The Sounds of Silence

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Yes, the title of the article is also the same as the hit song by Simon and Garfunkel, but it is also much more than that.  Silence is not just the absence of something, namely NOISE and SOUND, but also the presence of something!  It enables us to be in touch and in harmony with our thoughts and hopefully our God. According to a former Roman Catholic Benedictine Monk who spent a little over a year in a cloistered monastery says, “When we are silent we become aware of and are union with the sacred inner self which is always active and at work in us.”   After all, the words of the Hebrew Scriptures give credence to that, BE STILL AND KNOW I AM GOD!  (Psalm 46:10)

A couple of weeks ago, I was at a family gathering with cousins, aunts, uncles and a plethora of other family members totaling 25 in number, so there was lots of good cheer and noise, and of course a number of different conversations going on at once among various groups of people. I can certainly say that I enjoyed seeing everyone and conversing with them; however, as the evening drew on, I found myself wanting to make a quick exit, because I could no longer stand all the noise.  It was actually grating on my nerves.  I suppose this is basically because I live alone.  True, I have Fathers Azuibuike and Perera in the rectory with me, but we all have separate suites (living areas) however, we do share meals together.  Sometimes they are both out and I am the only one home, so like most priests, I have grown accustomed to alone time.  I can say unapologetically that I savor and relish silence.

In a recent article I read regarding spirituality and silence, the author states emphatically that silence is healthy and is NOT DEADLY!  Quite to the contrary, silence is not only beneficial to our spiritual health and well-being but to our physical health as well.  The art of silence is practiced in monasteries and convents around the world by many cloistered religious orders.

Our world is noisy and filled with many distractions.  Everywhere we turn and in every place we frequent people seem to be on phones.  Psychologists and Spiritual Directors alike often claim that people are afraid to be silent and still; perhaps because they are afraid to discover something about themselves or do not want to face some issue that may be confronting them.

Lent is a good time to start the practice of silence, even if for just 5-10 minutes a day.  Find a quiet room in your home; perhaps eat lunch alone once or twice a week rather than with co-workers; spend 10-15 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament or take a walk alone through a park or on a beach.  Silence calms us down; it relieves stress; you may very well feel the presence of God, and in that quiet God may reveal Himself more deeply to you.  When Lent finally passes, you may find yourself practicing this lost art on a daily basis all year long.  It can’t hurt and GOD KNOWS; THE SOUND OF SILENCE IS NOT DEADLY, BUT RATHER LIFE GIVING!

– Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin’s letter appears periodically here and in the St. Boniface Parish Bulletin.

Hardcore Catholicism vs. Catholic Lite?

 

 

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

I know that just by the title of this article, some will read out of mere curiosity, while others will be overjoyed that the Pastor has written another bulletin article after what has been a bit of a hiatus, but trust me; it is not because I have not wanted to, it is simply because I have had a bit of a dry period with regards to ideas.

This past Ash Wednesday and an all-day meeting the following day with Bishop Barres and my brother priests from the Oyster Bay Deanery (which by the way encompasses 10 parishes, 9 of which are north of Jericho Turnpike) has changed that! By the time, you finish reading this article; you may very well have learned something new or simply had your memory refreshed from days gone by.  We have begun the solemn season of Lent with bare sanctuaries, the absence of the word All***ia, fasting, praying, and the use of the somber and austere color purple.  All these signs and practices help to remind us that this is a special season, a time of grace, a time of reconciliation, a time set apart.

This past Ash Wednesday, St. Boniface, like so many other Catholic Parishes around the world had large numbers of people present, many of whom were simply present to covet those valuable and precious ashes! When I arrived at St. Boniface, there were 2 Ash Wednesday Masses (8 AM and 12:15 PM) and 2 services (4 PM and 7:30 PM), and as a Pastor, I felt that perhaps we should offer mass at 4 PM, rather than just a service.  A large number of Religious Education students and their families attend and so as to stress the importance of the Mass and the graces received in the Mass, I changed the 4 PM service to a Mass.  One naysayer (as you know there’s always one in every crowd) told me, “They will never stay; they will all leave as soon as the ashes are distributed.” I must admit; I thought this person would be correct, but much to my surprise and delight, practically all stayed for the entire Mass! After communion, I announced how happy I was and that they were TRUE HARD CORE CATHOLICS! They get it that receiving the Eucharistic Lord is so much more important than ashes!

