How would you feel if you were a single mother of four children whose father “left” and with him the half of your income left also? This is an example of a situation that we encounter very often in our work in Outreach. If you and the father of your children rented an apartment, you had a job that paid relatively well but you depended on his salary to help pay the rent. What do you do?
First you tell your tale to the Department of Social Services. You find a new apartment and DSS agrees to help you with the payments but you have not only the first month’s rent and the security to pay up front but the apartment has only two bedrooms and there are five of you. Suddenly you incur family disaster and you have to leave with the children. You have expenses of travel that you hadn’t expected and you have to take the children with you. Now the rent for your next month is due! You don’t have it so you get a 5% penalty on the rent added to the amount due. DSS pays their portion but you are still penalized. You turn to the Church but you haven’t supplied them with enough information so those in the Outreach Office have to try to help you to get all of the information. Outreach tries to get assistance from Catholic Charities. Outreach is back and forth with CC and Outreach can’t provide the information they need. More time elapses and more fines and more avenues are tried. Finally, we can provide the financial help that is needed due to the generosity of you good and generous people.
This is an example of the type of work that we do with the dollars you donate. This is not an exaggeration. There are different stories each time and we do have to screen thoroughly and carefully to be sure that we are not being scammed. Unfortunately, we cannot always help the working poor; those who have a steady job, many times make just enough to pay the bills but have no way of “putting aside for a rainy day.” These are the people we so desperately try to help because they have a skill and are working; they are trying to help themselves. These are the ones who so often “fall through the cracks.”
Jesus said, “The poor you will always have with you;” however, those whom we call “the working poor” are truly trying to get ahead. They don’t want to ask for help. There are times when they just need a helping hand before they “go down for the third time” and drown. Sometimes clearing the slate for them once, gives them the impetus to “pick up their mat and walk.” You are the ones who do this for them; we are simply the vehicle. We could not do anything if you were not as generous as you are.
You may ask, “What about the real poor—those who don’t work at all?” The government has so many programs for the disabled, the mentally disabled, anyone who can’t work. Anyone who is able to work but doesn’t have a job usually doesn’t want to work. We give food to such persons but they have to be willing to do something to help themselves.
We will begin to give out School Supplies on August 14. If you intend to donate to this cause, please try to have your do-nations in by Friday, August 11. Thank you so very much.
One more BIG need: from time to time we help to deliver furniture to homes. We need a few healthy men who can help to lift and carry the furniture. It is only on occasion. Are there some of you who can help with this, PLEASE? Call Sister Ann at: 631-874-3617 and leave you name.
During the month of July, you generous people have helped us to provide food for 365 people, contributed toward shelter for 4, and utilities for 8. You helped to provide for the basic need of 156 people, transportation for 19, and contributed to the Homeless Initiative for 239 people totaling assistance for 791 people.
An anonymous contributor donated $25.00 in honor of Alan Seitelmen, through our new Parish Social Minis-try cards. These beautiful cards in honor of or in memory of are available in the Outreach Office or in the Rectory Office. Thank you very much. God bless you abundantly for all that you do for others!
In the second reading today, Peter recounts the eyewitness that he, James and John had experienced on the mountain. He wrote, “We ourselves heard this voice come from heaven while we were with him on the holy mountain. Moreover, we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You would do well to be attentive to it, as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.” When I read those words, it brought back the memory of my dear friend whom I had found dead that very morning 20 years ago. We were to meet for Mass after her meeting with her new pastor and have lunch together. As she hadn’t been feeling all that great the night before, I called her in the morning just to see if she feeling better. When there was no answer, I waited about half-hour and called again. Still no answer.
I decided to drive to her home, about 15 minutes away. When I arrived at the house and knocked on the door, there was no response. Since I had a key, I went to the front door and let myself in. The blinds were still closed, her little bird was still covered and her bedroom door was closed. I opened the door but there was no movement. I ran to her side, felt for a pulse, but there was none. She had obviously gone to the Lord.
After calling 911, her congregation (she was a Sister of Mercy), went downstairs to tell her 81 year old aunt, and I called her relatives in Baltimore. Soon her little apartment was filled with police, friends, Sisters from her Community as well as mine.
