Join us for our SMYLE Kickoff event on Sunday evening August 29th from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm behind St. Matthias School.
It will be a time for us to gather outside as we prepare for our new year.
There will be *ICE*CREAM* – *FUN* – *GAMES* – *REFLECTION*!
***The event will be held rain or shine.***
Bring a beach chair or a blanket to sit on outside and a mask in case we have to go inside.
RSVP if you plan to attend by August 25th to SMYLE@stmatthias.net so we can plan for an ice cream treat.
Mrs. Lenczewski & Deacon John
The Portuguese explorer, Ferdinand Magellan, leading a Spanish expedition, reached the Philippines on March 16, 1521 and planted Christianity there. 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of this event. Pope Francis kicked off the yearlong celebration with a festive Mass in the Vatican last March. The entrance procession of the papal Mass was led by a young woman carrying a statue of the Holy Child of Cebu and a young man holding a replica of the Magellan Cross that was first planted on Filipino soil, accompanied by Filipino women dancers, followed by the ministers, clergy, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, other cardinals and the Pope.
The Filipino Apostolate of our Diocese, headed by Rev. Gerry Paderon, pastor of Queenship of Mary Church, Plainsboro, arranged to have a novena of Masses at different churches.
The venue for one Mass was here at St. Matthias, on Sunday, August 1, at 5 pm., and it was organized by Don & Gondee Tibay, Aida Santos, Emile Capuno, Jerry Tiongson, Carlo Hermino, Alma Valdez, and Menchie Ventura. They gave me the honor of presiding and preaching. Rev. Roberto Coruna, Pastor of the Annunciation Church in Bloomsbury, and our Msgr. Seamus Brennan concelebrated the Mass, assisted by Deacon Joey Perlas of St. Anthony of Padua Church in Port Reading and Deacon Roger Ladao of St. Francis Cabrini Church in Piscataway. We congratulate all the Filipino friends of our parish for organizing it and making it a meaningful celebration with beautiful singing in Tagalog and having a special 10-foot replica of the Magellan cross for the procession.
For the Philippines nation, the Catholic faith is part of the ethos of the people, etched deeply in their cultural and religious life. The Filipinos have carried their faith wherever they have immigrated. It was quite amusing to hear the comment of Pope Francis that the Filipino women were “smugglers of the faith,” meaning they carried with them the “torch of faith” wherever they went. He encouraged all Filipinos to continue being “smugglers of faith.”
One recent evidence of the Filipino witness to Catholicism was when the country’s first-ever Olympic gold medalist, weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, manifested her faith and devotion to Holy Mary for the whole world to see. Diaz’s triumph came in the women’s 55-kilogram weightlifting event on July 26. After completing her final lift in a very close competition, Diaz held her hands to her face, burst into tears and clutched at her Miraculous Medal of the Blessed Virgin Mary hanging from her neck. Later at the medals ceremony on the podium, Diaz pointed heavenward after singing the Philippine national anthem, then made the Sign of the Cross before stepping down and shouting “Mabuhay ang Pilipinas!” (“Long live the Philippines!”)
As we appreciate our Filipino community who have the fire of the Faith in Jesus Christ and a great commitment to the Catholic Church, we pray that their example will continue to inspire us and make us greater witnesses of the Lord.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal
It was a joy to have our Confirmandi students present at the Sunday 10 am Mass on August 1st, as they were beginning their week-long “ServiceWorX” program. For the next five days, they were bused to different locations for experiencing a variety of community services. They went to various sites such as CAC Somerset County in New Brunswick, Middlesex County Conservation area, Grow a Row at Milford Farm, Raritan Valley YMCA and Ronald Mc Donald House in New Brunswick.
Each day they would return and process their experiences in the light of the Social Teachings of the church based on the Bible and the life of Jesus Christ in the Gospels. Here’s one of the emails we received after our students did a day of harvesting corn at the Milford farm (an hour by bus from here):
“Hello Awesome Volunteers,
I want to thank you again for joining us at our Milford farm this morning to harvest corn. In the couple of hours you spent in the fields, your team harvested more than 8,000 pounds of corn. This will provide nearly 32,000 servings of fresh produce for so many of our neighbors struggling with food insecurity. We couldn’t have done it without all your help! We hope you had a great time and we look forward to seeing you back in the fields.”
