Pastor's Column 

Fr. Sean Donnelly Father Sean Donnelly

Immaculate Conception Church

September 8, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... How free are you?

     There are several steps to becoming free and living accordingly. Freedom, here, does not mean freedom of movement or being able to do what one wants when he wants to do it. (This can be merely superficial freedom.) Remember the old adage: "Iron bars do not a jail make." The point is that a person can be superficially "free", but, at the same time, impeded by the effects of sins, lies and evil spirits. This is where Jesus comes in. The Lord wants us to be free to be the people that we are supposed to be. He wants us to be free from psychological "hang-ups". He wants us to be free from the effects of immorality: sins we may have committed, and the effects of other people's sin. What to do?
• Step 1. Repent of all sin. For Catholics, confession is ideal in this regard.
• Step 2. Forgive everyone who has offended you in any way.
      I recommend the use of the Forgiveness Prayer (use the Internet).
      [Perhaps Forgiveness Prayer by Fr Robert DeGrandis S.S.J. L]
      The prayer is a template (so, make it you own. Make any changes to the prayer that you need to make.)
      Pray it every day for a week or 30 days (for deep-seated unforgiveness issues.) Pray the prayer out loud.
• Step 3. Renounce any lies that you may be clinging to.
      Say: "In the name of Jesus, I renounce the lie that _____"
      (Fill in the blank with whatever is appropriate: e.g., the lie that I'm a failure, I'm a bad person,
      God doesn't care about me, God wanted this (bad thing) to happen, I am unworthy, I am in control and can fix everybody, etc.
• Step 4. Renounce evil spirits. Actually, this is not an "exorcism"
      This is a renunciation of common "spirits" that may be affecting you.
      For example: "In the name of Jesus, I renounce the spirit of ____"
      (Fill in the blank with whatever pertains to you: fear, rejection, resentment, anxiety, worry, shame, loneliness, guilt, etc.)
      Again, make these renunciations out loud, and "In the name of Jesus".
• Step 5. "In the name of Jesus I command every spirit that I have renounced.
      Every spirit behind the lies and sins that I have confessed, to leave me now, never to return again!"

How free are you? How many are going to heaven? How is your hearing? The Smoke of Satan Teach us how to pray
Passing on the faith This is my body From EWTN on the Holy Trinity Promises of the Sacred Heart What is heaven like
Jesus's new commandment Pray for Vocations Death, where is your victory? ministry of the confessional Lent begins this week
Are we allowed to "judge"? Unwanted Babies Polling & the resurrection Are you a prophet? Save the children
.. learn from the magi? What is a parish? An Examination of Conscience Prepare the Way for the Lord The Disappearance of Advent
The "end of the world" Why pray for the dead? Litany of the Saints How can you spot a saint? no salvation without the cross
What difference does Jesus make...? An Endangered Species The Ongoing Mess Saving Marriage The Glory of Mary
our daily Bread artificial contraception consequences ... a restoration of sanity be an Apostle why marriage is in crisis
We need the Holy Spirit Questions about God Pray for Vocations Witness to Jesus' resurrection Divine Mercy Devotion
How we know Jesus is risen... The question... disciples of Jesus temptation turn from sin, make amends
.. don't be fooled Presentation of the Lord take part: prayer & action for Christian Unity ...
"Who is Jesus Christ..?" How to be "joyful"? Behold Your Mother Join the Revolution A Steward's Way
pray for the dead Pray for Priests Who are the saints? faith and common sense the Rosary ..has power
Respect for Life Litany of humility 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

August 25, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... How many are going to heaven?

     This is another question that Jesus does not answer. Why not? Because He was not one for indulging people's curiosity. Today, I'm afraid, while many people are interested in this question: "are there many who will be saved?" Many people, seemingly, assume that salvation is nothing to be that concerned about. I mean, after all, isn't God good? Why would He send people to hell? Etc. God is certainly good. And He has never sent anyone to hell. People do it to themselves. Hell is not like being sentenced to prison. It is, rather, the result of a person's own choice to live without God. Even heaven would be hellish for people who want nothing to do with God or His kingdom. Well, someone might say, perhaps there is a hell, but isn't it reserved only for the worst perpetrators of evil the world has ever known? The problem with that interpretation is that a person gets himself off the hook. This is why Jesus tells His questioner not to be seeking information about how many are in heaven. Rather, make sure that you get there, yourself. "Strive to enter the narrow gate." The only people in heaven are saints (holy people).
     The Scripture never says that everyone is going to heaven automatically. This would make a sham out of Christ's death on the cross. St. Paul has a number of lists of the kind of people who are excluded from the kingdom of God: including, thieves, adulterers, misers, drunkards, sodomites, etc. Jesus actually talked about hell more than He did about heaven. This was not because He was preoccupied with hell, but because He loves us and doesn't want anyone to perish. Jesus challenges us to enter through the narrow gate. This means that if we want to live in heaven, after we have spent our time on earth, we have to make the effort to live holy lives. Even the great St. Paul said, "I continue to buffet my body, lest after having preached to others, I myself may be found wanting." Prayer, penance, dying to selfishness, humility, detachment from material goods, obedience to God and to our rightful superiors, the keeping of the commandments, reconciling with God and with others, etc.
     The road to heaven is not laxity. Laxity is the "wide road" that many choose to take.

