Lincoln, New Hampshire

Category: From the Pastor’s Desk (Page 2 of 15)

Forgiveness

Forgiveness is something on which we all need to work,
but it is a process that takes time and courage. It is easy to
SAY you forgive someone, but actually DOING it – if
you’re honest with yourself – is another matter. One of the most useful models for forgiveness that I have encountered comes from the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. In Step 8, an individual identifies the wrongs of his or her past so that they can make amends to everyone they’ve hurt and repair the damage they’ve done; then, they devise a plan for creating healthy relationships moving forward.
Here are some helpful tips used by those in recovery to
making amends with others:
Discover how many people you have hurt and how you’ve
hurt them.
Pay attention to what you discover about yourself along the way.
Don’t be defensive and blame people for how they’ve
treated you. Forgive them, because without forgiving
others, you cannot forgive yourself.
Avoid judgments of others. Be objective when evaluating
your defects as well as those of others.
Be incredibly honest, even if what you discover is painful to accept.

Finally, you don’t need to be a member of AA to engage this process of forgiveness and healing – maybe just a simple note, email, or phone call can help heal a broken relationship if both parties are open to doing so. And remember Sirach’s advice, “Forgive your neighbor’s
injustice [and] your own sins will be forgiven.”

From the Pastor

Rejoice in the Lord always.  I say it again, Rejoice!  (Philippians 4:4)
Small parish communities always have reason to
rejoice whenever God’s Grace visits anew.  Over
recent weeks, three new babies are being baptized into the faith life of St. Joseph’s Parish, and two new
families have registered to become parishioners. We extend our blessings on the newly baptized, Weston Goulet, Everson Peterson, and Paisli Peterson, and we extend our special welcomes to newly-registered parishioners, Rick and Colette Crowley, and to Bob, Anne, and Wendi Sullivan.

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

Cliches. Those words or phrases that pop up in our conversations springing from a collection of them we’ve acquired over time.  We are as comfortable with them as when we’re wearing an old pair of loafers, which we might have done throughout the recent Covid lock down.  Some common examples: “Let’s touch base.”  “I’m like a kid in a candy store.”  “We’re not laughing at you, we’re laughing with you” and “Read between the lines.”  I’d like to apply just one for our reflection: “Honesty is the best policy.” Supposedly that last one originated with our own Ben Franklin.  But Shakespeare had written much earlier: “If I lose mine honor I lose myself.”  Mark Twain typically adds a touch of sardonic humor: “Honesty is the best policy when there’s money in it.”  Our sage Thomas Jefferson is appropriately thoughtful: “Honesty is the first chapter in the book of wisdom.”  Finally, Mother Saint Teresa tells us; “Honesty and transparency make you vulnerable.  Be honest anyway.” For my purpose, I refer to Our Lord’s dictum, not a cliché at all I think, that to be His disciples: “Whoever wishes to come after Me must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me.”  Once again, we have here a case of Our Lord Jesus being totally, if not brutally honest. So transparent that He sets the bar rather high on what it really means to be a disciple, you might add to be a brother or sister to Him.  Yes, honesty is the best policy but not the most likable. I always had a suspicion that there is a tamping down of this belief among some popular televangelists.  I think you know the ones whom I mean.  The backdrop of their often “feel good” sermons before an adoring crowd never features a cross, much less a crucifix (and there is a difference!)  There is rarely a mention of taking up a cross in one’s daily life, because Christianity for them is always pure joy and happiness.  Some assign material prosperity as a guarantee of gospel living.  It’s all indirectly resurrection and very little passion and death.  Perhaps I exaggerate but it is how I perceive them. We know better.  And if we’re transparently honest, living out Christianity is not easy all the time. Especially in our present Western culture, which identifies wealth as a sign of one’s value and importance. We applaud the limousine riders of our day, even rushing to take a “selfie” with them whenever possible.  Who among us would rush toward a beaten Man wearing a crown of thorns that makes His blood trickle down to His eyes? On the other hand, true honesty has to admit that while belief in uniting one’s suffering with that of Christ (the old “offer it up” line) may ease the pain, it does not remove it.  Ask any martyr. But at least we know the pain can be spiritually enriching.  I think of that every time I’m in the dentist’s chair.  But wherever you think of it, hold on to it as the honest truth.  It’s not a cliché, “Pain insists upon being attended to.  God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, and shouts in our pain. It is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”   (C. S. Lewis, The Problem Pain)  
God love you, and give you His peace!

