Our Parish Mission Statement:
Who has not dreamed of being rich and famous? According to some rich, famous people, money and celebrity do not always equal happiness. True happiness is found in serving God and doing good for other people. Each day let us count our blessings and share them with those around us, and we will find true joy.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What does the word incarnate mean in the creed?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. In the creed we say that Jesus was Incarnate of the Virgin Mary. This means that Jesus, who was always God, became also fully human as He was conceived in Mary’s womb. He took on our human nature.
Before GPS was invented I used to be lost all the time. Especially when bringing the Blessed Sacrament to someone for the first time. Streets had no signs, houses had no numbers, and I would end up at the wrong address. It is embarrassing and can be dangerous to be lost, but God does not want us to get lost on the way to Heaven. He searches for us, and calls to us until we find our way home to Him.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What does it
mean when we say in the creed, that God made all
things, visible and invisible?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. We are able to see much of God’s creation. However, God also made things that we cannot see, such as distant stars, angels, souls, and Heaven.
How blessed we are to welcome Father Kevin MacDonald this week. A holy man, a gentleman, and a scholar. Father will lead us in a life changing parish mission. His theme will be God’s mercy. We welcome you, Father, and thank you for sharing your wisdom and God’s love with us. May the Lord bless you and your ministry.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the
meaning of “Do fall” that you mention in the
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. In the second Eucharistic prayer, the new wording in the Third Roman Missal says, “Make holy these gifts we pray by sending down your Spirit upon them like the dewfall,…” “As the temperature drops below the dewpoint, water is expelled from the air and collects on plants and on the ground. Likewise God’s Spirit is made manifest from all around us, enveloping and filling us, and allowing the bread and wine to become Jesus’ body and blood for us.” – Brant Pitre
“Humility is a virtue” Benjamin Franklin. C.S. Lewis said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.” Thomas Merton said “Pride makes us artificial, and humility makes us real.” It is an attempt to see ourselves as God sees us. May we strive to live humble lives at the service of God and others.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… If I forget a sin
during my confession am I forgiven?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your practical question. When we go to confession we should first examine our conscience well and try to remember
each mortal sin and how often we have committed it. If we forget to mention a sin by accident it is forgiven by God who knows all of our sins and forgives us. However, if we fail to mention a sin on purpose it is not forgiven and we must go to confession again as soon as possible.
I worked with a priest once who used to say that he barely graduated at the very bottom of his class. He was very humble. Actually most of us would probably like to have a priest, lawyer, a doctor, a professor, who knows their stuff very well. Likewise we expect that Heaven is filled with the cream of the crop. Souls that are loving, kind, unselfish, and devout. The “A” students of spiritual life. So Jesus challenges us to strive to be our best. No matter how many souls enter heaven may we be among them.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… If a holy day falls
on a Saturday or on a Monday is it still a holy day of
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. There are six holy days of obligation throughout the year… Mary, Mother of God, Ascension, Assumption, All Saints Day, Immaculate Conception, and Christmas. Immaculate Conception and Christmas are always holy days of obligation, even if they fall on a Saturday or on a Monday. For the other four holy days, when they occur on a Saturday or on a Monday, the obligation to attend the holy day Mass is lifted, and attendance at the weekend Mass is all that is required.
The lyrics of an old song say, “I never promised you a rose garden.” We love the stories of Jesus comimg to earth at Christmas, and saying “Peace be with you.” But there is another side to our faith. It took great courage to be a follower of our Lord in the first century. Once you were baptized you had to defend your faith, even in your own home. Let us pray for the courage to stand up for our faith.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… My cousin would
like to be cremated and buried in the same grave as
her father, who was buried in his casket several years
ago. Is this possible in a Catholic cemetery?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your question. It is alright for a person to be cremated and buried in the same grave as another person who had a casket burial. It is not possible to bury two caskets in the same burial plot (grave), or to bury more than two people in the same plot.
Growing up we had collie dogs. We loved them and they loved us. When we would go out and leave the dog at home, even for a short time, our dog was so happy to see us when we returned, as if she did not know if or when we would return. Likewise, today Jesus asks us to trust in things we cannot perceive, like Heaven, and in things we cannot know, like when the world will end. I find that the best antidote to fear and worry is prayer and doing our best each day.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… My uncle died recently. We wanted to have his casket covered by an American flag in church, and we wanted patriotic songs played during the funeral. We were told that both requests are unacceptable. Why?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. I offer my sympathy and prayers on the death of your uncle. The American flag has deep importance and significance to us. However it is not a religious symbol. In church we request that only religious symbols be used. The pall which covers the casket represents our baptismal garment. Patriotic songs are so beautiful and meaningful to us, but we request that religious hymns be sung during the funeral, giving praise and thanks to God. Patriotic music is appropriate at the reception.
When I was growing up I had part time jobs from the days of my first paper route. My parents strongly urged me to save every penny that I could. Looking back that was wise advice. Jesus asks us to store up our treasure in Heaven. God will reward our good words and good deeds, and spiritual lives. We will be grateful in Heaven that we shared our material goods and built a good relationship with God.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… My cousin told
me that she could not have her favorite rap song
played at her wedding. Why not?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. Marriage is one of the seven sacraments. It is the celebration of the loving union of husband and wife. The couple is joined together as one by God. So weddings are religious celebrations. We request that the music during a wedding focus our attention on praising and thanking God who is uniting and blessing the couple. The reception is the ideal place for any kind of music that the couple and guests enjoy.
When I was young I loved to ask my parents questions. I would ask things like…”Can we go to the park on Saturday?...Can I get a new toy?” Often my parents would say “yes”. Sometimes they would say “no” and give a good reason, and sometimes they would say “We’ll see.” I believe that the Lord does the same with us. He answers our prayers based on what will get us closer to Heaven. If only I had the ability to see life through His perspective.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… I heard recently
that Catholics are not Christians. Is this true?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. In fact Catholics are the original Christians. We received the faith from Jesus Himself. We were one Christian church until the year 1054 when the Orthodox churches split from us. They took the name orthodox, meaning correct teaching, and we then became known as Roman Catholic, meaning the universal church under the Bishop of Rome (the Pope). In the sixteenth century the Protestant
churches began to break off from us.
Please join us for our exciting parish mission, from September 8th through 11th. Father Kevin MacDonald will preach a dynamic and exciting series of talks focused on God’s mercy. We will enjoy a holy hour, a penance service, and a beautiful concluding Mass. Please invite your friends, relatives, and neighbors to this unique spiritual experience.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… If I know someone who is dying what should I do to help them to prepare spiritually for Heaven?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. If the person belongs to a particular religion we should contact their minister or priest and request a visit. If the person is Catholic we should contact Father as soon as possible. Father will visit and offer reconciliation, bring the Sacrament of the Sick, and Holy Communion. If the person is dying Father will anoint them through which their sins are forgiven, and they are prepared for Eternal Life.
Mark your calendars. Please join us for a wonderful parish mission to be held from September 7th through September 11th in our parish. Father Kevin Mac Donald, a renown Redemptorist preacher, will lead our exciting four day retreat focused on God’s mercy. Could you help make the mission a huge success? We will need advertising, a few volunteers to help with each gathering, music, and a reception following the sessions. Please invite one and all to join us. May the Lord bless these special days for our parish.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… Is it OK for Catholics to receive Communion during a service at an Immanuel Episcopalian church, such as at a wedding or funeral?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. It is against our church law to receive Communion in a Protestant church. We may receive Communion in any church that is in Communion with the Bishop of Rome only. Meanwhile we are working with other Christians to try to bring our churches back together again.
A week after my ordination I arrived at my first parish assignment with a suitcase and a box of books. Three years ago I arrived in Charlestown with truck loads of stuff. I need to learn a lesson from the disciples who were sent out to minister with no possessions. What they did have was the Lord speaking and working through them, and the generosity of those who received them, and that was more than enough.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What are angels?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your question. Angels are supernatural beings who act as intermediaries between God and us. They protect us, guide us, inform us of God’s will, and carry out tasks on God’s behalf. All together they are referred to as the Heavenly Host. Types of angels include Archangels, and guardian angels. They are often shown with wings and halos. Fallen angels are Satan and his helpers.
