Third Sunday of Lent 03.24.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

The deeper message Jesus gives us in today’s Gospel is that we must repent. And the main target for repentance? We, must repent from living unproductive lives, lives that are so focused on our own needs, our own fun, our own bank accounts, that we get in into a rut of living a life that is not bearing any spiritual fruit. And is maybe not that much fun.

This process of questioning and reflecting upon how we might do more or do better in our lives is a big part of what it means to repent. Again, Jesus says today that we must repent, we must change our lives in ways that continually make us bear more and better fruit, of the kind that builds the kingdom of peace and justice.

In the Lord’s Prayer, we recall that the words “Forgive us our trespasses” are immediately followed by “as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Forgiveness usually requires some major change of heart and mind. Of course, it’s painful—our egos are involved! But it’s best for us to remember that there will BE no forgiveness for us, if we are not actively forgiving others. Any honest person knows it’s never enough simply to avoid breaking the 10 Commandments—that is only the least we can do. But if we are focused on reviewing in a thoughtful way our goals and ideals, our lifestyle, and our habits, with an eye toward producing more fruit—the Commandments usually take care of themselves.

It is all about the big picture, our overall mindset. Good ideas come naturally the more we ask questions such as, “How does my life show good works? Am I aware of other people’s needs? Do people around me benefit from my being alive; or do I use others?” Bearing the best fruit means that we try to understand those who touch our lives. By helping them on life’s journey, we ourselves become ever-bearing trees who will live forever.

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“O Lord, be not mindful of my many sins, but forgive me all my misdeeds, for your mercy to me is without limit. You have been my help and my protection”—St. Ephrem of Syria. As we continue on our Lenten journey to conversion of heart, let us pray for one another. Take advantage of the many spiritual opportunities our parish offers to help us draw closer to the Lord this Lent (please see the special flyer available at all the church entrances). May God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Second Sunday of Lent – 03.17.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Waiting, waiting, waiting. How much of your life is spent waiting with anxiety for test results…or to hear a teenager’s key in the door at night…or in a slow line at the supermarket. The frustration about most waiting seems to be simply the not knowing.

In today’s gospel, the apostles see sights and sounds which they can’t understand: Jesus, Moses, and Elijah are being brilliantly transformed in glory on the mountain top—and the real waiting is just beginning! Jesus will die and be taken from them. They cannot live in the constant glory of the mountain-top—and neither can we.

We know that our life purpose is to have a deep, life-changing relationship of love with God. But, if we have not had a “mountain-top experience” with Jesus, we may feel that the waiting is getting old and cold. Where does this leave us? First, we make a very human mistake in thinking that we have NOT seen Jesus in his glory. It’s just that the mountain-top we were on with Jesus might have been a hospital delivery room, where we gave birth or watched our baby being born. Or perhaps in a bedroom where we witnessed the blessed death of a “good and faithful servant” whom we will love forever.

We do not have to see God Almighty with human eyes to know God’s glory is with us. Sometimes God’s glory comes to us as God’s Mystery. When we touch the Mystery of life, death, birth, suffering, healing…God’s glory is there. It’s also there when we get together with friends sharing a meal and perhaps, when we laugh until we cry . . . ride our horse, romp with the dogs and cuddle with the cat—when we feel grateful for all this beauty . . . we are in glory, are we not?

And it all sharpens our longing for the only One who can ever satisfy our longing hearts.

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“Lent, therefore, invites us to focus, first of all on the Almighty, in prayer, which frees us from that horizontal and mundane life where we find time for self but forget God. It then invites us to focus on others, with the charity that frees us from the vanity of acquiring and of thinking that things are only good if they are good for me. Finally, Lent invites us to look inside our heart, with fasting, which frees us from attachment to things and from the worldliness that numbs the heart. Prayer, charity, fasting: three investments for a treasure that endures” (Pope Francis, Lenten Message, 2019).

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! May you enjoy this day and remember that St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland, was first a foremost a zealous evangelizer who brought the Good News of the Gospel to the people of Ireland who were living in difficult times. He was on fire with love of Jesus Christ and nothing could stop him from proclaiming the Gospel of salvation. St. Patrick, pray for us! Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Christ be with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,

Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,

Christ on my right, Christ on my left,

Christ when I lie, Christ when I sit, Christ when I rise,

Christ in the heart of every one who thinks of me,

Christ in the mouth of every one who speaks of me,

Christ in every eye that sees me,

Christ in every ear that hears me, 

Salvation is of the LORD,

Salvation is of the LORD,

Salvation is of the Christ,

May your salvation, O LORD be ever with us.

