May 4, 2020

Dear Friends,


What’s new? 


We have a newly renovated office that was begun before the Covid 19 Crisis. Because we had to replace the tile floor as a result of water damage, we decided, too, to reconfigure the office set up. It was not an expensive venture, but the improvement is priceless! When you visit the office, you’ll notice a change.


As a result of wind, we have lost shingles on the church roof. So far, we have had repair the roof twice.


Besides saying masses for the people of St. Clare and St. Vincent de Paul and preaching to myself, responding to correspondence, dealing with the mail, bills, finances, counseling via phone and performing pastoral activities like graveside services, I’ve been reviewing a Biblical adult education program that looks like a promising course for parish participation in the future.


We have applied for a loan for Paycheck Protection Plan to help the parish with payroll expenses. I am so very grateful for the weekly support that so many continue to send. Our regular utility expenses, maintenance, and minor repairs can be significant. We have withdrawn funds from our savings account to help keep us current paying our bills. Because of your generosity, which both boosted our savings in the Annual Appeal and continues regularly, we are in a safe place for the time being.


During this time of testing, the Risen Lord is with His faithful ones. He is our greatest possession. Let us pray for one another and place all our cares in the hands of the Good Shepherd.


With God’s Blessing+

Fr. Peter D’Ambrosia

April 27, 2020

Dear Friends,

 

I hope you are doing well mentally, physically, and spiritually with this period of isolation. I am well, and so is our staff. One of my brothers has the virus and is doing well.

 

I didn’t realize this shut down was going to last so long. I want to give you some reflective thoughts and periodically to stay in touch. 

 

My topic today is isolation.

 

Isolation was a major attraction in the early Church, as people would go into the desert for long periods to find themselves, their spiritual calling, and a deeper relationship with God. John the Baptist was one such person. Even Jesus spent time in the desert. Their separation from others and worldly distractions gave them the necessary silence to realize their sacred goals.

 

The Essenes, a Jewish sect, lived in the desert away from Jerusalem for this very purpose. The Desert Fathers, as they were called, sought isolation to combat the evils of pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath, and sloth -- the Seven Deadly Sins. This separation was the origin of the monastic life that, even to this day, many find attractive. Isolation can be a means to be our true selves at one with God. Today’s retreats, short periods of isolation, evolved from this beginning and goal.

 

Anthony the Hermit (or the Great), born into a wealthy family in upper Egypt about 254 AD, was a leader among the Desert Fathers, Christian monks in the Egyptian desert in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD.  In 285, he decided to follow the words of Jesus: “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasures in heaven; and come, follow Me” (Matthew 19:21). Donating his wealth to the poor and needy, Anthony ventured into the desert.

 

Known as one of the first ascetics to attempt living in the desert, Anthony wholly cut himself off from civilization in an anchoritic (isolated) lifestyle much harsher than that of his predecessors. He headed into Nitra, a rugged desert terrain west of Alexandria.

 

At one point, he lived in seclusion for twenty years to resist the temptations of the devil and draw closer to God. A community grew up around him based upon the example of his ascetic and isolated life. Many sought the counsel of such a holy man. His followers needed the company of others to survive such harsh conditions. Saint Anthony the Great lived for 105 years and died in the year 356.

 

How do we feel about our isolation today? It can be a time of prayer, reflection, study, and quiet leading us to a new and more profound spiritual growth. As Catholics, you and I can contribute to the spiritual wealth of the Church only by productively using our time of “isolation.” We can allow God the quiet time He needs to reshape us and help us to grow in holiness.

 

We are in Easter Time, a time to focus on the resurrection of Jesus, who desires to raise us mentally, spiritually, and, one day, bodily. How are we being lifted to Jesus and walking with Him during this time?

 

With God’s Blessing+

Fr. Peter D’Ambrosia

 

 

Easter Message, April12, 2020

Dear Friends,

 

Some time ago, a third-grader named James wanted to be an altar server. An only child, he lived with his mother and related to everyone in a deeply respectful and loving way. James, a very good and likable boy, started serving for me.  Soon after, he and his mother came to see me.

 

James was deeply upset because another server was picking on him.  I was surprised and disappointed because the other server was older and a good server. With tears in his eyes, James related the story, and I found myself growing angry with the boy causing James so much grief.

 

“Who do you serve at Mass?” I asked.

 

“You,” he answered.

 

I explained, he needed to pay attention only to me and Jesus at Mass. No one else.  I promised to take care of any problems, I did, and there was never again a problem.  James, a sensitive boy, hugged me before he left with his mom.

 

Who do we look to for approval, love, forgiveness, strength, dignity, security, hope, and the tremendous beauty of what Life is all about?

 

No, not me.

 

Only Jesus can give us these things and help us to understand the true meaning of Life. Easter is Life – a focus on that which is dead, becoming a new creation. Whatever is dead, be it our body, or our spirit within us, only Jesus can raise to glory if we let Him.

 

Throughout Lent, blindness, which is mentioned often, reminds us that we don’t see Jesus as He is; we don’t understand or appreciate how much He wants to share His Life, love, and everything with us as God. Easter can only be truly joyful if we pay attention to the reality of Him who gave us Life from the very beginning. Only He will raise that Life to Eternal Glory.

 

As much as things in this Life bring us happiness, the joy of Heaven is far greater and eternal. Some people settle for the superficial, like “superheroes,” but others focus upon the profound, like Jesus, His angels, and saints. I pray that your trust in what is above, more than anything else, will Bless You with a Holy and truly Happy Easter.

 

With God’s Blessing+

Fr. Peter D’Ambrosia