Seventh Sunday of Easter – 05.13.18

Hernandez Family

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

If you are a mother or father, can you go back to the moment that you first saw and touched one of your newborn children? Most mothers and fathers report that, in gazing at their baby, they felt the deepest love they had ever felt in their lives. Along with this was a fierce, all-consuming desire to care for and protect this small life that they never knew until that moment.

Hopefully, all of us, whether single or married, have at some time felt this deep, powerful desire to care for a tiny, defenseless creature that has been given to us to protect. Today’s readings proclaim that THIS is the passion and intensity of the love God has for us.

Miriam & Mary T.

The entire life of the church community should radiate out from, and continually proclaim this passionate love. Instead, many of the very people Jesus came for unfortunately see the church as cold and controlled, pushing some kind of detached, intellectual “virtue of love.” If we as church loved as Jesus is begging and praying for in today’s Gospel—I don’t think we’d ever have to worry about poor attendance in Catholic churches again!

How can we reach out to those who feel shut out by the church: seekers, agnostics, even atheists? Offer the compassion of Jesus, in the form of respect, friendship, patient listening Intellectual arguments are not the best at showing the tender love of a mother or father to those who seek Jesus.

Jesus’ prayer for oneness especially includes all those who will one day believe in him. I believe we Christians could take our mission statement from that prayer. That is, if we are privileged to be Jesus’ disciples, then we are equally privileged to bring not just arguments, but the compassion of true love to everyone who needs it.

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A PRAYER FOR MOTHERS

All loving God, we give you thanks and praise for mothers young and old.

We pray for young mothers who give life and count toes and tend to our every need; May they be blessed with patience and tenderness to care for their families and themselves with great joy.

We pray for our own mothers who have nurtured and cared for us; May they continue to guide us in strong and gentle ways. We remember mothers who are separated from their children because of war, poverty, or conflict; May they feel the loving embrace of our God who wipes every tear away.

We pray for women who are not mothers but still love and shape us with motherly care and compassion. We remember mothers, grandmothers, great-grandmothers who are no longer with us but who live forever in our memory and nourish us with their love. Amen.

“It occurs to me: why is it mainly women, who pass on the faith? Simply because the one who brought us Jesus is a woman. It is the path chosen by Jesus. He wanted to have a mother; the gift of faith comes to us through women, as Jesus came to us through Mary” (Pope Francis). Enjoy this Mother’s Day and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 

Listen to my homily today: 

Listen to my blessing and song for “M-O-T-H-E-R”s:  

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Sixth Sunday of Easter – 05.06.16

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

Once in a while, for old time sake, I tune in (on the TVLand channel) to one of the great TV shows from the 1960’s that I grew up with, “The Andy Griffith Show.” In one episode widower Sheriff Andy Taylor invites his Aunt Bee to come live with him and his son, Opie, thinking she would add the necessary feminine presence to Opie’s life. Aunt Bee loves Opie but from the start she fails at all the “Opie things”—catching fish, going frogging, and playing with a football.

The Wawer Family

Finally one night, Aunt Bee tells Andy she’s done her best, but Opie doesn’t like her and she should just take the bus home. Opie hears her crying, and starts to have a change of heart. He comes running down the stairs, calling out, “We can’t let her go, Pa—she needs us! She can’t even catch frogs, take fish off the hook, or throw a football.” We’ve got to take care of her..she’ll never make it.”

Like the love of Aunt Bee which had to come first before Opie’s heart could be changed, it is not so much that WE loved God, but that God first loved us. In fact, as we’ve been told a million times, “God IS love.” But over many years of learning and living, we still don’t feel we’ve learned to love as God has loved us. But maybe we can hear God saying about it, “I’ve got to take care of them—or they’ll never make it.”

For this, Jesus came into the world, to repair the death and destruction of sin. But he did this in a way that it IS possible for us to follow: he gave us each other, the whole creation to love in.

Have we loved in our lives? Are you taking what you were given, and trying to find ways to bring kindness and compassion to all the places that come your way? Because, in the end, it is our willingness to spend everything in our hearts trying to give the love of God to the creation around us that says is all.

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Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His love!

Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 

Listen to my homily this morning: (Posted after Mass.)