A suggestion for a Lenten devotion, if you have not already chosen one might be to attend daily mass one or two days a week.  We have a brand new million dollar plus Church and the other priests and I would love to see more parishioners at daily Mass.  While numbers are slightly up some days and the Church is indeed, more conducive to prayer and silence, we would still like to see more people.  I know of several people who said they would attend daily Mass more frequently, if only we used the Church.  The heat has to be on for the pipe organ anyway, so here is YOUR chance!

The Mass is a powerful and effective.  Did you know there is something called The Fruits of the Mass? In fact, there are many fruits to the Mass; these are Divine Heavenly treasures and graces God bestows on the Faithful who attend Mass.  Here is one example which if you are still reading might cause you some discomfort, but maybe that is God speaking to you.  “Each time you attend Mass, you can do more to pay for the penalty of your sins, than by the severest work of penance.” Something to really think about!

While I realize some people work and their schedules do not allow them to attend Mass here at 8 AM, why not consider finding a parish near work or school? Some parishes add extra Masses during Lent, and that is something I am considering here next Lent as well.  As Pastor, I should probably tell you that I have been told people will not come, but then again that is what people (a few albeit) said about adding the noon Mass on Sunday and although the numbers vary on any given Sunday, numbers have increased at that Mass as well, particularly in the Winter months.

Finally, if one simply cannot attend Mass then why not consider having Mass(es) offered for your loved ones, both living and deceased, including YOUR OWN FAMILY.  The offering is $20.  One of the things I have noticed here is that MANY MASSES go unannounced.  People seem to only want Sundays; perhaps it is because they want to be there; however, whether you are there or not does not really matter.  What truly matters is that the Fruits of the Mass are applied for the salvation of the soul for whom Mass is being said.

—Fr.  Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears periodically here and in our Parish Bulletin.

Numbers

 

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Numbers fascinate some people, especially Mathematicians, Statisticians, and Accountants.    It’s hard to believe we are at the Fifth Sunday of Lent already and that Easter is just two weeks away.  During these past weeks, we have been singing popular Lenten hymns with the number forty.  Forty Days and Forty Nights and Lord Who throughout These Forty Days are two such hymns that we have sung during this special season.

Forty Days, why does Lent last forty days?  Have you ever stopped to think about that?  Believe it, or not, it is not just some random number that a Theologian or Pope decided upon at whim!  FORTY is a special number in the Scriptures.  It occurs many times, and is often associated with a period of testing or purification.

Moses spent 40 days fasting on Mount Sinai before returning with the Ten Commandments.  The biblical flood required forty days and nights of rain.  According to Jewish law, Mary had to wait forty days after the birth of her Son, Jesus, to enter the temple.  Of course everyone is familiar with the forty days Jesus spent in the desert where he was tested by Satan.  After His resurrection from the dead on Easter Sunday, Jesus spent forty days appearing to his Apostles in His glorified body

Forty years is also a special time frame in Judeo-Christian culture.  It was considered the biblical time span of a generation, as in the time the Israelites wandered the desert until the sinful generation passed away before their descendants entered the Promised Land.  King David ruled for forty years.

So as we prepare to enter Holy Week and the Easter Tridium and bring these great FORTY DAYS to a close, let us reflect on what we can do to test and purify ourselves to prepare us for the great events that bring these special days to a climax.

One of the ways we can purify ourselves is to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  It is a wonderful way to experience the deep and lasting peace of Jesus Christ through the forgiveness of our sins. Monday of Holy Week (April 10, this year) has come to be known as RECONCILIATION MONDAY because in every Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New York and Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre confessions will be heard from 3PM-9PM.  In addition, confessions will also be heard here at St. Boniface on Good Friday from 4:30-6:00 PM and Holy Saturday from 11:00 AM until12:00 Noon.  Give yourself the gift of Easter Peace; come, celebrate this powerful and life giving Sacrament during these SPECIAL AND HIGH HOLYDAYS!

 – Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’ s letter appears here and in the St. Boniface Parish Bulletin.

Small Matters

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

We are taught that big is better, and more really matters. While it is definitely good to think big, and have all sorts of grandiose plans for projects, renovations or career dreams, sometime if we bite off more than we can chew, we may discover we cannot fulfill or finish the endeavor we originally set out to complete. This can lead to frustration and maybe a bit of depression. It might be good to ponder the words of St. Mother Teresa of Calcutta who said, “Not all of us can do great things, but we can ALL do small things with GREAT LOVE.” Lent is the perfect time to pray and meditate on these words of this great spiritual woman and nun.

We are already at the Second Sunday of Lent, also known as Transfiguration Sunday. The Church refers to this particular Sunday with that term because every year on the Second Sunday of Lent, we hear the Gospel account of the Transfiguration of Jesus where Peter, James and John get a preview of what Jesus’ resurrected body will look like. That is also our hope and expectation for our lowly bodies when Christ raises us from the dead at the end of the world.

During Lent, we strive to make changes in behaviors and habits that will enhance and strengthen our relationship with God. We strive to be better disciples of Jesus Christ, and try so hard to become just a little bit more like Our Lord, and it’s NOT ALWAYS EASY! We give up things, try to pray and reflect more and perhaps perform acts of charity. We may start out with the best of intentions on Ash Wednesday to accomplish a lot and just maybe, by the Second or Third Sunday of Lent fail. This failure can lead us to abandon all the good intentions we had on Ash Wednesday; or maybe, some people have not done anything as of yet. My advice is either to get started or do not give up. In fact, why not START SMALL!

There are lots of things one can do during Lent. For example, if you are not a daily mass goer, attend mass one other day during the week, besides Sunday and if you can do more than that, wonderful. Consider attending Stations of the Cross on Friday evenings at 7:30 PM at least once during Lent. Make an effort to pray one decade of the Rosary every day during Lent. Attempt to join one of the several prayer groups we have here at St. Boniface, or become a member of the Women’s Book Club here at the parish. Why not think about attending the Catholic Themes in Film group that Deacon Tom Fox hosts on Sunday afternoon in the Parish Center. Make a conscious effort to avail yourself of the Sacrament of Reconciliation at least once during Lent. Read a portion of Sacred Scripture for 5 minutes every day during Lent (St. Mark’s Gospel is a good beginning). If Mark’s Gospel doesn’t appeal to you try praying the Psalms before bed time. Psalm 91 is a great bed time prayer, or Psalm 51 is also a good choice to use before going to sleep. Spend 15 or 20 minutes before the Blessed Sacrament on Saturday afternoons from 4 PM – 5 PM. Attend Father Perera’s Breaking Open the Word Sessions in Church on the Monday evenings of Lent at 7:30 PM.

These are just some suggestions to aid you in making your Lent more fruitful, and hopefully enhancing your spir of Christ, and that’s ultimately one of the goals and objectives of this Transfiguration Sunday!

– Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears here and in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin

From Allentown to Levittown

 

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

On January 31, 2017, John Oliver Barres became the Fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Rockville Centre.  Amid much pomp, pageantry and solemnity Bishop Barres was escorted to the Cathedra (Bishop’s chair) in St. Agnes Cathedral by His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Metropolitan/Archbishop of New York and Most Reverend Christophe Pierre, Apostolic Nuncio to the United States of America to succeed Most Rev. William F. Murphy, Fourth Bishop of Rockville Centre.  The ceremony was very impressive and over fifty Bishops and three Cardinals were present as well as hundreds of priests and deacons from the Dioceses of Allentown, PA, Wilmington, DE and Rockville Centre NY.  A number of Religious Sisters and Brothers were also present as well as a myriad of lay people from all backgrounds and ages.

