Church Bulletin Messenger

From Messenger November 2018

The Communion Fast ~ By Fr. Peter Geromel

When I begin to write about the tradition of not eating before Holy Communion, I am reminded of an anecdote in Cole Stephenson’s Merrily on High, a classic of Anglican church comedy – true stories all. As I recall it, the author talks about the first time he saw a high mass in the Anglican tradition and he described the clergy recessing back at the end with a look of studied boredom on their faces. When Fr. Stephenson told this story to somebody else, who served at similar masses with this same look of boredom, the fellow confessed that, despite appearances, he was really just having trouble not thinking about what was for lunch!

            Indeed, for many, Sunday brunch is a time of friends and family. We remember “the good old days” when many family members would come together for this sacred meal. It has been shown to exemplify modern family values in T.V. shows such as “Blue Bloods,” pointed back to in “The Waltons” and probably mocked in “The Simpsons” (but I don’t watch that often enough to know). Some might recall in time past how, if the sermon went a bit too long, somebody’s roast would be scorched. Another might remember how the glories of that scorched roast would last through the week in the form of leftovers.

            But the “Sunday Brunch” tradition points to an older tradition – that of the communion fast. This is unfortunately associated exclusively with Roman Catholicism, but history just doesn’t bear this out. There are areas of Anglicanism and Lutheranism that have always held this discipline and the Eastern churches are consistent about it. (The tradition, for example, in England of the “wedding breakfast” rather than a banquet points to the standard of a wedding mass in the morning and the fact that folks fasted beforehand.) Much of the Roman Catholic discipline became a bit “played out” towards the time of Vatican II. Telling young people that chewing gum before mass only breaks the fast if it still has flavor in it probably strikes those young people when they grow up as pharisaical and arbitrary. And attempts to correct this attitude by going to the other extreme and saying that ceasing to eat one hour before mass fulfills the fast is equally ridiculous; since the mass takes an hour you could be munching right up until the start time! Of course, prior to Vatican II there were hardly any evening masses, but a better practice might be to keep the three-hour fast for evening masses, in honor of the three hours that Christ was on the Cross. In such reasonable ways, the tradition continues among many for whom this is a real devotion, a reminder to pray for a holy reception of the Sacramental Body and Blood of Christ.

            Even traditional Protestants who would never consider keeping the fast themselves express being aghast at the way some modern churches seem to hold coffee fellowship before church. They are aghast at the sight of folks in jeans, holding onto the brew of their choice in the pews or auditorium, awaiting the start of the Praise and Worship band. Even for the traditional Protestant this indulgence in food and drink before worship appears unreasonable and undevout and perhaps points to the intuition that, if food is used before worship at all, it should be minimal and “saving room” for the Sunday Brunch.  

            When the clergy themselves keep the fast, it is a special effort to be without food nearly half a day before doing your most important work of the week. And when the first thing you’ve had in all that time is a wafer and a glass of wine (the fact that it is the Blood of Christ doesn’t take away its natural effect) you are libel to rely very heavily on God as you greet the congregation and share a few nibbles with them. Yet this is just the point – to rely heavily on God rather than one’s own natural ability and natural strength. In fact, it is such a blessing to rely heavily on God in this way that we do not hesitate to recommend it to the congregation. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”

We can’t rely on our own strength to worship God acceptably, to hear his Word read and preached attentively, to receive the Body and Blood of Christ humbly. Fasting reminds us of our very basic limitation: Despite our sense of self-sufficiency we are as dependent on God for our needs as a newborn child is on milk.

