Always learning… – 11.05.17

Loving Embrace

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Do some of you remember all the beautiful old prayers Catholics used to say, like “Angel of God, my Guardian Dear…”? Today, some consider prayers like this to be old-fashioned; but they expressed a person’s longings and deep hopes that came from the heart, not the head. They reveal the personal and emotional side of faith—the more intimate language you’d use with someone you love.

Stephanie & Elizabeth

St. Paul says he shared the love of God with the Thessalonians “as a nursing mother cares for her children.” Imagine—our relationship to God is one of resting peacefully on our mother’s breast. Now, there is an image that the Pharisees desperately needed to imitate! They didn’t live their faith by resting humbly and peacefully in God, but made a show and a burden of religion.

Bob & Nancy, 37th Wedding Anniversary

Jesus hated the fact that the religious leaders “preached but did not practice.” We believers sometimes show attitudes towards non-believers or each other. If we show off our “church knowledge”, arguments result. Maybe we stick to the letter of the law instead of offering forgiveness, or use our titles (like Father, mother, lector, Eucharistic Minister) to “shut someone up” or win an argument.

Jesus rebukes all of these temptations. “You are all students.” Humility is the sign of our calling. With believers or non-believers, at all times we are to hold a spirit of peace and humble gratitude. We must return to Psalm 130: “I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with its mother…” Tiny babies seek food blindly, but weaned children return willingly to the mother for comfort and love.

May we only walk to God out of our affection and humble desire to be held and loved!
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“Being a disciple means constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place on a street, in a city square, during work, on a journey” (Pope Francis). Have a wonderful week and 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

Becoming Compassion – 10.29.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

The cartoonist Charles Schulz died in 2000; but his beloved characters, Charlie Brown, Snoopy, Lucy, Linus and the others, will never die. It surprises people that Schulz suffered throughout his life from anxiety and depression; he often reminded his friends, “There is complexity in the world”—depths of both beauty and tragedy.

Nancy & Bob D.

In today’s gospel, the Pharisees miss the point that the commandments were made for people—not people for the commandments. In the abstract, they did love people—much like Linus who said it best: “I love mankind—it’s people I can’t stand.” They quibbled endlessly about fine points of the law.

 

Michael A.

So Jesus tells them, “You can quit arguing. Here it is in a nutshell: Love God with your whole heart, your whole soul, and your whole mind. Oh—and love your neighbor as you love your own self.”

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? And yet—if we knew how to love God or our neighbor, why is there so much casual use (even among church-goers) of rude or hate-filled words? “I can’t stand her.” “I hate him!” “She is such an idiot.” “He’s a troll.” “What a loser!” But what if we stop tinkering with ourselves and other people as if we were broken-down cars, and instead, see ourselves and others as God sees us?

 

James M.

Use your imagination to picture Jesus on the Cross, gazing at certain people in your life, forgiving them and loving them in spite of their violence, dishonesty, or evil intentions. We learn that WE do not manufacture compassion…but we BECOME compassionate when we choose to let ourselves SEE God having compassion on others. This way, you won’t have to say, “I love God, it’s people I can’t stand!”

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“If the soul longs for nothing else than to love its God, then don’t worry and be quite sure that this soul possesses everything, that it possesses God himself” (St. Pio of Pietrelcina)…..The Feast of All Saints on November 1st and All Souls on November 2nd, certainly are occasions in our Catholic faith which provide for us an opportunity to reflect on the virtue of CHRISTAN HOPE…our call to live each day in holiness of life and the promise of eternal life when our earthly journey comes to an end. 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 today: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Icon / Image – 10.22.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Is it driving anyone else crazy how the words “icon” and “iconic” seem to be so grossly overused lately? Every old musician making a comeback is “an icon,” and every quirky film made before 1980 is “iconic.” Well, at least Jesus is using it correctly in the gospel today!

The Pharisees try to trick him by giving him a Roman coin, and asking, “Should we pay taxes to Caesar or not?” The Jews despised paying taxes to the Romans. Jesus knows their malice so he asks, “Whose image is this, and whose title?” The word “image” in Greek is “eikon.”

The Poppert Family

In those days, when a king came to power he would stamp his own image and title on the coins to show that they all belonged to him. So, when the Pharisees say that it is Caesar’s icon, or image on the coin, Jesus has a clever reply. “Then give back to Caesar what belongs to him—and give back to God what belongs to God.” Theologically, though, there is a deeper meaning. Jesus’ words do not mean that God and Caesar are equals. “Humans bear God’s image, and wherever they live and operate—whether in the social, economic, political, or religious realm—they belong to God. Their primary loyalties do not switch when they move out of church and into the voting booth” (W. Brueggemann, et al.).

