Pastor's Column 

Fr. Sean Donnelly Father Sean Donnelly

Immaculate Conception Church


From the Pastor...

      September 24, 2017       
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    As a priest, I have witnessed a number of "11th hour" conversions. Once I was called to give last rites to a man who was at home. The man wasn't registered in any Catholic parish. (I had never met him before.) To my surprise, the man was fully conscious, and sitting in a chair in his living room. (Usually, people who are dying are in bed.) Family members were present. I gave him absolution, after he indicated that he was sorry for his sins, anointing and viaticum. He died about two hours later. The next day, one of his relatives called me and gave me a background on the situation. The man, though raised Catholic himself, had not practiced the faith in years. None of his children were raised in the faith (they did not know what I was giving him when I gave Him Holy Communion). One must glorify God who gave the man the impetus (through grace) to ask his family to call a priest, and just at the right moment. Two hours later he would be dead.
    We must know that salvation is a gift. No one "deserves" it. Yet if you take a poll and ask others (even practicing Catholics), "If you were to die tonight and Jesus asked you, 'why should I give you eternal life?' What would you tell Him?" many will speak only about their worthiness. Few will say anything about the Lord's mercy or generosity. Never give up on anyone's salvation. God can do marvelous things with people, even at the last hour. This is why we should remember to pray for people, especially for people who are dying, for conversion or final perseverance. St. Faustina was very devoted to praying for the dying (and for the souls in purgatory). St. Theresa certainly benefited from prayers for her final perseverance (she had such an agonizing death). On the other hand, do not put off conversion. As someone once put it: "He who waits for the 11th hour to convert, may die at 10:30". Live each day for God. Live each day as if it's the last one we have.

God can do marvelous things What we live for.. Cannon Law Rights
Catholic Precepts Rosary for Life- Glorious Rosary for Life- Sorrowful Rosary for Life- Joyful Immaculate Heart...
Chaplet - Precious Blood Children - our future Most Precious Blood of Jesus Christ's twelve promises... ..the most precious...
Body and Blood of Christ Stewards of God's gifts feast of Pentecost Baptize ..teach all nations Holy Spirit come ...
need to personalize faith Prayer for Vocations Read the Bible Divine Mercy living a resurrected life
Easter came with a price death..not the last word a man born blind sees interior conversion Be a model of faith
pray, fast, give alms 2017 Lenten Season Catholic Teaching protect unborn children Christian Unity
to grow in grace Jesus: God enfleshed Jesus comes to us end of the world Purgatory
Priesthood Sunday need authentic Catholics .. have to think, pray Power of Rosary Life is a gift
God is Present Catechetical Controlled Demolition Mother Teresa Humility
Prayer Needed Rosary is more.. On Human Life Injustice Cohabitation
Gift of mercy Works of mercy Compassion Pilgrimage Our Father
Intercession Real Presence Same God? Pray and Work Wise men
Good Shepherd Religious Freedom 9-11 Family Glad Tidings
Globalism King of hearts All Souls' Day Canonization Synod on Family
Marriage Respect Life The Rosary Cohabitation Iraqi Christians
Excommunication Real Presence Baptism Wise men Pray the Rosary
 

From the Pastor...

      September 17, 2017       
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    Apparently, there is a popular business model for convenience store operators. The model includes three "staples". What are these staples? They are: cigarettes, alcohol, and lottery tickets. I was in such a store not too long ago, when I talked with the owner and asked her what percentage of business she would lose if she did not have these "staples" available. She said something to the effect that she would lose half of her patronage. It seems that there is a store of this type on every block. Why are people attracted to making such frivolous purchases? The answer is that it has something to do with our culture. It is a culture of consumption and luxury. People are willing to spend their money on anything that will make them feel good, apparently.
    It is important to use our resources wisely. There is a higher purpose for living. We live for God and His kingdom. We are stewards of what the Lord has entrusted to us. How are we using our resources? Do we put aside something to assist in the work of the Lord? I remember a Catholic woman who used to produce knitted items for the missions. Others help to fund charitable causes connected with the Church's apostolate. Central to the mission of the Church is the work of a parish. The parish is where most people experience the life of the Church. A parish receives all of its support from its people. If the people are good stewards of their resources, they have something to contribute. In turn, a parish must put the offerings of the flock to good use.
    I am grateful to everyone who puts a priority on assisting the parish in its mission, by way of material support. Not only does it make it possible for the parish to accomplish its mission (which is bringing souls to God and sustaining them in holiness), but also it shows that people are mindful that what they have comes from God and should be used for His purposes.

From the Pastor...

      September 10, 2017       
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    What are our rights under Cannon Law?
  1. All of the Christian faithful are truly equal in their dignity and activity in cooperating to build up the body of Christ.
  2. All the Christian faithful have the right to evangelize the nations.
  3. The Christian faithful have the right to make their needs and desires known to their bishops.
  4. The Christian faithful have the right to make their opinions regarding the good of the church known to their bishops and to other church members.
  5. The Christian faithful have the right to receive the word of God and the sacraments.
  6. The Christian faithful have the right to worship God in their own rite and to follow their own form of spirituality.
  7. The Christian Faithful have the right to assemble as well as to found and direct associations for charitable or religious purposes.
  8. The Christian faithful have the right to initiate, promote, and sustain apostolic activities.
  9. The Christian faithful have the right to a Christian education.
10. Those engaged in the theological disciplines enjoy freedom of inquiry and expression.
11. The Christian faithful enjoy freedom from all pressure in choosing their state of life.
12. No one may damage the reputation of others or invade their privacy.
13. The Christian faithful have the right to vindicate and defend their rights in a church court.
14. The Christian faithful have the right, if summoned to judgement in the church, to be judged according to canon law, applied with equity.
15. The Christian faithful have the right not to be punished except in accord with canon law.

From the Pastor...

      September 3, 2017       
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Precepts of the Catholic Church
The Precepts of the Catholic Church are a description of the absolute minimum actions required of Catholics regarding the Church. The Church uses these precepts to remind us that Christian life requires a commitment to prayer and active participation in the liturgy and sacraments. If we fall below this bare-minimum level, we can’t rightly consider ourselves to be in full communion with the Catholic Church. Each of these precepts of the Catholic Church is a requirement. Together with the Ten Commandments, they represent the minimum level of moral living. Intentional violation of the precepts or the Commandments is a grave matter, meaning a mortal sin.

The Precepts

  1. You shall attend Mass on Sundays and on holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.
  2. You shall confess your sins at least once a year.
  3. You shall receive the sacrament of the Eucharist at least during the Easter season.
  4. You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church.
  5. You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church.
  6. You shall observe Marriage Laws of the Church.

“The fifth precept means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability.”

From the Pastor...

      August 27, 2017       
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    ROSARY FOR LIFE
In reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the protection of unborn children and for the reconciliation of all other victims of abortion, please pray for children in the womb that they be allowed to live.
This week I ask for you to pray and meditate on the Glorious Mysteries as follows:

    The Resurrection
On that glorious Easter morning life triumphed over death. Love overcame evil. So it will always be. You came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. Thank You, Lord. Help us always to remember that we are children of the Resurrection.

    The Ascension
Your work done, You returned to the Father, saying, “You will be my witnesses…even to the ends of the earth.” So many who are considering abortion are at the ends of the earth – unloved and unloving, hurt, scared, poor, near despair. Help us to lead them upward to You.

    The Coming of the Holy Spirit
Through the Holy Spirit you live within us. We are Your apostles for life. May the Holy Spirit guide us as we pray for the unborn, their mothers, their fathers and to soften the hearts of abortionists and their supporters.

    The Assumption of Mary
Mary, you were assumed body and soul into Heaven because of your great purity. Pray that we may all live lives of purity and chastity.

    The Coronation of Mary as Queen of Heaven and Earth
Mary, as Queen of Heaven you are Mother of us all. Beg for us the graces always to have a mother’s love for all those seeking to abort their children or grandchildren, that they may come to know your Son, Jesus.

From the Pastor...

      August 20, 2017       
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     ROSARY FOR LIFE: Sorrowful MysteriesRosary for Life pamphlet
In reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the protection of unborn children and for the reconciliation of all other victims of abortion, please pray for children in the womb that they be allowed to live. This week I ask for you to pray and meditate on the Sorrowful Mysteries as follows:
The Agony in the Garden
Even Christ found it difficult to do His Father’s will at Gethsemane. May each father and mother who agonizes whether to choose life or death for their child have the courage to say, “Thy will be done” and choose life.
The Scourging at the Pillar
As Christ was scourged, His skin was torn. The pain was agonizing upon His innocent flesh. May the merits of Christ’s suffering bring an end to legalized abortion.
The Crowning with Thorns
As Christ was crowned with thorns, He suffered great humiliation. May we never be afraid of human opinion, pain, or humiliation in our pro-life apostolate. May we always offer it up for the love of Jesus, in reparation for the sins committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary and for the conversion of the poor souls of sinners.
Carrying the Cross
Lord, by the time You carried the cross, You were near total exhaustion. Yet You went on, giving totally of Yourself. Help us to go on with our pro-life efforts, no matter how tired or discouraged we may be. May we never rest until we have given of ourselves completely.
The Crucifixion
From the cross you said, “Forgive them, they know not what they do.” Although You gave Your life, You bore no malice. As Your heart was pierced, it poured forth love. By the merits of Your death help us to work without malice, wishing like You only the conversion of the sinner.

From the Pastor...

      August 13, 2017       
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     ROSARY FOR LIFERosary for Life pamphlet
In reparation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary for the protection of unborn children and for the reconciliation of all other victims of abortion, please pray for children in the womb that they be allowed to live. This week I ask for you to pray and meditate on the Joyful Mysteries as follows:
    The Annunciation
Mary accepted with faith her unexpected pregnancy and trusted God to work things out, may all women today accept the life within them and trust God to help them work through their problems.
    The Visitation
As Mary and Elizabeth ministered to each other and shared their joy together, may we serve pregnant mothers who are in need.
    The Birth of Christ
God came to us at Bethlehem in the form of a baby. May God come to each father and mother who conceives a child. May the love they learn to have for their baby open their hearts for receiving the love of God. King Herod sought the death of Jesus, we pray that governments will recognize and respect the humanity of the unborn.
    The Presentation
Mary and Joseph presented the child Jesus in the temple, in accordance with the prescriptions of Jewish law. May we never fail to observe the moral prescriptions of our Church in our lives.
    Finding Jesus in the Temple
Mary and Joseph were distressed to have lost Jesus in the temple. May those who have lost, or never found Christ, open their hearts to Him.

From the Pastor...

      August 6, 2017       
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    The month of August is given the special honor of being devoted to the devotion of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.Immaculate Heart of Mary While we have been unable to find a definitive statement explaining this, a couple of guesses can be made.
    First, the Feast of the Assumption of Mary occurs on the 15th of August. Don't forget to go to Mass!
    Second, before Vatican II the Feast of the Immaculate Heart used to be celebrated on August 22nd. Before looking closely at the actual devotion it is good to look back at where the focus on the heart of Mary we should take a look at where Mary's heart is mentioned in Scripture. There are two mentions of Mary's heart in the Gospel of Luke. First, "But Mary kept all these words, pondering them in her heart." (Luke 2:19) Second, "And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them. And his mother kept all these words in her heart." (Luke 2:51)
    In his Encyclical, Redemptor Hominis, Blessed John Paul II says that "We can say that the mystery of the Redemption took shape beneath the heart of the Virgin of Nazareth when she pronounced her "fiat".

From the Pastor...

