Good morning St. Patrick families, Please remember that Grandparents Day t-shirt orders are due by Friday, January 18 in order to be delivered in time for kids and grandparents to wear them on Grandparents Day, Feb. 2.Â Â You can turn your order in at the office or fill out the excel spreadsheet online and send your money to the office. Spreadsheet:Â docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1KM45IUtw1bGyyAVJxLmhnj_Az_qWenEthHKv1hpZINU/edit?usp=sharing Order Form:Â docs.google.com/document/d/16wTbhp0j9KeMQFb7z6ENKHc0hTuNPFb36HwHIY7glIM/edit?usp=sharing Â Have a great day! Kaci Monaghan Principal St. Patrick School
It was bedtime for six-year old Maria. Her dad was at the computer, finishing up a report due at work the next day.
After a few minutes, he realized Maria was standing next to him. “Honey, what do you need?” He asked. “Daddy is kind of busy.”
“It’s bedtime, Daddy. I came to say goodnight.”
Still keeping one eye on his work, he gave Maria a hug and a kiss.
“Good night, sweet pea. Sleep tight. I love you. Now off to bed,” Dad said, quickly returning to his report.
Again, after a few minutes, he realized Maria was still standing next to him. “Honey, I gave you a hug and kiss. What do you want now?”
Little Maria said, “Yes, Daddy. You did give me a hug and kiss. But you really weren’t into it. How about doing it again, but this time give me your full attention.”
If we claim to be among Jesus’ followers, then Jesus demands that we be “into it” with him – that we give him our full attention – not just our passing thoughts from time to time – as we keep ourselves focused on something else.
True discipleship demands a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives – true discipleship compels us to seek the presence of God in all things.
Today we celebrate the Baptism of Jesus – the official close to the Christmas season. But as we celebrate Jesus’ baptism – we are called to remember our own Baptism – when three things happened to us after the life-giving waters of Baptism were poured over us:
We were anointed with the Oil of Chrism: and reminded that just as Christ was anointed priest, prophet, and king – so, too, are we. . . which in part means we strive to make ourselves, and those around us – holy. >>
We accept the call to announce the good news of the kingdom by comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable. And we are good stewards of all the things God has loaned to us for our time here on earth: every quality and skill, every kind and generous impulse, every material things we possess and every holy thing that dwells in our hearts and minds.
The second thing that happened to us at the time of our Baptism – was that we were clothed in a white garment – and asked to see in it – the outward sign of the change that took place within us – our dedication to Christ – and asked to keep our Christian dignity unstained – on our journey toward the kingdom of God –
which demands a constant awareness of God’s presence in our lives – and not just our passing thoughts from time to time.
And third, we were given a candle lit from the Easter or Paschal candle – symbolizing the light of Christ – and were challenged to walk always in the light of Christ, rather than in the darkness of sin – something which, again, compels us to seek the presence of God in all things.
Last week we were told that the Magi were “overjoyed” at finding Jesus in Bethlehem. May we always be “overjoyed” at being called to follow Christ as a priest, prophet, and king.
And, like the Magi, may we always “search diligently” for Christ in our lives – so that we can always walk in his wonderful light – rather than in the darkness of sin.
To do both of these things – will require that we be “into it” with Jesus – that we give him our full attention – and not just our passing thoughts from time to time – as we keep focusing on something else, rather than him.
This is certainly a new year’s resolution fit for us all. . .
Christ our Light. . .
I’m back. . . after four weeks of guest speakers in Advent and on Christmas, and after our deacons preached on the feast of the Holy Family – now you’re stuck with me. . . for a while. . .
So on this feast of the Epiphany we hear a great one liner: “Then they opened their treasures. . .”
I’m sure we have all had the experience of loaning something of ours to someone else – and we know that can kind of be tricky business. We might be a bit hesitant to loan anything that really matters a great deal to us – it might get broken or it might get lost.
But probably the reason that causes us the most anxiety – is that when we loan something to someone else — WE MIGHT NOT GET IT BACK!!
And that can be frustrating. Sometimes people just forget. Sometimes they turn around and loan they thing they borrowed to someone else. Or in some cases – they just decide they like the thing so much – they keep it for themselves!