For years, people have tried to solve “church and state” issues by quoting Jesus, as if we have to choose between being good citizens or good Christians. But Jesus doesn’t solve those issues. He gives us the sacred principle: all God’s children are stamped with the Divine Icon. We must struggle with how our “family relationship” bears on our decisions. Do you feel joyful, knowing you are stamped with God’s icon?

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“Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness, that doesn’t dwell on the past, but is able to see a tomorrow” (Pope Francis, Tweet, August 6, 2017). 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 today: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

God’s Invitations – 10.15.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Today we are asked to accept the invitation of God to come to the banquet. The invitation can come in many different forms. All of us have received beautifully embossed invitations to a wedding, or funny invitations to a sixty-fifth birthday party or a plain hand-written invitation to a kid’s party. One invitation is not any less important than the other, even though one may look much better than the other.

In our day to day living, God’s invitations are coming at us all the time. The morning alarm clock, the greeting from our neighbor or co-worker, the papers on our desk, the child crying or asking for our attention—invitations come to us in many forms. Anytime we are asked to respond with a word, a deed, an attitude, a special form of presence to another—all of these times and more, we are responding to God’s invitation. It’s true we don’t recognize it immediately as God calling us, but on reflection we can see that our friend, or spouse, or co-worker needed us in some special way.

Or perhaps God’s invitations come in the form of abundance—faithful friends, great health, wonderful art, comforting and uplifting music, good family, nature and so many other things. When we take all of these things for granted, when we think that we deserve and have a right to every good thing that comes our way, we are no longer seeing God’s invitations in our lives. Answering God’s invitation means first of all just becoming aware of the many invitations that flow our way each day of our lives.

If we continue to practice this awareness of God’s gifts, we will allow a deep and life-giving gratefulness to take root in our hearts. Then we will no longer find ourselves occasionally giving thanks. Instead, we will live each day in the life-giving atmosphere of gratefulness.

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“Christ has no body now, but yours. No hands, no feet on earth, but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ looks with compassion on the world. Yours are the feet with which Christ walks to do good. Yours are the hands with which Christ blesses the world” (St. Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582, Feast is October 15).  Have a good week, enjoy this beautiful season of autumn, 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: (Posted after Mass.)

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

With grateful hearts — 10.08.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

“Do not worry about anything.” That’s the good news today taken from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians. Worrying about what we can’t control is useless and ultimately harmful. We know that medical science has closely tied worry to heart trouble, blood pressure problems, ulcers, thyroid malfunction, migraine headaches, and a host of stomach disorders, amongst others. The bottom line is: worry and anxiety are not good for us—not good for our bodies, not good for our spirits.

Corrie Ten Boom spoke of the unravelling effects of worry, when she said, “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, but it empties today of its strength.” When St. Paul tells us not to worry about anything, he doesn’t just stop there. He also tells us that we should pray for what we need, and do it with thanksgiving in our hearts. He wants us to ask for what we need but to be thankful at the same time. Some people say that we should thank the Lord ahead of time for the favors for which we are asking. For example, if I’m praying that I pass an examination, I should thank the Lord for my passing mark even before I receive it. I’m not sure this is what St. Paul is talking about, but it seems a bit presumptuous to assume that God is going to give us exactly what we ask for.

Stewart & Susan F.

Perhaps St. Paul is reminding us that we need to have a grateful spirit in our lives and in our prayer because he tells us that the result of our prayer will be the gift of peace—a peace which surpasses understanding. If we receive the peace of God, then it follows that we won’t worry about anything. Having God’s peace in our hearts means knowing that all is well in the universe because God is holding all things in safety. As someone has so wisely said: “Do not be afraid of tomorrow; for God is already there.”

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“May today there be peace within. May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use those gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content knowing that you are a child of God. Let this presence settle in your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of us” (St. Therese of Lisieux, 1873-1897). Pray for one another, especially the Rosary….pray for our parish….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 at Mass this morning: (Posted after Mass.)

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Be not afraid. – 10.01.17

Today is Respect Life Sunday with this year’s theme “Be Not Afraid.”

When battered by life’s storms, or immersed in a dense fog of suffering and uncertainty, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. Yet with the word that echoes through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, the Lord says to us, “Do not fear: I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10).

Stewart & Susan F.

He speaks these words not as one who merely observes our pain, but as one who experienced immense suffering. And the very wounds that bear witness to his suffering indicate the essence of our identity and worth: we are loved by God.

Reflecting on the healed wounds of the Risen Christ, we see that even our most difficult trials can be the place where God manifests his victory. He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new.

He is always with us. Jesus promised this when he gave the disciples the same mission he gives to each of us: Go.

