PARISH BLOG

Reflections and news from our Pastor and Youth Minister

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



Dear Friends in Christ:

Today is the Feast of the Epiphany of the Lord...The very word Epiphany, comes from the Greek word epiphainein, which means “manifestation,” or, “to reveal.” This refers to Christ’s manifestation as God to the world. It is a celebration of the revelation of God in human flesh. It could also be said that an Epiphany is: “an intuitive grasp of reality through something simple and striking.” Something as simple as a child. Something as striking as a star, the star of Bethlehem.


The Liturgical calendar in the United States places it on the Sunday between January 2nd and January 8th, but in many countries and cultures it is still celebrated on its traditional date of January 6th, the twelfth day of Christmas, known as “Little Christmas” or “Three Kings Day.” Celebrations abound in the streets with processions of costumed kings riding camels, with gift giving happening more so on this day in some cultures than on Christmas in commemoration of the gifts presented to the infant Jesus. There is the traditional Kings Bread or King Cake which is also very popular. When I was in Seminary I had two classmates from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and this was a big moment when they returned to Seminary from Christmas break with the King Cake in hand. They taught us about the history and tradition of the King Cake. It is a sweet bread in the shape of a crown in which a plastic figurine of the infant Jesus is baked. Whoever gets the slice with the baby Jesus is said to gain favor, and they are tasked with bringing the King Cake the next year! Although King Cake is often associated with Mardi Gras, its original place was in the celebration of Three Kings Day, so we got to enjoy it twice a year while they were with us! On this Feast we also think of the very popular song, “We Three Kings,” but were they kings and were there three? First, according to the biblical account of the visit of these men to the infant Jesus, the text simply says “behold, magi from the east arrived.” It is understood in the context of the biblical reading that these magi were likely possessors of the knowledge of astrology implied by their study of the stars. So they are not really kings at all, but men learned in astrology. Scholars believe that the “east” from which they came was likely Babylonia. The Scripture passage also never mentions how many there were. The tradition of “three” likely arises from the three gifts Scripture mentions: "Then they opened their treasures and offered him gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh." Three gifts are mentioned in Scripture. If there are three gifts, it was assumed there must be three gift givers, therefore we have “three kings.” It’s a meaningful number. Three is the number of the Blessed Trinity. It is the number of days Christ spent in the tomb. But it also signifies something more meaningful and – for us, much more important. They are not solitary. They are a group. They are a community. That is part of the great message of Christianity. We are meant to receive the good news together...to live it together...to celebrate it and share it with one another, and isn’t that what we are doing together as a parish family! The story of the Visit of the Magi makes an important point about the role of the Messiah. Jesus is called “the newborn king of the Jews” by the magi who traveled from the east. These men were not Jewish, yet they paid homage to the King of the Jews. Matthew, who wrote to a Jewish audience, hoped to express the universal role of Christ in this story. These men were foreigners but they honored Jesus as their king. Jesus is shown now to the whole world. This Feast is about God making known salvation outside of what had been a chosen few. God cares about all creation no matter race, creed, or ethnicity. As we contemplate the gifts of the Magi to our Lord, let us think of the gifts we ourselves can offer Him. Certainly we are called to offer Him all that we are, but we are also called to reflect His presence in our words and actions. What better time to consider how we may better do this in our lives than as we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany and begin this special year of God’s grace. One tradition on the Feast of the Epiphany is to bless the doors to your homes! The Gospel tells us that the Magi found Christ “on entering the house.” The door to your home is a holy threshold. You can bless those who come in and go out by inscribing above the door in chalk the first two numbers of the year+C+M+B+the last two numbers of the year. Tradition tells us that the letters stand for the names of the magi: Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. So this year it would read above the door to your home: 20+C+M+B+21. In the 19th century it was also pointed out by a French composer and music critic, Adolph Adam, that it may also mean “Christus mansionem benedicat” or “May Christ bless this dwelling.”

It’s appropriate to bless your door in January, as janua means “door,” and the first month is the door to the new year. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we will not be able to provide chalk to those wishing to do this tradition but encourage you to purchase some at the local store or use chalk that was left over from previous year. After inscribing the doorway, say this prayer: God of Bethlehem and Cana, God of Jordan’s leaping waters, in baptism you bring us into your family. You wed us and embrace us as your beloved. May we fill this place with kindness to one another, with hospitality to guests, and with abundant care for every stranger. By the gentle light of a star, guide home all who seek you on paths of faith, hope and love. Then we will join the angels in proclaiming your praise: Glory in heaven and peace on earth, now and for ever. Amen.

