The Season of Lent 2014
In the Gospel of the Second Sunday of Lent, Jesus invites three of his disciples to accompany him on what we might say is a particular journey of ENLIGHTENMENT. It is really a call to total transformation and certainly for those first-hand witnesses, and for us, it is not merely a spectator event.
The Lord, through His Church, invites us also on a journey of 40 days. By uniting ourselves more closely to Christ, we make our own attempts at self emptying — as the Lord emptied Himself. For us it consists in removing everything that hinders our growth in holiness, everything that stands in the way of our relationship with Christ, so that there is room for the grace with which God wishes to fill us.
Pope Benedict XVI reflected that, in the Transfiguration, Jesus embraces the LAW and the PROPHETS in the persons of Moses and Elijah who spoke to him on the mountain about his coming Passion and Death . . . and Resurrection. In his intimate dialogue, He does not depart from human history, He does not try to escape the mission for which he came into the world, although he knew that to attain the promised glory He would have to ENDURE the Cross . . . the suffering was not negotiable. Still Jesus does not avoid it — nor does He fear it — but rather He enters more deeply into this mission accepting the Father’s will, even death — death on the cross.
Pope Benedict XVI suggested that the verification of this Transfiguration experience is quite paradoxically, the Agony in the Garden. Jesus, focusing on His coming Passion, was to feel mortal anguish and entrust himself to the divine will; His prayer at that moment would become a pledge of salvation for us all. In the garden Christ would implore the Heavenly Father to free Him from death and the Resurrection is the proof that His prayer was heard and answered.
In this Jesus shows us that true PRAYER consists precisely in this — uniting our will with the will of God. For Christians, to PRAY is not to try to escape reality, nor the responsibilities it brings, but rather it means that we will fully assume them, trusting in the faithful and inexhaustible love of the Lord.
Pope Francis spoke of two significant elements from the episode of the Transfiguration: Ascent and Descent. We need to go apart by ourselves, to ascend the mountain in a space of silence, to find ourselves and better perceive the Lord’s voice. We do this in prayer. But we cannot remain there! The encounter with God in prayer moves us again to “descend from the mountain” and return below, to the plain, where we meet many brothers who are burdened by toil, sickness, injustice, ignorance, material and spiritual poverty.
We are called to bring to these brothers who are enduring hardships the fruits of our experience with God, sharing the grace we have received. We listen to Jesus’ Word and hold it in our hearts . . . and that Word grows. It grows when we share it, when we proclaim it and give it to others! This is the Christian life. It is a mission for the whole Church, for all of the baptized, for all of us: listen to Jesus and offer him to others.
Peter’s impetuous nature and his quick response may be for us a call to silence; a call to contemplate the mysteries too deep for words. This is our journey, the purpose of our fasting, the heart of our prayer and penance during the Holy Season of Lent.
May the Lord who has begun this good work in us bring it to completion on the day of the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have recently re-entered the Church season called Ordinary Time, with its own particular reminder that it is our task to keep Christ at the center of all Time . . . nonetheless, the title “Ordinary” is very often misunderstood. One common misunderstanding comes from the connotation of the word Ordinary in English — which may lead us to think that “Ordinary Time” refers to the parts of the Church year that are not very important. But the truth is that it is called "ORDINARY" because the weeks are NUMBERED. The designation comes from the Latin word, ORDINALIS, which refers to numbers in a series, and the Latin word ORDO, from which we get the English word order.
And so Ordinary Time is the Ordered Life of the Church. As we begin to count the weeks, we need to remember that we also need to count on the Lord. The Sunday Scriptures during these weeks are leading us to embrace the mystery of God made man so that man might be lead to God. We recently reviewed the words of the Prophet Isaiah which we heard through the Christmas Season: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
We have heard the story of Jesus, who is baptized by John, and begins His public ministry. It has been suggested that after every great moment in life, following every great action, there comes a REACTION — and it is in the Reaction that the Danger lies. We see that John, after baptizing the Son of God — perhaps the greatest moment of his life — is arrested and imprisoned! The dark powers of this world apprehend him. Still . . . “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.”
As Jesus chooses his first disciples, those chosen to be His apostles . . . who would be SENT to take up his Mission of preaching the message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He was aware that he was calling them to a dangerous mission . . . The mission of CALLING People TO REPENTANCE would cost John his Life, for in any age, speaking the Truth in the midst of half-truths . . . and untruths . . . is always dangerous.
But like St. John the Baptist, Jesus own message had a clear note of CERTAINTY — with an authority not of this world. There was no Doubt. He did not speak in statements begun with “maybe” or “perhaps,” So that even today — in a world filled with doubts — HIS TRUTH rings out loud and clear.
Jesus first calls some fishermen — hard working men — men certainly not afraid of a challenge. Jesus calls them at work, right in the middle of their lives. Though they were probably not considering a career change, they accept the call: “Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Even as Jesus calls Simon by a new name, he reveals that this mission is unlike any they had encountered before. But they are very much like Mary and Joseph, — and the Shepherds and the Magi of our Christmas reflections — who each went home by a different way. Because they had been changed by their personal encounter with the Lord. So too the Church.
We may be certain that Jesus had a plan, even if these men didn’t fully know what it was, they took Him at his word . . . And they followed Him. The Repentance that Jesus announced — the Change — to which Jesus calls these men was more than simply turning away from SIN, of course is that . . . but much more. He calls them, and us, not merely to be good, but to be HOLY. This is achieved by following Him . . . not getting in His way . . . not trying to lead Him in our own direction . . .but by following.
Like these disciples, Jesus has a call for us well — which no doubt involves change, and growth. Unlike these first followers, we know what Jesus is offering, and if we are willing to face the dangers of this world — armed with His TRUTH — we have to possibility of gaining – ETERNAL HAPPINESS.
THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, HOLY MOTHER OF GOD
The Christmas Season is a time of joyful wishes and happy greetings, and as this season leads us into a new year, it represents a new beginning. It is a time of HOPE for the future, and at this time, resolutions to make it a better year are common. It is not merely a coincidence that in our day the Church, on this Octave Day of Christmas, the first day of the New Year, looks to the Blessed Virgin Mary, for she is a model of HOPE.
We should be clear in all our resolutions — in our efforts to begin anew and make improvements — to remember that our true goal is the attainment of the new life that Christ came to offer us. Mary is for us a model of resolution, for she didn’t merely wish that things would go well, but she listened to the Word of God — for she knew well that God’s will for her would lead to the fulfillment and happiness which was her true Hope. Only after listening was she ready to act. When the message of God came to her, Mary was firmly resolved in her Faith — and therefore able to place her total trust in God — and through her, the SAVIOR of all mankind is born.
At the threshold of another year we stand, invoking God’s favor and expressing our gratitude for His many blessings received during the past year. No doubt we have all confronted new challenges as well as opportunities, and we have endured struggles and many difficulties, always relying on His ready grace. We also seek His continues blessings as we enter 2014.
As Christians we would do well to distinguish between our WISHES and HOPES for a Happy New Year. The WISHFUL person might say — I want to get better grades this year . . . The RESOLVED person says — I will devote an extra hour a day to STUDY so that — I WILL get better grades this year. A Resolution, includes the notion of solution. It involves not just discussing the possibilities, but actually choosing one . . . carefully and prayerfully . . . and making a decision — one which will really SOLVE the problems at hand.
As Christians, we do not merely wish that our hopes and dreams will come true . . . at least not as this world does . . . for we believe in God. Our HOPE is based on our FAITH, and so we dedicate ourselves FIRST to Prayer . . . and THEN to Action. It is the essence of the traditional and familiar prayer:
Direct O Lord, all of our actions, and carry them on by our gracious assistance,
That every prayer and works or ours may begin from you,
and by You be brought to a profitable conclusion.
The past year witnessed many challenging and many wonderful moments for the Archconfraternity, and so in faith we continue to invoke Saint Philomena, Patroness of the Children of Mary, as we look also to the Blessed Virgin Mary — who is known through many generations — as a woman of Faith — because she was a woman of prayer.
We are grateful also to the many devotees of Saint Philomena who have supported our work with their prayers and also with their offerings. It is your generosity that makes possible this apostolate of spreading the news of the powerful witness and intercession of Saint Philomena, our own princess in heaven who leads us to her Lord.
May the Lord bless us in the coming year and richly reward all your kindness and generosity.
United States National Center of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena
9220 Old Bustleton Avenue
Philadelphia, PA 19115
The United States National Director of the Universal Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena
Father Jason V. Kulczynski was born in Brooklyn, New York, USA, on September 26, 1961. He was a member of Saint Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, as well as attending the Parochial School, in the Greenpoint section of the city. He also lived for some time in New Jersey, where he attended St. Catherines Church and School, and later the family moved to Pennsylvania in 1976 where he was a member of St. Jude Parish in Chalfont.
Discerning a Vocation to Religious Life, he entered the Pauline Fathers Monastery after High School, the Order of Saint Paul the First Hermit. He completed Postulancy and Novitiate at the Monastery located at the National Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown, Pennsylvania and began his studies for the Priesthood.
Following one year of Seminary study, Father joined the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and continued his studies at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. Father Kulczynski was ordained to the Priesthood on May 20, 1989.
After working in several parishes, in the year 2000 he was assigned as a Catholic High School Chaplain, a mission he continued for the next twelve years. He worked in Monsignor Bonner and Archbishop Prendergast High School in Drexel Hill, and at Saints John Neumann and Maria Goretti High School in Philadelphia. During these twelve years he resided at St. Philomena Church in Lansdowne, Pennsylvania, USA.
In September of 2011, Father Kulczynski was appointed Parochial Administrator of St. Philomena Church, where in November of that year, he welcomed Monsignor Giovanni Braschi, Rector of the International Shrine of St. Philomena in Italy, who was present for the Conference titled, "It's Time to Meet Saint Philomena." Also present were Marie Burns, International Director of the Archconfraternity, Father Chad Partain, Director of the Children of Mary, Father Dave Robinson, S.J., Deputy Spiritual Director, and Dr. Mark MIravalle, Special Theological Consultant to the Archconfraternity. At that event, Father Kulczynski was appointed Spiritual Director of the Archconfraternity for Pennsylvania.
February 2, 2012 marked the founding of the Priest Chaplains of Saint Philomena by Father Kulczynski, in honor of the Centennial of Pope St. Pius X raising the Archconfraternity to a Universal, or International Association, on May 21, 1912. The Priest Chaplains of St. Philomena are an association of Priests who have shown great dedication to St. Philomena by promoting her devotion and encouraging her intercession.
On February 12, 2012, Father Kulczynski was appointed the first National Director of the Archconfraternity of Saint Philomena for the United States by Monsignor Braschi.
Father Kulczynski, currently resides at Maternity of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the current location of the National Center of the Archconfraternity, where he continues his work as National Director working closely with Monsignor Braschi, Marie Burns the International Director, and Lisa Bowen, the Regional Director for Delaware and Pennsylvania.
Father Kulczynski has been a guest on various radio shows, speaking about St. Philomena, and is currently the host of "Aim High" on Radio Maria. He has appeared on EWTN with Father Andrew Apostoli, and is also assigned to assist the Traditional Latin Mass Community in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.