PARISH BLOG

Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

to help you stay connected and go deeper in your faith.

  • Regis O'Neill


This is not what any of us hoped for when we complained about the lack of stories other than coronavirus in the media. As you have no doubt noticed, American attention has been fixed on Minneapolis this past week following the death of George Floyd.


Video surfaced of a Minneapolis police officer pressing his knee into Floyd's neck, despite Floyd's repeated pleas that he could not breathe. Since the incident, America has been burning with tension, anger, and violence. How should we, as the people of God, respond to this event?


This incident has become extremely divisive. To begin with, let's focus on what we should all agree on, based in Catholic social teaching: George Floyd deserved life, unequivocally and without discussion.


The Catholic Church is staunchly pro-life in its teachings and practices. While many outside the Church seek to distill this into only opposing abortion, in reality we are called to respect and protect life from conception until natural death.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in the section on the Fifth Commandment, does allow for the death penalty "if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor," yet also states that "the cases in which the execution of the offender is an absolute necessity 'are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.'"


It cannot be argued that George Floyd's imprisonment would have posed a legitimate threat to the lives of others; he was being detained on suspicion of forgery, a nonviolent crime. On top of these moral factors, he died without trial or sentencing, a clear violation of both his human and Constitutional rights. This was, without a doubt, an unjust death, and we should mourn it and call for justice in full voice.


The shortest verse in the Bible in just about every translation is "And Jesus wept." This verse, John 11:35, comes when Jesus learns of the death of His friend Lazarus. I think it's the single most humanizing verse in the Bible when it comes to Jesus, and it's intensely powerful. What we sometimes forget is that Jesus weeps for us all when our time comes. While He longs to be united with us forever in Heaven, He feels our pain along with us, including the final pain of death.


Jesus is weeping profusely for George Floyd and his family. He is also weeping for all of us in the wake of this tragedy as we search for the right path forward as a nation. He knows the fear, anguish, anger, and confusion many of us feel, and He hurts right along with us.


This is not the end of the story, however. The Lord does not simply feel our pain along with us and then forget about it. He wants to help us make positive changes to avoid feeling a similar pain again.


This brings us to the aftermath of Floyd's death. I will not use this platform to make political statements about race in America or how those who feel threatened in the aftermath of Floyd's death should act, but I will seek only to apply Catholic social teaching to the situation. The rights to peaceably assemble and petition the government for a redress of grievances are enshrined in the Constitution's First Amendment, and all Americans (and Catholics) should respect those rights.


Those who have taken to protesting and assembling in solidarity with the black community, whatever their race, should be protected and supported. However, the outbreaks of violence and looting at some of these protests have become another flashpoint of national discussion over the weekend. This muddies the moral waters considerably, and should be considered separately from the peaceful protests.


In the same section of the Catechism quoted earlier, we read that "to desire vengeance in order to do evil to someone who should be punished is illicit." We also read that "hatred of the neighbor is a sin when one deliberately wishes him evil," and that "deliberate hatred is contrary to charity."


Taking these statements into account along with the general tone of the Catechism's writings on life, we can conclude that violence borne from anger towards one's neighbor, no matter how understandable that anger is, is not permissible by Catholicism.


As I said, this anger is largely understandable and relatable. We should all empathize and share in it, because the killing of George Floyd was gravely wrong on every level. But we must also not forget that Jesus is the Prince of Peace.


The Catechism tells us that "earthly peace is the image and fruit of the peace of Christ." We all acknowledge that killings such as George Floyd's do not bring about this peace, but neither do burning, looting, smashing, and other forms of violent anger that we have seen in these recent days.


Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers." He calls us daily to work to bring about peace and harmony among mankind. Mourning George Floyd and honoring his memory through trying to prevent further such tragedy is wholly in line with our Catholic duty. Speaking out against the violence and looting that has broken out in the aftermath is also in line with this duty, as is respecting those who are protesting peacefully.


This is an incredibly painful topic for all of us as Americans, Catholics, and human beings. We need to work extra hard to respect each other in times like these when tensions are running high.


We must work to prevent another such tragedy, and we must do so without inflicting further pain and violence on each other. Jesus calls us to promote peace and justice, and He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.


Pray for the healing of our nation and our communities. I look forward to the day when we can all once again pray for unity together in the body of our beautiful church. Until then, stay safe and be well.