Steven Curtis Chapman wrote the popular wedding song, “I Will be Here.” The artist states that he had seen so many couples fall apart when times got rough he wanted to tell his wife that whatever they would go through in their marriage he will be there for her. Jesus asks the same unconditional commitment from those who would follow him.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What happens to
the money we put in the collection each week?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. The money is collected, counted, and deposited in the bank. Usually our second collections go to support a diocesan or national need, such as Catholic schools, Catholic University,…This money is sent to the diocese. We also receive a bill each month from the diocese for insurances, diocesan salaries, and diocesan expenses. The rest of the collection is used to pay parish salaries, oil heat, electricity, office supplies, repairs and maintenance of our buildings and equipment.
The Last Supper is the famous late 15th century mural painting by Leonardo da Vinci, housed in the reflectory of the convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It shows the reaction of each of the Apostles to the announcement by Jesus that one of them will betray Him. Shortly after its completion it began to deteriorate. A number of restorations were attempted. The final one was undertaken from 1978 to 1999. In today’s feast we honor the Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament of His Body and Blood.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the origin and purpose of the monstrance?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your timely question. The monstrance is a vessel used to show the consecrated Host during Eucharistic adoration or benediction. Monstrances were first used in the 14th century in France and Germany, and were modeled after reliquaries and pyxes which are used to transport Hosts or sacred relics.
Andrei Rublev was a fifteenth century Russian Orthodox monk who painted a famous icon of the Blessed Trinity. It shows the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit seated at a table on which is a plate of food. At the front of the table is an empty place. This seat is saved for us so that we may join the Heavenly meal. God invites us to share in the life of the Trinity today, and to know His unconditional love.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the origin
and purpose of stained glass?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. People began staining glass thousands of years ago. It reached the height of its popularity in the middle ages as gorgeous stained windows beautified the great churches of Europe. Stained glass is used to teach us Bible stories and to remind us of the presence of Our Blessed Mother and all the saints. What is your favorite stained glass window in our churches?
Happy Feast of Pentecost. Today is the birthday of the Church. 1986 years young this year. The Holy Spirit descends on the Apostles, and enlivens, guides, and sanctifies them. The same Spirit is present in us. Let us appreciate His holy gifts, listen to His voice, and live lives of commitment, sacrifice, and joy.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the significance of Ordinary Time?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your timely question. Ordinary Time comprises two periods… the first begins on the day after the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday. The second period begins on the Monday after Pentecost and ends on the Saturday before Advent. The liturgical color for this season is green. The readings of this season lead us through the events of Jesus’ life.
Did you know that fingerprints were used to identify people as early as the 18th century BC in Babylon? Each one of us has his or her own fingerprints, and DNA. In these aspects God made us unique. However, today Jesus prays that His followers will be as one. May we share the love among us that unites the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. “They will know we are Christians by our love”.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… If I accidently
drop the Host or spill Precious Blood while receiving
Holy Communion what should I do?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. As we know, accidents do happen. If we drop the Host do not panic. Preferably Father, or a Eucharistic minister should pick up the Host and consume it. The place where the Host fell should be washed with water and the water must be poured into a sacrorium, which goes into the ground. If the Precious Blood spills we cover the spot with a purificator cloth and pat it until as much of the Precious Blood as possible is absorbed. Then we let the spot and the purificator dry.
I wish you a blessed Memorial Day weekend. Memorial Day is a holiday for remembering and honoring persons who have passed away while serving in the military. It began at the time of the Civil War as loved ones decorated the graves of soldiers. Eternal rest grant unto them, O, Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the
difference between how a wedding Mass, a funeral
Mass, and a regular Mass are celebrated?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. During a wedding Mass the bride and bridesmaids process down the aisle to begin the celebration, and the bride and groom process down the aisle at the end with the bride on the groom’s right. Holy water is used to bless the couple’s rings. A funeral Mass begins at the back of the church as the priest blesses the body and offers prayers. The body follows the priest down the aisle. Incense is used after
Communion to purify the body. Special prayers of commendation are prayed after Communion. After the funeral the body proceeds down the aisle after the
priest. The opening sign of the cross is prayed at the beginning of the wake, and the final blessing is said at the end of the burial prayers.
I wish to thank our Knights of Columbus for sharing the beautiful icon of Our Lady Help of Persecuted Christians with us this week. We were shocked to see the terrible attacks in Sri Lanka, as well as Nigeria, Bacino Faso, and elsewhere against Catholics. Persecution has been with us since the death of the Lord himself, but we are comforted to know that Our Blessed Mother is with us, and she is praying for all who are persecuted for our faith.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is a patron saint?
Answer: Dear Friend, a patron saint is a Heavenly advocate for a nation, profession, craft, or activity. For example, St. Mathew is a patron saint of bankers, and St. Honore is patron saint of bakers.
I wish all of our mothers a wonderful Mother’s Day celebration. My mother went to college part time when I entered high school. She loved her classes and studied very hard. She used her degree in service to our town, county and state. Thank you, Moms, for all that you do. May the Lord richly bless you.
Question: Dear Father, how does one
become a priest?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. As you know, the priesthood is a calling from God, so one must pray and discern God’s call to
the priestly life. Depending on the type of priest you become (diocesan, Religious, contemplative,…) your preparation will be varied, but for a diocesan priest, one must have a bachelor’s degree (hopefully with 18 credits in philosophy), followed by four years of theology, and often a pastoral year in a parish.
Thank you very much for all of your help during Holy Week and Easter celebrations this year. The events of each day are designed to involve as many parishioners as possible, and your attendance and assistance is greatly appreciated. May you enjoy the blessings of the Risen Lord throughout the Easter season.
Question: Dear Father, what is the significance of the
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. The word tabernacle means “dwelling place” in Hebrew. It contained the most sacred items, and represented the presence of God travelling with the Jewish people. In the Middle Ages Mass was often only celebrated on Sundays, so the tabernacle was used to store consecrated Hosts so that Holy Communion and Viaticum could be brought to the sick and dying between Masses. It is used for the same purposes today, as well as adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.
I hope that you enjoyed a wonderful Easter celebration. Thank you for all that you did for our parish throughout Holy Week and Easter. May the Risen Lord bless you always.
Question: Dear Father, what is the significance of the large
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. The large Easter candle, or paschal candle, represents Jesus risen from the dead. Candles around the altar and tabernacle always represent Jesus’ presence. The Easter candle is blessed and lit at the beginning of the Easter Vigil Mass and is lit during baptisms and funerals all year long. On the candle is written the year (2019) and it has five pins with incense, representing the five wounds of Jesus.
I wish you and your loved ones a Blessed and Joyous Easter celebration. Thank you for all that you do for our parish.
Question: Dear Father, What is the significance of the Easter lily?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your timely question. The Easter lily, or trumpet lily, is native to Taiwan and a few islands in Japan. It is very popular at Easter due to its trumpet shape, announcing the good news, and it’s pleasant fragrance. In the New Testament Jesus praises the lily. Also, it is said that lilies grew in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus’ drops of sweat fell to the ground. I only wish that the blossoms lasted throughout Easter season.
I wish you a Blessed Holy Week. During this week we will relive the last week of Jesus’ earthly life day by day. The events of each day are so significant for us. Jesus taught in the temple, celebrated the last Supper, and died to free us from sin. May the Lord bless you during these most sacred days.
Question: Dear Father, what is the significance of Spy
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. Spy Wednesday is Wednesday of Holy Week. It commemorates the bargain of Judas and the parable of the two debtors. In the Czech Republic chimneys are swept on this day. In Malta children drum on chairs in the church to make the sound of the earthquake that followed Jesus’ death.
During Lent let us give up… Give up complaining… focus on gratitude. Give up pessimism… become an optimist. Give up harsh judgements… think kind thoughts. Give up worry… trust in God. Give up discouragement… be full of hope.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is the
meaning of the Sacred Triduum?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. The sacred triduum, or holy Triduum, is the period of three days beginning with the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday night, continuing with the commemoration of the passion of the Lord on Good Friday, and ending with the celebration of Easter Mass. What a beautiful and profoundly moving way to relive Jesus’ Last supper, death, and resurrection.
