December 8, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Shedd, Oregon. December 25, 1948. “Dear Friends,” wrote Marie Bussard, a homesick mother of three. “Now that Christmas is here again… we find that there is too much news to fit into a note on each card. We have borrowed this idea of a Christmas News Letter from our friends the Chambers and the Danns.”

So they’re the ones to blame.

Without realizing it, Bussard was among the pioneers of a new practice that spread across the postwar landscape in the 1950s and ’60s, as more people moved away from their hometowns. A year-end ritual we have learned to love and hate simultaneously, the holiday newsletter has always been Americanish—efficient, egalitarian and increasingly secular. It got a big boost in the 1960s when photocopiers made rapid reproduction widely available and the U.S. Postal Service brought out the first-class Christmas stamp, encouraging more people to send holiday greetings. In the stamp’s debut year, 1962, post offices sold 1 billion, at 4 cents each.

The emphasis of these Christmas Newsletters, of course, is on the positive, and the great American talent for selfpromotion is much in evidence. One study of holiday newsletters found that the leading topic was travel experiences. Weather was big. Also near the top: Mom and Dad’s professional accomplishments, the kids’ scholastic achievements and the family’s material possessions. At the bottom of the list were personal and work problems. Analyzing about a half-century of newsletters, Ann Burnett of North Dakota State University saw an increase in the use of words such as “hectic,” “whirlwind” and “crazy.” Through their annual holiday letters, she says, people were “competing about being busy.”

The traditional Christmas card was considered a vulgar time-saver when it was first introduced in the 1840s, so perhaps it’s no wonder that almost as soon as newsletters appeared, they too became a punchline. Ann Landers, in her syndicated advice column, published complaints about the so-called “brag rags,” such as one first printed in 1968 asking why “normally intelligent people seem to take leave of their senses at Christmas.” Umbrage, of course, was taken. “How can you, in good conscience, encourage people to not share their happy news in holiday letters?” chided Pam Johnson, the founder of the Secret Society of Happy People. “As culture wars go, this was pretty tame, but an Emily Post Institute survey showed that Americans were sharply divided, with 53 percent approving of the holiday letter and 47 percent hating it.

I debated. The internet might have put an end to this oddly fascinating custom. Who needs a once-a-year family fun marketing report when Facebook and Instagram can update friends and strangers every minute?

But in the end, I couldn’t help myself. Please let me brag about my family in the next few pages of this bulletin (full bulletin online can be seen at
http://saintmaxkolbe.com/download/2012/12082019-StMaximilianKolbe-1.pdf ).

Happy Advent,

Father Pete

December 2, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

I always hope things will slow down in Advent. This desire, if you share it, I think comes from a reminder of how much we all need time and space for preparation, for hope, for light in darkness in the busyness of our lives. Yes, it’s always a struggle to fight the urge to leap forward into the celebration of Christmas and the urge to get caught up in the excess of the secular holiday season.

But somehow, isn’t this the essence of Advent – figuring out how to live in this in-between time when the reign of God is not yet fully upon us? It’s about learning what the life of faith is all about – learning to live in between the assurance of God’s promise to us and the fulfillment of that promise.

I recently read a take on Advent which suggests that this in-between-time should match the intensity of Christmas itself. That God is as much in the waiting as in the arrival. That God is powerfully present in our waiting. The author sets the scene this way:

The house lights go off and the footlights come on. Even the chattiest stop chattering as they wait in darkness for the curtain to rise. In the orchestra pit, the violin bows are poised. The conductor has raised the baton . . . . . .

The extraordinary thing that is about to happen is matched only by the extraordinary moment just before it happens. Advent is the name of that moment . . . . . .

And if you concentrate on that instant, somewhere you can feel the beating of your heart. For all its madness and lostness, not to mention your own, you can hear the world itself holding its breath.”

I love this image of the ‘world itself holding its breath’ before the initiative of God. Sometimes, it may feel for us that this waiting time for God to reveal Himself in our lives is interminable. Sometimes our energy wanes and we lose our focus on the energy present in the waiting. But in the pause, in the silence, God is there. With us.

