12-09-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

When I was a Boy Scout in the 1970s, we learned orienteering, the art of finding one’s way through unfamiliar territory with the use of a compass and either a map or travel instructions.

For example, I might be dropped off by car at the edge of a strange forest and expected to use my compass to follow directions, say, “Proceed to checkpoint one, 1,320 yards west-northwest of your drop off point, and there receive further instructions.” I’d then have to find checkpoint one. But it was rarely as simple as walking 1,320 yards westnorthwest. Instead, there’d be barriers: a ravine, a hillside, a swampy area—obstacles that might delay or defeat attempted travel. I’d have to look around and use my wits to guess the best way around the obstacles, without losing my sense of where I was in relation to “checkpoint one.”


(Not?) Ready to RocKenRo

12-02-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

Advent begins. It’s a season for preparation: First, for the coming of Christ as our Lord and Judge. Second, for the celebration of his first coming at Christmas. Advent can therefore also be our spiritual preparation for our implementation of the Bishop’s initiative, On Mission for The Church Alive! Under the watchful eye of our coming Judge, let us set aside our other ambitions and allow him to ready us to fulfill his purposes.


Money on Mission

11-25-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

Please don’t give more money. Weren’t expecting that, were you? But I’m serious. Please allow me to explain.

The Lord Jesus frequently spoke about money. It’s not because he needed it: “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” Instead, Jesus spoke about money because it’s an excellent measurement of the heart: “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

Thus Jesus praised the widow because she gave two pennies to the Temple treasury. He reckoned her gift greater than everyone else’s because she sacrificed everything she had, whereas others gave seemingly larger amounts but only from their surplus. But in the early Church, Annas and Sapphira were condemned for giving only half their income, apparently holding back because of their distrust.


“Father, what’s the big plan?”

11-18-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

That’s what Tim Davis asked me when I asked him what the most urgent questions are for the RocKenRo parishes of Holy Trinity, St. John of God, and St. Malachy: “Father, what’s the big plan?” We’ve heard for months about the dramatic reorganization coming to the Church of Pittsburgh, of which we are a small part, and now the transition appears to be underway. For us, the first step is to plan to plan, to put together people, prayer, and information.

People: Our Lord Jesus called people to be his followers, assembled them into the Church, and commanded them to draw all nations to be his followers in his Church. Our main identity is therefore also our main job: people helping other people to follow Jesus.


What I Learned Thus Far

11-11-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

Every parish has many things in common, but also some distinctive virtues that shine a bit more brightly in their individual case. As the weeks go by, I’m forming general impressions of the three parishes of RocKenRo:

Warmth: St. Malachy is a classic suburban neighborhood parish of about 2,500 households and nearly 7,000 people, of whom about 800 attend Mass on an average Sunday. The school hosts a little more than 100 elementary students. The new clergy have appreciated the neighborly warmth of the faithful, who also make a special effort at maintaining genial relations with each other.


Saint Maximilian Kolbe, pray for us.

11-04-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

Philosopher René Girard wrote compellingly on the spiritual origins of violence. If we could see the truth, we’d live for the God who is love, forever in joy. Instead, spiritually blind, we live in competition with each other, defining ourselves by whether we surpass or defeat them. If God doesn’t stop us, our eagerness to “win” drives us inexorably to violence, to the demonization of our enemies, and to murder.

The world often directs its resentment and murderous violence along lines of religion, through which cultures identify and apply the meaning of life. Historically, the most vivid hatred has been directed at the Jews, whose distinctive revelation from God on Mount Sinai has since ancient times discontented worldly powers.


RocKenRo Begins to Roll

10-28-2018Weekly ReflectionFr. David Poecking

I’m writing this note on October 22, exactly one week after the transitions On Mission for The Church Alive! Here’s what we accomplished this past week:

*All three priests newly destined to live in the RocKenRo grouping succeeded at moving in to his designated rooms. We’re all still unpacking, but we’re here.

*We activated a plan for assigning priests and deacons to Masses. It’s complicated, but I count it a success thus far inasmuch as we got a priest to every Mass. My hope is that this week we’ll develop the system so as to accommodate scheduling the priests for funerals in each of the three RocKenRo parishes. Baptisms and weddings are also underway.


October: the month dedicated to the Holy Rosary

10-01-2018Monthly Reflection

According to an account by fifteenth-century Dominican, Alan de la Roch, Mary appeared to St. Dominic in 1206 after he had been praying and doing severe penances because of his lack of success in combating the Albigensian heresy. Mary praised him for his valiant fight against the heretics and then gave him the Rosary as a mighty weapon, explained its uses and efficacy, and told him to preach it to others.

"Since the prayers of the Rosary come from such excellent sources — from Our Lord Himself, from inspired Scripture, and from the Church — it is not surprising that the Rosary is so dear to our Blessed Mother and so powerful with heaven.

"If we consider the power of the Rosary as seen in its effects, we find a great abundance of proofs of its wonderful value. Many are the favors granted to private individuals through its devout recitation: there are few devoted users of the Rosary who cannot testify to experiencing its power in their own lives. If we turn to history, we see many great triumphs of the Rosary. Early tradition attributes the defeat of the Albigensians at the Battle of Muret in 1213 to the Rosary. But even those who do not accept this tradition will admit that St. Pius V attributed the great defeat of the Turkish fleet on the first Sunday of October, 1571, to the fact that at the same time the Rosary confraternities at Rome and elsewhere were holding their processions. Accordingly, he ordered a commemoration of the Rosary to be made on that day. Two years later, Gregory XIII allowed the celebration of a feast of the Rosary in churches having an altar dedicated to the Rosary. In 1671, Clement X extended the feast to all Spain. A second great victory over the Turks, who once, like the Russians, threatened the ruin of Christian civilization, occurred on August 5, 1716, when Prince Eugene defeated them at Peterwardein in Hungary. Thereupon Clement XI extended the feast of the Rosary to the whole Church.


September: the Month dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows

09-01-2018Monthly Reflection

The month of September is dedicated to Our Lady of Sorrows, whose memorial the Church celebrates on September 15. September falls during the liturgical season known as Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green.

The Holy Father's Intentions for the Month of September 2018

Universal – Young People in Africa: That young people in Africa may have access to education and work in their own countries. (See also www.popesprayerusa.net/)


August: The month dedicated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

08-01-2018Monthly Reflection© 2018 Trinity Communications

The month of August is dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary. The entire month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time, which is represented by the liturgical color green. This symbol of hope is the color of the sprouting seed and arouses in the faithful the hope of reaping the eternal harvest of heaven, especially the hope of a glorious resurrection. It is used in the offices and Masses of Ordinary Time. The last portion of the liturgical year represents the time of our pilgrimage to heaven during which we hope for reward.

A Time to Persevere

The days of summer have provided a welcome change of pace. However, while vacations afford us the time to relax and refresh, the change of habits and routines can also have a negative impact on our spiritual lives. As if to re-ignite us, the Church offers us in the plethora of August feasts vivid examples of the virtue of perseverance: six martyrs — two who are named in Canon I of the Mass and two who were martyred during World War II; seven founders of religious congregations, as well as three popes and two kings; the apostle, St. Bartholomew; the great Doctor of the Church, St. Augustine and St. Monica, his mother; the humble patron saint of parish priests, St. John Vianney, and the patron of deacons, St. Lawrence, who joked with his executioners while being roasted alive.