.  We love what brings us joy and satisfaction.  We love the things that entertain us.  St. Paul is telling us though to remember that true love is realized in the things of God as opposed to the things in the world.  Yes, there are things in the world that do bring us joy.  There are things in the world that do satisfy us for a time.  But true love and true satisfaction only resides in our relationship with God.  As such our true joy and contentment will also be found in letting others know about our love for God.  Have you ever been to a wonderful restaurant and you were so pleased with the food, also with the service, perhaps even with the price of the meal.  And you just couldn't wait to tell somebody about your experience.  The same thing happens when you see a movie or a show that you truly enjoy.  You just can't wait to tell others about your experience:  "Hey, let me tell you about a great movie I saw last night .  . . ."   This is only natural for human beings:  to share their experience of life.  Thus, St Paul is telling us as he was telling the Philippians, Let your joy be shared among others.  Let others know why you are joyful.  Share with one another the joy that you have.  And of course our joy as Christians is our love for God Himself.   All the joys . . .  all the satisfactions that this world has to offer are only temporary.   The things we love in this world are not meant to be long-lasting:  either they will wear out . . .  or they will break . . .  or they will rust away . .  . but the love that God offers us is everlasting.   In this should we find our true love.  It is the love of God that we should find our real love in . . .  our real contentment . .  our real satisfaction.  So many of us find our satisfaction solely in the things of the world.  This is a mistake because we can not take the "things of the world" with us when we die.  The only thing that we can carry over to the next life is our love of God.  Let us use our time wisely in this world to develop a love for the things of God and not for the things of the world.

St. Margaret Church meets each and every Sunday at 9:30 AM.  We worship God in the beautiful chapel at Marquette Manor, located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.  Please feel free to join us as we gather together to worship Our Heavenly Father and listen to His Word.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

St. Gemma Galgani

"Who is St. Gemma Galgani?," you might be asking yourself.  I certainly understand because I was asking the same question close to thirty years ago when I was still a young seminarian at St. Charles Borromeo in Philadelphia.  When I first began my career at St. Charles I had met a seminarian, who was in one of the years below me.  I believe he was in First or Second College.  And somehow we got on the conversation of Padre Pio, whom I had a great devotion to at the time . . . and still do . . . . maybe I gave this seminarian a holy card of Padre Pio, I do not remember the exact circumstances beyond that but he asked me a very simple question, "Have you ever heard of St. Gemma Galgani?"  Well, to be honest, no, I had not heard about St. Gemma Galgani.  This seminarian went on to tell me what he knew about St. Gemma.   Certainly, the thing that piqued my interest was the fact that she had the Stigmata of Our Lord.  Back then, keep in mind, this was before the Internet was available to the masses, so to speak.    So, information was not as readily available nor certainly as easy or as quickly to obtain as it is now with the advent of search engines like Yahoo and Google.  So I found out information about St. Gemma the old-fashioned way:  I went down to the library and I looked up some information about our dear St. Gemma.   I found out that she wanted with all her heart to become a nun.  But due to health issues and other factors, she was not able to fulfill her dream of joining a religious order.  I also learned that she received the gift of the Stigmata.  In other words, she bore the Wounds of Our Lord after the Crucifixion.   And, finally, I learned that she had a love for the Cross of Our Lord, a love for His Sorrowful Passion.  Through her suffering, she grew to appreciate the suffering that Our Lord suffered on our behalf, to atone for our sins. 

Certainly, all of these things were very impressive.  St. Gemma has so much to teach to each one of us, but only if we will take the time to listen about Our Lord's Passion and His Cross.  St. Gemma can teach us, yes, but again, this will take place only if we make the point to listen and pay attention.  The lesson that St Gemma wants to teach us is  that we should run to the Cross and not run away from the Cross.  So often in life we do everything we can to avoid the crosses in our lives.  We do not want to suffer.  We do not want to bear pain.  We do not want to deal with negative things in our life.  And all of this, quite frankly, is understandable.  None of us wants to deal with pain and suffering.  And, yet, St. Gemma teaches us that in every life there is joy and yet there is also suffering.  And St. Gemma shows  us the gift of dealing with suffering and pain when it does come into our life.  Because it is through our pain, our misery, our trials and tribulations, . ..  it is through these things that we get a small glimpse into what Our Blessed Lord suffered on our behalf:  He dealt with pain, with loss, with rejection, with humiliation, with suffering. . . .  He dealt with everything that we deal with in life . . . and more!   Thus, we learn from Our Lord how to be patient with our suffering.  This is the lesson that St. Gemma learned and this is the lesson that St. Gemma teaches us . . .   if only we make a point to pay attention.  You see, suffering is a part of life.  Each one of us will deal with tragedy at one point or another.  Each one of us will have to endure pain.  Each one of us may have to endure humiliation and suffering at some point or another.  And, as stated earlier, it is our first reaction to run from these things.  And, yet, Our Lord did not run when He was faced with suffering, with rejection, with pain, with misery.  He accepted it and moved forward.  So, too, we must embrace our own personal crosses in life.  It is often through the our crosses that we not only grow stronger but also learn from them as well.