To attune yourself to this time and space for preparation, for hope, for light in darkness, I encourage you to join me in some special offerings during the next four weeks of Advent:

  • Advent Parish Mission Begins on Dec. 1-Rejoice!
  • Advent Meditations with Mary (4 Week Mission)
  • Trip to NYC to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the Christmas Spectacular with the Rockettes-December 6
  • Advent Mediation Group meets Fridays, Dec. 6, 13, & 20 in the COTR Classroom #6
  • Advent Day of Reflection with the Franciscan Sisters of the Renewal-Sat., Dec. 7-10:00 am – 2:00 pm COTR
  • Feed the Needy Program: Delivery Date December 21 Toys for Tots Giving Tree Collecting Turkeys, Hams and Chickens
  • Saint Casimir’s Christmas Baskets (Distribution date: Dec. 19-21) Giving Tree Collecting Food Donations and Toys for the Needy
  • Advent Penance Service-Dec. 10, 7:00 pm, COTR
  • Christmas Caroling-Saturday, Dec. 14
  • Knights of Columbus, Council 9113 “Bucket List” Raffle and Awards Dinner Saturday, Dec. 14 at the Tuckahoe Inn
  • Bambinelli Sunday-Sunday, Dec. 15 – 9:30 am Mass, COTR
  • Christmas for Covenant House Residents. Delivery Date: Christmas Morning.

One of the common characteristics we find in the Apostle Paul’s letters is the number of times he gives thanks to God in prayer. The opening of Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is an example of this: “I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Eph. 1:16). Paul was a man forgiven of much and so his prayers were punctuated with thanksgiving for all of the blessings he received from God. Paul’s thankfulness finds precedent especially in the Psalms such as Psalm 136 which repeats a continual refrain: Give thanks to the Lord and then lists many different things for which the psalmist was thankful. Can we say the same about our own prayers?

To be honest, this is sometimes a shortcoming in my own prayers. I’m quick to take my needs to Christ in prayer but almost as equally quick to forget to thank him for the blessings in my life. Perhaps part of my own forgetfulness on this account is due to the fact that I don’t regularly take brief inventory of God’s blessings in my life. When I get ill and then recover, I give thanks for my restored health. But it takes an illness to remind me of the blessing of a healthy state that I normally enjoy. When I narrowly miss having a car accident, I give thanks for God’s protection. But why does it take an avoided accident to awake me from my stupor to recognize God’s providential care every moment of my life?

Ideally, any time we bow our heads in prayer our hearts should overflow with thanksgiving for the many blessings we have received from God’s hand, chief of which is our salvation. Any time we open our mouths in prayer, thanksgiving for our salvation should flow out. But we should also take inventory of our lives and count the numerous ways God continually blesses us: health, jobs, family, friends, homes, clothing, food, and the like. There is always something in our lives for which we can be thankful. Once again, if we find ourselves at a loss for words unable to think of things for which to be thankful, we should turn to the Psalms. The psalmist knew how to thank the Lord for many different things, whether in times of joy or sorrow. The psalmist didn’t paint over the tragedies and suffering of life with a thin coat of feigned thanksgiving. The psalmist knew of great travail and tragedy but nevertheless could perceive the light of God’s mercy piercing the darkness and thus regularly gave thanks.

Therefore, whenever you pray, “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever” (Psa. 136:1). Today, I write anew, with thanksgiving in my heart and on my lips for you. Be assured that each day I lift you up in prayer for you are a blessing for which I am not forgetful. Happy Thanksgiving,

Father Pete

November 17, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Msgr James J Zegers Council 9113

Presents the Third Annual“BUCKET LIST” RAFFLE






RAFFLE AWARDS DINNER cost $50 PER PERSON. Please RSVP & pay by December 1. Dinner begins 6:00-7:00pm Light Appetizers & Cash Bar followed by 7:00-8:00pm Dinner (Prime Rib or Crab Cake) and 8:00pm Raffle Drawing

TO PURCHASE RAFFLE TICKETS OR TO SIGN UP AND PAY FOR THE AWARDS DINNER, CONTACT JOHN OLANSEN AT (732) 691-1191 (If no immediate answer, please leave a voicemail). RAFFLE TICKETS ALSO AVAILABLE AT THE CHURCH RECTORY OFFICEMake out raffle ticket & awards dinner checks to: “KOFC 9113 RAFFLE ACCOUNT”Awards dinner(s) can also be paid for via the “UPPERKNIGHTS.COM” website.Must be 18 or older to participate. Do not have to be present to win.

Gift Card Order Form

If you would like to help the parish by purchasing gift cards, please use the following link for the form. http://saintmaxkolbe.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/11/1.1.2020-revised-Copy-of-Credit-card-Gift-Card-order-form-2.pdf

Thank you.

November 9, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

Advent is a special time of year to gain spiritual fruits, particularly peace and joy. A special mediator of these graces is our Blessed Mother Mary. In her humanity, she responds with virtue in a special way when the Lord Jesus entered into her life. Her response teaches us lessons that we can best learn from her in the history of salvation.

