Fr. Tom's Message for November 10, 2019
Dear Parish Family,
As we continue with our reflections on the parts of the Mass, I would like to remind you that this Monday, November 11 we celebrate Veterans day. Please take time during the day to remember all the men and woman (as well as dogs) who have served in the armed forces of our country.
After we exchange greetings, “The Lord be with you”, “And with your spirit”, we move to the Penitential rite. This is where we acknowledge our unworthiness to come before the Lord. We humbly admit our guilt and ask for His mercy. God whose mercy is boundless will always respond to our sincere pleas for mercy. Like the blind men who cry out as Jesus approaches, “Have mercy on us, Son of David” we too cry to the Lord for mercy. We humbly entrust our lives, all our weaknesses, sins, fears, and sufferings, to the merciful heart of Christ. In this moment, God makes us worthy to continue the celebration of the Mass.
After the Penitential rite we sing the hymn known as the Gloria. The opening line of this song, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to people of good will”, parallels the song sung by countless hosts of angels on the first Christmas. Thus, the Gloria is no ordinary hymn. We are singing a song sung by the angels. We join our voices with the choirs of angels in heaven by singing the same praises that they sang to welcome the Christ child in Bethlehem. The same God who came down to earth and was born a child two thousand years ago, comes down to earth again on our altar at Mass. So we participate in the heavenly praise, as we prepare at Mass to welcome the same Christ who humbly comes to us in Holy Communion. The Gloria is not just an opportunity to listen to the musical director and choir sing. It is your opportunity to join your voice with theirs sing the praises of our Almighty God. God knows the quality of our voices. Trust me, He has heard you sing before and now He greatly desires to hear you join your voice with his angels.
We end the Introductory rite with our opening prayer, called the Collect. Collect? Why do we call it the Collect? Good question. If you notice the priest usually pauses after saying “Let us pray”. This is not so the priest or altar server can open the book to the right page or for the priest to read the prayer silently so as to not mess it up. The pause is meant to give you time to collect your intentions for that moment and offer them to God. Yes, I too was shocked to learn this. For most of my life I thought the priest was pausing for dramatic effect. It turns out I was supposed to be doing something during that quiet time. Praying! After collecting the intentions of the people gathered together for the Mass, the priest prays the opening prayer. This concludes the Introductory rite and we begin the next part of the Mass – the Liturgy of the Word.
Fr. Tom's Message for November 3, 2019
Dear Parish Family,
Over the next several bulletin articles, I would like to offer some reflections on the Mass. The third commandment reminds us that we are to “Remember the Sabbath day – keep it holy.” (Exodus 20:8). As Catholics we follow this commandment of the Lord by attending Mass every weekend. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the first (of five) precept of the Catholic Church is: “You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor” (CCC 2042). Thus, it is a mortal sin for a Catholic to miss Sunday and Holy Days of obligation Mass. Now that we’ve established the importance of attending Mass, I would like to begin discussing what happens during the different parts of the Mass. If you have ever taken the opportunity to examine the Breaking Bread book (pages 3-30) in the pews, you will notice that it lists the different parts of the Mass. Every liturgy and virtually every prayer begins with the Sign of the Cross. We make the Sign of the Cross so often that I think we tend to forget its significance. In making the Sign of the Cross, we are performing a sacred, biblical action. We are calling on the name of the Lord. This is a powerful moment. We are calling upon the Lord and inviting Him into our lives and pledging ourselves to Him in a covenant relationship. In making the Sign of the Cross we remind ourselves that we have been set apart by Christ and we are renewing our baptismal commitment to live in union with Him. In making the Sign of the Cross we are blessing ourselves and asking God for his protection.
Next, the priest says one of several introductions. I usually say, “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.” and the assembly responds, “And with your spirit.” The Lord be with you is a standard Christian greeting. In Sacred Scripture whenever God calls someone to go on a mission, God assures them that He will be with them. When Jesus sends out the apostles at the end of Matthew gospel, He reminds them, “I am with you always, to the end of the age.” When we hear the Lord be with you, we should be reminded that we too are called to an important mission. This is also why we end the Mass with “the Lord be with you.” It is also a call for God to strengthen us as we approach the sacred mystery of the Eucharist. I want to end this reflection with a personal note as to how important attending Mass is for our spiritual life. There were several periods in my life, for different reasons, that I stopped or infrequently attended Mass. During those periods I recognized that my relationship with the Lord became distant. I was losing my relationship with God, with my faith, with my Church. As I began to recommit myself to regular attendance at Sunday Mass, I began to reconnect with God, my faith, and my Church. I couldn’t explain it but I was being nourished by my weekly attendance at Sunday Mass. My week seemed to go better, my joyfulness seemed to increase, and my relationships with others improved. There was something about the Catholic Mass that was changing me. I thought I could have a relationship with God without the Eucharist. I was wrong, very wrong. The Eucharist, even though I could not explain it, gave me the strength to be the person God intended me to be. Without it, I could not grow in my relationship with God. With it I can stand in front of the assembly of God and proclaim my faith. We will continue our reflection on the introductory rites, along with the Liturgy of the Word next week.
Fr. Tom's Message for October 27, 2019
Dear Parish Family,
This Friday is All Saints Day. Which begs the question: why do we celebrate the saints? First and most importantly; WE DO NOT WORSHIP SAINTS!!! We pray with them, we ask them to intercede upon our behalf, and we give thanks for their efforts in the past to build up the Church.