On a personal level, St. Gemma has been so good to me.  As I moved through my years of the seminary, and courses and course-work seemed to get more and more difficult, I could always feel St. Gemma praying for me and sending her heavenly assistance to me in times of need.  She pointed out Christ to me in His Passion.  She helped me to appreciate my own personal crosses as never before.  And she assisted me when I asked her to pray for me.   In St. Gemma, I felt as though I had a special friend in Jesus.  Ever since I learned about her, she has become very dear to me. 

Some people question why we should have devotion to the saints.  It is a fair question and my answer would be a simple one:  the saints help to inspire us to greatness; the saints lead us closer to God not only through their words but also through the way in which they led their lives; and, finally, the saints become our friends, our companions on this journey called life.  St. Gemma has indeed become a very dear companion to me on my Christian journey.  She has assisted me when I found myself in times of difficulty.  She led me closer to God through her inspiration.  She has helped me to find the courage and the strength to stay close to the Cross of Our Saviour and to not run away. 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, November 5th, 2017

Twenty-First Sunday after Trinity, November 5th, 2017

"Put on the whole armour of God"  (Ephesians 6:10 ff)

In this Sixth Chapter of St. Paul's Epistle to the Ephesians, we hear St. Paul finishing up his epistle (or his letter) to the church at Ephesus.  St. Paul is doing his best to encourage the young church to face the world and all the dangers the world offers.  Certainly, we in our own day and age need this encouragement as well.   If anything, the devil is working overtime to do what he can to try to secure his "kingdom" here on the earth.  He does that very simply by taking our attention away from God.   How can we focus on God and doing God's will when we are so busy focusing on the many diversions placed along our path:  riches . . .  money . . .  power . . . possessions (whether they be clothing, or expensive shoes, or electronics, or cars, etc.  . . . . . television . . . movies . . .  the internet . . . .  drugs . . . . alcohol . . .  The list of distractions that Satan places in our path seems to grow generation by generation.   He does everything he can to divert our attention away from God.  As a result, just as St. Paul was reminding the Ephesians, so too is he reminding us:  "Put on the whole armour of God!"

St. Paul is using the image of a soldier and as such he is describing everything the soldier either wears or possesses in order to help keep him safe.  St. Paul writes that we should put on this "armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the devices of the devil."  Satan is certainly crafty, if nothing else.  Give credit where credit is due.  The devil has made his "devices" that keep us away from God to be so appealing, to be so enticing, we can not but run to them . . . to want them . . . to desire them.  And as such it becomes that much more difficult to resist them.  All the more reason, St. Paul writes, to put on the whole armour of God:  " . . .  take the armour of God that you may be able to stand against them in the evil day . . . ."  Soldiers wear what they wear to help protect them in battle.  Soldiers use weapons in battle to secure the upper hand, so to speak.   So, too, we are in a battle.  Make no mistake about it.  St. Paul used this imagery to remind the Ephesians just as we need to be reminded:  we are in a battle . . . . a spiritual battle.  And, as such, we need to be protected just as any soldier is in battle.  We need to "put on the whole armour of God" to help protect us as well as we fight Satan and his minions here on earth.

"Stand with truth as a belt about your waist."  Jesus Christ is the Truth!  Jesus came to earth to remind us of Our Heavenly Father and how He loves us.  Everything else is fading but God's love will never fade.  Never forget the truth that you possess!  "Put on righteousness as a breastplate."  So many of us in the world today leave ourselves "wide open" to attack by forgetting who we are first and foremost.  We go into the world on a daily basis forgetting that we are "Children of the Most High" and not acting as such.  We are more interested in "fitting in" with every one else by what we wear  . . . and how we talk . . . and how we act  . . .  and what we do.   We ought to be more interested in whether or not we are living by God's standards and not the world's standards.  "Have your feet shod with the readiness to preach the gospel of peace."  We should always be ready to preach.  Preaching the Glory of God not only with our mouth but preaching by the way we live our life.   Just as any preacher or teacher needs to know what he or she is going to say, so too we need to be ready to preach by being prepared.  This preparation requires study of God's Word and a knowledge of Him and what He wants for us in our life.  "Put on the helmet of Salvation."  Always be thankful for the many gifts that God has given you:  the gift of life . . . . the gift of health . . . the gift of having a roof over your head and food on your table.  God gives us many gifts throughout our lifetime.  But the one gift that God gives us that is greater than all of the others combined in the gift of Salvation!  God offers us a gift that is so great it can never be measured.  Always remember this gift.  Always treasure it.  And never take it for granted.