I am very much looking forward to getting together with you for Coffee with Father once I have recuperated. Meanwhile if you have a question about our faith, please be sure to write it down and place it in the box at the entrance to the church. I will answer it anonynously. We are always learning more about God and the Church.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Why do we cover statues in church during lent?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. It is a tradition in many parts of the world to cover crosses and statues with a veil from the fifth Sunday of Lent until the end of the celebration of the Lord’s passion on Good Friday. The veils alert us to the special time that we are in, and they focus our attention on the words of the Mass eliminating distractions, and the produce a sense of anticipation for Easter Sunday.
I want to thank everyone who has been helping me so much during my long recovery. Your prayers, delicious cooking, rides to appointments, help with errands, visits, phone calls, and beautiful get well cards,… They all mean so much to me as I continue to mend. May the Lord bless you always.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What happened
to our beautiful altar rails?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your question. Altar rails became popular at the time of the Protestant reformation. They marked the separation between the nave and the sanctuary, which contains the altar and the tabernacle. It was the custom to kneel and receive Holy Communion at the Altar rail. After the Second Vatican Council in many areas it became common to stand to receive Holy Communion, lectors and Eucharistic ministers entered the sanctuary, and altar rails were removed. So where are the old altar rails that were in St. Peter’s and St. Catherine’s churches? Do you know what became of them?
Lent is a perfect time to enjoy spiritual reading. What are your favorite religious books? Mine are the Bible of course, and I also love to read THE IMITATION OF CHRIST by Thomas à Kempis, and THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS which has prayers and readings throughout the day and LIVES OF THE SAINTS.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…On my calendar it looks like Lent lasts more than forty days. Why is that?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your question. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends on Holy Thursday. Sundays are not included in the days of Lent, because we celebrate the resurrection of the Lord every Sunday of the year. So by subtracting Sundays there are forty days from Ash Wednesday to Holy Thursday.
I wish you a holy Lent. Growing up we always gave up something that we dearly loved. I would give up my favorite TV program, or playing my favoriote game, or my favorite food,…Today the Church asks us to consider giving up something for Lent (depriving ourselves and offering that sacrifice to God.) We may also do extra good works of mercy and say extra prayers each day and give alms to the needy. May the Lord bless you throughout these forty days, and may we prepare well for the joys of Easter.
Dear Parishioners, I was wondering… This week Father has a couple of questions for you… Do you know how the beautiful stained glass windows came to be in our churches? A holy man called the rectory recently and asked if we would know if there are pictures of the altar boys who served at St. Peter’s church between 1945 and 1955. He served as one of those altar servers and would love to see a picture.
Dodie Gallant was a high school history teacher. One summer she decided to rent a camper and visit historical sites across the country. On the third day she heard a loud noise, and her camper stopped in the middle of the highway. She prayed that the Lord would send her an angel to help. A few minutes later a large group of Hell’s Angels bikers surrounded the camper. They got her camper over to the side of the road, and fixed the engine. As they left one of them said, “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is a soul? What is a spirit? Do animals have souls?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great questions. The soul is our reason, character, feeling, consciousness, memory, perception,… A spirit is a supernatural being. God is a spirit.
According to St. Augustine and other saints, animals have irrational souls. They live according to instinct. They come from God and return to God when they die. I hope to see my former pets in the next life.
In 1947 Mahatma Gandi was visited by a hindu fighter. He told Gandhi that he had killed a number of Muslim people. He asked Gandhi’s forgiveness. Gandhi told him, “I want you to adopt a Muslim child, and raise him or her as a devout Muslim in your Hindu home.” Today Jesus gives us the golden rule and teaches us to forgive our enemies as God forgives us.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Why do the dates for Ash Wednesday and Easter change each year?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. The date of the Easter celebration was established by the Church in ancient times. Each year we celebrate Easter on the first Sunday after the full moon after the Spring equinox. Depending on the date of the full moon, the date of Easter changes from year to year. Ash Wednesday is celebrated 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday. So the date of Ash Wednesday changes as well. On the other hand, Christmas always occurs on December 25th.
Recently I read an ad in a newspaper… “You cannot buy happiness, but for a mere $499 per month you can lease spiritual exhilaration that is out of this world. Come in and test drive our new luxury sedans today.” Jesus gives us the key to true happiness in this life and the next. Just follow the beatitudes.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Can a non Catholic receive last rites?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. Last rites, or Sacrament of the sick, like all seven of our sacraments, are only given to Catholics. So if Father hears of a person who is seriously ill, Father will go visit him or her. He will pray with them, and if the person would like to become Catholic, father can baptize, anoint, and give Holy Communion to the dying person.
I first remember hearing the Lord call me to the priesthood when I was in elementary school. In today’s readings God calls Isaiah, St. Paul, and St. Peter. Each of them responds with unselfish generosity and faith. May we do all that we can to foster vocations, and teach by our example how to respond generously to God’s call.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is the origin of the expression “to rob Peter to pay Paul?”
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your interesting question. This expression means to take something from one person to pay another, leaving the former person at a disadvantage. The phrase originated in the 16th century in England. The church of St. Peter in Westminster was deemed a cathedral, but later it’s diocese was dissolved and the assets of St. Peter’s were used to repair St. Paul’s cathedral which was in very poor condition. Thus it was said that they robbed Peter to pay Paul.
In today’s Gospel Jesus is ridiculed in His own home town. When we are met with criticism how should we respond? Patrick Coffin of “Catholic Answers” suggests the following: 1. Ask for the grace to recognize any truth that can be found in the criticism. 2. Do not dwell on the negative. 3. Say a prayer for your critics. 4. Remember the only opinion that matters is God’s. 5. Could your critics be opposed to you because you belong to Jesus? “Blessed are the persecuted – theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Is it ever OK to miss Mass on a weekend or Holy day?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your important question. As baptized Catholics we are obliged to attend Mass on Sundays and on Holy days of obligation. (Saturday 4pm counts as a Sunday Mass) However, there are perfectly acceptable reasons to miss Mass. For example, Fr. John has not been able to attend Mass while his leg has been broken. Therefore he sets his alarm and, and watches the Mass each Sunday morning at 6am from Burlington, Vermont. Illness is a good reason to miss Mass. We do not want to infect others, or, for example, if our immune system is weakened, we do not want to catch illnesses in church. There may be occasions when we are travelling and not able to attend Mass, but we should do all that we can to arrange to attend Mass on Sunday during our absence from home. Severe weather is another acceptable reason to miss Mass. Every effort should be made to attend a Mass during that weekend, but safety certainly is a priority. If we miss Mass by accident on a Sunday or holy day the Lord understands. If we miss on purpose that is another matter and Father is anxious to hear all about it in the confessional at your earliest convenience.
In 1991 I arrived in West Stewartstown to begin ministry there. My first Mass was celebrated on a Wednesday afternoon. The church was full to capacity. After Mass people said, “We usually do not have this many folks at Mass, but we were anxious to meet you, and to learn how you plan to serve the parish and the school.” In today’s Gospel Jesus’ congregation is anxious to learn about His ministry and kingdom.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…If you want to become a priest how do you know which Religious Order is best for you?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. When I was discerning God’s call I wanted to be a priest who was just like my family’s pastor. There are so many different ways to answer God’s call. One can become a priest, or Deacon working in a parish, or maybe God is calling you to a Religious Order, such as the Franciscans, Dominicans,…Each Order follows the life and teachings of a saint, and has it’s own Charism. So if you enjoy working with the sick, there is a Religious Order specializing in hospital work. If you enjoy teaching, there are Religious Orders whose members teach younger or older students. Likewise, there are orders specializing in prison ministry, missionary work, service to the poor, prayer, and even baking, wine making, and art work. Through prayer and exploring various Religious Orders we can find just the right vocation for us, and a joy filled life of service to God and His people.
