5 Minutes

  • By Fr. Joseph Byerley
  • 22 Jul, 2017

Spiritual Fitness

I was having lunch with a couple of friends the other day. One of them was telling me about a book that he picked up in the library of the prison where he volunteers. I don’t remember the exact title, but it was some sort of self-help book that claims substantial benefit from doing five minutes of exercise right when you wake up in the morning, before you do anything else. My friend has been trying this the past month or so and has said that he can definitely feel the difference. Mind you, my friend is already a fitness nut and distance runner. Yet he has found value in starting off his day with just five minutes of physical activity – whether it is walking on the treadmill, stretching, some pushups and sit-ups, really anything to get the heart moving in the morning. So a guy, who already works out frequently and regularly does ten mile runs, says he had noticed a positive difference in those five minutes of activity right when he gets up in the morning. It’s probably a good thing for any of us to do.

I guess you know where I am heading. If getting our physical heart beating fast first in the morning is good for our bodies, even if one is already physically fit, think about the comparable value of getting our spiritual hearts – our souls - also beating fast first thing in the morning. What is the first thing you do when the alarm goes off? How about making the Sign of the Cross and thanking God for another day? Then, after turning off the alarm, before you do your five minutes of exercise, how about working out your soul for five minutes? Taking five minutes to connect with God first thing in the morning, no matter how spiritually “fit” we may already be, will give us a great spiritual jump start for the day. There are a host of morning prayers around (two examples are below) that one can pray as a way of starting your day off with the Lord. By consciously taking those five minutes or so in the morning to acknowledge God and opening our hearts to Him, we will not only receive His grace as we awake, but we will also orient our whole day to the Lord and provide ourselves with essential spiritual protection from evil first thing in the morning. Beginning your day with God can’t be anything but great for us.

So if you are not in the practice of starting your day off with those five minutes, give it a shot. If you need, write yourself a note to remind you. Put it near your alarm clock or on the floor next to your bed. Better yet, make it ten minutes – five for God and five for your body. I can guarantee that small investment of time in the morning will pay huge benefits throughout the day, spiritually and physically.

God bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley

Morning Offering
O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
I offer you my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings of this day
for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart,
in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world,
for the salvation of souls, the reparation of sins, the reunion of all Christians,
and in particular for the intentions of the Holy Father this month.

Morning Offering to the Holy Trinity
Most Holy and Adorable Trinity, One God in Three Persons, I praise You and give You thanks for all the favors You has bestowed upon me. Your goodness has preserved me until now, I offer You my whole being and in particular, all my thoughts, words, and deeds, together with all the trials I may undergo this day. Give them Your blessing. May Your Divine Love animate them and may they serve Your greater glory. I make this morning
offering in union with the Divine intentions of Jesus Christ Who offers himself daily in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and in union with Mary, His Virgin Mother and our Mother, who was always the faithful handmaid
of the Lord.
By Fr. Joseph Byerley 16 Nov, 2017

Many, many thanks to all who came out and supported the 96th Annual Saint Rose of Lima Christmas Bazaar – wow 96 years - can you believe it?! It was a great success once again; in fact it was the best ever! It was also a wonderful prelude to the Christmas season. The tally is still being totaled, but the final benefit to the school and parish will be excellent. I wish to express my sincere appreciation and gratitude to all of our chairpersons and volunteers who made this year’s Christmas Bazaar very successful once again. It’s hard to really count up days, weeks and the hours and hours that so many of our people put in to make this such a great event as always. I thank you all and may God bless you!  

Congratulations to our Winners!  