God Bless,


Regis



Dear Friends in Christ:


Today we celebrate the great Feast of Pentecost…that moment when the Lord sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles which gave them the strength and courage to leave the Upper Room and fearlessly begin to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We celebrate this great Feast ending the Easter Season as we began it-under a time of lockdown and self-isolation. The limited reopening, including government guidelines on limiting the number of people that can gather together in large groups, prohibits us from gathering together at the altar of God to celebrate the birthday of the Church as we normally would.


We have many things that can cause us to live in fear in addition to the Coronavirus, don’t we? Perhaps the most common is the fear of the unknown which, of course, has been one of the side-effects of this pandemic. It is a very real fear. One common theme that comes up in many conversations with parishioners throughout the year is this fear of the unknown and how to deal with it. Most of us, if not all, at some point have had to deal with this fear in our own journeys. Today more than ever I believe it is a call for us to put our trust in the promise of Jesus Christ, namely, I am with you always, until the end of the age. Yes, in every moment of everyday Jesus is with us. Today, we celebrate that great day on which Jesus sent the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, upon the Apostles to fill them with the gifts they needed for their mission.


Isn’t this Feast relevant for us too? Absolutely. The Holy Spirit is first given to us through faith and Baptism. Then at the Sacrament of Confirmation the Bishop reminds the candidates that through the Sacrament of Confirmation the Holy Spirit is given to you in a special way just as He was given to the Apostles on the day of Pentecost. YES WE NEED THE SPIRIT. YES we need to be empowered by the gifts of the Spirit to spread the gospel, to live a fervent Christian life, and to share more fully in the mission and ministry of the Church, in particular, to empower us to go and make disciples of all nations! Jesus says to us today in the Gospel, “as the Father has sent me, so I send you!” Let each of us open our hearts and our souls to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. Allow the Spirit of God to send you forth to share the peace, the love, and the mercy of the Risen Lord with others! Where is the Spirit sending you today?


The Holy Spirit is alive and active right here in our own parish family. Thanks be to God! It is amazing that even in the midst of this time of pandemic, self-isolation, and quarantine we have been able to witness firsthand the effects of the Holy Spirit at work in our midst! Two groups in particular stand out as a sign of this working of the Spirit:


1. N.G.D.—Have you seen this acronym in the bulletin and wondered what is that? It stands for Next Generation of Disciples! The new Youth Ministry in our parish named their own group and that is the title they have chosen. Before the pandemic they were beginning to meet weekly and get to know one another and share some fun, faith, and fellowship together. Once thrown into self-isolation, Youth Minister Regis immediately tried to continue to gather them together on weekly ZOOM meetings so they could continue to form as a group. I am so pleased to say that they are growing! I joined their ZOOM call this week and was so impressed with our young people. Near the end of their time this week Regis asked them what they missed most about not being able to attend Mass in person. The responses were what I expected mostly: being with others, the music, and being in a place where there is less distractions than home. One responded that what she missed most was being in God’s house for 45 minutes to an hour where she didn’t need a device in her hands! That is food for thought for all of us young people, young adults, and even us middle agers.


2. Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish Young Adult Ministry—another group that was just beginning in this New Year was the Young Adult Ministry. We were working with some young adults to form this new ministry in our parish and they were excited. They have also been meeting on ZOOM these past few weeks working on getting to know one another and also doing a book study together. This past week I joined their ZOOM meeting and did not know what book they were reading together. So I inquired. They told me Spiritual Warfare and the Discernment of Spirits by Dan Burke. I was floored. Just moments before joining their call I was watching Father Federico on a Facebook program for another parish where he and Father Gubbiotti were talking about the Holy Spirit and were asking for questions. No one was asking a question so I asked that they talk about the discernment of spirits and how one can know if a prompting is coming from the Holy Spirit or not. Then to join our Young Adults and hear that they were talking about this very topic just shows that the Holy Spirit is at work in our parish! Come Holy Spirit!!!

I also want to share another story of how the Holy Spirit is working in the lives of our Young Adults. This story touched me immensely. As you may remember we offered a Book Study and a Bible Study recently. At the end of the Bible Study, Father Federico was worried about one of our older parishioners who had said repeatedly that this time has been difficult and they are lonely. As he was considering what we could do to help this parishioner, one of our Young Adult Core Team Members reached out to him and asked to get in touch with this older parishioner who had been on the Bible Study. He has reached out to her and has even invited her to his family’s home to watch, socially distant of course, Sunday Mass on-line with them. You never know where the Holy Spirit is calling you to be His presence in the lives of others but this young man heard the prompting in his heart and generously responded by extending the love of God to someone in their time of need. AMAZING!


