Building Updates, 15th Sunday Ordinary Time


Last week I signed the contract for the next stage in the restoration of the exterior of the Church. This week we received our DOB approval!  PPM, our contractor, is in the process of having his expediter pull the permits for work.  The shop drawing and submittal process has begun.  We will get an update on when they will begin work onsite once the permits are available to be pulled.  The abatement team is back onsite finishing any window caulking that remains and removing all of the caulking in the corners of the building.  We have coordinated them with PPM so they will not have issues in disrupting one another’s work.  The abatement team anticipates completion of all abatement work in August except the area behind the sidewalk bridge which will be done when it is removed later in the project.  We anticipate work fully mobilizing onsite within the next 2-3 weeks.


Meanwhile many of our vacationing parishioners have been sending bulletins and pictures from the parishes they are attending over the summer. I am interested in every Church bulletin, the interiors of Victorian Churches and particularly creative restroom additions. Our architects, Li Saltzman, ( will devise a plan to install a restroom and more importantly for the look of the Church access to it but we need to tell them what we as a parish need. An example: would one changing table be enough? There will be more questions.


Wishing you a blessed week no matter where you are, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr Smith



The Mass and reception for people taking the bar exam will be on Sunday, July 22 at and after the 7PM Mass. This is for everyone, not just parishioners,  and we ask you to invite your friends. Lawyers who can give knowing encouragement are particularly welcome.



15TH Sunday in Ordinary Time

Amos 7:12-15


Our first reading today brings us to the 8th century BC and requires us to look at the political and geographical realities of the time. After the death of Solomon about 931BC the Kingdom of David was divided in two: the northern kingdom with 10 tribes, with its capital at Bethel and a southern kingdom with 2 tribes with its capital in Jerusalem. Both kingdoms were situated between Egypt and whatever political entity was strongest in the north: Babylon, Assyria, Persia. The names would change but the need to play one off against the other was the same.

King Jeroboam II was king of Israel between 783-743BC. He was a talented politician and saw that Assyria, the dominant power in the north at the time, was experiencing internal discord. He was able to expand his country’s boundaries and its trade bringing unparalleled prosperity. This prosperity also brought ignorance of God. This does not mean a lack of cultic devotion. They were able to maintain two main shrines (Bethel and Gilgal) with many sacrifices and pilgrims but they did not remember that their God was a one of Justice. The Lord’s relationship with his people was not exclusively with the rich and rewarded but with the poor and inconvenient as well.

It is to this world that Amos is sent. He is not an official prophet. Indeed, he is a man of the land. He also is assumed to have been sent from the Southern Kingdom commissioned to address the apostasy of the north. As all prophets he uses his specific background to reveal the wider problem.


11 Therefore, because you have trampled upon the weak

and exacted of them levies of grain,

Though you have built houses of hewn stone,

you shall not live in them!

Though you have planted choice vineyards,

you shall not drink their wine!

12 Yes, I know how many are your crimes,

how grievous your sins:

Oppressing the just, accepting bribes,

repelling the needy at the gate! (Amos 5:11–13)


This is reflected in the archeology of ancient times and the contemporary, one might even say universal, experience of taxation. . We see that the houses of the rich grew in size during this period but those of the poor got smaller. Also, that levies of grain were much like poll taxes and disproportionally affected the poor. To absolve themselves many of the prosperous gave expansively to the places of worship. Amos writes

21 I hate, I spurn your feasts,

I take no pleasure in your solemnities;

22 Your cereal offerings I will not accept,

nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings.

23 Away with your noisy songs!

I will not listen to the melodies of your harps.

