Thursday, December 26, 2013

Pope's Urbi et Orbi Blessing

"A Call for Peace"

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 25 December 2013 -


Thousands of people flocked to St. Peter's Square to see Pope Francis' first Urbi et Orbi Christmas blessing. As expected, the Pope put his personal style in the message.

POPE FRANCIS

"God is peace: let us ask him to help us to be peacemakers each day, in our life, in our families, in our cities and nations, in the whole world. Let us allow ourselves to be moved by God’s goodness.”

It's a time of joy, but the Pope also understands that many people face stark challenges during this time of year.  In particular, Christians who live in the Holy Land, where Jesus was born.

POPE FRANCIS
"Looking at the Child in the manger, our thoughts turn to those children who are the most vulnerable victims of wars, but we think too of the elderly, to battered women, to the sick… Wars shatter and hurt so many lives!  Bless the land where you chose to come into the world, and grant a favorable outcome to the peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians. Heal the wounds of the beloved country of Iraq, once more struck by frequent acts of violence."

The Pope isn't very fond of speaking languages he's not completely fluent in. Usually Popes say a Christmas greeting in dozens of languages, but the Pope stuck to the basics.

POPE FRANCIS

To you, dear brothers and sisters, gathered from throughout the world in this Square, and to all those from different countries who join us through the communications media, I offer my cordial best wishes for a merry Christmas!

Along with his blessing, the Vatican's Bavarian Christmas tree and nativity scene, from Naples,  shinned bright in St. Peter's Square, surrounded by thousands of people who made their way to the Vatican to celebrate Christmas.

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 18 December 2013 -



Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In these last days of Advent we prepare ourselves spiritually to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Christmas is a feast of joyful hope, for God has become one with us in the person of his Son, true God and true man. He showed his love for us by becoming part of our world, with all its conflicts, its suffering and its poverty. Jesus is truly Emmanuel: God among us. This is the great "gift" which he brings: a divine love which heals and transforms our hearts, overcoming all uncertainty and pessimism. Our joyful contemplation of the mystery of Christmas should make us realize that, as God has become one of us, we too are called to become like God: humble, close to others, especially the poor, and ever attentive to their needs. This Christmas, let us ask Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, to help us see in our neighbour the face of Jesus, God made man. May we be in this world a ray of that light which shone forth from Bethlehem, bringing the joy and peace to the hearts of all men and women.

Holy Father:

Saluto tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Australia e Stati Uniti. Ringrazio il gruppo "Viva la Gente" per la loro animazione musicale. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!

Speaker:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience including those from England, Australia and the United States. I thank the members of "Up with People" for their musical entertainment. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, December 16, 2013

Confession Monday, December 16th

Today, Monday, December 16th St. Columba will join many other churches in New York in celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Individual confessions will be heard in the Chapel from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Please avail yourself of this opportunity to make peace with our Lord and others.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Confession Monday

This Monday, December 16th St. Columba will join many other churches in New York in celebrating the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Individual confessions will be heard in the Chapel from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Please avail yourself of this opportunity to make peace with our Lord and others.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 11 December 2013



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.

Today I would like to begin the last series of catecheses on our profession of faith, by discussing the statement "I believe in eternal life". In particular, I will reflect on the Last Judgement. We need not be afraid: let us listen to what the Word of God tells us. Concerning this, we read in the Gospel of Matthew: when Christ "comes in his glory, and all the angels with him.... Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.... And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life" (Mt 25:31-33, 46). Whenever we think of Christ's return and of his final judgement, which will manifest to its ultimate consequences the good that each person has done or failed to do during his earthly life, we seem to find ourselves before a mystery which towers above us, which we fail even to imagine. A mystery which almost instinctively arouses a sense of fear in us, and perhaps even one of trepidation. If, however, we reflect well on this reality, it cannot but expand the heart of a Christian and come to constitute a cause of consolation and of trust.

In this regard, the testimony of the first Christian communities resounds ever so evocatively. In fact, they usually accompanied the celebrations and prayers with the acclamation Maranatha, an expression composed of two Aramaic words which, according to how they are pronounced, may be understood as a supplication: "Come, Lord!", or as a certainty nourished by faith: "Yes, the Lord is coming, the Lord is near". The whole of Christian revelation culminates in this exclamation, at the conclusion of the marvellous contemplation which is offered to us by John in Revelation (cf. 22:20). In that case, it is the Church as bride who, on behalf of all humanity and as its first fruits, addresses herself to Christ her Bridegroom, looking forward to be enfolded in his embrace: Jesus' embrace, which is the fullness of life and the fullness of love. This is how Jesus embraces us. If we think of judgement in this perspective, all fear and hesitation fade and make room for expectation and deep joy: it will be the very moment when we will be judged finally ready to be clothed in Christ's glory, as with a nuptial garment, to be led into the banquet, the image of full and definitive communion with God.

A second reason for confidence is offered to us by the observation that, at the moment of judgement, we will not be left alone. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus himself foretells how, at the end of time, those who have followed him will take their place in glory, and judge with him (cf. Mt 19:28). The Apostle Paul then, writing to the community of Corinth, states: "Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?... How much more, matters pertaining to this life!" (1 Cor 6:2-3). How beautiful it is to know that at that juncture, in addition to Christ, our Paraclete, our Advocate with the Father (cf. 1 Jn 2:1), we will be able to count on the intercession and goodness of so many of our elder brothers and sisters who have gone before us on the journey of faith, who have offered their lives for us and who continue to love us ineffably! The saints already live in the sight of God, in the splendour of his glory praying for us who still live on earth. What consolation this certainty arouses in our hearts! The Church is truly a mother and, as a mother, she seeks her children's good, especially of those who are furthest away and are afflicted, until she finds its fullness in the glorious body of Christ with all its members.

