Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Letter for Dec. 21st and Dec. 28th

Dear Friends in Christ, my Brothers and Sisters in the Family of God,
It is the fourth Sunday of Advent 2014, and we have reached our 2014 celebration of Christmas. Allow me to reflect doubly on this incredible, unbelievable season, giving just the first part of a dis-course which will be continued in our parish bulletin for Holy Family Sunday. Between December 25th and January 1st – between Christmas and the Solemnity of Mary, the Mother of God – we will find ourselves encountering, contemplating, celebrating the greatest thing that God put on this earth: Himself in human form. How many people call themselves Christian, and yet never wonder at what it means to believe in Christ? If you call yourself a Catholic, or even a Christian, you should be awestruck at your own professed faith. On this Christmas Day, Thursday December 25th 2014, at least a quarter of the people in this world will celebrate the birthday of a man who rede-fined all of human time; his birth reset the clock (T = zero) and we have counted 2014 years since that day. Can He be a mere human being? An objective look at history will lead to wonder that He is the difference between BC and AD. He is the difference between humanity living with a faint glimmer of hope that communion with the Divine is possible, verses the world-changing difference that was made when… when… What happened on Christmas 2014 years ago? God… came… to… earth… as… a… baby…boy… ! GOD became part of the human family which He Himself had cre-ated! Throughout the Year of our Lord (Annum Dominum, A.D.) only the saints have come close to molding their lives and their words to the greatness of this Christmas Revelation. Did you know that St. Nicholas, a Catholic Bishop, is renowned for his fight to uphold this Revelation? In the year 325 AD he “had it out” with the heretic Arius, over a heresy which was claiming that Jesus Christ was not Truly God. Connect the dots in St. Nicholas’s life; it was the same passion for Christ’s Divinity, that led him to fight for the true Catholic meaning of Christmas (the birth of True God and True man), that also led him to give away money and possessions to the poor, as we try to imitate with Christmas gifts. Do we really know Jesus Christ? What have we learned from the men he sent, like St. Nicholas? The Apostles, now the bishops and priests of the church, visibly represent Christ on earth. Christ redefined the human family in a Covenant which he called his “Church.” Do we pretend that we have really embraced that Covenant fully, when in fact we could grow so much more in our passion for Christ, a passion like that of St. Nicholas? Start growing in this conviction and passion today. Rediscover what it means to be Christian. Rediscover why the family of God has adopted the name Catholic. Say, “by the sacraments, especially confession and the Eucharist, I draw close to God-made-man.” In the Catholic Church we encounter Christ Jesus Himself, the God-Man coming to earth each and every day through the hands of his priests, through the power of his scriptures, and through the lives of his brothers and sisters in the Family of His heavenly Father. True, we often fall short of the life which a son or daughter of God should live. Yet Christ keeps coming and keeps drawing us closer. I may slack off, I may cut corners, I may cheat a little in life, “hoping” for an easier grading curb. But the great news of Christmas is that God came to earth for me. God came to earth for liars, for cheats, for scoundrels. God came to earth for lip-service Christians. God came to earth for hypocrites, like me. No matter what has passed, the Son of God came to meet me where I was, and that encounter is always available. That encounter with God will reach a new and wonderful high-point at Christmas Mass; not because I climbed to such divine heights myself, but because He lifted me up. And I will have a little more passion and conviction, to love and thank the Lord Jesus Christ this Christmas day.

Cont. in next weeks letter.