As we go into the world, there are many snares and traps waiting for us.  Let us always be stand ready.  Let us always be prepared.  Let us always use the "armour" that God has seen fit to supply us with.  Let us never go into battle unprepared for what faces us.

St. Margaret Church meets each and every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM to gather together as God's family so that we worship God in a traditional liturgy.  We use the King Jame Version of the Bible.  We also use the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  We listen to what God is saying to us and open our hearts to hear His Word.  And then we receive His Most Precious Body and Blood at Communion time.  We worship at the beautiful chapel at Marquette Manor, located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, October 29th, 2017

Twentieth Sunday after Trinity, Sunday, October 29th, 2017

"So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good:"  (St. Matthew 22:1 ff)

In the Twenty-Second Chapter of the Gospel of St. Matthew, Our Blessed Saviour is telling the story of the king who made a marriage-feast for his son.  Now, as the story goes, Our Lord says that the invited guests "made light" of the invitation and decided not to show up for a variety of reasons:   . . . . . "one to his farm, another to his merchandise . . . ."  Now the fact that none of the invited guests showed up once the feast was ready upset the king greatly.  As a result the king instructed his servants to bring guests to the feast, no matter who they were.  Our Lord continues the story as He relates the instructions of the king to his servants:  "Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests."  Now, there are a number of things we could say about this story but I would like to point out two important considerations:

1)  The first thing I would like to point out in this story is that the servants invited as many as they could  . . . . and Our Lord continues . . . . "both bad and good."  Why would Our Lord make the statement "both bad and good?"  Remember the main reason why Our Lord is telling this story to begin with is that He is comparing it to the Kingdom of God.  So, we should always remember that God has love for both the "bad and good."  Our Lord died on the Cross for both the "bad and good."  And Our Heavenly Father invites both the "bad and good" to be with Him in Heaven.   How often though do we not show love to those whom we deem to be "bad?"  How often in our life do we not reach out to certain people because we think of ourselves as "good" and them "bad?"  Our Lord came to this earth to tell everyone  . . . . both bad and good . . . about the Kingdom of God.  He came to instruct everyone in regards to His Heavenly Father.  He did not come to just save the "good."   He came for the "bad" as well.   If Our Blessed Saviour did not differentiate between who was "good" and who was "bad,"  why should we?

2)  The second consideration we should make point to remember is that the original invited guests did not show up because they were more concerned with other things.  Our Lord states that the original invited guests "made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise . . .  "  How many of us in the world "make light" of God's invitation because we are too concerned with "things of the world."  How many of us are too distracted by things in the world to even pay attention to what God is calling us to?  The world offers so many distractions that catch our attention and divert us away from God.  We need to be always vigilant to stay focused on God and not on the things of the world.  This story should help remind us of the importance of this fact that we should stay focused on "things of above" and not on "things below."

Please join us on Sunday, October 29th, 2017 as we gather together to worship Our Blessed Saviour.  St. Margaret Church meets every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM to listen to the Word of God and to receive the Blessed Body and Blood of Christ at Communion time.  We worship at the beautiful chapel at Marquette Manor, located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.  Please join us.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Nineteenth Sunday After Trinity, October 22nd, 2017

Nineteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 22nd, 2017

". . . that yet henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk" (Ephesians 4:17 ff)

Have you ever been to a restaurant that you have never been to before but you heard rave reviews about it?  Now these rave reviews could have been from critics on the local TV news program or it could have been a published review in the local newspaper or it could have been by word of mouth from your friends or coworkers.  And so you decide to go there simply because you have heard so many great things about the food.  And then once you go there for yourself you decide that it certainly didn't live up to the hype.  It was OK, you say to yourself, but it wasn't any different from any other restaurant.  This could be said of a TV show or a movie as well for that matter.  We read fantastic reviews and hear great things and then we go see it for ourselves and it just doesn't do anything for us.   It was OK, we tell ourselves but it just wasn't any different from the previous ten westerns we saw.  . . or the ten previous romances we saw .  . . . etc.  There are certain things that stand apart from all the rest.  Whether they be great sports teams or great restaurants . . .  . it could be great movies . . . . or great companies to work for . . . .. Even certain "days" will stand out from others.  Holidays such as Christmas or Thanksgiving stand out from the Monday of an ordinary work week, for example.   Your graduation day, . . . the day you were married . . . . Again, these are days that stand out from the rest.

