Pastors Corner

A message from Fr. Jim

February 19, 2017

 I had the good fortune of meeting Don Samuel Ruiz when I was the pastor of St. Mary’s parish in the central District of Seattle. This was about 1985. He was the bishop of the Diocese of San Cristobal de las casas in southern Mexico from 1960-2000. He empowered the indigenous people of his diocese and was a mediator in the conflict between the Zapatista rebels and the Mexican governments in the 1990’s. For this, he received many death threats. When asked how he had come to live so completely the command to love one’s enemies, when he had so many, he had a puzzled look. “I have no enemies,” he said. “There are some who want to make themselves enemy to me, but I have no enemies.” I can only hope to say that for myself some day. Disciples are to set no bounds on their love, just as God sets no bounds on the divine love. 

February 12, 2017

I was surprised as I woke last Monday morning that the power was out and a blanket of snow lay on the ground. I had planned to visit a friend in Everett that day. It’s funny how plans can change in a moment. Instead I piled on the sweaters and even a snuggy and did a lot of reading and some praying. When the power returned about 3 p.m. I did my proper share of rejoicing. I guess I’ve matured enough over the years to realize that there are some things (actually many) that we can’t control. How do we choose to react to those times? With frustration or patience? At least there is a solid base of snow in the mountains.

February 5, 2017

I am writing this just after preparing last weekend’s homily on the Beatitudes. This plan for happy and blessed living that Jesus presented is at the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount. Matthew envisions Jesus as the new Moses, speaking to Christian Jews from the mountain reminiscent of Mount Sinai. His purpose in giving an alternative outlook on the Law was not to abolish it but to fulfill. In other words, he wished to move it from a rigid set of rules that treated persons as cases and objects to a living document which had love running through its course. Enemies are to be looked on with love and those who have offended us are to be treated with mercy. If anything, Jesus has given the Law a greater spine, a worthy ideal to work for.

 May this next month before Lent begins (March 1) find us reflecting on and living out Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount in such a way that we grow in a healthy understanding of who we are so that we can ultimately say “I am enough”.

January 29, 2017

For many years now I get away on a personal retreat the last week of January. Seaside, Oregon is my destination. I wish I could say that I go to a monastery. No, it’s the Shilo Inn. I usually get a discount because I am a Shilo Rewards member. This week I will bring with me Resisting Happiness by Matthew Kelly (the book we recently handed out to every family.) I am also bringing the latest book of Fr. Richard Rohr. Besides reading I like to spend some quiet time in prayer, do some walking, and enjoy some good meals in town. Please keep me in your prayers as I will for you. I will be back on Friday.

January 15, 2017

“Working for the common good” is a phrase we don’t often hear in this “me first” generation. The word “sacrifice” has also fallen out of favor in our day and age. It seems that everything is relative and the truth depends on how we interpret it. And yet Jesus identifies himself as the “way, the truth, and the life.” These musing’s take place as I reflect on the inauguration of a new president at the end of this week, I must admit that I have some anxiety. I pray that President-elect Trump and his cabinet look to the long view on issues such as health care, immigration, trade, gun control, and global warming. The common good should be at the center of each of these issues and more to come. May we pray that our government officials allow the Holy Spirit to lead them to make wise decisions that will benefit all of our country’s citizens.

January 8, 2017

On this Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord we celebrate that the child born in the darkness of night in a lowly manger is revealed as the manifestation (the meaning of epiphany) of God. Christ is revealed in many ways: as Lord, as King, as the one in whom God is present and acts. All of these manifestations are “lights” that shine on Christ, revealing a deeper understanding of who he is. As our parish celebrates it’s twenty-sixth anniversary this weekend may we too manifest Christ’s loving presence in Covington, Kent, Maple Valley;, and beyond.

Tomorrow we celebrate the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. Mass will be celebrated at 9 AM.

Thank you for your generous Christmas gifts. I appreciate your kindness.

