I have been writing this column for almost three years. I think that this is the second time when I am asking you, dear readers, for direct feedback. I would like to know how you react when I mention a “podcast”? I think that there may be some (or many) readers who, when they read the word “podcast,” respond by saying or thinking, “Why does he keep talking about podcasts? I don’t even know what a podcast is!”
The official title of the song is “One Spirit, One Church.” The song’s more popular or well-known name is “Come Holy Ghost,” and often, the first stanza (quoted above) is omitted. Personally, I like it when the song begins with “We are a pilgrim people …” because it can remind us that we do, indeed, believe that, as Christians, we are a “pilgrim people;” traveling together on a journey that we believe will lead us to our “true home,” God’s Kingdom in Heaven.
“Convergence is a sign of the Holy Spirit.” I learned that phrase from a priest who taught me in high school and who has become a mentor and friend. I am not sure whether it is a theological opinion that has been developed over the centuries or if it is a more “personal belief” of my priest friend, but I think a theological argument could certainly be made that particular things “coming together” (convergence) could very well be a sign of the guidance and presence of the Holy Spirit. That phrase has come to my mind and entered my prayer at various times, and this coming Saturday, June 24, 2023, is one of those occasions.
In the tenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, we hear of the Mission (v. 1–4) and Commissioning (v. 5–15) of the 12 apostles. As Jesus sends out (commissions) his apostles, he also warns them, in verses 16–25, of “coming persecutions” and, in verses 26–33, tells them three times (v. 26, 28, and 31) “do not be afraid” when persecution comes.
Idecided to include this lengthy quote from one of St. Augustine’s best-known sermons because I was originally “looking” for the last line, “Be what you see; receive what you are.” Those few words are one of the reasons why this sermon is so often quoted. I felt that it would be better to include the longer quote so that readers who may be unfamiliar with the (full) sermon could hear some of what led up to the “famous line.” The quote above is about one-third of the full sermon. I encourage readers to follow the link and read the text of the full sermon.
Each year the Church gives us the beautiful “Easter Season” — the 50 days (seven weeks) when we celebrate the Joy of the Resurrection. During the Easter Season, both on Sundays and weekdays, we hear the Gospel accounts of Jesus appearing to his apostles and others after he had risen from the dead. In the First Reading at Mass during the Easter Season, we hear the story of the early Church from the Acts of the Apostles.
Jesus continues to “walk with us” on the journey of our lives and the journey of faith. A few weeks ago, on the third Sunday of Easter, we heard these words from Luke’s Gospel, the story of the “Road to Emmaus.” I hope that we all took the opportunity to prayerfully ask ourselves whether and how often we “invite” Jesus into our lives, as they did, with the words, “Stay with us.” We can also ask ourselves, are we truly open to “encounter” Him at Mass, as they did on their journey, both in His word, “… he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the scriptures…” and in the Eucharist, His “real presence,” as they recognized Him, “in the breaking of the bread”?
I hope that readers of this column are aware that we recently started a “Diocesan Podcast” called Beyond The Beacon. For readers who have already begun listening to or watching (on YouTube) the podcast, I hope that you can appreciate that a podcast is one more way in which we can share some of the “good news” about the Church in our Diocese. I also hope that you can see the podcast as a “format” that can potentially be a more “interactive” way to both share and discuss “news” that affects us as individuals, families, and communities of faith.
One of my prayer intentions on “World Day of Prayer for Vocations” in 2023 is that, as we continue to “emerge” from the pandemic, some of what we have all experienced during these past three years will lead women and men who are being called to follow Jesus as consecrated religious or priests. We should all be praying that those who are being called will be able to “hear” that call and respond with a generous, courageous, and faith-filled “Yes.”
In times past, the Second Sunday of Easter was called Domenica in Albis since the newly baptized, the neophytes, would put aside their baptismal garments on this Sunday. The Second Sunday of Easter was also called formerly “Low” Sunday, probably as a comparative for the highest liturgical ranking day of all, Easter Sunday. Today, the second Sunday of Easter is that of Divine Mercy, according to the indication of the Roman Missal. For centuries (at least as far back as the 1570 Missal of Pius V), on the Second Sunday of Easter, the Church has proclaimed the Gospel passage that is sometimes referred to as the Gospel of “Doubting Thomas,” John 20:19–31.