August 11, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... How is your hearing?

     Clergy must always strive to preach well. At the same time, it is necessary for lay people to be better hearers of the gospel. In his book, The Crisis of Bad Preaching, Fr. Joshua Whitfield deals with the subject of rectifying poor homiletics. At the end of the book he writes about improving one's hearing. Even a good homily will only be as effective as there are good hearers to receive it. As St. Paul says, "Faith comes through hearing."      

How can we improve our hearing?
      1. Read the Sunday readings in advance.
      2. Pray for your preachers.
      3. Expect the Holy Spirit to speak through the preachers.
      4. Strive to listen.
      5. Don't be overly concerned about the length of the homily.
      6. Listen for what inspires you.
      7. Listen to what might upset you.
     Provocative preaching belongs to the prophetic character of the Church.
     Jesus' first homily, given in His home town, enraged His listeners.
      He was speaking prophetically.
      8. After a homily, ask the question,
      "What am I to do to put this message into effect?"
      9. Talk about the homily afterward.
      Talking with family and friends after Mass
      can be a spiritual exercise.
      Not only can we gather something we may have missed,
      but also, we can grow closer to our fellow-disciples.
      Journaling and taking the homily to prayer, can also help.
     10. Remember the homily later in the week.

August 4, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... The Smoke of Satan

     Philip Lawler has written another book: The Smoke of Satan. The subtitle of this book says it all: "How Corrupt and Cowardly Bishops Betrayed Christ, His Church, and the Faithful... And What to do About it." The publisher cites three factors contributing to the failure of American bishops to deal with the current crises that plague the Church: they have failed in their duties to teach, to rule and to sanctify. Lawler's book presents the sad story.
     The inspiration for the title of the book comes from Pope Paul VI's famous quip: "Through some fissure, the smoke of Satan has entered the temple of God." The context for the quote is the tumult that followed the second Vatican Council. Lawler suggests that the "smoke of Satan" is not only a thing of the past, but also an ongoing factor in the life of the Church. Current examples include the way that certain bishops have handled clerical sexual misconduct.
     The book is not only about the sexual abuse crisis. The crisis simply fits into a context that has been with us for many decades. "Despite the grave losses that Catholicism has suffered during the past fifty years -- the thousands who have left the Church, the families that have broken apart, the priests and religious who have forsaken their vows, the parishes and schools that have been closed, -- bishops remain reluctant to calculate the total damages and identify the root causes of the disaster". He continues: "An honest appraisal of the past fifty years should brace us for the conclusion that there are many diocesan programs that should never have been launched, liturgical innovations that should never have been suggested, hymns that should never have been sung. There are also priests who should not have been ordained, religious who should never have taken vows, and couples who should never have married". The implicit question is, "Who's minding the store?" It should have been the bishops.
     The Smoke of Satan is well written and persuasive. Not only does it analyze the crisis in Church leadership, but also, it encourages everyone in the Church to make a difference. Fulton Sheen once said that it is the laity who will save the Church, not the clergy. To that end, Philip Lawler has compiled several lists of do's and don'ts for laity. He ends on a positive note: "Then stand back, keep praying, and prepare for the Catholic revival".

July 28, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... Teach us how to pray

     Every now and then, someone claims that he does not prefer to pray "formula" prayers. He would rather compose his own, We can compose our own prayers. Even children, with prompting, can pray spontaneously and in their own words. I would suggest, that although we can (and sometimes should) compose our own things to say to God, we should not neglect to pray the way Jesus taught us to pray. Music written by the great composers is better than anything we can compose. The same is true with prayer, and the Lord's Prayer in particular. Who is more qualified to teach us how to pray than Jesus Himself?
     The context for the prayer is given in the opening address: "Father". Calling Him "Father" should inspire within us two attitudes: the desire to be like Him and confidence in Him. How many Christians today have forgotten that they are children of God? (Sin, serious sin in particular, is compatible with our dignity as God's children.) "Father" also reminds us that prayer is a relational thing. We're not just saying words. We are talking to the Lord, in the language he gave us.
     "Give us this day our daily bread." "Here, we recognize the Lord as the source of all that is good. We entrust to Him our daily needs (while not shirking our responsibilities).
     "Forgive us our trespasses." This is the only petition with a condition attached to it: "as we forgive those who trespass against us." In other words, we make a pledge of our ongoing responsibility to forgive all who have hurt us (and anticipate doing so for anyone who will hurt us in the future).
     "Lead us not into temptation," does not mean to suggest that God leads us into temptation. "God tempts no one" (as St. James reminds us). It means only that He spare us from being tempted. Failing that, we are praying that we not succumb to temptation. We must be vigilant, lest we fall into sin. The Lord's Prayer helps us with this challenge.
     "Deliver us from evil" was originally, "deliver us from the evil one. This includes all evils (past, present and future) of which the devil is the author or instigator. We do not know why the Lord permits evil spirits to have a certain freedom in the world. We must not be naive to think that we can stand up against them without God. Ultimately, the devil has one aim, to subvert us so that we will never go to heaven. We are praying for deliverance from such a terrible fate.