Saint Patrick, A Prayer

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

First Sunday of Lent – 03.10.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Temptations—now there’s a topic you don’t read about very often anymore.  One Catholic website advertised their booklet on temptations this way:  “Sloth, Lust, and Gluttony are now available for direct download for only $3.”  Wow—what a bargain! And so easy, too!  I bet Jesus never imagined we’d be downloading temptations someday.  Turns out Jesus didn’t even need to download:  these same three temptations came and found him in the gospel today.

Does it surprise you to know that Jesus really experienced the same things that tempt us?  That is because Jesus truly lived a human life in the flesh. And his temptations, just like ours, were tailored to hit him in the very places where he would feel weakness.  Take gluttony.  Jesus had just finished weeks of retreat in the desert, so the evil voice says, “Go ahead, do it the easy way—turn these stones into bread.”  But Jesus’ commitment is to live the human life fully, to feel all the same limitations of time and fatigue and energy that we feel.  So he resists the easy way out, and stays true to God’s call on his life.

When we are tempted to use our money, power or sexual appeal the wrong way—and it happens very easily—do we stay true to God’s call on our life?  That call not to take advantage of another person, to give up some of our power, to be compassionate and humble instead of powerful and righteous? Sure, it may hurt our ego—but it will feed our souls to do what Jesus would have done.  Think about it, as you start your Lenten journey this year.  Jesus was right—we really can’t live just by bread alone.

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“Dear brothers and sisters, the ‘Lenten’ period of forty days spent by the Son of God in the desert of creation had the goal of making it once more the garden of communion with God that it was before original sin (cf. Mk. 1:12-13; Is. 5:1-3).  May our Lent this year be a journey along that same path, bringing the hope of Christ also to creation, so that it may be ‘set free from the bondage of decay and obtain the glorious liberty of the children of God’ (Rom. 8:21).  Let us not allow this season of grace to pass in vain!  Let us ask God to help us set out on a path of true conversion. Let us leave selfishness and self-absorption, and turn to Jesus’ Pasch.  Let us stand beside our sisters and brothers in need, sharing our spiritual and material goods with them.  In this way, by concretely welcoming Christ’s victory over sin and death into our lives, we will also radiate its transforming power to all of creation” (Pope Francis, 2019 Lenten message).  

Let us pray for one another and our parish family as we begin this first full week of our Lenten journey to conversion of heart.  May God bless you and keep you always in His love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time – -3.03.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

“As the test of what the potter molds is in the furnace, so in tribulation is the test of the just. The fruit of the tree shows the care it has had, so too does one’s speech disclose the bent of one’s mind. Praise no one before he speaks for it is then that people are tested…a good person out of the store of goodness in his heart produces good.”

The scriptures use so many images to teach us, form us, and lead us. Consider for a moment…the potter shapes an object, maybe your coffee mug, a vase to hold a spring flower, or even ourselves (Abba, Father). Soon trees will begin to bud, and the care we give them now, pruning, trimming, fertilizing, will produce long awaited fruit. The words we use reflect how we feel, what we know and what we desire.

We need not limit ourselves to the image of a tree, but apply the teaching in our own way of life. How we walk the path of holiness according to the teaching of Pope Francis is found in the beatitudes. Our words, our thoughts, our good works are the steps we take on that path, accompanied by God’s grace and the support of one another.

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As we begin the season of a “change of heart” this Ash Wednesday, may the grace of this Lenten season lead us to encounter the Lord Jesus who suffered and died for love of humankind; may it lead all of us to grow in our faith. “O God, who have mercy on us, take away my heart of stone, and give me a heart to love and adore you, a heart to delight in you, to follow and enjoy you.” (St. Ambrose).  God bless you in this coming Lenten season and keep you always in his Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time – 02.24.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

“But love your enemies and do good to them, and lend expecting nothing back; then your reward will be great and you will be children of the Most High, for he himself is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful as your Father is merciful…Stop judging…stop condemning, forgive and you will be forgiven.”

If we wished to choose one word to describe the ministry of Pope Francis, it would be ‘mercy.’ His writings reflect this teaching of Jesus in the beatitudes. He proclaimed a holy year of mercy. He constantly is extending the compassionate hand of Jesus to the poor and marginalized.

Luke’s teaching asks us to consider what seems so difficult. Love enemies, give without expecting return, be concerned for the ungrateful and those so distant from the gospel.

When driving and someone cuts you off, pray for him or her. If you are offended by someone’s remark, chalk it up to a bad day and don’t brood over it. Don’t live the expression ‘I don’t get mad, I just get even.’ Spend a moment discerning who might be an ‘enemy’ and seek a way to open the door to friendship, by prayer, a smile, or another sign of peace.

