March 17, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Years ago, there was a popular series on CBS called “You Are There,” hosted by Walter Cronkite, where great moments of history were re-created to make viewers feel as though the action were unfolding before their eyes.

You might get a similar sensation if you drop by our churches any Friday evening during Lent [6pm Saint Casimir and 7pm Church of the Resurrection] to participate in one of the most popular, and perennially moving, experiences we have in our parish: the Stations of the Cross. The Stations of the Cross offer a profoundly human interpretation of one of Christianity’s oldest devotions.

Each week a different experience of the Stations of the Cross is prayed.

For example, one way is known as “Mary’s Way of the Cross.” While we are praying the stations, we share intimately in a mother’s anguish, heartbreak and pain. It is palpable. From the very first station, we realize that we are about to be taken someplace we’ve never been before. The first station begins with this reflection: “It was early Friday morning when I saw my son. That was the first glimpse I had of him since they took him away….”And our journey begins. We’ve been plunged into another world. Marmora and Woodbine becomes Jerusalem. And we start to feel some small part of what Mary must have gone through. Between each station we sing the “Stabat Mater” (“At the cross her station keeping…”) and work our way through the struggles, the falls, the tears and the torment. Mary becomes our narrator and guide, gently leading us to the place we really don’t want to go, but always reminding us that there was a greater purpose behind every setback, every stumble, and every stab of pain. “I knew it had to be,” she says to us. “And so I walked on, silently.” Adding to the experience—illuminating it—is our own involvement in Christ’s passion and death.

Mary isn’t the only one reliving the climb to Calvary. So are we. “Lord,” we pray, “what pain you endured for me. And what pain your mother went through, seeing her only son die for love of me!” The Stations of the Cross have resonated for hundreds of years—and one reason, I think, is that Christ’s journey is really our journey. His anguish is ours. And as we follow his agony, we are invited to meditate on all the crosses we carry. How we struggle under them. How we fall. How we rise. And how we go on.

As much as it is about our salvation, and Christ’s bottomless love for us, the road to Calvary is also an arduous path through all manner of human suffering and sacrifice. But we take heart in this: Good Friday isn’t the end of the journey. And that simple truth suffuses the Way of the Cross with consolation and hope. Ultimately, “Mary’s Way of the Cross” is the way all of us must travel. And this interpretation of a timeless devotion helps us to realize that—and allows us to feel, for a short time on a cold Friday night, that we aren’t just reading about the passion, or watching it unfold from across the centuries.

I invite you to join me on this journey,

Fr. Pete

March 10, 2019 View from the Rectory Window

Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.” (Mt 4:1-2)

What did we do before cell phones?

Once upon a time we waited patiently in line to use a public phone. There were these things called “phone booths” on street corners. Most had doors. You could shut them and quiet the noise and have a civilized conversation (I’m fairly sure all of this is true, because I’ve seen it in grainy black and white movies they show on TCM). Those were the good old days.

Now, each of us is a walking phone booth. We have devices that clip on our belts or fit into a purse. We wear tiny headsets that are almost invisible. We pass people, walking alone on the street, who are having animated conversations with no one in particular. We are constantly sending each other texts or tweets from devices small enough to fit in the palm of our hand. My smartphone sends emails, manages my calendar and even has GPS to help me in case I get lost. It also has games, plays music and does it’s duty as a camera. There’s even an app to help me find my keys.

Maybe all this is a great step forward for the human race. But I’m having a hard time believing it. Since we can do so much, anywhere, anytime, with so little effort, we have forgotten that obscure and much-overlooked virtue: patience. We no longer have to schedule a phone call or wait for the mail; anything can be done whenever it’s convenient. And bit by bit, I fear, we are forgetting some of the most exquisite human emotions.

Things like anticipation. And apprehension. The agonizing worry that goes with waiting. The necessity of biding time. As a result, time has become less meaningful—and we no longer have to wait for the answer to a question or the resolution of a problem. Do it now. We can. And we do.

This has a ripple effect, I believe, that can even touch our lives as Christians. We can become less willing to accommodate another’s imperfections, less able to see the value of someone else’s time. It can even impact how we pray. We can be tempted to fill the periodic moments of silence with chatter. Who has time to converse with God, when there’s a voice or text message on your phone waiting to be answered?