Why recount all this about someone you didn’t know. Why? Because of the words that were spoken by God to the three Apostles and to us: “This is my Son, my beloved, with whom I am well pleased!” I do believe that when God sees us trying so hard to do the right thing—to be kind and helpful, to be generous and patient, not only with ourselves but with everyone with whom I come into contact, that the Father looks on us and says the same words. We, too, are God’s beloved, just as my dear friend was. She was truly transformed by the love that God had for her as he called her home in the quiet of the night. Her work was over here on earth. Her Breviary was on the top of her dresser by her bed where she obviously left it after praying her night prayer. What a comforting realization—her last words were to the Lord who was soon to call her to himself.
NEEDS FOR THE OUTREACH
Besides the request for more volunteers on Monday and/or Wednesday mornings, we will be giving out our school supplies. There is only one problem: WE HAVE ONLY ONE SMALL BAGS OF TABLES AND LOOSELEAF AND A FEW BACK PACKS. Please help us again this year as you have in the past. You are always SO generous and now with our new ministry you have outdone yourselves in generosity. Yes, I’m rather asking you to “squeeze the stone” to see if you can do without one bottle of wine this week and donate that money to help some poor child have what he/she needs to start school. God bless you for your generosity and sacrifice!
IDEAS FOR SCHOOL SUPPLIES: marble notebooks in all colors, loose leaf, binders, subject separators, pens, pencils (preferably sharpened), sharpeners with shaving holders, colored pencils, crayons, markers, highlighters, plastic two-pocket folders (the paper ones tear too easily), pink erasers and pencil toppers, rulers with both metric and inches, pencil cases, backpacks, sticky notes, index cards, white board erasers, while board markers.
Perhaps the age old question of why God allows evil to exist in the world along with the good is answered in the Gospel for today. The farmer allows the weeds to grow along with the wheat so that the wheat is not pulled up and thrown away with the weeds. How does that affect the world today? If we have no weeds in the field the wheat may not have the nourishment to grow strong on its own. Over the course of the years I have learned that a person grows in strength when she/he has to “fight” against an odd. Think about an athlete preparing for a contest or a game. She/he has to stretch the muscles, practice for hours, and endure much pain to achieve success. No pain; no gain!
We Sisters of IHM have had a facility on our property in Scranton, PA, that was founded to care for unmarried pregnant girls and for physically and/or mentally challenged children. The love and care that the residents receive is outstanding. Those who work at St. Joseph’s just love their “charges.” If the world had its way, these precious residents would probably have had their lives terminated before they were born. They are God’s precious saints living among us, yet, most of them cannot tell the real difference between right and wrong. Many are incapable of understanding the meaning of a serious sin. Some understand that they should not act in a certain way because they are told not to by someone they love and trust.
This is the way it would be with us. God allows evil to exist because he gave us a free will — a gift to be able to choose either good or bad. In choosing to be good we will still be tempted to do wrong but we can grow stronger with God’s grace when we deliberately refuse to give in to evil. It would be very easy to be good if there were no evil in the world. Remember, every story in the Bible is meant to teach a lesson. Sometimes we have to look a bit deeper than just perusing the surface.
In reading Scripture we all have to put ourselves in the story or situation and let God speak to us. Sometimes we rattle off to the Lord telling Him what we think he should do. We keep talking “at” God and never stop to listen. I know that I have to catch myself because I fall into this ditch all too often. When I am among “the wheat,” I try to remember to listen by praying, “Lord show me what to do” or “Lord, I love you; you know what is best for me.” Then be quiet . . . and listen . . .
St. John's Pantry Information
Because of your goodness and generosity, during the month of June we have provided:
The stores are already having marvelous sales for Back-to-School supplies. I was over in Target and Staples and supplies were already being replaced. In the past you have been very generous in helping us to give the children what they need to start off the new school year. Please consider helping us again this year. We begin distributing school supplies in the middle of August and here it is the middle of July.
We have probably all heard at one time or another “whisperings” of what someone has said negatively about us, whether it is true or false. There are people who seem to want us to make a mistake or think that we have made a mistake. It is perhaps what Jeremiah was thinking in the first reading today. There is the tendency to want to wish something would happen to the one who thinks that way but Jeremiah reassures us by his words: “But the Lord is with me, like a mighty champion . . .” Unlike him, we realize that God does not want vengeance on anyone. God is a loving and forgiving God who only wants us to live in peace with everyone.