July 7, 2019

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From the Pastor.......... Passing on the faith

     Everyone who believes in Jesus Christ and strives to live out his baptismal commitment is the beneficiary of a gift given to Him by God, through others. Without the Christian influence, witness and proclamation of the Gospel by others, none of us would have the faith. With this in mind, we have to be ready to do our part to make it possible for others to accept the gift of salvation in Christ. How do we do that?
     Evangelization means bringing the Good News of Jesus into every human situation and seeking to convert individuals and society by the divine power of the gospel itself.
     What is so important about knowing Jesus Christ? St. John tells us that it is a matter of life and death. "This is eternal life, that they may know you the only true God and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (17.3). St. Peter said: There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name in the whole world given to men by which we are to be saved" (Acts. 4.12). Jesus Himself said (Mk 16.16): "The man who believes in the (Gospel) and accepts baptism will be saved; the man who refuses to believe in it will be condemned." If we take these words seriously, there is no room for indifferentism. There is no salvation without Jesus Christ, for anyone. We must not be an elite group: "We are saved and others are not."
     Be a witness yourself. Remember, no one will listen to what you have to say unless you're living the faith yourself, (And sometimes you won't need to say anything; your witness will be enough. St. Francis told his friars: Preach and if need be, use words.) Be kind to people. Be understanding. Be forgiving. Be patient. Serve others. Use the sacrament of penance wisely. Ask yourself, what kind of Christian example have I given to others who do not have the faith? (Christians who do not practice the faith impede evangelization.)
     Pray. Be devoted to the Lord. Remember unbelievers in your prayers. Look to the example of St. Monica (it took thirty years). Have Masses offered for "special intentions" (i-e., particular unbelievers). The Mass is a very powerful means of intercession because it is Jesus praying to His Father. Remember, conversion is a function of grace.

June 23, 2019

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"This is my body" (Mt 26:26)

     We believe in the true presence of the actual glorified body of Jesus Christ in this sacrament:      "The greatest mystery of the Christian faith is that God came to us in the body, suffered with us in the body, rose in the body, and gave us his body as food. No religion takes the body as seriously as the Christian religion."
     "The body is not seen as the enemy or as prison of the spirit, but celebrated as the Spirit's temple. Through Jesus' birth, life, death, and Resurrection, the human body has become part of the life of God. By eating the body of Christ, our own fragile bodies are becoming intimately connected with the risen Christ and thus prepared to be lifted up with him into the divine life. Jesus says, 'I am the living bread which has come down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever and the bread that I shall give is my flesh, for the life of the world'. (Jn 6:51)
     "It is in union with the body of Christ that we come to know the full significance of our own body. Our own body is much more than a mortal instrument of pleasure and pain. It is a home where God wants to manifest the fullness of the divine glory. This truth is the most profound basis for the moral life. The abuse of the body - whether it be psychological (e.g., instilling fear), physical (e.g., torture), economic (e.g., exploita- tion), or sexual (e.g., hedonistic pleasure seeking) - is a distortion of true human destiny: to live in the body eternally with God. The loving care given to our bodies and the bodies of others is therefore a truly spiritual act, since it leads the body closer towards its glorious existence.
     "The feast of the body of Christ is given to us to fully recognize the mystery of the body and to help us find ways to live reverently and joyfully in the body in expectation of the risen life with God" EWTN

June 16, 2019

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From EWTN on the Holy Trinity

     Perhaps the deepest, the most profound of all mysteries is the mystery of the Trinity. The Church teaches us that although there is only one God, yet, somehow, there are three Persons in God. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Spirit is God, yet we do not speak of three Gods, but only one God. They have the same nature, substance, and being.
     We came to know this immense mystery because Christ revealed it to us. Just before ascending He told them:
"Go teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit" (Matthew 28:19).
We know that these Three are not just different ways of looking at one person. For at the Last Supper, Jesus told us: "I came forth from the Father." So He is different from the Father. But He also promised: " If go, I will send Him [the Paraclete] to you. . . . He will guide you to all truth" (John 16:28, 7, 13). So the Holy Spirit is also different.
      Even though the Three Persons are One God, yet they are distinct: for the Father has no origin, He came from no one. But the Son is begotten, He comes from the Father alone. The Holy Spirit comes or proceeds from both the Father and the Son. These different relations of origin tell us there are three distinct Persons, who have one and the same divine nature.
     Even though everything the Three Persons do outside the Divine nature is done by all Three, yet it is suitable that we attribute some works specially to one or the other Person. So we speak of the Father especially as the power of creation, of the Son as the wisdom of the Father, of the Holy Spirit as goodness and sanctification.      EWTN

The Twelve Promises of the Sacred Heart

The Sacred Heart of Jesus
      As given by Our Lord to Saint Margaret Mary
- I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
- I will give peace in their families.
- I will console them in all their troubles.
- They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of death.
- I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
- Sinners shall find in My Heart the source and infinite ocean of mercy.
- Tepid souls shall become fervent.
- Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
- I will bless the homes in which the image of My Sacred Heart shall be exposed and honored.
- I will give to priests the power to touch the most hardened hearts.
- Those who propagate this devotion shall have their name written in My Heart, and it shall never be effaced.
- | promise thee in the excess of the mercy of My Heart,
that its all-powerful Love will grant to all those who shall receive Communion
on the First Friday of Nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance;
they shall not die under My displeasure, nor without receiving the Sacraments;
My Heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

June 2, 2019

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From the Pastor ... What is heaven like