Paul always wears two wedding rings. He jokes about it, but recently one of his friends asked him why. He said in 1999 his father passed away. His parents had been married 52 wonderful years. At the burial Paul’s mother gave him his father’s ring. Paul wears it with pride. He says his father was the best father, brother, son that he could be, and Paul strives each day to imitate the life of his beloved Dad. May the Lord bless our couples and families this week and always.
Question: I was wondering…What is an antiphon?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question. An antiphon is defined as a short sentence sung or recited before or after a psalm or canticle. What antiphons can you identify in today’s Mass?
I baptized two little boys six days after I was ordained a deacon in 1987. What a thrill it is to baptize. I have never baptized anyone by dunking them in water. (Not Yet.) The youngest person I ever baptized was just being born in a maternity ward, and the oldest had just turned 95 years young. As a famous theologian once said, “Baptism tells us who we are and Whose we are.”
Where and when were you baptized? Do you remember anything about your baptism? Who baptized you? Who are your Godparents? Could you call them or write them a note. What Spiritual gift did you receive at your baptism?
I hope that you had a most Blessed Christmas celebration. I hope that you received gifts that you wanted. Today, on the feast of the Epiphany, the magi come to the manger and present Jesus with gold, frankincense and myrrh. Gifts fit for a king, a God, and the Lord who will die for us. May God shower you with His gifts throughout The New Year.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… Why is Mary often portrayed in blue?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. Our Blessed Mother is traditionally portrayed in blue clothing. This can be traced back at least to the early 6th century. Blue was the color of an empress. Blue color was derived from the rock lapis lazuli, a stone imported from Afghanistan. It was more expensive than gold. Therefore patrons would donate to purchase the stones needed to produce blue color. It was an expression of love and devotion to Mary to dress her in blue gowns.
I hope that you had a wonderful Christmas celebration, and I wish you and your loved ones A Blessed New Year, 2019. I am deeply grateful for all that you do for our parish.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Does the Catholic Church believe in reincarnation?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. Reincarnation is the belief that when we die our soul is reborn in a new body on earth. Catholics believe that when we die our soul goes to God to be judged, and then the soul enjoys everlasting life, or must be purified in Purgatory, or it is in Hell eternally. Our body is buried, and awaits the end of the world, when Jesus will come again to resurrect our bodies, and they will then join our souls.
I wish you and your loved ones a Blessed Christmas celebration. May the Lord’s birth bring you joy, peace and love. We are most grateful for all that you do for our parish. Please know that you will be in my prayers at Christmas this Mass.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…how did Christmas cards get started?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. The first known Christmas card was sent to James I of England and his son, the Prince of Wales in 1611. In 1843 cards were designed and illustrated in London. On one side the card showed three generations of a family and on the other side it showed scenes of charity to the poor. Hallmark cards company was established in 1913 in the United States specifically to market Christmas cards
One day Mark Twain was walking with a friend.
Suddenly it began to rain cats and dogs.
The friend asked, “Do you think it will ever stop raining?”
Mark Twain said, “It always has.”
Let us always be optimistic and joyful. The Lord is coming soon.
His presence makes all the difference.
Rather than dwelling on our problems we look to Jesus for solutions and live each day with deep faith and joy.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…what are the twelve days of Christmas?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your timely question. The twelve days of Christmas are the days from December 25 until the feast of the Epiphany (January 6). During these days we reflect on events of Jesus’ childhood from the Bible. The 12 days were made famous by an English song from a time when the Catholic faith was outlawed. Using well known symbols, such as a partridge in a pear tree, the song taught truths about the faith. For example, the partridge represents Jesus, two turtle doves represent the old and new testament, three French hens represent the Trinity, four calling birds are the four evangelists,….
If a martian were to land on earth he or she would quickly realize that something special is going on. Wreaths and decorations are beginning to appear, and we are filled with joy, because the Lord’s birth is around the corner. John the Baptist prepared the world to receive the Savior, and we, too, are busy sharing our love for God and for each other. I hope that Advent is a time of great peace for you and your loved ones.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…what is the origin of the Christmas tree? Our cats love ours.
Answer: Dear friend, thhank you for your great question? The Christmas tree comes from a German tradition. In the middle ages in Germany on December 24th was celebrated the Mass of Adam and Eve, and often parishes would put on a play. An important part of the play was the tree from which Adam and Eve picked and ate the apple. Children loved to play around the tree, and families would cut a tree down and bring it in the house. This became known as a Christmas tree and presents were placed under it and candles were lit to show that Jesus came to forgive original sin and bring us Eternal Life- the happy ending to the story of Adam and Eve.
Happy New Year. This weekend we begin our new church year, and begin to prepare for the Lord’s birth. Looking at the date I realize that Christmas is only three weeks away. There is so much to do and so little time. But let us not forget to do what is most important.. prepare spiritually for Jesus’ arrival. May this Advent be a time of grace, peace, and spirittual renewal for you and your loved ones.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is the significance of the Advent Wreath?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your timely question. Lighting the Advent Wreath is a long standing tradition in the church. The circular green wreath represents eternal life. The four candles represent the thousands of years of waiting and preparing for the birth of the Savior. Three of the candles are purple and one is pink for Gaudete Sunday, meaning rejoice. Lighting the candles of the wreath help us to be ready for the birth of the Lord, the light of the world.
Living in a democracy we may, at times, criticize kingdoms, seeing them as having too much power placed in the hands of the king or queen. However, today we honor Jesus, our king. He is the perfect sovereign-loving, unselfish, and peaceful.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is the significance of the images on the stained glass windows behind the altar of St. Catherine’s Church?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for this intriguing question. I would like to invite our parishioners to add to this answer if you have more insight into the meaning of each window. On the left side, from top to bottom, the windows show: a lily and a crown of thorns, fish and bread, and a ladder, a hammer and tongs.
On the right side, from top to bottom, the windows show: A cross, spear and hammer, a Host, chalice, wheat and grapes, and a pillar and whips.
What beautiful stained glass windows we have in our churches. The scenes in them give us so much to contemplate, and assist us in our prayers to God.
A number of religions have famously predicted the date of the end of the world, only to be mistaken. Jesus does not tell us when the end will occur, but advises us to watch for the signs and always be prepared to meet the Lord.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What do
the colors of your vestments mean?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. At Mass the priest wears a chasuble, his outer garment, and a stole. They have a particular color. The color may indicate the liturgical season, for example, green represents Ordinary time, purple represents Advent, white indicates Christmas and Easter seasons, and indigo represents Lent. The color may also indicate the feast day which is being celebrated. For example, Father will wear white on a saint’s day. He will wear red for a martyr, or for the Holy Spirit.
Rousseau once wrote… ”When we die, we only take with us what we have given away during our lifetime.”
Thank you for your generosity. Each day you sacrifice your time, talent, and treasure for God, for the parish, and for the needy among us. May the Lord bless and reward you now and in Heaven.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…How do I prepare for a good confession?
Answer: Dear friend, Thank you for your excellent question. Before we go into the reconciliation room we must examine our conscience. We try to remember when our last confession took place. We ask ourselves what sins we have committed since then. Sins can be thoughts, words, or actions. And they can be sins of omission, failing to do, think or say what we should. Once we have examined our conscience we can tell God and Father the exact sins which are on our soul, and receive absolution for them.
Psychologists define seven types of love…passionate love, deep friendship, love of family members, unselfish love, uncommitted love, practical love and selfish love. Jesus commands us to love God and love our neighbor with unselfish, wholehearted love to find eternal joy.
Question: I was wondering…What are the three secrets of Fatima?
Answer: Thank you for your interesting question. On May 13, 1917 Our Blessed Mother told three secrets to the shepherd children at Fatima. Lucia revealed two of the secrets in 1941. She wrote the third secret down and asked that it not be revealed until a later time. The text of the third secret was released by Pope John Paul II in the year 2000, although some claim that it was not the entire secret. The first secret is a vision of Hell. The second secret states that World War I will end but another war will occur during the reign of Pope Pius XI if people continue to offend God, and if Russia does not convert. The third secret has to do with the persecution of Christians in the 20th century and an assassination of the Pope, and the murder of bishops, priests, Religious, and lay people.
