Our Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Our Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Our Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

“Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be satisfied.” Matthew 5:6.

What does it mean to hunger and thirst for righteousness? The hunger and thirst for righteousness suggests that we are aware that the world around us is not always fair, right or always just. When we are moved by our encounter with the unmet needs of others, we become aware of our hunger and thirst for righteousness. The ability to empathize with other human beings is a part of being human. Our Lady of Hope parishioners consistently demonstrate their empathy and compassion through:

• buying Christmas presents for those listed on our giving trees,
• donating food to the food pantry,
• donating clothes to the St. Vincent de Paul Society,
• buying toiletries for refugees who have arrived in Maine,
• giving money to Catholic relief efforts for areas devastated by hurricanes, and
• expressing solidarity with those experiencing war or violence

And, in many, many other ways.

Responding to Those in Need
Throughout its history, the Catholic Church has sought to respond to those in need. In his book, “Living Justice: Catholic Social Teaching in Action,” Fr. Tom Massaro SJ points to a new perspective. He writes, “The difference is that today, according to the newer model of church activity that emphasizes justice in addition to charity, more church efforts consist of indirect attempts to change social structures (including civil laws and government budget priorities) so that all people may have a better and fairer chance of living a good life.”

In our compassionate and empathic response to those in need around us, we can find common ground, even when otherwise divided by differences of ideology or philosophy. We can move beyond these disagreements to put a common love of neighbor into action. Catholic social teachings over the last century have invited us to look at both addressing the immediate needs we see before us and to begin to address the underlying structures that create and sustain the unfairness in our world, nation, and region.

An Invitation to Notice
Last week, I invited us to use the archeologist’s tools to begin to notice patterns in our lives and society. This week, I’m inviting us to notice specific patterns, the pattern of unfairness and injustice in our society, whether experienced by us personally or experienced by others. To notice our movement to empathy and compassion resulting in a move to action. Finally, beginning to notice whether we feel a call to respond to the immediate need (charity) or the underlying root causes (justice) of the unfairness or injustice.

Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

The Light of Christ in Ordinary Time

The Light of Christ in Ordinary Time

The Light of Christ in Ordinary Time

“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; upon those who dwelt in the land of gloom, a light has shown. You have brought them abundant joy and great rejoicing. Isaiah 9:1-3”

We will hear these words as part of the first reading this Sunday – the Third Sunday in Ordinary time. We also heard them at our Christmas Masses this year. This repetition of the passage reminds me that God’s light is not confined to a political crisis eight centuries before the birth of Jesus; or to a manger in Bethlehem; or to Jesus’ lifetime. This light is present with us at all times and in all places.

In this week’s readings, Jesus is now an adult beginning his public ministry and is calling his first disciples. He has been baptized by John the Baptist, been tempted in the desert, left his hometown of Nazareth and moved to Capernaum.

Perhaps Christ’s light is calling us on similar paths – a call to repent from John the Baptist; familiar temptations to care for oneself and not others, or a temptation to the use of power over and against others. Perhaps the light of Christ is calling us to follow Jesus more closely as he calls Peter, Andrew, James and John today.

On this Third Sunday of Ordinary time, we are about halfway between our celebration of the Christmas season and the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

As the light of Christ illuminates our ordinary lives – what does it show?  Has the joy of Christmas carried forward (if we experienced joy this Christmas) or have we returned to a land of doom? Or perhaps somewhere between a land of joy and a land of gloom?  Have we left the yoke that burdened us or the rod of our taskmasters broken and smashed in the Christmas season? Or, have we taken that yoke – that rod – back on as we have returned to ordinary time.

This brief reflection is not a call to action… Nor is intended to be a criticism of anyone’s life… It is simply an invitation to begin to notice: A reminder that we have carried the light of Christ with us out of the Christmas season and an invitation to take a gentle, compassionate look at our lives in the light of Christ.

One of my great spiritual teachers reminded me that we don’t use dynamite, pick axes, or shovels as we examine our lives – we use the archaeologist’s tools. A small brush to brush away a layer of dirt or dust, a small scaler to scrape away a layer. We notice patterns in our lives and the choices we make.

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing a few other blogs in this space to introduce some programs or events that we will hold during Lent – hopefully some of these programs and events will fit with a space we have discovered in gently looking at our lives in Ordinary Time.

Fr. Brian Conley, SJ

Advent Hope and Healing

Advent Hope and Healing

Advent Hope and Healing

During this season of Advent, our readings at Mass are particularly beautiful expressions of hope and expectation. The imagery is that of light overcoming darkness.  This is not meant to be a remembering of ancient history, but our prayer and reading is intended to awaken hope in our own lives and an awareness of the interplay of darkness and light in our world today and in our personal experiences.

One often-overlooked source of help and blessing is the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

This sacrament is not about judgement or punishment. It is God’s desire to bring healing and renewal to our lives, to lift burdens from our hearts. Give some thought to making Reconciliation a part of your Advent season this year. Praying with one of our parish priests, who also understands the struggles we can all face (priests do, too!) can be a source of comfort and wisdom.

As always, the Sacrament is available on Saturday afternoons from 3:00-3:30 at St. Pius X, or by appointment with one of our priests. During Advent, we also will be celebrating this sacrament at the following special times during the week of December 12th:

ADVENT RECONCILIATION
Monday, December 12th, 6:30-7:30 PM, a priest will be available at St. Pius X Church to celebrate the sacrament.
Wednesday, December 14th, Advent Service of Healing and Reconciliation, 7 PM at St. Pius X Church, with multiple priests available to celebrate the sacrament.
Thursday, December 15th, the sacrament will be celebrated following the 9 AM Mass (9:30 – 10:00 or as long as needed.)