How do we pray with the saints, after all the saints are dead, right? Yes, the saints are dead, but we believe that Jesus broke the bonds of death when he rose from the dead. Thus, we believe that when we are at Mass we join the Communion of Saints in giving praise to God. Just before we kneel for the Eucharistic Prayer, the Priest says “And so, with the company of Angels and Saints, we sing the hymn of your praise, as without end we acclaim:” then we all sing… “Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God of hosts…”
In this moment our voices join with all the saints in heaven (by the way, everyone in heaven is a saint) praying together. Your voice joins with all your loved ones who have died and together we give praise to God.
I am sure many of us have prayed for St. Anthony to help us find something we have misplaced. This kind of pray is known as intercessory pray. Because Jesus destroyed death by raising from the dead we believe the saints can aid us in our spiritual journey. Thus we ask them to intercede for us. But just as importantly, our prays can aid those who have died. This is why reason people have a Mass said for the intention of someone. So we pray for the saint to aid in our journey and we pray for those who have died on their journey from purgatory to heaven.
We celebrate the saints because they are our heritage, they are our ancestors in faith, upon their shoulder and blood the Church we love was built. In the future, others will celebrate our efforts to build up the Church, pray for our intercession on their behalf, and pray for us on our journey from purgatory to heaven.
As we celebrate All Saints Day and All Souls Day, let us remember those who have gone before, let us honor them, and let us build upon the foundation they have left us.
Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us.
St. Peter, pray for us.
St. Bernard, pray for us.
All holy men and women, pray for us.
Fr. Tom's Message for October 20, 2019
Dear Parish Family,
The three readings today have a similar theme: persistence. Moses kept his hands raised, with some help. Paul reminds Timothy to remain faithful to what he has learned and believed, to “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient.” Finally, in our Gospel, Jesus tells the parable of the persistent widow to remind us the about “the necessity to pray always without becoming weary.”
What does it mean to be persistent? Well, if you google it you get the following definition: “continuing firmly or obstinately in a course of action in spite of difficulty or opposition”. Some synonyms for persistent are perseverance, doggedness, and endurance. I’d like to reflect on how these synonyms relate to our relationship with God.
There is little doubt that when we think about how God relates to us, doggedness, is an apt description. God created us and pursued us in love endlessly. He never diverts from this path. He loved us into existence, and His love is what sustains us. If God stopped thinking about us, we cease to be, we would turn to dust. God is our source of being. All scripture points to this fact.
When it comes to our relationship with God however, we need to ask ourselves if we can use these same adjectives. Do we realize that the sacramental graces we receive give us the power to persist in prayer, and our participation with that grace enables us to do so? The gift of faith allows us to trust that God will provide for us. Hope assures that our doggedness and persistence will be rewarded in eternity with Christ.
Msgr. David's Message for June 2, 2019
My dear parish family,
My heart is overflowing with gratitude from last Sunday’s Farewell Celebration and the Blessing & Dedication of our new outdoor Shrine to the Madonna. I wish to thank in a most special way Maureen Ingham and Joe Conti for co-chairing the Mass and Reception, along with the assistance of Connie Locey and Lauren Frosolone for their presentations after Communion. Thank you to all the members of the Parish Pastoral Council for all their good work and for everyone who made it a truly memorable celebration for me and our entire parish family.
I also wish to express my profound gratitude and appreciation for the many gifts, cards, notes, letters, and emails that I have received. You have truly etched yourselves into my heart and I will never, ever forget the warmth, the love and the generosity of our parish family of St. Peter & St. Bernard.
As I announced at last weekend’s Masses, Bishop Malone has appointed Fr. Thomas Mahoney as Administrator of St. Peter & St. Bernard Parish, effective June 10, 2019. Fr. Tom is 54 years old. He was born and raised in Western New York and grew up in Depew (my hometown as well!). Fr. Tom graduated from Lancaster High School and then went on to Niagara University where he graduated with a degree in Accounting. (Go Purple Eagles!) He worked in public accounting and was CFO of a small company in Amherst, NY. In 2007, Fr. Tom decided to sell his home in Lancaster and enter Christ the King Seminary. During his seminary formation, Fr. Tom was assigned to the following parishes to gain experience in pastoral ministry:
St. John Neumann Parish in Strykersville/Sheldon (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)
St. Mary of Lourdes in Bemus Point/Mayville (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)
St. Vincent de Paul Parish, Niagara Falls for a Pastoral Year (2 Worship Sites, 1 Parish)
Fourteen Holy Helpers Parish in West Seneca, where he served as a Transitional Deacon
Fr. Tom also did a 10-week Clinical Pastoral Education assignment at Mt. St. Mary’s Hospital here in Lewiston.
He was ordained a Priest on June 6, 2015 and was assigned as Parochial Vicar to St. Gregory the Great, Amherst (the largest parish in our diocese).
I know that you will welcome Fr. Tom with open arms and that you will love him, support him, collaborate with him and continue to grow together the wonderful spirit that is St. Peter & St. Bernard Parish.
I will certainly miss seeing you every week, but you will always be close to my heart in prayer, especially as I celebrate Mass. My new address and contact information after June 10:
Our Lady of Victory Basilica
767 Ridge Road, Lackawanna, NY 14218
Telephone: (716) 828-9449
Email: [email protected]
You are always most welcome at Our Lady of Victory, the home of Fr. Baker! I would love to see you! Please pray for me and know of my ongoing prayers for you and all your loved ones. God bless you all! Our Lady of Victory, pray for us!
With my love and grateful prayers always,