First Sunday in Lent

02-26-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

As we begin 2023 Lent this Sunday, we start with a story from the very beginning of the Bible, and it is a story that talks about how “all our problems etc.” began. It is clear when we hear the story; Adam and Eve could not resist the seduction of the serpent. They did not realize that they were being tested, and unfortunately they failed. However, our later reading in the Gospel when Jesus is tested by the Devil with three ever so desirable temptations, namely food, celebrity status and power, He resisted. Our second reading this week is from Saint Paul, and it illustrates the differences between these two events. It is ironic that human disobedience brought about sin and death and then through human obedience we are freed from sin and death. Despite it all, we are truly blessed with the gift of salvation.


Parish Updates

02-19-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Instead of a Pastoral Reflection this week, this is a brief letter to keep everyone in the loop on life here at Saint Mary’s Parish. Obviously the church year is spinning along with Ash Wednesday and Lent just around the corner. Soon, (yes soon!), it will be Holy Week with the most spiritual Services and Masses for Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Vigil & Easter Sunday. Hopefully during this special Season of Lent you will be able to grow spiritually by intentional practice and prayer. Perhaps you might consider coming to the Stations of the Cross Service each Friday at 7 PM in the Chapel (lower level of the church) during Lent. An intentional devotional prayer service during Lent is a graced way to grow in closeness to God and meaningful purpose in your life.


Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time

02-12-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

A common theme often expressed in our culture is that we are all special and equal, but then we also add silently “Well, I am extra special.” We tend to like to have positive thoughts that we are egalitarian in principle and thought, but in fact by practice we often think we are either “special” or “exempt” from the responsibilities or rules of life which other people should observe. Our topics in the scripture this weekend are a further set of reflections upon the meaning of the Beatitudes in that we must consider the spirit and letter of the (holy) Law and also our personal freedom to choose.


5th Sunday in Ordinary Time

02-05-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

In this weekend’s Gospel, we discover a continuation of the Sermon on the Mount. The great Beatitudes “sermon” focuses on the inner qualities or dispositions of all people. The Gospel this weekend focuses clearly upon those who are followers of Jesus Christ. This means it is focused on us. This talk of salt and light is a talk about us being salt and light. Both these images have been commonly used through the centuries and cultures to describe good and decent people. Someone who is consistently good to others is often called “the salt of the earth”, Often, when a good person dies, it is often said that there is a little less “light in our world.”


Sermon on the Mount

01-29-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

This weekend we hear the most famous “sermon” of Jesus, the Sermon on the Mount. This is often quoted as the most inspirational talk that Jesus gave. The Gospel writer Matthew in a sense uses this talk as the first sermon which Jesus offered. In his Gospel Matthew uses an image of Jesus as the Great Moses and thus he has Jesus give a great talk on a mountainside. Moses delivered the Ten Commandments from a mountainside and in Matthew, Jesus delivers His Beatitudes from a mountainside. The following four weeks of readings from the Gospel of Matthew are actually a continuation of the Great Sermon on the Mount. These coming four weeks are in a various sense an explanation of the Great Sermon. Sometimes a speech which is eloquent and brief needs to be explained by many other small speeches.


Third Sunday in Ordinary Time

01-22-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners,
I have made great improvement in recovery. I decided that it was better to offer you a Reflection from a few years past because I am not yet functioning at full capacity. Recovery takes time.

Thanks and God bless, Father Brian.

Pastoral Reflections:

We launch out this Sunday on our Church’s yearlong proclamation and reflection upon on the Gospel according to Matthew is proclaimed to us each Sunday for the thirty-three Sundays in Ordinary Time. This Gospel directly links Jesus to the Old Testament. The narrative of the nativity of Jesus always adds frequently the refrain: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet …” (Matthew 1:22). Thus in today’s Gospel reading, Matthew tells us that Jesus carries out his mission to fulfill an Old Testament prophecy.