Happy Priesthood Sunday. Thirty years ago I was ordained in the cathedral in Manchester by Bishop Gendron and Bishop Gerry. It has been a wonderful adventure. I have enjoyed serving God and people so much. I have met the most wonderful people, served in the north, south, east, and west of New Hampshire, and have been blessed to experience God’s miracles every day. Please pray for vocations, and for the priests and religious serving the Church today. Be assured of my prayers for you. Thank you very much for the many blessings that you have given to me over the years.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Why do we use incense in church?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. Incense is made from aromatic resin from certain trees which is placed on burning charcoal, and releases a sweet smelling smoke. The smoke represents our prayers rising to God. A thurible is used to contain the incense and a thurifier is the altar server who carries the incense.
Saint Bruno was an eleventh century scholar. He taught a future pope and numerous bishops. He was chancellor of Rheims, and more than once he was offered the office of Bishop himself. However, he chose to live the last half of his life in prayerful seclusion. A man of great humility and faith, he founded the Carthusian Order of monks which has one monastery in the United States, in southern Vermont. May we imitate the humility of the Lord and saint Bruno, as we place ourselves at the service of God and others.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What are the names of the vestments that the priest, deacon, and servers wear at the altar during Mass?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. During Mass the altar server wears a black cassock and a white surplice over it. The Deacon wears a white alb., a colored stole across his left shoulder, and a dalmatic over it. The priest wears a white alb, a colored stole around his neck, and a chasuble. The Deacon’s dalmatic and the priest’s chasuble are colored according to the liturgical season, or the saint or martyr of the day.
Andrew Carnegie was one of the richest people of his generation. He was also extremely generous. When asked why, he said “ I have noticed that millionaires never smile.” Thank you for your generosity with your time, talents, and treasure.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…Why is there no Mass on Good Friday?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for this question. As you know, on Good Friday, we remember and relive the day that Jesus died for us on the Cross. Good Friday has been kept as a special day of prayer and penance since the earliest days of the church. In honor of the Lord’s suffering and death and since the Mass is a joyful celebration, we do not have Mass on that day. If we must have a funeral on good Friday a special form is used without a Mass. However, we know that receiving Holy Communion is most important to us and, to the sick and dying. Therefore, we do have a prayer service with Holy Communion on Good Friday during which we read the Passion, venerate the Cross, and receive Holy Communion. The Hosts used are consecrated during the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. We are also allowed to bring Holy Communion to the sick and dying on Good Friday. It is very striking and moving to experience a day without the Holy Mass. It makes us appreciate the Mass all the more on the other days of the year.
In 2005 Andre and Marguerite DeBry of Hereford, France celebrated their 81st anniversary of marriage. They were recognized as the couple married the longest in the world, as far as we know. When asked what they recommend to help couples have a long and happy marriage they replied, “Do not go to bed angry with each other”. May the Lord bless all of our married couples and families.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…What is the correct way to place one’s hands during the Lord’s prayer, and other parts of the Mass?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your very practical question. In the Roman Missal which the priest uses to celebrate Mass at the altar there are rubrics- small notes in red print telling the priest that, for example, he should fold his hands or extend his hands during a particular prayer. Our holy parishioners have no such guide. However, according to the U.S. Bishops, there is no right or wrong thing to do with one’s hands during the Mass. Theologians advise us not to hold hands during the Lord’s prayer. That gesture is for the sign of peace. Also, they advise us not to imitate the priest’s actions with hands extended during prayers, as Father is praying to God in our name. Perhaps it is best to fold our hands or place them at our side. Of course, it is up to our own discretion what we do with our hands in church. No gesture is sinful as long as it is not meant as an insult to God or people.
Many years ago I attended my first ecumenical pastors’ meeting in Colebrook, New Hampshire. Each of us belonged to a different Christian denomination. We had many differences in our beliefs and religious practices, but we worked very well together on challenges such as helping the poor, visiting the sick, and inspiring deeper faith. We all got along very well, and became good friends. It was a great example of fellowship and cooperation among the Lord’s shepherds.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering….Why are there so many Bibles today which differ from the Latin Vulgate version that we grew up with?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. The Council of Trent, in the sixteenth century, approved a Latin translation of the Old and New Testaments for use by the Catholic Church. However, the Council did not prohibit publication of the Bible in other languages and further translations of the Bible. In the twentieth century scholars tried to make new translations of the Bible because English continues to change as a living language, and because they wanted to translate ancient Hebrew and Greek words as precisely as possible. To be sure that a Bible is authorized by the Church look for Nihil obstat and Imprimatur on the front pages of the Bible.
Dr. Charles Mayo, along with his father and brother, founded the Mayo Clinic. Once a distinguished group of foreign doctors was visiting. As Charles went to bed he noticed their shoes lined up in the hall. In their homeland servants would clean and shine the shoes at night.
So Charles carefully took one pair at a time and cleaned and polished them to perfection which took him much of the night.
As we serve others we are actually serving God with great love.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering….In confession, what if the priest asks you how long it has been since your last confession and you do not know?
Answer: (Dear friend, Thank you for your great question. When we enter the reconciliation room Father greets us, we make the sign of the Cross, and say “Bless me, Father for I have sinned. It has been. . . since my last confession and these are my sins.” The reason that we mention how long it has been since our last confession is that it reminds us to go to confession at least every month, and especially soon after we commit a serious sin. It also tells Father if our sins are frequent or not. For example, if it has been a year since my last confession and I lied twice, that is not too frequent, but if it has been a day since my last confession and I lied twice, that is a different story.
In my Mom’s yearbook her friend wrote “ It’s nice to be natural when you are naturally nice.” Friends, even families may or may not know us as well as we would like, but today Peter nails Jesus’ identity. And now he will learn what it means to be a suffering Messiah, and a Christian who embraces the Cross. May we accept our Crosses, great and small, with faith and courage.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering….What is the translation of the prayer sung in Latin just before Communion?
Answer: (Answered by our parish music director, Mr. Tom LaCasce)
Dear friend, Thank you for your excellent question. The English version of the prayer is:
“Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, You take away the sins of the world, grant us peace.”
Sometimes we sing it in English, but the Latin text is preferred by the Church, as it is considered a bit more formal, and hence, more appropriate at that part of the Mass.
My college roommates and I spent one afternoon per week helping the needy. We travelled to the Perkins School for the Blind and took a a few students out for icecream and to an amusement park. My student, Brad, was blind and deaf. We enjoyed our hours with them, and learned so much from them, while treating them with kindness. Today Jesus heals a deaf and mute man. May we listen closely to God’s words and let them bear fruit in us.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering….Why does Jesus’ Body and Blood taste different at other churches?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. The Host which is consecrated during Mass must be made of wheat and water. The Precious Blood is consecrated from pure wine from red or white grapes. The taste of the Hosts may vary slightly from church to church due to the type of wheat used and whether the Host has been bleached white. The Hosts and wine used must be approved by the Bishops. Some church approved wine is sweeter than others, and the taste of red wines can vary. White wine has a distinct taste as well. After consecration the Hosts and the Precious Blood retain the taste of the wheat and wine from which they were made.
As we were growing up our parents had one most important question for us before every meal….”Did you wash your hands?” Today we know that hand washing is important to eliminate germs, but in the first century it was instituted by the religious authorities as an outward show of holiness, while being used by them to criticize and condemn. May the Lord help us to always keep our external piety AND our internal holiness intact.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…. Who were the Gentiles and what did they believe in?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your great question. Gentile is the name that the Jews gave to all non Jewish people. Gentiles have many varied beliefs around the world. They include Christians, Hindu, Buddhists, Islam, agnostics, atheists, and others.