Thank you and best wishes to VICTORIA CLARIZIO...as we announced a few weeks ago this will be Victoria’s last weekend with our parish family. This is bittersweet as we are excited for her to answer God’s call but sad to see her leave our family of faith. She came to our parish in September of 2019 to take over the position of Administrative Assistant for Communications upon the departure of Teallia Sullivan-Gorman who left to move to Ireland with her husband Sean to do missionary work. Victoria had to learn quickly from Teallia the inner workings of the parish office and all of the various social media outlets we use in the day-to-day ministry of our parish family. She did indeed learn quickly. Another beautiful quality of Victoria’s time with us has been her deep faith and her ability to share the message of the Gospel in weekly videos with Father Federico. Victoria’s knowledge of the faith, and more so her love for the faith, came across very clearly week after week during their videos. Then came the pandemic, the shut-down, and the stay-at-home orders. Immediately Victoria, together with our Team Holy Spirit, launched us into the daily use of social media to meet the spiritual needs of our people. Though working behind the scenes much of the time, Victoria did make a few appearances in various programs and became a “parishioner favorite” during the shutdown! We were so blessed with her ministry and presence in such trying times. As Teallia left us to answer a call from God to do missionary work, so now Victoria leaves us to answer a call from God to enter the Monastery with the Passionist Nuns Pittsburgh. This is the first community of Passionist Nuns in the United States founded on July 10, 1910 by five Passionist Nuns from Italy. They are a contemplative cloistered community of religious women called to stand at the foot of the Cross with Mary near the Heart of Christ, ready to receive His love so that they might become love in the Heart of the Church. We say goodbye to Victoria as we promise her our prayers and best wishes as she answers the call of the Lord in her life! In addition to his duties as our Youth Minister, Regis O’Neill has been training with Victoria and is prepared to take over as the Administrative Assistant for Communications upon her departure. We are thankful to Regis for agreeing to take on this additional role. As we enter into the New Year PLEASE BE SURE to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our user-friendly website at www.stbridgetchesire.org. Through the website, you will find out what is happening in our parish family. You can also “like” us on Facebook @stbridgetofswedenparish, and don’t forget to sign-up for our parish app by texting APP to 88202 and searching for our parish through the application. We are really hoping to continue to increase our use of these means of communication as a way to get information out to you in a timely manner. Of course, for more information on the life of our parish family and the many spiritual and social activities and events throughout the year, including a parish calendar, simply visit the parish web-site. As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. As we near the end of the 12 days of Christmas I wish to, once again, say Merry Christmas! Stay safe!!!




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I hope you all had a blessed and Merry Christmas! My family and I were thankfully able to relax, kick back, and just enjoy some time together around the tree. A welcome respite after a year that just wouldn't quit (up to and including a windstorm on Christmas Day)! Now, we look towards 2021 and hope for better days ahead.


Today, I'd like to talk with you a bit about something I experienced very vividly in 2020. There's not a name for it that I'm aware of, so I'll call it "Eucharistic Anguish." That sounds super intense, but stick with me! I promise that this is a good thing, not a bad thing. Put very simply, Eucharistic Anguish is the knowledge that you're not prepared to receive the Eucharist.


Is that surprising to hear? That there are times when it is better for us NOT to receive the Eucharist? I know it surprised me the first time I heard it. It's uncomfortable! Not only because we don't want to miss out on the opportunity to receive Jesus in bodily form, but also because we feel we might stand out if we don't receive the Eucharist.


To understand this better, a bit of context is needed. First off, let's be absolutely clear on what the Eucharist is: The Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It's not a symbol, a metaphor, or a substitute. The Eucharist IS Jesus, through and through. It is impossible to fully comprehend this, but thinking of it in these terms helps us realize just how respectful we are to be of this great gift.


This is definitely more of an issue in America than in other countries. Some priest friends of mine have spent time in South America, and they've mentioned multiple times how many people at Mass don't receive the Eucharist. But why is this? Are they unaware of what it is? Do they not appreciate it? Not at all. In fact, just the opposite.


These people realize that they are not prepared to receive the Eucharist. But what does that mean, "not prepared"? Did they just forget to stand up and walk down the aisle? Nope. Being prepared to receive the Eucharist is about more than just standing up at the right time and fasting for an hour before Mass.