Didn’t Jesus tell us to forgive so we may be forgiven?

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“The Mass is the loving encounter with God through his Word and the Body and Blood of Jesus. It is the memorial of Christ’s Passover. It makes us participants in his victory over sin and death, and gives full meaning to our life. Taking part in the Mass, particularly on Sunday, means entering the victory of the Risen One, being illuminated by his light, warmed by his compassion. Through the Eucharistic celebration, the Holy Spirit makes us participants in the divine life that is able to transfigure our whole mortal being” (Pope Francis). Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 02.17.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its roots to the stream: It fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought it shows no distress, but still bears fruit… ‘And raising his eyes toward his disciples, he said…’”

We are familiar with today’s Gospel, the Sermon on the Mount, and the beatitudes of St. Matthew. They summarize the entire message of Jesus and provide the pattern for a healthy examination of conscience.

Today we meet St. Luke’s teaching, the Sermon on the Plain, addressed to the disciples and to us. Instead of eight positive directives, we are given four, and then four warnings to help us move from the now to the promised reward. How helpful for us to fix our eyes on what the Lord has in store for us, to make us less complacent, eager to ‘rejoice and leap for joy on that day!”

We know well the obstacles, barriers and challenges of the Christian life. St. Ignatius asks us to discern both the positive and negative to help us make good decisions.

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“Someone who believes is a recipient of that beatitude that runs through the whole gospel and resounds throughout history as expressed through the lips of Elizabeth: ‘Blessed is she who believed’ or directed to Thomas by Jesus Himself: ‘Blessed are those who have not seen but yet believe.’” Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 02.10.19

The Tonzola Children & Friends

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Listen to my homily today: (Below)

Well, today, in the second reading, St. Paul tells us about his weaknesses and his ugly past. He persecuted Christians, he refused God’s call to him, he did everything he could to stop the gospel of Jesus from being preached. But then, a major conversion happened.

Now Paul says, “I am not fit to preach, I am the last one who would be an apostle—but, by the grace of God, “I am what I am.” Paul knows who he is in the light of day, but he presses forward believing that God has his back now.

Simon Peter has a similar story in today’s Gospel. Peter “is who he is”, a rough guy and an expert fisherman. He knows the best time to fish, and he’s just spent all night at it, with no results. Now it’s morning, and Jesus tells him, “Go back and drop your nets again—put out into deep water.” No fisherman would agree to do this—it’s against all reason. Peter says, “We tried that. But because YOU tell me to, I will do it.” He is trusting something beyond his own experience of fishing, and beyond the evidence of his own eyes.

Do we have what Peter and Paul have? They look deeply at themselves and admit to God exactly who they are, in both their best and their worst qualities. Both of them trust God’s call and God’s directing their lives. They listen for God’s voice, then they step forward in faith. They don’t let the sin of fear or timidity hold them back from being who they are.

Please think about this invitation God is giving to you to sink your line into deeper waters—to say, “I am what I am, and I am going to give whoever I am to this cause.” God wants us to come just as we are. So don’t let guilt over past sins or lack of self-confidence ruin your trust in God’s power and love for you. Have faith, as Peter did, that God knows just who you are, and can work with that.

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“Never Reach out your hand unless you are willing to extend an arm” (Pope St. Paul VI). In his message this year, Bishop David M. O’Connell, C.M., remarked, “During his time of shepherding the Church, Pope St. Paul VI called all to holiness and a response in faith to meet the spiritual and material needs of others. ‘Never reach out your hand unless you are willing to extend an arm,’ the Pope once said, challenging us to do all we can to build up the Body of Christ, and urging us to offer our help with free hearts and a generous spirit withholding nothing in our lives. With your support, the Diocese of Trenton has been able to embrace that challenge to reach out a hand, to extend an arm, and provide the essential ministries, programs and services that make a critical difference in the lives of so many.”

Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love! Happy Valentine’s Day !

Listen to my homily today: 

Joyfully in the Lord

THIS IS MY PARISH

It is composed of people like me. We make it what it is. It will be friendly if I am. Its pews will be filled, if I help to fill them.

It will make generous gifts to many causes, if I am a generous giver.

It will bring other people to worship and fellowship, if I bring them.

If will be a church of loyalty and love, of fearlessness and faith, and a church with a noble spirit, if I, who make it what it is, am filled with these qualities. Therefore, with the help of God I shall dedicate myself to the task of being all things that I want my parish to be.