Reflections :

By Carlos Martín Cinto, LCMHC, Catholic Charities NH:

             Being quarantined, I recently received a beautiful video through WhatsApp that started something like this: “There is an annual plant originally from Peru that for her to mature seeks to have the sun in front.” It came with beautiful photos of its flower, which is a great dish, with very colorful colors, and which produces the famous sunflower pipes and its oil. The interesting thing is that its flower, like a huge satellite dish, follows the sun daily on its way east to west. And the next morning she’s waiting for him again on its way out on the east. In Greek mythology, a nymph named Clytie followed the god Apollo daily from his palace to the west. She took root, turned into a sunflower, and thus follows his love every day.
Very nice, isn’t it? But right away, the impertinent question arises: what happens when it’s cloudy? It is said that the sunflower turns to their neighbor and they look at each other face-to-face. The love and energy they cannot receive from the sun are given and received by each other, teaching us in passing the importance of loving each other.
I count this because while it is true that COVID-19 is like a gigantic cloud that has isolated us from our source of life, so it is that the sunflower taught me that if we don’t have our usual life – if we can’t be in the sun – we have each other to remain being until it is camped. This pandemic, like a tremendous cloud, separates us from our routine and separates (or modifies) us from our work so that we are alone, behind a mask and with gloves so as not to touch us. In a way, he locks us up at home and forbids us from the street. For our sake, they tell us, but we find it hard to understand. And it does so on a planetary level. But it is in that lockdown, within that loneliness, that I decided to find others, connect with the members of my tribe. Because we humans are one tribe, no matter how hard it is for us to speak English and to them to speak Spanish. And to all speak Chinese, except to the Chinese. The differences seem huge, but they are of clothing, of the secondary. When the virus attacks, it attacks humanity, which we are all. And as a single organism, we respond, isolating ourselves in therapeutic quarantines. And that’s why we must imitate the sunflower and seek the face, love and energy of others and God. And for that, I have used and used as many resources as I can. I use the phone, use video calls, books, music, letters that today are emails or messages and social networks. And I grow and grow with those, with my people and with those who are added on the way, on this journey forced by the tremendous cloud, but which we guess will soon end. And then I will be as before, and very grateful for such good company, that has allowed me to spend this fear, endure this loneliness and remain being me, while the sun was hidden. Hispanics who are in the United States, seek the warmth, energy and love of others. And there’s no better way than to emulate a sunflower.

Reflection by Rev. Leonard N. Peterson

The concept starts out innocently enough.  The patient elementary school teacher says: “Boys and girls, when you color, try not to go outside the lines.”  Later on in life, other teachers come along with a direct order: “People, maintain a margin when you write by hand or type a text on your computer.  It is an expected courtesy.”  We learn on our own that polls feature another type of margin, what the industry jargon calls “a margin of error.”  One more instance of margins appears with the sad fact that in our American society certain of our brothers and sisters are actually “marginal people.” That’s an euphemism for people who, for predetermined reasons, are considered “the outsiders.” The Gospel perspective detests that label. Because Jesus did. It is true that His Jewish contemporaries held that Gentiles, as idolaters, were of a lower class. They had no such word as “marginalized” in their language, but they would recognize the concept.  It would take the example of Jesus Himself, and later on of St. Paul, to break down that inherent hostility. It seems that Our Lord Himself had to learn in His human nature that His mission was not to be boxed in by this kind of thinking. It was to be universal.  Listen to that reaction of His to that unnamed Canaanite woman who is the unsung hero in the story.  After all, she had a lot against her in making a request of this famous Nazarene.  She had reason to be nervous.  First of all, she is a woman alone in man’s world.  But if that were not enough, she is a Gentile.  Do those impediments stop her?  Definitely not!  Being a maternal caregiver with a very sick daughter, she works up the courage to ask this popular Nazarene to cure her charge. Then He retorts with a line that would put off any sensitive type: “It is not right to take the food of the children and throw it to the dogs.” Dogs, you say?  She thought. Undaunted, she pipes up: ”Please, Lord, for even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from the tables of their masters.”  Respectful but insistent. Ultimately very faith-filled.  Our Lord zeroes in on that faith of hers and cures her daughter instantly.  Any onlookers among the audience, both Jew and gentile, had to have been stunned and puzzled.
So where does that woman’s story leave us?  For one thing, it’s an opportunity to examine our list of labels for other people.  Even the best of us have them, deep inside and mostly muzzled.  But they’re there.  Who do we “marginalize?”  Who are “outside the lines” that we draw in our imaginary album of people we know or even don’t know?  Who are the good and the bad in our “book?”  Does this gospel make us uncomfortable?
And where does our faith in Jesus fit into the picture?  Good questions.  But tough questions. It’s always going to be that way for people with a right conscience who claim to follow Christ.  People like you and me.
There is a call here to consider what being grateful for your gift of faith means as  you approach that same Nazarene in the Eucharist today. I’m always a bit nervous as I near Him. But that that long gone Canaanite woman is my hero.  She inspires me to get out of my preconceived notions. Past any trace in me of that nasty margin of prejudice. I can add to that the definite truth of what an unknown wag hit upon when he opined: “Some people’s minds are like concrete: thoroughly mixed up and permanently set.”  

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