Let's look to our frequent contributor, Saint Paul, for some guidance here. In 1 Corinthians 11:29, he tells us that "those who eat and drink without discerning the Body of Christ eat and drink judgement on themselves." Yikes! That's a bit disquieting. In this case, "discerning the Body of Christ" means ensuring we are prepared to receive Him.


But how do we ensure this preparedness? The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has us covered there. In their 1996 "Guidelines for the Reception of Holy Communion," they state that "a person who is conscious of grave sin is not to receive the Body and Blood of the Lord without prior sacramental confession except for a grave reason where there is no opportunity for confession."


Translated: we should not receive the Eucharist when we are consciously in a state of grave or mortal sin. In short, these are sins with grave matter, full knowledge, and deliberate consent. If you have a question about whether or not a sin is mortal, it's a good idea to discuss that with a priest in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.


Again, I know this is an uncomfortable truth! But it's that very discomfort that's brought me a greater appreciation for the Eucharist this year. You see, that "Eucharistic Anguish" I referenced earlier is a force for positive change in our lives. Earlier this year, after a discussion with a priest, I made the decision to only receive the Eucharist when I felt I was truly prepared.


I, like you, am a sinner. There were absolutely times when I was not prepared, and I followed through with my decision not to receive. And you know something? It was the worst! Anguish is exactly the word for it.


As I walked down the aisle during Communion, arms crossed over my chest as a symbol that I sought a blessing, not the Eucharist (yes, this is what to do if you're at Mass and not receiving the Eucharist), I felt a spiritual pain.


In fact, I felt more of a yearning to receive Jesus into my heart then than ever before. Facing the priest, wishing more than anything that I could receive the Eucharist, I felt the greatest appreciation for Jesus' sacrifice that I ever had. It's kind of like going to the chiropractor: painful, but so beneficial.


The benefit to this was that I became much more mindful of my lifestyle and whether or not I was prepared to receive the Eucharist. I started going to Confession more often, making honest attempts to root out sins I consistently struggle with, and allowed myself to focus more and more on what taking Communion actually means.


Am I now perfect and sinless? Absolutely not. But I'd be lying if I said that this discomfort hasn't been a net positive in my spiritual and moral life. Now, don't hear what I'm not saying. I don't want less people to receive the Eucharist at Mass. That's not my goal! In fact, I'd love for everyone to receive Jesus as often as possible.


What I pray that we all embrace is a renewed knowledge of just what the Eucharist actually is. What it MEANS. Receiving the Body and Blood of Christ isn't a box to check off as part of our Sunday routine. It shouldn't be a given. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us that the Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life," and THAT is what I pray for us all to take to heart.


Don't be ashamed to take this plunge. Yes, it is painful. Yes, it does bring discomfort. But, in the end, it will give you a greater appreciation for the Eucharist, and you'll most likely end up receiving Jesus even more than you did beforehand. I pray that the Lord will guide your judgement on this and all Eucharistic matters.


I continue to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! May God bless you,


Regis

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Dear Friends in Christ:

This weekend after Christmas I am filled with gratitude! Even in a time of pandemic I am awed at the blessings of God in my life and in the life of our parish family! Thank you to Father Federico, Sister Patricia, our Pastoral Staff and our Parish Staff for their tremendous efforts this past year!


Thank you to Lynn Krieg and Jim Mitchell and to our entire Parish Pastoral Council who have done tremendous work in helping us to reopen since June and in keeping the list of Mass attendees as well as coordinating volunteers for each and every Mass and event.

Thank you to Santa Fe Council 2978 of our Knights of Columbus for their support throughout the year, assistance with reopening, and assistance with special events like this past Sunday at our Confession and Eucharist event. They deserve a lot of credit from their efforts this past Sunday being out there in the snow directing the 166 cars that came through for Confession and the 115 or so that came for Holy Communion at our Confessions & Eucharist event!! Look at the line of cars. Thank God we used Cherry Street entrance and not Main Street. The Knights even had to start a double line up the driveway just to get more cars off the road so we wouldn’t back up onto Route 70. The turnout was AMAZING!!!


Thank you to Julia Atwood and our other musicians who shared their talents to enhance our celebrations of Christmas. Special gratitude to Julia for the phenomenal virtual concert and for her tremendous efforts to coordinate putting together a music ministry piece and a St. Bridget School student chorus piece. Thank you to Steve Tine and the Tine Family for their tremendous efforts in putting these two pieces together. You can hear our students sing Silent Night, and our music ministry members sing Christ our Light Has Come, which are both posted on our Facebook and YouTube pages.