     Jesus talks more about hell than He does about heaven. This was not because He was obsessed with the netherworld, but because He wants to save as many people as possible from eternal perdition. There is no happiness without God. Therefore, anyone who does not get to heaven will be in misery for all eternity. We need God. We need toshare in His life and love. This is ultimately fulfilled in heaven. So, what makes heaven heaven?
     Some funeral homilists, today, speak of heaven in very earthly terms (e.g., playing golf or having a good time forever), implying, I suppose, that heaven is a permanent "vacation" of some sort. Clearly, speaking of heaven in this way does not do justice to it (to say the least). It is not difficult to demonstrate that an abundance of earthly goods and pleasures do not in and of themselves make anyone happy. Heaven is eternal happiness (not eternal pleasure or amusement).
     True happiness must therefore be based on something spiritual. The Bible connects happiness with holiness. The beatitudes speak of the spiritual qualities that make for happiness, a happiness which the world cannot give. (I can recall a television documentary about a community of monks. The television crew was amazed that there was so much joy in the monastery, even with their poverty, chastity and obedience.)
     What makes heaven heaven is the presence of God, who is all holy, and sharing in the life of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in a way that far surpasses our share in His life on earth (which begins in baptism and is forfeited by serious sin). Heaven, then, is not so much a place, as it is a life (a life that begins here with grace). Heaven is "abundant life". A house is a building; a home has a heart. Heaven is more of a home.
     St. Paul speaks of heaven as being with Jesus. Heaven is personal. He said this when he was on death row: "I long to be freed from this life and to be with Christ?" (Phil 1.23).
     Heaven also includes the friends of God: the saints and angels. Our dearest friend, among this group, will be the Blessed Virgin Mary. Heaven is perfect communion with the Lord and all who are in communion with Him. Everybody in heaven will be friends with the saints, by definition.

May 19, 2019

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From the Pastor ... Jesus's new commandment

Jesus said that His commandment to love others is "new". Why? It is new because it is revolutionary. The scope goes beyond anything that Moses (or anyone else) ever said. What do I mean? Love your enemies; pray for your persecutors (Mt 5.44).  Many of us remember when Pope John Paul II met with his would-be killer and forgave him in his jail cell. What about the many people who don't have enemies or persecutors?. Whether or not we have "enemies", we all need to bear wrongs patiently and readily forgive others.
      The commandment is new because it applies in every day and age. For example, the Catholic Church is the greatest purveyor of social services the world has ever known:
a) the first hospital in Cleveland by Bishop Rappe for returning Civil War veterans, The hospital still exists, it is St. Vincent Charity Hospital. Bishop Rappe also sponsored orphanages (he was called "father of orphans") and many parochial schools;
b) countless religious orders have been founded to take care of the needs of the infirm and the needy (e.g., the Hawthorn Dominicans, the Missionary Sisters of Charity),
c) "personal charity": the saints provide the best example of the extension of charity received from the Lord, to others: St. Thomas More and his ministry to expectant mothers. Needless to say, there are many opportunities to assist the needy today.
     The commandment is new because it is not merely a prohibition. It tells us what we should do. This will apply up to the Last Judgment where Jesus mentions the poor, the sick, and the imprisoned. "Whatever you did to one of these least ones, you did unto me." Sins of omission offend charity. It can be rather sobering to think that we will also be judged on what we failed to do.
     The commandment is new because it demands many applications. St. Gianna Beretta Molla died in 1962 due to complications from the birth of her fourth child. Gianna was the last saint to be canonized by Pope John Paul II. She could have had an operation that would have saved her life, but not the baby's. She wanted, more than anything, that the baby's life be saved. The baby is now 57 years-old. Didn't Jesus say, there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends? And "let the little children come unto me?" Gianna did not have to do what she did. It was'a heroic act. St. Gianna's great love indicts a contraceptive and abortive culture in which children are often unwelcome.

May 12, 2019

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From the Pastor ... Pray for Vocations

     One of the most endearing images of Jesus, found even on the walls of the catacombs, is that of the Good Shepherd. He is pictured holding a lamb over His shoulder or close to His heart. This image is right out of the Bible. King David started out as a shepherd of sheep. Later he became a shepherd of people. When Jesus looked out at the vast crowd, it reminded Him of a large flock of sheep. He lamented that they looked like sheep without a shepherd. And in John 10, Jesus says, "I am the Good Shepherd". Why did Jesus use this image? People are not sheep, of course. But there are certain things that we have in common with sheep: we need care, we need protection, we need direction.
     The fourth Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, is fittingly "world day of prayer for vocations". This is because the Lord employs some people to be shepherds of His flock as priests or religious. Most of the sacraments require a priest's involvement. Certainly, there would be no Mass (Eucharist) without priests. And without the Eucharist, there would be no Church. Our diocese is fortunate to have two seminaries (Borromeo and St. Mary's). These institutions provide for the formation of candidates to the priesthood. I went through four years of formation at St. Mary's (when it was located on Ansel Road in Cleveland). My ordination class is a total of 19. In those days (I was ordained in 1982), the numbers of ordinations were always in double digits. In recent years (since the 1990s), while we manage to have ordinations each year, the numbers are much lower (three to five, perhaps). Some people speak of a shortage of priests. Certainly, every priest is valuable. It is always a sad thing to lose a priest, or to lose a prospective vocation.
     We have to remember that priests generally come from solid, Catholic home environments. When we consider that the second largest "religious group" in the U.S. consists of inactive Catholics, it puts things into perspective. If there is a vocations crisis, it begins in the home.
     Please pray for the young men who will be ordained at our cathedral on May 18th. Also, remember our seminarians, especially our own Christopher Stein, in your prayers. Please pray for all priests and religious, for their continued fidelity.

