Thursday, May 28, 2015

First Communion blessings!

Do you remember your First Communion?

Oddly enough, I do remember particular, I remember the homily. OK, if you know me, it's not really that weird that I'd remember this...

Msgr McLaughlin at St Frances de Chantal in Wantagh, NY, preached this dynamic homily about bread and eucharist and faith. I'm sure I didn't understand much of it at seven years of age, but I remember his passion, I remember how eloquently he spoke to us and our families that morning.

Whenever I have the opportunity to speak to families who are preparing their children for communion I always ask...'what do YOU remember from your first communion"? and then, "what do you want your CHILD to remember from this day"?

This weekend we have 19 youngsters who will come to the table for the very first time. They have been preparing for this moment for a long time. Their families have encouraged them, supported them, surrounded them with love and nurtured them in this faith. I find myself praying deeply for these children and their families.

Following Jesus isn't easy, Christianity isn't for the weak of heart. It demands courage to stand for what we believe in this world. The gospel this Sunday speaks of faith, as well as acknowledging our doubt. It ends with the reassurance that God will be with us always, even until the end of time.

What consolation I find in that one line of scripture. No matter where life takes us, God is there with us. I can imagine God being thrilled in our moments of great faith, supporting us in our doubt and loving us through it all.

When I look at our little ones this weekend, I wonder what life holds in store for them. I wonder how they will grow in the society we live in. What kind of people will they be? How will they care for the people in their lives? How will they share their faith? What difference will they make in their world?

Let us pray together for our first communicants and for their families. May they grow to be strong members of our St Francis de Sales church community. May they always know that God is truly with them no matter where life leads them.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

What birthday gift do you want?

Happy Birthday Church! This weekend we will celebrate Pentecost and hear the story of how the Spirit poured out many gifts on those frightened disciples. I think the gift I value most in this particular story is COURAGE. How scared those poor disciples were, locked in the upper room. How confused. How sad. And then more fear!

What amazing words and deeds came from their courage to speak about their friend Jesus. As we decorated the church today for this great feast, I find myself praying for that same gift of courage. Now, God knows, I could surely use more of each and every gift of the Spirit, but, in the way our world can be so hard, so mean, so angry...I want more courage to be a follower of Christ. I want more courage to do the right thing, even when I get teased. I want courage to be my better self. I need courage to try harder in every aspect of my life. So today, I'm praying for courage.

What about you? What gift will you pray for? What gift do you feel you need more of? And, even more importantly, how will you share that gift with your church and your world?

May the Spirit of love...the Spirit of Courage be with us this week in all we do.

Much Peace!


Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Doors are Open!

We had a busy Sunday at St Francis de Sales this last weekend. Families are getting ready to celebrate First Communions. We had four children baptized at Mass. We had great music, lots of life, a bit of noise...(one little one who really could hit those high notes! Perhaps a future choir member?) and in general all the stuff that is full of life! Sunshine, smiles, conversation, was all good. I am grateful.

After reading an article this morning about church and children I find myself thinking again of how different our experience of church is when you sit with a youngster, toddler or baby...or even a teen.

If I am by myself at church, that is, if I come 'solo' without any family members, I have the luxury of sitting where I want, singing as loudly as I want, pondering freely where Scripture and the words of our liturgy and the homily take me. Chances are my soul is nourished and refreshed by the closing song.

Every now and then in the last twenty years or so, I've been blessed to attend Mass with my nieces and nephew. I came to learn quickly, when they were small, how different church is when you come with a two year old! A pause here to commend every parent who comes to church with your toddler and tries to both pray AND keep them occupied! I can recall being at the 'month's mind mass' for my dad years ago, and my 2 year old niece, deciding, right after we all sang the memorial acclamation, that the song shouldn't be done yet, so in her little soprano voice, as we all were kneeling quietly she piped up with something like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. My mom was horrified, I was hysterical...I thought she was so cute and so funny...and no surprise, she turned out to be a great singer! But what I realized in that semi embarrassing moment was, she somehow, on a two year old level, understood that music was an important part of this celebration.

So many times, when I am at mass with children, the young and the not so young, I find myself compelled to explain to them what is going on...because I want them to appreciate and love the liturgy like I do! Seeing the liturgy through the eyes of a young person is another whole way to pray! If I have to explain the homily to a 7 year old, I'd better be paying close attention, so I can translate. If I'm showing my little one the stations of the cross or the stained glass windows, I am telling them in a most colorful way, the stories of Jesus. We should be singing together, following the readings and prayers together, because how else am I going to pass on my faith to the next generation? It's certainly not the same prayer as when I come by myself, but it is beautiful in a whole different way.

So, if you are lucky enough to come to church with little ones, enjoy it! Celebrate well! Show them what we're doing! Teach them to sing along! If you need to walk around with them at the entrance way, feel free! It's summer so the doors are wide open, you can still hear what's going on and they can explore their church home. If they get too antsy or too loud for comfort...the steps are a great way for them to burn off energy...just know, the doors are always open to you and your little ones!

Much Peace,


Thursday, May 14, 2015

My weekend is about to start!

Dear Friends,

Since our new music director Jim Stayton created a blogspot for music in the parish, I felt inspired to try and see if I could do the same. He was more than willing to share his wisdom with me, and so I make my first attempt.

The Easter season is quickly drawing to a close as we anticipate the celebration of Pentecost on Sunday the 24 of May. I remember back a billion years ago (when dinosaurs roamed the earth) this was the first Sunday I ever read in a young teen, and I valiantly tried to pronounce all those names of all those towns that writer of Acts of the Apostles spoke of. I always hold my breath as the lector begins, and pray they'll have the wisdom to get through all those crazy names!

I am blessed to be the Pastoral Associate here at St Francis de Sales Church on E 96th St in Manhattan. This is an amazing parish, lots of  folks really committed to following the Gospel of Jesus.

As a staff we have been talking a lot about what is wonderful here, and how to help God's kingdom grow stronger in and through all of us. We have discovered we keep using the same few words over and over again, sort of buzz words if you will, to inspire our conversation. I'd like to share them with you.
Ownership   Changing the Paradigm   Ours / We   Lay Leadership   Financial Stability  Stakeholders   Grow St Francis   and finally Intentional Community.

I invite you to say the words quietly to yourself and see what word or words touch your heart. In the days to come I'm sure we will have much to say and pray about as far as how all these ideas help us continue to create a parish that is most welcoming to all. For my part, from where I stand, the idea of creating more of an intentional community of believers here, people who choose to come here because of who we are as a church...well, that's exciting to me.

I look forward to welcoming you and your loved ones at the doors of the church.

Much Peace,

Jayne Porcelli