This is the kind of immersion experiences that our students had, followed by reflection on them each day for a whole week. It was supervised by Dee Nann, our Parish Faith Formation Director, and conducted by leaders and volunteers from the Center for Faith Justice (CFJ), with whom St. Matthias has a long-standing partnership. I am very grateful to Arien Yeddanapally, a parishioner and SMS alumnus and sophomore at Seton Hall University working with CFJ for the summer, Liam Myers from Milwaukee area and an M. Div candidate at Union Theological Seminary in NY, Lauren Borowick, a staff at CFJ, and Liz, a recent graduate of Sacred Heart University, also with CFJ for the summer.
On their concluding day, the students and the organizers came to our church, and conducted a prayer service. Eight of our youth shared their experiences. It was a testimony that touched me as well as the parents of the Confirmandi who too were present. Their testimony showed me clearly that real life experience and processing that experience are vital for forming one’s faith. I am very grateful to the parents who supported and willingly paid for the expenses for this project which was partially subsidized by the parish.
I have asked our young people to write down their testimonies so that the rest of our parishioners can read about what they gained and feel happy and confident that these vibrant youth will carry forward our precious Faith and Tradition here at St. Matthias.
Happy Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary!
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal
About a month ago, a parishioner told me she found a host under the seat … she was very sad to see that; being a Eucharistic Minister, she knew what to do, and she consumed it …. She asked me “Father, how could someone just drop it there?” I told her that most probably, it might be done by some non-Catholic visitors who must have come for a wedding or for a funeral. Even though I announce who can receive Holy Communion, when all got up for communion, they too must have come, but didn’t know what it was, didn’t want to consume it, and so must have just dropped it!
I thought of sharing that incident with you, because we all need to understand the truth about the Holy Communion: it is the body of Jesus Christ – not a symbol. That’s why the Catholic church gives reverence and adoration to the Blessed Sacrament. The church is very careful about handling the host, and that’s why the church makes it clear that the Holy Communion is for Catholics only…not because we want to exclude anyone … (though some think so, even Catholics have told me the same: what’s wrong about sharing; it is a sign of fellowship….???…) If you don’t know what it is, if you don’t believe what we believe it to be, is there any point of receiving/sharing it? (But even those who do not wish to receive Holy Communion can come forward and receive a blessing; just cross your hands on the chest, so we know that you are coming for a blessing. Also parents, please make sure that your little children also a get a blessing and not the Communion)
To those of you who think, “it is just a symbol of fellowship, so what’s a big deal in giving it to non-Catholics,” listen to the answer from Jesus who tells us NO, it is my body; it is my blood. That is what upset the audience of Jesus as we hear in today’s gospel. They murmured/complained about this teaching: How can he give his body to eat!!?? Who’s this?!! Is this not the son of Joseph …Mary…? We know him…….” Etc.
What did Jesus do? Did he soften his stand? No he was in fact doubling down on this truth: Read the rest of chapter John 6: “Amen/Truly I tell you … unless you eat the flesh of the son of man …. No eternal life..”
Very strong teaching; what was the result? Many of them left following him!! “Hard saying/who can follow this” The Catholic Church has consistently stood by this teaching, because it came from the mouth of Jesus himself. Just read John 6, and you will see that he did not mean it in a symbolic way but certainly in its literal sense.
Some may say, but there are also other ways in which Jesus is present to us. Like in the poor! Yes, the Church teaches that and more: there are 4 ways of His presence in the Mass.
- In the Assembly: “where 2 or 3 are gathered in my name, I am there in your midst” = that is the promise of Jesus. So when you gather here, Jesus is here n the assembly. When you gather at home or elsewhere in His name, then he is there.
- In the Presider: A priest is ordained in his name or “in persona Christi” (in the person of Christ) and for doing His actions. That’s why we stand when the presider begins the entrance procession with the deacons and other ministers.
- In the Word proclaimed: God is present in the Word. Did you notice that our church has the altar and the ambo at equal distance. Most churches have the altar at the center. Why this difference in our church? To show that Jesus is present in the Word Proclaimed and at the altar. That is why the first half of the Mass is called the Liturgy of the Word and the second half is called the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Or Breaking of the Word and the Breaking of the Bread. He is present in both.