December 25, 2016

I have always found it interesting that just as the secular world brings Christmas to a close we churchgoers are just warming up. In other words Christmas in the liturgical year is more than a day. In fact the liturgical year gives us the opportunity to celebrate Christmas joy for sixteen days this year. The child Jesus, descendant of David, Son of God and Son of Mary, is born for us. In Him, the grace of God appears, saving all. He is the Word made flesh. He is King! This wondrous news calls us to respond  in worship, in joy, and in love for God and one another. The angels and shepherds show us how to respond: worship and praise we must offer to the glory of God. The posture of adoration is the first posture for every disciple.

 On behalf of our parish staff, I wish you and your family a most blessed Christmas season. May we make room for our new born Savior so that we can bring His light and peace to the world today.

 

December 18, 2016

It is not often that Joseph takes center stage in a Gospel reading. But on this Fourth Sunday of Advent  Joseph does just that. It must have crushed him when he learned that Mary his betrothed was found pregnant. All he knew was that he was not responsible for her condition. And so he decided to divorce her quietly. It was then that an angel of the Lord  appeared to him in a dream and convinced Joseph that the Holy Spirit was involved in her pregnancy.  It shows the remarkable trust that Joseph had in God that he relented of his planned action. He showed himself to be a suitable husband for Mary and a human father for Jesus. May St. Joseph intercede for us when we struggle with our trust in God.

December 11, 2016

The Third Sunday of Advent is a day of joy in the midst of a penitential season. It is traditionally called Gaudete Sunday from the Latin word  “rejoice”.

There is a sense of joyful expectation, an awareness that the fulfillment of God’s great plan for us is near. That sense is strong in today’s readings

This week we have celebrations that are meaningful to two of our ethnic communities. Tomorrow we celebrate the Feast of our Lady of Guadalupe which depicts the Virgin Mary visiting the native Mexican Juan Diego on Tepayac Hill near modern day Mexico City on Dec. 9, 1531. It was as if she were validating their Mexican dignity in the wake of them having been conquered by the Spaniards. Our celebration begins with Mananitas at 4 am. The day concludes with Mass at 6:30pm followed by a Mexican meal.

On Saturday, Dec. 17th during the 5:30 pm Mass we celebrate Simbang Gabi with our Filipino community. This is a nine day Advent novena of nine masses which begins on Dec. 16 and ends on Dec.24th, Christmas Eve. Our parish is hosting the second Mass in our deanery. Afterwards there will be a potluck in the parish hall.

I hope that you can join our Hispanic and Filipino brothers and sisters for these important celebrations.

November 27, 2016

Thanksgiving Day invites us to focus on not only our need to show gratitude to our gracious God for all that we are given but also on those among us who are in need. Each of us has a responsibility to share a portion of our treasure with those who are struggling. This double focus is demonstrated at Mass that day when we bring to church a portion of our Thanksgiving meal to be blessed. That blessing signifies our thankfulness that we have been abundantly gifted by God. We also have an opportunity during the preparation of the gifts to come forward with either food or monetary donations for those in need. I hope you can join us at Mass this Thursday at 10 AM as we give thanks to our God of abundance.

November 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Day invites us to focus on not only our need to show gratitude to our gracious God for all that we are given but also on those among us who are in need. Each of us has a responsibility to share a portion of our treasure with those who are struggling. This double focus is demonstrated at Mass that day when we bring to church a portion of our Thanksgiving meal to be blessed. That  blessing signifies our thankfulness that we have been abundantly gifted by God. We also have an opportunity during the preparation of the gifts to come forward with either food or monetary donations for those in need. I hope you can join us at Mass this Thursday at 10 AM as we give thanks to our God of abundance.