Thank you to Team Holy Spirit…Sandra Centorino, Victoria Clarizio, Frank Johnson, and Steve Tine…who from the very beginning back in March have worked together to assist us in communicating the Good News, programs and events, and Holy Mass with our parishioners by using the technology of today!


Thank you to our phenomenal decorating committee and volunteers for their tremendous work in decorating our three worship spaces for Christmas and a word of special gratitude to Charlie Kurtz of CK Greenhouses for donating so many poinsettias!

Thank you to the members of our Contemporary Music Group who came caroling last Sunday night at the rectory!


Thank you to all who sent Christmas cards, cookies, and other delicious treats to the rectory during the past weeks. Your thoughtfulness and generosity are very much appreciated.


Thank you to EVERYONE who came together at our 17 Masses Christmas Eve and Christmas Day to celebrate the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. I am so pleased we offered so many opportunities and that the people of God responded by coming! It is my hope that each person who came to celebrate Christmas Eve and Day with our parish family felt welcomed, loved, and encouraged. Merry Christmas once again!


A special word of gratitude to all who participated in our Advent Giving Tree…It is truly amazing how much we can do together as one family of faith and this was once again witnessed in your generosity to our Advent Giving Tree. THIS YEAR WAS MUCH DIFFERENT but you all did your part to respond to the needs of our neighbors and I cannot thank you enough for your phenomenal generosity! I thank you for the OVER 700 gifts that were distributed to those in need. Thanks to your generosity and care for the less fortunate, their Christmases will be brighter, they will know that hope is never cancelled, and the little ones will smile with joy! Your constant support and generosity to the less fortunate continues to be a great hallmark of our parish family, and for that I thank you!


A word of special gratitude goes to Tina Kurtz who coordinated the program again this year and to the many helpers who worked with her to make sure that even in a time of pandemic, we would be able to meet the needs of our neighbors in need. They created the SignUpGenius, made out the stars for the tree, and worked together so beautifully to ensure this Christmas brought joy into the lives of others. Typically this program requires months of planning, preparation, execution, and delivering, and I know this year it was even more time-consuming. To ALL THE VOLUNTEERS I say thank you!


I have said it before, it truly takes a village to accomplish a task so large, and the Advent Giving Tree is proof it sure does. To those who helped Tina in this effort including Devorah Olewnik, Cee Cee and David Johnson, Stacie Nole, Margaret Hardner & Steve Burner, Nancy & Bruce Humiston, Heather & Jimmy Alix, and Leah Judge. Thanks, too, to the students from our parish who took time to cut out the stars for the tree.

Your generosity provided gifts and gift cards to the 170 families served by the Cheshire Community Food Pantry, as well as 130 gifts to the clients of Saint Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen, 30 gifts to Carolyn’s Place, and 19 gifts to Marbridge residents. Your care for others also made it possible to serve new families who became clients of the Food Pantry during the weeks we were coordinating this effort! The responses of those who benefited from your generosity was truly heartfelt. Again, please know of my personal gratitude to each and every one of you who give from your hearts to support those in need.


This weekend we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. The Sunday that falls in the Octave of the Solemnity of Christmas is always dedicated to celebrating the Holy Family. The Readings for this Sunday focus on the rights and responsibilities of family members toward each other, and the Gospel focuses on Saint Joseph, who cared for and protected the Blessed Mother and infant Jesus through the dangerous early years of Jesus’ childhood. The primary purpose of The Feast of the Holy Family is to present the Holy Family as a model for Christian families.


Family life today is experiencing a crisis of stability, partly caused by economic hardship, but often by other factors like lack of generosity, or too much insistence on getting one’s own way. Today’s feast invites us to meditate on our own contribution to family life. The future of the Church and of society begins in the family—yours and mine. This is the first great fruit of the Incarnation. It should give all of us hope!


If there have been rifts in your family in the past which have separated you from one part of your family, perhaps in 2021 these relationships can be mended. If there are relatives you haven’t seen or spoken with in some time through neglect, perhaps in 2021 you can reach out to them and let them know you care. And for those family members within our “safe bubble” (immediate family members we live with) give them a hug, a smile, or just tell them how much you love them!


How fitting it is for US then on this Feast of the Holy Family, in collaboration with our Knights of Columbus Santa Fe Council #2978 that we are inviting ALL families in our parish to, once again, celebrate this feast day by a special consecration of your family to the Holy Family. It is our hope that consecrating your family to the Holy Family will help your individual family to be strengthened in the bond of love and that through this spiritual exercise we as a parish family will, likewise, be strengthened in grace and love.