In an interview before the Mass of Installation, Bishop Barres joked that he is the only United States Prelate that has something in common with Billy Joel.  Billy Joel wrote a song about Allentown (Bishop Barres’ former Diocese) and Joel hails from Long Island (Bishop Barres’ new Diocese).  Bishop Barres was then asked if he was familiarizing himself with all the little towns, hamlets and villages of Nassau and Suffolk Counties and he replied yes and that he knew where Levittown was.  He then went on to say “I guess I am going from living in Allentown to living near Levittown!”

I thought it might be of value to write a little bit about Bishop Barres’ predecessors here in our Diocese.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre was established on April 16, 1957 by Pope Pius XII, prior to that we were a part of the Brooklyn Diocese.  The First Bishop of Rockville Centre was Walter P. Kellenberg who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of New York on June 2, 1928.  In 1954, Bishop Kellenberg was consecrated Bishop of the Diocese of Ogdensberg, NY where he served until 1957 when he was consecrated Bishop of the newly formed Rockville Centre Diocese.  Bishop Kellenberg served at a time when church attendance was high, the reforms of Vatican II were being implemented and new Catholic High Schools like Holy Trinity and St. Pius X were being opened.  His episcopal moto was Queen, Guide Me by Thy Light.  He retired in June 1976 when John R. McGann succeeded him.

Bishop McGann, the Second Bishop of Rockville Centre was consecrated a Bishop on June 24, 1976.  He is the only Bishop in the history of our Diocese to be consecrated in a place other than our Diocesan Cathedral.  Bishop McGann’s installation took place at the Nassau Coliseum because he wanted as many people as possible to be able to attend.  I was privileged to be in attendance at the ceremony because I was a freshman at the high school seminary St. Pius X.  Bishop McGann was loved by laity, priests and religious.  His easy going and friendly down to earth personality made him approachable.  He encouraged lay participation in the Church and continued the teachings of Vatican II.  Bishop McGann’s episcopal moto was Serve the Lord with Gladness, and that he did in his 25 years as Bishop.  He retired in January 2000, when James T. McHugh succeeded him.

Bishop McHugh, the Third Bishop of Rockville Centre served only for 11 months and was victim to an untimely death.  In his brief tenure as Bishop here in Rockville Centre, Bishop McHugh is best remembered as being a champion and defender of life in all its forms from the womb to the tomb.  He was a man of profound humility, who even though was a successor to the Apostles was not afraid to do his own dishes, cook for himself and even take out his own garbage.  His episcopal motto was What Shall I Return to the Lord?  In December of 2000, Bishop James McHugh succumbed to cancer and died.  William F. Murphy of Boston succeeded him in September 2001.

Bishop Murphy, the Fourth Bishop of Rockville Centre was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston and was consecrated Auxiliary Bishop of Boston on December 27, 1995.  On September 5, 2001 Bishop Murphy was installed as Bishop of Rockville Centre at St. Agnes Cathedral.  He has served on numerous committees with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Catholic University of America. Less than a week after his installation, Bishop Murphy led us through the tragic and uncertain times following the 9/11 attacks, reminding us that mercy, forgiveness and trust in God will eventually led to healing.  He celebrated a hope filled and uplifting mass at the Nassau Coliseum a month after the attack in honor of all the First Responders, both living and deceased.  Bishop Murphy is fluent in four languages, French, Spanish, English and Italian. His episcopal motto is No Other Name.  He retired on January 31, 2017 when he was succeeded by John Oliver Barres.

Bishop Barres brings a love for the youth of our Church and is encouraging them to be proud of their Catholicity.  He has a love of sports, particularly basketball and played J.V. Basketball for Princeton University.  He can even be seen on You Tube videos conducting basketball practices with the young people of his former Diocese, Allentown.  His episcopal motto is Holiness and Mission.  As a priest of this Diocese I look forward to working with and supporting Bishop Barres and welcoming him here to St. Boniface Martyr in the not too distant future.  Ad Multos Anos, Bishop Barres.

– Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears online here weekly and in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin

Pastoral Councils

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Canon Law provides for the formation of Parish Pastoral Councils in Canon 536 #1.  “In every parish of the diocese, a Pastoral Council shall be established…the pastor presides over the Pastoral Council and it is composed of members of the congregation…the Pastoral Council assists in promoting pastoral action in the parish.”  The Pastoral Council is a consultative body, pastoral in nature, because it strives to discern the movement of the Holy Spirit among God’s holy people in a particular parish.

