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April 2018

Priority of Love

In John's gospel, Jesus points out that if we love God, we will keep God's commandments, not that we must first prove our love by obedience. It's a wonderful distinction, one often lost on those who harbor resentment or rebel against any restrictions on personal autonomy.

Love should change how we relate to God, family, friends and fellow human beings. 

Summer Traffic Patterns in Holy Cross Parking Lot


As you are aware, the traffic congestion in Rumson during the summer months has been getting worse in recent years. Unless Baptisms are performed before 1 PM, the traffic becomes so bad around the church due to our proximity to the Shrewsbury Bridge, there is little chance that families can arrive on time. 

As traffic worsens, so do the erratic driving patterns through our parking lot. Frustrated U-turns from the bus lane in front of the school and short cuts  from Rumson Road to Ward Avenue through the parking lot are two of the most dangerous manuevers. Even our own parishioners make illegal use of the driveway alongside the school for entry, often at high speed. For these drivers, the visibility behind the school is ZERO until they make the right turn into an area where children or others are sometimes gathered.  In order improve campus safety, the following steps are being taken:

  • After the last day of school, the bus lane on Rumson Road will be closed to traffic at all times (solid red color on diagram).
  • Any access to our parking lot from Rumson Road will be closed during the summer months, except for exit during Masses.
  • A speed bump will be installed on the Rumson Road driveway in approximately the area indicated by slashed red lines. This will help us all slow down, especially those who enter illegally from Rumson Road.

Leave Drones At Home, Please


Graduations, First Holy Communions, Confirmations and Weddings are a joyful part of Church life and family members are eager to record these happy moments to recall again and again.

As personal drones have become more affordable, photographers and hobbyists have more ready access to them for photography.

Flying drones from parish property is prohibited at all times. Wedding couples agree not to use drone photography at any time staged from any location. Staff and parishioners who witness unauthorized drone photography on the campus are asked to call Rumson police.


St Mark, Evangelist
St. Mark's Square With Leonine Column in Venice


A close-up of the lion atop the column. From

The lion has been the iconographic symbol for St. Mark from the early days of the church. The lion is the symbol of the city of Venice, Italy, which has claimed St. Mark as their patron. The courage of a roaring lion is sometimes required to witness the gospel in inimical times and places.


Parish Ministries Can Foster Vocations, So Can Encouragement

Here's an excerpt from the annual survey of newly ordained priests across the United States:

Regarding participation in parish ministries before entering the seminary, nearly three fourths of responding ordinands (74 percent) served as altar servers before entering the seminary. Nearly three in five (57 percent) served as lectors. Around half served as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (46 percent). One in three served as catechists (38 percent), in campus ministry or youth ministry (35 percent), or as confirmation sponsors/godfathers (31 percent).

In regard to participation in vocation programs before entering the seminary, half of responding ordinands (46 percent) reported participating in "Come and See" weekends at the seminary or the religious institute/society.

Nearly nine in ten responding ordinands (86 percent) reported being encouraged to consider the priesthood by someone in their life (most frequently, a parish priest, friend, or another parishioner). Responding ordinands indicate that, on average, four individuals encouraged their vocation.

One-half of responding ordinands (51 percent) indicated that they were discouraged from considering the priesthood by one or more persons. Most often, this person was a friend/classmate or a family member (other than parents).

Realistic encouragement of a vocation can truly  help, since at least half of the future priests report being discouraged by someone! 

Sometimes the Good Shepherd Wears Stilts
Shepherds on Stilts

Shepherds on stilts. They’re a thing!

Having preached quite often about The Good Shepherd and his flock, I have read a lot about sheep and shepherds, but I had never seen shepherds on stilts.

In certain areas of France due to the boggy conditions and the high brush, shepherds lashed stilts to their legs, leaving both arms free and would carry a long pole with which they could guide the sheep and even use to make a tripod when they wanted to rest.

Some of the townspeople used stilts simply to walk about. It’s said they could keep up with a galloping horse. The distance record was set in 1891 by a gentlemen who stilt-walked from Paris to  Moscow in 58 days.

Shepherds didn't use the stilts only to ambulate. The stilts gave them a higher vantage point from which they could see approaching predators, otherwise hidden by the underbrush. They used their stilts to protect the flock.

The French countryside has dried out since the late 1800’s and the silt walkers are mostly for tradition and tourists nowadays, but keeping the flock safe is still everyone's responsibility.

 I’m sure you will join with me in helping form a Church Security Committee whose members will help us implement some equipment purchases and develop procedures for emergencies of all kinds. What if the fire alarm goes off during mass?  How do we evacuate the church if needed?

As we do this, we’ll publicize locations of the AED and other medical supplies and protocols for orderly movement.

Police, fire, EMS, other first reponders, security, risk management, emergency preparedness planners, teachers are just a few of the many who could make a very helpful contribution to our Committee.

We hope there would be enough interest to have at least several committee members at each mass who are familiar with all the emergency plans, which will be collected in a policy manual.

Ushers and greeters can help play a role. The Diocese has suggested no more than three entrances be open to the church, each of which has two greeters, especially for late arrivals. Help in that regard isn’t all expertise, it’s eyes

I wish enhancing security was as simple as wearing stilts and carrying a stick - it’s more complicated, but simply takes sensible, good planning which I’m sure we can accomplish all working together.

Let us keep the flock safe as we worship our Good Shepherd.