The Knights of Columbus together with your Priests invite each family of our Parish to be consecrated to the Holy Family and to devote yourselves to the ideal model of familial love set forth by Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Consecrating yourselves to the Holy Family provides you great intercessors to help you as a family to follow their model of living lives obedient to God’s Will, strong in faith, persevering in prayer, diligent in work, and generous towards those in need.


We will invite all families to consider standing up at the end of Mass this weekend and reciting the Prayer of Consecration to the Holy Family. Our local council has purchased prayer cards for you to use during those Masses and take home with you.


The New Year is approaching! This coming week we celebrate and enter into a New Year, 2021! Wow, how time flies by. Don’t forget January 1st is also a Holy Day of Obligation, the Solemnity of Mary, the Holy Mother of God. (Of course due to the pandemic all are dispensed from the obligation.) We will offer Mass at 5PM on Thursday, December 31st, and at 8:30 and 10:30AM on Friday, January 1, 2021.


CERTAINLY WE ARE ALL LOOKING TO 2021 TO BE A YEAR OF HOPE AND HEALING, but let us also enter into this New Year mindful that a new year can be so much more. It can be a time of new enthusiasm, it can be a time of new energy, it can be a time of new opportunity. It is also a time to discern how God is calling us to live out our call as missionary disciples today as individuals and as a family of faith here at Saint Bridget of Sweden Parish.


So, as we embark on this New Year in God’s grace, let us pray that we will do so in the understanding that there is nothing that should hinder us from following the Lord completely, strengthening our relationship with Him, and serving Him in our daily lives.

Last year I shared 8 suggestions for New Year’s Resolutions and they were well received, so here they are again:


1) Read the Bible… Can you read a chapter a day during your prayer time?


2) Get to know the Saints…go to Amazon and purchase a book on the lives of the Saints or start with just one Saint perhaps your patron for Confirmation. Learn about their lives and get to know them as spiritual guides.


3) Come to Eucharistic Adoration…it happens every Friday from 1-2PM in Saint Bridget Church. Come by for a visit with the Lord Jesus.


4) Commit to daily prayer…make a commitment to the Lord to spend time each day in prayer no matter what time of day, but make a commitment and keep it. Read the book I Heard God Laugh and learn from Matthew Kelly’s own experience, or read Do Something Beautiful for God and be inspired by the daily reflections of Mother Teresa of Calcutta. Both books were available at the Christmas Masses.


5) Celebrate the Sacraments…come to Confession more! Participate more frequently in the Eucharist! If you are doing both perhaps you can increase your prayer time?


6) Join a group…perhaps one of our Adult Ed Programs, our Parenting Circle, a book club, a bible study, or one of the many other opportunities we have in our parish.


7) Start fasting…fasting isn’t just for Lent, it is a way for us to be conformed to Christ every day. Perhaps you can start by performing some act of penance every Friday throughout the year! It is only 52! You can do it.


8) Forgive…wow. There it is. “I knew he would throw that in there,” I could hear some saying right now. Yes I did. “He doesn’t understand how hard it is,” perhaps some are thinking. Yes I do. We all need to realize that forgiveness is a choice and not a feeling. Let’s all make a resolution to forgive one person for whom we have been harboring resentment and add them to our prayer intentions. It’s a good start!


As we continue to move into the New Year be sure to stay connected to the parish. Be sure you have visited our user-friendly website at www.stbridgetchesire.org. Through the website you will find out what is happening in our parish family. You can also “like” us on Facebook @stbridgetofswedenparish, and don’t forget to sign-up for our parish app by texting APP to 88202 and searching for our parish through the application.


We are really hoping to better utilize these means of communication as a way to get information out to you in a timely manner. Of course, for more information on the life of our parish family and the many spiritual and social activities and events throughout the year, including a parish calendar, simply visit the parish website.


As always, please remember to pray for our parish family and ask God’s blessings as we build His kingdom here. Please know that I am praying for you, and I ask for your prayers for me, that together through the intercession of Saint Bridget of Sweden, our Patroness, and Blessed Father Michael J. McGivney, and united in the Eucharist, we will reflect the presence of Jesus to the world. Merry Christmas once again! Stay safe!!!






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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

5:15PM St. Bridget Church

Sunday Masses:

7AM St. Bridget Church

8AM St. Bridget Church

9AM St. Bridget Church

10:30AM St. Bridget Church

12PM 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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