Joyfully in the Lord,

 



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

Fifth Sunday of Easter – 04.29.18

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

In some of the Southern U.S. states, there has been a panic in the last few years as weird weather patterns have threatened the citrus crops. High winds and cold are the worst. The challenge is just to keep the fruit on the tree.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus is reminding us that HE is the “true vine” that keeps us alive through freezes and droughts—like the marriage vow says, “in good times and in bad.” In daily life, we live with so much infidelity and dishonesty that I think it is hard for us to get our minds and hearts around the immense mystery of how intimately, how organically, we are connected to Jesus.

Often, it can be difficult for us to believe, much less to live and act each day “as if” we believed it. He is saying, “Depend on me, live in me, remain in me…because unless you remain in me, you cannot bear fruit.”

Are you a gardener? If so, you know how tender you feel especially towards your most spindly, vulnerable plants. You can understand a bit better Jesus’ obsession with us. Even being pruned is a gift. Our false self may feel pain at having our “dead wood” removed, but if we remain in Jesus, new life will spring up where the dead parts used to weigh us down.

Picture a large frozen tree standing in the snow, with it’s ice-covered branches against a bright, blue winter sky. The caption below reads, “Faith is the substance of things hoped for…the evidence of things not seen.”

Our life-blood always flows into us through Jesus, our Vine. We have to hold on to our true belief in Jesus, no matter how ice-covered our life challenges make us feel.

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“I recommend praying these words to Mary: Mary, Mother of Jesus…we come to you with the same attitude of children who come to their mother. We are no longer children, but adults who desire with all our hearts to be God’s children. Our human condition is weak; that is why we come to ask for your motherly aid so we are able to overcome our weakness. Pray for us so that we can, in turn, become people of prayer. We invoke your protection so that we may remain free from all sin. We invoke your love so that it may reign and we will be able to be compassionate and forgiving. We ask your blessing so we can be like the image of your beloved Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen” (St. Teresa of Calcutta).

Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 

Listen to my homily this morning: (Posted after Mass)

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Fourth Sunday of Easter – 04.22.18

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

The image of Jesus as a good shepherd doesn’t seem to have the powerful meaning Jesus intended in the gospel today. Shepherds then had a terrible reputation as thieves and outlaws. They raised the animals used in the Jewish temple services, but because of their dirty profession, they were called “unclean” and not allowed to attend the services.

So we have the supreme paradox of Jesus actually calling himself a “good shepherd.” It would have been as shocking then as calling him “the good drug-dealer” or “the good slumlord.” Real shepherds were tough loners, men who fought off wild animals, rescued trapped lambs, ate what they could kill, and slept in the open with their dogs. Contrast this with those pristine pictures we usually see of Jesus as the Good Shepherd—standing there, untouched, tidy, in a blinding white robe with a few peaceful sheep at his feet.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd because he is the only shepherd who has lived our life and cares for us as he does for his own self. “I lay down my life for the sheep.” He is not some untouched icon; he is in there, fighting for us and with us in the grittiest and toughest moments of our lives.

Today on World Day of Prayer for Vocations, we listen as Jesus proclaims our one and only vocation: “Follow me!” We are called to be lovers—of God and God’s children. We are called to use our unique combination of gifts in whatever lifestyle will best allow us to “Follow Him”, be it single, married, priestly or religious life. Follow Jesus by listening well!

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“The joy of the Gospel, which makes us open to encountering God and our brothers and sisters, does not abide our slowness and our sloth. It will not fill our hearts if we keep standing by the window with the excuse of waiting for the right time, without accepting this very day the risk of making a decision. Vocation is today! The Christian mission is now! Each one of us is called—whether to the lay life in marriage, to the priestly life in the ordained ministry, or to a life of special consecration—in order to become a witness of the Lord, here and now. (Message of Pope Francis for the 2018 World Day of Vocations).

A Prayer for Vocations

God our Father, You made each of us to use our gifts in the Body of Christ. We ask that You inspire young people whom You call to the priesthood and consecrated life to courageously follow Your will. 

Send workers into Your great harvest so that the Gospel is preached, the poor served with love, the suffering are comforted, and Your people are strengthened by the sacraments.

We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

May the joy and peace of the Risen Lord continue to bless you and your family in this Easter Season. Say three “Hail Mary’s” every day for vocations in the Church and in our diocese. May God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

Listen to Sr. Donna’s reflective reading of today’s Gospel: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Third Sunday of Easter – 04.15.18

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

“Now I know brothers that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did. But God has thus brought to fulfillment what He had announced beforehand that through the mouth of all the prophets that His Christ would suffer. Repent, therefore, and be converted that your sins may be wiped away… Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures… Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer, and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins would be preached in his name to all the nations.”

