Wednesday, December 25, 2013

G.K. Chesterton was a prolific Catholic author of the early 20th Century, known for his incisive wit and profound theological insights. He was also known as a curmudgeon, and the older he got the more absent-minded he became as well. One day he was out strolling in London when he became quite lost. He stopped at a nearby telegraph office and sent a telegram for urgent delivery to his wife. In it he wrote, "Dear, I find myself quite lost. Am at Harborough Square. Where should I be?" He waited for more than a few minutes while the telegram was delivered and he got a response. Finally the click of the telegraph key indicated his wife's reply. As only a wife could say, she responded, "You should be home." Chesterton sent another telegram and asked, "But how do I get there?" He waited at the telegraph office for the reply. It said, "Am sending a boy. Follow him home."

Is that not the truest meaning of Christmas: God's simple message, "Am sending a boy. Follow him home."

Merry Christmas.
December 24, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

We have a winning team from tonight's "Reindeer Games" at SEAS Life Teen. Revenge may be sweet at next year's competition, and if we have the same candy competition as tonight, it will be very sweet! See you next Sunday evening at 5 for Life Teen, and on Sunday, January 5 for Life Teen Mass at 5 pm followed by Life Night. (6 photos)

December 22, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
Up at the North Pole Santa's elves are packing the sleigh, and here in the church the musicians are practicing for Christmas Midnight Mass. All for Jesus! O come. let us adore Him: on Christmas eve at 5 and 7, Midnight, and Christmas morning at 10:30. The childrens' pageant is at the 5 pm Christmas Eve Mass -- be forewarned: last year people were standing in the parking lot! This year we will have overflow seating in the Parish Center with a live audio/video feed from the church. 7 pm should be a bit less jammed. Our wonderful choir will begin a Christmas concert at 11:15pm, prior to the Midnight Mass (yes, our Midnight Mass is still at Midnight!). 10:30 Mass on Christmas morning is always a beautiful celebration as well. Be sure to come early for any Mass -- seats go fast (always a good sign). Merry Christmas to all!

December 22, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
Tonight at 5 in the Parish Center at St. Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church. Everyone of High School age is welcome. Bring some friends.

December 22, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
High School Teens in the Mechanicsburg PA area, don't miss "The Reindeer Games" at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Life Teen tomorrow evening at 5.

December 21, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

Life Night tonight with SEAS Life Teen. Deacon David Hall and his wife Libby led us in a quiet and moving prayer service in the church before we moved over to the Parish Center where "Holly Spirit" led us in a game to identify the Gospel passages. Tonight's episode of "The Gospel Show" was an interview with the 4 Gospel writers which focused on why the descriptions of Jesus' birth are different in the various Gospel texts.

December 15, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
Today we had the organizational meeting for Trail Life Troop 101 at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. Trail Life USA is an outdoor adventure and character-building program for boys and young men, with programs for age groups from 17 down to 5 years old. Trail Life is solidly Christian in its vision and values. It will be an important part of our parish youth ministry. We have experienced adult leaders and we're starting out with a great group of kids.
— with Scott Rainey.

December 15, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
I think this is too long for a post, but too many people have been pestering me for it, so here goes... Last Sunday's homily at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. It's also on the parish website at steas.net

“Wag Your Tail, the Master is Coming”

Many a dog waits for its master; some with patience and some with mischief. It was not lost on the earliest Catholics that we do the same.

On many of the graves in Roman catacombs is an unmistakable paw print. On the concrete that seals tight the graves, there are words and symbols. One of the most common is a paw print. The message was about the deceased Believer: as a dog is loyal to its master and dependent for every good thing, so this servant of God was loyal, depending on God and waiting for his or her Heavenly Master’s return.

Some wait with patience, some with mischief.

• There’s the dog who has such separation anxiety that it flies into a panic and seeming rampage, running here and everywhere , chewing and destroying, until the master returns. I’m reminded of some preachers who suffer such separation anxiety as we await our Lord’s return that their preaching turns into a frenzy of apocalyptic rampage and End Times panic, designed to incite both frenzy and terror in themselves and others. We listen and hear their preaching and just imagine them tearing the stuffing out of one pillow after another.

• There’s the dog who barks at everything all day long. Ask the dog why. It can’t explain. It’s just apprehensive, anxious, wary. Its only reaction is to bark at anything that makes a noise or that moves. Some people go through life this way: nervous, anxious, uncertain, unsettled. They may claim to believe in a master, a Messiah, a Lord, but their lives give no evidence of that fact. They move from one value to another, from one decision to the next, barking at everything that makes noise in life, but uncertain as to a real direction or purpose.