The winner of the Walt Disney Family Vacation voucher was Kelly McAneny  

The Grand Slam 50/50 winners are:  

5th prize - $2181.50 - Joanne Altamuro 

4th prize - $2181.50 - Alexis Geyer  

3rd prize - $2181.50 - Amy Ezekiel  

2nd prize - $2181.50 - Jolene Sparano  

1st prize - $ 13,089.00 - Eileen Fisher  

By Terrance Campbell 09 Nov, 2017
From Catholic.org
By Fr. Joseph Byerley 03 Nov, 2017
In celebration of All Saints Day, I am re-running a nice reflection from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on holiness and becoming a saint. Being a saint really is not all that complicated, according to Benedict XVI, who offers us a simple three-step recipe: Go to Mass on Sunday, begin and end the day in contact with God, and make decisions according to the Ten Commandments. The Pope Emeritus offered this simple guide citing Scripture and the Second Vatican Council, presenting us what is "the most essential" for reaching sanctity.

He said: "What is the most essential? Essential is that no Sunday be left without an encounter with the Risen Christ in the Eucharist -- this is not a burden but light for the whole week. Never to begin or end a day without at least a brief contact with God. And, in the journey of our life, to follow 'road signs' that God has communicated to us in the Ten Commandments read with Christ, which is simply the definition of charity in specific situations. I think this is the true simplicity and grandeur of the life of holiness: the encounter with the Risen One on Sunday; contact with God at the beginning and end of the day; in decisions, to follow the 'road signs' that God has communicated to us, which are simply forms of charity."

Everyone is called to holiness, the Pope Emeritus affirms. "How can we journey on the path of holiness, how can we respond to this call? Can I do so with my own strength?" he asked. "The answer is clear: A holy life is not primarily the fruit of our own effort, of our actions, because it is God, the thrice Holy, who makes us saints, and the action of the Holy Spirit who encourages us from within; it is the life itself of the Risen Christ, which has been communicated to us and which transforms us."

The former Bishop of Rome proposes another question: "Can we, with our limitations, our weakness, reach so high?" Recalling the line-up of saints presented by the Church in the liturgical year -- from every period of Church history, belonging to every age and state of life, he states that the saints are "the concrete faces of all peoples, languages and nations. And they are very different among themselves." And the Pope emeritus pointed to other "saints," who are also "road signs": "the simple saints, that is, the good persons that I see in my life, who will never be canonized. They are ordinary people, to say it somehow, without a visible heroism, but in their everyday goodness I see the truth of the faith. This goodness, which they have matured in the faith of the Church, is for me a sure defense of Christianity and the sign of where the truth is." It is this communion with saints, canonized or not, that enables us to cultivate a "firm hope of being able to imitate their way and share one day the same blessed life, eternal life."

Finally, Pope Emeritus Benedict concludes with an invitation to be open to holiness. "I would like to invite you to open yourselves to the action of the Holy Spirit, who transforms our life, to be, we also, pieces of the great mosaic of holiness that God is creating in history, so that the Face of Christ will shine in the fullness of its brilliance. Let us not be afraid to look on high, to the height of God; let us not be afraid that God will ask too much of us, but let us be guided in all our daily actions by his Word, even if we feel that we are poor, inadequate, sinners: He will be the one to transform us according to his love."

Since it is God who transforms us into Saints, let us let Him do it. We can all be Saints!

God bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley
By Fr. Joseph Byerley 29 Oct, 2017
Since the consolidation of parishes in 2014, you may know that the rectory at the St. Francis DeSales church location in Barrington has been unoccupied. Because it is in good condition, it was very sad that it was not being used. Recently representatives from the Diocese of Camden came to me with a proposal to allow a group of religious sisters who wanted to come and minister in our area. The rectory in Barrington seemed like a perfect spot. Well, I am happy to announce that we are now blessed with some new occupants to the rectory…or should I say now, “convent.” Four sisters from the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity are now residing there.

 The Order was founded in 1909 in Brooklyn, New York, by Father Thomas Augustine Judge, a Vincentian priest ordained in Philadelphia. The sisters come to us from their main house in Philadelphia. The Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity serve the Church in many dioceses in the continental United States, Puerto Rico, and Mexico. Their specific mission is the preservation of the faith in those areas and among those people who are spiritually neglected and abandoned, especially the poor. They work to develop a missionary spirit in the laity, with the goal that every Catholic be an apostle.

