Thursday, May 18, 2017

Why Do I Hope?

St Peter says in the reading this Sunday: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you a reason for your hope.”
So I thought I’d share with you some of what I get to see in our parish and in our church that gives me hope in these Easter days.
Our Young People: I’ve had the chance to spend time with both the young ladies from Marymount and the gentlemen from Xavier.(thank you Kathleen and Jim for the invites) I was so very impressed with the thoughtfulness with which these young men and women are able to share their faith with one another. If they are what the next generation of Catholics will look like, then I can breathe a little easier.
Our Families: Sunday we celebrate both First Communions and Baptisms. At the end of the month we will celebrate Confirmations. Each and every one of these families has made a commitment to raising their children carefully and faithfully. We see these families at church most Sundays. What great joy it brings us to get to know them and to watch them participate and grow in their faith. How can we not but smile when we see all the life they bring to our parish.
Camden: I had the opportunity to go visit Br. Mickey McGrath in Camden NJ this week. Wow. They aren’t kidding about how tough things are in Camden. It is pretty bleak. Except for this one block that surrounds Sacred Heart Church in Camden, where the parish priest, now 82 years old and fighting cancer, has spent his life building up the neighborhood around the church. Through the arts and literature, through gardens and creativity, the kingdom of God grows in Camden. It was amazing to witness.
Our Parish Council: What a fine group of men and women. Not only are they committed to helping SFDS grow into the future, but they are concerned about who we will be as a parish in the future. Yes, there was some conversation about how we need to be financially secure, but there was also significant time spent on how we want to be a parish that is loving and welcoming. There was much talk about how we need to find ways as a church family to live out God’s call to justice and mercy.  To that end we would like to invite folks who are interested to consider attending local community board meetings and police precinct meetings to help keep all of us informed on how we can better help our neighborhood be a place of peace and justice for all. We are coming to understand, as Pope Benedict XVI told us, that we are all called to live out our baptismal roles, to be co responsible for the church. We are all called to be leaders. How are you being called to lead?

On a personal note, I am more aware than ever that I am so blessed to be in the place that I am, with the folks I work with, and the friends that have become my second family. I can't begin to count the many ways they gift me with their love and support and care. Even when things seem the most difficult, I am surrounded by love. I am grateful that I recognize it, and that I can appreciate it.


All in all, lots to be hopeful and grateful for.                        Jayne

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is Your Heart Troubled Today?

Some gospel stories are much easier to enter into than others. I find this Sunday's Gospel both a bit of a challenge on the one hand, and way too easy on the other.

On the one hand Jesus leads off with those immortal words: "Don't let your hearts be troubled, have faith in God and faith in me"...and every single stressed part of my very human heart wants to snap back at him..."Oh REALLY??" I have no problem jumping right into this imaginary narrative.

What could we possibly have to feel stressed about? Our world? The economy? My budget? My job? My family? My ailing mom? My future? My weight? My health? My friends? All those things jump to mind before I can even take another breath. REALLY Jesus??? Don't worry? Easy for you and your all knowing self to say!! Quite another story for simple humble human me to try and live out.

Do I know anyone in the world who doesn't worry at some point about something? I don't think so. I know worrying isn't good for me, and I know it doesn't change the given reality at all. So why do I let myself go there? Is this something I can change about myself? I'm not sure. I hope so. I don't like all the energy I can spend worrying about things I can't change.

If I can only change myself then I'd better get started. What if, rather than getting upset with others, I just tried to accept that everyone is doing the best they can in any given situation. I wonder if that would help me be kinder and less harsh with others?

Later on in Sunday's Gospel Jesus refers to himself as "the way, the truth and the life." Leave it to John to be so philosophical. This is the part of the passage that I can struggle with. What does this mean? I'm only guessing here, but I think if I want to let go of the worrying, that I have to delve into Jesus as MY way, MY truth and light. If I surround myself, cover myself, in his embrace, I can feel safe and secure. Why would I need to worry about anything I am centered in Jesus. If Jesus is the way I move through life, if he is there as I make my choices, if Jesus is the one I count on to be by my side on the journey, if Jesus helps me to see clearly...why the heck do I worry?

I guess that's where my frail humanity trips me up. But this Sunday reminds me to hand my cares and concerns over to the One who sees the big picture and promises to guide me, to hold my hand on the journey, to walk with me to the end.

And so my heart is not troubled.
Happy Mother's Day to all you out there who nurture others into fullness of life.



Thursday, April 20, 2017

What Do You Believe?



At Easter we are asked to renew our baptismal promises and state strongly and clearly what we believe as Catholics. We take it for granted don't we? I do, I do, I do...how often do we pause to think about what we are giving our assent to?

Do I reject sin and Satan and all that tries to keep me away from God? Sure if I knew it was something bad and harmful--I'd stay away from it! But more often there's a subtlety to how sin takes root in my heart and leads me to question everything I thought I believed. My ego can rise up so quickly that I'm choking on false humility before I know what happened. It's then that I hold on with both hands to God and beg for help to be my best self.

Do I believe in God? Creator-Redeemer-Sanctify-er?  Of course I do! I mean, I think I do...but when I reflect on my actions, well, sheesh, sometimes I act like the future of the entire world rests on me...on choices I make and what I do. The world has been redeemed already by Jesus, and I need to remember to get out of God's way sometimes.

Do I believe in the Church? When I listen to the first reading from Acts of the Apostles, the story of the early church, how everyone came together and shared what they had in common. How they listened to the stories of Jesus and prayed and worked together for the good of all. Heck, yes! That's the church I believe in with all my heart.