From Rector’s Message March/April 2018

The season of Lent is meant to strengthen our relationship with God. It can; but it doesn’t for many people. Perhaps it is because we have seen and experienced so many Seasons of Lent with little or no success in drawing ourselves closer to God. Maybe the Lenten Season of 40 days and 40 nights is too short for so great an achievement. Indeed, for some it will take a life time of forty, sixty, eighty or more years. Hymn 406 “Art thou weary, art thou laden, Art thou sore distrest., Come to me, saith One, and coming, Be at rest”. Finding, following, keeping, struggling. Is He sure to bless? Saints, Apostles, Prophets, Martyrs, Answer “Yes”.
How true are the words to Hymn 407. “O Jesus, thou art standing outside the fast-closed door, In lowly patience waiting To pass the threshold o’er: Shame on us Christian brothers, His Name and sign who bear, O shame, thrice shame upon us. To keep Him standing there!. Vs 3, O Jesus, thou art pleading In accents meek and low: “I died for you my children. And will you treat me so?” O Lord, with shame and sorrow We open now the door: Dear Saviour, enter, enter, and leave us nevermore”.
What better response can we make than the words of Hymn 408. “Take my life, and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands, and let them move At the impulse of thy love; Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for thee. Vs 2 “Take my voice, and let me sing Always, only ,for my King; Take my intellect, and use Every power as thou dost choose. Take my will, and make it thine: It shall be no longer mine. Take myself, and I will be Ever, only, all for thee. AMEN”.
One can go on and on. How could I not mention the favorite hymn of Billy Graham at the moment of Decision; to forsake sin and come to Jesus; Hymn 409. Just as I am, without one plea, But that thy blood was shed for me, And that thou bid’st me come to thee, O Lamb of God, I come, I come. Vs 2. “just as I am, though tossed about With many a conflict, many a doubt; Fightings and fears within, without, O Lamb of God I come, I come.

O Saviour of the world, who by thy Cross and precious blood hast redeemed us
Save us and help us, we humbly beseech thee, O Lord.
There is still time to make your Lenten pilgrimage more meaningful. And with this more inspired Lent, we will then be more properly prepared for the Glorious Resurrection which will follow all too quickly.
Fr. Joe+

From Rector’s Message September/October

With Labor Day come and gone, the days of summer rapidly become a part of the past. Hopefully, you have had a good summer and are now ready to settle down to the daily routine tasks of life, work and church.
Life never moves any faster or slower for anyone. It only seems that way. It’s only a matter of what we choose to do with any and all the time God has given us.

The year 2017 is a special year to me personally. It was 60 years ago on June 15, 1957 at Trinity Church, Carbondale, PA that I was Ordained a Deacon in the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church of God. In the same year, six months later, December 18th, I was Ordained a Priest in the church to which I had been assigned, Christ Church, Forest City, PA. These formative years of my Ministry were God blessed, full of joy and fond memories.

Nine years later, I accepted a call to be Rector at St. Stephen’s; located in Catasaqua, PA. and moved there on March 1, 1966. In August of 1972 ground was broken, at a site approximately two miles away, for a new church building and related facilities in the Township of Whitehall. In the Spring of 1974 the congregation moved into its newly consecrated Church building.

With WORSHIP at the center of our lives, the work of nourishing and growing the congregation was wonderfully accepted by the members who gave generously of their time, talents and treasure in thanksgiving for the many blessings of God we were then experiencing.

The Ministry of 35 years at St. Stephen’s ended with my retirement in the fall of the year 2000 at the age of 70.

Three years of my retirement ended when I was accepted as a priest in the Anglican Church in America and the Diocese of the Eastern United States. St. Paul’s Anglican Church was then organized and chartered in the State of Pennsylvania. After several temporary locations, St. Paul’s Anglican Church is now permanently located at the intersection of 25th & Livingston Streets in Allentown, PA.

Looking back 60 years seems like yesterday now. I certainly did not know then what the future held in store for me. Nor could I have, for a moment, ever thought that I would be alive 60 years later still doing what I started out to do long ago. It is only as I look back that I can appreciate the blessings of God over the Ministry He has given me to do.

It is now, however, that I look forward eagerly to the future of what God has in store for me and for those He will call me to serve.

For all the years past and for those to come TO GOD GIVE THE GLORY!
Yours in Christ,
Father Joe + Falzone

St. Paul’s Messenger July/August 2017
Rector’s Message

DEARLY beloved in the Lord, ye who mind to come to the holy Communion of the Body and Blood of our Saviour Christ, must consider how Saint Paul exhorteth all persons diligently to try and examine themselves, before they presume to eat of that Bread, and drink of that Cup. For as the benefit is great, if with a true penitent heart and lively faith we receive that holy Sacrament; so is the danger great, if we receive the same unworthily. Judge therefore yourselves, brethren, that ye be not judged of the Lord; repent you truly for your sins past; have a lively and stedfast faith in Christ our Saviour; amend your lives, and be in perfect charity with all men; so shall ye be meet partakers of those holy mysteries. And above all things ye must give most humble and hearty thanks to God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, for the redemption of the world by the death and passion of our Saviour Christ, both God and man; who did humble himself, even to the death upon the Cross, for us, miserable sinners, who lay in darkness and the shadow of death; that he might make us the children of God, and exalt us to everlasting life. And to the end that we should always remember the exceeding great love of our Master, and only Saviour, Jesus Christ, thus dying for us, and the innumerable benefits which by his precious blood-shedding he hath obtained for us; he hath instituted and ordained holy mysteries, as pledges of his love, and for a continual remembrance of his death, to our great and endless comfort. To him therefore, with the Father and the Holy Ghost, let us give, as we are most bounden, continual thanks; submitting ourselves wholly to his holy will and pleasure, and studying to serve him in true holiness and righteousness all the days of our life. Amen.