A further suggestion is offered to us by the Gospel of John, where it explicitly states that "God sent his Son into the world, not to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him. He who believes in him is not condemned; he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God" (Jn 3:17-18). This means, then, that this final judgement is already in progress, it begins now over the course of our lives. Thus judgement is pronounced at every moment of life, as it sums up our faith in the salvation which is present and active in Christ, or of our unbelief, whereby we close in upon ourselves. But if we close ourselves to the love of Jesus, we condemn ourselves. Salvation is to open oneself to Jesus, it is he who saves us. If we are sinners — and we all are — we ask him for forgiveness and if we go to him with the desire to be good, the Lord forgives us. But for this we must open ourselves to Jesus' love, which is stronger than all else. Jesus' love is great, Jesus' love is merciful, Jesus' love forgives; but you have to open yourself and to open oneself means to repent, to accuse oneself of the things that are not good and which we have done. The Lord Jesus gave himself and he continues to give himself to us, in order to fill us with all of the mercy and grace of the Father. We then, in a certain sense, can become judges of ourselves, by condemning ourselves to exclusion from communion with God and with the brethren. We must not grow weary, then, of keeping watch over our thoughts and our attitudes, in order that we may be given even now a foretaste of the warmth and splendour of God's Face — and this will be beautiful — which in eternal life we shall contemplate in all its fullness. Forward, thinking of this judgement which begins now, which has already begun. Forward, doing so in such a way that our hearts open to Jesus and to his salvation; forward without fear, for Jesus' love is greater and if we ask forgiveness for our sins he will forgive us. This is what Jesus is like. Forward then with this certainly, which will bring us to the glory of heaven!

To special groups

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

Tomorrow we are celebrating the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Dear young people, learn from Mary how to listen to the will of the Lord; dear sick people, invoke the Lord's Mother in moments of great difficulty; and you, dear newlyweds, be inspired by Our Lady to bring love and serenity into your family.

MESSAGE TO THE AMERICAS FOR THE FEAST OF OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE

Tomorrow is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Patroness of the Americas. I would like to greet all my brothers and sisters on that continent, and I do so thinking of the Virgin of Tepeyac.

When Our Lady appeared to Saint Juan Diego, her face was that of a woman of mixed blood, a mestiza, and her garments bore many symbols of the native culture. Like Jesus, Mary is close to all her sons and daughters; as a concerned mother, she accompanies them on their way through life. She shares all the joys and hopes, the sorrows and troubles of God's People, which is made up of men and women of every race and nation.

When the image of the Virgin appeared on the tilma of Juan Diego, it was the prophecy of an embrace: Mary's embrace of all the peoples of the vast expanses of America – the peoples who already lived there, and those who were yet to come. Mary's embrace showed what America – North and South – is called to be: a land where different peoples come together; a land prepared to accept human life at every stage, from the mother's womb to old age; a land which welcomes immigrants, and the poor and the marginalized, in every age. A land of generosity.

That is the message of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and it is also my message, the message of the Church. I ask all the people of the Americas to open wide their arms, like the Virgin, with love and tenderness.

I pray for all of you, dear brothers and sisters, and I ask you to pray for me! May the joy of the Gospel always abide in your hearts. May the Lord bless you, and may Our Lady be ever at your side.

APPEAL

Yesterday Caritas launched a worldwide campaign against hunger and the wasting of food, with the motto: "One human family, food for all". The scandal of the millions of people who suffer from hunger should not paralyze us, but rather move us to act — everyone, individuals, families, communities, institutions, governments — to eliminate this injustice. Jesus' Gospel shows us the way: trusting in the Father's providence and sharing our daily bread without wasting it. I encourage Caritas to carry on in this commitment, and I invite everyone to join in this "wave" of solidarity.


© Copyright - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TIME's 2013 Person of the Year: Pope Francis


Pope Francis, The People’s Pope

He took the name of a humble saint and then called for a church of healing. The first non-European pope in 1,200 years is poised to transform a place that measures change by the century Read more

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Atlantic City Trip - Thursday, December 12th

The next trip to Atlantic City is Thursday, December 12th. The bus will leave at 9:30 am sharp and will return after six hours at the casino. The cost of the trip is $30, payable two weeks in advance. Please make check payable to St. Columba. Payments can be dropped off at the rectory during office hours or can be put through the slot at the convent door. Because of the need to pay for the bus in advance, anyone deciding to go on the trip on the day it occurs will be charged $35 

Please spread the word to all you think may be interested. See you on the bus!

Liturgical Minister Wanted

Your parish has need of committed Liturgical Ministers. Please consider taking up the role of  lector or Eucharistic Minister. We think you will find this a rewarding activity and a great help to your fellow parishioners. Please call Elizabeth Foley at 212 807-8876, ext. 11 to express your interest.

Friday, December 6, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 4 December 2013 -



Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today I wish to return to the affirmation "I believe in the resurrection of the body". This is not a simple truth and it is anything but obvious; living immersed in this world it is not easy for us to fathom a future reality. But the Gospel enlightens us: our resurrection is strictly bound to Jesus' Resurrection. The fact that he is risen is the proof that there is a resurrection of the dead. I would like to present several aspects regarding the relation between the Resurrection of Christ and our resurrection. He is risen, and because he rose, we too will be raised.