Since last December I have been celebrating Mass in a state prison. I admit that I had my own fears and apprehension at first, but the inmates who have joined us for Mass show a deep faith, a hunger for God’s word, and a deep devotion to the Eucharist. They make the choice to come to Mass and they are trying to love and serve God, and turn their lives around, and that makes all the difference.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…. On Saturdays, why do we have to receive Communion after 4pm for it to count?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. Our weekly holy day of obligation is Sunday, since the Lord rose on that day, and He appeared many times to His disciples as they gathered to break bread on Sunday. After the Second Vatican Council it was decided that we could fulfill our Sunday obligation by attending Mass on Saturday if it was necessary. However, our Saturday 4pm Mass is actually a Mass for Sunday, so the Bishops ask us to schedule it as close to the evening as possible, since, in the Jewish tradition, the day starts with sundown. In our region 4pm is considered to be about the earliest that a Mass can be celebrated if it is to fulfill our Sunday obligation.
Once when I was stationed in the far north of New Hampshire we had a stretch of vey cold weather, and a severe storm. We had no electricity for about one week. During that time we celebrated our weekend Masses. One young man was serving Mass for the first time. It was about 7 degrees in the church, many trees had fallen in the storm, and we had no electricity. However, even under extreme circumstances, the Lord was with us, and we enjoyed being able to worship together. May God bless you always.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… Why did the Patriots lose the Super Bowl last season?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. We are so grateful for every gift that God gives each of us. Professional football players are blessed to be able to play the game so well. I truly believe that God wants each team to play well and, and while we hope that God is a Patriots fan I think the Lord hopes that the team that plays best will win.
I want to thank all of our parishioners who participate in various ministries. We deeply appreciate your service to the Lord and His people. Our dedicated Eucharistic ministers lovingly bring the Blessed Sacrament to our people in hospitals, nursing homes, and those at home who are unable to come to church. In this vital ministry you connect the sick to the worshipping community, bring them God’s healing love, and spend quality time with them. May the Lord bless you.
Question: I was wondering… Can a couple get married in the Catholic church if one is a practicing Catholic but the other is non practicing, but was baptized Catholic?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. The Church does allow a practicing Catholic to marry a non practicing Catholic in the church with a wedding Mass. The couple must attend classes with the priest for 6 months before the wedding. During those meetings the priest will discuss the importance of practicing our faith, and will encourage the non practicing Catholic to come to church and ask questions that they may have about our beliefs, and, hopefully, he or she will begin to practice the faith once again. If not the couple must seek permission from the Bishop to be married in the church, and the practicing party must promise to have any children baptized and raised as Catholics.
On Sunday, May 29, 1988 at 2pm I celebrated my first Mass. For so long we had practiced consecrating bread and wine into Jesus’ body and blood, but on that day it really happened. May the Lord whom we receive in Holy Communion nourish our souls with the food of Eternal Life. “O sacrament most holy, o sacrament divine, all praise and glad thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
Question: Dear Father, could you please explain what First Saturday Devotion is all about?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your timely question.
The First Saturday Devotion is an act of reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. According to Lucia of Fatima the devotion was requested by the Blessed Mother during an apparition in Spain in 1925. The tradition of honoring Mary on the first Saturday has been practiced since at least the 8th century. In 1905 Pope Pius X granted indulgences to those who practice the 12 first Saturdays of the year in honor of the Blessed Mother. The devotion includes receiving sacramental confession, receiving Holy Communion, praying 5 decades of the rosary, and meditating for 15 minutes on the mysteries of the rosary.
For many years my home parish cooked, and served a large meal to the homeless. Loving parishioners shopped, baked, and spent hours ministering to the most needy. It was amazing what a wonderful meal and kindness and unselfishness could do for the Lord’s people on the street. As we share God’s blessings they multiply. May we have faith to always know that the Lord will help us and the generosity to share our blessings with those around us.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… Why in the Creed, does it say that Jesus descended to Hell and on the third day He rose again?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. When Jesus died on the Cross He descended to the abode of the dead. There He encountered all of those people who had died before Him They were not able to go to Heaven due to the sin of Adam and Eve. When He rose on the third day He brought to heaven all of the holy souls who believed in Him so that they could live forever with God.
in today’s gospel Jesus is seen as the Good Shepherd caring for God’s people. In St. Peter’s Basilica, in the Vatican, is a famous piece of art called the Altar of the Chair. Bernini sculpted a bronze altar over what is believed to be the original chair of St. Peter. On the backrest of the chair are the famous words of Jesus, “ feed my lambs, tend my sheep” and “feed my sheep.” Peter and his successors have obeyed this command to our very day.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… Why do we call priests “ Father”?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your great question. In the passage where Jesus says, do not call anyone your father He is addressing the hypocrisy of the pharisees. They look for honor for themselves. Jesus cautions do not give yourself the authority due to God. Since the early days of the Church the title Father or Papa has been used for church leaders. Priests have the authority to challenge, correct, forgive and nourish his flock like a father. May all priests be loving spiritual fathers of God’s children.
In the 13th century St. Francis began his ministry by taking the Lord’s words in today’s Gospel literally. His only possessions were his robe and sandals. In 2018 people can be overly concerned with money and material goods. Let us remember that the Lord is most important to us. If we have God with us we have everything we need in this life and the next.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… A relative of mine went to confession and then later remembered a sin that he had forgotten to confess. Should he have gone back to confession again to confess the sin that he had remembered?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question.
When we go to confession we must make a good examination of conscience, and confess all mortal sins that we can remember committing since we last received absolution. If we forget a sin by accident that sin is forgiven because God already knows about it. However, if we do not reveal a serious sin on purpose this sin is not forgiven and we must confess it as soon as possible.
In my 30 years as a priest I can only remember being home at my parents’ parish twice on a weekend. On weekends I am either here at our parish or away on vacation. A couple of years ago my home parish celebrated their 100th anniversary. I was happy to concelebrate the Mass. A very rare Sunday at home. It is probably a good idea that priests are not assigned to our own home parish. I would probably spend as much time as I could at home or the parishioners there would not take me seriously. They know me too well. May the Lord bless us as we preach through our good words and deeds to loved ones, friends and foes alike.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… How does one become officially recognized by the church as a saint?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. Here are the steps in the process of canonization of a saint…
One of my greatest joys as a priest has been visiting the sick and the dying. Time after time the Lord heals us when we are ill, and He loves to raise our Faithful departed to Eternal life. In today’s Gospel the Lord heals the sick and raises the dead, and He begs us to have faith and to trust him when we are in physical or spiritual need.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering… What is the origin of the Sign of the Cross?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. As you know we make the sign of the Cross to bless ourselves, and to bless others. It is always used to begin and end the Mass. The sign of the Cross has a rich and ancient history. In the year 200 Tertullian wrote…” We wear out our foreheads making the sign of the Cross. We trace an upright cross on the body while saying the trinitarian formula, “ In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Before we listen to the Gospel we bless our foreheads, our lips and our heart. We ask God’s blessing upon us. The orthodox church also uses the sign of the Cross, but they generally use three fingers and touch their right shoulder before their left shoulder. It has been stated that placing our hand on our forehead represents Heaven, touching our stomach represents earth, and touching our shoulder represents the place and sign of power. May the Lord bless you in the name of the Father, of the son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen. St. Matthew taught his followers to make the sign of the Cross.
Two of the greatest events of my life were the births of my nephew and my niece. The birth of a child fills us with hope and joy. This weekend we celebrate the birth of St. John the Baptist, who prepared the people to receive Jesus, the Savior. In imitation of St. John we prepare the way of the Lord.
My Dad taught me to drive. He was so patient as I drove over people’s lawns, and flower beds. During that summer Dad and I both had to take a highway to get to work. He let me drive. I drove so slowly. Every ten minutes or so he would gently say , “ Let’s pull over and let all of those cars behind us go by.” Thank you, Dad, for everything. May the Lord bless our fathers, grandfathers, godfathers and step fathers. Happy Fathers’ Day.
Question: Dear Father,
I was wondering if we could have Mass in Latin? Many of us miss the Latin Mass.
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your very interesting question. As you know Pope Benedict restored use of the Tridentine Latin Mass a few years ago. It would be possible for us to celebrate Mass in Latin, but we need to ask permission of Bishop Libasci and Fr. John must learn how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass as he has never celebrated it.
