Reflection for the Second Sunday of Lent 2015

1 March 2015 - By

faith and worry

Sometimes the test
is almost impossible.

God put Abraham to the test. He called to him, “Abraham!” “Here I am!” he replied. Then God said: “Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There you shall offer him up as a holocaust on a height that I will point out to you.”

Over recent weeks it seems that the number of troubles among those I know have increased greatly. These aren’t little problems, but those deep, life-shattering types of troubles that some may never experience. How life-shattering it must have been for Abraham, to face having to sacrifice his son.

A preacher was delivering a sermon before a large congregation. He pointed out that believers aren’t exempt from trouble. In fact, some Christians are surrounded by trouble — trouble to the right, trouble to the left, trouble in front, and trouble behind. At this, a man stood up and shouted, ‘Glory to God, it’s always open at the top!’

God’s test of Abraham’s faith was exactly about that. We can imagine that in walking to Mount Moriah, with his son carrying the wood that he would be sacrificed on, Abraham was in tears. His heart was breaking, the knife at his side weighed heavy, and his soul was crying out to God. He climbed the hills where Jerusalem would later stand, where the sacrificial fires of the Temple would be built, the place where Jesus would take up the wood of the cross (as Isaac carried the wood for his sacrifice). He was surrounded on every side, front and back, and could not help but look up.

What happened when Abraham and Isaac arrived at God’s designated site of sacrifice? …the LORD’s messenger called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am!” he answered. “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the messenger. “Do not do the least thing to him. I know now how devoted you are to God.” The response to Abraham’s troubles came from on high, from the top, from heaven.

Here’s the real test. Can we trust God enough to look up when those life-shattering troubles come? Can we place our reliance on Him? St. James noted: Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Troubles will either break us down, seem impossible, and cause us to look down or they will teach us to persevere and look up to heaven. The promise is that our perseverance, our looking up, will be rewarded and that we will lack for nothing particularly in eternity. We should repeat with the Psalmist: From whence does my help come? and answer: My help comes from the LORD.

Reflection for the First Sunday of Lent 2015

23 February 2015 - By

maxresdefault

The time is
here and now.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

Mark’s rendition of Jesus’ time in the desert is very short. It also focuses us on one of Mark’s key themes; Jesus’ ministry is confrontational. Think of the very real confrontations with sin, temptation, and wild beasts that Jesus engaged in in the desert. Mark shows Jesus as the One who had come to combat and defeat the forces determined to counteract God’s will for our lives and our well-being.

Mark does not portray Jesus as sent to fight human ignorance, religious or political authority. He wasn’t that kind of revolutionary. Of course those things existed, but they were only the symbols and tools of what Jesus was really confronting. Jesus came to confront the evil, the negative spiritual force that oppresses human bodies and minds and defy human attempts to subdue them.

Jesus’ experience in the wild and untamed wilderness symbolizes the difference between God’s way of life and the wilderness of life without God. The desert shows us how Jesus confronted and defeated the powers of chaos and destruction. He walked out of the desert as a victor and the bringer of God’s kingdom. He began to proclaim the kingdom to all who would hear Him.

Jesus proclamation of the in-breaking of God’s kingdom announces the arrival of God’s future for humanity. This will be a new era and a new state of affairs, one in which God rules and we no longer have to use merely human efforts to defeat evil. With the expression kingdom of God Jesus does not speak of taking people away to a new place in a far-off land. He tells those who will listen that they have the power to build the kingdom if they work in and with Him. He invites us into the kingdom’s awakening and gives us the means (by grace) to make it real and complete. The old ways and the old rules no longer have power. Evil, sin, negative spiritual forces hold no sway over us because Jesus is victorious. He has won the confrontation.

As we will see through Lent, and in particular on Good Friday, Jesus’ revolution is dangerous. As members of His kingdom and its operatives we are working to destroy the last vestiges of sin, evil, the negative spiritual force. We are the forces of the kingdom. Those tied to worldly ways and mores will resist and hate us. They are the forces of the untamed wilderness. They fight against transforming the world. The time is here and now. We must be confident kingdom builders, assured of our victory in Jesus and ready to transform all we encounter.