But if you would offer me holocausts,

24 then let justice surge like water,

and goodness like an unfailing stream. (Amos 5:21-24)


Today’s reading is particularly provocative because it is a confrontation at the royal sanctuary in Bethel with the chief priest, Amaziah. He assumes that Amos is a “guild” prophet seeking to be connected and paid by the court or temple. He tells him:

“Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying,

13 but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” Amos 7:12–13

He basically is accusing Amos of biting the hand that he wants to feed him. For Amaziah a prophet to survive needs to be on someone’s payroll and he who pays he piper calls the tune. Thus, the power of Amos’s answer:

 “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. 15 The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel. Amos 7:14–15 (NAB)


As we have seen with Ezekiel he was not inducted into a company of professional prophets but called by God and given a mission. He does not report to king or priest but to God alone. The tame prophets where unable to hear the voice of God. In Upton Sinclair’s famous phrase:” It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”


The guild prophets, company men, could not write the next section of the book:


16 Now hear the word of the LORD!”

You say: prophesy not against Israel,

preach not against the house of Isaac.

17 Now thus says the LORD:

Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city,

and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;

Your land shall be divided by measuring line,

and you yourself shall die in an unclean land;

Israel shall be exiled far from its land. (Amos 7:16–17)

And so, it came to pass. The Assyrians got themselves back together and destroyed Israel in 721BC. We have seen that prophets may comfort the afflicted, but they afflict the comfortable and just as the “what” of the prophet’s message may shock and surprise us so too we may be taken aback by the “where”. Amaziah was angered at the message of Amos but truly enraged that an immigrant would dare to chastise him in his own place of worship. I can sympathize. The most personally prophetic message that I have experienced was reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”: painful, passionate and from prison.

As we look at the wisdom of the Old Testament, let us remember that the Lord’s message will undoubtedly be one we do not want to hear and may very well be from a place we do not want to look.


Bar Exam Mass 7/22;14th Sunday Ordinary Time

Picture: Ezekiel’s vision, Walters Manuscript W.51, fol. 339v – Vulgate Bible.


There will be a special Mass for those taking the Bar exam July 24-25 at 7:00PM on Sunday July 22nd. We will bless those who will be taking the exam and have a brief reception for them after Mass. Please come and offer your prayers and show them fellowship.


First Reading
Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Ezekiel 3:2-5

If any of those young men recently ordained to the Priesthood for our Diocese were to say that he became a priest because he thought it a good career choice, we would be justifiably shocked. We expect a priest to have a vocation, which literally means a call from God. A priestly vocation would have been somewhat bewildering to the Jews; the priesthood was inherited. You were a priest if your father was a priest. They did however understand vocation and call. True prophets were called, and we have the vocation stories of many of them. They are all of interest, but none is more fascinating than Ezekiel.

Ezekiel was a priest, He was born and spent his early years in Jerusalem. When Jerusalem rebelled against Babylon and was conquered in 597BC he was one of the leaders that was deported to Babylon. As a person with education he would have been useful to his captors in their bureaucracy, but as a priest without a temple his religious purpose was seemingly over. Yet

2 On the fifth day of the month, the fifth year, that is, of King Jehoiachin’s exile,

3 the word of the LORD came to the priest Ezekiel, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar.—There the hand of the LORD came upon me. (Eze 1:2-5)


He receives a blinding vision of the throne room of God. It is very detailed and may or may not have definite references to his time. That is not particularly important. The very majesty of it is a sign that the God of his Fathers is no local deity but can reach them in the very stronghold of Babylon. His covenant with his people still endures and indeed will strengthen.

For the people the convent with God would have required sacrifice in the temple; without it, how could they maintain this relationship. All would be confused, and many would have despaired and would worship the Gods of Babylon. The section that we read today comes immediately after this long vision of the majesty of God. Ezekiel receives his orders.

2 As he spoke to me, spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard the one who was speaking  say to me: Son of man, I am sending you to the Israelites, rebels who have rebelled against me; they and their fathers have revolted against me to this very day.


As Ezekiel will tell his people repeatedly and unsparingly they are in this situation because they refused to accept the leadership of God and thus rebelled against him. Many verses of this book review with the people the events that led to this disaster and what they mean, God tells him that for this he should not expect to be well received but

 whether they heed or resist—for they are a rebellious house—they shall know that a prophet has been among them.

