Category Archives: St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Gaudium et Spes – The Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World by Peter Avvento


(This was to have posted a few weeks back… I entered it, posted it, but it seems to have disappeared. Here it is in its entirety! Apologies to Peter Avvento and to all of you.)

This was one of the most bitterly debated documents of the council. The original plan had called for one document on the church – “De Ecclesia”- but this changed largely due through the efforts of Leo Cardinal Suenens (Belgium) and his fellow bishops from Germany and the Netherlands. The pivotal point was the need to make a distinction between the church ad intra (the basic nature and structure of the Church) and the church ad extra (the church understood from the perspective of its mission to the world). Thus Vatican II produced two documents – “Lumen Gentium” (on the nature of the church) and “Gaudium et Spes” (on the mission of the church). One of the key speeches was that given by Dom Helder Camara of Brazil that bears repeating and should be emphasized to church leadership today, Are we to spend our whole time discussing internal church problems while two-thirds of humankind is dying of hunger?”


Part I of “Gaudium et Spes” establishes the theological framework for the church’s engagement in the world. It creates a theological anthropology that is grounded in the biblical notion of the human person as the “image of God”. Part II deals with the practical questions of moral application and addresses such topics as marriage and family, economic and social life and the fostering of peace.

Throughout the document there is an over-riding spirit of respectful dialogue with the world. On one hand, the church admits that it has much to learn from the world. On the other hand, the church offers to the world the “Good News” of Jesus Christ. The Church maintains that it is the guardian of the deposit of God’s Word and it draws religious and moral principles from it but it does not always have a ready answer to every question. While this may be frustrating to some it is part and parcel of the fact that life is filled with more “gray” than “black and white”, especially in moral matters.

One of the basic themes is an understanding of the Church (“all Christian faithful” as being called to a mission in the world. The Church believes that through each of us and all of us as a whole, we can make the human family even more human. Your actions and my actions have a social and a political impact. The metaphor of “leaven” (yeast) is most appropriate because it suggests that we are sent into the world to transform it from within. As a result, this document repudiates any attempt to define the church as being over and against the world as if it were so sort of autonomous entity (“a perfect society”) unaffected by the issues and concerns for humanity. The Church is NOT of ultimate importance – the Kingdom of God is. The Church exists as a UNIVERSAL SACRAMENT of SALVATION. As Christians we must be willing to “get our hands dirty” for the sake of the Kingdom.



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Filed under Adult Faith Enrichment, Gaudium et Spes, Peter Avvento, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park, Vatican II

Spartan Women Care Packs

Nicole Kasdorf is a determined woman. Tall, warm and with an easy smile, she is filled with palpable sense of mission and spirit. After having spent time in the US Army, deployed in Iraq, she knows that there are special needs for the women who serve our country. Upon returning home, she and her husband started a family and a small business, The rOUgh STORE bY KASDORF’S, where they sell homemade bath and beauty products.

If you were at any of the masses at St. Edward the Confessor this weekend, you heard Nicky speak – and I don’t think that anyone was left unmoved by what she said!

While we here tend to think of the war in Iraq as over, and the Afghanistan conflict as winding down, Nicky reminds us that there are many who are still deployed. With her focus on women stationed on a remote base in Afghanistan, she began to form a vision.

After teaming up with our pastor at St. Edward the Confessor in Clifton Park, NY,  Father Pat Butler, “Spartan Women Care Packs” is becoming a reality. Life in the harsh world of a remote base in Afghanistan, possibly without indoor plumbing, a long walk to the shower, and no PX to procure supplies from means that there are great needs. Add to that, the message that all care packages to soldiers bring – we have not forgotten you. Life goes on for us over here, but for those who serve and protect, things are very different. As someone who did serve, Kasdorf is more than well aware of this and her passion to help fellow soldiers will not be deterred.

A Spartan Woman Care Pack – ready to go!

Fr. Pat got our Youth Minister, Sister Rosemary Casaleno CSJ involved, and things have been moving ever since. The goal is to put together these “Spartan Women Care Packs.” Each pack will include a shower caddy, flip flops and a number of bath and beauty products. Currently we are collecting the caddies, and items for inclusion.

Reaching out to Philosophy cosmetics, Sister Rose procured 100 tubes of “The Supernatural,” a tinted primer. Parishioners have been donating goods and financial support to make this a reality. At this point, cash donations start to become particularly important, because of costs associated with buying US Postal Service approved boxes, packaging materials, and to pay for postage.

Nicole Kasdorf is a woman with a vision of helping others, helping others that serve and protect. Along with the people of the parish community of St. Edward the Confessor, she is reaching out to seek help from many sources. Given what she has already accomplished, it looks like the women deployed in Afghanistan will have something to look forward to by time Christmas comes.