In his famous book, WHATEVER BECAME of SIN, the famous American psychiatrist,Karl Menninger, notes that sin is as prevalent, or more so, than it ever has been. However, people today are better at excusing their bad behavior. “I am no worse than my neighbor.” Or “Everyone in my company cheats.” Perhaps it is time to take a hard, honest, look in the mirror and seek God’s forgiveness and strength, and then marvel at how He can recreate us in His image.
Question: Dear Father,
what is the Didache and do Catholics acknowledge this as authentic?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your excellent question. The Didache, also known by the name ‘ Teaching of the Twelve Apostles’, is a short letter written anonymously in the first century. The first line indicates that it is the teaching of the Twelve Apostles to the nations. It contains the oldest known catechism. There are three main sections to it….ethics, rituals, and church organization. It details what is required to live a virtuous life. The Lord’s Prayer is included. Baptism by immersion is mentioned. Fasting is required for Wednesdays and Fridays. Two primitive Eucharistic prayers are included.
The organization of the Church is in it’s earliest stages. Itinerant apostles and prophets serve as priests and celebrate the Eucharist. Local Bishops and deacons are mentioned. It is recognized by the Church as authentic, but has not been included in the New Testament. It was lost for centuries, but was discovered in Greek in 1873 and a Latin version was discovered in 1900.
I love you so much and I want to show you a sign of my love. So I give you a store bought card or even better, a card I write myself. Jesus wished to show us a sign of his love. He decided to give us His own sacred body and blood. St. Julianna began the feast of Corpus Christi in 1243. We have been honoring the Most Blessed Sacrament by receiving Him worthily and serving His people with love.
This weekend we celebrate the Blessed Trinity. Our God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It took over a thousand years for church leaders to iron out exactly what we believe and do not believe about the Trinity. God shows His love for us as creator, redeemer, and sanctifier. May we give thanks to him by loving Him with all our heart and by loving everyone and everything He has made.
I received the sacrament of Confirmation in 6th grade. I felt the Spirit come into my life and I tried to find ways to serve the Lord and the Church. On the feast of Pentacost the Spirit descends on the Apostles and they become brave preachers, teachers and martyrs for their faith. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of the faithful as we celebrate the birth of Your Church.
When I was six years old my parents threw a birthday party for me. Mom invited about a dozen of my closest friends, and my dad had to work so single handed Mom entertained, supervised, fed, and lovingly cared for the group of us. She settled disputes, bandaged a few skinned knees, and took us all under her loving wing. Thank you, Mom for everything. May the Lord bless you all this weekend as we celebrate our mothers. May he bless and reward mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers, and all loving women who show us God’s tenderness each day. Happy Mother’s Day.
I had been away from home for sometime studying in the seminary. I came to my parents’ house for a visit and my mom said, “oh, you could use a haircut and a new sweater. Only your mother would tell you that.” Indeed there is nothing like Unconditional love. Our God has that kind of love for us. He showers us with his gifts. He loves us just as we are, but too much to let us stay that way. He invites us to grow every day. May you experience His tender loving care and share it with others.
Question: Dear Father,
what do each of the colors of the priest’s vestments mean?
Answer: Dear friend, thank you for your interesting question. The priest wears white right now, during the church seasons of Easter and Christmas and on saint’s days to represent joy. The priest wears purple during Advent and Lent to represent prayer and penance. The priest wears red on Pentacost to represent the Holy Spirit and on feasts of the martyrs to represent that they shed their blood for us. The priest wears green during the 34 weeks of the year that we call ordinary time to represent hope.
Question: Dear Father,
why do we have lit candles in church?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question! From very ancient times, candles were used to drive away darkness. Today, the use of candles during the Mass symbolizes Christ’s triumph over darkness (“He is the Light of the World” Jn 8:12). Further, beeswax candles (the type used during Mass) symbolize Christ’s purity; the wick is an image of the Soul of Christ, and the flame symbolizes the union of Christ’s Divine Nature with our human nature. (During the Easter Vigil Mass, we will bless a new Paschal Candle which will be used during the Easter season and during funerals and baptisms as a representation of the resurrected Christ.)
Question: Dear Father,
why do we sing the psalms? Other parishes say the psalms. It seems like this would be a lot easier!
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your excellent question! St. Augustine is attributed with the saying “He who sings prays twice.” When we sing the psalms, we enter more deeply into the meaning of the ancient songs (the psalms come from the words of various songs that were sung by ancient Israel). While either saying or singing the psalms during Mass is acceptable, singing the texts is preferred. And yes, this is a lot of work – but well worth it when we consider how much it enhances our prayers.
Question: Dear Father,
why do we sing the Agnus Dei in Latin? I thought we got rid of the Latin a long time ago.
Answer: Dear Friend, while we pray the Mass primarily in our own native language, the Latin texts are still the preferred texts of the liturgy of the Church. They’re the most formal setting for our prayers. Think of it this way: When I meet my neighbor, I say “Hey Maggie, how are ya!” Or, I can say, “Good morning, Mrs. Richards – how are you today?” Each is a greeting – but the latter is more formal (and less likely to irritate my neighbor.) The more formal greeting is like using the Latin text for the Lamb of God (or Agnus Dei); it’s a more fitting way to address the King of Kings and Lord of Lords during the celebration of the Mass.
Question: Dear Father,
I go to other churches and they have really upbeat music for their Gloria and Holy, Holy. Why do we always chant these parts of the Mass?
Answer: The chants we use are recommended by the Church; they’re actually the most formal of the liturgical options for the Gloria and the Holy, Holy. Other music, while perhaps more “upbeat” and “catchy,” is really not as formal (nor as fitting) as the chants. The more formal (“appropriate”) the musical setting, the more likely we’ll catch God’s ear as we pray these prayers (and yes, they’re actually “prayers” more than they’re “songs”).
Question: Dear Father,
why do we use incense at Mass?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful question. The Old Testament is filled with examples of priests using incense to “carry the prayers of the people to the Throne of God.” When we use incense at Mass, we’re essentially sending our prayers up to God in a more visible (and sensory) way. Additionally, incense purifies the altar and sanctuary of evil and helps our prayers retain their purity as they ascent to God.
Question: Dear Father,
what is a a Sacrorium and do we have one?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. A Sacrorium is a special sink in the Church sacristy that goes directly into the ground. It is used for Precious Blood and Consecrated Hosts that cannot be consumed. They must be poured into the ground.
Question: Dear Father,
I was wondering, if my fiancée and I could be married on a boat on the Connecticut River.
Answer: Dear Friend, That you for your great question. According to Church law you must be married inside a church unless you have permission of the Bishop.
Question: Dear Father,
I was wondering, when does the next Holy Day occur?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your great question. The next Holy Day of Obligation will occur on Friday, December 8th… the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.
Question: Dear Father, What is the meaning of candles and flowers in church?
Answer: Thank you for your great question. Candles are signs of Jesus’ presence and flowers represent life, and especially, eternal life.
Question: Dear Father: I was wondering…when did the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant churches begin?
Answer: Dear Friend: Thank you for your interesting question. The Catholic Church was created by Jesus himself in the 1st century. The Orthodox and Catholic Churches split from each other in the 11th Century and the Protestant Churches began in the 16th Century.
Question: Dear Father: What is the origin of the expression, ‘When in Rome, do as the Romans do?’
Answer: Dear Friend: Thank you for your wonderful question. This well-known expression comes from a letter of St. Augustin written in the 4th century.
Question: Dear Father,
I was wondering what is the meaning of the phrase, By Hook or by Crook?
Answer: Dear Friends, thank you for this interesting question. This is a very old expression from at least the 14th century meaning that we attract new church members by hook (as fishers of men and women) and by crook (shepherding them with love.)
Question: Dear Father,
I was wondering what vows does a priest take?
Answer: Dear Friend, at the time of ordination Father John took vows (promises) of prayer, celibacy and obedience to the Bishop. Priests in most religious orders generally take vows of celibacy, poverty, obedience to their superior, prayer, and stability, meaning that he will stay in one monastery for life.
Question: Dear Father,
what happens when someone enters a seminary?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for this great question. In the seminary one studies Philosophy and Theology, including the Bible, Church History, the Sacraments….also the seminarian prays and attends Mass each day and one day per week he visits the sick or prisoners or does parish work.
