Love Your Neighbor

It is difficult to believe that it is the end of October already.  As I am writing this article, I am hoping that all will go well with the Fall Craft Show and Bazaar, Mexican Lunch, Bake Sale, and Raffle.  As I said in last week’s bulletin, I do wish I could be present but I have required CSJ meetings at Nazareth on Friday and Saturday.  Though I will not be present for Mass this Saturday, I will be here on Sunday.

This coming week, two significant celebrations fall on the weekend: the Solemnity of All Saints (next Saturday) and the Commemoration of All the Faithful Departed/All Souls Day (next Sunday).  This year, since November 1 falls on a Saturday, the obligation to attend Mass on the holy day has been lifted.  However, we will still have a morning Mass here at the parish at 10:00 AM for those who wish to come together to celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints.  I encourage you to attend as this feast celebrates all saints, whether officially canonized or not; they are our patrons, so let us praise God for the gift they have been to the Church.  All Souls Day occurs on Sunday this year, which is rare.  Since it does fall on Sunday, we will celebrate it in a special way by remembering all our beloved dead who have gone before us in faith, whose funerals were celebrated in our merged parishes since last November 1 along with those whose funerals were celebrated once we became Saint John Paul II Parish on July 1st of this year.  Their names will be listed on a special memorial page of the bulletin throughout the month of November.  As liturgy begins this weekend, a candle will be placed near the baptismal font in memory of each of them.  Those candles will be lit at all the liturgies we celebrate during the month of November. 

We had a very full Worship Commission Meeting this past Tuesday.  It was the first time since July that I was able to be present with commission for a full meeting.  We had selection of officers at that meeting.  I am pleased to announce that the Chairperson of the Worship Commission is Deb Popielarz, the Vice-Chair is Lisa DelValle, and the Secretary is Janet Lamia.  I would like to express my appreciation to the interim officers who have served since July 1: Gerald Schmidt (Chairperson) and Juanita Hadley (Secretary). The members of Saint John Paul II Parish Worship Commission are: Diana Bismack, Connie Castañon, Lisa DelValle, Sharon Gembrowski, Juanita Hadley, Jill Harper, Janet Lamia, Gerald Schmidt, and Deb Popielarz.  Both Pat Preston and I are ex officio members.  Jill Harper has been designated as the representative to Rosary Altar Society.  As the parish men’s group becomes an official organization of the parish, it, too, will have a representative on the Worship Commission.   Thanksgiving and Christmas liturgies, along with the upcoming Holy Hour with Bishop Cistone were discussed in addition to preparation for the Advent Season, weekday liturgies, and liturgical ministries and procedures.  This week I ask you to place on your calendar the following  November dates of upcoming liturgical events that will be taking place at the Churches for Occasional use in November:

  • Holy Hour with Bishop Cistone
    Wednesday, November 19 at 7:00 PM
    Saint Matthew Church Site
  •  Diocesan Advent Preparation Workshop
    Thursday, November 20 at 7:00 PM
    Saint John the Baptist Church Site
  • Thanksgiving Liturgy
    Wednesday, November 26 at 7:00 PM
    Saint John the Baptist Church Site

Details regarding the above will be forthcoming.

Today, I would like to give you an update on a few projects that have been in process.  The new plumbing at Saint John the Baptist Parish House (which was covered by insurance) has been replaced.  The replacement of the boiler in Saint John the Baptist Church has been completed (and paid for by designated funds set aside previous to the merger).   The back portion of the roof over what was the garage on the old Saint Josaphat Convent was replaced with a new roof due to a large hole in the roof discovered when the eaves were being cleaned.  Money for that was taken out of our building fund savings account.  Panic bars were ordered several weeks ago for the side doors of the Church which were not up to code for fire safety (since they locked only by key).  They will be installed soon.  When we merged, we had three copy machines, all in stages of poor condition that required a lot of maintenance.  One became unusable, another became hardly usable, and the third became unreliable.  We “junked” one of the machines in July and continued to use another regularly and the other, occasionally.  As problems surmounted, we decided to get three bids for a new copy machine, and chose to go with the lowest bid which was significantly lower than the other two.  Our new machine is expected to be delivered this coming week.  With this new machine, we will be saving money, as we will have very little to send outside the parish for printing (the cost of which always has labor attached to it).   Finally, since we have officially merged, businesses are now willing to place ads in our bulletin.  Those ads, along with the Memorials by parishioners help cover the cost of printing our own bulletin.  So, soon you will notice ads in the bulletin, and I ask you, when possible, to support these local businesses.  Also, in the near future, renewals will take place for the present Memorials to be incorporated into Saint John Paul II Memorial Page - “Family, Friends, and Parishioners.”   

In today’s Gospel passage, a Pharisee who is a scholar of the law asks Jesus: which commandment in the law is the greatest?  Now, there are 613 laws in the Torah, and the Pharisees are presuming Jesus knows all of them (which he does).  They try to trap him once again as they expect Jesus to put the laws in order of importance.  However, they already know what the greatest law is.  They recite it every day when they pray the shema (Deuteronomy 6: 4-9)“Hear, O Israel. The Lord is our God.  The Lord is one…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might…”   Jesus knows this and quotes the first of all commandments to them: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  Then he surprises them by adding a second commandment.  He says: “The second is like it: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Sometimes we think we have lots of laws and rules to follow, but they are all based on the law of love and right relationship.  Acting out of anything other than love discounts any kind of good we think we are doing.  Claiming we love God above all things and then turning around and disrespecting and willfully hurting others cancels out love.  Both people and God judge us by our actions; they innately know that authentic love of God translates into love of neighbor.  We need to pray each day that our love is authentic.  We need to pray each day that our love overcomes any negativity or evil we encounter.  We need to pray each day that love of God dispels any evil brewing within our souls.  We need to pray that every day we act out of love.  And we need to pray that we don’t let whatever is not of love affect us so that we turn away from being loving persons.  Sometimes it can be very discouraging to realize how hardened some people’s hearts are but we, in our love for our neighbor, may sometimes need to remind them of what God calls each one of us to do: love him above all and our neighbor as ourselves.  One prayer worth saying each day is the Act of Love.  It is as follows:

O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all my love.  I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you.  I forgive all who have injured me and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured.

Praying this prayer each day that many of us learned in our youth can make a real difference in our lives. 

Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