Posts by Cathy Raffaele

Parish & Community Events

There are many parish and community activities and event beginning November 17 that are worthwhile.  Please see attached list.

Readings: November 19, 2017, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

All readings from the Message Bible  @ 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31

Hymn to a Good Wife

A good woman is hard to find, and worth far more than diamonds. Her husband trusts her without reserve, and never has reason to regret it.

Never spiteful, she treats him generously all her life long. She shops around for the best yarns and cottons, and enjoys knitting and sewing.

She’s skilled in the crafts of home and hearth, diligent in homemaking. She’s quick to assist anyone in need,  reaches out to help the poor.

Charm can mislead and beauty soon fades. The woman to be admired and praised is the woman who lives in the Fear-of-God.

Give her everything she deserves!  Festoon her life with praises!            

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6

I don’t think, friends, that I need to deal with the question of when all this is going to happen. You know as well as I that the day of the Master’s coming can’t be posted on our calendars. He won’t call ahead and make an appointment any more than a burglar would. About the time everybody’s walking around complacently, congratulating each other—”We’ve sure got it made! Now we can take it easy!”—suddenly everything will fall apart. It’s going to come as suddenly and inescapably as birth pangs to a pregnant woman.

But friends, you’re not in the dark, so how could you be taken off guard by any of this? You’re sons of Light, daughters of Day. We live under wide open skies and know where we stand. So let’s not sleepwalk through life like those others. Let’s keep our eyes open and be smart.                                            

  • Matthew 25:14-30

The Story About Investment

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

It’s also like a man going off on an extended trip. He called his servants together and delegated responsibilities. To one he gave five thousand dollars, to another two thousand, to a third one thousand, depending on their abilities. Then he left. Right off, the first servant went to work and doubled his master’s investment. The second did the same. But the man with the single thousand dug a hole and carefully buried his master’s money.

“After a long absence, the master of those three servants came back and settled up with them. The one given five thousand dollars showed him how he had doubled his investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant with the two thousand showed how he also haddoubled his master’s investment. His master commended him: ‘Good work! You did your job well. From now on be my partner.’

“The servant given one thousand said, ‘Master, I know you have high standards and hate careless ways, that you demand the best and make

no allowances for error. I was afraid I might disappoint you, so I found a good hiding place and secured your money. Here it is, safe and sound down to the last cent.’

“The master was furious. ‘That’s a terrible way to live! It’s criminal to live cautiously like that! If you knew I was after the best, why did you do less than the least? The least you could have done would have been to invest the sum with the bankers, where at least I would have gotten a little interest.

“Take the thousand and give it to the one who risked the most. And get rid of this “play-it-safe” who won’t go out on a limb. Throw him out into utter darkness.’         

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor, November 19, 2017, 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Proverbs 31:10-13, 19-20, 30-31    1 Thessalonians 5: 1-6    Matthew 25: 14-30

We have been given many gifts by the Lord. The big difference is some of us use these gifts abundantly while some of us hardly use them at all. Whenever we do this it really makes a difference and it has everything to do about our spiritual life and where we are with God. During this Thanksgiving time we begin to think about and reflect on how abundant those many gifts are.

The Gospel reminds us about the moral responsibilities in how we use the things that we have in this world. If we are not generous with them then we take a chance of losing out on the Lord’s Kingdom. During this time of year we think about giving to the needy and the poor. Most of what we give is from our abundant surplus. That which with we can usually do without, but even if we just have a small amount we can share that with others as well.

This year on the day after Thanksgiving there is a special event called Amen to Action where we all can volunteer down at the David Lawrence Convention Center to help pack a million meals for those poor among us. Then it is distributed to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank and other organizations. This is a way to join others in helping those who least are among our brothers and sisters. This is what today’s Gospel is all about. Perhaps we should think in our own lives what are we doing with our talents, with our  gifts.

 

 

Cardinal Wuerl Issues Pastoral Leter on Racism

Cardinal Wuerl Issues Pastoral Letter on Racism

Readings: November 12, 2017, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

  • Wisdom 6:12-16

The Value of Wisdom

Wisdom shines bright and never grows dim; those who love her and look for her can easily find her.   She is quick to make herself known to anyone who desires her.   Get up early in the morning to find her, and you will have no problem; you will find her sitting at your door.

To fasten your attention on Wisdom is to gain perfect understanding. If you look for her, you will soon find peace of mind, because she will be looking for those who are worthy of her, and she will find you wherever you are. She is kind and will be with you in your every thought.

Good News Translation

  • 1 Thessalonians  4:13-18

We do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, about those who have fallen asleep, so that you may not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose, so too will God, through Jesus, bring with him those who have fallen asleep.

Indeed, we tell you this, on the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself, with a word of command, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God, will come down from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first.

Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore, console one another with these words.                                          © 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

  • Matthew  25: 1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:

“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise.

The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them, but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.

The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’

But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’

While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.

