Second Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday – 04.28.19

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is truly Risen, Alleluia!

In today’s Gospel, when Thomas touches Jesus’ body, he believes—but Jesus isn’t too impressed with this expression of faith. “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe!” Jesus must have been envisioning us—all of the future believers who might need courage and imagination to believe, centuries later.

Do we think we’re blessed, lucky, or happy to be encountering Jesus in a different way from the apostles? Probably not. If anything, we may feel as if we’re quite distant—detached, even—from the bold, alive spirit that filled Jesus. His followers were thrilled, amazed, excited, to be close to him. But it is clearly more of a challenge for us.

There is no doubt that the real core of faith comes down to us from those fervent believers who were closest to Jesus Christ. We Catholics are linked to THAT community of believers, who passed eyewitness accounts down through history.

We may not have perfect faith—but our questions and doubts, Jesus is saying, are not to be feared. It takes only a mustard seed of faith. Thomas isn’t rejected because of his doubt; but he IS being asked to believe in a different way, a more adult way, that doesn’t require hanging on to the physical.

Fr. Ed’s Presentation at St. Margaret’s Church

Here is the crux of it all: we must believe in Jesus without demanding physical proof—but we must prove our faith by getting very physical about it. “As the Father has sent me, so I send you…” Jesus sends us into a world that is desperate to be touched—touched with kindness, with compassion, mercy, love, patience, generosity. Mother Teresa with the dying, Father Damian with the lepers, St. Francis with the poor—they all said that to touch the poor and hold the sick, they first had to believe it was Jesus himself they were touching.

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“His love endures forever” (Ps. 117/118:2). Truly, God’s mercy is forever; it never ends, it never runs out, it never gives up when faced with closed doors, and it never tires. In this ‘forever’ we find strength in moments of trial and weakness because we are sure that God does not abandon us. He remains with us forever. Let us give thanks for so great a love which we find impossible to grasp; it is immense! Let us pray for the grace to never grow tired of drawing from the well of the Father’s mercy and bringing it to the world. let us ask that we too be merciful, to spread the power of the Gospel everywhere, and to write those pages of the gospel which John the Baptist did not write” (Pope Francis, April 3, 2016).

Today, the Second Sunday of Easter is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday. St. John Paul II established Divine Mercy Sunday as a universal feast in the Church on the day he canonized St. Faustina Kowalska, the great Apostle and Secretary of Divine Mercy on April 30, 2000, which was Divine Mercy Sunday that year. Divine Mercy Sunday is the celebration of the Feast of Mercy that our Lord asked of St. Faustina. This Feast of Mercy is the focal point that summarizes the Mercy message and devotion. The message of mercy can be called to mind by remembering the ABC, ASK for His Mercy, BE merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. COMPLETELY trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust.

As we conclude the Octave of Easter today and continue to celebrate Easter, may the love and mercy of the Risen Lord bless you on this Divine Mercy Sunday and always! Pray unceasingly: Jesus, I Trust in You!

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Easter – 04.21.19

Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is truly Risen, Alleluia!

This is Easter! It isn’t a myth—it isn’t just a hope: it’s our reality. Christ was dead and Christ is now alive—and we will live forever! Isn’t that fantastic news?

Well, it should be. But the question is—do we believe it? I mean, really believe it? Or do we have “low-grade faith?” You know, it’s kind of like having a low-grade fever: we walk through our faith in a fog, half asleep, achy and tired. Maybe we caught the high-level “fever of faith” when we were kids; but then the newness wore off. Can we believe feverishly anymore?

Dr. Eben Alexander was a Christian “more in name than in actual belief” who had lost the fever. But then meningitis put him into a coma; and when he awakened he told a remarkable story of visiting heaven, seeing sights and hearing unimaginable music, even talking with others he knew to be dead. Suddenly he had the intense faith that he thought he had lost.

Maybe you doubt it even happened. But can’t we use his story to spark our own religious imagination about what lies after death? Eben learned “You are loved and cherished, dearly, forever; you have nothing to fear.” He’d been a skeptic who never believed in near-death experiences. But he experienced God and all creatures in a divine unity: “Everything was also a part of everything else, like the rich and intermingled designs on a Persian carpet, or a butterfly’s wing.”

We are much more than our brains and bodies. The miracle of Easter is what has made this possible. So let us rejoice, and be glad in it! And let’s go on with the journey!

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“We Christians believe and know that Christ’s resurrection is the true hope of the world, the hope that does not disappoint….The words heard by the women at the tomb are also addressed to us: ‘Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but he has risen’ (Luke 24:5-6). Death, solitude and fear are not the last word. There is a word that transcends them, a word that only God can speak: it is the word of the resurrection. By the power of God’s love, it ‘dispels wickedness, washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, drives out hatred, fosters concord and brings down the mighty [Easter proclamation]’” (Pope Francis, Urbi et Orbi Message, 2018).

