A Compassionate and Merciful Savior

12-31-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Because the Celebrations of Christmas and New Year's are both on Monday, the Sunday scheduling and celebration of various feasts are off kilter. The Liturgical Calendar was drawn up and based on ideal time and space. We all know that the placing of Feasts and Holy days is meant to inspire in us to hopes and dreams as people of faith who celebrate the great moments of God-with-us each year. As hardy New Englanders, we roll with what we get. The weather for the last two weeks in particular has made us remember that life is adjusting and accepting the reality of time and space. At this point we bundle up on certain days, we watch where we walk because of ice and we keep going in life.


Reflections on Christmas Mass at Dawn

12-24-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Did you realize that there are three special Masses that are celebrated with the Feast of Christmas? They are very thematic to the time of night or day. If we were a monastic institution, then all three Masses would be celebrated for us and with us. Each Mass has a special theme and it is connected to the great divine mystery of the God who became Flesh and dwelt among us, namely the Birth of Jesus Christ, truly God and truly human.


Christmas Plans

12-17-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

Next weekend, December 23-24-25, Saturday-Sunday and Monday are confusing days for all of us with Christmas as a Monday celebration. A civil holiday on a Monday is usually quite nice for everyone, except for Christmas. Most folks would rather have the day off before Christmas and then the day afterwards, not two days in a row before it. Christmas Day being on Monday may also cause a great deal of confusion for regular church-going people. Some folks may wonder: "Do I have to go to Mass for Sunday? Does Sunday morning count for Christmas? Does Sunday evening (Christmas Eve) count for Sunday and Christmas? If I do not go two times, have I failed in my faith? Can I go to Mass on Saturday and on Monday, then what about Sunday? There are all sorts of combinations and confusions that exist. In fact, among our bishops and also canon lawyers there are many various opinions over what is "required." Various bishops disagree with a more common opinion and are making exceptions; various canon lawyers strongly disagree with each other. When legitimate authority and its legal experts disagree, you know there is true confusion. So the following is my insight. When legitimate authority and church canon lawyers disagree, then a Pastor 's insight and decision becomes a deciding influence.


Make Ready the Way of the Lord

12-10-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Our scripture readings this weekend are telling us that Christmas never really comes to an end! Great News indeed! Our message in this week's passages leads us to conclude that the story of Christ has not come to an end, that God's concern for us is no less evident now today than over two thousand years ago. The message of today's liturgy is clear: "Get ready!" "Christmas is not too far off!"


Waiting is Not Enough

12-03-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Gregory B. Wilson, VF

Advent always reminds me of how some people are early, some are on time and some are always late. Many people spend a great deal of time waiting for others. This Sunday we start a special period of time of waiting, the Season of Advent. Let us face it: we cannot solve the problem of people who are always late. For various reasons, they have a need to be always late. As a side note, it is revelatory that they do not miss their plane flights or Amtrak trains when they travel, but the rest of the world is always waiting for them. We know that Advent is the Church's time of vigilance and waiting. Let's take this Advent time and make it a time to be productively getting ready. Let's get ourselves ready for a very special coming. After all, as Christian believers, we really have nothing - absolutely nothing - better to do.


The Irresistible Power of Loving Compassion

11-26-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

"Dear God!" I said this past week a few different times. I just realized that this Sunday is the last Sunday of the Church year and that next weekend we begin the Season of Advent with Christmas just 4 weeks later. Did we not just have Easter a few weeks ago? I clearly remember July 4th as just 2 to 3 weeks ago. Time moves, and moves, and then moves some more. I know when I was in early elementary school time took a long while to pass, but as I move through the years as an adult, times passes way too quickly. I hope that the passage of time and my life experiences have helped me to become more philosophic and a better person.


Giving Thanks

11-19-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

I have been thinking about the three days in our Parish last weekend and what went on. Are you aware that over 6000, yes - six thousand (!), people were at our church and attended various Masses and Services? That was an extraordinary weekend for our Parish. Are you aware that over two hundred - yes, well over 200 (!) volunteers were involved in all these events? In our Parish we had daily Masses, Funeral Mass, 3 Masses with Confirmation and 6 Sunday Masses and Baptisms.