In preparing for Holy Week and Easter, I came across the issue of The Beacon, which was published on April 9, 2020. It was the “Easter Issue” for that year which, due to the pandemic, would become our first “virtual” Holy Week and Easter. You can see below that, in that issue, a Letter from Bishop Serratelli to his priests was printed on page 3. As I read Bishop Serratelli’s letter, I was struck by the power and beauty of his message, not only to the priests but to the whole Diocese during those most challenging of days.
On the first full day of spring, Tuesday, March 21, a beautiful morning — the sun was shining, and the sky was blue — I had the opportunity to drive to Franklin in Sussex County for an event called “March for Meals.” The event was being hosted by our Catholic Charities Center in Franklin and celebrating more than 20 years of partnership between Catholic Charities of our Diocese of Paterson and “Meals on Wheels.”
I am not sure if there is a “rule” or “standard” that establishes something as an “annual tradition,” but as I move towards the completion of my third year as bishop and as I have done some things for the third consecutive year, I get the sense that some things could become an “annual tradition.” At this time last year, I wrote a column about “Opening Day” of the Baseball Season and the “hope that springs eternal.”
Today we celebrate and give thanks for the preaching of the Gospel as we celebrate the great “Apostle to the Irish,” St. Patrick. So many of us here today give thanks for the way in which that Good News of the Gospel has been passed down through generations of the Irish people. We also recognize the ways in which the Irish people and missionaries have shared the Good News in many places throughout the world, all the way to Morristown, here in our beloved Diocese of Paterson, as well as in our great State of New Jersey and throughout these United States.
This past Saturday, March 4, I was blessed to celebrate Mass at our Diocesan Catechetical Conference. You can see and learn more about the Conference from the pictures and article in this week’s Beacon on page 4 and on our social media. In the years before 2020, the annual Catechetical Conference was always well attended. We had a “virtual conference” in 2021 and a “hybrid” conference in 2022, with limited attendance in person and a larger attendance virtually. Therefore, this was my first time, as bishop, to be able to celebrate Mass at the Conference. I would have been happy to celebrate Mass for our catechists and catechetical leaders at any location, but this year I had the privilege of presiding at Mass on the grounds of St. Elizabeth University, Convent Station. Our Diocese received the additional blessing of being hosted by the University staff and the Sisters of Charity of St. Elizabeth.
It is always a blessing to hear and share the “Good News” of the Gospel. It is also a great privilege to be able to share good news about “The Good News.” With the renewal of the Church that began at the Second Vatican Council, we have re-captured an important part of the Church’s life and growth from the very beginning.
Do you remember the last time you heard those words? If the words sound familiar, that probably means you have recently celebrated the Sacrament of Reconciliation or “went to confession.” The words could also be familiar if you try to go to confession (as we believe we should) at least once a year.
I recalled writing a column last year encouraging readers to consider attending daily Mass, and I thought that I had written it in anticipation of the Season of Lent. I was a little surprised when I looked back in my files and realized that I had used the same title that was in my mind when I thought about writing a column in anticipation of Lent in this year of 2023. I thought about choosing a different title but then decided that some things are “worth repeating,” which led to my adding: (Part 2). You might also call this “Same title, different column.”
I could have begun this column with a shorter quote or even a citation, “Jn. 1: 35–43,” and encouraged readers to look up the passage. I chose to print the full text because I would like to ask two things from each reader. First, please find some time to bring this passage to prayer, reflecting on how you have experienced the “call” of Jesus in your own life and praying for those whom Jesus is calling, particularly to serve the Church as priests or in consecrated life. Second, can you prayerfully consider how you might serve in the role of Andrew for someone you know, perhaps even someone in your family? Could an invitation from you help someone to draw closer to Jesus and to “hear” his call, as Andrew’s bringing his brother to Jesus helped Peter to hear and respond to the Lord’s call?
On the weekend of Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 21 and 22, I had the great privilege of celebrating four Masses. Three of those Masses (on Saturday evening at St. Stephen’s Church, in Paterson, on Sunday Morning at our Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, and mid-day at St. Brendan’s Church in Clifton) were special celebrations for the Feast of Our Lady of Altagracia (Highest Grace), the patroness of the Dominican Republic, whose Feast Day is celebrated on Jan. 21.