First, Sacred Scripture itself contains a path towards full faith in the resurrection of the dead. This is expressed as faith in God as creator of the whole man, soul and body, and as faith in God the Liberator, the God who is faithful to the covenant with his people. The Prophet Ezekiel, in a vision, contemplates the graves of the exiled which are are reopened and whose dry bones come back to life thanks to the breath of a living spirit. This vision expresses hope in the future "resurrection of Israel", that is, the rebirth of a people defeated and humiliated (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

Jesus, in the New Testament, brings to fulfilment this revelation, and ties faith in the resurrection to his own person and says: "I am the resurrection and the life" (Jn 11:25). It will be our Lord Jesus who on the last day raises those who have believed in him. Jesus has come among us, he became man like us in all things, except sin; in this way he took us with him on his return journey to the Father. He, the Word Incarnate, who died for us and rose again, gives to his disciples the Holy Spirit as a pledge of full communion in his glorious Kingdom, which we vigilantly await. This waiting is the source and reason for our hope: a hope that, if cultivated and guarded — our hope, if we cultivate and guard it — becomes a light that illumines our common history. Let us remember it always: we are disciples of the One who came, who comes everyday and who will come at the end. If we can manage to be more aware of this reality, we will be less fatigued by daily life, less prisoners of the ephemeral and more disposed to walk with a merciful heart on the way of salvation.

Another aspect: What does it mean to rise again? The resurrection of us all will take place on the last day, at the end of the world, through the omnipotence of God, who will return life to our bodies by reuniting them to our souls, through the power of Jesus' Resurrection. This is the fundamental explanation: because Jesus rose we will rise; we have the hope of resurrection because he has opened to us the door of resurrection. And this transformation, this transfiguration of our bodies is prepared for in this life by our relationship with Jesus, in the Sacraments, especially in the Eucharist. We, who are nourished in this life by his Body and by his Blood shall rise again like him, with him and through him. As Jesus rose with his own body but did not return to this earthly life, so we will be raised again with our own bodies which will be transfigured into glorified bodies. This is not a lie! This is true. We believe that Jesus is Risen, that Jesus is living at this moment. But do you believe that Jesus is alive? And if Jesus is alive, do you think that he will let us die and not make us rise? No! He is waiting for us, and because He is risen, the power of his resurrection will raise us all.

A last element: already in this life we have within us a participation in the Resurrection of Christ. If it is true that Jesus will raise us at the end of time, it is also true that, in a certain way, with him we have already risen. Eternal life has already begun in this moment, it begins during our lifetime, which is oriented to that moment of final resurrection. And we are already raised, in fact, through Baptism; we are inserted in the death and resurrection of Christ and we participate in the new life, in his life. Therefore, as we await the last day, we have within us a seed of resurrection, as an anticipation of the full resurrection which we shall receive as an inheritance. For this reason too, the body of each one of us is an echo of eternity, thus it should always be respected; and in particular, the life of those who suffer should be respected and loved, that they may feel the closeness of the Kingdom of God, of that state of eternal life towards which we are journeying. This thought gives us hope: we are walking toward the resurrection. To see Jesus, to encounter Jesus: this is our joy! We will all be together — not here in the Square, or elsewhere — joyful with Jesus. This is our destiny!

To special groups

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Australia and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

I extend an affectionate thought to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Yesterday we celebrated the memorial of St Francis Xavier, Patron of Missionaries. This holy priest reminds us of the duty of each to proclaim the Gospel. Dear young people, be courageous witnesses of your faith; dear sick people, offer your daily cross for the conversion of those far from the light of the Gospel; and you, dear newlyweds, be proclaimers of the love of Christ beginning in your family.

Now, I invite everyone to pray for the Greek-Orthodox nuns of St Tecla in Maaloula, Syria, who were taken by force two days ago by armed men. Let us pray for these religious, for these sisters, and for all people who have been sequestered because of this ongoing conflict. Let us continue to pray and to work together for peace. Let us pray to Our Lady. (Hail Mary...).

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Thursday, November 28, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 27 November 2013 -



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good morning, and compliments on your courage in coming out to the Square in this cold. Many compliments.

I wish to complete the catechesis on the Creed delivered during the Year of Faith, which concluded last Sunday. In this catechesis and in the next, I would like to consider the subject of the resurrection of the body, by seeking to grasp a deeper understanding of two of its aspects as they are presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church; i.e. our dying and our rising in Jesus Christ. Today I shall consider the first aspect, "dying in Christ".

1. Among us there is commonly a mistaken way of looking at death. Death affects us all, and it questions us in a profound way, especially when it touches us closely, or when it takes the little ones, the defenseless in such a way that it seems "scandalous". I have always been struck by the question: why do children suffer? why do children die? If it is understood as the end of everything, death frightens us, it terrifies us, it becomes a threat that shatters every dream, every promise, it severs every relationship and interrupts every journey. This happens when we consider our lives as a span of time between two poles: birth and death; when we fail to believe in a horizon that extends beyond that of the present life; when we live as though God did not exist. This concept of death is typical of atheistic thought, which interprets life as a random existence in the world and as a journey toward nothingness. But there is also a practical atheism, which consists in living for one's own interests alone and living only for earthly things. If we give ourselves over to this mistaken vision of death, we have no other choice than to conceal death, to deny it, or to trivialize it so that it does not make us afraid.