 The four sisters who have come here are:
Sister Mary Matthew Labunski will continue to work with Catholic Charities in Salem County; sister had already been working there and was commuting from Philadelphia.
Sister Christine Ma will be working with the Vitality health care services of the Diocese of Camden.
Sister Josefina Mendez, who, while continuing to minister in south Philly, will be exploring possibilities for Hispanic ministry here in the diocese. Sister Joan Lorraine Kreutz will be serving at Rosebud Academy, our Pre School located in Barrington.

We are very happy and blessed to have these wonderful sisters in our Parish of Saint Rose of Lima. As their schedule permits, they do come to both daily Mass and Sunday Mass at Saint Rose. Please, as you always do, give them a warm Saint Rose of Lima welcome! Please make sure you keep them in your prayers that they may have a successful apostolate in our diocese and help many people come closer to the Lord through their service.

God bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley
By Fr. Joseph Byerley 20 Oct, 2017

We can always learn new perspectives on prayer. Pope Emeritus Benedict shows us how the Blessed Mother can help us in our prayer. Meditation isn’t just for the Saints, it is for us all and it is fundamentally simple and uncomplicated. I hope this reflection is beneficial to you. 

God bless you, 

Father Joseph Byerley 

Today, I do wish to speak about meditation. And what is meditation? It means to "remember" all that God has done and not to forget all his benefits (cf. Psalm 103:2b). Often, we see only the negative things. We also need to hold in our memory the good things, the gifts that God has given us; we need to be attentive to the positive signs that come from God, and remember these. Therefore, we are speaking about a kind of prayer that the Christian tradition calls "mental prayer." We are more familiar with vocal prayer, and naturally the mind and heart must also be present in this prayer, but today we are speaking about a meditation that does not involve words, but that is rather a making contact of our mind with the heart of God. 

And here Mary is a true model. The Evangelist Luke repeats numerous times that Mary, for her part, "kept all these things, pondering them in her heart" (2:19; cf. 2:51). She keeps them; she does not forget. She is attentive to all that the Lord has said and done to her, and she ponders; that is, she makes contact with diverse things -- she dwells deeply upon them in her heart. 

In our own time, we are absorbed with so many activities and commitments, concerns and problems. Often, we tend to fill up all the spaces of the day, without having a moment to stop and reflect and to nourish our spiritual life -- our contact with God. Mary teaches us how necessary it is to find in our days -- with all its activities -- moments to recollect ourselves in silence and to ponder all that the Lord wants to teach us, how He is present and acts in the world and in our life: to be able to stop for a moment and meditate. St. Augustine likens meditation on the mysteries of God to the assimilation of food, and he uses a word that recurs throughout the Christian tradition: "ruminate." The mysteries of God should continually resound within us so that they might become familiar to us, guide our life, and nourish us as happens with the food that is neces-sary to sustain us. And St. Bonaventure, referring to the words of sacred Scripture, says that they "should al-ways be ruminated on so as to be kept in mind by the ardent application of the soul". 

To meditate therefore means to create within ourselves an atmosphere of recollection, of interior silence, so as to reflect upon and assimilate the mysteries of our faith, and all that God is doing in us -- and not only the things that come and go. We can "ruminate" in many ways; for instance, by taking a short passage of sacred Scripture, especially the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, the Apostle's Letters, or a page from a spiritual author we are drawn to and which makes the reality of God in our today more present, perhaps taking advice from a confessor or spiritual director; by reading and reflecting on what we've just read, pausing to consider it, seeking to understand it, to understand what it says to me, what it says today -- to open our soul to all that the Lord wants to say to us and teach us. 

The holy rosary is also a prayer of meditation: In repeating the Hail Mary we are invited to think back and to reflect upon the mystery we have announced. But we can also dwell upon some intense spiritual ex-perience, on the words that have remained with us from our participation in the Sunday Eucharist. You see, therefore, there are many ways of meditating and of thereby making contact with God -- of drawing near to God, and in this way, of being on the road to heaven. 

