Greetings and Welcome!


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Well over fifty years ago, the famous French priest and anthropologist, Teilhard de Chardin, said that "we are in a time of crisis, like a present day John the Baptist." He said that we are approaching a critical threshold. Like John the Baptist who lived in critical and violent times and proclaimed, "Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand," we must learn to think in a new and different way, for the time of opportunity is upon us. To repent means to move in a new direction. John the Baptist was calling his society to new opportunities, to a new way of thinking and living.


To repent means to turn and move in a new direction. Like John the Baptist, we live in urgent, violent, and critical times.


As Catholic Christians, as parishioners of St. Matthew's, we must make new and different choices, thus making the Reign of God a reality.


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When we are intentional about living our Catholic faith, when we are intentional about doing the works of justice and peace, new opportunities will arise. And the world will be less violent and chaotic.


I welcome you to St. Matthew's. I pray that you might find in our parish and school staff, women and men who are alive in the kingdom of God, women and men, in our parish catechetical program and in our school, who are teaching our children to think and be in light of the Gospel of Justice.


Be intentional about your Catholic faith. Choose to make the values of the Kingdom of God alive in your lives. It will only be "the act of freely loving others" during our critical time in history, that will bring about a new and blessed humanity to fulfillment in the light of the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Choose to repent. In other words, move in and encourage others to move in new directions according to the teachings of Jesus Christ.


Peace,

Fr. Raymond J. Ritari

Pastor


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St. Matthew Catholic Church 75th Anniversary Celebration


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In December of 2013, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we kicked off the 75th anniversary year of St. Matthew’s Parish (founded on December 20, 1939) in a very simple way. I challenged all of us to do 6 acts of justice/goodness every month until December 21, 2014. December 21 is a Sunday and we will celebrate in a special way that day!


The role of the parish is to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the neighborhood it finds itself. It's not a social club. It's a place where we gather and are nourished by the Eucharist on Sundays in order to move out into the world to be servants. Nothing more and nothing less. And that is what this celebratory year will be about. It will be about a renewed sense of service.


What I am asking us to continue doing during the upcoming year is to look at the world from the perspective of being a servant to the poor, a servant to those whose rights are abused, to those who have difficulty in life, to those who are ignored, etc.


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I am asking us to be like observant waiters in the restaurant. I am asking us to be like dedicated teachers in a classroom. I am asking us to be like loving parents in a home. I am challenging us to that authentic Christian way of living, which requires a deep sense of service. Is that not what Pope Francis has asked us to recently do?


Let us during our 75th anniversary as a parish move beyond the selfish and lifeless values our culture exemplifies so often, and move with the spirit of service and life. As a parish let us be faithful to the vision of God and work for a new ways of justice and peace.


Let us during this celebratory year grow as intentional Catholics, women and men who are conscious about putting the Gospel of Justice into action within our society.


Between September and December I will be inviting some of you to share at Sunday Mass how you have been putting into action your 6 acts of justice/goodness. Or if you feel so moved by the Spirit to share, please let me know. I will give you the opportunity to share.


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Letter from our Pastor...


On Friday, July 11, I had gone into Old Jerusalem to pray the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa at 4PM.


There were many, many, many people. The streets are quite narrow, and therefore, the three major monotheistic religions that divide the city (Christian, Jew and Muslim) intersect each other. As I tried to focus on the Stations of the Cross, I became increasingly aware of so many different people from these faith traditions, AND the Israeli soldiers with their guns, which are there to insure peace, as this country contends with so much violence.


Standing on the Via Dolorosa with so many voices, languages, sounds, faces, and smells swirling about me, I could only think of the layers of ancient structures that archaeologists are still uncovering in this ancient city and land. One of my guided lectures took the group I am studying with at Tantur throughout the city one day, so as to understand how Jerusalem came about.


Praying at holy sites, like the Via Dolorosa, and visiting important archaeological sites can be chaotic. But I have realized that bumping into one another, not experiencing silence because of the noise and languages that I do not understand while trying to pray, is what life is about.