2. However, the "heart" of man, with its desire for the infinite, which we all have, its longing for eternity, which we all have, rebels against this false solution. And so what is the Christian meaning of death? If we look at the most painful moments of our lives, when we have lost a loved one — our parents, a brother, a sister, a spouse, a child, a friend — we realize that even amid the tragedy of loss, even when torn by separation, the conviction arises in the heart that everything cannot be over, that the good given and received has not been pointless. There is a powerful instinct within us which tells us that our lives do not end with death.

This thirst for life found its true and reliable answer in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Jesus' Resurrection does not only give us the certainty of life after death, it also illumines the very mystery of the death of each one of us. If we live united to Jesus, faithful to him, we will also be able to face the passage of death with hope and serenity. In fact, the Church prays: "If the certainty of having to die saddens us, the promise of future immortality consoles us". This is a beautiful prayer of the Church! A person tends to die as he has lived. If my life has been a journey with the Lord, a journey of trust in his immense mercy, I will be prepared to accept the final moment of my earthly life as the definitive, confident abandonment into his welcoming hands, awaiting the face to face contemplation of his Face. This is the most beautiful thing that can happen to us: to contemplate face to face the marvellous countenance of the Lord, to see Him as he is, beautiful, full of light, full of love, full of tenderness. This is our point of arrival: to see the Lord.

3. Against this horizon we understand Jesus' invitation to be ever ready, watchful, knowing that life in this world is given to us also in order to prepare us for the afterlife, for life with the heavenly Father. And for this there is a sure path: preparing oneself well for death, staying close to Jesus. This is surety: I prepare myself for death by staying close to Jesus. And how do we stay close to Jesus? Through prayer, in the Sacraments and also in the exercise of charity. Let us remember that he is present in the weakest and the most needy. He identified himself with them, in the well known parable of the Last Judgment, in which he says: "for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me... 'as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me'" (Mt 25:35-36, 40).

Therefore, a sure path comes by recovering the meaning of Christian charity and fraternal sharing, by caring for the bodily and spiritual wounds of our neighbour. Solidarity in sharing sorrow and infusing hope is a premise and condition for receiving as an inheritance that Kingdom which has been prepared for us. The one who practices mercy does not fear death. Think well on this: the one who practices mercy does not fear death! Do you agree? Shall we say it together so as not to forget it? The one who practices mercy does not fear death. And why does he not fear it? Because he looks death in the face in the wounds of his brothers and sisters, and he overcomes it with the love of Jesus Christ.

If we will open the door of our lives and hearts to our littlest brothers and sisters, then even our own death will become a door that introduces us to heaven, to the blessed homeland, toward which we are directed, longing to dwell forever with God our Father, with Jesus, with Our Lady and with the Saints.

To special groups

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, the Philippines and the United States. Upon you and your families I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, my affectionate thoughts turn to young people, the sick and newlyweds. This Sunday we will begin the liturgical season of Advent. Dear young people, prepare your hearts to receive Jesus the Saviour; dear sick people, offer up your suffering that others may recognize Christmas as Christ's encounter with frail human nature; and you, dear newlyweds, live out your marriage as a reflection of God's love in your personal history.

© Copyright 2013 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Monday, November 25, 2013

Annual Holiday Sale at
Penn South Ceramics Studio

Saturday, December 7th, 2013 at 12-5 pm
Hand Crafted Pottery
by Studio Members, Teachers & Students

Penn South Ceramics Studio
276 9th Avenue @ West 26th St
Chelsea, NY 10001

Thursday, November 21, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 20 November 2013 -

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Last Wednesday I spoke about the remission of sins, referred to in a special way at Baptism. Today let us continue on the theme of the remission of sins, but in reference to the "power of the keys", as it is called, which is a biblical symbol of the mission that Jesus entrusted to the Apostles.

First of all, we must remember that the principal agent in the forgiveness of sins is the Holy Spirit. In his first appearance to the Apostles, in the Upper Room, the Risen Jesus made the gesture of breathing on them saying: "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:22,23). Jesus, transfigured in his body, is already the new man who offers the Paschal gifts, the fruit of his death and resurrection. What are these gifts? Peace, joy, the forgiveness of sins, mission, but above all he gives the Spirit who is the source of all these. The breath of Jesus, accompanied by the words with which he communicates the Spirit, signifies the transmission of life, the new life reborn from forgiveness.

But before making this gesture of breathing and transmitting the Holy Spirit, Jesus reveals the wounds in his hands and side: these wounds represent the price of our salvation. The Holy Spirit brings us God's pardon "by passing through" Jesus' wounds. These wounds he wished to keep; even now in Heaven he is showing the Father the wounds by which he redeemed us. By the power of these wounds, our sins are pardoned: thus, Jesus gave his life for our peace, for our joy, for the gift of grace in our souls, for the forgiveness of our sins. It is very very beautiful to look at Jesus in this way!

And we come to the second element: Jesus gave the Apostles the power to forgive sins. It is a little difficult to understand how a man can forgive sins, but Jesus gives this power. The Church is the depository of the power of the keys, of opening or closing to forgiveness. God forgives every man in his sovereign mercy, but he himself willed that those who belong to Christ and to the Church receive forgiveness by means of the ministers of the community. Through the apostolic ministry the mercy of God reaches me, my faults are forgiven and joy is bestowed on me. In this way Jesus calls us to live out reconciliation in the ecclesial, the community, dimension as well. And this is very beautiful. The Church, who is holy and at the same time in need of penitence, accompanies us on the journey of conversion throughout our life. The Church is not mistress of the power of the keys, but a servant of the ministry of mercy and rejoices every time she can offer this divine gift.