Dear friends, consistency in giving time to God is a fundamental element for spiritual growth; it will be the Lord Himself who gives us a taste for His mysteries, His words, His presence and action, to feel how beautiful it is when God speaks with us. He will make us understand in a more profound way what He wants of us. In the end, this is the goal of our meditation: to entrust ourselves ever more to the hands of God, with trust and love, certain that, in the end, it is only in doing His will that we are truly happy. 

By Fr. Joseph Byerley 06 Oct, 2017

I have just returned from a very beautiful pilgrimage to Spain, Portugal, and France. It was filled with many blessings; I was fortunate to have visited some amazing places and shrines. I remembered you, the wonderful parishioners of Saint Rose of Lima at every Mass and especially at Lourdes and Fatima where I was blessed to be able to concelebrate Mass at the actual spots where the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary took place.  

One of the things that I was reminded of as I visited these holy places where the Blessed Mother appeared was some common themes that these apparitions shared. Whether it was the humble shepherd children of Fatima or the poor country girl, Saint Bernadette, Mary seems to choose those whom the world finds insignificant to deliver a very significant message. This also is seen in the Blessed Mother’s apparitions to Saint Juan Diego in Guadalupe. It is a humble and simple heart that can respond so much better to Our Lady and to her Son, Jesus, than a sophisticated one. This humble and simple heart that Jesus speaks of so often is the one we need to always be striving for if we are going to make any real spiritual progress.  

Whether it was Lourdes or Fatima about sixty years later, there were three things that Mary stressed at both places: penance, prayer for sinners, and the Rosary.  

Mary asked repeatedly to those to whom she appeared to undertake penance for sinners. We are to do penance in reparation for sins. And we must believe that, if we can take the word of Our Lady, which I am sure we can, consciously “offering up” of penances and sufferings really does matter. It isn’t some old fash-ioned idea that was made up to keep us docile, but truly contributes to the salvation of others. It makes sense too, considering what Saint Paul states in his letter to the Colossians, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Col 1:24).  

Not only do our sufferings offered up in reparation for sins spiritually benefit others; our Blessed Mother was also insistent that we are to also pray for sinners. Although we ourselves are sinners and in need of other’s prayers for ourselves, our prayers for our fellow sinners brings down graces to them that they would never receive if we were not praying for them. This mutual benefit of praying for each other, as sinners, is a humble recognition that our disobedience of God’s laws matters. That is, what we do or don’t do matters greatly in our eternal lives and that we need God’s grace and mercy to advance spiritually.  

Finally, Mary strongly encouraged (in fact, essentially mandated) to Jacinta, Francisco, and Lucia in Fatima and to Bernadette in Lourdes, to pray the Rosary daily. Meditating on the mysteries of Christ in the Rosary and offering this special prayer to Jesus through Mary, His Mother, is one of the most powerful prayers that exists. Since the month of October is the month of the Rosary, it would be a wonderful time for all of us to rediscover the beauty and the power of the Rosary. We have our Lady’s word and innumerable historical events that confirm that the short time that it takes to pray the Rosary profits us with incredible spiritual benefits.  

God bless you,  

Father Joseph Byerley  

By Fr. Joseph Byerley 01 Oct, 2017
I offer you another reflection of the preacher to the Papal Household, Father Cantalamessa. This time, Father Cantalamessa speaks on friendship. "Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha was burdened with much serving." The village is Bethany and the house is that of Lazarus and his two sisters. Jesus loved to stop there and take some rest when he was traveling near Jerusalem. Mary was stupefied that for once she had the master all to herself and could listen in silence to the words of eternal life that he spoke when he was taking his rest. So she sat there at his feet, as is still done today in the East. It is not difficult to imagine Martha's half-resentful, half-joking tone when, passing by them, she says to Jesus: "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." It was at this point that Jesus said something that by itself is a mini Gospel: "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her." The tradition has seen in the sisters a symbol of the active and the contemplative life respectively. I think, however, that the more evident theme is that of friendship. "Jesus loved Martha, together with her sister and Lazarus," we read in John's Gospel (11:5). When they bring him the news of Lazarus' death he says to his disciples: "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep but I am going to wake him up" (John 11:11). Faced with the sorrow of the two sisters he also breaks down and weeps, so much so that those who are present exclaim: "See how much he loved him!" (John 11:13). It is wonderful and consoling to know that Jesus knew and cultivated that sentiment that is so beautiful and precious for us men -- friendship.

