God is Good!

Seek the Lord while He may be found!

Get Rid Of The Baggage

An illustration by J. C. Leyendecker featured as the cover of The Saturday Evening Post welcoming in the New Year of 1908

An illustration by J. C. Leyendecker featured as the cover of The Saturday Evening Post welcoming in the New Year of 1908

As the New Year begins, in old Rome, the people followed an unusual custom. At the stroke of midnight, they would open their windows and throw out old possessions into the streets below; broken chairs, ragged clothing, and old dishes. The reasoning behind the custom is that the people wished to go into the New Year without all this unnecessary baggage. In a dramatic way, the citizens of Rome cast out of their lives old grudges, hurt feelings and distressing memories of mishaps of the past year.

At this time of the year, all believers in a joyful way of living could open their front doors and throw out from their lives the unhappy events, the bruised hearts and the shattering disappointments of 2015. No one need go into the precious days of the New Year loaded down with the baggage of the year gone by. The time of this year ahead, 2016, comes to us fresh, filled with possibilities of delightful surprises and brand new experiences.

In the hearts of everyone lies riches and talents never before brought to the light of day. With a fresh outlook on the year to come, a person of faith can fall in love with life and bring to the surface all these hidden and unused beauties within. Does anyone use the heart to its full powers to give love and affection to family members and the world?

Recently, a medical doctor stated, “If I were a writer or a public speaker, I would be out there most of the time fighting fear. If I could cut down fear and worry in the lives of people, I could get in a lot more games of golf, because it is mostly fear and worry that fill my office.”

Like a heavy backpack, fear and worry pull people to the ground and leave no time for laughter, joy and sheer delight of living. Worry, in its root meaning, equals “strangulation” or “choking”. A worrier chokes off the real beauty of life.

A follower of the Lord can face each day with a loving trust in God and determine to rise above these ghosts of doom. I say “ghosts” because most of the things we worry about never occur. Whatever happens today, Jesus of Nazareth will help me deal with it. At the end of the week, we start our New Year. Don’t you think it’s time to get rid of your baggage, and hold on to the hope offered through the Christ Child?

Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 28, 2015 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Great Expectations

A Memorable Mass After 71 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure.  Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . . The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .  The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid.  The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’ birth.

A Memorable Mass
After 71 years of celebrating Mass, I look upon this Mass in Bethel, Alaska, as a memory I will always treasure. Bethel (House of God) sounds like Bethlehem (House of Bread.). . . .
The coldness of the Bethel Chapel, much as it was in the stable of the First Christmas, told me of the hardships the Child, Mary and Joseph went through for my sake. . . .
The rough wooden altar – how similar to the manger where the Child was laid. The presence of the Eskimo mother helped me understand the coming of the shepherds to the place of Jesus’ birth.

A Note to my readers – this is my favorite entry for Christmas, and so I re-blog this every year.  I hope you enjoy.

39 years ago, in 1976, a short time before Christmas, I was living in the town of Bethel (pop. 3,500), in faraway Alaska, close to the Bering Sea. Bethel had no roads leading out from it, except one to the airport, three miles away.  The only way to visit Bethel was by plane, by way of two jet flights each day from Anchorage, 500 miles away.  Not a single road ran between Bethel and Anchorage.

One windy Saturday night I left our Rectory at the Immaculate Conception Mission to drive to the town’s Community Chapel on the other side of Bethel to offer evening Mass.  The howling, screeching wind made driving our Chevy Van extremely difficult.

Arriving early, I found it nearly impossible to coax any heat out of the oil stove. Inside, the temperature almost equaled the outside conditions at -10 degrees F and a wind chill of -50 degree F.  I pulled the altar as close as possible to the stove and put on my vestments over my great fur parka.  To anyone present I looked like a warrior from outer space.  That night, my only congregation consisted of a young Eskimo mother and her three little boys, with ages of two, three and four.

With breath coming from my lips in clouds, I prayed the simple, touching words of the Mass . . . “The Lord be with you . . . Lift up your hearts . . . Let us give thanks to the Lord, our God.” All through the Mass, the youngest child played under the altar at my feet.  At the words of the Consecration, spoken by an ordinary human being, the Lord, The King of Kings, came down on our pour, rough altar.  After my own communion, I offered This Humble King to the little mother, with her face almost hidden in the parka.  At the finish of Mass, without a word, she and her little ones hastened out into the frightful darkness.

Emmanuel – God with us! How consoling and uplifting to have Jesus, the humble, gracious King of Love, with us.  From His place in Heaven, He heard my words, “This is My Body . . . This is My Blood” and came down to the vast wilderness of Western Alaska to be with me and the Eskimo family.  What faith this little Eskimo mother had to venture out, with her little ones, on a winter’s night, filled with a gale-like wind, to give worship to the Child of Bethlehem.

What message did she receive in her heart that night to bring her to the Holy Child? The shepherds, on the first Christmas night, heard heavenly voices announcing the Birth of the Savior.  Like these shepherds, the young faith filled Eskimo mother returned home, rich with heavenly gifts.

The moral of the Bethel story above is to treasure the Presence of the Child of Bethlehem in our lives. On this Christmas Day, 2015, we will make every sacrifice to leave our warm homes to offer worship in our Houses of Prayer!

Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! Fr. George Mc Kenna

December 20, 2015 Posted by | Bulletins | , , , , , | 7 Comments