      July 30, 2017       
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    Catholic Prayer: Chaplet of the Most Precious Blood
    Seven "effusions of the Blood of Christ", implicitly or explicitly mentioned in the Gospels, are recalled in a series of biblical meditations and devotional prayers: the Blood of the Circumcision, the Blood of the Garden of Gethsemane, the Blood of the Flagellation, the Blood of the Crowning of Thorns, the Blood of the Ascent to Calvary, the Blood flowing from Christ's side pierced by the lance.
    This Chaplet is divided into seven groups, containing thirty-three "Our Fathers" in honor of the thirty-three years during which the Precious Blood flowed in the veins of Jesus, before it was poured out on the Cross for our salvation. After each group, the "Glory be to the Father" is recite in thanksgiving to the Holy Trinity for this great gift of the Precious Blood. While reciting these prayers, you are asked to meditate on each of the seven blood shedding's of Jesus.
(A copy of the Chaplet of the Most Precious Blood is in the Gathering Space. Please take one)


Beware of "FutureChurch"

The dissident organization, "FutureChurch", was founded in 1990. It masquerades as a group of concerned Catholics who are interested in Church reform. In reality, it is an advocacy group that pushes an agenda contrary to many of the teachings of the Catholic Church (e.g., the male-only priesthood). FutureChurch is misnamed because it is neither the future nor is it the Church. FutureChurch is not permitted to meet on diocesan property or use diocesan facilities. Do not support FutureChurch or believe its propaganda

From the Pastor...

      July 23, 2017       
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     July 25th is the 49th anniversary of Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life"). The document was published by Pope Paul VI as a response to the modern world's love affair with contraception. Contraception aims at isolating sexual relations from one or both of its God-given purposes: to foster the union of husband and wife and to generate new life. Over the past 50 years, our society has been adversely affected by the “sexual revolution”. In 1965, the Supreme Court’s Griswold V. Connecticut decision invalidated states’ laws that prohibited contraceptive devices or drugs. Shortly afterward, “no-fault” divorce came along. (The divorce rate in our nation is now in the area of 50%). In 1973, Roe V. Wade and Doe V. Bolton gave us abortion on demand, the purpose of which is mainly to do something about “accidental” conceptions. The contraceptive mentality is largely behind the rampant demand for abortion.
    The acceptance of contraceptive practice has had a fundamentally corrupting influence on the way many people think about love, life and the family. Many married mothers face criticism for having more than one or two children. One woman in this position, pregnant with her fourth child, told a misguided critic, “Well, I’m a fourth child.” In order for a population to replace itself, married couples (on average) need to have at least three children, because not everyone is married or capable of having children. When the birthrate falls to two or fewer children per couple, which is the case through much of the West, and in Japan, what develops is an aging, graying population.
    Children are our future. Without enough of them, a society is on a path to its own destruction. People, not government programs or even money, are our greatest asset. Imagine how different history would be, if certain personages had never existed because of a pervasive contraceptive mentality: inventors, educators, scientists, and so forth. The world today would be so much different, that is, what would be left of it.

From the Pastor...

      July 2, 2017       
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From the Pastor...

      July 23, 2017       
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     July 25th is the 49th anniversary of Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life"). The document was published by Pope Paul VI as a response to the modern world's love affair with contraception. Contraception aims at isolating sexual relations from one or both of its God-given purposes: to foster the union of husband and wife and to generate new life. Over the past 50 years, our society has been adversely affected by the “sexual revolution”. In 1965, the Supreme Court’s Griswold V. Connecticut decision invalidated states’ laws that prohibited contraceptive devices or drugs. Shortly afterward, “no-fault” divorce came along. (The divorce rate in our nation is now in the area of 50%). In 1973, Roe V. Wade and Doe V. Bolton gave us abortion on demand, the purpose of which is mainly to do something about “accidental” conceptions. The contraceptive mentality is largely behind the rampant demand for abortion.
    The acceptance of contraceptive practice has had a fundamentally corrupting influence on the way many people think about love, life and the family. Many married mothers face criticism for having more than one or two children. One woman in this position, pregnant with her fourth child, told a misguided critic, “Well, I’m a fourth child.” In order for a population to replace itself, married couples (on average) need to have at least three children, because not everyone is married or capable of having children. When the birthrate falls to two or fewer children per couple, which is the case through much of the West, and in Japan, what develops is an aging, graying population.
    Children are our future. Without enough of them, a society is on a path to its own destruction. People, not government programs or even money, are our greatest asset. Imagine how different history would be, if certain personages had never existed because of a pervasive contraceptive mentality: inventors, educators, scientists, and so forth. The world today would be so much different, that is, what would be left of it.

From the Pastor...

      July 9, 2017       
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Most Precious Blood of Jesus

    The Eucharistic sacrifice of the Body and Blood of Christ embraces in turn the mystery of our Lord’s continuing passion in the members of his Mystical Body, the Church in every age. Here the great crucifix which towers above us serves as a reminder that Christ, our eternal high priest, daily unites our own sacrifices, our own sufferings, our own needs, hopes and aspirations, to the infinite merits of his sacrifice. Through him, with him, and in him, we lift up our own bodies as a sacrifice holy and acceptable to God (cf. Rom 12:1). In this sense we are caught up in his eternal oblation, completing, as Saint Paul says, in our flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, the Church (cf. Col 1:24). In the life of the Church, in her trials and tribulations, Christ continues, in the stark phrase of Pascal, to be in agony until the end of the world (Pensées, 553, éd. Brunschvicg).
    We see this aspect of the mystery of Christ’s precious blood represented, most eloquently, by the martyrs of every age, who drank from the cup which Christ himself drank, and whose own blood, shed in union with his sacrifice, gives new life to the Church. It is also reflected in our brothers and sisters throughout the world who even now are suffering discrimination and persecution for their Christian faith. Yet it is also present, often hidden in the suffering of all those individual Christians who daily unite their sacrifices to those of the Lord for the sanctification of the Church and the redemption of the world. My thoughts go in a special way to all those who are spiritually united with this Eucharistic celebration, and in particular the sick, the elderly, the handicapped and those who suffer mentally and spiritually. Pope Benedict XVI, 2010 USCCB

Our Lord Jesus Christ made these twelve promises...

    Our Lord Jesus Christ made these twelve promises to those who honor His Sacred Heart to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French nun, whom he called “the Beloved Disciple of the Sacred Heart” and the Heiress “of all Its treasures”, in the 1670’s. They show us how much he cherishes this devotion.
    Considering that the blood that redeemed us at Calvary came from His Sacred Heart and that so much love and light still exude from it, we can easily understand why! These promises were revealed in one of many private revelations that Jesus gave St. Margaret Mary. Our Lord promised the following:

 1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state in life.
 2. I will establish peace in their families.
 3. I will comfort them in their trials.
 4. I will be their secure refuge during life, and, above all, in death.
 5. I will shed abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
 6. Sinners will find in My Heart an infinite ocean of mercy.
 7. Lukewarm souls will become fervent.
 8. Fervent souls will rapidly grow in holiness and perfection.
 9. I will bless every place where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
10. I will give to priests the gift of touching the most hardened hearts.
11. The names of those who promote this devotion will be written in My Heart, never to be blotted out.
12. I promise thee, in the excessive mercy of My Heart, that My all-powerful love will grant to all those who receive Holy Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months, the grace of final penitence; they shall not die in My disgrace nor without receiving their Sacraments; My Divine Heart shall be their safe refuge in this last moment.

From the Pastor...

      June 25, 2017       
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Why We Do What We Do

     Why do some people receive Communion on the hand and others on the tongue?
The Body of Christ is the most precious thing in the world. It’s very important that none of it be lost or disrespected in any way.
In times past it was the rule that people receive the Host on the tongue. There were several good reasons. First of all, the hands of priests are consecrated expressly for consecrating and touching the Holy Eucharist. Over time it seemed fitting that such contact should be reserved to consecrated hands.
But there were other reasons too. Superstitious people sometimes hid the consecrated Host for use as a sort of magic talisman, which is a serious offense called sacrilege. This was less likely to happen if people in the congregation never had an opportunity to hold the Host. And then there are practical reasons: in the days before indoor plumbing, workmen might come to church with very grubby hands, and placing the Body of Christ on the grime and grease would be very disrespectful. And the Host can be placed on the tongue in one simple movement, allowing fewer opportunities for accidents.
Although these reasons are still valid, the bishops of the United States, with the approval of the Holy See, have decided that it’s safe and respectful to offer Communion in the hand to people who wish to receive it that way. Those who receive on the hand should take special care to ensure that no small particles of the Host remain on their hands or fall to the ground.
Many people prefer to receive on the tongue because they find it more fitting and reverent, or because they grew up with the custom, or because they’d rather not take the chance of accidentally mishandling the Sacrament. The general rule is that the person receiving, rather than the person distributing, should decide whether to receive on the tongue or in the hand.
        The Mass, Why We Do What We Do

From the Pastor...

      June 18, 2017       
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    Today's commemoration of the Body and Blood of Christ ("Corpus Christi") was instituted by Pope Urban IV in 1264. The catalyst for the feast was the miracle of Bolsena. A priest was having Mass in the little church of St. Christine's in Bolsena, Italy. He was doubting that the bread and wine could change into the Eucharistic Body and Blood. At the words of consecration, the host bled. Blood dripped all over the corporal and the marble steps of the sanctuary. Today, the blood-stained altar cloth and marble tiles are preserved for public display. There are more such miracles: even a couple in the U.S., that I am aware of. What do they mean?
    The miracles are important because they point to the truth of Jesus' teaching in John 6, that He would give His body to eat and His blood to drink. Jesus fulfilled the promise at the Last Supper, which was the very first Mass ever celebrated in the history of the world. The apostles, gathered with Him, He made the first priests. The apostles passed on their power to change bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Jesus to their successors (the bishops). Bishops pass on this power to men they ordain priests. Eucharistic miracles also make sense of St. Paul's admonition to his people to be prepared to receive the Body and Blood, lest eating and drinking a judgment unto oneself. This is the basis for the practice of going to confession on a regular basis, to keep oneself prepared to receive our Lord in Holy Communion.
    The Gallup Poll of 2005 (which takes place every six years) of Catholic attitudes and practices indicates that 36% of Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic and not believe that the Eucharist is the body and blood of Christ. This means that 36% of the Catholics polled believe that one can be a good Catholic, even though he does not take Jesus seriously. Jesus gave us this teaching Himself. And to those who say that He was speaking metaphorically, He never corrected Himself (even though He lost followers because of it). Jesus always clarified that He was not speaking literally whenever people misunderstood Him. Not this time.

From the Pastor...

      June 11, 2017       
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        (USCCB)
        Stewards of God's gifts are not passive beneficiaries. We cooperate with God in our own redemption and in the redemption of others. We are also obliged to be stewards of the Church—collaborators and cooperators in continuing the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, which is the Church's essential mission. This mission—proclaiming and teaching, serving and sanctifying—is our task. It is the personal responsibility of each one of us as stewards of the Church. All members of the Church have their own roles to play in carrying out its mission:
· Parents, who nurture their children in the light of faith.
· Parishioners, who work in concrete ways to make their parishes true communities of faith and vibrant sources of service to the larger community.
· All Catholics, who give generous support—time, money, prayers, and personal service according to their circumstances—to parish and diocesan programs and to the universal Church.

From the Pastor...

