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December 2017

November 2017

St. Andrew, Apostle and Martyr

Statue of St. Andrew in the Vatican

Saint Andrew is sometimes called the "first called" apostle, since it was he who introduced  his brother Simon to Jesus (in John's gospel).

Andrew's generosity and immediacy in responding to Christ's call can be a model for our discipleship. So often we ruminate on things and call it discerning God's will, when what we need is a little more of Andrew's complete commitment in following Jesus at the very first call.



Enjoy Handel's Messiah at Holy Cross Church 2017

Hc_church_sanctuary (1)

RUMSON, NJ – On Sunday, December 10th at 3:00 p.m., the sanctuary of Holy Cross Church will be filled with the tremendous sounds of George Frideric Handel’s MessiahPart One. The classical piece, including the famous Hallelujah Chorus, will be performed by the Holy Cross Choir and several professional soloists accompanied by a chamber orchestra.

Due to its immense popularity, the event is now the third annual at the Catholic church in Rumson. The parish welcomes all to experience the beauty of music that celebrates anticipation and joy of the birth of the Jesus, as all Christians do during the Advent and Christmas seasons.

The concert is free and open to the public; a free will offering is appreciated.

Come; reset; prepare; and rejoice!


Thanks to Teresa Makin for the terrific ad and story now running in the Atlantic Highlands Herald

The Handwriting On the Wall

Rembrandt-BelsazarToday's reading recounts Daniel's prophetic interpretation of the mysterious handwriting on the wall which appeared during a sacrilegious feast by King Belshazzar using the sacred vessels from the captured Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. 

The king could not read the message due to his hardness of heart and his drunkenness. 

These last few days of ordinary time remind us of the hostile receptions given Old Testament prophets. The new prophecy announced by the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary and brought to fulfillment in Jesus Christ will soon be upon us. By prayer and corporal and spiritual gifts of mercy, may our hearts be ready to receive Jesus this Christmas.

Martian Baptisms?

Martian Baptism
Martians in St. Peter's?

One of our seventh graders asked me last week if there are aliens on other planets and would they have souls and go to heaven?

I knew that the topic had been explored with the manned lunar landing and the martian rover. As recently as Vatican II, Paul VI changed today's feast name to Christ the King of the Universe. So a little research was in order.

Turns out Thomas Aquinas answered the question when asked could there have been other incarnations? Citing the evidence of angels as extraterrestrial life forms and not being able to prove there weren’t other life forms, Thomas thought that saying there could only be one Incarnation of the Son of God, the one in Bethlehem, put limits on God’s power and others couldn’t be excluded.

Modern theologians agree that the same Trinity is God over all creation, but disagree over whether there could be Incarnations in every kind of created world. It’s not likely Martians would celebrate the historic coming of Christ to earth, but not impossible there would have been a coming of the Second Person of the Trinity to Martians - a Martian Christmas of their own.

If not, would there need to be missionaries to Martians? Weird to think about.

Pope Francis was recently asked if Martians landed in Vatican City and asked to be baptized whether he would turn them away? Predictably he replied, "Who am I to turn them away?" He would baptize them, if they asked.

The question is more academic than real at the present time, but our answers help define what’s important about today’s feast, the nature of Christ and of God and our belief in Jesus Second Coming. We can pray about the nature of Christ, His essential role in our salvation and resist the modern temptations to minimize his divinity or his primacy over the heavenly kingdom.

There isn’t a heaven full of gods, just one.

The Trinity doesn’t wage war with competing deities.

Jesus Christ wasn’t simply a prophet for the human race; He is the most perfect revelation of God the human race will ever have.

We celebrate his birth with singular importance at Christmas and we await his Coming Again when he recreates the universe. 

Whether my favorite martian is in heaven is for God to decide. But God’s Son Jesus Christ became one of us, suffered, died and rose and invited us to heaven. We are created in his image and likeness and we follow in Jesus' footsteps from our baptisms until our entry into our heavenly home.

We sing His praise and proclaim Him Lord of the Universe!

Thanksgiving Prayer With Holy Cross School Children



Today Holy Cross School children in the lower grades gave thanks to God for their many blessings. Each of our 3rd grade students had drawn and colored a picture of something they were thankful for and they presented their artwork on a PowerPoint as we prayed for their intention. We prayed The Lord's Prayer and sent everyone on their way reminded to give thanks to God and to someone special in their lives.