Please join us.

A Break from the Busy

A Break from the Busy

A Break from the Busy

The signs that the season is changing are all around us. I had to scrape my car windows for the first time this morning. People are talking about the first snowfall of the season. The TV ads have changed from politics to Christmas. But what season are we entering? In the secular world, we have already entered the Christmas season with an emphasis on gift giving, parties, and connections with family and friends. We all know that this makes the month between Thanksgiving and December 25th a busy and hectic time. This secular Christmas time ends on December 25.

In the Catholic world, we are entering the season of Advent. This coming Sunday, we celebrate the feast of Christ the King – the last Sunday of the Liturgical year with the First Sunday of Advent bringing in the next year. Descriptions of the Advent season often include words like “expectant waiting,” “reflective preparation,” and “solemn.” In ancient times, the Advent season lasted 40-days, much like Lent. In the Catholic Christian world, the Christmas season begins on December 24 and ends on January 6th with the feast of the Epiphany (the 12 days of Christmas that we will sing about between now and December 24!).

Our Lady of Hope, Cheverus High School, and the Ignatian Partnership of Maine are offering a way to make space for the reflective, preparatory aspects of Advent without completely forgoing the fun and connections found in the secular Christmas season. We don’t want to give you more to do in this time – to make a busy season even busier. Instead, we want to give you a 15-minute break from the busy each day – a time to stop and reflect on the Gospel readings of the day as the Church prepares for the coming of Christ. We will introduce two styles of prayer important in Ignatian Spirituality – Ignatian Contemplation and Lectio Divina.

In addition, we are inviting you to share the journey with others through two sessions of small group faith sharing. We invite you to integrate the prayer experience into your life by meeting with a spiritual director twice. These times will serve as a small introduction to these practices for those who have not done them before and an opportunity to deepen the experience for those familiar with these practices.

We hope you will register and join us for an orientation session on Monday November 28th, at 7 PM on Zoom. To get started, you’ll find the registration here at this link.

Brian Conley, SJ

November: Giving Thanks for All Saints, All Souls

November: Giving Thanks for All Saints, All Souls

November: Giving Thanks for All Saints, All Souls

November begins with the celebration of All Saints and All Souls and ends with the celebration of the fulfillment of God’s dream and the celebration of all things coming together in Christ, the feast of Christ the King.

The Feast of All Saints on November 1, is a Holy Day when we give thanks, and celebrate the lives of saints known and unknown to us – saints who have walked among us, leading us on paths of goodness. This day gives us the wonderful reminder that there have been others who have faced great challenges of their time and stayed true to their mission on earth. We can find much inspiration in the lives of the saints.

The month of November is also traditionally a time in which the Catholic community remembers those who have died and holds them in a special place of prayer. It is related to the fact that the end of November is the end of the Liturgical Year, with a new year starting the First Sunday of Advent – the four-week period of preparation before Christmas. The Church then uses this end of the year period as a time to think of the end of life and the end of all things and the great hope that our earthly end is transition into a new life in God’s heavenly reality.

We give thanks for those who have gone before us and we look with prayer and hope to their new life in heaven and our desire to join them there one day. At each Mass in both churches this month we are specially remembering people whose names you have given us and have been placed on the altars at St. Joseph and St. Pius. In addition, we invite you to write the names of your loved ones in our memorial books. These can be found in the foyer at St. Pius X and at the head of the aisle (Stevens Ave door) at St. Joseph. These books will be carried forward at all weekend Masses and placed on the altar.

And, perhaps at your Thanksgiving table you might include stories of remembrance of joyful times – and give thanks for God’s Grace that has carried you through.

Listening in Prayer

Listening in Prayer

Listening in Prayer

“What is God’s love? It is not something vague, some generic feeling. God’s love has a name and a face: Jesus Christ.” – Pope Francis

THE MISSION CONTINUES –  If you, or someone you know, has ever considered serving God’s people, the Church, as a Jesuit, then the Society of Jesus invites you to pray and discern if your passions and desires may lead you to a life with us.
For almost 500 years Jesuits have been serving the Church as “men on mission.”  Through prayer, we aim to orient our own passions and desires with God’s desires for the Church and the world.
To explore if God is calling you to serve in Christ’s mission as a Jesuit brother or priest, please visit our Vocation Website BeAJesuit.org. We are ready to help you to discern our Jesuit life, AMDG Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (“to the Greater Glory of God”).

Eucharistic Adoration and Prayer
The USA East Province of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) are uniting in prayer in the Real Presence of Jesus on the weekend of November 5th and 6th – up and down the East Coast. Here, on Sunday evening November 6th, following the Sunday 5:00 PM Mass, Fr Brian Conley, SJ will lead a half hour of Eucharistic Adoration and prayer at St. Joseph Church. This is a good time to bring to the Lord any concern or joy you may have in your heart.

Along with our personal prayers, we will be asking the Holy Spirit to guide those men and woman who may be discerning a call to serve the Church as priests religious or pastoral leaders. We especially invite prayers for those whom God may be drawing to consider the Society of Jesus (Jesuits) as a vocation. Is the Lord inviting you, a member of our parish, to follow Him in one of these ways? 
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