 

November 13, 2016

This month of November is devoted to remembering our loved ones who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. At our recent Remembrance Service and Brunch I felt humbled as I listened to the stories of the participants regarding their loved ones. It made me wish that I had really known them in this life. I can’t help but think of my friend Fr. Gary Morelli who died two weeks ago at the age of 75.He was a neighboring pastor to me in my last two parishes and we were on the same wavelength when it came to pastoring. I will miss him. I just about lost another good friend in Fr. Gary Weisenberger, the retired pastor of St. Martin of Tours parish in Fife. He actually heard someone at the hospital pronounce him dead before he finally was revived. I was shocked to find out he was back at home about ten days after the incident. It makes one realize how finite we really are. May our departed loved one pray for us as we pray for them.

November 6, 2016

I’m writing this a few hours after visiting my doctor for my diabetic exam. My A1C level is a bit higher than last March when I last had it tested. My other readings were fairly good. I have come to the realization that I must take better care of my physical being just as I have worked on my spiritual life. I need more exercise and to take in better nourishment . I don’t need weight loss programs emailed my way. I could use your prayers and encouragement. Thanks          

October 23, 2016

This weekend’s story of the Pharisee and tax collector reminds me of the importance of our stance before God. As long as we fill ourselves with a sense of pride regarding our own accomplishments and self-sufficiency we no longer have a need for God’s salvation. We basically have already saved ourselves, a shallow solution at that. It was the tax collector who had the prayer relationship with God. He knew he couldn’t earn God’s love and mercy. Instead he beat his heart saying, “O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” He was emptying himself so as to receive all that God wished to give him. May we too recognize that God is the author of every good gift and may we share accordingly.

October 16, 2016

October is traditionally known as respect Life Month. A deep regard for human life must run from the womb to the tomb. Our concern for the life of the unborn must also be evident in the way that we care for those who may not have the economic resources to adequately raise a child. Viable employment and a living wage, accessibility to a good education, the support of loving parents, and a strong faith are vital ingredients in young people making the choice of having children. The way that we treat the poorest among us says much about the strength of a society. May all God’s children old and young alike-know what it means to be deeply beloved.

October 9, 2016

This week I’m going to be joining my siblings for a few day, first in Leavenworth and then in Chelan. We are a close-knit bunch. My older sister Sue has been twice widowed. She is currently the co-director of the Lay Associate Program of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace. Her strong faith has motivated her throughout her life. She is one of my heroines. My younger brother Bob is almost 65. He has been married to Kathy for forty years and is a retired school administrator. His is quite a handyman and loves to work with wood, Katie was born a week before my 13th birthday. She is a school teacher in the Renton school district. About two years ago she was named one of the top five teachers in her district. A regret I have is not experiencing her early years at home since I went into the high school seminary when she was a year and a half old. Between the three of my siblings I have five nephews and two nieces. I couldn’t be prouder to be a part of this family.

October 2, 2016

As we focus on stewardship of talent this weekend we are reminded that each of us have been given special gifts by God to help further the Kingdom of heaven on this earth. In what way are you making use of all that God has given you? Do  you hoard it or allow it to rust? Do you give God the praise and thanks and freely share your strengths with others? I am so thankful to all of you who have made the commitment to become engaged in the life of our parish community. Invite others to come forward as well. Together we can make a great difference in our society today.

 

September 18, 2016

This weekend we welcome Deacons Eddie Ensley and Robert Hermann of Deacon Ministries, Inc. who will lead us in a parish retreat. Besides preaching at all Masses this weekend they will also be giving presentations on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday from 7-8:30 pm and Monday & Tuesdays from 9-10:30 am. They will be focusing on prayer and spirituality, inviting us into a deeper relationship with God. Please invite a friend or two. Let’s fill up our church! May the Spirit fill Eddie and Robert and may we be the recipients.

September 11, 2016

In his book Befriending Silence Carl McColman relate what he has learned in his time working in a Cistercian monastery. He is a member of the Lay Cistercians of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit. He encountered one person in particular whom he found difficult to work with. He confided to one of the oldest monks in the monastery about his particular situation. The older man listened carefully to what Carl had to say, and then, while neither defending his co worker or  commiserating with Carl, smiled and said in a cheery voice, “You’ve got a saint maker!”