      June 4, 2017       
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PENTECOST (USCCB)
        Each year the Church celebrates 50 days of Easter, culminating at the feast of Pentecost. Pentecost marks the occasion of God’s sending the Holy Spirit upon Jesus’ disciples after his resurrection. Before Pentecost, the disciples were unsure of what they were to do next, and spent most of their time in hiding. After Pentecost, and the gift of the Holy Spirit, they understood their mission to spread the Good News of Jesus, and they had the courage to come out of hiding and speak openly about who Jesus was, and what he had accomplished by his dying and rising.
        Because Pentecost brought the disciples this clarity of mission, it is regarded as the founding feast of the Christian Church. Before Pentecost, the disciples of Jesus are tentative and disorganized. After Pentecost, they are a people with a mission, who perceive themselves as spiritually and sacramentally connected to the risen Christ. You can read the story of the Church’s first days in the Acts of the Apostles.
        Today, celebrations of Pentecost still center on the gifts of the Holy Spirit, and the power of those gifts to both draw people together, and to send them forth to spread the word. For those of you who are fond of making lists, those gifts of the Holy Spirit are: Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Fortitude, Good Counsel, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
        Of course, one of the remarkable elements of the story of the first Pentecost was the miracle of understanding, in which everyone in the diverse crowd in Jerusalem hears the disciples speaking in the listeners’ own language. This unique event is sometimes commemorated at masses for Pentecost Sunday by having people read sections of the story in a variety of different languages represented in the congregation. It’s a reminder that although we’ve heard the story before, we have inherited the mission of those first disciples.

From the Pastor...

      May 28, 2017       
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    This weekend is marked by the feast of the Lord's Ascension. There is a beautiful pictorial depiction of this mystery of our faith on the main stained glass window in the gathering area of the church. Since the Ascension, Jesus has largely been invisible to the world. But, as He said last Sunday, He has not left us orphans. He continues to work through His Church.
    The last thing Jesus said before He ascended into heaven, according to St. Matthew, was: “Baptize and teach all nations.” This is a work that demands everyone’s participation. What to do? The task seems so daunting. Two-thirds of the world's people are unbaptized. Almost half of Americans are unchurched. Many baptized people live as if they have no understanding of their calling to be saints. Many people are uninformed about basic truths of the faith. (The list could go on.) What can we do?
    The Church starts at home. Raise the children in the faith. (Many people, of course, have done so.) Take your children to Mass every Sunday and holy day. Go to confession regularly. Bring the children. Support the parish (many of you do). Supporting the parish means supporting the mission of the Church in this community (and beyond). If you are able to do it, become involved, in some capacity, in the life of the parish by participating in any of our activities/ministries/organizations. A couple of weeks ago the parish conducted a retreat for women. I approved the idea and participated in the retreat, but it was a community effort. Many people helped to make the retreat a reality. Helping in an endeavor such as this is a form of outreach to people within the parish. I am grateful. A Catholic, of course, realizes that the Church goes beyond his parish. To that end, support vocations. Support the missions. (We will be having our annual mission appeal this weekend.) The Church is worldwide, just as Jesus designed it to be.

From the Pastor...

      May 21, 2017       
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    What does the Holy Spirit allow us to do? When St. Paul "confirmed" people (Acts 19), they started to speak in tongues and prophesy. In other words, the Holy Spirit allows us the wherewithal to witness to Jesus. We witness to Jesus by the way we live and also by our willingness to defend the faith or to give reasons for the hope we have. Don't ever pass up an opportunity to give witness. If someone asks, "Why are you Catholic?" or "Why do you go to Church"; "Why do you keep the commandments?" "Why do you pray"? Why do you follow Jesus?" Be ready to answer (as the Scripture tells us, with gentleness and reverence, meaning respect).
    What holds many people back from witnessing is not that they don't have the Holy Spirit, but they are not relying on His power and presence. The Holy Spirit is present, but His influence may be blocked or compromised. One such blockage is lack of repentance. We must avail ourselves of the sacrament of penance and live without serious sin. Lack of prayer is another thing that impedes people in the "life in the Spirit". Whenever we pray, we are experiencing the action of God in us. Romans 8.26 says that we do not know how to pray as we ought. It is the Spirit that makes intercessions for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in speech. If you want the Holy Spirit's influence to be alive and active, pray daily. Fifteen minutes, twenty minutes, a half-hour… Unforgiveness is another thing that blocks the influence of the Holy Spirit. Grudges hold people back in the spiritual life. Carrying a grudge is something like wearing a lead ball on a chain. One is compromised in his life of faith. Pray the Lord's Prayer (pay attention to the prayer's petitions). Living the faith in a perfunctory way is also an impediment to the influence of the Holy Spirit, as in: "I go to church, but don't expect me to do anything else. I have paid my obligation." Our faith must be alive.

From the Pastor...

      May 14, 2017       
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    What does Jesus mean when He says that the person of faith will do the works He does, and even greater ones? He means that what He did 2,000 years ago, continues today, on an even greater scale. Modern day popes, for example, have celebrated Mass in venues for tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Jesus, prior to His resurrection, celebrated Mass for 12 people. Jesus healed the sick. But most people in His day had no access to Him. (He did not leave His homeland.) Today, His healing extends throughout the world on a grand scale. The Catholic Church (over the past 2,000 years) has become the greatest purveyor of social services the world has ever known. This is Jesus working today, in the ministry to the sick and the needy. Jesus, in His preresurrected state, ran a school for twelve slow learners. He did teach others (as in the Sermon on the Mount), but his outreach has greatly expanded, since He told the apostles and their successors to teach all nations. Teach people what they need to know about life, its purpose and meaning, and about God. Teach them how to pray. Teach them about salvation. Teach them about the Savior.
     Never take for granted that everyone believes that Jesus as the Son of God, even among our own people. (Most Catholics do not go to Mass on Sundays and holydays.) And, even if a person says that he believes this, remember, faith is shown in the fruit it bears. Finally, we should never take for granted that we embrace faith in Jesus. We need to personalize it. If the world (and its ways of thinking and acting) has a greater influence on us than Jesus does, there is something wrong. Faith is always practical. As Jesus said about Himself: “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Without Him there is no going, no knowing, and no living.

From the Pastor...

      May 7, 2017       
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    It is fitting that Good Shepherd Sunday be the Sunday that is also designated as World Day of Prayer for Vocations, with a special emphasis on priestly and religious vocations. Having said this, it is necessary to realize that everyone has a vocation (a baptismal vocation). It is not only priests and religious who are called by God to service. The lay vocation is a legitimate and necessary vocation. It is the vocation to be a committed Catholic, bringing Jesus into family life, and to the world of work, culture, business, etc.
    The Church is 98% lay. The priests are not the Church. However, without priests there is no Church. Without the Church there is no salvation. What do priests offer that brings about the Church? Most of the sacraments necessitate the involvement of a priest. One cannot have Mass without a priest. There is no absolution from sin without a priest. The priest is to be a teacher and preacher of the gospel of Jesus. He brings to the world Jesus Christ. He is even a sacrament of Jesus himself (even though the priest is a mortal man with sins and defects). Don’t let this fool you. Jesus was criticized for being a man whom everyone knew (at least they thought they knew: “Isn’t this the carpenter, the son of Mary? How is it that such miraculous deeds are accomplished by hands....? They found Him too much for them.”) He was even criticized for forgiving people of their sins. No mere man can do such a thing. This is true enough, but Jesus is different. What about the priest, isn’t he a mere man? Yes, he is, but he has the power to absolve because of the sacrament of holy orders, which he has received.
    On Friday, May 19th, nine men will be ordained to the priesthood for the Diocese of Cleveland. This is surely good news.

From the Pastor...

      April 30, 2017       
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     The Bible is all around us. People hear Scripture readings in church. We have Good Samaritan (Luke 10) laws, welcome home the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) , and look for the Promised Land (Exodus 3, Hebrews 11). Some biblical passages have become popular maxims, such as "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you"(Matthew 7:12), "Thou shalt not steal (Exodus 20:15), and "love thy neighbor" (Matthew 22:39).
Today's Catholic is called to take an intelligent, spiritual approach to the bible. Listed here are some points for fruitful Scripture reading.
· Bible reading is for Catholics. The Church encourages Catholics to make reading the Bible part of their daily prayer lives. Reading these inspired words, people grow deeper in their relationship with God and come to understand their place in the community God has called them to in himself.
· Prayer is the beginning and the end. Reading the Bible is not like reading a novel or a history book. It should begin with a prayer asking the Holy Spirit to open our hearts and minds to the Word of God. Scripture reading should end with a prayer that this Word will bear fruit in our lives, helping us to become holier and more faithful people.
· Get the whole story! When selecting a Bible, look for a Catholic edition. A Catholic edition will include the Church's complete list of sacred books along with introductions and notes for understanding the text. A Catholic edition will have an imprimatur notice on the back of the title page. An imprimatur indicates that the book is free of errors in Catholic doctrine.
· The Bible isn't a book. It's a library. The Bible is a collection of 73 books written over the course of many centuries. The books include royal history, prophecy, poetry, challenging letters to struggling new faith communities, and believers' accounts of the preaching and passion of Jesus. Knowing the genre of the book you are reading will help you understand the literary tools the author is using and the meaning the author is trying to convey.
· The sum is greater than the parts. Read the Bible in context. What happens before and after – even in other books – helps us to understand the true meaning of the text.

From the Pastor...

      April 23, 2017       
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    St. Faustina was a Polish nun who lived from 1905-1938. She died of tuberculosis at the age of 33. Her life in the convent was uneventful and rather ordinary. She served as gardener, cook and door-keeper. Although her life was apparently insignificant and monotonous, she hid within herself an extraordinary union with God. Unbeknown to anyone but her confessors, she was endowed with a variety of mystical gifts, such as visions, bilocation, the reading of human souls, prophecy, etc. She had the wounds of Christ on her body (though they were hidden), and shared in His passion at regular intervals. She had a devotion to praying for the dead. She knew when certain members of her community were in purgatory. She would pray and offer sacrifices for them. She would often suffer on behalf of someone who was dying, that he would have a holy death. She received many such graces, which (rightly) she regarded as ornaments of the soul. She writes in her Diary: “Neither graces, nor revelations, nor raptures, nor gifts granted to a soul make it perfect, but rather the intimate union of the soul with God.”
     What most attracted St. Faustina to the Lord was His mercy. She contemplated His mercy in the word of God and in her everyday activities. It formed the basis of her spirituality. The mission that Jesus gave to St. Faustina consisted reminding the world of the truth of our faith revealed in the Holy Scripture about the merciful love of God, and of entreating the Lord’s mercy for the whole world and particularly for sinners, through new forms of devotion to the Divine Mercy. The forms were presented to her by the Lord Jesus. They include: His image (with the red and white rays of light emanating from His heart), with the inscription: “Jesus, I trust in you”; that there be a Feast of the Divine Mercy on the Church’s calendar (designated for the second Sunday of Easter); the chaplet to the Divine Mercy and prayer at the Hour of Mercy (3:00). The Lord Jesus attached great promises to the above forms of devotion, provided one entrusted his life to God and practiced active love of neighbor.

From the Pastor...

      April 16, 2017       
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    How do we know that Jesus is risen? It's easy to say. What is the evidence? Let me spell it: C-h-u-r-c-h. The Catholic Church is the only church that can directly trace its roots back to the original apostolic community: to the people who ate and drank with Jesus, heard His preaching, and witnessed to the events of the first Easter. St. Paul, in 1 Corinthians, names names. "I receive what I hand on to you, that Jesus suffered, died, was buried and on the third day rose and appeared to Peter, James, 500 other brothers and, last of all, to me." Note, the prominence of Peter. Why? Peter was in charge of the Church. This is why John deferred to Peter and allowed him to enter the empty tomb first. Pope Francis is the 266th successor to St. Peter. Without the risen Christ, there would be no Church. Without the Church, we would have no way of knowing anything about the resurrection. Indeed, we would have no way of entering into it.
     The oldest person I ever knew, was a woman who lived to be 107. She spent the last 20 years of her life flat on her back in one of the area nursing homes. The high point of the week was when the priest or lay minister brought her Holy Communion. In John 6, Jesus connects reception of the Eucharist with rising from the dead. Imagine, this woman who had become a "sack of bones" regaining all of her vitality, taking on a spiritual body, a body no longer subject to the laws of physics, a body no longer subject to weakness and death! We must never forget that Jesus' resurrection is the principle and source of the future resurrection of the faithful Christian!
     The resurrection of Jesus should mean everything to us. It does to the Church. In fact, she celebrates Easter (at least on a smaller scale) every Sunday. At Sunday Mass we renew our baptismal promises, in the Creed. These are the saving truths, such that, if we embrace them and live them we are living a resurrected life, which starts here. It is the life of faith. Faith is something that we must work at, though. One observation made by a woman who converted to the Catholic faith I found to be quite insightful. She said, "I used to think that if I knew someone's religion, I could tell where he was coming from. I learned that this is not the case, because, for many people, their religion is merely a label." Labels aren't bad things, of course, but they had better reflect reality. Indeed. Let's be people of the resurrection, in name and in fact.    Happy Easter.