• There’s the dog who eats all the food and drinks all the water, and who as a result leaves “gifts” (dog owners know what I mean) around the house. Seeing only what is in front of them at the moment, the poor doggie can’t imagine that there will be a time when the master will provide more. They can think or imagine no more than to “snarf down” everything in front of them. Their world view is small, and they certainly can’t imagine a larger world, greater plenty, a moment past the present, a life different than now. There are persons whose world view is so small that to “seize the day” and “live for the moment” is all that matters, and others – usually those who love them – are left to clean up the messes they create. These are the persons who have a short world view, and no conception of an eternity that awaits us beyond the horizon of this existence.

• There’s the dog who whines and cries and howls every moment the master is away. No sooner is the master out the door than the poor beast’s grief becomes inconsolable, for surely no living thing has ever suffered as much as this poor doggie that is left alone. The master can have no peace if he has but left the room for a moment. There are persons too who cannot move beyond a certain hurt or disappointment in life, who wallow and whine, who demand the constant attention and emotion of God and others, certain that no one has ever suffered as greatly. This demand for attention denies the Providence and protection of a loving God, and gives no heed to the embrace of an ever-present master, no evidence of hope-filled anticipation of the Master’s return.

• There’s the dog who waits for its master, but as soon as the master opens the door the dog runs outside and right past the master with barely a wag of its tail. Stand by the doors of the church during Holy Communion and watch the people who run out of Mass – you’ll see the same thing. Many are those who run from one thing to the next in life, whose lives are so filled with activities which, in the larger view of life, matter little and have no meaning. When the Lord returns, we can wonder if they will notice at all. After all , they've paid no real attention to Him in life. They may run right past Him with nary a wag of the tail... which of course gives us pause to wonder if He will recognize them as His disciples or just let them go right by.
• There is, sadly, the dog who is ill, who finds a quiet and lonely spot to be away from others. When the master returns, he searches for the dog and recognizes it does not feel well. At a time when the master wants to love the dog the most, the poor thing hides and refuses love and attention. Among the saddest moment of being a priest is, for me, seeing people do the same thing. Knowing that someone is ill, or hurting, or in a tough spot in life, I look in vain to see them at Mass or involved in parish activities. At a time when they may need the love of God and companionship of fellow Believers the most, they choose to be alone and withdrawn.

• There’s the dog who warmly greets the master at his return, with excitedly wagging tail and wet kisses, but who has slept on the couch and the beds all day. When the master notices the warm, sagging cushions and the hair on the pillows, and asks, “Did you sleep on the couch even though you know you shouldn’t do that?” the dog gives that look that says, “Who, me?” Do you know anyone like that? Doing only what makes them feel good, feel comfortable, feel satisfied throughout life, aware of right from wrong but caring little, and ready to give the Lord the look that says, “Who me?” when He returns.

• There’s the dog who seems to know what time it is, even without a watch on its wrist. At the same time of the day, driven by clues we cannot see or hear, the dog sits by the door or watches at the window for the master to return. The vigilance is not, however, repeated at other times of the day – only when it is time for the master to return. Many people seem to know when it’s time to go to Mass each Sunday, but during the rest of the week they pay little heed to waiting, watching, listening, sensing where the Lord might be found, and where His grace may be waiting for us.

• There are those dogs who seem to remain alert, not panicking but vigilant, an ear raised, an eye open, senses heightened, while at the same time enjoying a nap or a drink or a playful moment. This is what the grace-filled Believer, the Christian imbued with Advent year-round, experiences: the ability to live and enjoy life thoroughly and prudently and morally, yet always alert to see, hear, and receive the presence of Jesus in the present moment, and ready for the return of the Lord now or whenever it occurs.

So, there’s my invitation to you: be ready to wag your tail when you catch a glimpse of the Lord, waiting at all times with one ear raised and one eye open, eager to see Him whether far off or near, as we wait in joyful hope for His return.

Woof.

December 14, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
It was joyful celebration of Advent tonight at the Seton Family Christmas. Saint Nicholas arrived to tell us his story, then to spend the evening listening to the children. A Latino flavor was added in the music and the piƱata. Games for all ages, prizes, food, and fellowship all contributed to the joy of being together on a snowy Advent eve.