From the Pastor ... Death, where is your victory?

     "It is in regard to death that man's condition is most shrouded in doubt" (Vatican II). No one wants to die. The human person recoils at the prospect of bodily decay and the end of earthly existence. Leo Tolstoy, in The Death of Ivan Ilyich, tells the story of a man who coped with his death by simply not thinking about it. He was able to do this until he had a fatal accident. The looming specter of death terrified him. Today, there are, likewise, many successful, worldly people, whose horizon is limited to what they can see and touch.
     Faith in Christ is urgent because it is the only thing that is able to address, adequately, human mortality. Jesus, who rose from the dead bodily, promises a like resurrection to all who embrace Him in faith. What amazes me is that there are many Catholics who do not make any connection between Jesus's resurrection and the hope that is in store for those who love Him. For them, the resurrection of Jesus is limited to Him and has nothing to do with us on a practical level. We must get the word out that we believe in the resurrection of the body, not only Jesus's body, but also our own (provided that we persevere in the faith).
     Jesus set up His Church to provide the means for people to live the life of resurrection, starting with baptism. The sacrament of penance ("confession") allows people to maintain their baptismal purity. (Jesus founded this sacrament on the evening of Easter. See John 20). In the sacrament of the Eucharist, Jesus fills people with the seeds of eternity: "He who feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has life eternal, and I will raise him up on the last day" ().
     What can we do, then, about death? Live the faith. Live a sacramental life. Pray. Make the Sunday Mass the high point of the week. Keep the teachings of the Church. Strive to be Christ-like in thought, word and deed. With Jesus, we will not perish after death. We will rise to a new and glorious life.
     Alleluia! Alleluia!

March 24th, 2019

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From the Pastor ... The ministry of the confessional

     Last Wednesday evening, the diocese of Cleveland's "Evening of Confession" took place. This special evening started several years ago. Each parish is asked to make available, once a year, several hours of confessions. More people are catching on to it. This year I heard 37 confessions. {The first year I heard only 4: although the weather was quite inclement). Last year, there were 50 confessions at Immaculate Conception.
     As a follow up to the evening of confession, the diocese sent out surveys asking for priests' input. The comment I made was to the effect that whereas I believe that much good comes out of the evening of confession, there is much more that can be done to promote the sacrament. For example, what about the rest of the year? In many parishes, the amount of time offered for confession, in a typical week, is hardly adequate. For example, 30 minutes each week, or confessions by appointment only. I am happy that many people take advantage of the confessional opportunities at this parish, both at the regular Saturday times, and on Sunday mornings. Last weekend I was in the confessional for two and a half hours, total. I was not merely "sitting in the box". I was quite busy. Many people received the benefits of the sacrament. I often hear the confessions of people who have been away from the sacraments for years. And then, there are the "regulars". But, every Catholic should partake of the sacrament regularly, who is not otherwise impeded. I use the sacrament myself (as every priest should; most do, I am sure). It helps people to maintain the life of grace (or to regain it, if they have lost it through mortal sin), which is so necessary for life here and in the world to come.
     If you have not been to confession in a while, why not make it a point to do so during this Lenten season? If you are hesitant because you are not sure of what to say {because it has been so long since your last confession), pick up a good examination of conscience flyer. Check our literature rack, see me, or look for one on the Internet. There are plenty of good guides for confession available.

March 3rd, 2019

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From the Pastor ... Lent begins this week

     This Wednesday begins the penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday, all the Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday, are days of abstinence from meat. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are also days of fasting. (The age requirements are indicated in another part of this bulletin.) Ash Wednesday is not a holy day of obligation, but people are encouraged to come to Mass on that day. What about the other days of Lent? Everyone is encouraged to practice various forms of penance (e.g., different types of fasting), prayer, and the giving of alms (i.e., charity). The bishops of the U.S., in their 1966 document, state: "we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."
     The parish will be providing opportunities for spiritual studies. These include Bible study on Monday nights, contemplative prayer class on Tuesday evenings, and another Bible study on Tuesday evenings. There are also various devotional activities: Eucharistic exposition until 9:00 p.m. on Wednesdays, communal rosary before Masses, Stations of the Cross on Fridays after weekday morning Masses and at 7:00 p.m. And, of course, we have daily Masses, and confessions. As usual, the church will be opened for many hours during each day. Come and visit the Blessed Sacrament. Pray the rosary or the Divine Mercy chaplet. Take a pamphlet from the literature rack for spiritual reading....
     The purpose of Lent is to prepare ourselves to renew our baptismal promises on Easter: to reject sin and Satan; to profess and live the Catholic faith, so as to live the mystery of resurrection, now and in the life to come.

February 24th, 2019

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From the Pastor ... Are we allowed to "judge"?