From the Pastor...

      April 9, 2017       
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     One of the highlights of pilgrimages to Europe is something that takes place only every ten years, the passion play performed in Oberamergau, Germany. I was delighted to be able to attend a performance of this work, which involved many of the townspeople of that city. Passion plays, at one time, were quite common. The play at Oberamergau has been performed continuously, since Medieval times. In the modern world, people are more used to cinematic presentations. Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, comes to mind. The Passion of the Christ was quite gory (although, Jesus did shed all of His blood, in real life). One particular thing that I thought was well done in Mel Gibson's film was the series of flashbacks to the Last Supper, as Jesus was dying on the cross. Indeed, the two things are tied together. The Last Supper not only makes sense of His death: "This is my body which will be given up for you....", but also brings the Church into existence: "Do this in memory of me". Without the Church and the continuous and ongoing celebration of the Mass, Jesus would be but a faint memory lost to the sands of time. The Mass not only "recalls" Jesus, but also makes Him present in a unique way. Jesus is alive, thanks to His resurrection.
     This week is called "Holy Week" (not "Easter Week"). Holy Week is a liturgical re-presentation of Jesus's last week on earth, leading up to His death at Calvary, His subsequent burial, and the discovery that He had vacated the tomb and conquered death. I would urge everyone to try to participate in Holy Week services. Every Catholic should make it a point to be involved in the week that Jesus poured out His blood for our sake. I do not have to urge people to come to Mass on Easter. What many seem to forget is that Easter came with a price. If we are to enter into the life of the resurrection, we have to be faithful to God through thick and thin. As Jesus prayed, "Father, let this cup [of suffering] pass from me. If not, your will be done."

     Why did Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead? He wanted to give glory to God and to support people's faith. He did give glory to God. What about helping people come to faith? Jesus worked with Lazarus's sisters on this point. Martha told Jesus that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus been there (earlier). But, to console herself she said that she believed that Lazarus would rise again. Jesus then corrected her on this point. "I am the resurrection and the life." It is only through me (Jesus) that anyone has hope of resurrection. Mind you, it was not that Lazarus was resurrected. (He was only resuscitated.) But what Jesus did was a sign of an even greater work to come: His own resurrection. It is on this basis that we have confidence in Jesus' teaching: "Whoever believes in me, though he should die, will come to life. And whoever is alive and believes in me will never die (perish)".
     Despite Jesus' words, many modern people look at faith (in Him) as a mere enhancement to life. They might even enjoy certain aspects of it, dabble in it, or practice certain customs connected with faith. But as for taking faith seriously, that's another story. Modern people need to recognize the urgency of faith (faith in Jesus). It is urgent because it deals with death. And it deals with it effectively. It isn't that we won't die. But, if we persevere in practicing our faith, death will not have the last word. So, if someone challenges you on the practice of the faith (e.g., going to Mass every Sunday, going to regular confession, praying, etc.), there are many things you can say. Perhaps, though, one could say something like this: "I do what I do because I have no hope without Jesus. I realize that life in this world is going to come to an end. I want to share in Jesus' resurrection. Maybe this will help to shake people out of their denial and start taking Jesus seriously.

From the Pastor...

      March 26, 2017       
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     Pastor's Column
One of the people at the seminary, when I attended, was blind. What amazed me about him was that he could function quite normally. (He did use a guide dog.) He could serve Mass (without the use of the dog) and know exactly what to do, where to stand, where his seat was, and so forth. (He memorized the number of steps he had to walk.) He even decorated his room with pictures. (He used to be able to see.) He eventually went on to ordination.
     This Sunday's gospel is about a man who was born blind and through the intervention of Jesus, attained the gift of sight. Imagine never having seen before and suddenly being opened to a whole new world! We would not do justice to the story, however, if we simply limited the story to Jesus giving a man his eyesight. Whenever Jesus heals a blind person, it always has something to do with faith. Blindness, in the New Testament, is a metaphor for life without faith. We remember St. Paul, who was blinded for three days. Suddenly the scales fell from his eyes and he could see. This represented his conversion to the faith. The man born blind was converted. He met Jesus. He recognized Him as a prophet, or someone from God. Finally, he worshiped Him. The man went from someone who did not know Jesus, to a convert. Conversion, even today, is a process of coming to sight. John Newton's famous line, "I was blind, but now I see." Before he was converted, he had been a slave-trader. But, he was blind to spiritual things. We could say the same thing about Abbey Johnson who went from working for the nation's largest abortion purveyor, Planned Parenthood, to being a woman of faith. She had been blind: blind to the truth, blind to the things of God, etc. Faith opened her eyes.

From the Pastor...

      March 19, 2017       
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     External Sacrifice vs. Internal Conversion:
I don't get it --- All you do is give up candy? Now, here is an interesting question. External sacrifices are the most obvious kind, so sometimes it does look like all we do is avoid chocolate. However, if you look closer, you'll realize that fasting and abstinence have always gone hand in hand with two of their best friends: prayer and almsgiving. External sacrifice is a manifestation of interior conversion: "...interior conversion urges expression in visible signs, gestures and works of penance" (CCC no. 1430). Interior conversion is where prayer and almsgiving come into play. In almsgiving, we show mercy and generosity to others, giving them a chance to experience the blessings we have. In prayer, we are communicating with God, asking him to bless and perfect our fasting and almsgiving: "... prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit" (CCC no. 2565). It's not just avoiding sweets. It's glorifying God by growing in his Love.      External Sacrifice:
So why exactly are you not eating candy for the next month? This is a very popular penance during Lent, and the questions about it are just as popular. Heaven forbid you should avoid the cake at the birthday party! You LOVE cake! But it’s Lent – a time for penance and sacrifice. Christ has said, “If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). Giving up something we enjoy strengthens our love for Christ and our resilience against temptation. As Pope Benedict XVI said in his Lenten address of 2009, “Through fasting and praying, we allow [Christ] to come and satisfy the deepest hunger that we experience in the depths of our being: the hunger and thirst for God.” It unites us with Christ’s own sacrifices and gives us a deeper appreciation of the blessings in our lives.

From the Pastor...

      March 12, 2017       
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     From the Pastor...      When Jesus comes again, will there be any faith in the world? This may sound like a pessimistic question, but Jesus asks it Himself. Jesus frequently called His disciples , "people of little faith", when addressing them. Why? Because again and again, His own followers demonstrated weakness in faith. If faith was a challenge even in Jesus's day, is it any wonder that it continues to be 2,000 years later?
     What can we do? For one thing, we need models of faith: people we can look to for inspiration and example. For example, the Bible lists many (see Hebrews 11, a listing of OT saints). One is a man who left his homeland, family, and possessions, to go to a land he had never seen. He went there simply because God told him to do so. The man was also told to start a family in his old age, which he did (his wife miraculously conceived). Who was this man? Abraham, "our father in faith". In the New Testament, we have many examples: the greatest being that of a woman, who listened to God and conceived a child; a child who would change history and redeem the whole world: Jesus. Jesus came into the world because of the faith of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
     Closer to our own day, I can think of the Carmelite priest, Titus Brandsma, who was arrested by the Nazis for opposing their propaganda. He was taken to Dachau concentration camp, which had a barracks for 3,000 priests and ministers. Eventually, he was sentenced to death. A woman, who had lapsed from the faith, gave him the lethal injection that killed him. Before he died, Titus had given her his rosary. The woman was so touched by this that she came back to practicing the faith and later testified at Titus's beatification. She had killed a holy man, a true model of faith.
     Be a model of faith. It may change someone's life.

From the Pastor...

      March 5, 2017       
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     Lent is a special season dedicated to penance. Penance takes three forms: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Each form is necessary to put into practice because each involves putting a relationship in order. Prayer sustains and nurtures our relationship with God. Please devote enough time to enter into effective prayer, each day. A recommendation is to try to pray for one half an hour.      This will allow for recollection and meditation. A person of prayer is open to God's influence. Without prayer, we become stilted and stuck in spiritual rut.
     Fasting can take many forms. It helps us to get our own "house" in order. The American bishops'statement in 2000, suggests that besides abstinence from meat and decreasing one's intake of food, people often need to "fast" by turning away from bad habits that tend to enslave them, e.g., "whether in smoking or alcohol consumption, misused sexuality, uncontrolled gambling, psychological hang-ups, spiritual obsessions, use of stimulants, immoderate use of the Internet, excessive amounts of television watching, or preoccupations with other forms of entertainment."
     Of course, we must turn away from sin and renew our commitment to Jesus, as His disciples. What's the use in giving up chocolate, if we lose sight of the big picture? Plan to have a holy Lent. (And don't forget to make a good confession.)

From the Pastor      February 26, 2017        To Top

The 2017 Lenten season begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1, for Latin-rite Catholics.

In his last words to the apostles, Jesus gave them a mission:

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)

Thus, the teaching mission of the Church comes from Christ himself. The responsibility for fulfilling that mandate passes on unchanged to the bishops and to all Catholics.

Within each Catholic diocese, the diocesan bishop is its principal teacher. He is assisted by clergy, religious, and lay men and women who serve as educators and catechists in Catholic institutions, including elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, seminaries and parishes.

Catechesis is the act of handing on the Word of God intended to inform the faith community and candidates for initiation into the Church about the teachings of Christ transmitted by the Apostles. It also involves the lifelong effort of forming people into witnesses to Christ and opening their hearts to the spiritual transformation given by the Holy Spirit.

The teaching authority of the Catholic Church, called the Magisterium, lies with all of the bishops who are led by the pope and guided by the Holy Spirit. The pope and bishops are the authoritative teachers in the Church. On the USCCB Web site, you can find information about many forms of Catholic teaching.     http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/index.cfm

From the Pastor      February 19, 2017        To Top

How We Teach

In his last words to the apostles, Jesus gave them a mission:

"Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." (Mt 28:19-20)

Thus, the teaching mission of the Church comes from Christ himself. The responsibility for fulfilling that mandate passes on unchanged to the bishops and to all Catholics.

Within each Catholic diocese, the diocesan bishop is its principal teacher. He is assisted by clergy, religious, and lay men and women who serve as educators and catechists in Catholic institutions, including elementary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, seminaries and parishes.

Catechesis is the act of handing on the Word of God intended to inform the faith community and candidates for initiation into the Church about the teachings of Christ transmitted by the Apostles. It also involves the lifelong effort of forming people into witnesses to Christ and opening their hearts to the spiritual transformation given by the Holy Spirit.

The teaching authority of the Catholic Church, called the Magisterium, lies with all of the bishops who are led by the pope and guided by the Holy Spirit. The pope and bishops are the authoritative teachers in the Church. On the USCCB Web site, you can find information about many forms of Catholic teaching.     http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/index.cfm

From the Pastor      January 22, 2017        To Top


         The Bishops of the U.S. have designated the anniversary of Roe V. Wade as a special day of penance to pray for the legal protection of unborn children. Since the fateful decision of the Supreme Court on Jan. 22, 1973, 50 million children have been aborted. To add insult to injury, much of our society is in denial. For example, certain major news outlets (e.g., the New York Times and National Public Radio) frequently ignore the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C. The march is consistently the largest single demonstration, in our country, drawing 200,000 participants each year. I cannot imagine such a massive demonstration of grassroots people not being considered newsworthy. This is a symptom of the denial that abortion takes the lives of innocent human persons and that the 50 million people we have lost constitutes a national genocide. Please take time to fast and pray on Monday, Jan. 23rd (this year’s day of penance). I would recommend praying the rosary. Two of three abortion mills on Shaker Blvd. in Cleveland have closed due the thousands of rosaries offered by interested parties. If possible, attend Mass on that day (8:30 a.m.) or come to the special Eucharistic Holy Hour at 7:00 p.m. We must employ spiritual means to bring about the conversion of our society to recognize that every attack on innocent human life is an attack on the Creator.
     

