Author: St. Patrick Catholic Community

First Down with Fr. Eric (December 19, 2021)

Dear Friends,

I reminded everyone in my homily on the First Sunday of Advent that the penance during this season centered on joy and rejoicing. It is meant to be different from the season of Lent, which centers on fasting and acts of penance. During Advent there is joy in preparing our hearts to receive the Lord anew as we begin a new year. This might be something new for some Catholics, as joy is not a word that some think of when celebrating Confession. Yet the end result of confessing our sins is always the absolution of ALL our sins. That is what brings joy.

Our Advent Penance Service is on demand for your viewing (parish YouTube channel, Facebook page, and website), and there are two more evenings for confessions after viewing the penance service. Monday, two priests are available 6:00-7:30 pm, and Wednesday, five priests are available 6:00-7:30 pm. Welcoming hosts will be present to guide everyone for confessions.

Hospitality is central to any Christian community, and we invite all parishioners to be a welcoming Christ-like spirit to everyone we encounter at our Christmas Masses. There are a number of hurting people whose stories we do not know, and it can make a huge difference when Christians welcome, smile, greet and celebrate Christmas well. We look forward to seeing many of you at our Christmas Masses this coming weekend.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Rejoice! (by Gerri Porteous)

Daylight grows shorter. The dark of night grows longer. In this cold dark time of year, with some of the first signs of snow in the north, lights begin to shine. They are on trees and in windows. It’s as if people are afraid of the dark and all it symbolizes.

A spirit of expectation begins to pick up: shopping trips, gift wrapping, parties, a different kind of music, and a plethora of decorations. It’s obvious that something wonderful is about to happen. In the midst of all this excitement, worshipers are reminded to be watchful, to repent and to do penance. The gospel message parallels a familiar song heard during this time of year: “You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling you why: ______________ is coming to town!”

The color purple inside churches clashes with red, green, sparkling silver and gold everywhere else. Young and old alike, prepare to celebrate Christmas by taking part in a variety of traditions, some of them not quite associated with preparation for the mystery of the birth of our Messiah.

Yes, someone “is coming to town.” Let us prepare the way of the Lord!

This Sunday, we light the rose colored candle on our Advent wreath – the Shepherd Candle (the candle of joy).

Let us pray…

Father in heaven, help us hear again the voice of John the Baptist crying out in the desert. Help us make straight the pathways of our own lives so that those paths lead to eternal life with you.

God above, do good and avoid evil is so easy to say; yet so hard to put into practice. Be with us in each and every moment of each and every day so that we remain blameless and worthy of your coming.

Help us, Lord, not to dampen the joy of others. Remind us this week to rejoice always and to pray without ceasing.

Holy Spirit, guide us so that our lives may be testimony of the wonders and the love of God, so that others might believe through us

First Down with Fr. Eric (December 12, 2021)

Dear Friends,

We have been preparing for those who will be joining us for Christmas in two weeks. Our parishioners are currently experiencing the season of Advent, where we remember Christ has come and he will come again. To the guests and family members of our parishioners who join us at this time of year and throughout the entire year, welcome! So many guests and friends know about St. Patrick, and often share the joy of being at Mass with us. Also we prepare for the guest who might be here for the first time, looking for comfort during these days, or maybe a place to thank God for all the blessings this past year. I invite parishioners to be ready to welcome everyone who will be joining us for Christmas. Our faith reminds us that it is Christ in each person that we welcome, and we seek to learn this lesson when the innkeeper invites Mary and Joseph into his place. We make room for Jesus in our spiritual home.

Click here to Download our Christmas Mass Schedule

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

An Advent Movie Trailer (by Adam Stein)

I love movies. Since I have had kids, we don’t “go to the movies” as much as I used to, but I still love them. Many of us have favorite holiday movies that we watch over and over each year around the same time. We remind ourselves of the stories, re-engage with the characters, and often, catch something on the 30th watch that we may have missed the 29 times before. The scripture readings we hear during the Advent season share many of the same characteristics. We know we are going to hear from John the Baptist. We know we will hear about waiting and preparing. Hopefully, we also hear something new.

So…The story of Advent has been put in the player… We are now watching the movie again. What are we going to take away from this year’s retelling? Last week, our readings challenged us to not wait passively. They reminded us that Advent is an intentional time of preparation. This week, our readings make clear “who” we are waiting for.