And so we mention and remind and nag repeatedly about returning whatever it is we loaned to them – sometimes even offering to come by and pick it up ourselves. . . Sometimes that works, other times it doesn’t –
and the thing or things we lent disappear into the black hole of no return – never to be seen again.
So pay attention to this one liner: God has loaned to us – and God wants his stuff back!!
“Then they opened their treasures.”
As we celebrate the Epiphany – we remember the incredible story of the magi from the east attempting to find the newborn king of the Jews. This is one of the stories which can take a homilist off in many different directions – perhaps preaching about light and darkness // or the journey each of us has to take to discover the divine // or how God is alive and well and at work in hearts and minds of people outside of our group: religious, ethnic, race, status – however we want to divide up the pie // or how we need to strive to see God in the most unlikeliest of places. . . and all of those are valid directions to take a homily. . .
But I think sometimes we can forget the simple, obvious messages in a story – and this might be one of those times.
You see, in one sense, this story shows people simply going to great lengths and distances — to give gifts to someone they feel deserves them. It really might not be any more complicated than that.
Of course, each of the gifts have some symbolic significance, which is another homily in itself – but we, having two thousand years of perspective – know how much Jesus really did deserve those gifts – because he is after all – God: Emmanuel, God with us.
A so the story of the magi, in our time and place, becomes kind of a model for our own spiritual lives – a story worth imitating – a story about an encounter between God and his people – between a creator and his creation – between a spirit and those within whom that spirit dwells – a story about a Savior and those he died to save. . . And if that’s the case, and we certainly believe it is — then WHAT DOES GOD DESERVE FROM US?
Remember the one liner I told you to pay attention to: God has loaned to us – and God wants his stuff back. . .
The most important word in that sentence is the possessive pronoun: HIS. You see, every good thing we have and every good thing we are able to do – every quality and skill, every kind or generous impulse, every material thing we possess and every holy thing that dwells in our hearts, minds, and souls — it all belongs to God. Every bit of it.
And God is simply lending it to us – throughout our lifetime here on earth. God has loaned to us – and God wants his stuff back. . .
And so will we give back to God what is his already?
You might want to think that we are sort of “off the hook” – after all it might seem impossible to return to God what is God’s. I mean – where exactly do we drop these things off? Where do we take them to return them? How does God go about collecting what is his? Where is our Bethlehem manger?
You might know the answer: “Then they opened their treasures. . .”
My sisters and brothers – there is only ONE way to give to God what God has loaned to us. And that is by paying these things forward to each person in need of a little kindness, a little mercy, a little understanding, a little generosity, a little love.
By sharing with others, especially with those who are not as blessed as we are — by sharing with others all the good things God has given us and done for us — we are giving back to God what was his all along. Love of others IS love of God – they are not separate things. . .
It’s not a stretch to say that, at its core, the spiritual life is a life of good stewardship: it’s nothing more than gifting to others what has been gifted to us.
And so let’s become good at – downright experts at – opening our treasures and laying them at the feet of every person who needs to experience God and experience God’s great love and mercy and generosity. . .
May the magi be an example of what and who we are called to be every single day. In others words – let’s start giving God his stuff back!!
Happy New Year St. Patrick families! I hope you had a wonderfully relaxing holiday break, finding time to celebrate with friends and family!Â As a reminder, we are back to school on TUESDAY, January 8th and we can’t wait to see our students!!Â Â Please see the link below for my short newsletter this week.Â Have a great weekend! www.smore.com/gwd59-ms-monaghan-s-message-january-4 Kaci MonaghanPrincipal St. Patrick School
Today we gather to celebrate a Solemnity in honor of Mary – a day on which we remember, give thanks for, and ask for the prayers of the Blessed Mother under the title “Mother of God.”
In the early church there was much disagreement, believe it or not – about who Jesus was – and at the Council of Ephesus in 431 AD – the Church declared that this title, Mother of God, was entirely appropriate for Mary.
In doing so they were affirming two things: first, that Mary did indeed give birth to Jesus – and second, Jesus was indeed – God – the second person of the Blessed Trinity.
To say that Mary’s life was remarkable, is an understatement. It was a one-of-a-kind life. And the way she lived out her life did nothing short of change the world.