The inconvenient truth is this isn’t how we were made to live. And because communication has become so instantaneous and spontaneous, I think we run the risk of losing a vital part of our humanity. The part that listens and that waits for an answer. The part that anticipates. The part that delays gratification, and satisfaction, and doesn’t demand it immediately.

I know my smartphone has made my life easier in many ways, but I also wish I could give it up for Lent. It would probably be a good spiritual exercise and teach me a few things about myself. It might make me more patient, more tolerant, more accepting. It would certainly give me more time to talk with God and about God.

Fr. Pete

Upcoming Lenten Events



On February 25, a few parishioners received an email from fr.monsignor.peter.joyce.pastor@gmail.com, and in the past Msgr.pjoyce@gmail.com asking for help in purchasing iTunes cards for someone in the hospital or asking for a favor. This is a scam and you should delete this immediately! Father Pete and the staff would never solicit anyone for money, gifts or otherwise in this manner.  Please call the parish office if you have any questions at 609-390-0664.


Tomorrow, February 26 RCIA class has been canceled. Sorry for any inconvenience.

February 24, 2019 A View From the Rectory

On Monday, March 4, the Feast of Saint Casimir, I invite everyone to a 7pm Mass at our beautiful Church of Saint Casimir in Woodbine. Saint Casimir Church which was dedicated on February 1, 1939, maintains a legacy to the Polish community who helped found this church and is enlivened by our Hispanic sisters and brothers who worship with us today.

Saint Casimir’s Story

Casimir, born of kings and in line to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning. As a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy. When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir’s father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the “enemy”; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home.His father was irked at the failure of his plans, and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. At this point he made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day, and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor’s daughter.

He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father’s absence. He died of lung trouble at 25 while visiting Lithuania, of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.

For many years, Poland and Lithuania faded into the gray prison on the other side of the Iron Curtain. Despite repression, the Poles and Lithuanians remained firm in the faith which has become synonymous with their name. Their youthful patron reminds us: Peace is not won by war; sometimes a comfortable peace is not even won by virtue, but Christ’s peace can penetrate every government repression of religion.

Last year, following the Mass on the Feast of Saint Casimir, we gathered under tents for a feast. This year, in keeping with the humble nature of our church and our patron Saint Casimir we will gather after the Mass in the lower church for light refreshments. In order to prepare, I ask you to sign up in the vestibules of our churches or call the office (609) 390-0664.

Fr. Pete

January 17, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Recently I wrote about the lost and found in our church’s sacristies. Among the most common items left behind are holy cards. Which leads me to ask; “Are you a card-carrying Catholic?” It seems a lot of us are.

The Catholic News Service reported recently that an old Catholic custom has gotten a new lease on life. The business of holy cards is booming. People are selling them on eBay, trading them on Websites, and even collecting them in—for want of a better term —mass quantities.

A Staten Island priest said he has about 40,000 holy cards. An Ohio collector has more than 20,000—one of them, he says, dates from the 17th century. We shouldn’t be surprised. Holy cards are among the cheapest and most familiar of sacramentals—those devotional items that assist us in our prayer lives. (The palms you collected on Palm Sunday—and that are now collecting dust on top of your refrigerator—fall into the same category.)

We find holy cards everywhere: They’re given out at funerals and baptisms, sold in gift shops, enclosed with birthday and sympathy cards.

They find their way into wallets and purses, breviaries and Bibles. They are wedged into mirrors, tacked to bulletin boards, pinned with magnets to refrigerators. Some of mine are yellowing in the bottom of my desk drawer, where I put them and forget them. Others are vivid reminders of mileposts in living, and dying. I still have cards from the funerals of many of my family and friends, and from time to time I look at them, read them, reflect on them.

There’s something poignant and potent about them. Here, in slivers of laminated paper, are the final punctuation marks of life.

There are other reasons for collecting these remembrances. For some of us, these holy cards, adorned with saints or icons, become portable chapels—pocket-sized shrines. Place one on your desk and you have an altar. Tack one to your refrigerator and you have a memorial. Your wallet can be a repository of receipts—and of reverence. Where else can St. Jude share space with a credit card?