(Interested in helping? You can donate directly through Nicky Kasdorf’s website, The rOUgh STORE bY KASDORF’S, or by contacting Sister Rose at, or email me at

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Filed under Father Butler, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Palm Sunday, Part 2 – Silence, Suffering, Service, with photos

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Like any good Catholic, I tend to go to the same mass. And yes- I do sit in the same place. Actually, about 6 months ago, I did change seats for practical reasons. (Helping with mass has me getting up an down a lot!) So if you are looking for me, please come to the 4pm mass on Saturday and I will be on the right hand side, first row of the second section of pews. Yes, the one who is getting up and down all the time – that’s me!

Palm Sunday mass at 4pm on Saturday was where I was at, as usual. However, Fr. Pat had asked me to take photos of the church during Lent and I have done a little of that during the 4pm mass. Given that I had the time, I thought I would return to the 11am mass on Sunday and just be there to take photos.

Today I saw Christ all over the Catholic Community of St. Edward the Confessor. It was remarkable.  Anyone who thinks that our large suburban parishes are not diverse should come by one day. Yes, we are primarily white and middle and upper middle class; it is Clifton Park. That said – we are diverse in ways I had not always given thought to. Until today, that is.

Christ was in the throngs of people that poured in for this liturgy. Christ was present in the very young and the very old, the very well dressed and proper and those who might have been less so.  Christ was present in friends that I had not seen in a long time and present in people that I had never seen before. Christ was very readily apparent in the enormous group of kids that gathered to head off to Children’s Liturgy of the Word.

Christ was present in the combined choirs whose voices rang out with such clarity and grace, filling the entire sanctuary with amazing talent, shared so freely. At one point I, can’t even remember exactly when, I could hear Mary Jo playing the piano and it went straight to my heart; so beautiful and redolent with the presence of God.

Among the most moving visions of Christ that I experienced, were the numerous people who were in wheelchairs. Some were young, some were old, some were in the middle. Some were in ordinary wheelchairs and some were in very sophisticated ones that met their unique needs. There were also many people with canes and mostly elderly people with walkers.

And Christ was very present in the number of developmentally disabled people who were present, of all ages. Our altar server, Donny, is the most reverent server that I know – he was there. And so many others, along with him. The most touching thing I saw, Christ embodied, was the young boy with Down Syndrome, leaning against his dad’s shoulder, his dad had one arm around him and had his other arm around his front. He was Christ before me, rubbing his son’s hand in soft, gentle and rhythmic motion.

What about the rest of us, the ones who looked OK? Well we too are as wounded, we wear our wounds on the inside and Christ was present and around all of us and in us today. That is always the case, today the church was like a thin place; liminal space where we encounter God.

Fr. Pat’s homily hit upon all these things as he spoke to us about silence, suffering and service; the places where we meet Jesus. We need silence in order to hear God; we suffer and we are one with Christ if we surrender and allow it. Ultimately we meet Christ and we are Christ in and through service of all sorts.

Today Christ was clearly present at our parish and I am most grateful to have been there to meet him, in all these different ways.


Filed under Community, Father Butler, Grace, Holy Week 2012, Lent 2012, Lenten Parish Reflections, Music, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Who Is At The Table?

The following is the text of an essay that I wrote in The Evangelist this week. In a rare moment of non-self promotion, I had not put it on the blog on Thursday when it was published. I decided to put it up today in light of today’s Gospel from Mark.

In the two days since this was published, I have gotten a fair amount of feedback about the essay. That feedback has been largely complimentary. Yet more than one person asked me if I thought it was OK for people to receive communion after a long absence from church and likely no visit to confession.

This is a fair enough question and I am very clear about what the rules are. I do have a Catechism and a Canon Law book steps away from my desk.

Truth be told, when I returned to church in 1990, I did go to confession before I went to communion. That is another story for another day. That said, I know many people who have not gone to confession first – that is their conscience, their matter with God and their confessor, should they ultimately go – who have ended up returning to the Church.

As a child, I recall going to Church, not every single Saturday, but on many Saturdays, and facing the crowd. It was 1966, but we were in a small mission parish with only one priest, so the lines were long! You just sat down next to Mom, got out that rosary and waited your turn. And when you pushed the velvet curtain aside, you headed straight up to the altar rail to say those 5 Our Fathers and 10 Hail Marys – no rushing that! You had plenty of company to your right and left.

Not so these days, so who goes to confession where and when is again, another matter.

I grow long winded and perhaps pedantic, so let me move on.

Today’s Gospel is a story about Jesus eating with all the wrong kinds of people and how he was judged for that action.

