Author Archives: vhoagland

24th Sunday c: Mercy

The technology team would like you to join us in
Congratulating Father Victor Hoagland on 60 Years of Priestly Ministry!
A Celebratory Mass will be held at 10 am on Sunday September 15th
at the Parish of Sainty Mary in Colts Neck with refreshments to follow.
Thank You Father Victor! Much Love from us all!

For this week’s homily please play the video below.

Saint John Chrysostom

John Chrysostom

Saint John Chrysostom was born around 340 into a military family in Antioch, in modern Turkey. After studying under Libanius, the great rhetorician of the day, John lived with monks in Syria for a few years, but poor health made him return to Antioch where he served the church for five years as a deacon, taking care of the poor.

Ordained a priest in 386, John became an outstanding preacher and bishop; his “golden mouth” (Chrysostom) delighted his hearers with sermons on the gospels and the letters of Paul. Appointed bishop of Constantinople, his sermons had the opposite effect on the rulers and churchmen of that city whom he attacked for their pomp and luxury. The Empress Eudoxia exiled him briefly from the city in 402 AD.

John returned to resume his fearless preaching against the city’s powerful political and church elite.  Eudoxia finally sent him into exile on the Black Sea after John gave a sermon that began “Again Herodias  is raging, again she is perturbed,  again she wants to receive the head of John on a dish.” Hardly a way to make friends  with royalty.

“ Glory be to God for everything. Amen” John said before he died on his way to exile. “If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear. Though the waves and the sea and the anger of princes are against me, they are as weak as a spider’s web.”

He died on September 14, 407 AD, the Feast of the Triumph of the Holy Cross, which we celebrate tomorrow.

We always need people like John Chrysostom with “golden mouths” to speak to power. In our prayer for his feast, we thank God for this bishop made “illustrious by his wonderful eloquence and his example of suffering,” a nice reminder that preaching isn’t just beautiful words. It can be a costly gift. Preaching can be a dangerous act. John died on a feast of the Holy Cross.

Notice too that John spent some years as a deacon, taking care of the poor. Preaching is also nourished by experience.

Here’s an example of his fearless preaching:

The waters have risen and severe storms are upon us, but we do not fear drowning, for we stand firmly upon a rock. Let the sea rage, it cannot break the rock. Let the waves rise, they cannot sink the boat of Jesus. What are we to fear? Death? Life to me means Christ, and death is gain. Exile? The earth and its fullness belong to the Lord. The confiscation of goods? We brought nothing into this world, and we shall surely take nothing from it. I have only contempt for the world’s threats, I find its blessings laughable. I have no fear of poverty, no desire for wealth. I am not afraid of death nor do I long to live, except for your good. I concentrate therefore on the present situation, and I urge you, my friends, to have confidence.  Do you not hear the Lord saying: Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in their midst? Will he be absent, then, when so many people united in love are gathered together? I have his promise; I am surely not going to rely on my own strength! I have what he has written; that is my staff, my security, my peaceful harbour. Let the world be in upheaval. I hold to his promise and read his message; that is my protecting wall and garrison. What message? Know that I am with you always, until the end of the world!  If Christ is with me, whom shall I fear?

What’s in a Name

Today we celebrate the feast of the Name of Mary. When you think of it, Mary has many names.

When the Passionists came to New York City in 1924 they looked to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, to guide their new foundation. Her signs are prominent here. Her statue stands outside the front door of our church. She’s there at the front door of our monastery.

Assumption window
Window of the Immaculate Conception, Jamaica, NY

The great window in the back of our church honors Mary, flanked by St. Catherine Laboure and St. Bernadette, in the mystery of her Immaculate Conception, the title of our parish and monastery.

When Mary appeared to St. Catherine Laboure in Paris in 1850 and St. Bernadette at Lourdes in 1858, she brought a gift to their troubled age, an age battered by the skepticism of the Enlightenment and by the threat to human dignity that came from the Industrial Revolution.

Free from original sin, Mary brought the wisdom of God which she gained from her Son, Jesus Christ, to that world. Her message was that God “scatters the proud and lifts up the lowly.” God’s wisdom is greater than the wisdom of this world.