And yet, there seems to have been a certain kind of simplicity about Mary – a certain kind of focus, a certain kind of humility and openness that allowed her to say “yes” to God – NOT simply once – but throughout her life.
It’s as if God kept inviting Mary to a certain way of living, a certain kind of life – a generous, loving, trusting kind of life – and she was willing to give whatever God was asking for,
was willing to bring whatever it was that God was asking her to bring— to her corner of the world.
And one day – one incredible day – God asked her through an angel to bear a son, the Messiah, the living God who was about to visit his people. We know Mary’s answer and how the story ultimately unfolded. In a very real sense, Mary gifted the whole world by saying “yes” – bringing the Incarnate God to a world desperately in need of him and his saving love.
And aren’t we supposed to do the same?
Sometimes we might think that our lives are radically different from Mary’s. And in many ways they are. After all, she lived a long time ago – when things we a bit less complicated, commercial and technical. . .
However, her life was NOT different in every way – certainly NOT in the most important ways –the ways that make a difference in the lives of others, the ways that change hearts and families and nations and the world. You see, if life is a party, if life is the celebration and manifestation of God’s great love and creative power — then Mary was asked to bring one thing and one thing only to the party — GOD
And she did it in the fullest sense possible.
What are we bringing to the party??
Cynicism? Judgement? Negativity? Despair? Hopelessness? Selfishness? A vengeful heart?
What exactly are we bringing in response to God’s invitation to life – what are we bringing to God’s people?
Like Mary, we are asked to simply bring one thing to all the circumstances and situations of our lives – one PERSON actually – the Lord Jesus – Emmanuel – God with us – and within us.
Of course, the precise way we bring God to others, the way we show them the face of God as best we can, does depend on our own unique strengths and weaknesses,
It depends on our individuality and our personality. But the gift is the same – and the world can never have too much of it – never have too much of God – never have too much love or mercy or kindness or generosity.
And so let’s say yes to God, say yes to the holy invitation – an invitation not unlike the one God gave Mary long ago. Let’s look to Mary to show us how to bring Christ into our lives and world.
Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us!
So on behalf of all of us at St. Patrick – our parish and school staff: we extend to all of you a very blessed and holy Christmas. And hope that Christ’s love may be very present in your gatherings of family and friends.
A special welcome to all who are visiting us from out of town. Know that when you ARE in town – you are always welcome here at St. Patrick. We hope you enjoy your visit enough to want to come back sometime. . .
So here at St. Patrick, during the homily – we often times have guest speakers- giving us their take on things. Tonight (today) is one of those times. . .
My name is Benjamin Malon – most people just call me Ben.
And for those of you who are fluent in Aramaic – you already have a clue as to why I was invited to be here today. . .
For my last name, Malon, means “a place of lodging for the night.” I was an innkeeper – in a little town called Bethlehem.
And much like the Apostle Thomas continues to be known for just one choice he made – doubting the resurrection of Jesus – old Ben Malon is remembered for one choice I made. . .
Now many people think I am some sort of cruel, heartless landlord: after all, I’m not part of any Nativity set. I haven’t heard any carols about me or seen my likeness on any Christmas cards. And there doesn’t even seem to be any painting throughout all of history that includes me either.
So I am here to set the record straight – once and for all.
First off – it wasn’t me that wanted the whole world counted in a census – lay that at the feet of Caesar Augustus.
He was the one that set all those people on the road! Oh, it was going to be a boon for the economy – all those people needing to find food and shelter on the road.
But Bethlehem?? We’re just a bump in the road. We’re less than a day’s journey from the big city of Jerusalem – now that’s where all the 5 star hotels were to be found. NOT Bethlehem!
And remember, each family was to go to the place where their ancestors were from. Both Mary and her husband, Joseph, were from King David’s branch of the Jewish tree – and thus they came to Bethlehem.
Did they not have relatives that could take them in? An aunt, an uncle, a cousin 5 times removed – that had an extra room, or an extra bed, or someplace they could have stayed? Nobody ever bothers to ask these questions – they just want to blame me. . .
I guess they had no one – and that’s why they came knocking on my door, like so many others.
I must have gotten in and out of bed 10 times that night! Stubbing my toes as I stumbled over sleeping bodies just to get to the door.