Pastor's Column      January 15, 2017        From the Pastor... To Top

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18 - 25, 2017
         The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Reconciliation-The Love of Christ Compels Us." (cf. 2 Cor 5:14-20). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII)... , "it was in the context of the Reformation Anniversary that the Council of Churches in Germany took up the work of creating the resources for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity 2017. It quickly became clear that the materials for this Week of Prayer for Christian Unity would need to have two accents: on the one hand, there should be a celebration of God's love and grace, the 'justification of humanity through grace alone', reflecting the main concern of the churches marked by Martin Luther's Reformation. On the other hand, the materials should also recognize the pain of the subsequent deep divisions which afflicted the Church, openly name the guilt, and offer an opportunity to take steps toward reconciliation." The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has a history of over 100 years ..., in which Christians around the world have taken part in an octave of prayer for visible Christian unity. By annually observing the WPCU, Christians move toward the fulfillment of Jesus' prayer at the Last Supper "that they all may be one." (cf. John 17:21) USCCB
     

Pastor's Column      January 1, 2017        From the Pastor... To Top

From the Pastor...
        It is customary for people to seek to make personal improvements as they anticipate a New Year. Many will resolve to go on a diet or to be faithful to a regular program of physical exercise. Why not include resolutions that will help you to grow in grace? Mary can help. She was sinless and is an advocate for sinners. Are there any sins in your life that have never been rooted out? Ask her to help. Pray the rosary daily. Have recourse to regular confession (once or twice a year is not regular). Pick a day to do some fasting (Fridays are the recommended penitential days). Mary brought Jesus into the world. What resolution can you make to bring Jesus to others? We must live the faith and spread it. (There is no salvation outside of Jesus.) We can pray for others (by name) who do not have faith in Jesus. Why not start a notebook, with a list of names. (Use the parish birthday list for this purpose.) Pray for people in batches (a week or two at a time, anyway). What concrete steps can you take to bring someone into contact with Jesus? Why not resolve to invite someone to Mass (when it is opportune)? Mary’s child was God’s gift of peace to the world. What resolutions can you make to extend the reign of peace? (Don't leave BVM out of picture: she turned back German troops in Marne, France in 1914. We need to bring an end to the wars that are being waged in so many parts of the Middle East.) You can receive Holy Communion for the intention of becoming a peacemaker. (Perhaps this can be done in conjunction with attending another Mass during the week.) Forgive all who have sinned against you. Try writing names of people (if they are known). Forgive each one specifically. Is there anyone whom you have offended? Why not ask for forgiveness?
     

Pastor's Column      December 25, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

    Sometimes, people will be quick to make rather curious statements about religion, for example, "All religions are basically the same.  We all believe in the same God", etc. People who make such statements need to be challenged.  There is only one religion that believes that God so loved the world that He sent His only Son that we might not perish, but have eternal life.  I am speaking, of course, about Christianity.  Many world religions actually have it backward.  They believe that men seek God.  The Christian faith teaches us that God seeks man.  If you do not believe this, look at the Christmas crib and think again.  Who is the baby in the manger?  Jesus, you say.  Who is Jesus?  St. John says, "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us."  Jesus is God in the flesh.
    Sometimes people say, "I believe that God exists, but no one can know much about Him." Again, as Christians, we need not let such statements go unchallenged.  A five or six year old child, who is schooled in the Catholic faith, can draw a fairly accurate picture of God.  How is this so?  If he draws a picture of Jesus, he has effectively done so. Jesus is God in the flesh.
    What kind of a God do we have?  He commanded that creation come into being, by His very word.  Yet, He makes Himself helpless and unable to speak as an infant. He created the sun and the stars to give light and heat, yet He exposes Himself to the cold and dark night in Bethlehem.  He has to be warmed by the breath of animals. The all-powerful One becomes weak and helpless.  The impassible One opens His tiny mouth and cries.  He who made laws regulating the entire universe, willingly subjects Himself to obeying two of His own creatures:  Mary and Joseph.
    Why?  In order to come down to our level and speak to us in human language and empathize with us in our difficulties.  He also wants to share in His holiness and resurrection.  Jesus is God's gift to us.  Merry Christmas.

Pastor's Column      December 18, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

From the Pastor...    I can think of few things that are as romantically recounted as the story of the Lord's nativity. I say "romantically" to indicate the glamorization of the incident in pageantry and art. There is nothing wrong with this, of course. However, we can lose sight of the difficulties and challenges faced by the Holy Family. To begin with, the conception of Jesus became a cause for crisis. Mary was faced with the real prospect of being left as a single mother. This is because Joseph had thought about quietly leaving her, being that he was not the father of the Child. Various Church fathers suggest that Joseph did not feel worthy enough to be the husband of a woman who had miraculously conceived. Joseph remained her husband because of divine intervention. He listened to God.
   When Mary was near the end of her pregnancy, she and Joseph had to travel to Bethlehem (two hours away by modern transportation) for the required Roman census. This was a hardship. To add insult to injury, once in Bethlehem, Mary and Joseph could not find a place to lodge. They had to settle for a cave or a stable, where Jesus would be born. Jesus was born in poverty, in a place not normally fit for human habitation. Once born, the Holy Family had to flee to a foreign country because King Herod wanted to kill the Child. This was indeed a rocky beginning for the Son of God made man. Today, people can visit Bethlehem and the Church of the Nativity, where the purported place of Jesus's birth is marked by a 14-pointed star. Why a 14-pointed star? Because the Child laid in the manger grew into adulthood and died on the cross. The 14 points are the traditional stops for the Stations of the Cross.

Pastor's Column      November 20, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

   Just before the American Civil War, there was a great deal of interest in the Second Coming, among many non-Catholic preachers and their followers.  A man by the name of William Miller (a veteran of the War of 1812), searched through his Bible and studied the Books of Daniel and Revelation, in an effort to calculate just exactly when Jesus would return.  He calculated the return to be within his own lifetime: 1843.  He even calculated the month and day. Needless to say, the date came and went without anything happening. He revised the calculation for the following year.  Again, a disappointment.  Eventually it was decided that Jesus did come, but it was invisible (spiritual).  Mr. Miller’s religiosity was part of the “Adventist movement”.  There are Adventists today.  Two major mistakes that Mr. Miller made are as follows.  Jesus said that as to the exact day or hour, no one knows.... Only the Father knows.  The Catholic Church, for that reason, has never pretended to know when the end of the world would take place. It is not for us to know when.  The second mistake made by Mr. Miller is that when the Lord does come, His coming will be quite visible and unmistakable.  It will not be hidden.  (Similar mistakes were made by Charles Taze Russell who began the movement known today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.) “As lightening from the east flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Mt. 24.27).
   We begin the Church's year with the season of Advent.  Advent covers the coming of the Lord:  His Second Coming to His first coming (Christmas), and His "in-between" comings.  Jesus comes to us in many ways:  in the Eucharist, in prayer, in others, in the Scriptures.  Do we notice Him when He comes?  Do we pay attention to Him?  Interior silence is very important, when it comes to receiving His visits.  Advent is an ideal time for evaluating our prayer life and starting anew. 
Pastor's Column      November 13, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

    There are few things that inspire more curiosity than the "end of the world". When will it happen? What are the signs? What exactly will take place? (Etc.) As to when it will happen, Jesus gave this answer: "Only the Father knows." This might seem strange. Didn't He know everything? As God, yes. But He also had a human intellect. In this case, He was speaking as a man. (Remember, He had two natures.) What exactly will take place? Here, we can rely on the Creed. Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead. The Catechism also teaches us that there will be a final trial immediately preceding the end. As a result, many people's faith would be shaken. This tumult will also set the stage for the antichrist. (These things precede Jesus' Second Coming.) Finally, what are the signs that the end is imminent? This is what Jesus' disciples asked Him when He spoke about the impending destruction of the temple. Jesus does not answer the question by way of satisfying their curiosity. Instead, he warns them to be ready for whatever may happen in the future (meaning even today).
    Jesus speaks of false prophets: those who will take advantage of the apparent delay of His Second Coming, to teach a message that contradicts, distorts or obscures the truth of Jesus. Needless to say, this prophecy of Jesus is fulfilled many times over. Arguably the three men who have had the greatest influence on modern day thought are three atheists: Darwin, Marx and Freud. Even popular culture is riddled with false prophets. Wasn't it John Lennon who popularized the lyric, "Imagine there's no heaven?" (Many people, it seems, have been seduced by such messages.) Jesus speaks of wars and insurrections. Clearly we have been plagued by such things over the course of the past 2,000 years. Jesus also speaks of natural disasters. Who can forget Hurricane Katrina, the tsunami that took countless lives, the earthquakes in Haiti and Italy? (Just to name a few....) Jesus tells us that the time between the destruction of the Jewish temple and the Second Coming will be a time when His people (the Church) are persecuted. The Church has indeed seen many martyrs over the past 20 centuries.
    What to do? Be vigilant: pray, live the faith, persevere. Always be ready to meet the Lord.   

Pastor's Column      November 6, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

    Some people, apparently, think of purgatory as a specific place, let's say, a temporary hell or at least an otherworldly concentration camp.  It is important to base ourselves on the teaching of the Church, not on popular misconceptions. The Church does not teach that purgatory is a "place".  The word means, "purification".  Exactly what the nature of the purification is after death, no one knows.  We can, however, be purified here (and we should be).  Purgatory actually begins here. Any authentic practitioner of the faith allows himself to be purified of egoism, worldly attachments, self-will, impatience, etc., by practicing virtue, praying, doing penance, and bearing suffering with courage.  The more people merely dabble in the faith, the more likely that the bulk of their purification will necessarily have to take place after death. 
    Some object because the word "purgatory" is not found in the Bible. The word isn't, but the teaching is. (Besides, the Church didn't start to use the word until 1100 years of praying for the deceased).  Another objection is that earthly life is sufficient for God's purposes.  If our Lord were to put people in heaven who were selfish, unprepared, and spiritually immature, it would not really be heaven for them.  It is only in full self-giving that one receives the fullness of God's love (which is what heaven is).  Finally, no one has more joy than the souls in purgatory, except for the saints is heaven.  Those in purgatory know that they are on the way to heaven.  We, on earth, have yet to work out our salvation.  
Pastor's Column      October 30, 2016        Priesthood Sunday To Top

    From the moment of Jesus' conception in the womb of Mary until his Resurrection, he was filled
with the Holy Spirit. In biblical language, he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus established by God the Father as our high priest. As Risen Lord, he remains our high priest. . . . While all the baptized share in Christ's priesthood, the ministerial priesthood shares this through the Sacrament of Holy Orders in a special way.
    Ordination to the priesthood is always a call and a gift from God. Christ reminded his Apostles that they needed to ask the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the harvest. Those who seek priesthood respond generously to God's call using the words of the prophet, "Here I am, send me" (Is 6:8). This call from God can be recognized and understood from the daily signs that disclose his will to those in charge of discerning the vocation of the candidate. 