Lourdes Grotto, Jamaica, NY

In the 1950s retreatants from our monastery retreat house memorialized Mary’s appearance at Lourdes by building a beautiful grotto in her honor in our garden. “All generations will call me blessed,” Mary said. The generation of the 50s and 60s, facing the threat of continuing wars and nuclear destruction looked to Mary’s appearance to Catherine Laboure and Bernadette as a sign that God is still with us.

Today, next to our Lourdes grotto, we have a sign of Mary’s presence to our generation, a generation facing the threat of climate change– a Mary Garden, which we blessed on September 23, 2018

Mary Garden, Jamaica, NY

Mary Gardens originated in Europe following the Black Death, a pandemic that caused millions to die in Europe in the 14th century. Mary Gardens, begun in monasteries and churches, reminded people that God brings life, not death, from the earth.

Recalling the Garden of Eden from the Book of Genesis, the Mary Garden with flowers, medicinal herbs and edible plants reminds us of the beauty, healing and nourishment we have in God’s gift of the earth. Mary stands in the midst of the garden, promising life and hope. “Make us worthy of the promises of Christ,” we ask her.

Today we’re threatened by climate change. Our earth is changing. We only have to look out the window to see something is happening to our environment..

Pope Francis in his letter “Laudato Sī” pleaded with the world to hear the cries of our sister, the earth, “ because of the harm we have inflicted on her by our irresponsible use and abuse of the goods with which God has endowed her.” (LS 1)

Our Mary Garden is a reminder to love and care for the earth. It can teach our generation God’s way of caring for this precious gift. We’re asking Mary to take her place among us, as she always does, and teach us the wisdom of God.

Come and see our garden.

Victor Hoagland, CP

Here are some pictures from the blessing, September 23, 2018.




St. Peter Claver, SJ, September 9

Peter Claver, SJ

The church in the United States remembers Peter Claver in its liturgy today because he dealt with an issue that not only affected the world he lived in, but also still affects the world we live in, the issue of racism. 

He came from Spain to Cartagena, Colombia in 1610 and ministered to African slaves there until this death in 1654. The city then was the center of the slave trade, over 1 million Africans were brought here to work on sugar plantations, mines and farms, before slavery was stopped in 1851. 

Peter called himself the “slave of the slaves” and dedicated himself to alleviating their suffering. He boarded incoming slave ships to nurse the sick and comfort the terrified captives. He baptized almost 300,000 slaves. On local plantations he pleaded with the owners to treat them humanely.

Pope Leo XIII canonized him in 1896 and designated him patron of all Roman Catholic missions to the African peoples. 

The Catholic Church in the United States sees the eradication of racism as one of its most important missions. 

Readings for the 23rd Week of the Year c

SEPTEMBER 9 Mon USA: Saint Peter Claver, Priest Memorial

Col 1:24—2:3/Lk 6:6-11 

10 Tue Weekday

Col 2:6-15/Lk 6:12-19 (438)

11 Wed Weekday

Col 3:1-11/Lk 6:20-26 (439)

12 Thu Weekday

[The Most Holy Name of Mary]

Col 3:12-17/Lk 6:27-38 (440)


13 Fri Saint John Chrysostom, Bishop and Doctor of the Church


1 Tm 1:1-2, 12-14/Lk 6:39-42 (441)

14 Sat The Exaltation of the Holy Cross


Nm 21:4b-9/Phil 2:6-11/Jn 3:13-17 (638) Pss Prop


Ex 32:7-11, 13-14/1 Tm 1:12-17/Lk 15:1-32 or 15:1-10 (132) Pss IV

If you look at our church calendar this week, St. Peter Claver, the Jesuit who ministered to African slaves in Columbia, South America, in the 17th century, is listed as a saint who is to be remembered in all the churches of the United States on September 9.  His feast is an obligatory memorial in our country. We have to remember him. 

When the Roman calendar was revised in 1975 there were 95 optional memorials–saints and feasts that can be celebrated at the discretion of the local church or community and 

63 obligatory memorials, saints and feasts that are more important for the universal church and should be celebrated by the universal church. 