In light of these guidelines set down by the Church, a new Pastoral Council has been formed here at St Boniface, Martyr Parish.  Just before Thanksgiving twelve new members were commissioned by me to serve on the Pastoral Council of St. Boniface Church.  I believe they represent a cross section of the parish with a variety of backgrounds, age and life experience; one thing they all share in common is that they are active and faith filled parishioners who not only support the parish but the pastor in the various spiritual, educational and social endeavors of our parish.

Specifically the Parish Pastoral Council’s purpose is to enhance the process of Pastoral Planning, developing and initiating new pastoral programs, evaluating the pastoral effectiveness of various programs and services.  It is not legislative in nature.  Ultimately the pastor is responsible for the final approval of Council recommendations concerning pastoral planning, programs and services for the parish, as well as for their implementation.

Meetings will be quarterly and our first meeting will take place on Tuesday, January 17 and the minutes of the meetings will be shared with the parish in the weekly bulletin.   I thank the following parishioners who so graciously agreed to share their time and talent in this important leadership ministry!

Bobby Dey

Renni Dey

Maura Lynch

Debbie Mink

Jeffrey Mink

Gina Pisciotta

Martha Pusey

William Schiller

William Swift

Ben Szemerenyi

Scott Whitting

Belinda Zeitlin

– Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin’s letter appears here weekly online and in our Parish Bulletin

Christmas Past

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Christmas Day was just two weeks ago, and now with the Solemnity of the Epiphany celebrated this weekend and The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord tomorrow the Church brings this season of joy and gladness to a close. Christmas requires much preparation and attention, especially with purchasing gifts, cooking and baking many of our favorite foods and decorating our homes for these special days. It is probably fair to say that most people are breathing a sigh of relief about getting back to our ordinary routines.

Christmas here at St. Boniface went well. We welcomed thousands of people to our Church for the six Christmas Masses that were celebrated here, and our Church was full for all Masses, in fact, the 4:00 PM Christmas Vigil had record crowds with over 1200 in attendance at that Mass alone.

Preparations for the big day began weeks in advance. Thanks to the graciousness and generosity of many hard working and dedicated parishioners our Church and its grounds looked splendid for the Christmas Season. Many visitors remarked at how beautiful the Church and grounds looked and how faith filled and welcoming our parishioners are! Priests come and go in parishes, but it is the parishioners who make a faith community so vibrant and alive and St. Boniface, Martyr is a prime example of such a community!

Know I appreciate and value all you are and all you do for St. Boniface. A special THANK YOU to all who were a part of making Christmas so special, especially the Pastoral Staff,

Maintenance Staff, lectors, altar servers, Extraordinary Ministers, musicians, cantors, ushers, collection counters and Altar Guild and many other volunteers who contributed to making Christmas so beautiful. Thanks also to you, the parishioners, for your generous financial support, not only at Christmas but the whole year long! Equally, I am grateful for how joyfully and freely you share your time and talent with the parish during the course of the year. Father Azubuike and I are also very appreciative for the gifts, cards, and homemade candies and cookies that you left at the rectory; we are grateful for your generosity and kindness!

On behalf of Father Azubuike and the Pastoral Staff, a Happy and Holy New Year to you and your families and May God continue the good work He has begun in you!

On another note, congratulations to Loretta Zanier, the recipient of the 2016 St. Agnes Medal, awarded by the Diocese of Rockville Centre. Loretta has coordinated the Baptism program here for many years and works tirelessly and enthusiastically in welcoming parents who are expecting a child and prepares them for the sacrament of Baptism. Congratulations, and thank you, Loretta!

– Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears online here weekly and in the St. Boniface Parish Bulletin

Merry Christmas!