USCCB PRAYER 
    Gracious and loving God, we thank your for the gift of our priests.  Through them, we experience your presence in the sacraments.  Help our priests to be strong in their vocation.  Set their souls on fire with love for your people.  Grant them the wisdom, understanding, and strength they need to follow in the footsteps of Jesus.  Inspire them with the vision of your Kingdom.  Give them the words they need to spread the Gospel.  Allow them to experience joy in their ministry.  Help them to become instruments of your divine grace. We ask this through Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns as our Eternal Priest.  Amen.

Pastor's Column      October 23, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

     Every four years we hear from various politicians about how "Catholic" they are, while promoting things that are inimical to basic morality, e.g., abortion. "Catholics" who pontificate about abortion "rights" are either deluded or dishonest. The Catholic Church has a very clear teaching on the immorality of purposely taking an innocent human life. We need authentic lay Catholics to be involved in political affairs, not phony Catholics. We also need courageous ecclesiastics (e.g., bishops) who will administer proper discipline when a politician gives scandal, in order to protect our Lord's flock and (possibly) to bring the politician to his senses.

Pastor's Column      October 16, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

        Lake County Right to Life recently canvassed various Ohio candidates for public office as to whether they agree to the protection of all human life without exception, and support marriage as being necessarily a union of one man and one woman. Only one candidate running for U.S. Senate signed the Marriage and Life Affirmation form. This candidate is not from a major party. The major party candidates either did not agree with the Marriage and Life Affirmation, they did not see it (perhaps staffers threw it in the trash) or they did not want to go on record supporting life and marriage. If the major party candidates do not agree either with the position that human life is sacred from conception until natural death, or that marriage can only be contracted by two members of the opposite sex, how will electing either one support the institution of the family, the welfare of children and the good of society? On the other hand, if these candidates simply do not want to go on record regarding these issues, why not? Although they have become "politicized", the issues included in the Marriage and Life Affirmation are not merely political issues. They are much broader and deeper. 
        What is the solution to the present malaise of our culture? People need to be educated on the importance of the issues affecting marriage and family. They should not be intimidated by those who have other agendas. They need to see through the dubious rhetoric that is often used e.g., "don't be a 'single issue' voter". (At one time being against slavery was a "single issue". Its singularity did not render it irrelevant.) People need to be careful of self-serving ideas, such as, "recognizing same sex 'marriage' won't hurt my marriage". We have to think of the effects that redefining marriage would have on our society, and the many evils that will come about because of it (e.g., what will become of children and families?). And certainly, we must pray for the welfare of our nation. Without prayer, we cannot win the war that is raging against our culture.

Pastor's Column      October 9, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

        The month of the Holy Rosary is October and this entire month is dedicated to the Rosary. The feast day of the Holy Rosary in particular is October 7th. The feast of the Rosary is held on October 7th in memory of the glorious and triumphant victory at the battle of Lepanto. That battle was the most convincing military victory that proved without a doubt the great power of the Rosary.     The month of October is a good time to commit to praying the Rosary everyday. The Rosary will bring great peace and holiness to your life. It is a powerful instrument for conversion. The Rosary is the best method of honoring Mary.
    It protects the Church from false teachings and keeps her safe from the attacks from the Enemy.
    There are some great ways to celebrate the month of the Holy Rosary...
   -   Pray the Rosary everyday this month. Pray it especially for priests. Even though the Year For Priests has come and gone, they still need your constant prayers.
   -   Make rosaries, have them blessed and give them away - children love this. You can teach a group of children to make rosaries of their own. They will really be excited about praying with a rosary they made themselves. You can give the rosaries you make to the elderly in nursing homes, take them to Catholic schools or Religious Education classes at your parish, or mail them to prisons. Make sure you have them blessed by a priest first.  

Pastor's Column      October 2, 2016 To Top

    In the 19th century, a woman was advised to have an abortion because she had a good number of children already, and there was hereditary deafness in the family.  Someone, seemingly, talked her out of resorting to such a grisly measure.  She gave birth to a baby boy.  His name was Ludwig Von Beethoven.  Later in his life he did become deaf, but think of how impoverished the world of western culture would be without the likes of the great composer.  Every child has the potential to make a contribution to the world.  As it is, 1.5 million children, in our country, each year, are not allowed passage down the birth canal.  And to think, there are people in public office who promote the practice of abortion. Abortion is heartless and gravely immoral.  We cannot afford to be complacent about it.  Life is a gift.  Thank God for the gift of life.  Thank our parents for being His instruments. 
    October is Respect Life Month.  As such, there are many activities designed to help turn the tide toward respecting all life, from conception until natural death (see the enclosed bulletin insert).  Besides public venues, people can inculcate a love for life beginning at home.  Families can pray together that our society will recover its respect for life, especially that of the weakest and most defenseless.  We can support pregnant women by praying for them and offering to be of assistance, if it is opportune.  We can pray for the conversion of people who are in collusion with the abortion industry.  We can pray for a new found respect for marriage (most of the women who seek abortions, or are pressured to have them, are not married to the fathers of the preborn children).  And we should pray for an end to the "contraceptive mentality".  More contraception always means, on a societal level, more abortions.  "Fighting" abortion with contraception is like pouring gasoline on a fire.  It gets worse. 
    And, finally, don't forget to enlist the support of St. Michael the Archangel.  Because, behind abortion is the activity of evil spirits who love blood-letting in whatever form they can get it. (See Ephesians 6.) 

Pastor's Column      September 25, 2016 To Top

The Second Vatican Council declared that "the future of humanity is in the hands of those men who are capable of providing the generations to come with reasons for life and optimism." (GS, no 31). No one can live without the hope that life has ultimate and lasting meaning beyond the concerns and struggles, the joys and satisfactions of each day. Catholics find that meaning and hope in Jesus Christ, whom God the Father has sent into the world for the salvation of all peoples. 

But the world can be a disturbing place. There is war and anxiety because of terrorism. There is the fierceness of competition and the injustices that come from greed. There are continuous distractions that come from the media, the numerous hours given to television, radio, and Internet. There are the unrelenting demands of work and family life.

Yet in the midst of all this, people are generously loving within their families, with their friends, and for their communities.  Nevertheless, a nagging question remains: Where is all this going? There is a persistent thirst for meaning and hope.

Many people find refuge in various types of spiritual activities and communities that promise serenity in a hectic world and refuge from its pressures. They look to meditation techniques and to well-publicized personalities for ways to find tranquility and some hope for themselves.

In the midst of such a culture, the Catholic Church offers a message that is not its own, but comes from God's self-revelation in Jesus Christ two thousand years ago, yet is ever new and renewing as it is received, celebrated, lived, and contemplated today. The Church offers to all people the possibility of encountering the living God today and finding in Him lasting meaning and hope.

God continues to be present in the Church as the Gospel of his Son, Jesus Christ, is proclaimed and received by her members through the life-giving power of the Holy Spirit.

God continues to be present in his Church as her members are brought together by the Holy Spirit to celebrate the Seven Sacraments, most especially the Eucharist. 
USCCB

Pastor's Column      September 18, 2016     "Prayer: The Faith Prayed" To Top

    This year, the Church will celebrate Catechetical Sunday on September 18, and will focus on the theme "Prayer: The Faith Prayed." Those who the Community has designated to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry. Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel. Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.
    The Catechisms often refer to what the saints have said about prayer. For example, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, for whom “...prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned toward heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both trial and joy.” Or St. Francis de Sales, who says that “every one of us needs half an hour of prayer each day except when we’re busy – then we need an hour.”
Thoughtfully reading a few paragraphs on prayer each week from the Catechism of the Catholic Church or the U.S. Catholic Catechism for Adults can open our minds and hearts to a deeper relationship with God -- Father, Son and Holy Spirit—present and at work in our lives. Daily prayer shines the light of the Gospel on everything we do, so that all our thoughts, words and actions can be informed and measured by love of God and neighbor. 

Pastor's Column      September 11, 2016     From the Pastor ... To Top

            Today, Sept. 11th, commemorates the "terror attacks" of 2001. Recently, a group of concerned citizens displayed a 14 foot sign at Ground Zero that read: "9/11 was a controlled demolition". It certainly seems to be the case, given the facts that the buildings imploded, dropping perfectly into their own footprints. Tower number seven is particularly conspicuous in that it was not hit by any aircraft. People at the scene (e.g., William Rodriguez, the last man out of the towers) heard the underground explosions. One firefighter who read the sign flashed a "thumbs up" and said, "We can't talk about anything, but we know exactly what happened that day. If we speak out we've been told that our pensions will be taken away." (For more information, see American Free Press.) 
Pray for our country.

Pastor's Column      September 4, 2016 To Top

    Arguably, the greatest woman of the 20th century, was the Albanian nun, Mother Teresa. Not only did she win the Nobel Peace Prize, but also, and much more importantly, she was canonized. The ceremony for her canonization was last Sunday, the day before the 19th anniversary of her death. Mother Teresa leaves behind a rich legacy that includes 4500 sisters who serve in her order, the Missionary Sisters of Charity. The order is found in 133 countries and assists the poor. I recall going to one of the order's convents, which is located outside of St. Peter's Square in the Vatican, and leaving a donation. Mother Teresa was revered throughout the world. She was even invited to speak at one of the national prayer breakfasts attended by many high ranking members of the government. I will never forget the scene. Mother Teresa spoke passionately about the dignity of human life and the evil of abortion, while the president and his wife (Mr. and Mrs. Clinton) sat at the head-table stony faced, being ardent supporters of abortion. Mother Teresa "pulled a fast one" on them.

Pastor's Column      August 28, 2016 To Top

    "Conduct your affairs with humility." These are words from this Sunday's Scripture reading. But what is humility? If you ask people at random, you will probably receive a number of answers along the lines of, humility means having a low opinion of oneself. Actually, having a low opinion of oneself is not humility. Humility is having a realistic self-appraisal. Suppose the person is quite talented and intelligent? If he is humble, he will realize these things without letting them go to his head, so to speak. Conversely, if the person does not have many talents, he will understand this without letting it upset his spirit. Humility is not the most important virtue, nor is it the center of the Christian life, but without it, one is impeded in living as a disciple of Jesus. 
    The opposite of humility is pridefulness. How can one tell if he is prideful? There are many ways of testing for this. Here are some. Thinking that what one says or does is automatically better than what another person says or does, is prideful. Always wanting one's way is prideful. Arguing with bad manners, whether one is right or wrong, is prideful. Not looking at one's talents and abilities as lent is prideful. Refusing to take correction or making excuses when corrected is prideful. Refusing to take "no" for an answer is prideful. Taking undue pleasure in praise and compliments is prideful. To be saddened when others are held in higher esteem is prideful. To be ashamed because one lacks certain goods is prideful. To refuse to admit one's faults is prideful. Etc.
    Jesus practiced humility and taught many lessons about it. The parable of the Pharisee and the tax-collector comes to mind, along with today's parable about taking the lowest place at the table. In the kingdom of God, the exalted will be humbled and the humble will be exalted. 

From the Pastor ...   August 21, 2016 To Top

    Russell Shaw's American Church: The Remarkable Rise, Meteoric Fall and Uncertain Future of Catholicism in America makes the case that a practicing Catholic can no longer be elected to high political office. He traces this phenomenon to the famous speech delivered by John F. Kennedy to a group of Houston ministers, to the effect that, if elected president, he would not let his faith influence him.  JFK was giving in to an anti-Catholic bias.  The anti-Catholics (represented at the time by such a prominent spokesman as Norman Vincent Peale) said that a practicing Catholic was not fit for public office.  Unfortunately, it seems that too many people believe this today. 
    A case in point is our current vice-president who has done his best to act as a spoiled adolescent in the way he comports himself as a Catholic. His latest stunt was to solemnize a "marriage" between two men.  He might have thought he was being cute or "progressive".  (Read Paul's Letter to the Romans, chapter 1 for more information.)  To make matters worse, neither his home bishop nor the archbishop of Washington have called him on the carpet for this.  These men know Canon Law (I think).  Corrupting public morality is a crime in Church law (canon 1369).  Suitable penalties are in order.  Pope Francis addressed a similar incident in Australia that involved a priest and one of these counterfeit "marriages".  He declared that the priest had excommunicated himself. 
    The next time you hear someone suggest that the Church is an "authoritarian" institution, tell him to "think again".  We now live in a day and age when, too often, the legitimate Church authorities don't do anything.  This adds to the scandal and confusion of many innocent people.  Pray that we have the Church leaders we need, men who will defend their flock.