The Parish of Saint Maximilian Kolbe will experience the journey of Mary as she prepares for the birth of Jesus. This Advent we will walk with Mary to the Nativity-allowing her to shape us and form us to live our unique mission for and with our Savior.

“Advent: Walk with Mary– The First Missionary Disciple”, is an Advent journey that will help us walk closer and closer to the ultimate goal of preparing for the person of Jesus, not just preparing for the day of Christmas. Community is a key component in the journey to holiness and Advent is a perfect time to focus on prayer and grow stronger in friendships on this shared journey. My hopes are that the whole parish get involved and journey together as a community.

And yes, I have finally made it to YouTube. I invite you to go to the link below to learn more about this mission of “Advent: Walk with Mary– The First Missionary Disciple”. I’d like to see this mission go “virile” in our parish community. Let us learn to walk with Mary and become disciples who will take this journey out of the front doors of our church and all the way to the Nativity.

Will you join Mary? Please listen to this invitation to see how we can do this together. https://youtu.be/5k65VhzSxic

God Bless,

Fr. Pete

Winner of the Great Pumpkin

Congratulations to Gavin for winning the 2019 Great Pumpkin! Two Hundred and Eighty people submitted an entry estimating the weight of Father Pete’s Great Pumpkin. This year’s winner is seven year-old Gavin with an exact guess of 135 pounds. As promised, Father Pete delivered Gavin’s prize in time for Halloween.

November 3, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window

The end of October comes with a soulful reminder that the growing season is over. The songbirds are pretty much gone and, apart from the oaks and the evergreens, so are most of the leaves. Our ancestors saw this change in the seasons as a chance to look back and consider the Big Picture. Deny it as we might, it’s a healthy thing to consider our limits. This coming week’s secular and sacred trio of feasts (Halloween, All Saints, and All Souls) are but the entrance to Christianity’s month-long corrective to our usual thoughtlessness about such matters. Nature is dying back, and, someday, so will I.

From visiting the young women and men who belong to our CCD program, I have discovered a happy trend that their costume selections invite them to imagine themselves to be “bigger than life”–Captain America and Wonder Women, firefighters and athletes … for these are a link to the Feast of All Saints (from which the word “Halloween” the Eve of the Feast of All Holy Ones derives).

The saints are those who took Christ at his word. More can be made of us than what we have settled for, and we can see that in the lives of God’s great heroes. How will we think greatness is possible unless we see it lived by people like us? C. S. Lewis offers this astute observation about what it means to be a saint: “It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this world. Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in; aim at earth and you will get neither.”

The Feast of All Souls reminds us that, at the time of their death, not all have embraced the greatness of saints in their life. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, in consideration says that the Church, “from the very earliest days of the Christian religion, has honored with great respect the memory of the dead; and ‘because it is a holy and a wholesome thought to pray for the dead that they may be loosed from their sins’ she offers her sacrifices and prayers for them.” We are not called to simply trust that the dead are in heaven; we are called to give them our prayers so that they may arrive there quickly.

Some who I know to be saints are the women and men who have to work with me daily (I know, terrible segue):

I invite you to join me and some of them on December 6 for a Christmas excursion to NYC to see the other Rockettes. Please see the bulletin for details or contact the parish office,

Fr. Pete

An Invitation from Father Pete

October 27, 2019 – A View from the Rectory Window


I invite you and your family to the Mass on the Feast of All Souls at 4pm on Saturday, November 2, 2019 at the Church of the Resurrection, Marmora. In particular, we have extended this invitation to those 84 families who have lost a loved one to death this past year and for whom we have prayed as a parish family. I invite you to come in support of these families.

At this Mass, as we pray for and with one another, you are also invited to bring a picture of your loved one that can be placed on a table before the altar. I ask you to contact our parish office at the Church of the Resurrection (609) 390-0664 to inform us if you or someone from your family will be attending this Mass, so that we might make the appropriate accommodations for you.

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If you’ve walked into the Church of the Resurrection main entrance recently, you’ve seen our version of the ‘Great Pumpkin.’ Be the one to guess its weight (or come closest) by Monday, October 28 and it will be delivered to you in time for Halloween by Fr. Pete. Submit your guess to the parish office (609-390-0664) or drop off your guess in the designated box in the gathering area. One condition; Fr. Pete likes pumpkin pie.
Last year’s winner – Nathan Dempsey made pumpkin muffins which made Fr. Pete a winner as well.

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