Of friendship we must say what St. Augustine said of time: "I know what time is but if someone asks me to explain it, I no longer know what it is." In other words, it is easier to intuit what friendship is than to explain it in words. It is a mutual attraction and deep understanding between two people, but it does not have a sexual component as does conjugal love. It is a union of two souls, not two bodies. In this sense the ancients said that friendship is to have "one soul in two bodies." It can be a stronger bond than that of family. Family consists in having the same blood in one's veins. In friendship one has the same tastes, ideals, interests. It is essential to friendship that it is founded on a common search for the good and the true. That which binds people who get together to do evil is not friendship but complicity, it is "an association that corrupts," as is said in judicial jargon.

Friendship is also different from love of neighbor. The latter must embrace everyone, even those who do not return it, even enemies, while friendship demands reciprocity, that is, that the other corresponds to your love. Friendship is nourished by confidences, that is, by the fact that I confide in another that which is deepest and most personal in my thoughts and experiences. I think Father Cantalmessa has highlighted some wonderful aspects of what friendship is and what it’s not, especially in distinguishing friendship from family relationships as well as our Christian duty of love of neighbor. We need to thank God for the gift of true friendship, and make sure also to thank our true friends for that gift as well.

God bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley
By Fr. Joseph Byerley 24 Sep, 2017

In the early Church, the “four living creatures” that encircle God’s throne in the Book of Revelation (4:7-8) became symbols for the evangelists. These symbols originated from the four-sided creatures described by the prophet Ezekiel six hundred years before the birth of Christ. “Within it (a storm wind) were figures resembling four living creatures that looked like this: their form was human, but each had four faces and four wings ... Each of the four had the face of a man, but on the right side was the face of a lion, and on the left side the face of an ox and finally each had the face of an eagle.” (Ezekiel 1:5, 6 & 10). While a number of early authors ascribe different creatures to different Evangelists, we have St. Jerome, in the latter part of the fourth century, whom we owe the formation of this tradition as we now hold it:  

St. Matthew : Winged Man, Incarnation.—To St. Matthew was given the creature in human likeness, because he commences his gospel with the human generation of Christ, and because in his writings the human nature of Our Lord is more dwelt upon than the divine.  

St. Mark : Winged Lion, The Resurrection.—The Lion was the symbol of St. Mark, who opens his gospel with the mission of John the Baptist, "the voice of one crying in the wilderness." He also sets forth the royal dignity of Christ and dwells upon His power manifested in the resurrection from the dead.  

St. Luke : Winged Ox, Passion.—The form of the ox, the beast of sacrifice, fittingly sets forth the sacred office, and also the atonement for sin by blood, on which, in his gospel, he particularly dwells.  

St. John : The Eagle, Ascension.—The eagle was allotted to St. John because, as the eagle soars towards heaven, he soared in spirit upwards to the heaven of heavens to bring back to earth revelation of sublime and awful mysteries as well as the divinity of Christ.  