JOIN US TODAY, Pentecost Sunday, for a special concert for our parishioners at 2PM. Similar to what we did on Mother’s Day we will be holding a special concert on our livestream. Julia Atwood, our Director of Music, will play some of our favorites from the collection of hymns used at various occasions in the life of the church. She will be taking requests too! If you have a favorite, join us live and put in your request to hear that favorite hymn played and sung by our very talented music director. We look forward to joining her for this special concert and fielding your special requests! Please join us!


WEDNESDAY, MAY 27th, was an amazing day for us all! Word spread quickly that on Wednesday the Holy Father, Pope Francis, approved a miracle attributed to the intercession of the Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford!


We were overjoyed to hear the news on Wednesday! It was a burst of amazing joy! A miracle was approved as being attributed to the intercession of Father Michael J. McGivney! Father McGivney is one of our own! He was born in Waterbury, was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese, served in parishes in Connecticut, founded the Knights of Columbus, and eventually died in Thomaston. Someone from Connecticut will now be a Blessed in the eyes of the Church and is on their way to being canonized a saint. Beatification is an act by which the Pope allows a candidate for sainthood to be venerated publicly. Another miracle attributed to their intercession is needed to be declared a Saint. A ceremony celebrating Father Michael J. McGivney’s beatification will take place in Connecticut at a date yet to be determined! WOW!


A press release from the Knights of Columbus May 27 said the miracle recognized by Pope Francis involved an unborn child in the United States who was healed in utero of a life-threatening condition in 2015 after his family prayed to Fr. McGivney.


As State Chaplain for the Knights of Columbus I couldn’t help but be filled with great joy at this announcement. What a great day for Knights of Columbus here in the Founder’s State and throughout the world.


As a priest of the Archdiocese of Hartford I couldn’t help but think what a great day for parish priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford and throughout the world as one who shared in the ministry right here in our own Archdiocese is on their way to being declared a Saint.


Of course, for us all, what a great day for the Church of God.


Venerable Servant of God Father Michael J. McGivney, soon to be Blessed, pray for us!


AND NOW WHAT WE HAVE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR!

THE LIGHT AT THE END OF THIS TUNNEL SEEMS TO BE GETTING BRIGHTER EACH DAY…we also received word this week of the reopening of our parish offices in a limited capacity beginning June 1, 2020, and a reopening of our parish for Public Worship effective June 8, 2020! Praise God!


Now, as of this writing, the Pastoral Staff and the Pastoral Council will be meeting to discuss how best to put into place the guidelines of the Archdiocese here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish. We want to ensure we follow the guidelines and do all in our power to ensure the safety and well-being of all our parishioners.


We will begin to offer Daily Mass on Monday, June 8th. Masses will be limited to 50 persons. How this will be regulated is yet to be determined. Whether we will add more Masses is yet to be determined. I assure you that the Pastoral Staff, and the Pastoral Council will do ALL we can to ensure we are ready to welcome the People of God back to the altar.


We will be communicating information during the course of the next week with all parishioners to the best of our ability. SO I reiterate to you, if you want up-to-the-minute information MAKE SURE we have your email address. Send your email address to: office@stbridgetcheshire.org. We will also be communicating through the ParishApp and the tools of Social Media.


Father Federico and I are beyond thrilled to begin welcoming you back to church for the celebration of Mass. We promise you that we will be responsible, diligent, and cautious as we begin to reopen to ensure the safety and well-being of all of us, clergy and laity. Please continue to be united in prayer and trust in God’s wisdom and God’s time as we begin to see a reopening of our parish for Public Masses.


As always, remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings upon us all in this time of pandemic. With the gracious intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, may we be united with one another in prayer! Please pray for me and know that I am praying for you! Continued prayers for you all to know and experience the joy, the peace, and the hope of the Risen Christ and to know the power of the Holy Spirit at work in your lives!



  • Regis O'Neill


For all who didn't see it, the Archdiocese of Hartford put out a "trailer" for the reintroduction of public masses last week! I'll link the video from their Facebook page below. It was well-made, and it's worth the watch (it's only about a minute and a half). This is something I've been yearning for since this pandemic began. For many of us, few things have been harder during this pandemic than missing mass for such a long time. But mass is finally on the horizon, so what do we do now?