Donald S., Leader of Song

The wonderful sermon of Saint Peter offers encouragement, not judgment, summoning his hearers to listen more closely. The scriptures they knew, the prophets and psalms, pointed to the events which had taken place in Jerusalem. As they listened, they were able to conclude ‘this makes sense, I’ll follow what he says and begin living as a witness.’

Twenty centuries have passed, the sermon of Peter is repeated for my benefit as he opens our minds and hearts. If these words changed the hearts of his listeners, what is happening in my heart at this moment? Am I, or am I not a witness?

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“Always have the courage and pride of your faith. Deepen it. Get close to Christ, ceaselessly, as living stones in the cornerstone, sure of reaching the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (St. John Paul II).

May you 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

Divine Mercy Sunday – 04.08.18

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

The Apostle Thomas in today’s gospel, like many of us, is a bottom-line realist: “Unless I see the wounds, I will not believe.” So, how dramatic it must have been for Jesus suddenly to appear in the locked room, and invite Thomas to touch his wounded hands and side. Jesus challenges him directly: “Do not doubt but believe.”

If I took a survey, I wonder how many of us would be willing to admit that we have doubts about God, Jesus, and our faith. Belief in God IS difficult, once we have suffered in life. After we have lived through deception, violence, war, deaths—isn’t our experience of God’s presence more often an experience of God’s absence? Certainly all of the great saints have said this was true for them.

Jesus’ first words are usually “Peace be with you!” because he totally understands our fears and doubts. Jesus doesn’t want fear and doubts about the future to destroy our belief in life itself. This seems to be happening, for example, in the case of abortion. It is often easier to think of ending a life for which we cannot see a future. But God has an eternal vision for each beloved life, which we cannot see. Remember the old saying, “Seeing is believing?” Not true for Jesus. He says, “Believing is seeing.”

Our faith shouts to the world that, thank God, there is a sacred beginning, a blessed middle, and a joyful end to every life! We should not let our doubts drag us into the mud of inaction. Through loving ourselves and one another, even in our doubts, we will move even deeper into relationship and unity with God. I’d call that an excellent prospect for our future, wouldn’t you?

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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 Apostle did not write” (Pope Francis, April 3, 2016).

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 constantly: Jesus I Trust in You! 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of the Lord 2018

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

“Peter proceeded to speak and said, ‘You know what has happened all over Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power. He went about doing good and healing all those oppressed by the devil, for God was with them. We are witnesses of all that he did…they put him to death hanging him on a tree. This man God raised up on the third day and granted that he be visible not to all but to us, the witnesses chosen by God in advance who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead.”

We can listen to many Easter sermons, telling of the events and appearances of Jesus. We visit the upper room with the apostles, meet Him with Mary in the garden, breakfast with Him on the shore of Tiberias, and share an evening meal in Emmaus. All are witness stories.

The Pentecost sermon of Peter quoted above summarizes the event of Easter and its meaning for the witnesses. He was anointed with the Holy Spirit, so we too have been confirmed. He was filled with power, so too we who live the life of grace. He went about doing good, the work of the church, so too we are missionary disciples today. We too are the chosen witnesses of the Risen One who eat at His Table, breaking the bread of life.

Easter faith tells us that He lives and is among us. Easter joy fills us with a special enthusiasm. Easter commissioning sends us to bring that joy to others. Where will you share it?

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“The faith we profess in the resurrection makes us men and women of hope, not despair, men and women of life, not death, for we are comforted by the promise of eternal life, grounded in our union with the Risen Christ” (Pope Francis).

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!

Listen to my Homily this morning: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Palm Sunday – 03.25.18

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

To listen to all of Christ’s Passion and Death as a whole today is so overwhelming, isn’t it? But, just before the drama of the Passion, a quiet figure appears: the woman who pours expensive oil on the head of Jesus, and is chastised by the Pharisees for the wastefulness of her gesture.

Jesus rebukes them. He reads their hearts, and slyly reminds them, “Besides, you always have the poor to do good works for”—knowing that, in fact, they do nothing for the poor. They are busy financing Jesus’ betrayal and condemnation. Jesus defends the woman: “Don’t bother her! She has done what she could: she’s anointed my body beforehand for its burial.” Jesus is about to enter into unimaginable suffering, yet he points us to that one woman who “did what she could.”