We have this season to prepare in our hearts a place to receive Christ, our Lord, anew…

In our first reading, we hear words of encouragement. We are called to “take off your robe of mourning and misery” and to “put on the splendor of glory from God.” The prophet Baruch called the Israelites, and calls us, to prepare the way for God by realizing that God is leading us in joy and “by the light of His glory, with His mercy and justice for company.” In the Gospel, John the Baptist is the voice that echoes the first reading and is again calling us to prepare the way of the Lord. We must prepare ourselves to see our God, coming to be with us, to guide us.

We must prepare ourselves to see God. John gives us one way to do this, repent. Turning away from the things that are not of God helps us to see God more clearly in our lives.

Now… Read these next lines in your best “movie trailer guy” voice:

Now. In this time. In this moment. In the 1st year of the presidency of Joe Biden when Doug Ducey is governor of Arizona, Ed Sheeran and Adele are top on the charts, the Eternals and a Big Red Dog lead the Box Office, a man over 2000 years old with questionable fashion is shouting to the world, “Prepare the way of the Lord!” 

Are we responding?

-adam.

First Down with Fr. Eric (December 5, 2021)

Dear Friends,

There are two seasons in the Church where there is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the mercy of God. The seasons of Advent and Lent are times that we examine our hearts and look to the Lord for grace to change the areas that need to be changed and to also remind us of our call to forgive others. This Advent season at St. Patrick sees our theme continue with RISE. We might recall the story where Jesus heals a paralyzed man by also telling him his sins were forgiven. He is asked to rise, pick up his mat and walk.

This Advent we can hear the call of Jesus to rise and walk into a world filled with darkness and bring it light by our lives. This Advent we will have our Penance Service online and everyone is invited to tune in, as it will be available live stream and on demand afterwards. The live streamed Penance Service will be shown on Monday, December 13 at 4:00 pm. It will be available on demand throughout the Advent season.

Confessions with a priest will be offered at the parish on these four dates: Monday, December 13, Wednesday, December 15 and Monday, December 20 with two priests available for confessions from 6:00 – 7:30 pm, and on Wednesday, December 22, we will have five priests available for confessions from 6:00 – 7:30 pm (we will hear confessions as long as there are people in line after 7:30 pm). We encourage everyone to consider the earlier dates so that the lines on the last night are not long. Yet whatever one you choose to come to, we are glad to celebrate the mercy of God with all of you.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Happy New Year! (by Torri Winn)

That’s right…Happy New Year or…Happy 1st day of the New Liturgical Year and the new liturgical year always begins with the season of ADVENT! Advent, from the word “Adventus” which is Latin for “coming,” calls for us to prepare for Christ’s second coming, as we prepare in remembrance of His first coming at Christmas. I always thought it was so appropriate that it comes after the Thanksgiving holiday, as I have always felt that one of the best ways to prepare to receive the Christ-child is to be thankful for all that God has given us, reflecting on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in the world as it is today, through prayer, reflection, and special traditions.

Historically, and I seem to be more aware of it at this time, many have gotten caught up in predictions of when Christ will return, forgetting, as the gospel of Mark a few weeks ago told us, even Jesus didn’t know the day of his return. Jesus simply wants us to be ready for His return, whenever that will be. To not let our hearts become “drowsy,” but to be alert and watchful for the signs of His coming. That means we are to be focused on the Lord. It’s easy in our society to get distracted. There are hundreds of things pulling us in different directions, especially this time of year, so we can easily lose focus of what’s most important: our faith. And with that faith comes the promise of the JOY of the Lord – a gift of the Holy Spirit! During Advent, we are called to focus a bit more intently and intentionally on our relationship with God. And whatever may come, we can be as ready as we’ll ever be when Jesus comes, secure in the knowledge that God is with us.

So, I leave you with this thought to ponder as you prepare in the next few weeks for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ. What do you need in order to ready your heart for Christ’s return?

Happy New Year!!!

First Down with Fr. Eric ( November 28, 2021)

Dear Friends,

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent! We are entering into a special time of year. We have a day where we can give thanks to God joined by many people throughout the country. Whether people gathered together for food and conversation, or just took time to give thanks, it is pleasing to God that we reflected on what we are grateful about. We Catholics have been giving thanks to God for a long time. The word “eucharist” in Greek means giving thanks so whenever we gather together at the table of the Lord, we express gratitude.

This Sunday marks the beginning of a new liturgical year with the season of Advent. A time of rejoicing and remembering that our Savior has come and he will come again. The main Gospel this year will be from Luke, a favorite gospel of mine. There is a theme of lots of eating! Nine stories of Jesus eating with people. Jesus being recognized eating with many people after his resurrection. These eating stories recall a time when people who shared a meal shared a bond of being family. No longer strangers, but brothers and sisters.