God bless you,  

Father Joseph Byerley  

By Fr. Joseph Byerley 08 Sep, 2017
The last “theology” book that many Catholics have read, unless they went to a Catholic high school or college, is whatever text they used for their Confirmation preparation. That’s really quite a shame. Most Catholics have really never formally studied their Catholic faith. Rightly so, they depend on the preaching of their priests to form them both spiritually and theologically. Yet is that really enough for the “average” Catholic? Not at all. No matter who we are, Priests, laypersons or Religious, the ongoing study of our Faith is essential to not just our growth in holiness, but also our basic spiritual health.
Jesus stated in the Gospel, when tempted by the Devil in the beginning of his ministry, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God”. Revealed truth, the Word of God, then is food for us. And as Frank Sheed writes in his book, Theology for Beginners, when talking about the value of Theology, “Now it is a peculiarity of food that it nourishes only those who eat it. We are not nourished by the food that someone else has eaten. To be nourished by it, we must eat it ourselves.”
While it is true we are spiritually nourished by the Holy Eucharist when we receive it worthily and with love (as well as in our prayers), it is nonetheless true that the more we know about the Lord we receive, the greater the effect we can receive when we receive him sacramentally (and through the grace of prayer). Knowledge serves love. The more misunderstandings about God we can remove, the greater clarity we will have of our knowledge of God, which will make it easier to love Him and remain secure in our faith.
Here is an example: think about the times when you have a poor understanding of some topic. When it comes up in conversation, we can easily feel intimidated when someone seems to know more, and perhaps we even doubt our own understating of the topic. While it doesn’t really matter if the topic is for instance, what kind of new refrigerator to get, it does matter greatly when we are talking about our eternal salvation. It’s important to know what we believe and be secure in it.
I am not suggesting that a person goes out and gets the full three volume set of St. Thomas Aquinas’ watershed work, Summa Theologiae in Latin and start reading, but there are certainly a lot of wonderful texts available that are both easy to read without a theology degree and present the Faith in a coherent, complete, and most importantly - authentic and faithful manner.
The one text from Frank Sheed I mentioned above is a good start, or perhaps, What Catholics Really Believe by Karl Keating. I feel that probably everyone can read and understand the Catechism of the Catholic Church. What is most important is that we seek to learn about our faith in order to develop a mature, strong faith that is able to bear up under scrutiny. Relying on knowledge that we may just partially remember from our childhood is not the best way to remain strong in our Faith.
So go out and get one of these books. Spend a few minutes a day reading about our awesome Lord. Learn about what we believe. Develop a deeper and stronger faith. Having a well-informed, mature knowledge of our Faith is one of the best ways to protect it from harm and enable us to ultimately develop a greater love for the Lord and come ever closer to him. If you have a question about a particular text and whether it is good, or don’t understand something that you have read, feel free to talk to one of your priests - we will be happy to help!

God Bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley

By Fr. Joseph Byerley 03 Sep, 2017
As we gear up for another academic year, before anything else, I want to wish the best to all students and educators of St. Rose of Lima Parish and School. You are all in my prayers for a successful school year. From a Catholic perspective, the goal of education is to enable children to learn and develop - intellectually, physically, emotionally, and spiritually - so that they can reach their full God-given human potential to contribute to the common good of society and to deepen their relationship with the Lord, leading to eternal salvation.
I was in Catholic education as a high school teacher at Paul VI High School for seven years and I have learned that education plays a critical role in the development of young people. I urge parents to show constant vigilance upon what is going on at the school(s) where their children are present, whether a Catholic school or not. Please talk to your children every day and find out what their teachers are saying in class. Be prepared to offer a response to them when you find that they are “learning” things that go against our faith, as well as affirming the good and true things that they are taught. Being intimately involved in the education of your children is not just the duty of parents, but also a great opportunity to bring the light of Christ and his love to them. Don’t forget - the earlier the involvement starts and more constant it is, the less likely that it will seem intrusive to the children. Also don’t forget to attend every possible event in which your children participate. They may not mention it, but you can be sure that your presence means very much to them.
Now, to the students. To be honest, I never liked school. Although I have given this example many times, it still is true: I looked forward to the end of college like you can’t believe, thinking that I would never have to go to school again. Well, after six years of seminary and two of further studies (that’s eight years of school after college!); I didn’t seem to get my wish. But along the way, I did learn a lot. One thing I also disliked was doing homework. But I know, from my own experience and from working with high school students, it’s actually easier to work reasonably hard all the time and not get behind, than to let things go and then have periods of crazy activity just to throw a bunch of stuff together just to get something in on time. You end up with better grades with less stress. It’s a tough lesson to learn but it works.
Try it. Have a great year!

God Bless you,

Father Joseph Byerley
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