May the peace, mercy, love and joy of the Risen Lord Jesus bless you and your family this Easter day and always! Enjoy your Easter celebrations today with family and friends 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

Palm Sunday of the Passion of the Lord – 04.14.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Go into the village opposite you, and as you enter it you will find a colt tethered on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it here. And if anyone should ask you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you will answer, ‘The Master has need of it.’”

The events of Holy Week are so well known to us. Beginning today they unfold before us again. We solemnly bring the prayers, the sacrifices and good works of Lent to their conclusion. The days before us, the Sacred Triduum, reliving the paschal mystery, are more than tradition. The Christ, crucified and rejected is real for us today. Jesus’ directive to the two disciples is directed to us.

If anyone asks why you are living this Holy Week, the answer is the same: ‘The Master has need of it.’ Our loving God is not asking us simply to recall or remember, but challenge us to discover the passion of Christ in our own time. As He was led through the streets of Calvary, many saw and continued business as usual. Others perhaps thought that that criminal was getting what he deserved. This is because they do not know Christ.

For us believers, the tragedy of the Via Dolorosa leads to Calvary, to be followed by the joy of resurrection. This is not a week of failure, but eventually victory. The passion and death of Christ leads to the glorious resurrection. May the words of the gospel express the wish of Jesus for us this week. May it be our mantra: ‘the Master has need of us.’ May this be a special week of prayer and devotion.

May you have a blessed Holy 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 of Lent – 04.07.19

“I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have accepted the loss of all things and I consider them so much rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him…but I continue my pursuit in hope that I may possess it, since I have indeed been taken possession by Christ Jesus.”

We measure so many things in life under the banner of profit and loss. I look for a bargain. I go out of my way when something is on sale, even when I don’t need it. How shocking it is as I read Paul, as he speaks of rubbish what many consider of great value.

Paul teaches us that what really matters is knowledge of Christ Jesus, not just knowing about Him, but having a personal relationship with Him. There is nothing as important as knowing Jesus, His great love for me, and His redeeming sacrifice, as we draw closer to Holy Week. May we make an extra effort to be freed from possessions and be possessed by Him.

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“The cross of Christ invites us to allow ourselves to be smitten by his love, teaching us always to look upon others with mercy and tenderness, especially those who suffer, who are in need of help, who need a word or a concrete action” (Pope Francis, Meditations on the Stations). May we pray for one another as we continue on our Lenten journey now taking a turn to the events of the Passion, Death and Resurrection that we will celebrate during Holy Week leading to the joy of Easter. 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

Fourth Sunday of Lent – 03.31.19

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Today we hear a story about a dramatic family situation which for centuries has been called, “The Prodigal Son.” We all know who that refers to, right? The wayward “wild child” who squandered his dad’s money on wine, women, and song, (and I don’t mean the “Ave Maria”).

Well, maybe not. Some theologians suggest that perhaps this story should be re-named “The Prodigal Father.” Because the word “prodigal” can refer to a wasteful spendthrift or someone who is extravagant in their generosity and love—forgiving beyond all boundaries, as the father in this story did. It is this last definition that gave the Pharisees problems.

They asked Jesus, “How do you eat and drink with sinners?” For Jesus, the love of God is almost opposite of their ideas of how a good, “righteous” Jewish father should behave. Because the father’s forgiving actions were very shocking to Jesus’ listeners.

In the Middle East, if a son demands his share of the inheritance early, it is his way of wishing his father dead. When the son finally crawls home, no one can believe it: the father sees the son and runs to him. As the gospel says, “then the celebration began.”

What about the older son’s jealousy? God always says to us both “Welcome home” AND “Beloved, you are with me always, and everything I have is yours.” All of us at some point are both of those brothers. We can also be the forgiver for the troubled one who needs extra understanding, and for the jealous one.

“Why do you eat with sinners?” Jesus answers: Because God rejoices and invites us to rejoice, too. Will I join in the rejoicing? One moment of true repentance, or of true forgiveness, is all that is needed.

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“Jesus reveals the nature of God as that of a Father who never gives up until he has forgiven the wrong and overcome rejection with compassion and mercy. We know these parables well, three in particular: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the father with two sons (cf. Luke 15:1-32). In these parables, God is always presented as full of joy, especially when he pardons. In them we find the core of the Gospel and of our faith, because mercy is presented as a force that overcomes everything, filling the heart with love and bringing consolation through pardon” (Pope Francis, Misericordiae Vultus, 9).

Today is Laetare Sunday or “rejoice Sunday”. Lent is half over. How has this season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving been for you so far? Let us continue on the road to conversion of heart praying for one another especially our Elect and those candidates who are preparing for Baptism, Confirmation, and Eucharist that will be celebrated at the Easter Vigil, April 20. 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 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