     Which verse in the Bible is most misunderstood in today's culture? "Do not judge and you will not be judged."
     Many people seem to think that Jesus is telling us not to evaluate behavior. Everyone has an obligation to judge people's behavior, especially when one has certain responsibilities. For example, a parent who refuses to judge his children's behavior is not a good parent. A supervisor who turns a blind eye to his subordinates' behavior is malfeasant.
     Judging behavior is not wrong. Rash judging people is another story. Rash judging means to believe the worst about someone without sufficient evidence. I should not assume that a particular person is guilty of some moral fault, if I don't even know him, for example. And if someone repeats something about a third party, which is derogatory, challenge him. "Where did you get this information?" "Why are you telling me this." lf the information seems to be true, let us at least pray for the person.
     It is a work of mercy to admonish sinners or to instruct the ignorant. Don't fall for the ploy: "You're being judgrnental". Often, a person will hide behind this, whose moral faults have been brought to light. lt is important for everyone to be open to correction and criticism. Otherwise, we will never grow. The virtue needed here, is humility.
     Humility, though, is a "two-way street". The one doing the correcting must not be hypocritical. Jesus said to take the "plank" from one's own eye ?rst. before correcting one's neighbor about the speck in his eye. In telling us not to judge, Jesus explains Himself: "Do not condemn and you will not be condemned." Condemning someone doesn't mean correcting him when he needs to be corrected, it means, for example, assuming that someone is in a state of mortal sin. or that a person is going to hell (as some "fundamentalists" assume about all Catholics).
     Jesus did not avoid contact with sinners: prostitutes. extortionists ("tax-collectors"), people who failed to honor their parents (certain scribes and pharisees). He showed them good will in an effort to open them up to the truth. He told the woman at the well that He knew that she was living with a man who was not her husband, in order to open her tip to changing her life ( see John 4). And, remember how he handled the woman caught in adultery. He did not condemn her. He forgave her, but also told her to avoid the sin in the future (see John 8).

February 17th, 2019

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From the Pastor ... Unwanted Babies

     What can we do about the plethora of unwantedfabandoned infants? In 2000, a the body of an abandoned newbom was found in a vacant lot on St. Clair Avenue in Cleveland. With the help of the authorities I was able to retrieve the body, give the baby a name ("John Raymond"), and offer a funeral Mass and burial services. With the help of a good friend, we established the Babies' F uneraf F zmd, to help defray the cost of burying unwanted infants.
     Since that time, there have been IS more such children. One baby's body was found in a construction site near Akron. (We named him "Benjamin John"). This baby was found on March 30, 2005 at 24 weeks from conception. In 2009, three abandoned stillborn infants were found, named, and given a respectful burial. In 2013, three more children's bodies were retrieved, from 18 weeks gestation, to 24 weeks. One of these abandoned bodies was found in an attic in Ashtabula County, another at a waste-water treatment plant in Solon. Again, they were named and given a ?tting burial.
     This past January 26th, I buried our first aborted child. We named the child "Chris". Chris would have graduated high school last year, but was aborted on June 8, 2000. The child's remains had been in the freezer for 19 years. We are grateful to the Brecksville Police Department and detective Brian Scabbo, for his resolve that baby Christ be given a digni?ed burial.
     Presently, certain public officials in our country are doing everything in their power to promote the extermination of pre-born children, and even celebrating it, such as demonstrated by the governor of New York. Once you allow for the taking of pre-born children's lives, it opens the door to taking the lives of children even after birth. The governor of Virginia, for example, is trying to legitimize this a ghastly practice. Where will this end?


      February 10th, 2019       
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From the Pastor ... Polling and the resurrection

     I'll give you an example of an apostolic teaching that too many Catholics have relegated to the categories of either being only "somewhat important" or "not important at all". The teaching is that of the resurrection. The findings from one such survey indicate that 16% of the Catholics polled considered the resurrection to be only "somewhat important to me" or "not important at all". One might suggest that since 16% is a minority, we should not be concerned. After all, it seems that over 30% of the people say that the resurrection is "very important" to them, and there are other elements of the survey that show greater discrepancy with Catholic faith or practice. I would answer, 16% is a rather large minority. Second, where to these people derive their hope? Apparently, not in the resunection. Why do I say this? Because these people indicate in the survey that it is not "very important" to them.
     Without the resurrection, our faith is in vain. This is what St. Paul says in
1 Cor:15. In other words, without resurrection, the Catholic faith becomes something like an empty package. There is no substance to it. How can we be sure that the resurrection happened? The Church tells us so, going back to the very beginning. St. Paul tells us in today's second reading that many people saw the risen Jesus. In fact, 500 members of the Church saw the resurrected Christ at one time. He specifically mentions Peter ("Cephas"). Also Paul himself saw the risen Christ in a wholly unique way, after His ascension into heaven.
     The Church's very existence is premised upon the reality of the resurrection. Our faith is not a matter of religious opinions. It is a response to the truth. We must be thankful that there is a Church, or we wouldn't know Jesus. We wouldn't know anything about the resurrection, and we would have no hope. Why would we have no hope? Because the resurrection of Jesus is the principle and source of the resurrection of the faithful Christian. We begin the resurrected life at baptism. Along with faith (and perseverance in the faith), we live a new life which death cannot overcome.


      February 3rd, 2019       
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From the Pastor ... Are you a prophet?