- In Holy Communion: the Real Presence. Jesus is fully present – whether we can intellectually grasp this mystery or not. That is why we adore him at the altar and in the Blessed Sacrament kept in the Tabernacle. This First Friday we had the Holy Hour/Adoration. If you have not experienced a Holy Hour, or wonder how we spend an hour in adoration, have a look at our St. Matthias Youtube channel for this First Friday Holy Hour.
If we understand this truth ….then we will know that what we receive is truly body of Christ. Then we will come up with a sense of prayerfulness/reverence to receive the Lord; then after receiving him, we will spend a few moments in silence, speaking with the Lord in our heart. That’s why I keep requesting you to read John 6 & meditate it.
Today I am writing about a topic I don’t like to talk about: Sunday contributions! Yet, I am doing it for two reasons: First to thank all of you for your tremendous support – in every sense of the term – of our parish community of St. Matthias. It has been a truly humbling experience for me to see the efforts our parishioners are making, to make sure that the contributions reach the parish. Thank you for the trouble you have taken to drop the envelopes in the collection baskets in the church, mail them, drop them physically at the office, or give online through Parish Giving.
A word about the last method of online giving, which is my second reason! My sincere thank you to over 660 of our parishioners who have signed up to give through Parish Giving, which has helped us reduce administrative costs as well as the costs for printing and mailing the envelope packets, while increasing the overall collections. This also allows us to better forecast our revenues, as the giving is more consistent. Therefore, this is the best method of contribution, though some are reluctant to sign up. Let me address some of the reasons I have heard for not signing up online:
- The fear that giving out your bank info could be dangerous: It is good for everyone to know that the ‘Parish Giving’ company has been providing this service to hundreds of parishes for over 10 years and has in place all the latest security features to ensure that your financial information can never be accessed by anyone. But, at the same time, I wish to respect those who wish to continue the use of envelopes – no matter what.
- The fear that you have no control over the amount once you sign up: Not true. You are in full control of the timing and amount of your donations. You can even login to the system or call the Parish Giving customer service team to make updates or even un-enroll/cancel at any time.
- The fear of embarrassment that you are putting nothing in the basket while others do: True, but there is an easy solution. You can download and print “Collection Plate” coupons right from your account page, so you can still have something to put in the basket.
Therefore, I request you to please consider enrolling in Parish Giving – if you haven’t done that already. It is secure, easy to use and gives us the ability to count on your contributions each and every week, even when you might not be able to join us in person. Simply visit our St. Matthias website www.stmatthias.net and then click on “Donate” at the top. Follow the simple registration steps. Should you need support, Parish Giving is available to answer questions and even help set up your account. They can be reached M-F from 8:30- 4:30 pm at 866-307-7140.
I do appreciate your support to our parish community. Most importantly, I, together with Msgr. Seamus Brennan, Deacons John Radvanski, Russ Demkovitz, and Ron Caimi, look forward to engaging and nourishing everyone spiritually as we grow closer to our Lord wherever we may be in our lifelong faith journey. And our parish staff is ever ready to serve the people of our parish.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal
You may have heard of or even attended the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM), the Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 which is in Latin. Following the reforms after the Second Vatican Council, the Church implemented a new Roman Missal in 1970, which is what is followed all over the world generally. The old Mass (TLM) in Latin was still allowed for those who didn’t want the new vernacular language Mass. The TLM had more prayers, chanting, rituals, incensing, communion on tongue only, women expected with veil on head, genuflections and other long-held practices – all of which are meant to bring about the sense of the mystery of the Real Presence, reverence to the sacredness of the heavenly liturgy and participation in the priestly sacrifice that Jesus Christ himself (the priest in persona Christi) is celebrating.