Perhaps many do not understand the ecclesial dimension of forgiveness, because individualism, subjectivism, always dominates, and even we Christians are affected by this. Certainly, God forgives every penitent sinner, personally, but the Christian is tied to Christ, and Christ is united to the Church. For us Christians there is a further gift, there is also a further duty: to pass humbly through the ecclesial community. We have to appreciate it; it is a gift, a cure, a protection as well as the assurance that God has forgiven me. I go to my brother priest and I say: "Father, I did this...". And he responds: "But I forgive you; God forgives you". At that moment, I am sure that God has forgiven me! And this is beautiful, this is having the surety that God forgives us always, he never tires of forgiving us. And we must never tire of going to ask for forgiveness. You may feel ashamed to tell your sins, but as our mothers and our grandmothers used to say, it is better to be red once than yellow a thousand times. We blush once but then our sins are forgiven and we go forward.

Lastly, a final point: the priest is the instrument for the forgiveness of sins. God's forgiveness is given to us in the Church, it is transmitted to us by means of the ministry of our brother, the priest; and he too is a man, who, like us in need of mercy, truly becomes the instrument of mercy, bestowing on us the boundless love of God the Father. Priests and bishops too have to go to confession: we are all sinners. Even the Pope confesses every 15 days, because the Pope is also a sinner. And the confessor hears what I tell him, he counsels me and forgives me, because we are all in need of this forgiveness. Sometimes you hear someone claiming to confess directly to God... Yes, as I said before, God is always listening, but in the Sacrament of Reconciliation he sends a brother to bestow his pardon, the certainty of forgiveness, in the name of the Church.

The service that the priest assumes a ministry, on behalf of God, to forgive sins is very delicate and requires that his heart be at peace, that the priest have peace in his heart; that he not mistreat the faithful, but that he be gentle, benevolent and merciful; that he know how to plant hope in hearts and, above all, that he be aware that the brother or sister who approaches the Sacrament of Reconciliation seeking forgiveness does so just as many people approached Jesus to be healed. The priest who is not of this disposition of mind had better not administer this sacrament until he has addressed it. The penitent faithful have the right, all faithful have the right, to find in priests servants of the forgiveness of God.

Dear brothers, as members of the Church are we conscious of the beauty of this gift that God himself offers us? Do we feel the joy of this cure, of this motherly attention that the Church has for us? Do we know how to appreciate it with simplicity and diligence? Let us not forget that God never tires of forgiving us; through the ministry of priests he holds us close in a new embrace and regenerates us and allows us to rise again and resume the journey. For this is our life: to rise again continuously and to resume our journey.

APPEAL

Tomorrow, 21 November, is the liturgical memorial of the Presentation of Mary Most Holy in the Temple, we will celebrate the Day pro Orantibus, dedicated to the cloistered religious communities. It is an opportune occasion to thank the Lord for the gift of so many people who, in monasteries and hermitages, dedicate themselves to God in prayer and in silent work. Let us give thanks to the Lord for their witness of cloistered life and let us not fail to provide spiritual and material support to these our brothers and sisters, so that they may fulfil their important mission.

On the 22 November the United Nations will inaugurate the International Year of Family Farming, meant to underline that the farming economy and rural development find in the family workers who are respectful of creation and attentive to concrete necessities. Also in work, the family is a model of brotherhood in living out the experience of unity and solidarity among all its members, with a greater sensibility for those who are most in need of care and help, by preventing the outcrop of possible social conflicts. For these reasons, as I express my satisfaction at such a timely initiative, I hope that it may contribute to a clearer appreciation of the innumerable benefits that the family brings to economic, social, cultural and moral growth of the entire human community.

* * *

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, including those from England, Wales, Korea and the United States of America. Upon all of you, I invoke God's blessings of peace and joy!

Lastly, my affectionate thoughts turn to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. In the month of November the liturgy invites us to pray for the departed. Let us not forget our loved ones, our benefactors and all those who have preceded us in the faith: the Eucharistic Celebration is the best spiritual help that we can offer to their souls, especially those who are most abandoned. And in this moment we cannot but recall the victims of recent floods in Sardinia: Let us pray for them and for they families and let us stand in solidarity with those who have suffered damage. Let us now say a little prayer in silence and then let us pray to Our Lady that she bless and help all our Sardinian brothers and sisters. And now let us pray in silence (…) Hail Mary...


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Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE
Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 13 November 2013 -


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In the Creed, through which we make our Profession of Faith every Sunday, we state: "I confess one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins". It is the only explicit reference to a Sacrament contained in the Creed. Indeed, Baptism is the "door" of faith and of Christian life. The Risen Jesus left the Apostles with this charge: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole of creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved" (Mk 16:15-16). The Church's mission is to evangelize and remit sins through the Sacrament of Baptism. But let us return to the words of the Creed. The expression can be divided into three points: "I confess"; "one Baptism"; "for the remission of sins".