December 8, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

Tomorrow is my last lecture period of the semester in the canon law school at The Catholic University of America: a course in corporation law and financial governance. Now, I'm not saying that I'm happy that it's the last class of the semester, necessarily. At least I'm not saying that out loud. 2 hours driving down, 3 hours of Law School teaching every Friday morning, and 2 hours driving back -- it's been fairly daunting. Pray for my students, most of whom are in their third year of law school. Those 3 hours in class every Friday are the only thing standing between them and the weekend! Next Tuesday I give the final exam to the poor, unsuspecting students. Then it'll take me a week to grade them. They're still complaining that my mid-term was too challenging: a brain-tangler, they told another professor. Wimps. I'll make the final exam tough to take and easy to grade. Hint, students: every answer is B.

December 5, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

First Night of Life Teen tonight at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton parish. A great turnout of teens, parents, and core team. Attendance and enthusiasm were great at our first Life Teen Mass. Remember, Life Teen Mass the first Sunday of every month at 5pm; Life Night every Sunday at 5pm; adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament every Sunday 6-7pm.

December 1, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

Following the benefit concert at our parish yesterday afternoon I had a good conversation with a Dean at Messiah College about expectations and surprises in life. He recalled that he met with me many years ago as part of a group that proposed the State Street Academy of Music at Saint Lawrence Chapel in Harrisburg. He recounted as well his surprise that he has spent much of his career in administration -- not what he planned. It was a sentiment I knew well: I was the last pastor of Saint Lawrence parish, and first proposed the idea of a school of music in that wonderful facility at a dinner following a visit to Vienna and Sunday Mass at the Augustinerkirche there, the site of a wonderful academy of sacred music. Imagine my surprise and delight when as a diocesan official the bishop asked me to handle the meeting about this very topic. Now, after 27 years in diocesan administration, I could share with the Dean not only that I was the originator of the idea, but my greater delight at being back where I always wanted to be: in parish ministry, with the saints of God. God has a plan, His grace-filled providence leads us, and His surprises throughout life should delight us always. I once had a spiritual director who repeatedly said, "God wastes nothing."

November 25,2013
Msgr. William J. King
Months of prayer, training, planning, worrying, believing... today we announce Life Teen at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Mechanicsburg. Starting Sunday, December 1st we will have Life Night every Sunday at 5, with Life Teen Mass on the first Sunday of the month at 5pm. Life Teen has one purpose: to lead teens closer to Christ. Members of the parish have been praying for each of our teens by name for the past 3 months. The Life Teen Core Team has been praying and studying, with most of the team attending training in King of Prussia PA and three of them attending training by Life Teen International in San Antonio, Texas. All are welcome to the monthly Mass on Sunday afternoon at 5 -- first Sunday of every month. All teens are welcome for any Life Night -- any Sunday at 5pm. If you're worried you won't know anyone, that's easy to solve: bring along a few of your friends, whatever their beliefs. Parents of teens, you're welcome and wanted any time. Pray for our High School teens, that they may know the powerful and transforming, life-giving grace of Jesus Christ in their lives.
November 17, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

What? Me unhappy that the weather is bad and I can't go flying today?
November 17, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

Just back from a wonderful voice recital at Messiah College, presented by a parishioner and member of the college Newman Club. Some of those notes were pretty high -- I sing like that only when the water suddenly goes cold in the shower. Congratulations to Elise Manning for a sterling performance.
November 16, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
The lights are on the Prayer Walk at Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton Parish in Mechanicsburg PA. When the Stations of the Cross are installed along the walk it will be a wonderful invitation to neighbors and passersby to stop and pray, or just a reminder that the arms of Jesus are always open to any who want to stop by our church.
November 12, 2013
Msgr. William J. King

The next step in our parish Prayer Path is underway... Scout Jacob Saar's fantastic Eagle project is completed, and today we poured concrete for the pillars that will hold the Stations of the Cross along the 63 foot path. At the same time, the electrician was completing work on the lighting. The pillars for the Stations will be finished with cut stone and topped with slate to hold the statuary for the Stations of the Cross. The actual statues are on order from a studio in northern Italy (the same studio which provided the statue of Jesus already on the path). Although the Stations of the Cross will not arrive until sometime in early 2014, we will soon hold a blessing and dedication of this marvelous addition to our parish campus.
(4 photos)
November 11, 2103
Msgr. William J. King