In the Service of Holy Communion, following the opening Collect for Purity, the Priest turning to the people, rehearses distinctly the Ten Commandments, and the people, still kneeling, shall, after every Commandment, ask God mercy for their transgressions for the time past, and grace to keep the law for the time to come. The Decalogue may be omitted, provided it be said at least one Sunday in each month. But note, that whenever it is omitted, the Priest shall say the Summary of the Law, beginning, Hear what our Lord Jesus Christ saith.

The “Summary” divides the Ten Commandments into two sections, First our Duty to God (1 to 4) Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great Commandment. And Second, our Duty unto our Neighbor (5 to 10) is like the first; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.

Breaking of our proper relationship with God will open up ourselves to temptation and thus to sin.

May your devotion to God strengthen your love for Him that His love for you may be reflected and flow through you to others around you.

Yours in Christ,
Fr. Joe+

St. Paul’s Messenger

March/April 2016

Rector’s Message

In the New Testament the shedding of the blood of animals was ended once and for all when God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to offer Himself (the Lamb of God) to be sacrificed (shedding of His blood) once for all time and all men, for our redemption. Only a Lamb without blemish (without sin) could be the price paid for us to have our guilt and sins forgiven, to be reconciled with God and to clear the way for our salvation with Him in His Heavenly Kingdom.

Jesus said, “In the days when Moses led the wandering Israelites through the desert, they rebelled against God and were being bitten by fiery serpents; and much people of Israel died. God said to Moses, “Make thee a fiery serpent and place it on a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten (sinned against God) when he looketh upon it, shall live” (Numbers 20:8) Jesus said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John3:14-15). And again, Jesus said, “I, if I be lifted up, will draw all men unto me. (John 12:32) Those who look upon Jesus and believe in Him, will have their sins forgiven and be saved.

There were two thieves crucified with Jesus. One said, “Save me and yourself”; the other said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom. Jesus responded to the second request, “Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise”.

And that my friends, is what LENT is all about; a time to allow Him to draw us closer to Himself; to become intimate with Him in His suffering and death. It is then and only then, that our worship of God becomes an occasion of honoring HIM with a glorious and joyful offering of our souls and bodies with thanksgiving to God on Easter Day.


Yours in Christ,

Fr. Joe

April Holy Days

April 6th – The Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

10:00a.m. Healing Service/Holy Eucharist

April 27th – St. Mark, Apostle and Evangelist

10:00a.m. Healing Service/Holy Eucharist

The Cross

The cross was created for the purpose of killing those who would be hung upon it. Certainly, we are not happy for how it was used to torture and put to death our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. And so in Passiontide we cover the empty crosses on our altars.

Try to observe and attend as many or all of the Services for Holy Week. They can help you to have a heart and mind ready to celebrate, with joyful hymns of praise, the Resurrection of our Lord, Jesus Christ from the dead. The uncovered crosses on our altars now become a symbol of the Risen Christ who died to save us from our sins and rose from the dead to open the gates of heaven to all who love and honor HIM.

Heavenly Father, forgive us for our sins. “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done”.

May your celebration of Easter be truly blessed.

“There cannot be a God of love,” men say, “Because if there was, and he looked upon the world, his heart would break.” The Church points to the cross and says, “It did break.” “It’s God who made the world” men say, “It’s he who should bear the load.” The Church points to the cross and says, “He did bear it.”

William Temple

98th Archbishop of Canterbury (1942-1944)

Sometimes people feel that they have a right to be happy in this world. A Christian is not to be necessarily happy but is to work toward blessedness. In the Sermon on the Mount, those blessed ones were full of joy but not necessarily happy. Blessedness is a religious conception and joyfulness is our response to God. Strictly speaking, in our human relationships we may be “happy” but not joyful. If we are hungry because we have given our food to someone less fortunate, we are not happy but we may be blessed and joyful. – A parish priest, quoted in the Summer 1971 issue of Anglican Digest.

Remember St. Paul’s Church in your will.