Afterwards the other virgins came and said, “Lord, Lord, open the door for us!”

But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’

Therefore, stay awake, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

                   © 2001 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: November 12, 2017, 32nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

Wisdom 6: 12-16    1 Thessalonians 4:13-18    Matthew 25:1-13

Last week we celebrated the Feast Days of All Souls and All Saints. We remember those who have lost loved ones especially over the past year. Along with these feasts we have reminders that we have a mandate to be alive and well, and attuned to what is going on around us.

Being spiritually prepared is not just something good to do, it is absolutely a necessity. There are many dangers and distractions all around us that allow us to waste time and not take life serious. However today’s Gospel teaches that there is a real danger in doing this. The problem is when we pass from this life to the next, there is no coming back to redo what has happened before.

In these days and times there is  much to fear. Mass murders happening almost routinely, the fear and warnings of war, and hatred and animosity among different people. In all these occurrences we are asked to make a response. There is much that goes on around us which seem to be beyond our control. But our attitude, priorities, and the way we live every day can make a real difference in human outcomes.

Each day is an opportunity for us to ask the Lord to lead us and guide us  in the direction that no matter what dangers we may encounter we will make the right choices and decisions. The Gospel reminds us there are real consequences in not taking this serious. As we come near the end of the church’s year, let us be reminded that life is a difficult adventure, but is one with many blessings. It is one in which we are called to always be alert and know that God is always on our side.

 

From the Archives of Fr. Metzler’s Homilies: 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time, Cycle A

“Who is ‘the Other’?”

Malachi 1:14a-2:2b, 8-10     1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13    Matthew  23:1-12

Today’s readings are trying to tell us how to hear the Message preached to us, not just as weekly homilies, but in everyday life, as truly God’s word, and be transformed by it.

In the second reading, Paul is writing his first letter to the Thessalonians, to whom he had recently successfully preached the Word. He says to them in verse 13, “when you received the word of God that you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as what it really is, God’s word, which is also at work in you believers.” What, exactly, is this ‘Word’ that we receive, and that we carry to others?

I don’t think that what Paul means here is that the Thessalonians in some way took Paul, Silvanus and Timothy to be ‘gods’ ,nor that they believed the words spoken were not those of Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, but the voice of God speaking through them.

I believe that what the Thessalonians recognized was that the words spoken by Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy witnessed to the nature and activity of God, revealed in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To put it another way, they recognized the very presence of God in the act of proclamation. God is made known and becomes visible at the very point in time, the social circumstances, the physical space in which the speaker and the audience meet. In that moment, we become alert to God with us. The message that is proclaimed is a word that has its origin in the life-generating nature and activity of God.

This is also the way in which God becomes truly known — not in the abstract, but on the ground, in the midst of people’s lives.  The whole of our lives are lived in the presence of God, whatever our circumstances , because the power of God is at work in life-giving ways.

In the Gospel, Jesus confronts the Pharisees. They were religious leaders, whose authority lay in their ability to interpret Torah, or the Law of Moses. He acknowledges they “sit of the seat of Moses”, that is, have much reason to be respected,. But he insists, “…follow their words, what they say, not their deeds.” What they “say” when they cite the Scriptures is good, but Jesus and his followers do not accept their interpretation.

Clearly they are not telling people that Torah permits theft, murder, covetousness, or other such obviously immoral activities. Rather, the list here turns on issues of justice or status. They impose heavy burdens on others, requirements of such things as Sabbath observance and purity codes that become impossible for poor peasants or the urban poor to follow.

The detailed emphasis on following these laws was central to the teaching of the Pharisees, and not taking care to mitigate such things for people marginalized by their society added the burden of religious stigma to the burdens of poverty–disdain on top of suffering. ‘Rabbi’, ‘father’, and ‘teacher’ are specific titles to be shunned. They are all titles that carry both status and authority in the value system of the Empire. The vision and practice of an egalitarian community, with God and the Messiah as the only authorities to be accorded honor and obeisance, are hallmarks the early Christians wanted to share with the divine reign whose coming Jesus proclaimed.

Jesus affirmed that they should be servants; servant hood and humility were to characterize life in the Christian community. And Jesus made clear that one’s present action and attitudes about status and dominance would have consequences in God’s final judgment.

‘Father’ in particular was the term for the head of a household, whose total life-or-death authority mirrored the role of the emperor. To seek such roles and titles would be seen as desirable and in conformity with values about ‘pecking order’ in the Roman Empire, but those values should not prevail for Jesus’ followers.

We heirs of Jesus’ early followers adopted the very culturally more comfortable view that this text is opposed to. We have become the targets of what began as our own community’s rhetoric and trash-talk about those we consider ‘other’. A story from my own childhood too sadly reminds me of how it is ingrained, even from our earliest days.