A prophet reveals the presence of God both in judgement and mercy. He is not bound by time or place but speaks God’s word and that alone to the people.


This is brought out very powerfully in the section of Ezekiel which follows our reading today:

8 As for you, son of man, obey me when I speak to you: be not rebellious like this house of rebellion, but open your mouth and eat what I shall give you.

9 It was then I saw a hand stretched out to me, in which was a written scroll

10 which he unrolled before me. It was covered with writing front and back, and written on it was: Lamentation and wailing and woe! (2:8-10) Son of man, he then said to me, feed your belly and fill your stomach with this scroll I am giving you. I ate it, and it was as sweet as honey in my mouth. (3:3)

The prophet does not speak for himself but for God. It may be a difficult message to hear but as it is from God it is “sweet as honey” to speak.

Although Ezekiel died before the people were offered a way back to Jerusalem he assured them in the name of God that they would return and rebuild the temple. Although the task was difficult and dangerous enough accepted that the temple was rebuilt and its worship restored. There truly was a prophet among them

Certainly, people of my generation (Sexagenarians and above)) may feel like “strangers in a strange land”. (Exodus 2:22) The world has changed and we may feel lost when what made sense before no longer does for us much less for younger people. But God never abandons his people: there are prophets among us. As we read though the prophets of the Jews this summer, I hope that we will be able to recognize them and hear them more clearly.

Let us take one hint from today’s first reading for perilous and divided times. The prophets will often start by examining the faults of “the nations,” that is other people. But invariably they will raise to crystal clarity the sins of God’s own people. It will be the same with us. Whether you wish to “Make America Great again” or have joined the “resistance”, to use the most hyperbolic language of the day, you will not hear the voice of a prophet addressed to someone else. You will hear only the Word spoken to you. Prophets are not sent to them but to us, not to me but to you.


Independence Day Week/13th Sunday Ordinary Time

July 4th Greetings:

Best wishes for Independence Day. Wherever we are it is time to pray that our republic has the strength which, as our first reading tells us, only comes from virtue. Mass will be celebrated on July 4th at 12:10PM.



Sacramental preparation for non-Baptized people who would like to be Baptized, for Baptized non-Catholics and for Catholics who have not received Holy Communion and/or been Confirmed will begin in the Fall. The classes recognize the busy schedules of members of our community and are quite flexible. Please see Fr Smith after Mass, call him at 718-625-1177 ex. 409 or email him at pastor


First reading

Wisdom of Solomon” (1:13-15, 2:23-24)

Thirteenth Sunday of the year

July 1, 2018


The reading from the Old Testament this weekend is from the Book of the “Wisdom of Solomon” (1:13-15, 2:23-24.) Although it sounds ancient it is perhaps the last book in the Old Testament and could have been written as late as 30BC. Also, although it takes the name of King Solomon of Jerusalem from about 1000BC it was most likely written in Alexandra Egypt for the children of the Jewish elite who were immersed in the Roman world and tempted to give up their faith. There is much of interest here.

The conceit of the book is that King Solomon is presenting to the other kings and princes of the world the mind of God. Note it is assumed that God has created the entire world and his laws are based on this creation. Memorably he begins:

 Love justice, you who judge the earth;

think of the LORD in goodness,

and seek him in integrity of heart; (Wisdom 1:1-3)


Justice connects us to reality and reveals God’s Goodness. It may be found only by those with integrity of heart. The consequences of this are revealed in the first part of today’s reading:


13 Because God did not make death,

nor does he rejoice in the destruction of the living.

14 For he fashioned all things that they might have being;

and the creatures of the world are wholesome,

And there is not a destructive drug among them

nor any domain of the nether world on earth,

15 For justice is undying. (Wisdom 1:13-15)

This is an important passage because it directly addresses prominent Greek ideas which would have been attractive to the young elite. When older Jewish writings promised life to those who lived justly they meant health, prosperity, children, etc. in this life. If there was an afterlife it was a pale reflection of this one. Wisdom claims that there is an afterlife that is positive and robust because the world reflects the goodness of God and just as god is everlasting so is his creation especially we who are specially created in his likeness.