This week, for example, the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary, September 12,  is an optional memorial. The Feast of John Chrysostom, September 13, is an obligatory memorial.  

In the church in the United States, Peter Claver is to be remembered. The reason, of course, is that he dealt with an issue that not only affected the world he lived in, but also still affects the world we live in, the issue of racism. 

Feast of the Birth of Mary (September 8)

st.ann basilica

Church of St. Anne, Jerusalem

The Feast of Mary’s Birth has been celebrated by churches of the east and west since the 4th and 5th centuries, when the Emperor Constantine and his successors built churches over important biblical sites in the Holy Land. Christian pilgrims, after experiencing feasts in these churches, began celebrating them in their own churches back home.

Barnett - 771
Ruins of Bethesda and ancient church

The feast of Mary’s Birth was celebrated in a church built in the 5th century over the ancient pool of Bethesda, near the Gate of St. Stephen, just north of the Jewish temple. John’s gospel recognized this place:  “Now there was in Jerusalem at the Sheep Gate, a pool in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these lay a large number of the blind, lame and crippled,”  (John 5,2) At this healing place, where pagan gods  like Asclepius and Serapis were honored, Jesus healed a paralyzed man.  

In the last century archeologists uncovered the ancient healing pool with its porticoes, parts of an ancient church and ruins of a temple of Asclepius (2nd-4th century) ..

Jerusaelm streets
Ruins of the Temple of Serapis
Barnett - 781

Early on, the church over the ancient healing pool became associated with Mary, the mother of Jesus. Traditions from the 3rd century placed her home in this area of Jerusalem, and so Mary’s birth and early life came to be remembered here.

Mary’s mother was Anne and her father Joachim, who provided sheep for the temple sacrifices, early traditions said. But they were looked down upon, because they were old and childless. Then, angels told them they were to conceive a daughter. Their faith, like that of Abraham and Sarah, was miraculously rewarded.

The Birth of Mary and stories of her childhood strongly influenced the spirituality and devotional life of all the early Christian churches. Mary’s birth is celebrated September 8 in the churches of east and west. Her parents are honored  September 9 by the Greek Church. The Roman Church celebrates their feast July 27th.

When the Crusaders conquered the Holy Land in the 11th century, they rebuilt the small church over the healing pool, fallen into ruins, and built a new, larger church honoring St. Anne, the mother of Mary, southeast of the pool.

The present Church of St. Ann, today one of the most beautiful of Jerusalem’s churches, stands overlooking the remains of the old church and the healing pool,  a favorite destination for pilgrims today.

Jerusaelm streets
Church of St. Anne, interior

Readings for the feast of Mary’s Birth see her birth awaited by all her ancestors. The gospel, St.Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus, begins with Abraham. Mary fulfilled his hopes and the hopes of generations before him by bringing Jesus Christ into the world.. “We commemorate the birth of the blessed Virgin Mary, a descendant of Abraham, born of the tribe of Judah and of David’s seed,” (Antiphon, 1st Vespers, Roman rite)

“This feast of the birth of the Mother of God is the prelude, while the final act is the foreordained union of the Word with flesh. Today, the Virgin is born, tended and formed and prepared for her role as Mother of God, who is the universal King of the ages…
Today the created world is raised to the dignity of a holy place for him who made all things. The creature is newly prepared to be a divine dwelling place for the Creator.”
(St. Andrew of Crete, bishop, Office of Readings, Roman rite)

St.Ann and Mary, her child

This feast of Mary is the first great feast of the Orthodox year, which begins in September. Their calendar ends with the feast of Mary’s Dormition, on August 15th.

The Orthodox liturgy sees Mary as the mysterious ladder that Jacob saw in a dream reaching from earth to heaven. (Genesis 28,10-17) She is the way the Word comes down to earth’s lowest point, death itself, and returns to heaven having redeemed humanity. The Orthodox liturgy also associates  Mary with the miracle of the paralyzed man at the Pool of Bethesda. She has a role in healing our paralyzed humanity.