My only excuse was that I was only 8 years old, a mill-town kid, and being the youngest of our neighborhood group of boys, I wanted to impress my friends. I did not know their name then, but I joined in the taunting of them when we were near their ramshackled house as we explored the nearby woods. After all, they were not one of us, they were not mill kids, and they were poor- as if mill kids could lay any claim to wealth. But today, after reflecting on these scriptures, for some reason, some unexpected reason, they are now very much with me; I now know their name, they were the ‘Other’.

On Sunday mornings they even dared to show up in church and so our taunting was silenced with only laughs and comments behind their back as they sat in Sunday School and in the pews during the service dressed in their tattered Sunday best. We watched them as we watched the pastor’s face to see if it would become as red and inflamed as the fire and brimstone sermon he always preached in his attempt to scare us into heaven.

Little did I know then, and unfortunately, neither the preacher or our Sunday School teachers let us know, that there in our midst, in our classroom and in the pews, the Gospel Truth was right before our eyes and all we could do was snicker, laugh, and talk behind their backs. I pray to God that now this memory that has been evoked by today’s reflections on these readings may NEVER leave me.

 

 

 

Readings: November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

     All readings from the Message Bible ©2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

  • Malachi 1:14a-2:2b, 8-10

“I’m a great king, says the God of Hosts, honored far and wide, and I will be kept in awe and held in respect!

         Desecrating the Holiness of God

“And now this indictment, you priests! If you refuse to obediently listen, and if you refuse to honor me, God-of-the-Angel-Armies, in worship, then I’ll put you under a curse.

“You have abandoned the way of priests. Your teaching has messed up many lives. You have corrupted the covenant of priest Levi. God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so. And so I am showing you up for who you are. Everyone will be disgusted with you and avoid you because you don’t live the way I told you to live, and you don’t teach my revelation truly and impartially.”

“Don’t we all come from one Father? Aren’t we all created by the same God? So why can’t we get along? Why do we desecrate the covenant of our ancestors that binds us together?

  • 1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13

Brothers and sisters:

We were gentle with you the way a mother cares for her children. We loved you dearly. Not content to just pass on the Message, we wanted to give you our hearts. And we did.

You remember us in those days, friends, working our fingers to the bone, up half the night, moonlighting so you wouldn’t have the burden of supporting us while we proclaimed God’s Message to you.

And now we look back on all this and thank God, an artesian well of thanks! When you got the Message of God we preached, you didn’t pass it off as just one more human opinion, but you took it to heart as God’s true word to you, which it is, God himself at work in you believers!

  • Matthew 23:1-12

 Religious Fashion Shows

Now Jesus turned to address his disciples, along with the crowd that had gathered with them. “The religion scholars and Pharisees are competent teachers in God’s Law. You won’t go wrong in following their teachings on Moses. But be careful about following them. They talk a good line, but they don’t live it. They don’t take it into their hearts and live it out in their behavior. It’s all spit-and-polish veneer.

“Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help. Their lives are perpetual fashion shows, embroidered prayer shawls one day and flowery prayers the next. They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’

“Don’t let people do that to you, put you on a pedestal like that. You all have a single Teacher, and you are all classmates. Don’t set people up as experts over your life, letting them tell you what to do.

Save that authority for God; let him tell you what to do. No one else should carry the title of ‘Father’; you have only one Father, and he’s in heaven. And don’t let people maneuver you into taking charge of them. There is only one Life-Leader for you and them—Christ.

“Do you want to stand out? Then step down. Be a servant. If you puff yourself up, you’ll get the wind knocked out of you. But if you’re content to simply be yourself, your life will count for plenty.

 

Reflection from Fr. Taylor: November 5, 2017, 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time

Malachi 1:14a-2:2b, 8-10     1 Thessalonians 2:7b-9, 13    Matthew  23:1-12

Today’s scripture shows us we must practice what we preach, and live out what we say to others.  The real test of a disciple is living life that we preach and teach about.  This is not only pastors and ministers but teachers, church leaders, religious educators, parish ministers, and all of those who take leadership roles among  people.  To be a real minister we have to pay attention to and be with the people.

The problem with the Pharisees and Sadducees is that they said one thing and lived another way.  Jesus said many times that I am among you as one who serves and we who in His name, must be the same.  We must be among each other, as ones who serves one another.  Since we are all children of God and are equal before God, we have to know that we are all both givers and takers.  There are times in our life when we need to receive, and there when we need to give, and both of these are blessed by the Lord.

Jesus is challenging us this week.  Do our deeds really match our words of faith?  Can we give concrete examples of this?  Today’s world need so many good leaders who are willing to spend and give themselves on behalf of people.  Since we are people of His flock we follow our leader Jesus in caring out the ministry among our brothers and sisters.

 

Art & Environment

We are looking for creative individuals to plan the Liturgical Environment of the St. James Worship Space and altars for special liturgies and liturgical seasons.

Also do you know how to remove wax from linens? We are seeking a volunteer able to spare a day or couple of hours each month with this task. You may take items home or work here.

Call the rectory at 41.241.1392 or click here to respond by email for either volunteer opportunity