Church Security Committee

Security Committee

Help us make Holy Cross Church a safer place to worship. Consider joining our newly forming Church Security Committee which will develop plans and supervise preparedness for emergencies of various types. Individuals with backgrounds in law enforcement, risk management, security, health care and first responders will make particularly valued contributions to our faith community.

The Committee will work closely with local and state law enforcement and emergency preparedness teams to ensure that Holy Cross Church has clear communication policies and sensible protocols for emergencies.

Our staff is completing various self-assessment questionnaires about our facilities as a first step to begin planning and purchasing any supplies we may lack.

If you are able to help us, especially if you worship at Holy Cross, please call the Parish Office and express you willingness to serve on this important committee.




Bread is the Staff of Life

My father used to say this all the time, but he didn't have the spongy, tasteless Wonderbread in mind. I wasn't really sure how exactly food was a staff, but we had bread available for most dinners, especially when company visited. The discovery of harvesting grain, removing the chaff, grinding the flour and baking the dough for nourishment gave us one of the most important foodstuffs for the human family. The bad nutritional rap modern, chemically adulterated, bleached and fiber-free bread has given this staple food should not be what we think about when we hear Jesus reassure us that He is the Bread of Life. 

Jesus' Body and Blood in the Eucharist is the basic food for human spiritual thriving and He has promised us that whoever eats this Bread will live forever. 


Saint Stephen and Saint Paul

In this morning's reading from Acts chapters 7 and 8, we have the ironic and hard to comprehend scene of St. Stephen being stoned to death while Saul (St. Paul) supervises. Most artistic representations of the scene avoid clearly depicting Saul at the martrydom, but this icon from The Holy Order of St. Stephen does not shirk from depicting it.

With this jarring scene bouncing around in our heads, it is well to remember that God's plan for the Church is sometimes unclear to us, but always leads to salvation. We can also take solace in the forgiveness extended to us for any wrongdoing, even a notorious one.

I'm not aware of any churches named jointly for Sts. Stephen and Paul, but it would be a spiritually challenging idea.

Peace I Give You

PeaceJesus Christ is the source of true peace and his post-resurrection appearance to his apostles is a great reminder of that. Once the disciples had even the smallest belief in the Risen Jesus' identity through his reassuring presence, his wounds and his sharing a meal with them, peace and the joy founded in peace could flow.

It is good practice to reaffirm our belief when we ask Jesus for peace. We should ask not only for the peace we seek, but for the grace for our belief  in Jesus' saving identity to grow stronger.


We Must Obey God Rather Than Men

Peer pressure isn't intrinsically bad, it can influence people to be good citizens, or to keep up their properties and build up neighborhood pride. Often, however, it seems to produce conformity around less than important issues, like dress codes or musical taste, and sometimes encourages anti-social behaviors like cruelty, drug use or sexual promiscuity. 

The best moral compass comes from internalized values and from conscience, the kind the early disciples preached about when they began telling the world about Jesus' resurrection. When warned by temple officials they had been warned not to preach about Jesus of Nazareth, the disciples replied, "We must obey God rather than men."

Such courage can be ours with prayer.

Solemnity of the Annunciation

It's always interesting when the liturgical cycle and the temporal cycle collide and give us pause to reflect on Salvation History, God's plan for the world. Though we celebrate the timeless truth of the Logos, we also avow that Jesus became the Christ in time. The Annunciation to the Virgin Mary that she was to be the Mother of God and her acceptance of the role, her "fiat," is placed nine months before the liturgically celebrated date of Jesus' birth on December 25th. Yet, since the date of Easter is not fixed and varies according to the lunar/solar calendar, this year the feast is celebrated at the conclusion of the Octave of Easter.

Confusing perhaps, but a reminder that we all have one foot in time and one in eternity thanks to the Paschal Mystery of Christ in which we participate by our baptisms.


Divine Mercy Sunday


Wonderfully today we celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday

Wonderful because the church wants us to consider the first fruits of Christ’s Resurrection Victory over sin and death to be mercy, not retribution or punishment

The powers of this world don’t usually offer mercy as the first order of business after an unequivocal victory. It’s payback. World history is scarred with the retaliatory behavior of victors toward the defeated: Emperors and empresses,kings and queens, presidents, prime ministers, generals and their armies, dictators, newly hired CEO’s, team owners, winners in civil lawsuits. The first impulse of the rulers of this world is not generally mercy, even though all their victories are only temporary and partial.

Jesus victory over death is permanent and a victory in which we share by our baptisms and by striving to follow Him. That’s the great joy of Easter and the reason Divine Mercy follows on Divine Victory.

Let’s not be Mercy hogs - pleading for and receiving God's mercy, but offering little of it to others. The insight that God is the source of all mercy, even the mercy we extend to each other, can help us hand the mercy on instead of holding it tightly.

God's mercy is more like swimming in an ocean or bathing in rays of sunlight, than going to the market for a transaction. There is a universe full of mercy. No need to hoard it, or hold it too tightly.

A Posse of Turkeys Save A Parking Space and Visit Staten Island Hospital Radiology Pavilion



While two of them save a parking space, the rest head off to their clinic appointments.

I visited Staten Island yesterday for the funeral of an old friend and colleague and since I had arrived quite early, decided to drive by Staten Island University Hospital and see what new construction was underway. I was astonished to meet this posse of wild turkeys weaving in and out of the traffic into the parking lot and couldn't resist a picture or two. For those who have no real image of Staten Island, it's quite urbanized and not like "the countryside" of the fifties!