That word “could” is full of possibilities. The Pharisees “could” serve the poor, the chief priests “could” refuse to condemn Jesus—but they don’t.

Are there “could’s” that would bring light into our world? Quiet our noisy lives, take 10 minutes for prayer, stop the gossip or anger? The greatest “could” of all is the one thing only your heart knows you really need to do. Jesus tenderly accepts and cherishes even our smallest and most hidden efforts. Ask him to show you what you “could” do, and who you “could” become, starting today.

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May you have a blessed Holy Week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

We adore You, O Christ, and we bless You. Because by your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world.

Listen to my homily today:

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Third Sunday of Lent – March 4

Sue & Ron D.

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Malls have become social hubs, busy beehives of shopping and eating for millions of us. That was the case, too, when Jews flowed into Jerusalem to celebrate Passover. Jesus finds the animal sellers and money-changers doing a brisk business, selling sacrificial animals and changing currency for travelers. It was a real mall atmosphere.

But the noise was not the real problem. The Temple was a magnificent structure built on the highest mound overlooking the Holy City. God’s presence was enshrined here. It was a place of such extreme holiness that even today, Jews turn toward this site in prayer. So we can see why Jesus, the Son of God, would explode with rage at these men who were just doing “business as usual.” Not only a lack of reverence for the dwelling place of his Father, Jesus was angry and taking a stand against what we might call “the mall mentality.”

Jesus saw that deepest religious tradition being cheapened and trivialized by greedy, exploitative practices. Is this close to the irreverence and greed of our own culture? When the sacred reality of our God is pushed out of the center of our lives, what becomes our center? The “mall mindset” Jesus condemns today also describes our obsession with competition, money, eating, shopping and accumulating “things.”

The Commandments are like markers placed in a river to tell us where to steer to avoid death by drowning. But, let us keep asking ourselves, do we live a faithful life with God’s holy commands as the backbone of our behavior?
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“Being Church means being God’s people…This means that we are to be God’s leaven in the midst of humanity. It means proclaiming and bringing God’s salvation into our world, which often goes astray and needs to be encouraged, given hope and strengthened on the way” (Pope Francis, The Joy of the Gospel).

Enjoy the St. Patrick’s Parade today here in Belmar! Hope to see many of you out and about…I will be parading down Main Street with our students from the grammar and high school….Have a good week, continue on this Lenten journey to conversion with prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, 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

Second Sunday of Lent – 02.25.18

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Death, and taxes, and many things in between terrify us every day of our lives. All of us live with some degree of anxiety, fatigue, or depression. This makes trusting God very difficult—too much can go wrong! But even those closest to Jesus weren’t quick to trust.

In the gospel today, Jesus frightens the apostles with quite an other-worldly experience. First, they see Jesus blindingly transformed by light. Then they see Jesus talking with two ancient prophets, who had been dead for over 1000 years! Peter was speechless, and it says, “They were terrified.”

But Jesus doesn’t rush to comfort or reassure them, because he knows that they don’t yet see the whole picture—they are terrified only because they do not yet believe they can trust the unknown to God. The answer to all of our stress and worry lies in God’s own words today: “This is My Beloved Son—listen to him!”

First, we might have to add “Stop” and “Look.” Stop the inner chatter, and the outer noise, just for a while. Look, really look with time and focus and attention, at the person talking to you, the task at hand, the cat in your lap. Now you can Listen: Listening is a decision to receive with open hands whatever God is giving you .

Jesus did not explain every detail to the apostles, because he knew that the God of all life was trustworthy—and that is enough, for them, and for us. Yes, we will have fears, because there is evil in the world (the most recent being the horrific shooting of the high schools students in Parkland, Florida). But Jesus trusted God with the deepest and the most vulnerable places of his heart. If we listen, Jesus will teach us how to trust that way. Jesus, I Trust in You.

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Lenten Prayer: “Lord, Holy Father, show us what kind of man it is who is hanging for our sakes on the cross, whose suffering causes the rocks themselves to crack and crumble with compassion, whose death bring the dead back to life. Let my heart crack and crumble at the sight of him. Let my soul break apart with compassion for his suffering. Let it be shattered with grief at my sins for which he dies. And finally let it be softened with devoted love for him. Amen. (St. Bonaventure). Let us pray for one another and our parish family as we continue on 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