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We as different people, coming from different ways of understanding God, are challenged like archaeologists to uncover the layers that are beneath the surface of one another as human beings, so as to better understand, respect, and love one another.


All of us, whether we are Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, etc. are in this sea of humanity. The streets of life can be narrow and difficult because of our narrow attitudes and our inability to intersect each other in life because of strongly held beliefs or prejudices.


After praying the Stations of the Cross I realized this chaos, this lack of silence, this bumping into one another can be holy. The chaos is holy because it puts me in touch with humanity. But only holy if we see God in the face of others, who are no less human than ourselves.


"God can only come to any of us in images that we already trust and believe, and that open our hearts......."to one another. (Richard Rohr)


Shalom. Salam. Peace. Paz

Fr. Raymond


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__________________________________


Dear St. Matthew's:


From July 14 through the 18th I had the opportunity to travel to the Galilee region of Israel. It must be said that Galilee is the place of beginning for Jesus from which his movement begins its journey that will eventually lead it to the end in Jerusalem.


Scripture states that, "he (Jesus) stirs up the people all over Judea by his teaching. He started in Galilee and has come all the way here." And, "you know what is happened throughout today, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached." (Acts 10:37).


While in the Galilee I had the opportunity to visit various "holy sites." I visited Caesarea founded by Herod the Great, Nazareth (Church of the Annunciation), Mt. of Beatitudes, Mt. Carmel, Mt Tabor, Capernaum, the Sea (Lake) of Galilee, the traditional sites of St. Joseph's house, the traditional site where Jesus performs the multiplication of the fish and loaves (Tabgha), and other holy sites.


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However, one must remember, as our tour guide said, "let the Holy Land live through you! Don't make yourself busy about these holy places! But be busy about being holy!" For me, her words were the best spiritual guidance thus far!


If the Galilee region is the place of beginning for the Jesus movement, and is the location from which Jesus "stirs up the people," then we must do the same.


We must be, as the tour guide said, "busy about being holy," from the center of our being. We must "stir up" our own time and space "making holy" the places where we live and work NOW with the Good News of Jesus Christ.


I have been in a region of the world for the past few weeks that is very violent, and seeks a solution of peace and justice for Palestinian and Jew. Yet, I can also think about how the situation is quite complex and volatile regarding the unaccompanied minors who are coming from Central America to the United States. Should these young people, and their mothers, not "stir us" with the Good News of Jesus Christ and truly make us uncomfortable, so our borders become "holy sites," if not holier than the Holy Land where I am, with the Gospel of justice and compassion?


A parishioner recently emailed me with a message she sent to the White House website with a possible suggestion regarding the unaccompanied minors as they await their cases to come through the court system. Her message is spot on with how we could make holy our lives and our borders, and "stir up" our hearts, as Jesus did in the Galilee region. She says:


Mr. President:


Perhaps if you made an appeal to the citizens of our country to make donations to help in this crisis. These (unaccompanied) children certainly must need clothes, shoes, blankets, diapers, food, etc. Asking the congress to vote more money to support them seems to only make very right wing conservatives angry. Perhaps by asking the generous and compassionate people of this nation to help these children as a "choice" would show the world that the United States is not full of selfish, mean spirited people. Another helpful idea might be to ask for retired teachers to help tutor the children waiting in detention centers. Thank you for your service to our country!


As a priest on sabbatical I will probably never have the opportunity to visit the Holy Land again. But I know that after visiting these "holy sites" of Jesus, I must move from the center of my heart, so as to "stir up" my part of the world with compassion and justice.


The Jesus movement does not begin and end in Galilee. The Jesus movement must continue in our own time and space with what we are even doing at our own borders of the United States!


Let us make the borders of the United States a "holy land" by doing the work of Jesus Christ for the least and weakest among us!


Be busy about being holy!


Shalom/Salam/Peace/Paz

Fr. Raymond


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