At the end of the video, the Archdiocese announces that guidelines for the reintroduction of public masses will be released this week. We don't have the plans at the time of this writing, but keep checking St. Bridget's Facebook page and reading the bulletin for updates! Either way, the guidelines are coming. That means that we need to prepare. This is more than just being safe once we're back in the building; we need to prepare our souls to receive Christ physically after a long period without the Eucharist.


Right before this pandemic shut everything down, I was trying to prepare myself for mass more. A priest friend of mine had recently told me that the Eucharist "is what gets us through the week, but also what our week builds towards," and I thought that was really cool. I wanted to really make a go at intentionally preparing myself for mass by checking out the readings beforehand, arriving a bit early and sitting in quiet prayer, and getting ready to receive the Lord. Obviously, that got put on hold in March.


We've probably all heard one person or another talk about how we need to find the good in this time away from the world or how we should focus on what we bring back with us from quarantine. Heck, I've spoken about that stuff in this blog many times! Well, here's the best way to do it, hands down. If there is one thing you take away from this quarantine, let it be a renewed dedication to the Eucharist and the mass.


Think of it this way: do you remember the first mass you ever went to? Maybe you converted to Catholicism as a teenager or adult and you know what that feels like. If that's you, I'm jealous! What a tremendous blessing. Most of us "cradle Catholics" probably don't remember our first mass, because we were infants. Imagine what it would be like getting to view the mass through fresh eyes. What would you think? What would you do? How would you act?


While it's not exactly the same, we all have that opportunity due to this pandemic. We haven't been able to go to mass for over 2 months now, so we have the chance to freshen up our approach to it. It's hard for something you haven't done since March to feel routine, right? Before quarantine, I'd guess that many of us struggled with this. No matter how hard we try, we are all human and susceptible to the Devil's tricks. One of his favorites is to tempt us into viewing the mass as just another thing on our to-do list.


So how do we fight that? Well, for starters, show up. Especially as a young person, it can be hard to find the motivation to drag yourself out of bed early on Sunday mornings. Good news! There's also mass on Saturday evenings and later in the day on Sunday. But that's the bare minimum! Catholicism isn't a "butts in seats" religion. It's a living, breathing way of life that asks a lot of us.


Another way to renew our dedication to the mass is to focus once we're actually there. Have you ever found yourself drifting off and not paying proper attention? I'll admit that I have. Some things that help me to stay focused are keeping my eyes on the priest when he's speaking, reading along with the lector during the Liturgy of the Word, and thinking deeply about what I'm saying (i.e. do I really view God as My Father? Do I really believe in One God? Do I believe that what we are doing is right and just?).


These are a couple of small tips, but there's so much we can do to make mass more real for us. I can't give you a secret formula. You've got to figure that out for yourself, because the mass is both an intensely communal and an intensely personal experience. The point is that you try. God won't hang you out to dry. Many members of the NGD youth group have told me they've found themselves missing mass more than they thought they would. If that sounds like you, good! You're already halfway there.


We will be going back to mass at some point (hopefully soon). When that happens, we should be ready. I urge you to take some time to prepare yourself and reorient your view of what the mass is. Remember that it is both "what gets us through the week and what our week builds towards." I'll bet that if you take that to heart, you'll have a deeply spiritual experience, possibly unlike anything you've felt before, when you return to mass.


I hope to see you all in the Eucharist one day soon.


God Bless,


Regis


Video: https://www.facebook.com/ArchdioceseofHartford/videos/315252579468943/

ABOUT US

Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish is a Catholic community in the heart of Cheshire. Together we can discover your path to a deeper, more fulfilling spiritual life.

Saturday Vigil Masses:

4PM St. Bridget Church

5PM St. Thomas Becket Church

Sunday Masses:

7:30AM St. Bridget Church

9AM St. Bridget Church

10AM St. Thomas Becket Church

11AM St. Bridget Church

Confession: Saturday 3PM St. Bridget Church

ADDRESS

203-272-3531

 

Parish Office

175 Main Street

Cheshire, CT 06410

North Campus

St. Bridget Church

175 Main Street 

Cheshire, CT 06410

South Campus

St. Thomas Becket Church

435 North Brooksvale Road

Cheshire, CT 06410

 

rectory@stbridgetcheshire.org

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