     The answer is given in the Rite of Baptism: "As Christ was anointed priest, prophet and king, may you live always as a member of his body, sharing everlasting life." We are called to be prophets. What does this mean
     A prophet is not someone who predicts the future. Few of us would quality A prophet, instead, is a witness to the truth. In general, a prophet is someone who professes the truth of God publicly. We exercise our baptismal consecration as prophets every time we make the sign of the cross in public {e.g., in a restaurant), enter a church, or genuflect to the tabernacle. We live up to our commitment as prophets when we speak up in defense of the truth or live out the teachings of Jesus. Any act of Christian witness is an act of prophecy.      A prophet is not satisfied with merely observing the law; he is concerned with bearing witness to Jesus (remember, Jesus fulfills the law). He looks at every element and expression of his lifestyle and asks: "How does this bear witness to the teaching of Jesus Christ?" He looks at the way he spends his time, how he spends his money, what he eats and drinks, how he speaks to people at home and at work. how he dresses, how he drives, how he uses the media, etc.
     A prophet courageously denounces evil. We remember John the Baptist who died because he defended the bond of marriage before a king who was living in an illicit relationship. Today, we have politicians who are promoting the culture of death. and even celebrating it {e.g.. the governor of New York). People who promote evil. in any form are anti-prophets.
     A prophet takes the opportunity to spread the gospel to others {"evangelization"}. The last thing Jesus told us to do, before He ascended in heaven, "baptize and teach all nations." The priest exercises this responsibility" liturgically, sacramentally, and through teaching the faith. Lay people should be available to assist the priest, when needed. Primarily, though, the laity must take their place in the world and perform their mission there. {Jesus said, "Go into the whole world....") The world means the family {Christian parents are the primary and irreplaceable catechists oftheir children) and the world outside the home. We all know people who have stopped practicing the faith, as well as many who are unhaptized. They need Jesus, too.


      January 20th, 2019       
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From the Pastor ... Save the children

     Tuesday, Jan. 22nd is a special day of prayer and penance for the legal protection of unbom children. The day is the anniversary of the Supreme Court's disastrous decision of 1973, Roe V. Wade. Since then, there have been 60 million surgical abortions in our country alone. There are 4,000 each day. Abortion is the leading cause of death in America.
     When you look at a class photograph of anyone born after January 22, 1973, you can add (mentally) unfilled silhouettes, totaling, perhaps, 30 % ofthe class, representing children of youths who were not allowed to make the journey through the birth canal. The number of missing people vastly increases when we consider that all of the descendants of these children will never come into existence.
     The effect of such a large scale loss of life is incalculable. Each child is a unique creation of God and cannot be replaced. For example, I am reminded of the story of the woman who sought an abortion (in the year 1770). She had a number of children. The father had syphilis and there was deafness in the family. Apparently, she was talked out of taking her child's life. He was born. Later in life he would become deaf. He grew up to become very famous. His name was Ludwig von Beethoven. Sarah Smith was born in 1970 to a woman who thought she had aborted her. Instead, the abortion only took the life of her twin brother. Gianna Jensen survived a saline-solution abortion, while in the womb of her mother. Today Gianna is a young woman afflicted with cerebral palsy (because of the abortion attempt). She is grateful for the gift of life and has inspired audiences worldwide with her singing and personal testimony.
     Roe v. Wade has contributed to an erosion in our society's valuation of life. The major media, certain international organizations (the U.N. included), certain departments of the government, and even some of the "mainline" churches have been seduced into thinking that human life is disposable. And, even worse, there are organizations and individuals who pro?t from the grisly abortion industry (e.g., Planned Parenthood cashes in on 1,000 abortions each day). Killing children in the womb is a big business.


      January 6th, 2019       
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From the Pastor.... What can we learn from the magi?

    In Biblical times, it was thought that the Jews had a "monopoly" on salvation. The three wise men were non-Jews who came to worship Jesus. During Jesus ministry 2,000 years ago, he directed Himself primarily to Jews, but there were times when he helped "Gentiles" or "pagans": e.g., He healed the Roman soldier's serving-boy. He healed the daughter of the Syro-Phoenician woman....
    After His ascension into heaven, Jesus made it clear that He wanted His salvation to apply to all. He said to His apostles (the Church): "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...." The visit of the magi tells us that God opened the doors of salvation to all people, unfortunately, though, not everyone puts in the time or the effort to find God and enter into eternal life.
    Case in point: the magi traveled quite a distance to find Jesus. They kept searching. Contrast this with King Herod and his (apathetic) Jewish advisors, who knew where Jesus was to be born, but they were not interested in finding Him themselves. God's kingdom is for everyone, but not everyone looks for it. Jesus says that a person who hears His words but does not act on them is like a man who builds his house on sand. The house will end up in ruins. This message is repeated over and over again in various parables.
    God's word is contradicted by our modern culture which tells us that everyone is going to heaven. The Bible never says this. The story of the magi tells us about people who sincerely searched for Christ and found him. Unfortunately, today, not everyone is interested in searching for Him sincerely. The moral of the story is: live the faith. Never take it for granted. And let other people know about Jesus.


      December 30th, 2018       
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From the Pastor.... What is a parish?

