Friday, December 14, 2018


The peace and joy for which the world celebrates and desires.

In thinking about what I to write, I reflected on the first Christmas as told in the gospel. 
Not the part where Mary and Joseph frantically search for a birthing place.   Not the unspoken part where Mary gives birth.    Surely not the sounds and smells of the nearby animals.
I think of what most parents would see as important: a content infant drowsily falling to sleep in the arms of an exhausted mother.  It is from this scene the unlikely mix of peace and joy begins to emerge.
Looking up I see the nativity set on my piano.  Although simple it is deluxe compared to the original site where the Holy Family settled that Christmas night. 
Then I picture what many of you are seeing as you read this:  St. Mary’s church.  There are lighted trees and wreaths with ribbons.  Amenities that were unimaginable on that first Christmas:  an organ, baby grand piano and sound system.  (I better not forget to mention the new elevator because if I do, Fr. Rich will have me hand-write it into every bulletin. :)
I imagine the generations of families who have gathered here throughout the years.   They are alongside individuals who have come to see St. Mary’s as their family.  I see myself and others who have been blessed to share our ministry here with you. 
I pause to think of those who are not with us.  There are those who no longer make church part of their holiday tradition.  There are those who have died.  I pause to honor their memories. 
And……There is you. 
Whatever brought you here, whatever you were doing right before you came, whatever you will do when you leave church I wish you the peace and joy for which you celebrate and desire.
Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s,

Bruce Mauro, Director of Music St. Mary’s Church

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Come Join our Music Ministry this September

Starting dates and times:

         Treble Choir  -  Sunday 9/9       Rehearsal at 10:30
                                                            Mass at noon

         Adult Choir  -  Sunday 9/9         Rehearsal at 10:30
                                                            Mass at noon

         Guitar Group  -  Contact

         Children's Choir -  Sunday 9/23   9:45 rehearsal
                                                              Mass at 10:30

                   Questions?     Want the entire schedule?    

                   E-mail Bruce Mauro, Director of Music


Sunday, August 12, 2018

Extrapolating on Elijah

He prayed for death: “Enough, LORD! Take my life,
for I am no better than my ancestors.”
                                                                               1 Kings 19:4

In preparation for this article I read from a book worthy of its own Amazon mini-series. The book, 1 Kings, is where we find Elijah, the greatest prophet of the Old Testament in today’s first reading.  It is helpful to know a little about the story’s other two main characters: Ahab (a king of Israel) and Jezebel. 1 Kings 16:30-31 tells us all we need know.

Ahab, son of Omri, did what was evil in the LORD’s sight more than any of his predecessors. It was not enough for him to follow the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He even married Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal, and worship him.

Jezebel brought 1,000 prophets of Baal with her and slaughtered all but one hundred of the prophets of Israel.  Elijah alone openly stood against Jezebel. He called for and won a throw-down with the prophets of Baal. The people rose up and slaughtered the false-prophets.   Jezebel’s swears to avenge these deaths and pursues Elijah. Today’s reading begins with Elijah sitting in despair under a broom tree begging God to take his life.

The rawness of Elijah’s words do not sit well with me. Like most people, I can be slowed down by a head-wind or uphill climb. But this swing from elation to despair is troubling. It strikes a chord in me as a parent and someone who works with young people.

The U.S Center for Disease Control reports the following:
  • In 2011 suicide became the 2nd leading cause of death in Americans between the ages of 15-34.
  • In 2014 Suicide became the 2nd leading cause of death in Americans between the ages of 10-14
  • Suicide has taken the life of more Americans than homicide in Americans between the ages of 10-35 since 2012
God’s word offers hope.

Elijah is wakened by an angel who brings a hearth cake and a jug of water commanding him to eat.

The psalmist writes “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he saves them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the stalwart one who takes refuge in him.”  Psalm 34:7-8

Today’s music reflects the hope found in today’s scripture readings.  The verses of “Strength for the Journey” affirm we have a road to travel, and a cross to carry.  In the third verse the song asks “How many times have you doubted my word?”  The answer to each of these questions is God reminding us “I will be strength for the journey.”