“No more room,” I would shout. “Sorry folks – there’s just no more room! Come back in the morning – as I have a couple of families leaving then.”
Those knocking in the search for shelter—would all mutter something under their breath – and then head back out into the night. Most probably ended up sleeping on the ground along the road – or snuggled up against a building somewhere – much like drunken shepherds on a Saturday night after the sheep have been shorn. All because every place in Bethlehem had been booked – months in advance!
But when Joseph knocked that night – it was different. He was a burly man with big arms and strong hands.
And he was quick to explain how he and his wife had travelled more than 100 miles from Nazareth over a rough and rocky terrain.
And his wife was PREGNANT – one look at her, and even I knew it was not going to be long before the census count would go up by one!
And so Joseph, just would not take NO for an answer—my cry of NO MORE ROOM – was not going to work for him.
“Is there any place, anywhere?” he pleaded. . .
I pulled the door closed just a bit, and hastily consulted my wife, Sarah: “Is there any place, anywhere?” I asked. “She’s pregnant.”
Sarah said, “there is already 3 or 4 people in every bed, and people sleeping on all the couches – and you know, yourself, the floors are all taken up with bodies making it an obstacle course just to get to the door.”
We whispered back and forth, racking our brains, trying to come up with some kind of solution.
When suddenly, I thought of the stable – at the back of the Inn. It’s not much, but it is protected from the wind. And the body heat form the animals makes it a warm place – no matter how cold it gets outside, like it was on this particular starry night.
I flung open the door, and welcomed the couple with a broad smile. I explain that I don’t have much – but there is the possibility of the stable – will it do??
Joseph said it will – and it did, as they offered their thanks for a place to stay.
So instead of their child being born on the roadside – he is at least to be born out of the elements.
For that you would think I would be remembered for saving the day –or saving the night – as it was – and deserved at least a line or two in a Christmas song!
But instead, I am remembered only for having no room in my inn!! Gees, the thanks you get!
Anyway, the couple were settled – and so back to bed I crept. And about the time I was drifting back to sleep under the warm covers – I heard a commotion – out back – by the stable!
So I got up, yet again, stumbled out to the stable and was ready to run off a bunch of raggedy, smelly old shepherds that had showed up – who I thought were also looking for a place to stay.
Just as I was about to raise my voice – Joseph motioned me over with his hand and whispered: “It’s okay – they’ve come to see the newborn Christ.”
It was only then that I noticed the child had already been born – need I remind you – in a warm place – not out on the road – thank you very much: and then what Joseph said – hit me:
The newborn Christ? As in the long-awaited Messiah? Who are these people?
I noticed the shepherds, and it seemed – even the animals were kneeling in adoration – so I knelt, too. And watched. And prayed. And listened– to one old shepherd whose face was lined by years of sweat and sin – recount a story of angels and heavenly glory, and a sign of a holy baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, to be found in a stable in Bethlehem – of all places!
And I proudly thought: it’s my stable where this baby was born. My manger in which he rested. My straw, my animals. . .
The shepherds left after a while. Most of them leaned over and kissed the sleeping Christ-child before they departed.
It was then I started to figure out just how important this family was. . . and vowed that even though I did not have room for this child to be born in my inn — I would always make room for him in my heart. AND THAT’S WHY YOU NEED TO DO:
During Advent — the prophets Jeremiah, Baruch, Zephaniah, and Micah – all safely guided and directed you here to Bethlehem – so don’t blow it now!
No matter what – always make room for Christ in your heart. Other things will try to crowd him out – but give him a place to come and dwell in your heart and give him a role in guiding your life — and your life will never be the same! Just like my life was never the same.
So, I’m Ben Mallon, an innkeeper in Bethlehem. And as you NOW know – I’m not some mean, heartless, person. I was there. I saw him. I did make room for him. Which is what we all need to do.
So join me in singing: O Come, let us adore Him. O Come, let us adore Him. O come, let us adore Him – Christ, the LORD!
My name is Micah – your fourth and final guest speaker for Advent! How quickly the time has gone by!
Micah means “like God”, certainly appropriate for me, because like God: I have a deep and abiding love for all people – because of course, all are created in the image and likeness of God.