I feel blessed to say I think this is the image of church we try and create here at St Francis de Sales. Sure we get some of it wrong sometimes, because we're human. For the most part though, I think God is using us to create a vision of parish that is extraordinarily welcoming to all in our neighborhood. We are many ages, ethnicities, and personalities gathering to pray each weekend for the good of our world. We look for new ways to be disciples of Jesus in our city. We invite others to join with us in both prayer and actions for the good of others.

The gospel today about Thomas feels bittersweet to me. How embarrassing and painful it must have been for Thomas to be 'called out' by Jesus about his lack of faith. I think I would have crumbled right then and there. Somehow Thomas remains whole, even when confronted with his weakness. It doesn't appear as if Jesus intends to shame him, but rather Jesus challenges him to move through his doubt into a stronger faith and life of witness.

That is my prayer for each of us this Easter season. That we will have the faith to rely on Jesus in our moments of doubt and confusion. That we will hold on tight with both hands to the God who continues to call us and love us into newness of being. That we will feel the glory of the Easter Alleluia down to our very souls. That we will forgive ourselves for our failings and be grateful for our moments of grace. Do I believe in the resurrection and new life in Jesus? I do!  Do you?

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Hands and Feet































Weather beaten and work worn. Tired and calloused. Lined and arthritic. Hands and feet that have seen so much of life. They speak of struggle, of love, of length of days.

Young and pink. Fresh and supple. Ready to clap, to dance, to play, to celebrate. Hands and feet that are hopeful and open to new adventures. Wherever God may lead.

Grant me the wisdom and grace to look beyond the hands and feet I shall see this week. Let me see their longing for you in their lives. Let me see their hopes and dreams and regrets and sorrows, their fears and their prayers.

Help me be fully truly present as I find you in the hands and feet of your sons and daughters. And I beg you, as I reach out to touch them, I pray you use them to touch me.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Bacon Cheeseburgers and Lenten Fasting




How’s Your Lent Going?

As of this 5th Sunday of Lent, we’re more than halfway through Lent and skidding into Holy Week with Palm Sunday coming up next week. How have your Lenten practices been going? Are you still craving bacon cheeseburgers on Fridays like me? Are you finding kindness and generosity a little easier to remember each day? Are you reflecting on how God is looking out for you?

The Gospel this weekend is that amazing story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead. There’s lots of symbolism in this scripture for sure. I’d just put before you the most basic questions: where in my own life do I need to live more fully? How do I need to die to self in order to live for others? There's enough there for prayer and meditation to take me all through the Easte season!

As I look ahead to Palm Sunday I always find myself pondering this question: If we longed for the Eucharist the way we desire our palm branches on Palm Sunday, what would the Catholic Church look like?

Can you imagine what an amazing powerhouse for good we could be as a church, as a people of God, if we understood what Jesus in the Eucharist truly is for us….if we got half as excited about communion as we do palm branches?  

What do we value more, palm branches or Jesus in the Eucharist? What do our actions say? How can we be more true to what our hearts long for?


This is what I’m thinking and praying about this week. I’d love to know what you’re thinking and praying about as we come to the end of Lent. Email me at jayneporcelli@sfdsnyc.org and let me know!

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Do I Really Want to See?




I love the readings these three weeks of Lent in cycle A: The Woman at the Well, the Man Born Blind, the Raising of Lazarus. Each reading highlights the desires of our hearts-we thirst for more, we want to see, we want to live fully.

When I think about what it means for me to ask to see more clearly, I can't help but wonder if I really and truly want to see more clearly? It causes me to look internally and ask how honestly do I see myself and if I'm willing to look at my faults and failings and try to improve. Do I want to be more generous? Do I want to let people live their own lives and not judge them according to "who the heck am I to think I have a right to judge them anyway" standards. Can I be more honest? Can I try harder?

And really, who in their right mind wants to ask those questions....

If I have a minute to forget about myself, do I really want to look at the world around me? Do I want to see the ugly truths of prejudice and hatred and selfishness and the myriad ways we convince ourselves it's OK not to care for our sisters and brothers? Honestly, no I don't.

But here we are and it IS Lent, so I try my best to stay silent with the hard questions. I take solace in the fact that Jesus wants to help the blind man. I must believe Jesus wants to help me be better than I think I can be.

God gives me lots of folks who are gifts in my life to help me be "the best version of myself" -to see myself and the world around me more clearly. I know I don't always appreciate when you call my attention to the ways I fall short. But maybe for this week of Lent, I'll try and listen a bit more graciously, and be patient with myself as I try to grow a bit, to see myself and the world around me more honestly.

What do YOU want to see?



Thursday, March 16, 2017

Angels among us

To who ever patted me on the back as I walked to communion last Sunday, Thank you. Your simple act of kindness meant the world to me. I felt as if you were an angel sent by God to let me know it was all going to be OK. That I didn't need to worry so much. That I was doing an alright job of it all.

I feel it is an honor and a privilege every year to walk the journey in the initiation of others who want to join us in our Catholic church. We talk a lot in the process of learning how to look for moments where God tries to reach out to us, to recognize God's actions in our daily lives.

I had said in a bible reflection earlier in the week, with tongue stuck firmly in cheek, that, just as Jesus had angels caring for him after the temptation in the desert, I wouldn't mind an angel or two to look after me.

Well, really...be careful what you pray for.

No sooner had the words left my lips than I recognized the angels by my side. The email asking me if I was OK after something I had shared in the group. The pat on my back after a long weekend. The smiles and laughter of my nieces and nephew. The cousin who now says "I love you" when he hangs up the phone with me. The friend who helped me dig my car out of the snow. The one who did my laundry. The colleague who bought the salami for lunch.

Angels all around me.
All the time.

I am grateful, like the man born blind who we'll hear from in two weeks, that I have eyes to see.

And meanwhile, back at the well....be like the Samaritan Woman...strong and not afraid to ask for what you need.