From the Pastor ...     August 14, 2016 To Top

     Unfortunately, this year's feast of the Assumption (Monday, Aug. 15th) is not a holy day of obligation. This is because the bishops of Ohio (and some other states) voted to relax the obligation when the feast falls on Monday or Saturday. Notwithstanding the non-obligatory nature of the day, I think it is still opportune to write about something connected with the Blessed Mother, i.e., the rosary. 
    There are those who claim that the rosary is a "private devotion". Actually, it developed out of the Church's official prayer book known as the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Breviary). When many lay people could not read, the practice developed of substituting the Lord's Prayer for the 150 psalms of the prayer book. People would use pebbles or beads to keep track of where they were. After a while, it became common to intersperse the Lord's Prayer with the Angelic Salutation (i.e., "Hail, Mary, full of grace..."). Over time, the Church added another half to the angelic prayer: 
"Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners...." People started meditating on certain mysteries 
of the faith while praying the prayers. 
    The rosary is an indulgenced prayer, when prayed in a church, chapel or prayer-group. Although the Blessed Mother seems to be the subject of most of the prayers, she leads people to her Son: "Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus". And, furthermore, she leads people to the Father and to the Trinity: "Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit...." Therefore, although the rosary is a form of Marian devotion, it is much more than that. Properly prayed, it opens people up to meditation and contemplation.  

Pastor's Column      August 7, 2016 To Top

    This summer marks the 48th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's famous document Humanae Vitae ("On Human Life"). The document was a response to the chatter about the Catholic Church relaxing its teaching on contraception, in light of the invention of the so-called "birth-control pill". To answer this challenge, the Holy Father commissioned a special panel to look into the matter. The final decision, of course, would not be made by the panel, but by the Pope himself. The panel's advice was dubious. The pope was not taken in by it and was able to see what dangers the pill portended. He listed at least four of them: the level of morality would sink lower in our society, women would be objectified, marriage would suffer, and governments would use these drugs to as tools of coercion. If anything, the pope's predictions were quite conservative. We now have almost 50 years of hindsight.
    The level of morality has sunken to new lows. Our Supreme Court, for example, has worked to overturn laws against sodomy. And, to make matters worse, we have same-sex "marriage". Real marriage has suffered immensely, with the divorce rate around the 50% mark. Abortion, which is often used to back up "failed" contraception, sees the demise of 3500 babies each day. (That's 145 abortions every hour in our nation.) And, of course, the government does all it can to export contraceptive use. For example, it is often a requirement for other countries receiving some sort of American aid. 
    Married couples are supposed to be responsible in planning their families, but the way to do it is not by introducing drugs or devices that block conception, or, even worse, prohibit the tiny human organism from implanting itself in the wall of the womb (an early abortion). Natural Family Planning is moral, medically safe and doesn't harm the marriage. There are several methods of this type. They serve to monitor the wife's fertility and can be used to achieve or postpone a pregnancy. 

From the Pastor ...      July 31, 2016 To Top

    The English have a term they use as a handy reference to the time when politicians go on campaign. They call it the "silly season". I suppose we can take a lesson from our friends across the Atlantic, for too many American campaigners have been known to say silly things. One such expression, which we hear at least every four years is something along these lines: "I am a practicing/traditional Catholic. I am against abortion, but it is the law.  "For one thing, there is no law in our country mandating abortion (in China, there is). The Supreme Court merely restricted states from passing laws prohibiting the grisly procedure. To be "against" something and then dismiss the issue as "the law" is another way of dissembling by trying to have it both ways. In truth, anyone who is an informed Catholic should know better than to support abortion even with this backhanded approach. (There are 3500 abortions performed each day in our nation.) 
    I would love to ask someone who makes such a claim, "why are you against abortion? If you see it as some kind of evil, why are you so complacent about it?" This tactic of "I'm against it, but don't expect me to oppose it if you elect me", serves no constructive purpose except to fool some people into voting for the person. It's a feeble attempt on the part of the campaigner to be for and against something at the same time. 
This is illogical. 
    At one time, it was "legal" to own slaves in certain states. Would the same politicians say, "I am against slavery, but I do not want to impose my religion on other people." ....of course, not. Unfortunately many people fall for doublespeak. Abortion is a grave injustice. "Catholics" in political office, or who are campaigning for such, who hide behind a false cloak of piety ought to be ashamed of themselves. 

From the Pastor ...      July 24, 2016 To Top

Recently I was asked to talk about "cohabitation", as it applies to certain couples. Sometimes a couple legitimately cohabits, outside of marriage, if there are extenuating reasons for not getting married, e.g., the bishop may permit a couple who cannot marry in the Catholic Church due to the impossibility of obtaining a Church annulment from a previous marriage, to live as "brother and sister", provided there is no scandal. And there are older couples whose cohabitation is not a sexual one and whose cohabitation gives no scandal (i.e., it does not give others a bad example). 

Having said these things, the majority of couples who cohabit outside of wedlock fall into one of several categories: serial cohabiters, couples "preparing for marriage", and those who choose to live together as an "alternative" lifestyle. These three categories of people are abusing their sexuality and causing others scandal, not to mention living in a state of manifest serious sin. Cohabitation does not prepare people for marriage. In fact, the divorce rate is higher among such folk. The reason for this is that a marriage that may develop is not entered into with psychological freedom. Instead, the mentality is: "we might as well be married because we have been living together for two years." 

"Alternative lifestyle" people are traveling down a dead end street. The women are being used by the men. The men are irresponsible. They don't have to honor the women because they never took the vow that they would ("I will love you and honor you all the days of my life"). The women fool themselves and grow older without having any children, in many cases. 
Young people, don't cohabit. If you want to live with someone, get married first, and keep the vows. 
The Lord will bless your union.

July 17, 2016   BULL OF INDICTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY   To Top

    Jesus speaks several times of the importance of faith over and above the observance of the law. It is in this sense that we must understand his words when, reclining at table with Matthew and other tax collectors and sinners, he says to the Pharisees raising objections to him, "Go and learn the meaning of 'I desire mercy not sacrifice'. I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Mt 9:13). Faced with a vision of justice as the mere observance of the law that judges people simply by dividing them into two groups – the just and sinners – Jesus is bent on revealing the great gift of mercy that searches out sinners and offers them pardon and salvation. One can see why, on the basis of such a liberating vision of mercy as a source of new life, Jesus was rejected by the Pharisees and the other teachers of the law. In an attempt to remain faithful to the law, they merely placed burdens on the shoulders of others and undermined the Father's mercy. The appeal to a faithful observance of the law must not prevent attention from being given to matters that touch upon the dignity of the person. 

    The appeal Jesus makes to the text from the book of the prophet Hosea – "I desire love and not 
sacrifice" (6:6) – is important in this regard. Jesus affirms that, from that time onward, the rule of life for his disciples must place mercy at the centre, as Jesus himself demonstrated by sharing meals with sinners. Mercy, once again, is revealed as a fundamental aspect of Jesus' mission. This is truly challenging to his hearers, who would draw the line at a formal respect for the law. Jesus, on the other hand, goes beyond the law; the company he keeps with those the law considers sinners makes us realize the depth of his mercy. 
Pope Francis

July 10, 2016     Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy  Pope Francis To Top

It is my burning desire that, during this Jubilee, the Christian people may reflect on the corporal and spiritual works of mercy.  It will be a way to reawaken our conscience, too often grown dull in the face of poverty.  And let us enter more deeply into the heart of the Gospel where the poor have a special experience of God's mercy.  Jesus introduces us to these works of mercy in his preaching so that we can know whether or not we are living as his disciples.  Let us rediscover these corporal works of mercy: to feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, welcome the stranger, heal the sick, visit the imprisoned, and bury the dead.  And let us not forget the spiritual works of mercy: to counsel the doubtful, instruct the ignorant, admonish sinners, comfort the afflicted, forgive offences, bear patiently those who do us ill, and pray for the living and the dead. 

We cannot escape the Lord's words to us, and they will serve as the criteria upon which we will be judged: whether we have fed the hungry and given drink to the thirsty, welcomed the stranger and clothed the naked, or spent time with the sick and those in prison (cf. Mt 25:31-45).  Moreover, we will be asked if we have helped others to escape the doubt that causes them to fall into despair and which is often a source of loneliness; if we have helped to overcome the ignorance in which millions of people live, especially children deprived of the necessary means to free them from the bonds of poverty; if we have been close to the lonely and afflicted; if we have forgiven those who have offended us and have rejected all forms of anger and hate that lead to violence; if we have had the kind of patience God shows, who is so patient with us; and if we have commended our brothers and sisters to the Lord in prayer.  In each of these "little ones," Christ himself is present.  His flesh becomes visible in the flesh of the tortured, the rushed, the scourged, the malnourished, and the exiled... to be acknowledged, touched, and cared for by us.  Let us not forget the words of Saint John of the Cross: "as we prepare to leave this life, we will be judged on the basis of love"

July 3, 2016        Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy To Top

    Merciful like the Father, therefore, is the "motto" of this Holy Year. In mercy, we find proof of how God loves us. He gives his entire self, always, freely, asking nothing in return. He comes to our aid whenever we call upon him. What a beautiful thing that the Church begins her daily prayer with the words, "O God, come to my assistance. O Lord, make haste to help me" (Ps 70:2)! The assistance we ask for is already the first step of God's mercy toward us. He comes to assist us in our weakness. And his help consists in helping us accept his presence and closeness to us. Day after day, touched by his compassion, we also can become compassionate towards others. 
    In this Holy Year, we look forward to the experience of opening our hearts to those living on the outermost fringes of society: fringes which modern society itself creates. How many uncertain and painful situations there are in the world today! How many are the wounds borne by the flesh of those who have no voice because their cry is muffled and drowned out by the indifference of the rich! During this Jubilee, the Church will be called even more to heal these wounds, to assuage them with the oil of consolation, to bind them with mercy and cure them with solidarity and vigilant care. Let us not fall into humiliating indifference or a monotonous routine that prevents us from discovering what is new! Let us ward off destructive cynicism! Let us open our eyes and see the misery of the world, the wounds of our brothers and sisters who are denied their dignity, and let us recognize that we are compelled to heed their cry for help! May we reach out to them and support them so they can feel the warmth of our presence, our friendship, and our fraternity! May their cry become our own, and together may we break down the barriers of indifference that too often reign supreme and mask our hypocrisy and egoism!

June 26, 2016  From the Pastor ...  To Top
BULL OF INDICTION OF THE EXTRAORDINARY JUBILEE OF MERCY

    The practice of pilgrimage has a special place in the Holy Year, because it represents the journey each of us makes in this life. Life itself is a pilgrimage, and the human being is a visitor, a pilgrim traveling along the road, making his way to the desired destination. Similarly, to reach the Holy Door in Rome or in any other place in the world, everyone, each according to his or her ability, will have to make a pilgrimage. This will be a sign that mercy is also a goal to reach and requires dedication and sacrifice. May pilgrimage be an impetus to conversion: by crossing the threshold of the Holy Door, we will find the strength to embrace God's mercy and dedicate ourselves to being merciful with others as the Father has been with us.
 