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

Go ahead and just say it, particularly if you are certain that you are addressing another Christian.  We live in a world of growing secularism where God, organized Religion and the Catholic Church are pushed off it to the corners with hopes of being just seen and not heard.  This trend did not start overnight; it has been creeping in slowly during the last several decades.  Even the lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony has few religious Christmas songs during the hour long television event.  In days gone by, many Christmas television programs were aired with a good deal of both religious and secular Christmas music.  As a child and even teenager, I can remember my parents watching Christmas shows featuring Perry Como singing Adeste Fidelis and Andy Williams singing the Ave Maria and Ring Christmas Bells with the lyrics saying, Ring Christmas Bells Loudly Proclaim the birthday of Jesus is near!”    Even the Radio City Christmas Spectacular has shortened the grand finale of the show, the traditional Nativity scene, in order to make more time for Santa and the Rockettes.   We must ask ourselves, what happened?  Secularization is what happened, and a desire to be politically correct.

While we never want to offend anyone, I find it puzzling to hear fellow Christians, many of whom are Catholic to be wishing each other a Happy Holiday, or have a great holiday season.  Something is very wrong with this, as we are keeping the main celebration and focus of this special time of year obscured!

It is the celebration of God made man…the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ!  One year a well-meaning parishioner in one of my former assignments said to me after Christmas Eve mass, “Have great holiday Father!”  I responded thanks so much, and it is okay to say Merry Christmas to me; I am a Catholic priest you know but that goes to illustrate just how conditioned we have become to this phenomenon.

Most if not all Christians, whether churched or unchurched will have no problem with it, and if you know for certain the recipient of your greeting is Jewish, then do not be afraid to wish them a Happy Chanukah.  I have wished many of our Jewish brothers and sister this greeting and they smile and return it with and Merry Christmas to you!  I suppose if you are absolutely certain someone is something other than an individual from the Judeo-Christian tradition then it is acceptable to wish them a Happy Holiday.

We need to keep Christ in Christmas, and the belief of God in the public sector.  Just perhaps it will raise our consciousness and hopefully get others to think about Jesus Christ and a sense of spirituality and respect for Religion which is sorely lacking of late in this country.

Other ways to promote and remind people of the reason for the season is to send religious Christmas cards and most certainly every Catholic home should have a Nativity Set proudly displayed either inside the home or outside.  Better yet, display two, one inside and one outside.  So go ahead say it and do it,  MERRY CHRISTMAS and KEEP CHRIST IN CHRISTMAS!


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears here weekly and in print in our Parish Bulletin

All Things Possible with God

 

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

As many of you know, I attended St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary in Uniondale.  Pius was the high school Seminary for our Diocese.  The faculty was composed of several priests, a religious sister and a good number of lay men and women.  The priests were very supportive and certainly served as good role models for young men who were considering a vocation to the priesthood.  Sadly, due to declining enrollment and few priestly vocations from the school, Bishop McGann closed it in the early 1980’s.

I remember once speaking to one of my favorite teachers, Fr. Brendan Riordan about the life of a priest and how I was concerned about being able to give a homily at mass.  Fr. Riordan gently said,

“Don’t worry; God will take care of that for you.”  Then he said, “It’s a wonderful life and Our Lord will be with you every step of the way.   Now as a priest I realize what he meant, especially with regard to preaching and that is reliance on the Holy Spirit.  In and of himself, the priest can accomplish very little; it is Our Lord who does the inspiring and the priest simply cooperates with that.

Many biblical passages clearly indicate that there is no Biblical basis for self-esteem, self-love, self-reliance, self-confidence, self-image or any of the other isms advocated by the worldly system of psychology.  The Bible’s answer for many of our emotional problems is to turn away from self to Christ and His all sufficient word.  Some examples of this include “I can do all things in Christ, who strengthens me.” (Phil 4:13) and Jesus, said “With humans it is impossible, but not for God.  For God all things are possible!”  (Mk. 10:27) Christmas is exactly three weeks away, and many people find this time of year busy and hectic to say the least.

Our scripture readings for Sundays and the weekdays of Advent are indicative of a good number of people who were filled with hopeful enthusiasm and optimism regarding God’s active presence in their lives.  Mary, the Mother of God     is a prime example when she was asked to be the Theotokos, or God-bearer.  Although a bit unsure and perhaps somewhat anxious, Our Lady cooperates with God’s plan for salvation and responds to the angel Gabriel, “Let it be done unto me, according to Your Word.”  In other words, Mary directs it back to God and helps fulfill God’s plan of redemption for humanity.