Those who followed the TLM felt that this Mass was the true liturgy and believed that a greater availability of this Mass could bring about a revival in the Church when more and more Catholics are leaving the Church. Others opposed this idea. In order to avoid a division, Pope Benedict XVI had given freedom for all priests to offer the TLM from 2013 onwards, hoping for unity and understanding. Last year the Vatican took a world-wide survey with all the Bishops to assess the situation in their own dioceses. The result made it clear that instead of the expected unity, the division was widening. The Pope writes:
“An opportunity offered by St. John Paul II and, with even greater magnanimity, by Benedict XVI, intended to recover the unity of an ecclesial body with diverse liturgical sensibilities, was exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the Church, block her path, and expose her to the peril of division. I am saddened that the celebration of the extraordinary form is now characterized by a rejection of the Second Vatican Council and its liturgical reforms. To doubt the Council is to doubt the Holy Spirit himself who guides the Church.”
Therefore a week ago, on July 16, Pope Francis issued a “motu proprio” (an edict by the Pope personally) limiting henceforth the use of the TLM. Explaining his decision, Pope Francis wrote: “In defense of the unity of the Body of Christ, I am constrained to revoke the faculty granted by my Predecessors. The distorted use that has been made of this faculty is contrary to the intentions that led to granting the freedom to celebrate the Mass with the Missale Romanum [Roman Missal] of 1962.”
This decision is very disappointing and upsetting to the adherents of the TLM. You will hear many comments of disagreement on this decision even from some bishops and cardinals. The context I explained above should help you judge for yourself as to why Pope Francis made this decision to stem the tide of division. May the Holy Spirit continue to guide the Church towards greater unity and grace.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal
Pope Francis has designated Sunday, July 25, 2021, as the first World Day for Grandparents and the Elderly, with the theme “I am with you always.” Read the Pope’s message to the elderly, or watch the Pope’s video, with English subtitles, by clicking HERE.
Registration for the upcoming 2021-2022 sessions of GIFT-our family-based Religious Education program (Growing In Faith Together), First Reconciliation/First Eucharist (all 2nd graders regardless of school), and Confirmation (all 7th & 8th graders must register, regardless of school attending).
To learn more and register for GIFT please click here.
To learn more and register for First Reconciliation/ First Eucharist preparation please click here.
To learn more and register for Confirmation preparation please click here.
In ancient Athens a man noticed the great storyteller Aesop playing childish games with some little children. He laughed and jeered at Aesop, asking him why he wasted his time in such frivolous activity. Aesop responded by picking up a bow, loosening its string, and placing it on the ground. Then he said to the critical Athenian, “Now, answer the riddle, if you can. Tell us what the unstrung bow implies.” The man looked at it for several moments but had no idea what point Aesop was trying to make. Aesop explained, “If you keep a bow always bent, it will break eventually; but if you let it go slack, it will be more fit for use when you want it.” Aesop was talking about balance.
As followers of Christ we need to realize that Jesus advocated balance in life. He never asked us to be so involved in doing good that we neglect our need for leisure, for rest, for family, for friends. He showed it by his own example as we hear him telling the disciples in today’s gospel: “Let’s get away to a lonely place by ourselves and rest a while.” Read Mark 6:30-32 and you will see that Jesus realized that he and his disciples were overstretched in attending to the constant demands the people made on their time. They needed a break away from everyone and everything.
We are half-way through the summer time of vacation and relaxation. But are we really relaxed? Some parents may find that what they thought was a relaxed summer is actually a stressful one. I was impressed by a blogger who reminded the parents that summer is a break from routine, and not a break from parenting: “Seeds grow slowly; chicks hatch when they are ready; important things take time. Children and teens don’t understand time — they want what they want when they want it. We too often react by jumping on their timeline. When we contort ourselves to suit their whims, we not only upend our lives, we give away the opportunity to teach them about patience.”
The same applies to our inner life too. Can this summer be a time to attend to and grow in our spiritual self? Can we use this summer as a wonderful opportunity to enrich ourselves with some knowledge of our faith? When media gurus suggest summer reading lists, why not make our own list of faith-related summer readings? I would suggest to get any of the writings of Pope Francis that you can freely download. Whether it is “Evangelii Gaudium – The Joy of the Gospel” or “Laudato Si – On the Care of Creation” or “Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love” or “Gaudete et Exsultate – Rejoice and Be Glad,” (our newly Vocations Committee will be asking us all to read this last one), you will find that you are in for a treat.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal