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March 2019

Teach Our Children Well

FamilyToday's Scriptures emphasize the importance of teaching our children the faith and not leading them into scandal. May our families and our church take this task as a sacred trust.

Children are also encouraged to share their faith with their parents by asking questions and discussing things they have learned in religion class or religious instruction. Sharing the faith isn't a one-way street.


Solemnity of the Annunciation

This statue outside the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel surprised me when I first saw it. It took me a while to realize it was a depiction of The Annunciation. Quite a bit different from traditional representations of that amazing moment when Mary said "yes" and true to the surprise she must have felt at the moment.


St. Darerca - Sister of St. Patrick, Mother of Saints

Saint Darerca

St. Darerca is said to be the second most popular female saint in Ireland after St. Bridget. She was sister to St. Patrick and had 19 children, many of whom became bishops and saints themselves. She and her children helped St. Patrick evangelize Ireland. They could have made their own congregation!

Not many other specifics are known for certain about her life. I've shown her here with a shamrock on her cowl for each of her children, holding wedding bands for her motherhood and an Irish cross for her evangelizing role with her brother. 

St. Enda - Founder of Irish Monasticism

Sts. Fanchea and Enda

Saint Enda was converted from warrior-prince to priest by his sister, St. Abbess Fanchea. He spent his life as a monk, eventually becoming abbot of a monastery on the Aran Islands off the coast of Ireland. These barren islands were chosen because of their inaccessibility and difficult climate.   He was a tremendous influence on other Irish saints over history, including our own saints Kieran and  Colomba. 

St. Enda's Holy Well is located on the island of Inisheer, the easternmost of the three Aran Islands.


The Irish monks on the Aran Islands lived austere lives of poverty, penance and prayer. We need not exactly copy their example, but are nevertheless called to abstain from some pleasures, do penance and pray during Lent.

Consider Becoming An Annulment Advocate

Catholic-annulmentsConsider Becoming An Annulment Advocate

Classes will begin for the 2019 Annulment Advocate Course in September, but it’s not too soon to consider application for enrollment. Annulment Advocates are trained and deputed by the Diocese of Trenton to help those who wish to obtain a church annulment to file their petition with the Diocesan Tribunal. After recommendation by Fr. Manning and acceptance by the Diocese, candidates will attend classes to understand the grounds for annulling a marriage and the rights and duties of annulment advocates. Advocates generally assist our own parishioners or those from nearby parishes and meet in Holy Cross Parish Center.

The classes will be held beginning in September on Thursday evenings from 7 PM to 9 PM at the Pastoral Center in Lawrenceville. The formation course is 16 weeks long.

Over the years, several annulment advocates have been commissioned for Holy Cross. If you are interested in performing this valuable service of mercy and justice for those seeking annulments and permission to remarry in the Catholic Church, please call Fr. Manning or Lori LaPlante in the Parish Office.

(Church annulments may only be applied for after a civil divorce has been granted. It is an official  statement by the church that the proper requirements for either canonical documents or the disposition of mind and heart required for unconditional consent by both parties were not present when the wedding vows were exchanged.)

St John Nepomucene

JohnSt. John Nepomucene Statue and Memorial on the Charles River Bridge in Prague.

St. John Nepomucene was martyred on the orders of King Wencelaus IV for refusing to divulge the sins of his wife, the queen confessed in the Sacrament of Confession. He was imprisoned, tortured, burned then thrown affixed to a wheel to drown in the Charles River.

The bridge holds a memorial to St. John, including the spot from which he is said to have been thrown. Touching or rubbing his effigy on the plaque is said to bring good luck, or a guaranteed return visit to Prague. A dog, a sign of loyalty, is also featured in one of the memorial plaques and it too has been burnished by well wishers and luck seekers.

The Seal of the Sacrament of Confession has generally been respected by our nation's laws but due to the recent scandals in the church, is now under attack at the moment in New York State. Please pray we have the wisdom to deal effectively with child abuse without attacking the seal of the confessional.

Bridge Memorial
The site where St. John was thrown from the bridge.

DogA loyal hound burnished with affection.

Scammer Alert for Parishioners

DevilHornsThe Diocese of Trenton and the Atlantic Highlands Police Department have issued cautions about scammer(s) who are targeting church parishioners using the name of the parish pastor.

The email seems to come from the pastor and will ask the recipient to purchase gift cards for a worthy purpose. In Atlantic Highlands, the scammer then told the victim to send him  the gift card numbers, as the pastor was away from the parish for a while. 

Over the weekend, a member of Holy Cross staff received an email purporting to be from me saying that I wanted to reward some children who have been especially good at mass and asking if she could purchase some gift cards. Luckily, she contacted me rather than the "reply to" email and we avoided a problem. The scammer used the staff members correct first name, even though this was not obvious from the parish email address. 

The scam has nothing to do with any of the legitimate sources of online donation the parish uses. If there is any question about an email received from Holy Cross or one of the staff members, please call us to verify its authenticity, or call the local police if you have been victimized.

Several parishes around the diocese have been targeted, as have parishes in Philadelphia. Here is a link to the Atlantic Highlands article from the Monmouth Journal.

I am sure the children who attend mass will be rewarded, but not with Amazon Gift Cards!

Jesus warned us the children of darkness are crafty and persistent. Help us shine some light on this scam!

God's Forgiveness vs. Human Forgiveness

FaceForgive and Forget. You've heard the expression, maybe even had someone proffer this advice. 
There are lots of other slogans in riposte - "Forgive, but keep a list of names," "Forgive, but never forget," "Forgive what hurt you but never what you learned." Our human nature is not attuned to forgetfulness, especially for dangers or harms, but we can take the first step in the process of forgiveness by surrendering the right to get even and stating our grievance.

With God, however, forgiveness is a different story. In this morning's readings, God's forgiveness is described as complete and efficacious. We go from being on the path to destruction to the path of life. God promises to offer life and forget our sins if we turn from our sinful ways. This is the hope of repentance in Lent.


Nineveh Repents, Can We?

Jonah at the Gates of Nineveh by Rembrandt

Jonah was given a nearly impossible job, preaching repentance to the City of Nineveh. And he succeeded. This greatly distressed Jonah, who was rather looking forward to the fire and light show of God's destruction of the city. 

Lent is a perfect time for repentance - a change of how we do things with an eager anticipation that our sincere repentance will be accepted by God.


Leviticus 19

This morning's reading from Leviticus gives what the bible calls, "various rules of conduct," distinct from the 10 Commandments. A ban on tattoos, eating meat not drained of animal blood, cutting beards and other demands on daily life, were meant to remind a faithful Jew of the Lord's dominion. Also mentioned in the same passage is gleaning, the practice of leaving behind 10% of a field's produce so the poor may also harvest the land. Instead of extracting every last penny of profit, landowners were required to share their produce - a good admonition for all of us this Lent. 


The Finger Pointing To The Moon


The finger represents the spiritual practices which point toward something greater, not something to be focused on in itself. 

Although this metaphor comes from Buddhism, it has been used by Catholic spiritual directors to place proper emphasis on all spiritual practices. Spiritual practices should lead to God, not become an end in themselves. Since we love and need tangible sacramentals, there is always a risk we may place too much emphasis on them.

In Lent, these tangibles are our ascetic and charitable practices. They are meant to lead us to God, not distract us and surely not to become an end in themselves.  

Catholic spiritual writers describe the same movement in proper Marian devotion. Mary always points to Jesus.


May all our works of charity, acts of self control and prayers kindle in us a more fervent love of God.