Go be my hands and feet to a world enslaved by fear. Go to the woman who is unexpectedly pregnant and fears the future. Go to your friend who fears reprisal at work because he takes a stand for the protection of human life. Go to your aging parent in failing health who fears being a burden. And go to others, too, for their support. 

We don’t need to have everything figured out. We can simply follow the guidance of Our Blessed Mother, the first disciple: “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5).

Walk with each other. Do not be afraid to embrace God’s gift of life. Whatever storms or trials we face, we are not alone. He is with us.

“Behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20).

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“Remember that when you leave this earth, you can take with you nothing that you have received—only what you have given: a full heart, enriched by honest service, love, sacrifice, courage” (St. Francis of Assisi). Have a good week, let us pray for one another, and may God bless you and keep you always in His love!

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

Listen to my homily today: (Posted after Mass.)

Joyfully in the Lord,

 

 



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

Forgiveness – 09.24.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Seek the Lord while He may be found, call Him while He is near. Let the scoundrel forsake his way and the wicked his thoughts, let him turn to the Lord for mercy, to our God who is generous in forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.”

The scripture readings at Mass these past few weeks have put great emphasis on forgiveness. We are invited to reflect on our ability to forgive others and ourselves. We are reminded to seek forgiveness from God and from others.

Sometimes we tend to pass quickly over one or another of these three. How important that I seek the forgiveness of God. Our act of contrition or acts of penance direct us to God’s mercy. Our willingness, not to bear a grudge or get even, but to understand someone else and say “that’s o.k.” is life giving. I admit my own shortcomings and realize that I am not always right and need to say “I’m sorry.” Finally, I must learn to forgive myself and not dwell on my wrongs but get up and move on as a forgiven and forgiving person.

Yes, forgiveness is the power I have in my hand and heart.

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Stewart & Susan F.

“We, who are used to experiencing the forgiveness of sins, perhaps too ‘cheaply’ should at times remind ourselves how much we cost God’s love. Each one of us cost a lot: Jesus’ life! He would have given it also for just one of us. Jesus didn’t go to the cross because He cured the sick, because He preached charity, because He proclaimed the Beatitudes. The Son of God went to the cross above all because He forgave sins, because He willed the total, definitive liberation of the human heart. Because He does not want the human being to be consumed his whole life with this ineffaceable ‘tattoo’, with the thought of not being able to be received by the merciful heart of God. And with these sentiments, Jesus goes to encounter sinners, which we all are” (Pope Francis, General Audience, September 6, 2017). Have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

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

Listen to my homily today: 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Power Within — 09.17.17

Praise be Jesus Christ. Now and Forever.

“Forgive your neighbor’s injustices, then when you pray, your own sins will be forgiven. Could anyone nourish anger against another and expect healing from the Lord? Could anyone refuse mercy to another like himself, can he seek pardon for his own sins?…. Remember your last days, set enmity aside, remember death and decay, and cease from sin. Think of the commandments, hate not your neighbor, remember the Most High’s covenant and overlook faults.”

When we consider the word power, we might think of electricity, strength, brute force, like the recent hurricanes that have devastated lands and populations. The greatest power available is not physical or even emotional. The greatest power resides in every person, yet often goes unused.

Melinda M. & Rudy M.

The scriptures today reflect that power and is found in the word forgiveness. Every person has the power to forgive. In our world beset with hatred, war, discrimination, rarely do we resort to the use of this power. We are set on dominating, getting even, putting others in their place. We judge, presume intentions and motivation, yet fail to see the splinter in our own eye. The power to forgive is a gift to use, for my own well being and for others.

I recall a wise priest who directed others to ‘look the other way.’

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Mary C.

Let us continue to pray for those in our country and around the world affected by recent natural disasters (Texas, Louisiana, Florida, the Caribbean, Mexico); may the support of relief agencies, neighbors and loved ones who come to their aid prove them the care and hope needed to recover and rebuild from the devastation they have experienced. You and I have seen the pictures in the newspapers, television, and the internet…. and we are reminded of Sandy in 2012; this is even worse. Please lift up to the Lord these people who are suffering in so many ways, that they will never lose hope. May you have a good week and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

PRAYER FOR CATECHISTS

O God, our Heavenly Father, you have given us the gift of our catechists to be heralds of the Gospel to our parish family. We lift them up to you in thanksgiving and intercede for them concerning their hopes and needs.

May we be attentive to the presence of your Word in them, a Word that lifts up and affirms, calls forth and challenges, is compassionate and consoles.