We could go on and on but I think it's clear by now the point that I'm trying to make:  Certain things stand out . . . they are different . . . . they are not like the rest.  Christianity is like that.  Or it is supposed to be like that.  It should be different, St. Paul is writing to the Ephesians.  Now, St. Paul is focusing on the fact that once you become a Christian, you are a new person.  You are a changed person.  You are not as you were previously.  You are a new creature!   "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature; old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."  (II Corinthians 5:17)  When we have Christ in our life, we are new creatures!   It is not the "same old thing."   We view life differently.  We see people differently.  We do not see the world as we previously did.  We see the world now as Christ would have us view the world.   Now let me point out something very important before I go any further.  This is not to say that Christians consider themselves better than anyone else.  St. Paul was not saying that and neither am I.  Christ came to serve and He is calling us to do likewise.  This is certainly part of what sets us apart from the world.  While the rest of the world is focusing on what they can obtain:  power and riches that only the world can offer.  The Christian is focusing on how to do the will of God.   We are called as Christians to stand apart from the world . . .  to be different from the world . . . Christians live in the world, yes, but they are not of the world.  There is certainly a difference between the two:  "living in the world" and "being of the world."   This is why Christians are viewed as hypocrites by their critics when they see Christians acting one way in church and when they get outside of church, they are acting just like everybody else.   "And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness."  (Ephesians 4:24)  We are new.   God has made us new.  Through our baptism, God has washed away our sins.   He has made us a new creature.  We are new in Him!  So many people in the world are simply reflections of the world.  They want to be like everyone else by wearing the same thing . . . the same shoes . . . . the same jeans.  They want to think the same way as everyone else . . . do the same thing as everyone else.  As Christians, we want to do what Christ would do.   We want to reflect the love of God to the world  . . . . not reflect the world in our lives!  People should look at us and tell that we are different.  "Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." (St. Matthew 7:20)

Join us on Sunday morning as we gather together to worship Our Blessed Saviour as family.  St. Margaret Church meets every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM.  We worship at the beautiful Chapel at Marquette Manor, located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.   Join us as we listen to the Word of God found in the King James Version of the Bible and the 1928 Book of Common Prayer.  Join us as we receive the Precious Body and Blood of Christ at Communion time.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 15th, 2017

Eighteenth Sunday after Trinity, October 15th, 2017

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." (St. Matthew 22:34 ff)

In this Twenty-Second chapter of St. Matthew's Gospel, the Pharisees are listening once again to what Our Lord has to say.  Now, bear in mind that St. Matthew tells us first that the Pharisees had heard that Our Lord had put the Sadducees to silence.  Thus, the Pharisees more than likely took this as a challenge.  In other words,  "We can do much better than the Sadducees.  We will take care of this this one once and for all!"   St. Matthew continues on that one of the Pharisees was a lawyer and tempting Our Lord asked Him: "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?"  Now, this was an easy question for Our Lord to answer because every devout Jew would have been known how to answer this question.  This is because Our Blessed Saviour is quoting from Deuteronomy 6:5, which again every devout Jew would have known as the "Shema," which we could describe as the essential or most basic creed of Judaism.  And then Our Lord also quotes Leviticus 19:18 when He says:  "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  Keep in mind that by linking the two verses together He was making the point that we show love for God by the way in which we show love to others.  In other words, Our Lord would ask "How can you say that you love God up in Heaven if you can not even show love to those around you?"  It is a fair question, honestly.  How many times do we hear about tragedies or fights or situations where people are being cruel to others.  In recent memory, we are still questioning why so many people were killed in Las Vegas.  For that matter, why are so many people shot on the streets of Chicago?  Or New York?  Or Memphis?  Or any city that we can think of.  Why is there murder and crime and rape and theft and . . .  . ??????????  Why are there so many examples throughout the world of people hating one another?  If we look back to what Our Lord stated . . . specifically when He quoted Leviticus 19:18 . . . . the answer may be "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  The bottom line is that there is such lack of love in the world because there is a lack of love in regards to God.  Love for others will only increase when we begin to focus more on loving God and desiring to serve God.  Hatred of others . . . whether it results in murder . . . . or jealousy . . .  or theft . . . or gossiping . . . . When we show hatred towards others, it is because we have a lack of love for God.  We must always remind ourselves that we are made in the image of God.  Does this mean that God looks like us?  No, God is certainly not physical in that sense.  So when we speak about being made in the image of God, it is referring to the fact that God is love.  It is when we show love that we reflect the image of God within us.  When we hate others.  When we we are jealous of others.  When we despise others.  This means that we are not reflecting the love of God as we ought.   God calls us to show His face to the world around us.  We do this not only by what we say . .  . but also by how we act . . .  and how we show love to others around us.  Let us reflect the love of God to those around us.  Or should I say let each of us be a better reflection of God to those around us.

St. Margaret Church meets every Sunday morning at 9:30 AM.  We worship at the beautiful chapel at Marquette Manor, located at 8140 N. Township Line Road on the Northwest side of Indianapolis.  Please join us.