Our offertory song is the African-American spiritual; “There is a Balm in Gilead” (#456). While the initial reaction of some will be to find it depressing, I am moved by its somber nature and its history of comfort. I’ve placed it at offertory to remind us that sacrifice of Jesus is balm for the sadness and trails of our lives.

Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s,


Ironically, the following article came across my Facebook feed. It recalls an op-ed piece from 30 years ago where  The NY Times where Willian Styron (the author of Sophie’s Choice) broke a taboo by writing an op-ed about his own depression.

Later the same day an old friend tells me that his son missed 50 days of seventh grade due to depression. I have scheduled a repeating reminder on my calendar to reach out to this young man who has called me “Uncle Bruce” since he was able to talk.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

18th Sunday of Ordinary Time

"Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!"    Ex. 16:3

On the 18th Sunday of ordinary time we divert from Mark’s gospel and begin the “Bread of Life Discourses” from the gospel of John. The people are hungry and look for Jesus because he had recently fed 5,000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes. 

Jesus seizes the opportunity to introduce the concept of eternal food.  In his lesson, Jesus refers to today’s first reading from the book of Exodus. The Israelites are hungry and thirsty as they wander through the desert. Losing hope, they grumble against Moses and Aaron: "Would that we had died at the LORD's hand in the land of Egypt, as we sat by our fleshpots and ate our fill of bread!

This story would be familiar to those to whom Jesus speaks, as they are the descendants of the people in the story. They would also know two important lessons/rules contained in the subsequent part of the story

1. Anything kept overnight would be worm-infested by morning.

2. The exception to rule #1 would be the day before the Sabbath where God would provide and the people would collect double portions. In this way, the Sabbath would remain a day of rest.

Readings such as these never fail to make me examine my own life. Do I trust in God’s providence? Am I generous with my time, talent and treasure? Do I take (or make) what I need? Or do I break rule 1 and try to hold on to as much as I can, forgetting that the excess never seems to maintain its value?

Thankfully, Jesus’ words are not words of condemnation. Perhaps the struggles you and I feel are inspired by the Holy Spirit? This reminds me  of something I learned a long time ago:  the Spirit convicts, corrects and converts.
Blessed to be in ministry at St. Mary’s,


We say so long for a while to today’s cantor Gabrianna Boomer. Gabrianna will be working for the Walt Disney Company at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida as a Children's Activities Cast Member.
She, like our other cantors have been hand selected from the Newman Catholic Campus Ministry at Montclair State University. These talented, faith-filled young people have played a major role in helping me develop the music ministry that you, the parishioners of St. Mary’s deserve.
Good luck, Gabrianna!  Say “Hi!” to Mickey. See you real soon. 

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Sheep without a Shepherd 16th Sunday in OT

His heart was moved with pity for them for they were like sheep without a shepherd.
                                                                                                                       Mark 6:34
Today’s readings flow from this line of Mark’s gospel.
 A little background will prove helpful towards understand today’s first reading. The people that Moses led through the wilderness were brought into the promised-land by Joshua. They crowned their first king (Saul) and were subsequently ruled by David and Solomon. Later, the kingdom broke into 2 parts: Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom). Then things got worse. The people were repeatedly conquered and sent into exile. The prophet Jeremiah gives voice to God’s displeasure with shepherds who “have scattered my sheep and driven them away.” He prophesies of a “righteous branch...(who) shall reign and govern wisely.”
 Today’s psalm is the familiar psalm 23.  Many people can recite bits of this psalm, including its iconic first line:  “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” The psalmist goes on to speak of God as shepherd for the flock and generous and caring host. I’ve decided to use two settings of psalm 23 during today’s liturgy. The first will be our prelude. Many of you will recognize Josh Blakesley’s setting titled; “The Lord is My Shepherd.” Its’ rhythmic refrain is easy to sing. I believe it will be a good way of turning our focus toward the scripture we will hear proclaimed and Christ’s presence in the Eucharist. The second setting is found in the hymnal between the first and second reading.  This refrain to this setting is more lyrical.  The verses will be chanted by the psalmist. Wishing you a restful summer, Bruce

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