1. "I profess". What does this mean? It is a solemn term that indicates the great importance of the object, that is, of Baptism. In fact, by pronouncing these words we affirm our true identity as children of God. Baptism is in a certain sense the identity card of the Christian, his birth certificate, and the act of his birth into the Church. All of you know the day on which you were born and you celebrate it as your birthday, don't you? We all celebrate our birthday. I ask you a question, that I have already asked several times, but I'll ask it again: who among you remembers the date of your Baptism? Raise your hands: they are few (and I am not asking the Bishops so as not to embarrass them...). Let's do something: today, when you go home, find out what day you were baptized, look for it, because this is your second birthday. The first birthday is the day you came into life and the second birthday is the one on which you came into the Church. Will you do this? This is your homework: find out the day on which you were born to the Church, and give thanks to the Lord, because at Baptism he has opened the door of his Church to us. At the same time, Baptism is tied to our faith in the remission of sins. The Sacrament of Penance or Confession is, in fact, like a "second baptism" that refers back always to the first to strengthen and renew it. In this sense, the day of our Baptism is the point of departure for this most beautiful journey, a journey towards God that lasts a lifetime, a journey of conversion that is continually sustained by the Sacrament of Penance. Think about this: when we go to confess our weaknesses, our sins, we go to ask the pardon of Jesus, but we also go to renew our Baptism through his forgiveness. And this is beautiful, it is like celebrating the day of Baptism in every Confession. Therefore, Confession is not a matter of sitting down in a torture chamber, rather it is a celebration. Confession is for the baptized! To keep clean the white garment of our Christian dignity!


2. The second element: "one Baptism". This expression refers to that of St Paul: "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Eph 4:5). The word "Baptism" literally means "immersion", and in fact this Sacrament constitutes a true spiritual immersion in the death of Christ, from which one rises with Him like a new creation (cf. Rom 6:4). It is the washing of regeneration and of illumination. Regeneration because it actuates that birth by water and the Spirit without which no one may enter the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Jn 3:5). Illumination because through Baptism the human person becomes filled with the grace of Christ, "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1:9) and dispels the shadows of sin. That is why in the ceremony of Baptism the parents are given a lit candle, to signify this illumination; Baptism illuminates us from within with the light of Jesus. In virtue of this gift the baptized are called to become themselves "light" — the light of the faith they have received — for their brothers, especially for those who are in darkness and see no glimmer of light on the horizon of their lives.



We can ask ourselves: is Baptism, for me, a fact of the past, relegated to a date, that date which you are going to go look for today, or is it a living reality, that pertains to my present, to every moment? Do you feel strong, with the strength that Christ gave you by his death and his Resurrection? Or do you feel low, without strength? Baptism gives strength and it gives light. Do you feel enlightened, with that light that comes from Christ? Are you a man or woman of light? Or are you a dark person, without the light of Jesus? We need to take the grace of Baptism, which is a gift, and become a light for all people!

3. Lastly, a brief mention of the third element: "for the remission of sins". In the Sacrament of Baptism all sins are remitted, original sin and all of our personal sins, as well as the suffering of sin. With Baptism the door to an effectively new life is opened, one which is not burdened by the weight of a negative past, but rather already feels the beauty and the goodness of the Kingdom of Heaven. It is the powerful intervention of God's mercy in our lives, to save us. This saving intervention does not take away our human nature and its weakness — we are all weak and we are all sinners — and it does not take from us our responsibility to ask for forgiveness every time we err! I cannot be baptized many times, but I can go to Confession and by doing so renew the grace of Baptism. It is as though I were being baptized for a second time. The Lord Jesus is very very good and never tires of forgiving us. Even when the door that Baptism opens to us in order to enter the Church is a little closed, due to our weaknesses and our sins. Confession reopens it, precisely because it is a second Baptism that forgives us of everything and illuminates us to go forward with the light of the Lord. Let us go forward in this way, joyfully, because life should be lived with the joy of Jesus Christ; and this is a grace of the Lord.

To special groups

I offer an affectionate greeting to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Australia, Japan, Taiwan and the United States. May Jesus Christ confirm you in faith and make you witnesses of his love and mercy to all people. God bless you all!

APPEAL

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I learned with great sorrow that two days ago in Damascus mortar rounds killed several children returning home from school as well as the school bus driver. Other children were left wounded. Please, these tragedies must never happen, ever! Let us pray intensely! In these days we are praying and joining forces to help our brothers and sisters in the Philippines, struck by a typhoon. These are the true battles to fight. For life! Never for death!



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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Special Mass of Remembrance - November 2, 2013

On Saturday, November 2nd at the 5:00 pm Mass we prayed in a special way for those parishioners who have died in the past year.


Friday, November 8, 2013

November 16th Hispanic Heritage Pilgrimage and Mass

The Society of St. Hugh of Cluny will sponsor the celebration of a Solemn High Mass at the church of Our Lady of Esperanza, 624 West 156th Street, New York on Saturday, November 16 at 11 AM, as part of their second annual Hispanic Heritage Pilgrimage. Music of the Spanish renaissance will be sung by a professional schola. A visit to the magnificent museum of the Hispanic Society of America will follow. 

Please click here for additional information.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 6 November 2013 - 


Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Creed, we now reflect on “the communion of saints” as a communion not only of persons but also of spiritual goods. Through our sharing in those goods, we grow in communion with Christ and with the members of his body, the Church. Today let us consider three of these spiritual treasures: the sacraments, charisms and charity. In the sacraments, we encounter Christ in all his saving power, are confirmed in the joy of faith, and sent forth to share with others the joy of salvation. Through the variety of charisms, the spiritual gifts and graces bestowed by the Holy Spirit, we help to build up the Church in unity, holiness and service. In charity, all these spiritual gifts find their fulfilment; everything is ordered to our growth in God’s love. Let us ask the Lord to increase our communion in these spiritual goods, so that we can live ever more fully our Christian vocation in union with him and as joyful signs of his saving love, present and at work in our midst.

Holy Father:

Saluto tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra e Galles, Irlanda, Danimarca, Australia, Giappone e Stati Uniti. In modo particolare saluto i sacerdoti inglesi che celebrano gli anniversari di ordinazione. Ringrazio i cori per la loro lode a Dio attraverso il canto. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!