Psalm 69 gives us the way to live through those who may be out to hurt or malign us: “For your sake I bear insult, and shame covers my face. I have become an outcast . . . because zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who blaspheme you fall upon me.” This continues to expound God’s kindness, goodness, and mercy; but in the words of the psalmist, we are reminded that those “who seek God, may your hearts revive!”
The Gospel can either jolt us into reality or bring us to our knees; Jesus spoke strongly to his twelve: “Fear no one. Nothing is concealed that will not be revealed, nor secret that will not be known. … And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Jesus reminds us of the care he has for all of creation—from sparrows to even the hairs on our heads. (Who are the lucky ones: those with a head full of hair or those who used to have them???) Really Sister? You know he loves us all!
Anyway, in the words Paul wrote to the Romans, we are reminded that “. . .sin entered the word through man,” and now we have to experience death. And paradoxically, it was through death of THE MAN that we are given a chance for eternal life! Wow! What an exchange! Paul’s words expressed then (and they still apply today) that this gift of salvation offered and earned for us by Jesus Christ, which we will be given through God’s grace and our cooperation, is far greater than the transgression of our first parents when law did not exist. How good is our God! Alleluia, alleluia!
As a parishioner, I would like to thank all who have made the transformation of our OLQA auditorium into such a place of serenity and prayer each weekend. I thought the theme for Pentecost was so beautifully executed! Thank you “Arts and Environment” Committee!
We are still in great need of more volunteers in the The Barn Office, and for volunteers to work in Outreach. During the summer months, students who will need Community Service Hours for school clubs, or Confirmation hours, can help a great deal Monday and/or Wednesday mornings. Please come in to see Sister Ann and she’ll set you up. Last year we even had a mom help when she brought her children. Those under 18 do not need a background check. It is a great way to help others! If you are bi-lingual you will be doubly welcomed, especially on Wednesdays.
God bless you for all that you do for others!
A miracle has occurred! It happened over two thousand years ago and it is still happening. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him.” I have read these opening words of today’s Gospel (John 3:16) over and over through the years, but after the events in our parish a bit more than two weeks ago, these words took on a whole new meaning for me.
No matter who we are, no matter the color of our skin, no matter our ethnic or religious background, the truth is that this God sent his Son into the world for each and every one of us. God loves us more and better than anyone else ever could love us!
Not long ago while at prayer I was reminded that Satan is an angel—a fallen angel—never-the-less his intelligence is greater than ours. You remember how he tried to tempt Christ to worship him; that scene is a tremendous reminder that he can tempt anyone of us. Some people have disciplined themselves to be able to resist strong temptations; some of us are weaker than others, and some suffer in ways we don’t always understand. Always remember that we have received the Holy Spirit to help us, to guide us, and to strengthen us to be able to resist temptation. Jesus did not leave us orphans. Today we celebrate the fullness of God as we pray to the Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—to increase our faith, to bring us hope, and to help us in our concern for others.
St. Paul reminded the Corinthians to: “Rejoice. Mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you.” (2 Corinthians 13:11.) We parishioners have received so much outpouring of God’s love through the support YOU have bestowed upon one another and your constant concern for others. Your concern for our church building shows the strength of true Church—its people.
We do not understand why bad things happen to good people but to a people of Faith all things work out. One woman told me that she told children that when bad things happen, God cries, too. Could God stop bad things from happening? Yes, but that would take away our free will which is given to all people; that is a gift that no one wants to lose. Pope Frances said recently: “Without a cross there can be no resurrection.”
Honor and pray to the Holy Trinity and we will have our resurrection. In May through your generosity the Parish Outreach provided: Food to 310 people. Rent help for 13 individuals. Utility (electric, water, etc.) assistance to 17 people. Basic Needs (clothing, toiletries, diaper, etc.) for 145 people. Transportation assistance to 16 people. The Homeless Initiative went into the community weekly providing food, clothing, shoes & toiletries to 80 people!
God bless you for all the love and support you have given to all, especially Fr. John.