Tending Our Circle of Light

11-12-2017Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The Sacrament of Confirmation:

This weekend we welcome Bishop Robert Reed, West Regional Bishop of our Archdiocese. He will be offering the Holy Eucharist and Offering the Sacrament of Confirmation to almost 230 of our young people. May they be infused with the Holy Spirit so that they will live each day in the Lights and the Ways of the Lord Jesus. Holy Spirit, come upon them. Amen!


Humility, Compassion and Service

11-05-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Anyone observing governmental and societal leaders would conclude that the best leaders are models of character. Besides speaking and acting well, they actually live what they talk. We certainly learn in the Gospels that Jesus is truly a great leader. Indeed, he also asks his disciples to lead as he did, by serving.

Our Old Testament this weekend comes from the very short Book of Malachi, whose name means "my messenger." This truly unknown messenger of the Lord had reason to keep a low profile. His message was quite distressing in a very troubled time, the time when the resettlement of Israel after the exile took place. Everything was in confusion and doubt.


How Do We "Love One Another?"

10-29-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

At Christmas time our parish participates in "the Giving Tree" which is a beautiful and wonderful way to remember others in need. What makes this such a wonderful charitable activity for all of us is the reality that no matter your financial means, you can choose an ornament that allows you to help. Sometimes in life we only see others who are better off than ourselves and judge that they should be the people to help. Our "Giving Tree" allows all of us to recognize that God has gifted each one of us and that we need to respond in charity to helping someone else. In recognizing that we all are called to help others, we can recognize that others feel pain and empathize with them despite our circumstances. Being empathetic allows us to understand about people who feel alienated or sorrowful or just "not like us."


God's Greatness

10-22-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Life is not always so clear that I always know what to say. Sometimes trying to figure out how to answer someone is quite frustrating. Sometimes when I am walking along, a person "ambushes" me with a question. My immediate response in my head is to say "I do not answer questions when I am standing. I can only answer when I am sitting down." I want to say this because I know the situation requires a correct response and I need some time to get it out of my brain to my mouth. Sad to say most of the time, I come up with the correct and sensitively spoken answer later that day or the next. I later reflect and say "I should have said this, or that." Have you noticed in the Gospels how Jesus is quite quick on his feet and able to answer right away? Even those people who were trying to manipulate and trick Jesus, Jesus answered with the correct response. He did not give snide or demeaning answers. He answered them, treating them with dignity and respect.


Our Invitation to the Banquet

10-15-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our schools across the country, the classrooms tend to have over 20 or 25 students, often as many as 35. As a result of these larger census issues, parents are unable to invite an entire classroom to their child's birthday party. Some decisions and choices have to be made by the parents. Some of the youngsters will receive invitations while others will not. Most parents prudently caution their children not to discuss the plans at school or around those not invited in order to avoid hurt feelings. Word gets out anyway. What do the uninvited do? Sometimes they sulk, sabotage, cry, or complain. Once in a while they get creative and all the uninvited head to one of their backyards and have a great time of it themselves. Even when we're feeling left out, God always invites us. There's always a "backyard" to go to with God.


The Grapes of Our Vines

10-08-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

In our first reading, we learn that the prophet Isaiah has composed a song about his good friend, the vineyard keeper. We are not told this right away in the passage, but we learn the vineyard keeper is actually God. The thoughtful and hardworking keeper first decided on which land to plant, then the land was cleared of stones. After doing all this, he planted the vines and constructed a special vat and watchtower. As farming plans can go, the crop had every chance to become perfect, but it didn't. Surprisingly wild grapes grew instead, and the keeper became irritated and quite upset. His only recourse was to let the vineyard go and become whatever it would. Certainly there is a lot of symbolism in this story for God and our lives.


Free Will

10-01-2017Pastoral ReflectionsFather Brian Manning

Many of us live or work with people who seem to live in the past. Whenever they are with you, they seem to be frozen in time. They are waiting for some past time that was "bigger, brighter or shinier" than the present. They often fail to recognize that this nostalgic past that they wait again for was not perfect, that in fact it had its flaws, mistakes and wrongdoings in it. Indeed living in the past even spiritually is dangerous to one's health of mind, body and soul. All the readings today encourage us to change from the harmful ways of the past and live in good emotional and spiritual health during the present.