Some scribes who were Pharisees saw that Jesus was eating with sinners
and tax collectors and said to his disciples,
“Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
Jesus heard this and said to them,
“Those who are well do not need a physician, but the sick do.
I did not come to call the righteous but sinners.”

How can Jesus eat with the sinners (all of us, by the way, but you knew that) if they don’t come to the table? I am not suggesting – even remotely – that we scoff at the rules and make our own. I am saying that when you cast out the net to fish for men and women, you don’t stand on the deck of the boat shooing the less desirable fish away. You pull the whole thing up and you see what happens.

Here is the essay. What do you think? (Not about the essay, about the matter?)

NOTE: Yes, anyone who reads The Evangelist probably goes to church. My point in having the essay published was so that maybe someone would pass it along to others or to just consider the point of view of a Christmas only mass visitor. Please feel free to re-post, share on Facebook, Twitter or wherever. You just never know!

Re-gifting A Return To Church

It happens every year: Christmas comes and you find yourself in church. Being Catholic, it all comes back to you, although you found some verbal surprises this year. However, the songs are the same and the church is packed and the feeling is actually pretty good, once you give yourself over to it.

It seems nice, but not something that you’d actually want to do every week. The reasons vary from person to person and range from the mundane – you “just don’t have time” – to the more high-minded, finding “the whole thing filled with hypocrisy.” (Of course, no other part of your life feels like that, right?)

If you are as old as me, you were taught that missing Mass was a mortal sin. I lived in fear of this as a kid – but then again, we never missed Mass, so it was not a problem. It’s hard to understand eternal damnation for missing Mass against the backdrop of things like the sexual abuse scandal and various Church positions on topics important to you.

I would say that if one attends Mass simply out of fear of hell, that is a pity. I would hope that people would actually want to be there – but, hey, that’s just me.

Anyway, you were at Mass and it was time for communion. You hesitated, but everyone else seemed to be in line. Perhaps you felt nervous or strangely hopeful, like something good was about to happen. Did your mind rush back to when you made your First Communion as you extended your hands?

What did it feel like when you placed the Body of Christ in your mouth? Did you just make sure, like in so many other intimate moments, that you did not let yourself think or feel anything?

No matter what, you received a gift. Christ the Lord, whose birth we were celebrating, came to be in that ordinary manger found in your heart. You may not have been expecting Him; that’s OK. He just wanted to let you know He is here for you.

This is a gift. You can’t return it.

I was away, too – for 20 years. When I came back, I did not want to. It was completely unintentional on my part and I was extremely conflicted about the whole thing.

The first time I went back to communion, I was overwhelmed. I knew Jesus; I even loved Jesus; but I was noncommittal.

Jesus knew better. With a nervous stomach and a guilty conscience, I stayed – and soon found out that I had so little to worry about.

No one yelled at me. I was not scolded. All of my concerns were met with compassion and understanding.

I did not accept everything at first; it took a long time. But I kept coming back. I still struggle with some things and likely always will.

I hope that you had a nice Christmas this year and that of all the gifts you got, you realize that this one cries out to be re-gifted. That’s what I’m doing and it is my hope and desire that you come back and one day re-gift this to others.

If you felt anything when you were in church this Christmas, I hope you will see that as a gift and consider coming back. The gifts here are always in stock – and the only return we look forward to is you.


Filed under Christmas, Community, Evangelization, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park

Advent Reflections – Come Join Us! Saturday December 3, 2011 Fran Rossi Szpylczyn

These photos were taken last week at the Saturday 4pm liturgy here at St. Edward the Confessor. It was the First Sunday of Advent, the first Sunday of the new liturgical year and the first Sunday of using the New Roman Missal.

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This post serves as an invitation to come join us at St. Edward the Confessor. We have a vibrant parish, alive with faith. In these photos you will see how we process in with our Advent candle (singular for week one, but two for week 2 and so forth) and you will see our Advent banner.

The Advent banner really speaks to me. Look at how Mary has her hands open in a gesture of both giving and receiving. This posture and this dynamic are at the heart of our faith. We are all invited to live this way, alive in generosity and reception, alive in Christ the Lord, the One for whom we wait, yet the One we know in our hearts.

At St. Edward the Confessor, all are welcome! We have a diverse and warm community, we have wonderful music ministry, we have great liturgy, we have a great faith formation program and adult faith enrichment, we have so many ways in which you can… Well, you can give and receive – and to live in that same spirit of generosity and reception.

Come join us this Advent and come join us always.

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Filed under Advent, Advent 2011, Advent Reflections, Evangelization, Father Butler, Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, St. Edward the Confessor, St. Edward the Confessor Clifton Park