Speaker:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Ireland, Denmark, Australia, Japan and the United States. In a special way I greet the priests from England celebrating the anniversaries of their ordination. I also thank the choirs present for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!


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Thursday, October 31, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 30 October 2013 -


Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Today I would like to speak about a very beautiful reality of our faith, namely, the "communion of saints". The Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us that two realities are meant by this expression: communion 'in holy things' and 'among holy persons' (n. 948). I wish to pause on the second meaning: this is one of the most consoling truths of our faith, since it reminds us that we are not alone but that there is a communion of life among all those who belong to Christ. It is a communion that is born of faith; indeed, the term "saints" refers to those who believe in the Lord Jesus and are incorporated by him into the Church through Baptism. That is why the first Christians were also called "saints" (cf. Acts 9:13,32,41; Rm 8:27; 1 Cor 6:1).
  1. John's Gospel states that, before his Passion, Jesus prayed to the Father for communion among his disciples, with these words: "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that thou hast sent me" (17:21). The Church, in her most profound truth, is communion with God, intimacy with God, a communion of love with Christ and with the Father in the Holy Spirit, which extends to brotherly communion. This relationship between Jesus and the Father is the "matrix" of the bond between us Christians: if we are intimately part of this "matrix", this fiery furnace of love, then we can truly become of one single heart and one single soul among us. For God's love burns away our selfishness, our prejudices, our interior and exterior divisions. The love of God even burns away our sins.
  2. If we are rooted in the source of Love, which is God, then a reciprocal movement also occurs: from brothers to God. The experience of fraternal communion leads me to communion with God. Union among us leads to union with God, it leads us to this bond with God who is our Father. This is the second aspect of the communion of saints that I would like to underline: our faith needs the support of others, especially in difficult moments. If we are united our faith becomes stronger. How beautiful it is to support each other in the wonderful adventure of faith! I say this because the tendency to be closed and private has influenced the religious sphere as well, so much so that it often becomes difficult to ask for spiritual help from those would share this Christian life with us. Who among us has not experienced insecurity, confusion and even doubt on our journey of faith? We have all experienced this, myself as well. It is part of the journey of faith, it is part of our life. None of this should surprise us, because we are humans beings, marked by fragility and limitations. We are all frail, we all have limitations. Nevertheless, in these difficult moments it is necessary to trust in God's help, through child-like prayer, and, at the same time, it is important to find the courage and the humility to open up to others, to ask for help, to ask for a helping hand. How often have we done this and then succeeded in emerging from our difficulty and finding God again! In this communion — communion means common-union — we form a great family, where every member is helped and sustained by the others.
  3. And we come to another aspect: the communion of saints goes beyond earthly life, beyond death and endures for ever. This union among us goes beyond and continues in the next life; it is a spiritual communion born in Baptism and not broken by death, but, thanks to the Risen Christ, is destined to find its fullness in eternal life. There is a deep and indissoluble bond between those who are still pilgrims in this world — us — and those who have crossed the threshold of death and entered eternity. All baptized persons here on earth, the souls in Purgatory and all the blessed who are already in Paradise make one great Family. This communion between earth and heaven is realized especially in intercessory prayer.
Dear friends, we have this beauty! This is our reality, all of ours, that makes us brothers and sisters, that accompanies us on the journey of life and lets us find another face above in heaven. Let us go forward on this journey with trust, with joy. A Christian must be joyful, with the joy of having so many baptized brothers and sisters to journey with him; sustained by the help of brothers and sisters who are taking the same path toward heaven; and also by the help of brothers and sisters who are in heaven and are praying to Jesus for us. Go forward on this path with joy!

To special groups

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, Wales, Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Vietnam and the United States. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly, I greet the sick, newlyweds and young people, with a special thought to students from universities in Italy. This Friday we will celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints. May their witness of faith strengthen in each of you, dear young people, the certainty that God is with you on the journey of life; may it sustain you, dear sick people, by alleviating your daily suffering; and may it be of help to you, dear newlyweds, in building your family on faith in God.


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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Special Mass of Remembrance - November 2, 2013

On Saturday, November 2nd at the 5:00 pm Mass, we will pray in a special way for those parishioners who have died in the past year.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

WELCOME

Fr. Chrisanth Mugasha, A.J., is the member of a missionary Order of the Apostles of Jesus and currently working as chaplain at New York University Medical Center.

Fr. Christ, as you can call him, comes from Tanzania in the township of Bukoba which is on the West side of Victoria and at the border of Uganda, Rwanda and Bururdi.

"On behalf of the congregation, I will ever be grateful to St. Columba for the accommodation as I work at NYU Hospital. My only surviving brother and I, attribute our faith and especially my vocation to our parents (of happy memory)."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Are You Tech Savvy? We Need Your Help!

We are in the process of setting up a Media Ministry Club for those parishioners interested in helping us take advantage of this new media age. People with computer skills, graphic skills, film and photography and videography experience are urged to contact Msgr. Walter Niebrzydowski, 212 807-8876, ext. 15. 