The life of which he speaks is not so much continuing breathing but an existence which reflects the presence of God. To deny the image of God in the way we live our lives is to invite destruction of our very being. We were created for bliss, but we can embrace destruction. As the concluding section of today’s reading puts it:

23 For God formed man to be imperishable;

the image of his own nature he made him.

24 But by the envy of the devil, death entered the world,

and they who are in his possession experience it.

Although this is not a prophetic book, it speaks to some of the same issues and gives a more philosophical understanding for thoughts and actions. Justice is not just something nice but reflects the way the world is created. To be unjust is to be literally unreal and dying in the here and now. Justice is also not just a series of actions that can be detached from the rest of one’s life, but part of our very being. As we saw in the very first lines of this book, without integrity of heart, wisdom will always escape us, because whether a king or a pauper only the just person can live a worthy life.

Some Summer Parish Awaywork / 12th Sunday Ordinary Time

The past few days have reminded me why people try to leave city in the summer and I hope that you will all be able to do so. While you are away I have two requests: Please pick up bulletins from the parishes you will be attending. They can be very helpful in seeing what other places are doing. Also, if you are in a vintage Church, especially a Victorian one like ours, please take pictures and send them to me at [email protected] I am particularly interested in the color scheme in general and the columns of the church in particular.(To marbleize or not to marbleize that is the question.). Also, of course, how bathrooms were installed to fulfill both the requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act and aesthetic obligations. We members of St Charles are entrusted with a treasure and we will be guided by the most experienced and talented professionals available but there are a few preferences that we will need to set, and I would like as much information as possible. Consider this ecclesiastical and architectural crowd sourcing. I will share with you some of the most directly applicable pictures. Wishing you a great summer, I remain

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr William Smith

Pastor, SCB



First reading 

12th Sunday in Ordinary Time

June 24, 2018

Isaiah 49:1-6


Many of the readings that we will examine this Summer from the Hebrew Bible bring us back to the Fall of Jerusalem, in its several stages from 597 to 586 BC, the subsequent captivity of the Jewish leaders in Babylon and the offer the Persian King Cyrus to send back to Jerusalem those who would work for him beginning in 539. Last week with Ezekiel,  we saw the beginning of the exile; today we follow those who accepted Cyrus’ offer and returned to their homeland to be his administrators and rebuild the temple.

This was an arduous task and most of the leaders did not accept it, as it entailed a long journey to a mostly destroyed community. The first part of today’s reading gives us a sense of their understanding of their role. However, before examining this, let us first look at Isaiah. The name means: “Yahweh is salvation”. The book of the Prophet Isaiah was authored by several people over several centuries. The first Isaiah lived in the 8th century BC (c. 740 – 686). He had a keen sense that God acted in history and that He demanded obedience to his word and justice to his people. The Isaiah who we read today lived c. 520 BC and like the original Isaiah saw the hand of God in History.


1 Hear me, O coastlands,

listen, O distant peoples.

The LORD called me from birth,

from my mother’s womb he gave me my name.

2 He made of me a sharp-edged sword

and concealed me in the shadow of his arm.

He made me a polished arrow,

in his quiver he hid me.

3 You are my servant, he said to me,

Israel, through whom I show my glory.


He knows that he has been chosen for a great task. He not only takes the name Isaiah but uses a common story that prophets are set aside before birth for their task (cf. Jeremiah: 1:10; 25:15 ff. and today’s feast and Gospel). He does not however understand his vocation and here he speaks as representative of his entire people. As we see in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah, the work of rebuilding the temple and indeed the society went very slowly, and it was soon clear the at the temple would not be unusually magnificent. If their purpose was purely national and to be judged by the standards of power and spender, it was not worth the effort or the trip.

Isaiah however is brought to a new revelation both for himself and for his people:


4 Though I thought I had toiled in vain,

and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength,

Yet my reward is with the LORD,

my recompense is with my God.