Second Sunday in Ordinary Time

01-15-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners,
Some of us practice medicine without a license or any formal medical education. I am an excellent diagnostician for others, but very poor one for myself. Some of you may be aware that I had a health emergency at the past Sunday’s NOON Mass. I had a near fainting spell. I was taken to the hospital where I was diagnosed with COVID. I thought I was recovering from the Flu. So my apologies to the people who were alarmed, my gratitude to those who expressed concern and said a little pray for me. I am now recovering, but will allow a doctor to diagnose me from now on.
God bless. Fr. Brian

PS: Below is a Reflection from a few years ago on the Baptism of the Lord Sunday.


Feast of the Epiphany

01-08-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Although the story of the Three Kings on this Feast of the Epiphany is that they presented gifts to Jesus, in a special sense the story is really about starting with the Three Kings and then all of us are also receiving a gift this feast day: the appearance of the Infant Jesus among us throughout the world. Recall that Jesus had appeared to a few shepherds in Bethlehem, symbolically the Chosen people and He now appears to the Three Kings, consequently symbolically He appears to all of us throughout all time. There is also a subtle and second lesson for us in the story of the Magi, the Three Kings that we must go after and seek this New-Born King Jesus in our lives.


New Year's Day

01-01-2023Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Since I was a young boy January 1st has had in our Church Tradition many and various Feast Names and Titles, however it appears that the only one which has stayed consistent though time is the secular one: New Year’s Day. I recall when January 1st was the Feast Holy Name of Jesus, the Feast of the Circumcision or the Feast of Mary, Mother of God. Pope Paul suggested that the proper Mass to celebrate on this day was the Mass for Peace. All in all it has been considered a Day of Obligation for Catholics despite the various names. I would suspect that sometime we are in search of a title or name for an event and the obvious is just too obvious for us. Why would we make something clear when it can be obscured? I would suggest that it is a wonderful and great truth to gather on the first day of the new calendar year and ask for God’s protection and grace for our loved ones and ourselves. Expressing dependence and connection with our God on the first day of a new year is a wonderful step in our journey of life. It may help to give focus and definition to our coming year that we invoked God’s blessing for us as we stepped into our new year.


Merry Christmas

12-25-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

To you and all those you hold close in your heart, I wish a Blessed and Merry Christmas and a wonderful and peaceful New Year! - Father Brian

When it is sunny, crisp and clear in New England on Christmas morning, when you leave church which is decorated in rich and green colors with the Manger as a focal point, do you feel like all the ends of the earth had seen the glory of the only Son, coming from the Father, filled with enduring love.  


Advent is over soon, just one week to go to December 25th and Christmas

12-18-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Wow! Advent is over soon, just one week to go to December 25th and Christmas. Our “waiting and watchfulness” will soon end. Perhaps before the final run up to Christmas occurs, we can find a little quiet time, perhaps in our car as we are driving, to think about Christmas and Jesus.


“Gaudete Sunday” which means “Rejoice Sunday” because the wait for Christmas is Almost Over

12-11-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Most people look forward to Christmas, however often there are many different reasons and people do not always share the same motivation or desires. Christmas for most young children is a wondrous and exciting time, high school age and college age young people may look forward to its long school break, families may look forward to the special time that is spent with each other. Lots of reasons; some overlap, some do not. We are now at the Third Sunday of Advent and Christmas and its actual Season is getting closer and closer. Because it is so near, some folks are joyful. By custom, the Catholic Church calls the Third Sunday in Advent “Gaudete Sunday” which means “Rejoice Sunday” because the wait for Christmas is almost over.


2nd Sunday of Advent

12-04-2022Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Are you aware that the future is rooted in the present moment and time? This means what we do now influences and shapes the future. We cannot really tell the future or “predict it”, but we can think rationally and logically about our present actions and how they influence the future. As people of faith, we know that our lives are in the hands of God and also we know that we do not control our lives. To some extent the future is now. Our present acts and attitudes create our future.