Simply Grand Concert Series – Art Song Treasures of Poland on March 22, 2015

21 February 2015 - By

From WVIA: WVIA’s next Simply Grand Concert on March 22, 2015 features soprano Barbara Liberasky-Nowicki and pianist Carol Ann Aicher in a program titled, Art Song Treasures of Poland

PITTSTON, PA (WVIA) – WVIA’s next Simply Grand Concert features soprano Barbara Liberasky-Nowicki and pianist Carol Ann Aicher in a program titled, “Art Song Treasures of Poland.” The live concert will be held on Sunday, March 22, 2015 at 3 p.m. in the Sordoni High Definition Theater at the WVIA Public Media Studios in Pittston, PA. Seating is free, but limited. To make reservations call 570-655-2808 or reserve seats online.

ArtSongPolandWVIADr. Barbara Liberasky-Nowicki, soprano, has performed abroad and throughout the tri-state area in opera, concert, and recital. Her opera credits include appearances with the Grande Theatre of Geneva, Switzerland in productions of Parsifal, Albert Herring, La Boheme, and Boris Godunov, the latter of which was televised throughout Europe. She has been a soloist with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Pittsburgh Opera, the New York Lyric Opera, Mostly Opera, the Ossining Chorale, the Pittsburgh Chamber Opera Theater, the Ridge Light Opera, Stony Hill Players, the New Jersey Concert Opera, and the Baroque Orchestra of New Jersey, among others. Dr. Nowicki earned a Doctorate of Education in College Teaching and Vocal Pedagogy from Columbia University Teachers College. The topic of her doctoral research is the history of Polish music leading to the Polish art song of the 19th century. She is devoted to bringing this virtually unknown song repertoire to wider audiences. Recital venues have included New Jersey City University, the University of Pittsburgh, the Northeast Theater of Scranton, and the Kosciuszko Foundation in New York City among others. She was featured on WQED-FM radio in Pittsburgh in a program entitled: Oginski to Szymanowski: The Polish Art Song of the 19th Century. Dr. Nowicki also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education from Wilkes University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Vocal Performance from Carnegie-Mellon University. As a music educator, Ms. Nowicki has taught chorus and voice at Washington and Jefferson College, Teachers College Columbia University, Carnegie-Mellon University and music in several public schools, including those in Madison and Millburn, New Jersey. Ms. Nowicki resides in Scranton, Pennsylvania with her husband the Rt. Rev. Bernard Nowicki, bishop of the Central Diocese of the Polish National Catholic Church. Their daughter, Berit Elizabeth, resides in Northampton, MA.

Dr. Carol Ann Aicher earned a Doctorate in Education at Columbia University Teachers College and holds a Masters of Music degree in Piano Performance from Manhattan School of Music as well as the Piano Pedagogy Certificate and a Bachelor of Music degree in Piano Performance with a minor in Music History from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music. Carol Ann currently teaches graduate pedagogy at the Manhattan School of Music. She was previously an assistant professor of Piano and Piano Pedagogy at West Chester University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Aicher also frequently presents workshops, lectures on pedagogy, and adjudicates various festivals and competitions. As a pianist and collaborator she has performed at many venues on the east coast; Longwood Gardens, Strathmore Hall, Lincoln Center, Steinway Hall. She is half of the Oberlin Piano Duo, an ensemble that specializes in music for four hands, one piano. Carol Ann is also part of a two piano team with her husband Douglas Lane.

The WVIA “Simply Grand Concert Series” showcases the talent of regional classical musicians. Since the series began in 1990, dozens of regional musicians have been featured. The concerts are recorded for broadcast on WVIA-FM before a live audience in the Sordoni High Definition Theater at WVIA Public Media Studios.

Reflection for Quinquagesima Sunday 2015

15 February 2015 - By

wineskin

Time to get a new
shirt.

And Jesus said to them, “No one sews a piece of unshrunk cloth on an old garment; if he does, the patch tears away from it, the new from the old, and a worse tear is made. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; if he does, the wine will burst the skins, and the wine is lost, and so are the skins; but new wine is for fresh skins.”