Dear Parishioners,
It is Sunday in the Christmas Octave. Consider a scripture verse you may not associate with Christmas: “you know the gracious act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that for your sake he became poor although he was rich, so that by his poverty you might become rich” (2. Cor 8:9). It describes Jesus being born into the world. Allow me to compare it with my own life blessings in Christ Jesus: Himself the essence of the Christmas season.
My reflection starts with an aside. In my first few years as a priest, I have tended to introduce myself as “Fr. Naples.” Initially, the only people who called me “Fr. Tim” were those who had already known me personally for a few years. It thus seemed strange to adopt to more and more people using the latter salutation “Fr. Tim,” when it always made it sound like they knew me quite well, while I thought they didn’t know me at all! I don’t really care, whichever salutation is most comfortable for people. But let me share this one additional thing that I like about referencing myself as “Fr. Naples.” It is my family name; and as such, it invokes a whole number of blessings which never belonged to “Tim Naples” personally, except by the undeserved and unmerited blessings on the Naples family in general. There were many, and the majority may remain mysterious until heaven.
This Christmas Feast Octave, as a continuation of last week’s letter about the greatness of Catholicism, let me share with you a small snippet of the mysterious blessings of my life. I have never known poverty. The fact that my family did not have the means to take family vacations other than camping trips, or to have costly pas-times, never led me to feel want for anything essential. This came with the disguised blessing of engaging in work, foisted upon me as a teenager, like mowing lawns and shoveling walks, with little pay, but even less of a need for that pay. Having no financial needs until college, I bought my first car outright with cash all on my own. I worked part time in college, and always had two or three thousand dollars at my disposal, for any rea-son, right up until I became a priest. While in seminary I was blessed to make a retreat in Ars France, the home of St. John Vianney, now patron saint of all priests. His virtue of poverty was impressed upon me, although he was a diocesan priest and never took a vow concerning material possessions. It resonated greatly with the life-style of simplicity with which I grew up. This has been a great help to me as a priest. I do not want possessions. I want the people I know to conform their lives to the laws of God. I want the people I know to stop caring about worldly appearances, to stop caring about worldly priorities, and put everything they have at the service of the Lord Jesus. I want the grace to practice what I preach; to know, love, and serve Christ.
My situation now is similar to that of my youth. All sorts of administrative and busy work is foisted upon me, not because the Catholic faith demands that this work be done by a priest, but because there is no one else to take it on. The pay is not great. But rarely do I even need the pay. As far as truly priestly tasks are concerned, I am thoroughly overpaid and underworked. It is ridiculous that people want to give me money for saying Masses, for doing baptisms, for performing a wedding, for bringing communion, for giving spiritual counsel, or for preaching and teaching the Word of God. It is crazy to think that the reason the priest is underpaid is because he does so much spiritual good for his people; there may be other reasons, but this is not one of them.
This Christmas Octave I am focusing on renewing the act of Marian consecration to Jesus which I professed as a seminarian. When our Lord was born on Christmas, and divested himself of his heavenly riches, as 2 Cor. 8 affirms, we can posit that He entrusted them all to the soul of His Immaculate Mother. From her, they have been loaned to us, and they are truly great. Therefore we are rich; and every priest has been given more than his fair share of these riches. What else is needed? So, for the third year running, I refuse to accept personally the Pastor’s Portion of 25% of the Christmas collection. The few hundred dollars I plan to give to the 2015 Charity resolutions of the Knights of Columbus in Vermont, in the name of the parish. From the hands of the Blessed Virgin Mary, we have received “every spiritual blessing in the heavens” (Eph. 1:3). Let us spread them far and wide. They will not run out. Merry Christmas!
in our Lord Jesus Christ and His Immaculate Mother Mary, Fr. Naples
December 28, 2014 Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus Mary and Joseph

Saturday, December 13, 2014


Happy "Sunday guaranteed to be closer to Christmas than the start of Advent" day!

Remember, all parishes in Vermont are offering scheduled Advent Confession times this Wednesday. Trinity Parish will have Eucharistic Adoration and Confessions from 6:30 PM to 8:00 PM at St. Theresa's Church in Orleans.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thursday of the First Week of Advent, and Christmas is literally three weeks away!
Here: you may want to look at the readings for the next Sunday of Advent
Check out all the readings, and don't forget that the parish Mass Schedule is posted here on the Blog.
Jesus and Mary Bless you,
Fr. Naples

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent is Here
Do you have your Advent Wreath out?
Do you have a copy of Rediscover Catholicism?
What can you do to rediscover the greatness of our Lord Jesus Christ? Here is a suggestion, attend a couple of daily Masses this Advent Season. Please keep the intentions of Trinity Parish and St. Paul's School in your prayers. Save this Calendar on your computer, or print an extra copy to hang on your wall.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Christ the King Sunday

This is the last week in Ordinary Time. Our celebration of Christ the King Sunday precedes our Advent season. Are you ready?

Congratulations to three parishioners who joined the Knights of Columbus last Thursday: Lance Decker, Pierre Letourneau, Johnathan Perkins!

Consider the Rediscover Catholicism group. Those who participate with Frank Daigneault on Sundays at 9:45AM may use the following reading schedule, reading Part I before Advent. 
Before the first week of Advent read Pgs. 11 to 63
Before the second week of Advent read Pgs. 64 to 139
Before the third week of Advent read Pgs. 140 to 279
Before the fourth week of Advent read Pgs. 280 to 317
 Books are available in all the churches. Bring a friend!

Discussion question for the week: how can our focus on Christ remain strong in all of the holiday activities?