We can’t all collect priceless art. But for a dollar, you can get a picture that you can carry in your pocket, to take out and study while you whisper a prayer or two, anywhere, any time.

And as the Church adds to her communion of saints, the faithful adds to its collection of cards. St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Padre Pio, St. Katherine Drexel, and Mother Theresa are now sold in stores beside St. Casimir, St. Francis, St. Anthony and St. Joseph. (When you think of the roster of saints we have, it’s quite a gathering of All Stars. Imagine if kids traded saint cards the way they trade baseball cards. Hey, I’ll give you my Maximilian Kolbe for your Francis de Sales!).

In the end, maybe that’s the most important thing about these sacramentals: They remind us of all those who came before us. Need any proof that the Catholic Church has given the world some of the most dynamic, creative and enterprising characters in history? You don’t have to look far. It’s in the cards.

Fr. Pete

2019 House of Charity

This weekend Father Pete invited all parishioners to consider giving to the House of Charity. If you would like to learn more about the House of Charity, you can listen to Bishop Sullivan’s talk on the House of Charity at http://www.camdendiocese.org/hoc/watch-2019-video/

The House of Charity – Bishop’s Annual Appeal seeks to raise funds to provide care, respect, justice, peace and dignity for every soul in the Diocese of Camden. Support of the 2019 House of Charity – Bishop’s Annual Appeal ensures the vitality of essential Diocesan ministries and programs that sustain the healing, teaching and redemptive Presence of Jesus Christ through the Diocese of Camden.

If you have decide to make a donation to the House of Charity, you can fill out a pledge card and place it in the collection basket at Mass or you can visit the Diocese website at https://16042.thankyou4caring.org/ to make a donation.

Thank you.

February 3, 2019 – A View From the Rectory Window

There are shelves in the sacristies of our churches that hold a hundred stories. On them are rosaries, some losing their color, counted by unknown hands. There are thick glasses, for eyes that need help to pray. There are ancient prayer books, small and concise, their leather covers cracked with age, their pages beginning to fall loose. Some have holy cards tucked inside. Some have pictures inside. Some of them have faded notations written inside in pencil, in a foreign language—personal reminders that, like everything else in that drawer, are now missing.

Welcome to the parish’s lost and found.

Invariably, after Sunday Mass, an usher will bring back something that ends up on that shelf. An umbrella, a baby bottle, a purse, glasses, even a wallet. Most items get picked up later that day. But some are never claimed, and sit there, quietly gathering dust.

It is the things that seem to be most needed, and most precious, that end up being misplaced. How do some people get by without their glasses? Without medicine or inhalers? Some of the prayer books are worn down by hands that have turned over their pages a thousand times. How could someone leave behind something that was so clearly a vital and treasured part of a life?

You’ll also find there: baseball caps, and children’s storybooks. Once in a while, someone forgets a cell phone or car keys. It’s amazing what we allow to slip through our fingers.

Why is it that so much of what we have ends up being taken for granted, neglected, lost?

It happens in friendships and marriages, between parents and children.It happens, too, in our faith.

Christianity requires attention. It demands something.

As Chesterton famously put it: “Christianity has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and not tried.” Living “The Way” requires things that we humans inherently shun: sacrifice, humility, martyrdom, pain.

No wonder so many of us end up misplacing our faith.

The Gospel promises that it is worth the effort to hold onto our belief, to keep it from slipping through our fingers. But it takes attention, care, practice.

Practice. There’s a reason, I think, why we practice Catholicism. It is something that needs to be done, again and again, like scales on a piano. Try it sometime. Practice prayer. Practice love. Practice reverence. Practice silence, and simplicity, and fervor. Practice finding God in the details of daily life—in the office, on the sub-way, over the kitchen sink. Even, perhaps, practice it in church. Practice keeping track of the thousand small details that together form our faith, and that touch our lives with grace.

Paying attention to those things, I think, can keep faith from ending up on a shelf, lost and waiting to be found.

Fr. Pete


Father Pete’s RCIA Class for January 29, 2019 has been postponed to February 5, 2019 at 7:00 pm.

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