At the marriage in Cana the old wine ran out. The old wine was made with human effort, over a period of many years – but it could not meet the need – it ran out. This is a parable of life under the old way of doing things. The old wine runs out; no longer satisfies or is sufficient. The Lord has come to give us new wine, new life. He stands ready to fill us with His new wine.

Jesus came bringing a very powerful message. He promised us spiritual gifts that go beyond everyday life experience. He offers us freedom from sin and a law that drew heavy penalties for sin – chiefly the penalty of death. Instead He tells us that He has paid the price once and for all. He promises us immortality, a future life liberated from death, sickness, disease, poverty, and isolation. He lets us know that no matter, there is a future for each of us. He gave more than a bunch of promises; instead He made co-heirs and true children of God, His brothers and sisters. We have power that goes beyond this world. This is His new wine.

This powerful message does not work on those beholden to the old ways. In fact it causes them to burst in anger and retribution (old wineskins). Old wineskins are hard and unyielding.

We must be those new wineskins, ready to receive the Lord’s new wine. We must be people of His new way.

In the same way, Jesus draws the parallel to patching a garment. You cannot sew unshrunken cloth to a torn old garment; it will only make the tear worse. Jesus wants to clothe us with an entirely new garment of salvation, our baptismal robes. People beholden to old ways don’t want to change their old shrunken and torn ways for new ones. We, on the other hand, have to be ready to receive Jesus’ new ways – His garment.

As we come to the close of our Pre-Lenten season we have to ask ourselves whether we are ready to enter into the Great Lent ahead. It is not just being ready to give up chocolate, or meat, or acting angry toward a rude driver, but ready to be new wineskins – flexible and open to receiving Jesus’ new wine – His message. Will we allow ourselves to be filled, changed, and molded by Him? Are we ready to put on new clothes? With commitment to following Jesus and living His way we will hold Him and wear Him into life everlasting.

PIASA Call for Papers

8 February 2015 - By

The Polish Institute of Arts & Sciences (PIASA) and the Center for European, Russian and Eurasian Studies at the University of Toronto are pleased to invite proposals for PIASA’s 73rd Annual Conference to be held at the University of Toronto, June 11-13, 2015. Proposals are solicited for sessions or individual papers dealing with Polish or Polish Diaspora or comparative topical sessions that include a Polish-related presentation along with other groups. Sessions are also [...]Read More

Polish American Historical Association Announces its Annual Awards

8 February 2015 - By

Los Angeles, January 30, 2015 – During its 72nd Annual Meeting in New York, at the Consulate General of the Republic of Poland, the Polish American Historical Association (PAHA) announced the winners of the organization's annual awards. Consul General, Hon. Urszula Gacek welcomed the guests and recounted the history of PAHA and its role in the documentation and promotion of Polish American history and culture. Established in 1942, PAHA is the premier international scholarly [...]Read More

Reflection for Sexagesima Sunday 2015

7 February 2015 - By

Thankfully, God is forgetful.

"Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob; but you have been weary of me, O Israel! But you have burdened me with your sins, you have wearied me with your iniquities. I, I am He who blots out your transgressions for my own sake, and I will not remember your sins.”
In today’s reading from Isaiah we hear God complaining a bit. After all of the history between Him [...]Read More

Reflection for Septuagesima Sunday 2015

2 February 2015 - By

Picking at scabs.

The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “If someone has on his skin a scab or pustule or blotch which appears to be the sore of leprosy, he shall be brought to Aaron, the priest, or to one of the priests among his descendants. If the man is leprous and unclean, the priest shall declare him unclean by reason of the sore on his head. The one who bears the sore of [...]Read More

Reflection for the 3rd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

25 January 2015 - By

Following the call to discipleship.

The word of the LORD came to Jonah, saying: “Set out for the great city of Nineveh, and announce to it the message that I will tell you.” So Jonah made ready and went to Nineveh, according to the LORD’S bidding.
The call to discipleship is not a one-time event. If it were, most of us would likely miss it the first few times. Thankfully our God is constant in [...]Read More

Reflection for the 2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time 2015

17 January 2015 - By

Do they hear His voice?

At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, [...]Read More

Categories

Archives

…and the rest

March 2015
S M T W T F S
« Feb    
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Meta

Bear