5 For now the LORD has spoken

who formed me as his servant from the womb,

That Jacob may be brought back to him

and Israel gathered to him;

And I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD,

and my God is now my strength!

6 It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant,

to raise up the tribes of Jacob,

and restore the survivors of Israel;

I will make you a light to the nations,

that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.


The reason why the people were brought back to Jerusalem to once more offer true worship was to be God’s means of bringing all people to Him, they were the seed and the sacrament. It is here that the Jews understood their vocation as a people: We read in the book of Zechariah (8:23), a near contemporary to today’s Isaiah:

Thus, says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men of every nationality, speaking different tongues, shall take hold, yes, take hold of every Jew by the edge of his garment and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

Jesus understood this clearly and note that he brought the 12 Apostles, representing the 12 tribes to the upper room so that the Holy Spirit would begin with them and only after that did he send them into the world. In this he was exhibiting a very Jewish understanding of group solidarity and vocation. It is this which has characterized the Jewish people and from which we can learn. We have seen in our own age that many Jews were at the forefront of the fight for civil rights and other causes. This reminds us that our most powerful expression of the relationship with God is not as individuals, but as a community: a community that is not “saved” for itself, but to be a light to the ends of the earth.





Summer Greetings/11th Week of Ordinary Time


Summer will be here next week, and I hope that we all will finally thaw out after the longest Winter in, at least my, memory. Many parishioners will be travelling or staying in summer homes, so we will be using email to keep you informed about parish activities and plans. Much will be about the structure of the church but also much is being planned for the new “Church and School” year beginning in September. I will also be using this opportunity to try an experiment. While visiting family several weeks ago they mentioned that whenever they see Green Vestments on the priest the first reading is from the Old Testament. They rarely understand it immediately, rarely hear a homily on it and usually just forget about it. These readings are chosen to reflect and hopefully amplify some aspect of the Gospel for that Sunday and can be very helpful in understanding not only that in particular but our faith in general. Therefore, I will be providing a brief examination of the “first reading” every week in the summer in this email. We can discuss continuing this in the Fall.

With many blessings in Jesus, I remain

Fr William Smith

Pastor, SCB



11TH Week of Ordinary Time,

June 17, 2018

Ezekiel: 17: 22-24

We often think of Prophets as having the gift of predicting the future. This occasionally occurs but the principal gift of the prophet is finding the presence or absence of God in the here and now. Their experience of God can be so profound that they understand from what he has done in the past what he will do in the future. There is no better example of this than the Prophet Ezekiel.

He was born about 622 BC in Jerusalem and died about 570 BC in Babylon and the dates and places tell his story. Jerusalem was situated on the trade route between Egypt to the south and whatever power was dominating the north. Never part of a mighty empire the Jews were able to play one power off against the other to maintain significant independence for over 3 centuries. Ezekiel lived at the time when this ended. In 609 BC they thought that the Neo-Babylonian empire was ascendant and allied themselves with it. By 597 the leadership felt that it was weakening, and they could assert more independence. This was a grave miscalculation and the Babylonians invaded conquered Jerusalem and took many Jewish leaders into captivity. Ezekiel was one of these and he spent the rest of his life in Babylon. In 586 there was another rebellion which resulted in the destruction of the city and the Temple and the exile of the remaining leaders of the people especially the royal court, the scribes and the priests, Without the temple how could the Covenant be maintained and without the monarchy how could the promise to David be fulfilled? All that could be seen was devastation.

Yet Ezekiel saw more. In the 37th chapter he spoke of the dry bones.

4 Then he said to me: Prophesy over these bones, and say to them: Dry bones, hear the word of the LORD!

7 I prophesied as I had been told, and even as I was prophesying I heard a noise; it was a rattling as the bones came together, bone joining bone.
8 I saw the sinews and the flesh come upon them, and the skin cover them, but there was no spirit in them.

10 I prophesied as he told me, and the spirit came into them; they came alive and stood upright, a vast army.
11 Then he said to me: Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel.