 



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time – 02.03.19

The Robinson Family

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

About 60 years ago, Eunice Kennedy Shriver started a backyard summer sports camp that her sister, who was intellectually challenged, would have fun with other kids. None of the other sports camps were open to children like Rosemary. It was never Eunice’s intention to do anything big—she just loved her sister and wanted to make life sweeter for her. But that backyard play-time evolved into what we now call “Special Olympics.”

Eunice gave the “highest gift” that St. Paul describes in today’s second reading—simple, selfless love. But we learn in the gospel that Jesus’ hometown was not interested in loving Jesus this way. Though they knew him from childhood, they did not love him unconditionally—they asked for signs and miracles, and when Jesus revealed their true hearts, they tried to throw him off a cliff! What a homecoming!

Kwiatkowskis and Addison

Today, Jesus is asking for the kind of open-hearted love from us that he hopes for from the people of his time and place. Love isn’t repeating “Lord, Lord” while feeling warm and fuzzy. Our Catechism reminds us that we can even sin by being ungrateful, indeed, or lukewarm toward God’s love (Sec. 2094).

We are “to love all creatures for God and because of God.” So we might use St. Paul’s list to ask: Are we kind when talking to someone who’s driving us crazy—especially family members? Are we patient and caring when interacting with animals? Do we show gratitude and wonder when caring for lawns, plants, and trees?

Don’t be discouraged if your love isn’t returned—remember the Special Olympics motto: “Let me win, but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.” Let our small, brave attempts make a start toward transforming the world.

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“If we live as Jesus taught us, and in harmony with what we proclaim, our witness will bear fruit” (Pope Francis tweet on January 3, 2018). Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Third Sunday in Ordinary Time – 01.27.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative of the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as those who were eye witnesses from the beginning and ministers of the word have handed them down to us, I too have decided, after investigating everything accurately anew, to write it down in orderly sequence for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may realize the certainty of the teachings you have received.”

 Week after week we hear the gospel proclaimed, we spend time reading the daily meditations, and today we are reminded where the good news originates.

St. Luke addressed a Lover of God, (Theophilus) as his name is translated and he writes to him and for us. He informs us with the what and why, what he intends to do and why. The church then jumps to chapter four introducing us to the mission of Jesus as He proclaimed it in His own town of Nazareth.

Donohue Family

As He unrolls the prophet Isaiah telling of liberty for captives, recovery from blindness, freeing the oppressed and announcing the good news, He says in our words ‘this is happening today.’ The mission of Jesus is the mission of the church today, calling all to carry out what Pope St. John Paul II says ‘is still far from completion.’ As Jesus was sent, so are we as Missionary Disciples.

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“The parents’ love…[inspires and guides] the whole of the concrete work of education, and enriching it with those values of gentleness, constancy, goodness, service, and spirit of sacrifice, which are the most precious fruit of love” (St. John Paul II). May we celebrate this National Catholic Schools Week with gratitude for the gift of our Catholic faith and our schools and religious education programs which help nurture that faith to our youth. Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His love!

Listen to my homily today: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ

Second Sunday in Ordinary Time – 01.20.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

“There was a wedding in Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus and his disciples were also invited to the wedding…the mother of Jesus told him ‘they have no wine.’ His mother said to the servers, ‘Do whatever he tells you’…and his disciples began to believe in him.’”

It is easy to remember the first miracle as told by John. Like all weddings there was an invitation, and they were present. A near crisis caused Mary to intervene. She directed the difficult moment to be converted into a miracle, instructing the waiters what to do. Using what was at hand, water and jars enabled Jesus to transform the situation. The result was a newfound belief for those who accompanied Him to the wedding.

We too are invited to be with Jesus at the Eucharistic banquet. Jesus directs us ‘do this in memory of me’ and our own faith is strengthened and renewed by His presence. Mary knows the crises in our lives, of family, injustice, illness. Although the words spoken in the scriptures are the last we read, she too speaks to us ‘do whatever he tells you.’ Her presence and intervention or intercession in our behalf still has meaning ‘pray for us now and at the hour of our death. Amen.’

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“Among the vulnerable for whom the church wishes to care with particular love and concern are unborn children, the most defenseless and innocent among us. Nowadays efforts are made to deny their human dignity and to do with them whatever one pleases, taking their lives and passing laws preventing anyone from standing in the way of this….Precisely because this involves the internal consistency of our message about the value of the human person, the church cannot be expected to change her position on this question…It is not ‘progressive’ to try to resolve problems by eliminating human life…” (Pope Francis, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium #213-214).

Let us pray fervently especially this week for an end to the culture of death and the protection of all human life from conception to natural death. May God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Joyfully in the Lord,

 



Rev. Msgr. Edward J. Arnister
Pastor, St. Rose Parish
Belmar, NJ