Saint John the Baptist and his mother Elizabeth also acknowledge that it is God who is in charge, not them.  Elizabeth, despite her old age, has complete and utter confidence that with God, all things are possible, and her son, St. John the Baptist reminds us that it is He who must increase and us who must decrease.  Even John’s dad, Zechariah, who in the beginning refuses to believe ultimately, realizes that it is God who is at work, when he writes his new son’s name on the tablet, “His name shall be called John.”  Customarily, Zechariah’s son should have been named after his father, but Zechariah now realizes that God has a hand in this.

Take some time during these busy days to recognize God’s active presence in your life.  Perhaps attend daily mass one or two days a week, attend Handle’s Messiah concert this Sunday at 4pm followed by our Tree Lighting and Christmas Around the World Celebration or our Advent Mission Christmas in Story, Song Word and Art this Tuesday, December 6 at 7:30pm in Church, or avail yourself of the sacrament of Reconciliation to help you prepare for the great feast of the Incarnation.

— Fr. Kevin


Fr. Kevin Dillon’s letter appears here weekly online and in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

Make a Joyful Sound Unto the Lord

Fr. Kevin Dillon

Fr. Kevin Dillon is the Pastor of St. Boniface Martyr Parish, Sea Cliff, Long Island, NY.

“Sing, Sing a Song” was a popular soft rock tune performed by the Carpenters in the early 1970’s.  The lyrics are quite simple and extol and praise the values of singing, and encourage all to sing whether they have good voices or not.  Since Vatican II, the Church has introduced the value of congregational singing and many Catholics seem to enjoy worshipping God through song.  That is wonderful because like St. Augustine says, “he [she] who sings, prays twice!”  Singing, is indeed, a beautiful way to worship God.

Singing together is not only a form of prayer, but also has several emotional and psychological benefits as well.  According to a recent article in Time magazine, singing changes the brain.  According to the article when people sing musical vibrations move through the person and that alters people’s physical and emotional landscape.  Simply put, it makes us feel better.  Think about small children.  Most of us have either been sung to by a loving mother or other caring adult at some point in our youth to soothe and calm us when we were upset or frightened about something.  If this was not the case for you, perhaps you have seen this being done by someone else to a child and how usually the child stops crying or fussing.  Singing or being sung to has great power to change our emotions from sad and negative to happy and hopefully calmer.  Researchers have been hard at work  trying to explain why it has such a calming, soothing, peaceful effects, yet, has equally energizing and life giving effects on us.

What researchers are concluding is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes our nerves and simultaneously elevates our spirits.  This for us is a win, win situation in our stress filled and busy world, and for us as Christians it is a spiritual endeavor as well because like the Psalm says, Sing a New Song to the Lord, (Psalm 96) or Break into Song and Sing Praise (Psalm 98).  The virtues of singing are found throughout the Hebrew Scriptures as well as the New Testament.  Mary’s Magnificat is ultimately a song of praise!

Group singing for those who have done it, is the most exhilarating and transformative of all because it takes something incredibly intimate and personal, a sound that begins inside of the person and ultimately shares it with a room full of people and then comes back as something even more exhilarating and thrilling then when it first started and that is called harmony.  Research further shows that even if someone’s voice is only mediocre, the health benefits are worth their weight in gold because our bodies produce lower amounts of cortisol and our heart rates are raised.

Here at St. Boniface, we are blessed with a talented and competent Music Ministry under the direction of Jeffery Schneider.  Our cantors and musicians are here to lead us in song and encourage us to sing.  I am sure they will agree with me that they are NOT here to perform but assist us in giving glory and praise to our God, Jesus Christ.  So don’t be afraid; SING OUT LOUD AND MAKE A JOYFUL NOISE UNTO THE LORD!


Fr. Kevin’s letter appears each week in print and online in the St. Boniface Martyr Parish Bulletin.

WordPress Backup