As we RISE to begin another new year, I think the Gospel of Luke is the perfect one to bring people back to the table. A table of gratitude, a table that reminds us we are all part of the family. A table that nourishes us to go out into the world and bring healing and peace.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Advent!

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Rethinking Our Ways (by Richard DiCarlo)

Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die
Nobody speaks to God these days

I’d like to think he’s looking down and laughing at our ways

It takes a lot to change your plans
And a train to change your mind
Maybe it’s time to let the old ways die

These are some words to ponder from the song “Maybe It’s Time” sung by Bradley Cooper in the movie, A Star is Born. The lyrics summarize the personal introspection of his character, Jackson Maine, who is seeking to pivot and transform his life towards a different pathway. The beauty of any song’s lyrics when we hear them is that they can be adapted and used to reflect upon one’s own personal life-situation at a given moment. Are we paying attention, adapting, and allowing change? Or, does it “take a train to change your mind” like the song says?

With the holidays fast approaching, we continue to hear the plethora of panic being fed to us about how the supply chain is in disarray and there may not be enough gift items on the shelves to purchase for Christmas. Buy now! Buy quick! It won’t be the same as in years past!

Well, then, maybe it’s time…to minimize our gift purchasing……to design our holidays where we just sit at the table or the living room and reacquaint ourselves with simple conversation with our guests….and God……without looking at our phones……enjoying and appreciating the time we have with those in our presence….begin new traditions that are not consumed around materialism… re-engage in fellowship. Simplicity at its finest. My heart tells me we will prevail. What a great teaching moment for all of us, too, to recognize that sometimes we must relent to things not in our control.

Maybe it’s time….to shed all the angst that comes with getting the newest and better….to just be present to those around us. Maybe it’s time….to allow a form of rebirth into our holiday priorities. Maybe it’s time…to truly recognize the real gift of family and friendship.

Maybe…it’s…time…to (fill in the blank). I like to think we are being given a breath of fresh air to just relent to simplicity.

– Richard

First Down with Fr. Eric (November 21, 2021)

Dear Friends,

Every November we celebrate Stewardship/Commitment Sunday for our parishioners. It is a wonderful reminder that the parish community takes responsibility for forming disciples of Jesus Christ and offering one’s resources and personal gifts to serve the Lord and his people.

The weekend of November 20-21 we will be reintroducing our Offertory Baskets at the altar area. Most of us might be familiar with the practice of having parishioners come forth with their gifts and place them in the basket.

Three things people can bring with them to offer to the Lord. It can be a financial gift that helps meet our expenses. When one already gives financially online, there are two more things to offer the Lord. A card that one writes on by placing their prayer requests and/or what one has prayed about during the week. The other can be writing acts of service from the past week, things we did to serve the Lord and others. It really calls on everyone to reflect on what we can bring to the Lord. It is more than money that one brings: their hearts of love and service matter to God as well. Each Wednesday our Parish Staff prays over the financial envelopes, cards of prayers and cards of service asking the Lord to bless everyone who shared with the community.

To love the Lord with one’s whole heart, mind, soul and strength is much more than giving money: it is offering all we are to the Lord, and the community honors that by allowing the whole community to witness that we come forward to the altar and place our gifts.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric

Stewardship During Advent (by Fernando Gomez)

This year’s Advent season will begin on Sunday, November 28. This very special time of year can sometimes get lost in the bright lights of the Christmas season it precedes and its many celebrations around it. The first day of Advent marks the start of a new liturgical calendar and a four-week period of preparation in anticipation of the nativity of Jesus at Christmas. It also is a time to reflect on how we can prepare our hearts and homes for Christ’s birth in a time the world seems to have stopped seeking his Love, Grace and Mercy.

We invite you to step away from what can be a frenzied time of parties and shopping and spend a few minutes each day to think about how Advent can inspire your family’s Stewardship lifestyle through its four pillars.

Hospitality – Purposeful Christian Kindness
Prayer – A Heart to Hear with God
Formation – Continuous Conversion
Service – Love in Action

Advent also brings an opportunity to be generous and grateful for all gifts we receive without measure from God. We know we could never pay back God’s generosity! Instead, we celebrate that each of us enjoys a unique share in God’s work of creation and redemption. So, how will you give generously, pray faithfully & serve joyfully this Advent?

– Fernando Gomez