A New Vision

04-24-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

The last two months have certainly altered our perceptions and understandings about our daily world and life. It appears that whatever people were seeking and whatever things people thought were foundational or essential to life have certainly changed or been shifted. The closedown of our daily life as we know it and the imposing of "social distancing" have caused many people to ponder in positive and also negative ways the meaning of their lives, what their past has been, and also what their future may be like. These past months have allowed and sometimes forced people to ask about "who and what really matters in life." Before all this, many people had been traveling along just presuming everything which we have was good and everything we desired was even better.

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The Test of Faith

04-24-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

We are now two weeks after Easter and coming to the wonderful days when there is long hours of sunlight and hopefully, after all it is New England, of warmer days. Last Saturday reminded us of how quickly weather can change in New England, real snow on the ground in the middle of April, and then the next day sunlight and almost warmth in the air. Although most of us do not admit easily change, especially rapid change and the accompanying confusion is upsetting. When we lose the ritual and rhythms of our life, we often get confused, angry or lost.

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The Power of the Risen Lord in Us

04-17-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

It is certainly very strange to be writing about the Sunday after Easter when in a certain sense there has been no Easter Celebration here at Saint Mary's. The intense days of Holy Week from Palm Sunday through the Easter Vigil and on to Easter Sunday have not taken place as they usually do. Gathering in front of the flat screen to unite ourselves in prayer with either Cardinal Seán at our Cathedral in Boston or with Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Square in Rome may help our inner being and spiritual self, but it simply does not take the place of physically coming to our holy ground and lifting up our hearts and souls to our God who has loved us.

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Hymns are great expressions of faith in the Risen Lord

04-17-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary Parish,

Growing up in Roslindale on my street there were 4 churches within a five minute walk of my home. Almost across the street was the United Methodist Church and just 4 houses up from us was Sacred Heart (Catholic) Church. On Easter Sunday, I could hear the bells from both. The Methodist Church played “Let the holy anthems rise” and the Catholic Sacred Heart played “Jesus Christ is risen today.” Both hymns are great expressions of faith in the Risen Lord. I must confess I have always liked the “Let the holy anthems rise” much better, though I like both. I think it is because of the melody of the hymn. At Mass a lot of our music which we sang was the atonal plain chant. The tonal flatness of chant may be soothing, but overtime it can make go everything flat. Regular music (polyphony) was for entrance and recessional hymns most of the time. Music is said to be able to express what is in one’s soul. Certainly the various tones and rhythms of modern music can accomplish this. Gregorian Chant which seems to come from Asian chanting can calm the heart and comfort the spirit, but it does not seem to make one come alive. Here at Saint Mary’s the blending of these two styles of music under the direction of our most talented and capable Music Director Terry Kerr allows all of us to have a stilled heart and an alive spirit.

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Walk by Faith

04-12-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Who could have imagined in their wildest dreams — even writers of high tech futuristic space alien dramas could not have foreseen — that we would not be gathering in our holy sanctuary at Saint Mary's Franklin to proclaim and sing Alleluia! on this Easter Sunday 2020. Or that the most beautiful service of Holy Thursday when we remember the Institution of our most precious and sacred gift of the Holy Eucharist would come and go this year only by watching it on TV. I have always treasured the Stations of the Cross of Good Friday. To me, they speak much more than the Evening Service. I feel the loss of this beautiful devotional celebration this year very deeply. For those who attend the elaborate ritual of the Easter Vigil which is celebrated with Fire, Water and Word, it must still the heart to miss those deeply spiritual ceremonies in our church.

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The Sacred Triduum

04-10-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

This evening we begin the Solemn Celebration of the "Sacred Triduum," which means we gather to celebrate Holy Thursday and the Institution of the Holy Eucharist, Good Friday and the Lord' Death, and also on Saturday evening the Easter Vigil and on Sunday Easter Mass, both which proclaim with great joy that Christ is risen from the dead.

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We Will Come Through This

04-05-2020Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

Certainly this year Palm Sunday 2020, which is the portal to all of Holy Week and the Great Easter Celebration, has taken on a strange way. We are not able to gather in our holy church and hear the proclamation of Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem. We are not able to listen with our hearts to the stirring words of the Passion and Death of Jesus as proclaimed at the time of the Gospel Passion Narrative. At best we can listen with devotion and participate with our hearts as the Great Services of Holy Week take place on the Catholic Channel. This year we join with millions of others throughout the world in a very different way. We shall be using TV as the substitute for our local parish church. Passion Sunday introduces us to the Great Week—Holy Week. Nonetheless, we are followers of Jesus Christ and his Way and this coming week we will with fidelity and devotion remember the great story of the reality of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Media, even the advanced media of today, is not a substitute for physical presence and contact. We know that, as much as we Skype or Facetime our family and friends, we still yearn to see them face to face and to hug them closely.

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Holy Week

04-03-2020Letter from Fr. BrianRev. Brian F. Manning

Dear Parishioners and Friends of Saint Mary's,

During the Virtual Retreat offered by Cardinal Seán, he spoke of the inspiring hymn "All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you."

This hymn, which we often sing with passion, will have great meaning if we launch our new-style Holy Week 2020 with remembering how the Lord Jesus has loved us. In the good times, in the bad times, in the lost times, in the scary times, and actually in all times the Lord has always loved us and surrounded us with his grace. This week as we are able to watch on the Catholic Channel on our cable system or via the website catholictv.org, we will be celebrating in faith how the Lord has loved us. We remember and celebrate that he has lived, died, and risen from the dead for each and every one of us.

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