     The Lord Jesus shows us the steps of the pilgrimage to attain our goal: "Judge not, and you will not be judged; condemn not, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven; give, and it will be given to you; good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For the measure you give will be the measure you get back" (Lk 6:37-38). The Lord asks us above all not to judge and not to condemn. If anyone wishes to avoid God's judgment, he should not make himself the judge of his brother or sister. Human beings, whenever they judge, look no farther than the surface, whereas the Father looks into the very depths of the soul. How much harm words do when they are motivated by feelings of jealousy and envy! To speak ill of others puts them in a bad light, undermines their reputation and leaves them prey to the whims of gossip. To refrain from judgment and condemnation means, in a positive sense, to know how to accept the good in every person and to spare him any suffering that might be caused by our partial judgment, our presumption to know everything about him. But this is still not sufficient to express mercy. Jesus asks us also to forgive and to give. To be instruments of mercy because it was we who first received mercy from God. To be generous with others, knowing that God showers his goodness upon us with immense generosity.
Fr. Donnelly

June 19, 2016        From the Pastor... To Top

     Why did Jesus reveal to us the first Person of the Godhead by using the term "Father"? The term was inspired by His life in the family, and the influence of His parents. In His case, His mother, who was a virgin, and His foster-father, St. Joseph. When Jesus was a man, He said (at the Last Supper): "Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." This did not mean that Jesus was claiming to be the Father, but only His perfect image in the flesh, as one might say about a man: you look like your father. His maleness is an important element of His human nature. It does not mean that God is male (He is neither male nor female), but that Jesus's human nature tells us something about the Father whom we cannot see. 
    "Father" speaks to us of God's authority. The word "author" comes from the same root. It means: origin or originator. In the case of God, He is the author or origin of everything that is. "Father" also speaks to us of love. It is a term of endearment, to call someone, "Father". And what does it mean to be a Christian? It means to be adopted by God. You see, fatherhood always involves a choice. In the animal kingdom, there are no fathers, there are only mothers. The male is merely an inseminator. A woman's maternity is hers by nature. If she has conceived a child, she is a mother by definition. A man's paternity, on the other hand, must be the object of a choice. A man must choose to claim his children as his own, and care for them accordingly. In other words, any man can be a father. But how many are Dads? 
    A rejection of fatherhood spells disaster. The first such rejection of God's fatherhood manifested itself in original sin. The sin was committed after the devil suggested that God is not a loving father. The rejection of God's fatherhood is behind the thinking of Karl Marx, Sigmund Freud, Friedrich Nietzsche and others. These men opened the door to many evils. Our most pressing social problems today, may very well be, at their root, the widespread acceptance of fatherlessness, which leads to many evils: delinquency, impoverishment, unwed pregnancy, etc. We can say, blessed are those who are not fatherless. Yet, even the best of fathers is not father in the way God is. God is the standard.

June 5, 2016        Pastor's Column   To Top

      The Church has long been about the business of intercession: praying on behalf of others. Every Mass is an act of intercession. We hear prayers spoken by the priest in which he prays for the salvation of the world, peace, for the welfare of the living and for the deceased. When we come to Mass we join ourselves to these prayers, along with the specific prayers that we bring. Prayers offered at Mass are particularly effective because the main Intercessor is Jesus Himself, who acts as High Priest. We join our prayers to His. (For an insight into what Jesus considers important, see John 17.) Padre Pio, who had the wounds of Jesus on his body (the "stigmata") said words to the effect that the world could sooner get by without the sun than it could without the Mass. Somewhere, at every minute of the day, there is a Mass being celebrated. (Thanks be to God.)
    Having said all this, there remains much to pray for. I frequently call to mind St. Paul's admonition to pray especially for those who have authority over us at various levels of government: "I ask that supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and all those in authority, that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life in all devotion and dignity" (1 Tim. 2.1,2). The implication is that without such prayer, people's lives will be adversely affected. The latest example of this is the federal government's claim that states, schools and other institutions have no right restricting the use of men's rooms to men and women's rooms to women. The federal government is attacking common decency, not to mention common sense. If the government has its way, many evils will come about. Behind this affront is a spiritual battle being waged by the powers of darkness (see Eph. 6). We need prayer-warriors. Are you willing to be one? 
Fr. Donnelly

May 29, 2016        From the Pastor ... To Top

    The 1995 NY Times/CBS Poll indicated that roughly two adult Catholics out of three in the U.S. think that at Mass, the bread and wine, rather than being changed into the body and blood of Christ, become merely symbolic reminders of Him. (This is classical Protestantism.) 1995 is a while ago. Perhaps things have changed. I wish it were the case. The Gallup Poll of 2005 (which takes place every six years) of Catholic attitudes and practices indicates that 36% of Catholics believe that one can be a good Catholic and not believe in transubstantiation. This means that 36% of the Catholics polled believe that one can be a good Catholic, even though he does not believe that, at Mass, the bread and wine are changed into the body and blood of Jesus. Why would anyone think this way? In short, why would anyone be Catholic if we offer to God merely bread and wine? (God doesn't need bread and wine.)
    Jesus Himself taught about the Real Presence. (See John 6.) And to those who say that He was speaking metaphorically, He never corrected Himself (even though He lost followers because of it). Jesus always clarified that He was not speaking literally whenever people misunderstood Him. Not this time. And didn’t St. Paul warn us that to eat and drink the Eucharist unworthily (in a state of mortal sin) is a sin against the body and blood of the Lord? The Church has never changed her belief in transubstantiation. After the consecration (which must be done by a validly ordained priest or bishop), the bread and wine are no longer these substances. Only their appearances remain. They have become the body and blood of Jesus. (Certain modern day “hymns” tend to obscure this important truth.)
    The Eucharist is Jesus' gift to us. It perpetuates His saving sacrifice of the cross, without repeating it. The Eucharist is not a mere symbol. Thanks be to God.

May 22, 2016        From the Pastor ... To Top

     Have you ever heard anyone say that all religions are basically the same because "we all believe in the same God"? This is an example of a statement that many people accept, although what it claims is simply not true. Christians are the only ones who believe that God is a Trinity of Persons: One God in three Persons. Non-Christian faiths run the gamut. Some believe that there are many gods (e.g., Hinduism). There are "religions" that do not believe in a personal God at all (Buddhism). New Age adherents believe that everything is God, including us (we just haven't completely realized it). 
    We may not know any Hindus or Buddhists (personally), but we still encounter other non-Trinitarians (sometimes without knowing it). For instance, when someone comes to the door who is proselytizing on behalf of any one of a number of religious sects (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons) do not take his word that he is Christian. These groups do not believe in the Trinity (Ask the proselytizer about Jesus and the Holy Spirit.) As a result, such groups do not have a valid baptism (which is the entryway for life in the Trinity), because there is no Trinitarian formula or recognition of the atoning death of Jesus. (If Jesus is not equal to the Father in His divinity, then His death did not atone for our sins.) Non-belief in the Trinity is not a minor theological distinction. 
    Finally, Jews and Muslims are in a special category. They do believe in the same God, but do not understand Him the way we do because they are not Trinitarians. This answers the question, "why does God seem to be so different in the Old Testament, as compared with the New?" The Old Testament (the Jewish Bible) is "pre-Christian". In the New Testament we have the fullest revelation of God that the world has ever known.

May 8, 2016 To Top

    This Sunday is Mother's Day. Although not specifically a religious observance, it recognizes the importance of "filial piety", or respect for one's mother. "Honor your father and your mother" is the first commandment in the second table of the Commandments that pertains to love of neighbor. Jesus Himself mentioned such commandments when a rich, young man asked Him about attaining eternal life. For Catholics, honoring one's mother also extends to piety for Our Lady, who is the mother Jesus gave to us: mother of the redeemed, mother of the Church. She deserves our attention, respect and love. In heaven, we hope to meet her with her Son and enter into the full joy of what God has in store for those who love Him. In the meantime, as St. Paul says, we "walk by faith and not by sight". 

    This Sunday is also the feast of the Ascension of the Lord. (It has been permanently transferred from the previous Thursday, in Ohio.) The Ascension is the mystery of Jesus entering into heaven, bodily. He takes His position at the right hand of the Father, meaning that He has certain prerogatives, such as being the judge of the living and the dead. In the meantime, we have work to do. Before ascending, Jesus said, "Baptize and teach all nations." This set the stage for the Church's ongoing evangelistic mission (i.e., preaching the gospel). We all need to be formed and nurtured in the faith. To this end, I am grateful for the presence of the Neo-Catechumenal team that has been leading the twice weekly catechesis (on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings from 8:00 to 9:00 in the Parish Center). Our faith is so important; too important to keep to ourselves. Everyone needs to be exposed to Jesus.

    On May 21st, men will be ordained priests for service to the diocese of Cleveland. Unlike many another diocese, Cleveland has had priestly ordinations every year, going back decades. Part of the reason for this is that we have our own seminary system in the diocese and we have some particularly prolific parishes that produce vocations. I am told that ten (of the over 170 parishes in the diocese), produce the majority of seminarians. I was assigned to one of these parishes 20 years ago. Indeed, there have been approximately ten men being ordained from that parish in the past 20 years, with at least two men in the seminary today. (The parish is St. Francis de Sales, south of Akron.) 

     In recent years ordination classes are anywhere from two to five men. When I was ordained, in 1982, there was a class of 16. In the 60s, 70s and 80s, the ordination classes were usually in the double digits. Although we are holding our own as a diocese, we are suffering a net loss of priests every year, because of death and retirements. As a result, according to a recent study by CARA (the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate), we will have more parishes than active diocesan priests in the next decade. The net loss of priests is particularly reflected in the percentage of priests under 45 years of age. Out of 376 diocesan priests, only 45 are in this age group (12%). Over three times as many (42%) are between the ages of 60 and 74. 24% of priests are 75 and above (many in this age group are no longer on active status). 

     Please pray for vocations to the priesthood. Encourage the youth to pray and develop a love for the Eucharist and the Mass. Inactive Catholics do not inspire or generate vocations. Live the faith and be generous in serving God.  Pray for our seminarian, Christopher Stein, and his family.

January 5, 2016  To Top

    On the feast of the Epiphany, Jesus manifests himself to the gentiles' first representatives at the crib. We call them "wise men" or magi. The word "magi" is the root of our word "magician". The wise men were the scientists and philosophers of the day. To their credit they sought out the newborn King, using all the means at their disposal, including knowledge of Jewish religious traditions and the use of planetary tables. Their stargazing led them to King Herod, who had wicked designs on the Child's life. (This should tell us something about astrology's limits.) Herod's counselors had to seek out the scriptural prophecy in the Book of the prophet Micah, which pinpoints the place of the Messiah's birth. Once arrived at Bethlehem, the magi discarded the tools of their trade: gold, frankincense and myrrh, and by doing so allowed these things to take on a Christian significance. Gold would symbolize Jesus' kingship, frankincense pertains to his priesthood. Myrrh is suggestive of his death. The magi returned to their country changed men (one would suppose).
    The Bible is consistent in its condemnation of all forms of divination, including astrology. (See Is. 47.12-15, Jer. 10.1-3 and Dan 2.27-28). The Catholic Church, likewise, rejects all forms of divination. Divination means trying to ascertain such things as future events and situations by recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead, consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, recourse to mediums or "psychics", or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future. These practices contradict the honor, respect and loving fear that we owe to God alone. (See Catechism of the Catholic Church, nos. 2110-2117.)
    The wise men show us the importance and necessity of seeking the truth. This includes, especially religious truth. Some seem to think that religion is reserved for people's own personal opinions. This, however, contradicts divine revelation. Our faith is based on what God has revealed to us. God can neither deceive nor be deceived. The Child in the manger was miraculously conceived and is a sign of the one God's true love for the world and everything He made, especially mankind. St. Matthew tells us that the wise men, once arrived, prostrated themselves before the Child. They were brilliant men who had the necessary humility to bow down before the Baby Jesus. Accepting the truth is not merely a matter of intellect. People must be humble. 

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