Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19: 20-21
February 21, 2021
Here is something interesting I learned recently. In the year 600, Pope Gregory I, commonly known as Pope Gregory the Great, issued a papal decree mandating that the proper response to a person sneezing is “God bless you.” The blessing was to be a prayer for the person who sneezed, replacing the old expression, “Congratulations.” It did not say why people used to oddly congratulate others for sneezing. However, it did say that the reason for the papal decree was due to a pestilence that was raging in Italy. One of the noticeable symptoms was severe sneezing. Many even died shortly after such an attack.
Of course, we have our own pestilence going on if you have not noticed. It has been around for a full year now, though it seems longer to me. I wish it was done and over with, but I shouldn’t complain. The Bubonic Plague, otherwise known as the Black Death, lasted in Europe for four years from 1347-1351 and many millions of people died as a result. It helps to put our current situation into better perspective.
I know what you’re thinking right about now. “Hey, Father Sunshine, thanks a lot for all your cheery and happy news.” Well, this is the February Blues, after all, even in Florida. But consider this: people are getting their vaccinations, even Msgr. Devine received both shots! The statewide Covid-19 positivity rate is decreasing in Florida, and the attendance numbers are increasing at St. Brendan Parish Masses. But best of all, when the next time somebody sneezes, respond to that person by saying “Congratulations.” Then watch the puzzled look on their face. It’s making me laugh already.
Peace Father Tim
February 14, 2021
It looks like there is an updated revision, or a revised update (take your pick), to the upcoming Ash Wednesday liturgy process to receive ashes. Simply put, you can now get ashes on your forehead. However, there will not be said the usual “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” with each person. That will only be said once during the blessing of the ashes. Those distributing and those receiving ashes will remain silent. And please, those coming up to receive ashes must wear a mask. We will have two services. Mass with the distribution of ashes will be at 8:30 AM, and there will also be a Liturgy of the Word with the distribution of ashes at 12:00 Noon. Ashes at Mass will be distributed after communion for safety and hygiene purposes.
The Gospel reading for Ash Wednesday states in part that “when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Mt 6:6). Yet, people today are all stressed out by the lack of privacy, ironically because they are compelled to tell the whole world the details of their lives on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With all these distractions, Jesus offered an approach to prayer that can begin by encountering God in the “inner room” of our hearts. This Lenten season is a good opportunity to begin spending some “private time” with God by putting down the social media, even if just for a few minutes, every day. Our soul yearns for that silence, that stillness, and that solitude with God. May God therefore find a dwelling place in the inner room of all our hearts this Lent.
Peace Father Tim
February 7, 2021
Well, you know what this weekend is, don’t you? The big weekend we’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived. No, I’m not talking about the Super Bowl. That is big too and I hope the Bucs win. What I’m talking about is APA Weekend! Yay! Yahoo! I can imagine all of you reading this with a puzzled look on your faces while scratching your heads. “Fr. Tim must be crazy,” you’re saying to yourself. That may be true and I will not argue that point. I may even agree with you at times. But what is also true is that the Annual Pastoral Appeal is back again for 2021 and we have to meet our assessment of $86,677.
This weekend we will have a guest speaker for APA at all the Masses. Her name is Danielle Husband and she is the program director for Pinellas Hope at Catholic Charities. Some of the APA assessment goes to financially supporting the charitable work of Pinellas Hope and many other essential ministries at Catholic Charities. Danielle will talk a little bit about her work and the necessity of our APA pledges to ensure that such work can continue. I was told that our parish has had a longstanding history of volunteer assistance with preparing meals for the residents at Pinellas Hope. Next weekend I will then make a brief appeal at the end of all the Masses for your financial support to APA on behalf of our parish. We will keep you updated in the bulletin during the year on how much of the goal has been achieved.
If we are still short by the Fall, I will likely give a booster talk at all the Masses to hopefully motivate more participation. I cannot stress enough how important it is that we reach our assessment goal. Thank you in advance for your continued support to APA, and a hearty welcome to Danielle Husband to St. Brendan parish.
Finally, GO BUCS!
January 24, 2021
We had Fr. Eric Hunter’s funeral Mass last Saturday, January 16th, at St. Brendan church. There was a nice showing of people present, including a number of priests and both bishops. A few people mentioned to me that they did not know of Fr. Hunter’s passing. We tried to get the information out as quickly and efficiently as possible, particularly via social media and electronic means. He died on Monday, January 11th, and the funeral was on that Saturday, so we did not have that much time to let everyone know. I apologize if you did not receive word of his death and would have liked to have attended his funeral. We did record the funeral Mass and you can watch it anytime on our parish website. Furthermore, if you have computer or smartphone access, call our Parish Office to make sure you are on our Flocknote email listing. That way we can contact you more quickly in the future if needed.
The funeral of a priest reminds me once again of something near and dear to my heart. It is one of those special moments when we see a parish, even a diocese, as the “Family of God.” A diocesan priest, unlike a religious priest, makes a lifelong commitment to a particular people and geographical place. That is part of the charism or spirituality of diocesan priesthood. For example, priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg have dedicated their lives to the people of the five county area of west-central Florida. We promise to live and die doing the Lord’s work right here, with the help of God’s grace. The graves of our priests at Calvary Cemetery are a testament to that commitment. But what makes a priest’s funeral so special is its “family connection.” First, we come to pray for a brother priest and entrust him to the love and mercy of our heavenly Father. Second, we see the family, both parish and diocese, come together in a tangible expression of its powerful bond of unity. And finally, it is reassuring to know that in this Family of God no one is ever alone, even at the end of our earthly life. That means a lot to me.
St. Brendan's Catholic Church of Clearwater, FL, located on Island Estates, is a loving, vibrant Catholic Church seeking for each and every member a growing relationship with Jesus Christ and His Church.