Question: Dear Father,
can you tell me what is in the Sacristy?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful question. The Sacristy is the room where the priest, servers, and ministers prepare for Mass. It contains the Vestments that we wear for Mass, the Roman Missal and books that we use during Mass, Incense, Processional Cross, Candles, Chalice, Hosts, Wine and Holy Oils.
Question: Dear Father,
what is the Sacrament of the Sick?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful question. The Sacrament of the Sick may be given to any Catholic who is sick and can be given more than once. It includes an Act of Contrition and making the Sign of the Cross on the forehead and hands. If the person is in danger of death and the person is sorry for their sins, all of their sins are forgiven and they receive a Plenary Indulgence. If you or someone you love is sick, please call Father to visit today.
Question: Dear Father,
when did the Feast of the Assumption begin?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for wonderful question. The Assumption of the Blessed Mother was known and taught from the day of the miracle itself in the first century but it was defined and proclaimed as a dogma on November 1st, 1950 by Pope Pius XII and soon after the yearly holy day of obligation was begun.
Question: Dear Father,
who is patron saint of deacons, musicians, lectors, and altar servers?
Answer: Dear Friend,
Thank you for wonderful question.
The Patron Saint of deacons is St. Stephen,
The Patron Saint of musicians is St. Cecilia,
The Patron Saint of lectors is St. Bede,
And the Patron Saint of altar servers is St. John Berchmans.
Question: Dear Father, what can you tell us about Tiffany Windows?
Answer: Dear Friend, these beautiful windows were originally designed by Louis Tiffany who lived from 1848 to 1933. He was an American artist whose famous works include stained glass windows, glass lamp shades, glass mosaics, and ceramics. The difference with Tiffany windows and other stained-glass windows is the Tiffany windows are made with shards of glass (Mottled glass). We are so blessed that St. Catherine’s Church is the only Catholic Church in the Northeast with Tiffany Windows…Which one of our Tiffany windows is your favorite?
Question: Dear Father: What do we know about St. Thomas?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question. St. Thomas, whose name means twin, was one of the 12 apostles. He doubted that the other apostles had seen Jesus after the Resurrection and one week later, Jesus appeared again and let Thomas touch him to prove that he was really risen. Thomas went on to minister in Israel then in modern day Iraq and Iran (Persia) and set sail for India where he established 7 Christian communities on the West Coast and 3 Christian Communities on the East Coast. He was killed by a spear. Thomas is the patron saint of architects and his feast day is July 3rd.
Question: Dear Father,
why was Simons name changed to Peter and did Jesus do this?
Answer: Dear Friend, thank you for your wonderful question. Yes, Jesus changed Simons name to Peter. This occurred right after Simon had made his profession of faith as he said to Jesus “You are the Messiah, Son of the living God.” Then Jesus said to him, “You are Peter and on this rock, I will build my Church.” The name Peter means rock. Jesus gives Simon this name and tells him that he will be the rock or immovable foundation of the church. Peter thus becomes the head of the apostles and of the Church.
Question: Dear Father, what is the meaning of life?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your fascinating question. For thousands of year people have wrestled with this fundamental question. Thanks to our faith we know that God created each one of us and filled us with gifts and put us on earth at a particular place and time. God has a purpose for each of us. Our life has infinite meaning. In the catechism, we learned that the meaning of life is to love and serve the Lord in this world and to be happy with Him in the next world (heaven). We pray and pay attention to signs that help us to know God’s will for us, and do our best to follow God’s desire for us. Then our life will be full and blessed.
Question: Dear Father, who was Simon of Cyrene?
Answer: Dear Friend, Simon of Cyrene was a man pressed into service to help Jesus carry the cross. He was from Cyrene in Africa where a Jewish community existed. He became a disciple of the Lord and helped to spread the Gospel. Simon of Cyrene was also in Jerusalem for the Passover. His sons’ graves were found in the Kindron Valley of Israel in 1941. He is the 5th Station of the Cross.
Question: Dear Father, who was Joseph of Arimathea?
Answer: Dear Friend, Joseph of Arimathea, a town of Judea, was a wealthy secret follower of the Lord who requested Jesus’ body and buried it in his own tomb hewn out of rock. He is also mentioned in a number of apocryphal writings in which he is imprisoned and miraculously escapes and built an oratory in France and had possession of the Sacred Chalice of the Lord.
Question: Dear Father, what is Easter Duty?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your excellent question. Most Catholics attend Mass and receive Holy Communion regularly. However, there could be Catholics who very rarely come to Mass or very infrequently receive Holy Communion. Therefore, the Church has a law which states that Catholics must receive Holy Communion at least once a year. The best time to receive yearly Holy Communion is from the first Sunday of Lent through Holy Trinity Sunday. If the person has committed any sins in the past year he or she must receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation before receiving Holy Communion.
Question: Dear Father, what are the requirements for being a
Godparent or a sponsor?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question. A Godparent or Sponsor must be at least 16 and Confirmed. He or she must also be a devout Catholic. The ideal Godparent or Sponsor is practicing the faith and knowledgeable about what the Church teaches. He or she is a great example for the people being Baptized or Confirmed and is able to answer questions about our beliefs. Often a Godparent is asked to be a Sponsor for Confirmation.
Question: Dear Father, what is the Vulgate Bible.
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your excellent question. The Vulgate is the official Latin translation of the Holy Bible. It was first translated from the original Hebrew and Greek by St. Jerome. It was accepted by the Church in the 16th century as the official accepted version of the bible. For more information you may go to: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vulgate
Question: Dear Father, can you name the last five pastors who served at St. Peter's Church and St. Catherine's Church and the approximate dates they were here?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question. Last week I was able to give you the names of the last 5 pastors of St. Catherine's Church.
Here are St. Peter's last 5 Pastors:
Rev. Richard Tetu 1992-1994
Rev. Anthony DiRusso 1994-1999
Rev. Shawn Therrien 1999-2002
Rev. Michael Gendron 2002-2011
Rev. Steven Lepine 2011-2016
Question: Dear Father, can you name the last five pastors who served at St. Catherine's Church and St. Peter's Church and the approximate dates when they were here?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question.
Here are St. Catherine's last five Pastors:
Rev. Francis Kelso 1988-1990
Rev. Adhemar Deveau OMI 1990-1994
Rev. Shawn Therrien 1994-2002 Rev.
Michael Gendron 2002-2011
Rev. Steven Lepine 2011-2016
Next week, I will give you the names of the last 5 pastors of St. Peter's.
Question: Dear Father, I was wondering…. Why is Easter celebrated on a different date each year?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question.
Easter is always celebrated on a Sunday because Jesus rose from the dead on Sunday. Following a very ancient custom the date of Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox. So the date of Easter may vary from late March to late April.
Question: Dear Father, how can we increase our faith?
Answer: Dear Friend, Thank you for your great question. I find that prayer always helps my faith. Just like a human relationship is strengthened by communication, so talking with God, listening to Him, praying for what we need and watching how God answers our prayers is very good for our faith. Also, going to Mass and receiving the Sacraments strengthens our faith.
And Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament….spending time with Jesus is very helpful. We are blessed to have two Adoration Chapels available right here in our area…Our own Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary Adoration Chapel in St. Catherine's Rectory and the Greater Falls Perpetual Chapel at St. Charles Church in Bellows Falls.
Question:Dear Father, what is the meaning of transept?
Answer: Thank you for your great question. In the history of the Roman Catholic Church churches have been constructed in the form of a cross with the vertical part, or nave, running from the sanctuary to the narthex and the main doors in back of the pews. The horizontal arm of the cross runs perpendicular to the main body of the church in front of the sanctuary. This aisle running from left to right is called the transept. It is the aisle in front of the pews. In large cathedrals it often includes side chapels and stained glass windows.
Thank you to everyone who has sent in questions for Father during generations of Faith.
Question: Dear Father, if angels have no gender why do we have St. Michael, Gabriel, and other male angels?
Answer: In the Bible angels are given male names, but they are pure spirits and, thus, do not have sexual genders as we do. Their male names represent the authority, or power, given to them by God