We pray that our parish family will always be blessed with those who have responded to the call to share in Christ’s prophetic mission as catechists. May we too be open to the universal call to service that Christ addresses to all his disciples, contributing our gifts to the communion of faith, the Church.

We ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen.

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

Listen to my homily today. 

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Love one another — 09.10.17

Cohort 19 Mass at Belmar Gazebo

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Mrs. Jones thought she’d lived a perfect life because “I’ve never bothered anybody.” So when she went to hell, she complained bitterly. St. Peter said, “The only time that selfish woman ever helped anyone was the day she gave a poor man an onion.” So they agreed to lower the onion down to hell, and if the lady grabbed on, she could be pulled up to heaven.

She was overjoyed! But as she grabbed the onion, some of her companions grabbed on, to get out, too. She began kicking them off, screaming, “Let go, let go—that’s MY onion!” Instantly the line snapped and she fell back into Satan’s waiting arms. He only smiled: “Too bad! The rope was strong enough to save all of you…but not you by yourself.” (J. Feehan)

Kevin & Luke D.

True, she didn’t owe anything to anyone—but that’s what put her into hell! St. Paul says today in the second reading from his letter to the Romans, “Owe nothing to anyone, EXCEPT to love one another;” that is how to fulfill the law. Have you ever thought of the Great Commandment that way? That we actually owe it to each other to “love one another?” We don’t think that way about strangers do we? But every one of us is connected by our spiritual “gene pool” to every other creature…because we have been loved into existence from the heart of God.

Like “The Butterfly Effect,” one small kindness by us—an unexpected smile, kind word, polite action—can start a subtle chain reaction that increases the atmosphere of care and respect within the Body of Christ. Even if we don’t “feel loving” toward strangers, we can form the habit of “doing love” in many small ways. Each of us has to look at every situation in our lives, to see if we are truly whole-heartedly loving one another. Or are we kicking people off, trying to hang on to our onion?

PRAYER FOR PEACE

O God of love and tender mercy, your people cry out to you in time of strife.
We fear for the safety of those we love, and the miles that separate family members
cause us to worry.
Comfort us in our time of need.
We suffer with those whose lives are destroyed by war. May they be helped by our efforts.
We long for the reign of peace promised by your Son.
Bring that peace to earth again.

May we never grow complacent, O God; may we never see the world’s wars as events that do not affect us, for we know that we are all your children,
entrusted with this fragile earth
to be a place of harmony, peace, and justice.
Hear our prayer, which we voice in the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who is Lord forever and ever. Amen.

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

Listen to my homily today: (Posted after Mass.)

Joyfully in the Lord,



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

Renewal of Life — 09.04.17

Praise be Jesus Christ now and forever!

Did you notice Jesus saying something pretty unusual in the gospel today? Jesus actually calls Peter “Satan.” In our house, we weren’t allowed to call each other names. If Jesus’ mother was anything like mine, she wouldn’t have been thrilled to have this moment recorded in the family archives!

The word satan is Hebrew for “the adversary,” or “the one who obstructs.” But how is Peter obstructing Jesus? Jesus just told the apostles that he will soon suffer and die. Isn’t Peter just trying to be a sympathetic friend, by saying, “No, way! God forbid that happening!!”? No, Jesus is trying to gently break it to the apostles that he is not the “Terminator-type” Savior they were expecting. God’s larger plan includes sufferings the Messiah will have to endure.

And here Peter is suggesting, “Back off—don’t go with God’s plan!” Let’s think of the times we, too, are tempted to obstruct God’s plans for someone we love—our kids, maybe. Sometimes we shield them from the consequences of their bad choices, or make life too easy for them. But Jesus’ parenting advice is, “Whoever wants to be my follower has to deny themselves, take up your cross, and follow me.”

Congratulations to those who are helping their children take up crosses on the high road of strong and loving discipline with their children. It is hard, and others criticize you—but that’s the very nature of a cross. Parents have to die to their own comfort, reputation, or to the temptation to be a “best friend” instead of a parent. It is never easy, but it is the building of God’s pathway that you are engaged in. St. Paul helps us to take up our crosses: “Do not conform yourselves to this age.” Let us renew our minds towards true life in Christ.

As we celebrate Labor Day and give thanks for the work we do—whatever it is—let us remember in our prayers all those who are unemployed and searching for work. We pray: “Lord, give success to the work of our hands.”….Enjoy this last weekend of what was a great and beautiful summer…and may God bless you and keep you always in His Love!

​​​​Joyfully in the Lord,

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

As we celebrate Labor Day and give thanks for the work we do—whatever it is—let us remember in our prayers all those who are unemployed and searching for work. We pray: “Lord, give success to the work of our hands.”….Enjoy this last weekend of what was a great and beautiful summer…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