Saint Cecilia, Early Christian Martyr

SaintCeciliaAccording to legend, when St. Cecilia's body was exhumed, her fingers were found in positions interpreted as a witness to the Trinity - Three persons in One God.

Her husband and brother-in-law were martyred for piously burying the dead Christian martyrs and Cecilia's burying them both brought her to the attention of Roman authority. After refusing to renounce God and worship pagan deities, she too was martyred. Her name is included in the Roman Canon, an early Eucharistic prayer.


Donor Book Inscribed

Our Memorial Donor Book for the church's capital campaign has been engraved and returned to Holy Cross. Thank you to all our generous donors. IMG_0858
It is truly a worthy remembrance for those who have given so generously to Holy Cross Church. Our next engraving will likely be in six months to one year depending on when pledges to the campaign are completed. 

St. Elizabeth of Hungary

ElizabethOfHungary at Holy Cross
St. Elizabeth of Hungary at Holy Cross Church, Rumson NJ

Saint Elizabeth lived a full, but short, life: she was married at 14, mother to three children, one of whom was born shortly after her husband died, widowed at 20, dead herself at 24 years old. 

Despite her privileged upbringing as a princess married to a king, she developed a great concern for the poor after hearing the preaching and seeing the example of the Franciscans. Her generosity to the poor aroused resentment among the courtiers surrounding her husband, who accused her of misappropriating palace goods and treasures for the disadvantaged. 

One day these advisors and the king confronted Elizabeth on one of her missions of mercy, demanding to know what she carried in her cloak. She had stuffed her cloak full of bread for the hungry, but when she revealed what she was carrying to her husband, there were only roses. This is one of many times roses would be used as signals of divine intervention in the lives of the saints. 


St. Gertrude the Great

GertrudeProceeding from the central insight that Jesus is Lord and judge, but also a loving Savior, Gertrude meditated on Christ's great love for us. Her insights planted the seed in the church for the growth of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Fostering our loving relationship with Jesus requires the same measures we take to show our love to spouse, family and friends: frequent communication, times of intimacy and quiet, loving acts of sacrifice and self-donation, listening and more.


St. Albert the Great

AlbertusMagnusSt. Albert the Great had a nearly insatiable curiosity about the world and all that is in it. He studied and wrote extensively about the natural sciences, including the philosophy of the Greeks, especially Aristotle.

Through Albert, the West rediscovered Aristotle, lost to them since the fall of the Roman Empire. The ancient wisdom was kept alive by the Muslims which Albert read and studied as soon as translations from Arabic were made available.

One of his most famous students was St. Thomas Aquinas, who learned about Aristotle from Albert and went on to compose a synthesis of Aristotelian philosophy and Christian theology. His influence on philosophy and  theology into the modern age is immeasurable.

Albert preached, lectured and for a short time was bishop of a diocese, all the while laboring for the gospel and its truth. He saw no contradiction between science and faith. 

This icon of St. Albert is outside our school's science lab, since St. Albert is a patron saint of natural scientists.

Nocturnal Adoration During Advent, Wednesdays 11 PM Until Midnight

Pray during an hour of peaceful Eucharistic Adoration Wednesdays during Advent from 11 PM to midnight. 

The Wednesdays of Advent are December 6, December 13 and December 20th.

We all know how hectic the days of Advent can become if we let them. This is an opportunity to collect ourselves and spend some time with the Lord during the beautiful Advent season of waiting in hope for what is to come.


Mother Frances Cabrini

MotherCabriniMother Frances Xavier Cabrini, who wanted to become a nun but was refused entry into congregations because of her poor health wound up founding her own religious community. 

She dreamed of working in China, but was sent by the pope to North America instead to work with Italian immigrants.

She wasn't welcomed with open arms in America, but set about working with the poor and orphans anyway.

So many times she had an opportunity to walk away and decide it wasn't worth the difficulty - but she didn't.

Instead this frail woman founded hospitals, schools and orphanages around the world and became the first American citizen (naturalized) to be declared a saint.


Five Were Wise, Five Were Foolish



Advent approaches

We are called to watchful attention

For the coming of the Lord in our lives

And our world.

The foolish virgins are an example

Of inattention and distraction.

Distractions are all around us

None more powerful these days

Than our electronic devices.

The computer age has certainly

Changed our world

But the age of smartphones

Revolutionized it.

And experts say they are

Changing us. 

If our phones and the

Social apps are too much

To ignore

They’re designed that way…

To be used as much as possible

…to be addictive.


A recent study tabulated

25 % of our waking hours are

Spent on our phones

Email, texting, surfing, shopping,

Gambling, game playing. 

