Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Joining the Family

Ah, yes... Summer once again, and since the cat is away let the dogs play! Besides, Charlie is glad to take up Baxter’s slack anytime!

You may remember that our Charlie is a rescue dog. We adopted him from the Westmoreland County Animal Shelter in Greensburg. I remember the day in vivid detail, but to make a long story short, we brought Charlie home the day we met him. I was both afraid and excited. We had all the “things” you need to have a dog. We had a fenced yard and a dog crate. The shelter gave us a leash and some food. Two simple plastic bowls could serve for water and kibble. It seemed we were ready to add this canine to our family. But, we all know, adding a pet to your life is not that simple. Pets need special care and instruction. A pet needs to be conformed to its new family. Pet parents must accommodate feeding and bathroom schedules. Pets must learn the rules of the household, like when it is ok and not ok to bark, which food is off limits, and how jumping up is not an appropriate greeting. Charlie learned all these things in time, and we learned about his schedule and habits. Although it wasn’t instantaneous, there is a good  fit with this dog and our family.

The same thing happened for me when I became a member of the church. I was an adult member seeking to become part of the Catholic family. On the surface it seemed I was ready. I had been baptized Catholic, was attending Mass regularly, and was living a simple married life with children. But, just like with Charlie, there was more to it than that! There were things I needed to learn about the Catholic tradition. I needed to have my marriage validated. I needed to learn to convert my heart and my attitude. I didn’t just learn these things in a class, though. I learned them from my parish family. By their patience and example I learned. Through their prayers, I was lifted up. In their love, I began to be converted.

If you or someone you know is looking for God, they may find His presence here. The RCIA is an opportunity for them to see if the Catholic understanding of God resonates with them. Just remember, you don’t just walk in, it takes time. It isn’t meant as punishment, it’s a gift from God.

Christy Cabaniss - Parish Minister

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

In a Word: A Kiss

I was asked, “can you think of a way to write something about the Trinity in one page?” My initial response was a firm, resolute, “No.” But, it appeared that I could do it in a single word. A Kiss. God isn’t just about “Him” or the “Big Guy in the Sky”. God is a working relationship, all the time. In this respect, we are like God, because we are in a relationship all the time: a relationship of family, of a community, and right now, of author and reader. We are always in a relationship-but the ones we have as humans aren’t always what we’d call “working.”

Take families, for instance. Families come in all shapes and sizes, but there is one constant: families take work. Sometimes we try to avoid this work though. We may try to simply float as a family, like a group of people living in the same house, going through the motions, neither loving nor hating, just being there. We can also be dysfunctional. We live with unspoken anger and unacknowledged misunderstanding running rampant, like little vermin ants that you wish the exterminator would just get rid of. Those ants constantly ruin everything you do, and force you to think about every little  thing, lest it be sacrificed to the ants. But, there is another time, a time of being a genuine family when, even if for one small instant, everything comes together in love, cooperation, like-mindedness, and common purpose. Those “shining, redeeming moments,” we might say. Our communities take the same work that a family does-our Church takes the same work.

But I mentioned a kiss as that one word. Why? Well, a saint from the 1100’s describes the Trinity this way. St. Bernard of Clairvaux described the Trinity as a relation of Love that is expressed in a kiss. The Father is one who kisses, the Son the one who receives the kiss, and the Holy Spirit is the kiss. The kiss is not just a symbol of love; it is the embrace of love itself--the love of a mother and a child, the bond of a husband and a wife, the loving gratitude of a son for his parents. A kiss isn’t just a symbol; it is an act, and a reality, a moment.

God, likewise, isn’t just a symbol for what we think is right. God is an act of love, and when we let the Holy Spirit into our hearts, like we celebrated last Sunday on Pentecost, God is part of that love. A kiss is work. It takes cooperative and communal effort. But, it is also love, a love worth enjoying. God, the Trinity, is in a word:a Kiss.

Christopher Manderino - Coordinator of Youth Ministry

Thursday, June 5, 2014


Although Baxter is older now and has mellowed a lot, he hasn’t lost his spirit. He still can run through the house like a maniac for no clear reason at times. He can still get excited when another cat comes onto his territory. He fetches treats like they are hockey pucks, and once he scores with a morsel in his mouth, runs back for more. He can jump when he wants to get something, roll on his back and flip over in a second, and resist moving when he doesn’t want to get into his carrier. At thirteen plus years, Baxter still has a lot of life left in him. He is young at heart.

How are our hearts? Are they full of life and spirit, or have they grown dull and lethargic through the years? Are we just going through the motions at living, or do we still find excitement and interest in certain things? Do we take initiative to make situations better for ourselves and others? Do we reach out to connect to new people or reconnect to old friends? Do we look for something different in our lives to challenge us and call us to further growth? Do we expect and look for new ideas,  relationships or commitments to keep us fresh and lively?

These are important questions for us to consider if God is to continue His work with us. Pentecost is the feast of the Holy Spirit filling the lives of the disciples. We cannot claim to live in God’s Spirit if we are lifeless and dull, stodgy and removed from others. The account of the first Pentecost was a scene of excitement where people were engaging strangers for the first time with a message that was  new and offered promise for better lives to those who accepted it. There was a contagious energy that was communicated when the first disciples began to reach about the Lord Jesus. This power of the Spirit won over others as much as the content of what they had to say. People want to feel that they are part of a winning team, where everyone strives for a common purpose and a better condition for all. That takes enthusiasm for the mission at hand, and a heart full of pride and resolve to carry it forward no matter what the obstacles may be. We saw this in the first disciples after Pentecost. Do others see it in us when we talk about our faith, work for our parish community, and invite others to join us?

Age is not a reason to be lifeless, unimaginative and apathetic. While our physical energy may be deceased, our spirits should be greater and more fearless because we have lived longer in Christ’s Spirit and learned more of its wisdom and depth. We don’t just burn up the energy of the Spirit as mature Christians. We harness it for good by caring for other’s needs and reaching out to those searching for God with a supporting hand. We walk with others in the Spirit and don’t pretend to be ahead of them. We know we don’t have all the answers to life’s  mysteries, but we do have a way to live in them with a confidence in God to show us the way. These are signs of a lively, mature faith fed by Christ’s Spirit.

Baxter may take a few more naps and measure his steps more carefully now, but the old boy still has a lot of life in him. So do we-the life of the Spirit. Christ promised it and bestowed it on His disciples. We have to call it forth, dust it off, and put it to work for others. Let’s get moving!