“A what?” Carl asked, not sure what he meant.

“A saint-maker, It’s a term we use in the cloister. You see, it’s inevitable that when you enter a monastery, you’re not going to automatically be friends with every member of the community. It’s human nature. Some guys you really like, most you can get along with, but there always seems to be one or two who drive you nuts. Those brothers are your saint-makers because they are the ones God uses to help you grow in holiness.” (p.78)

 Who knows? We might be someone’s saint-maker as well. It’s a humbling thought that someone may not like us. Yet that is the way it is. Dealing with difficult people is where the rubber meets the road in living a Christian life.

August 21, 2016

As I write this I’m just a few hours from embarking on my first Alaskan Cruise. I am thankful to parishioner Joe Quinn who invited me to be his guest. I must admit that I’m a bit nervous. On my road trips I’m used to being in control. Not this time. I pray that I may enjoy the moment. I’m looking forward to the various excursions on shore as well as watching the sights from the deck and doing some reading. I hope to return refreshed. I will be back for the Bite of St. John’s. thanks for your prayers.

August 21, 2016

I’m looking forward this week to being on my first Alaska cruise or, at least, a formal cruise. Twenty years ago my nephew Scott and I took the “poor man’s” cruise to Alaska on a ferry. I can’t believe that I was driving a Honda Civic throughout Alaska at that time and returned by way of the Alcon highway. It will be quite different this time. No driving, just enjoying the sights and the food. I am thankful for Joe Quinn of our parish who has invited me to join him. Please pray for me as I will for you. I will be back in time for the Bite of St. John’s next Sunday.

August 14, 2016

Please pray for our  parish leadership team which gathers in September for an extended meeting to come up with three priorities that our parish will work on for the next five years. Each priority will have its own goals. My prayer is that this plan will provide greater vitality and unity in all that we do in the Lord’s name.

Monday is also the Solemnity of the Assumption of Mary. Because of its proximity to Sunday we are not obliged to attend Mass that day. We will have a 9 AM Mass on Monday.

August 7, 2016

When I visited the Trail of Tears Park in Hopkinsville, Kentucky which depicted the Cherokee’s sorrowful march to Oklahoma I noticed a young man in the parking lot looking at something with his cell phone. The woman in the visitor center corroborated my hunch that it was Pokemon Go. Evidently there were a couple of images on the site. I can’t help but reflect on the need for us Christians to be just as intent to be watchful for God-sightings (those who attended Vacation Bible School know what these are). And can we believe that we might be a God-sighting for another by the way we lovingly treat another? May we be that far-sighted steward who will be ready for the master when he returns.

July 31, 2016

It’s always good to be back home. In fact I returned about a week earlier than I expected. I decided to leave Detroit for a future road trip, most likely after I retire. As in all  my trip’s the unexpected occur. Historic sites arose that I had no idea were there. For example, I didn’t realize that Jefferson Davis was born in Kentucky. A 351 foot obelisk  marks the site. I also enjoyed the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, thank you for your prayers.

Now that I am home I invite you to invite me to your home or nearby restaurant for lunch or dinner. I’m pretty much open to any food. This is a great way for me to know you in a more personal way.

July 10, 2016

As you read this I will be somewhere in the Midwest perhaps in Wisconsin or maybe Chicago. As on all of my trips I will have a few books on hand. This year I’m carrying The Short stories of Anton Chekhov, The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilchder, and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy by John Le Carre. I pray that you have a refreshing summer. .

July 3, 2016

Early Tuesday morning I begin another road trip. This one will be relatively short at three and a half weeks. I plan to visit Chicago and then Detroit and return through the central part of the nation. I must admit that as of this writing my itinerary is rather nebulous. It’s getting harder to find places I have not yet seen. And yet every now and then a serendipitous moment occurs. Please pray for me as I will for you.

 

June 26th, 2016

Congratulations to the five men who were ordained priests yesterday( Saturday) at St. James Cathedral. One of them Fr. Patrick Sherrard is from Covington and has served

at a few Masses this past year as deacon. His interests include watching spots, studying film and literature, playing golf, backgammon, chess, and cribbage. Through a few conversations I can verify that he knows his sports. I hope that Fr. Patrick will be able to join us for our weekend Masses in August. He will be a parochial vicar at St. Mary Magdalen parish in Everett where I served some thirty years ago. May the Lord bless him and his classmates.

June 19, 2016

This coming Friday we celebrate our patronal feast day, namely the Solemnity of the Nativity of St. John the Baptist. He was the great prophet that had one foot in the Old Testament and the other in the world of the New. John was the herald of the Messiah and prepared the way of the Lord while revealing Jesus to others as both the Messiah and the Lamb of God. St. John exemplifies the Christian life as one who proclaims the Gospel message of healing and repentance while he points out Christ to others and shows them the way to become united with God. A special Mass will be celebrated this Friday at 9 AM. May the Lord bless our parish in all we do.

I will be away this week for Priest Days at Ocean Shores. The main speaker will be Matthew Manion, the president of the Catholic Leadership Institute. This was the organization that sponsored Good Leaders, Good Shepherds from which I very much benefited. It’s always good to catch up with the other priests who I haven’t seen in a while. Please pray for me as I will pray for you.

June 12, 2016

I would like to share a special blessing
prayer for those among us who are traveling
this summer. It can be found in
Fr. Edward Hays book, Prayers for the
Domestic Church

BLESSING PRAYER
WHEN ABOUT TO LEAVE ON A JOURNEY
Blessed are You, Lord our God,
   for You have created a wide and wonderful world 
   in which we can travel.
We ask Your blessing upon us
   as we are about to leave on a journey.
Be our ever-near companion, O Holy Guide of Travelers,
   and spread the road before us
   with beauty and adventure.
May all the highways ahead of us
   be free of harm and evil.
May we be accompanied by Your holy spirits,
   Your angelic messengers,
   as were the holy ones of days past.
On this trip may we take with us
   as part of our traveling equipment
   a heart wrapped in wonder with which to rejoice
   in all that we shall meet.
Along with the clothing of wonder,
   may we have room in our luggage
   for a mystic map
   by which we can find the invisible meanings
   of the events of this journey of
   possible disappointments and delays,
   of possible breakdowns and rainy day troubles.
Always awake to Your Sacred Presence
   and to Your divine compassionate love,
   may we see in all that happens to us,
   in the beautiful and the bad,
   the mystery of Your holy plan.
May the blessing of Your name, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
   be upon us throughout this trip,
   and bring us home again in safety and peace. Amen

June, 5, 2016

Congratulations to all of our high school and college graduates! This is quite a milestone. You are going through an important transition in your life. My prayer for you is that you continue to share your God given gifts with others in a selfless and gracious manner. Stay connected to a  campus ministry or parish community. May the Lord bless your future endeavors with authenticity and joy. May you discover a vocation that makes genuine use of your unique talents and strengths. May you find purpose in life. All of this comes from a developing relationship with Jesus Christ. Vaya con Dios! Go with God!

May 29, 2016

On this Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ we focus on the abundance of God shown to us in his Son Jesus Christ. Jesus has compassion on those who have raptly listened to him for hours. He knows they are hungry and asks his disciples to feed them. They feel overwhelmed at the prospect. Jesus takes the little they have and multiplies so that there were twelve wicker baskets of bread and fish left over. In the eucharist we place our gifts on the altar, little as they may be, and Christ redeems and multiplies them. May we be nourished by the body and blood of Christ in such a way that we nourish others.

Tomorrow we remember our loved ones who have died, especially those who gave their lives in defense of our country. Our Memorial Day Mass is at 9 AM

 

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