Parish Council Notes from Meeting December 17, 2017

Present for meeting: Polly Flynn, Stephen Syckes, Christopher Klofft, Joanne Ferrie, Ann-Marie Sheehan, Fr. Riley * Some maintenance work has been done around the Church with new railings at two of the 3 walkways at the stairs that come from the parking lot to the Church at the cost of $700. More work is expected for the brick walkway on the rectory side of the Church where much cracking has occurred, as well as work on the railing and handicap walkway that lead into the Church where the bottom sections of the railings are separating from the cement. Cost is expected to be approximately $4500. * Our Parish has a new snow plowing company for the grounds, Polito, Inc. Fr. Riley switched to this company because a parishioner, Steve DiGiovanni, works for them and presented a similar proposal back in September, which was accepted. Also, they have the necessary equipment to do the needed work for our large property. * In Religious Education, Fr. Riley noted that our 2nd grade class received their First Reconciliation on December 2. Also, most of our children and youth participated in the Christmas Pageant. * Our Parish Activities Committee had a successful Turkey-Lurkey back in November. They will be returning to serving breakfast on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month beginning in the New Year, and not just the 3rd Sunday as has been the case since September. * Stephen Sycks noted the Boy Scout Troop 84 of our Parish will be holding their annual Christmas Tree pickup after the New Year as a fundraiser for the Troop. * Fr. Riley noted there are 2 candidates in the RCIA Program for 2017-2018. One will be baptized conditionally at the Easter Vigil, as well as receive the other Sacraments of Initiation (Holy Communion and Confirmation), and the other person will receive Confirmation and Holy Eucharist. Also, there are 2 young people in Religious Education who will also receive the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. * The Council discussed possible “Winter Works of Mercy” that the Parish can perform as a whole. One idea was an organized food drive for our Parish Food Pantry toward the end of winter. Also, the possibility of a Welcoming Committee for each Mass was presented. Closing prayer was offered by Fr. Riley

Homily 1st Sunday of Advent Cycle B December 3, 2017

Rolex, Timex, Omega. Three brands of watches that would look good on anyone’s hand. Especially the Rolex. They tell time. They help us to be on time for appointments. They help us to give someone the time who asks, who doesn’t have a watch. And the battery hardly ever needs to be changed.
As nice as these watches happen to be, they’re not the type of watch that Jesus refers to when he says to the disciples, “Watch.” He could care less if we have a Rolex or Timex on our hands. He might care more if we don’t give someone the time who asks for it, ignoring them instead. But he cares that we fully understand his brand of watch.
As we begin a new Church Year and prepare for the events in Bethlehem a few short weeks away, Jesus’ brand of watch is concerned with our being ready. To be ready to welcome him one more time, at least, into the center of our daily living. And for those of us who are here next year at this time, we’ll be given another opportunity to be ready. Most likely, a few of us will not have the opportunity next year.
The First Sunday of Advent calls for a shift in our spiritual lives, a shift that desires a deeper and more loving relationship with the Lord. There may be a few of us who believe we’ve already reached the pinnacle in our love for Jesus, reminding me of the person who came into the Confessional some years ago and said, “Father, I really don’t have any sins to confess. I just came in to say hi.” I recommend against thinking such a thing. Such a person has ceased to watch. They’ve stopped watching. They’ve stopped telling time regarding their spiritual well-being.
One reason Jesus tells us to watch is to not allow ourselves to be sidetracked regarding the continuous growth of our faith in him. If we stop watching for him in our lives, we may as well open the door and invite in the one with the pitchfork that we absolutely do not want to invite anywhere near our hearts. The one who has no business influencing who we watch for.
During this Season of Advent, a second reason to purchase Jesus’ watch is the invitation to take advantage of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. If there’s mud all over your Rolex or Omega, what’s the first action to take? The first instinct is to secure a paper towel and wipe it off so we can read it again. Keeping a Rolex or Timex dirty on the face relegates the watch to the realm of uselessness. A watch is useful only if it’s clean. And so it is with our souls.
The paper towel for our souls, for lack of a better image, is Confession. Confession is the number one paper towel produced in the history of man. It’s even better than Bounty. It cleans the human soul and heart so that we can read with accuracy the time of Jesus’ coming.
If our watch is all cluttered and muddy come December 24, then December 25 is going to mean much less to us than what it should. Advent is like a mini-Lent in that there is a penitential element to our preparation for the Lord’s coming. So when Jesus says “Watch,” one of his means of watching is watching for the confessional door to open up so that we can enter and clean up the watch of a messy soul. And what an incredibly beautiful gift it is to humbly allow the Master to freely give us a spiritual bath.
One last type of watching that connects us to Jesus’ use of the word “Watch” is that we don’t sleep on the job. I remember the one job I quit in my life that my father secured for me one summer was at the old Worcester County Hospital, now the Worcester County House of Correction. I’m glad I got out before it switched over. The job was working – and I use that word loosely – in the kitchen, bringing food to the patients for breakfast, coming back and sitting for three hours. Then bringing food to the patients for lunch, then coming back and sitting down for at least three hours. I lasted about 3 days, the same time it took for Jesus to be raised from the dead, which has some symbolism connected to that job.
My father asked me why I quit. I said, “Too much sleeping on the job.” The three days seemed like three weeks, which was probably the same feeling the Apostles had from the time Jesus was crucified until he walked out of the tomb. This is why I went to UPS, where I could stay busy all day long.
This “Watch” word of Jesus is a warning to not fall asleep on the job of discipleship. So many people have done so. There can be a short break here or there, but not 6 hours on an 8-hour shift. This watch of Jesus is a call to keep ourselves busy for his Name. Busy in quiet prayer. Busy at spiritual reading for this holy season. Busy at good works that profess love for neighbor, which we heard in last week’s Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25. Hunger, thirst, clothing, welcoming, and visiting. Five words where Jesus says “Watch.” Watch and be ready for the opportunities sent our way. Christians don’t turn our backs and fall asleep when addressing the basic needs of others who are struggling. We face them and walk toward them.
So, please don’t let this Season of Advent pass by in such a way where we have done nothing different between December 3 and December 24. Allow this quick, holy season to form and shape us spiritually in ways where God’s entrance into our world will not be just another Manic Monday on December 25. He provides all the grace we need in order to be watchful on his behalf, rather than being a piece of machinery that simply tells time and looks good.