This was the deadest thing that he could imagine. Bones left in the desert, bleached and brittle from the sun. Yet he said that these bones would take on life again.

He knew the workings of God in his own life and that of his people and knew that God would never abandon them. They would rise again.

And so, they did. The Babylonians were conquered by the Persians in 539. They had a different style of colonizing. Like the British they cultivated the elite and used them to administer conquered territories. They invited the Jewish leaders in Babylon to return to Jerusalem as their agents. They would be allowed some autonomy and could rebuild the temple. Most did not accept the offer and there was a vital Jewish community for as long as there was a Babylon but enough did that that the Jews could rebuild the city and more importantly the Temple

This occurred 30 years after Ezekiel’s last prophecy and notice how “Prophetic” is today’s reading: Ezekiel 17:22–24

22 Therefore say: Thus says the Lord GOD:

I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar,

from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot,

And plant it on a high and lofty mountain;

23 on the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it.

It shall put forth branches and bear fruit,

and become a majestic cedar.

Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it,

every winged thing in the shade of its boughs.

24 And all the trees of the field shall know

that I, the LORD,

Bring low the high tree,

lift high the lowly tree,

Wither up the green tree,

and make the withered tree bloom.

As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do.

This section is a summary of the beautiful allegory of the Eagle (Ez. 17:1-22) and may have been added by Ezekiel or one of his assistants’ later but reveals this insight: God promised the people of Israel that he would always care for them and so He will replant the family of David on his Holy Mountain, Sion, in a restored Temple.

The message is prophetic for us as well. We are experiencing a time of great confusion which threatens to erupt into complete chaos. Allies are now treated as opponents if not enemies and former enemies are treated as friends, we once expected social and financial mobility but now seem as stratified as the ancient regime. The list could continue. As we will see in today’s Gospel, God has not forgotten us, and we can expect that although he may chastise us he will never abandon us.

Next week we will return to this same experience but see it from the perspective of Isaiah, Until then, have a blessed week and may we all enjoy at least a week of Spring.




Clergy Staffing Changes

Farewell Fr. Anselmus
Fr. Anselmus Mawusi, who has ministered at St. Charles Borromeo since November of 2016, has been asked to assist in another parish. He will be remembered and missed. Msgr. LoPinto has graciously volunteered to assist whenever he can, and I am grateful to him for his generosity.
I am sure that I speak for everyone when I assure Fr. Anselmus that he will be in our minds, hearts and prayers. His new assignment is at:
520 Linden Blvd., Brooklyn, NY 11203
(718) 282-7162

Welcome Father John Gribowich
Bishop Di Marzio had assigned Fr. John Gribowich to reside at St Charles beginning in Mid-April. He is presently serving in St. Nicolas of Tolentine Parish in Jamaica, Queens. Father Gribowich’ s day job will be at De Sales Media, the communications ministry of the Diocese. It includes “The Tablet”, NET TV and outreach through social media. He will also be pursing an executive MBA at the University of California at Berkeley. More information will follow.

In Memoriam: Julianna P. O’Brien

Julianna P. O’Brien

September 25, 1950 – January 14, 2018

Dear St. Charles Parish Family and Friends,

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Julianna O’Brien.

A Viewing will take place on Wednesday, January 17, 5 – 8 PM, at the Scotto Funeral Home, 106 1st Place, Brooklyn.

There will be a Mass of Christian Burial at St. Charles Borromeo Church on Thursday, January 18 at 10:30 AM.  The church will open at 9:30 AM for any that would like to pay their respects.

Julianna was a long-time member of St. Charles Borromeo.  She was born in Silvermines, County Tipperary, Ireland.  She lived and worked in Toronto, Canada before moving to NYC in 1986.

Julianna was a faithful and devoted parishioner of St. Charles where she served as a Eucharistic Minister, on the Pastoral Council, on the Monday Counting Team, taught in the Religious Education program, co-chaired the Activities Committee, and chaired the Parish Security Committee.

In lieu of flowers, Julianna’s family asks that donations be made to St. Charles Borromeo Church.