Also those who would be willing to share photos from the history of St. Columba’s - e.g. school events, sacramental ceremonies are encouraged to let Monsignor know.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 23 October 2013 -


Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In our continuing catechesis on the Church, we now look to the Virgin Mary who, as the Second Vatican Council reminds us, is "the model of the Church in the order of faith, charity and perfect union with Christ" (Lumen Gentium, 63). As a daughter of Israel, Mary responded in faith to God's call and became the Mother of his Son. She teaches us to live a life of faith by her obedience to God's will and by her unfailing devotion to Jesus and his work. Mary also models the Church's charity, born of faith, which brings the joy and peace of Christ's presence to others and to our world. Finally, Mary models the Church's union with Christ through her constant prayer and participation in the mysteries of his life, death and resurrection. As Mother of the Church, may Mary, by her prayers, bring us ever closer to the Lord, open our hearts to share his transforming and redeeming love, and inspire us to put our firm faith in God's word, trusting in his goodness and his gracious plan for us and for our world.

Holy Father:

Saluto tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Irlanda, Danimarca, Norvegia, Paesi Bassi, India, Giappone, Filippine, Thailandia, Guam, Canada e Stati Uniti. Rivolgo un caloroso benvenuto al Gruppo Inter-Parlamentare del Regno Unito sulla Santa Sede, con un augurio cordiale per gli incontri di questi giorni. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!

Speaker:

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, India, Japan, the Philippines, Thailand, Guam, Canada and the United States. In a particular way I welcome the United Kingdom's All-Party Parliamentary Group on the Holy See, with cordial good wishes for their meetings in these days. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Atlantic City Trip - Thursday, November 21st

The next trip to Atlantic City is Thursday, November 21st. The bus will leave at 9:30 am sharp and will return after six hours at the casino. The cost of the trip is $30, payable two weeks in advance. Please make check payable to St. Columba. Payments can be dropped off at the rectory during office hours or can be put through the slot at the convent door. Because of the need to pay for the bus in advance, anyone deciding to go on the trip on the day it occurs will be charged $35 

Please spread the word to all you think may be interested. See you on the bus!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Spirit in Action Group

“Living God’s Plan” -- Spirit in Action is a group sponsored by the church of St. John the Baptist. It is a club for mature (over 50) single Catholics who are interested in getting together for spiritual service and social activities. Members receive newsletters concerning upcoming events. If you are interested in joining, please call our Hotline: 212-560-2366. 

Tentative Upcoming Events:
  • Tour of Old Westbury Gardens
  • Tour of Roosevelt Historic sites –Hyde Park, NY
  • Tour Grand Central Station
  • St. Bart’s Church
Tour of the United Nations, and more...

Sunday, October 20th is World Mission Sunday

United with the Catholics of the world at the Table of the Lord, we recommit ourselves to our vocation, through Baptism, to be missionaries. Through our financial gifts, offered in next week’s collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith, we become partners with missionaries who proclaim the Gospel and offer help and hope to the poor in mission countries.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Centering Prayer

Centering Prayer will take place  7-9:15 PM this Friday, October 18th,  in the Chapel.

What is Centering prayer? Centering prayer is a popular method of contemplative prayer or Christian meditation that places a strong emphasis on interior silence. Some well known proponents of Centering Prayer are the Trappist monks Abbot Thomas Keating and Fr. M. Basil Pennington. Basil Pennington shares these guidelines for centering prayer: 

Sit comfortably with your eyes closed, relax, and quiet yourself. Be in love and faith to God.
Choose a sacred word that best supports your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you (i.e. "Jesus”, “Lord,” "God," "Savior," "Abba," "Divine," "Shalom," "Spirit," "Love," etc.).
Let that word be gently present as your symbol of your sincere intention to be in the Lord's presence and open to His divine action within you.
Whenever you become aware of anything (thoughts, feelings, perceptions, images, associations, etc.), simply return to your sacred word, your anchor.
When no longer engaged in thoughts, one is attentive to God alone and delights in the presence of God. 

If you’d like to try this type of prayer, please come join us tomorrow in the Chapel.

Increased Giving Program

We continue with our campaign to increase our weekly collections.We need everyone to increase their donation, your participation is essential to our parish.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Breaking Open the Word

Your fellow parishioners read and discuss the upcoming weekend readings each Thursday evening at 7:00 pm in the rectory meeting room. You are most welcome to join in this uplifting discussion. 

From Pope Francis

GENERAL AUDIENCE

Saint Peter's Square
- Wednesday, 16 October 2013 -


 Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters: In the Creed, we profess in faith that the Church is "apostolic". We can understand this in three ways. First, the Church is apostolic because Jesus founded her upon the Apostles whom he chose and sent forth to continue his work; thus Saint Paul compares the Church to a temple which has the Apostles as its foundation and Christ as its cornerstone (Eph 2:19-20). The Church is also apostolic because she preserves and hands down the fullness of Christ's teaching and the means of salvation which he instituted. Finally the Church is apostolic because she accomplishes in history the mission which Christ entrusted to the Apostles: making disciples of all nations, baptizing them and teaching them his commands (cf. Mt 28:19-20). May we come to appreciate and love the Church as the place where we encounter the Risen Lord, who sends us forth as his missionaries, inviting all whom we meet to know the truth of the Gospel, the joy of faith and the promise of eternal life proclaimed by the Apostles.

The Holy Father:

Rivolgo un saluto cordiale a tutti i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti a questa Udienza, specialmente a quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Danimarca, Norvegia, Israele, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, Cina, Giappone, Corea, Trinidad e Tobago, Canada e Stati Uniti. Saluto in modo particolare la delegazione della NATO Defense College e i pellegrini venuti dalla Norvegia. Su tutti voi e sulle vostre famiglie invoco la gioia e la pace del Signore!

Speaker:

I cordially greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Israel, Ghana, Nigeria, Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Trinidad and Tobago, Canada and the United States. My particular greeting goes to the delegation from the NATO Defense College and the pilgrims from Norway. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

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