Like God: I have deep and abiding concern for the poor and the outcast – especially widows, orphans and aliens: foreigners, from other lands.
And like God: I have a deep and abiding disdain for all those who disregard the needs of the lowly and the down-trodden – so could not remain silent before the leaders of Israel – who at the time I was writing –
Were exploiting the poor by taking their land – and heaping injustice upon injustice on them – and then were distracting everyone else from the plight of the poor with threats and rumors of war: dividing the people of Israel, one against another, rather than uniting them. I’m sure you don’t have such problems in your day. . .
So like God: I was speaking on behalf of the downtrodden –a prophet of divine justice for the rights of the poor.
Like my contemporary, the prophet Isaiah: I always spoke on behalf of the forgotten ones – the runts of the litter – and liked to point out that’s where we can so often find God’s actions at work.
When God was looking for someone to be the Father of his great nation – whose descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky – God did not turn to some young, mighty king –
But chose a nomadic, OLD, shepherd – Abraham and his wife Sarah for the task.
When God was looking for someone to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt to freedom in the promised land – God did not turn to some eloquent and proven leader –
But chose the tongue-tied Moses for the task.
When God was looking for someone to become King of Israel – God did not turn to the oldest or the brawniest of Jesse’s sons –
But he turned to the youngest and the scrawniest: David – just as God also sent him up against the giant, Goliath – allowing this runt to rise in favor among his people by slaying this mighty foe.
Little wonder, then, that in the fullness of time, when God chose to enter into the world – God chose to come not as a powerful leader of an invading army – but came quietly, and hardly noticed as a tiny, little baby – not born in some great palace in a great city – but in an animals’ feed trough – in the little town of Bethlehem:
“Thus says the lord: you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah – too small to be among the clans of Judah:
From you shall come forth for me one who is to be the ruler of Israel.”
And the mother of that tiny, little baby was no to be some wealthy or prominent woman – but the poor and obscure – Mary — from a bump-in-the-road hill country town of Nazareth – who was not even married at the time she conceived!
Yes, God seems to favor the lowly, the poor, the forgotten, the downtrodden, the runts of the litter. God often appears in the most unlikely of places at the most inconvenient of times – because God is in charge! God is the king of the universe!
All of this having been said – what I would ask of you this week is to deal with a common thought and emotion many people have when it comes to encountering and experiencing God – the thoughts and feelings of being unworthy:
Yes, the thought that when it comes to opening oneself to the great gift of God’s love – you should be passed over – because somehow you don’t deserve such a gift!
Well, you are right in a way – you don’t deserve it – because no one does – and that’s what makes it pure gift – the fact that no one can earn it or deserve it.
If God only came to the just – and if God only came to the deserving, the strong, the wise, and the sinless – then God would be getting pretty lonely in heaven. . .
No, God rains down his love on the just as well as the unjust – on the saint and most especially on the sinner – because that is just the nature of God. God is love!
So get over those feelings of being unworthy. Quit putting yourself down as undeserving. And join in the long list of God’s favor showered upon the lowly, the poor, the forgotten, the despised, the downtrodden – the runts of the litter: Abraham. Moses. David. Bethlehem. Mary.
God is love – and God’s love is to come to you soon in a special way on the feast of Christmas. But God’s love is already present among us. That’s the love you are to carry as good news – to all those who need it – the poor and the outcast – especially widows, orphans, and aliens: foreigners from other lands. Loving words, and compassionate actions which unite the people of God—rather than dividing them. . .
O Come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of humankind.
O bid our sad divisions cease, and be for us our Prince of Peace.
Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel. Shall come to you O Israel!
Good Morning St. Patrick families, I hope you have a restful and blessed Christmas!Â Thank you for sharing your children with us at St. Patrick School! Please see the link below for my message this week.Â Â Â www.smore.com/zxyw9-ms-monaghan-s-message-dec-21 Â Merry Christmas! Kaci Monaghan Principal St. Patrick School
Good Morning St. Patrick families, Please see the link below for my message this week.Â I hope you have a happy and restful weekend and I hope to see you tomorrow at St. Nick’s Small Mall! www.smore.com/nkcu7-ms-monaghan-s-message-dec-14 Have a great day, Kaci Monaghan Principal St. Patrick School