A good portion of the rest of the time

Is spent anticipating their use

Waiting for return texts, emails

Nomophobia: fear of being separated from our mobile devices


World of Warcraft may be one of the most addictive behavioral experiences on the planet

Ten billion dollars, 100 million subscribers, 12th nation on earth


We can do and see almost anything

At the click of a button day or night:

Gamble, shop, work, look at sexual images.

Smartphones have unleashed unprecedented powerful addictions.

It isn’t that we have no willpower,

It’s that there are an army of

Highly paid experts

Behind every online app

Figuring out how to overcome

Our willpower.

Convenience, availability and the illusion of privacy are factors.

Facebook’s stroke of genius

Was adding the “like” and “friend” functions

Which provide unpredictable

But small rewards for using the app

And then digitizing the results:

       Likes, dislikes, comments, follow, unfollow;

Providing badges or awards for incremental use.


Who knows what post will be liked?

How can I expand my network of friends?

Can I get to level three?

What will go viral?

How many likes do I have now?

Click, click, click.


Work invades our leisure time with 

Nearly 24 hours of work email, texts, alerts...

Even on vacation.


Our young people are particularly susceptible

to these devices and apps.

False social values and self-worth

       Determined by Likes and followers and clicks.


Social interaction of young children - it's 

Important to be free from screen time.


Steve Jobs wouldn’t allow his children

       To have iPhones.

One of the first presidents of Facebook

       Wouldn’t allow his children

       To use the app.

Some of the best game developers

       And programmers won’t play

       World of Warcraft.

They are very powerful changers of behavior


How they change social interactions,

       Family get-togethers and other

       Functions is obvious to all of us

Even our worship is periodically invaded


So what do we do?

Work stays at work.

       One company in Europe has all the desks

       And office furniture wired to cables

       And at closing time

       The furniture is hoisted to the ceiling

       Converting the space to a recreation area

Some companies are shutting off email

       After hours and during employee

       Vacations: mail on holiday

       Providing an alternate contact for emergencies

       But not accepting new emails

       People don’t return from vacation

       With overflowing inbox.

For measures we can take:

Parents are prohibiting any unsupervised internet access to young children

And if they provide them cell phones, only those without internet connectivity

No computer screens or TV’s in childrens’ rooms

Limiting hours of screen time

       Self and others

       Social interaction

       Text-speak not the same as face-to-face communication


Advent is coming...

       Think about a plan.

       It’s easy to become distracted,

       We don’t want to be caught off guard

       And miss occasions of grace

       Gratitude and good-will.


How can we become more attentive

To what’s important,

Not distracted by irrelevant

Digital pleasures.

Advent 11 PM to Midnight Adoration

       On Wednesday nights

Spending time with God

       With family, friends

       With the poor and hungry

       With the sick and suffering

       Praying for those we miss

       In the real world

       Not the virtual world


See  Irresistible  by Adam Alter and The Power of Silence by Robert Cardinal Sarah.

Veteran's Day Commemoration at Victory Park in Rumson

Veteran's DayIt was a brilliantly sunny but cold morning for Rumson's Veteran's Day Commemoration at Victory Park. 

God of power

       Justice and mercy

Stir up in our hearts

       A spirit of gratitude

       And respect

For those who have

       Served our nation

       In war and in peace.

May their love and sacrifice for country

       Be returned by us

       In care, support

       And remembrance one hundred-fold.

 God of compassion

Shield all who defend the cause of freedom

In our nation’s service

Gather our deceased veterans close to your heart

And protect those still in our midst with

Health in body and spirit.

Prosper the cause of freedom they served.

Inspire many to follow their example of self-sacrifice

Remembering that it is better to serve

Than to be served

St. Pope Leo the Great, Doctor of the Church

LeoToday we honor St. Leo the Great, pope and Doctor of the Church. This mural by Raphael shows the pope riding out to meet Attila the Hun and persuading him to spare Rome. Attila is said to have seen a vision of Sts. Peter and Paul brandishing swords to emphasize Pope Leo's mission.

Early popes acclaimed as "Great" generally acted in ways which strengthened the Petrine ministry as Leo did in advancing the primacy of Bishop of Rome above the Patriarchs of the Eastern church. His writings and teachings, especially on the nature of Jesus Christ and against the many Christological heresies in the early church earned him designation as Doctor of the Church.

Let us pray that the church continued to be blessed with both courageous leaders and disciples.