     For many centuries there were no parishes as we understand them. There were Catholics. of course. There were priests and bishops. There was a pope. It wasn't until the 16th century that the Church officially recognized and saw to the existence of parishes in every city. Jesus established the Church. But He said nothing about parishes. We could say that a parish is a happy development because it ensunes the presence of a pastor appointed by the bishop, and a fixed community of the faithful. A resident priest allows for the regular celebration of the sacraments, with the Sunday Eucharist being the center of parish life.
     Most people's experience of church is in a parish setting. People are baptized, spiritually nurtured, and prepared to meet the Lord at the moment of death. A parish is a school of formation, besides being a place to meet for the celebration of the sacraments. A parish is also a community of communities (with the family being the most basic community). This newsletter is a look at our parish [] over the past several months. I thank everyone who works so hard to make our parish what it is. not insist on our own way. We are honest before God and before our confessor.


      December 9th, 2018       
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From the Pastor.... Prepare the Way for the Lord

     Advent brings to us John the Baptist's famous words: "Make straight the way of the Lord. Fill in the valleys and level the mountains." John, of course, was not talking about road construction, but about something spiritual: conversion of heart.
     How do we make "crooked ways" straight? We do this by repenting. How? Daily examinations of conscience and regular confession go a long way to this end. In order to "get a handle" on sin, we have to be able to say what sins we have committed. Silence, in this regard, is a great ally of the devil. And we must be careful not to deceive ourselves into thinking that we are without sin. (There is only one Immaculate Conception.) As 1 John 8 states: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us."
     There are people (many confessors can tell you this) who are very meticulous about confessing their sins, but they do not have much of an idea about changing their lives. I am thinking about the type of penitent who may come in with a "laundry list" of serious sins, only to repeat these sins again and again. The idea of the sacrament of penance is not merely confessing sins. It is supposed to lead to repentance, which, in turn, means changing one's life for the better.
     In a certain sense, all sins are valleys that must be filled. Sin is not merely an utterance, deed or desire that is contrary to God’s law. It is, more profoundly, a defect in any one of a number of virtues. Failing to trust in God is a defect in the virtue of hope. Failing to show someone kindness would be a defect in the virtue of charity. Failing to meet some obligation toward another person would be a defect in the virtue of justice. Evil actually does not exist (in and of itself). It is more of a lack of a good that should be present. We should examine ourselves in light of virtues in which we are lacking. What are these virtues? The basic seven are faith, hope and charity: justice, temperance (self-control), fortitude, prudence. There are many more. Virtues can be strengthened and exercised (and they should be, otherwise they will grow weak).
     What does it mean "to level mountains"? Spiritually, this expression refers to the need to practice humility. We do so by accepting correction and criticism without being argumentative. We admit our faults. We do not brag about accomplishments nor use ourselves as examples of dexterity, intelligence, and so forth. We do not look down on other people. We do not insist on our own way. We are honest before God and before our confessor.

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Examination of Conscience - 10 Commandments

1    I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
  Do I give God time every day in prayer?
  Do I seek to love Him with my whole heart?
  Have I been involved with superstitious practices or have I been involved with the occult?
  Do I seek to surrender myself to God's Word as taught by the Church?
  Have I ever received Communion in a state of mortal sin?
  Have I ever deliberately told a lie in confession or have I withheld a mortal sin from the priest in confession?

2    You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
  Have I used God's name in vain: lightly or carelessly?
  Have I been angry with God?
  Have I wished evil upon another person?
  Have I insulted a sacred person or abused a sacred object?

3    Remember to keep holy the Lord's Day Holy
  Have I deliberately missed Mass on Sundays or Holy Days of Obligation?
  Have I tried to observe Sunday as a family day and a day of rest?
  Do I do needless work on Sunday
  Do I trust that God will care for all of my material and spiritual needs?

4    Honour your Father and your Mother.
  Do I honour and obey my parents?
  Have I neglected my duties to my spouse and children?
  Have I given my family good religious example?
  Do I try to bring peace into my home life?
  Do I care for my aged and infirm relatives?

5    You shall not kill.
  Have I had an abortion or encouraged anyone to have an abortion?
  Have I physically harmed anyone?
  Have I abused alcohol or drugs?
  Did I give scandal to anyone, thereby leading them into sin?
  Have I been angry or resentful?
  Have I harbored hatred in my heart?
  Have I mutilated myself through any form of sterilization?
  Have I encouraged or condoned sterilization?

6    You shall not commit adultery.
  Have I been faithful to my marriage vows in thought and action?
  Have I engaged in any sexual activity outside of marriage?
  Have I used any method of contraception or artificial birth control in my marriage?
  Has each sexual act in my marriage been open to the transmission of new life?
  Have I been guilty of masturbation?
  Have I sought to control my thoughts?
  Have I respected all members of the opposite sex, or have I thought of other people as objects?
  Have I been guilty of any homosexual activity?
  Do I seek to be chaste in my thoughts, words and actions?
  Am I careful to dress modestly?

7    You shall not steal.
  Have I stolen what is not mine?
  Have I returned or made restitution for what I have stolen?
  Do I waste time at work, school or at home?
  Do I gamble excessively, thereby denying my family of their needs?
  Do I pay my debts promptly?
  Do I seek to share what I have with the poor?

8    You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
  Have I lied?
  Have I gossiped?
  Have I spoken behind someone else's back?
  Am I sincere in my dealings with others?
  Am I critical, negative or uncharitable in my thoughts of others?
  Do I keep secret what should be kept confidential?

9    You shall not desire your neighbor's wife.
  Have I consented to impure thoughts?
  Have I caused them by impure reading, movies, conversations or curiosity?
  Do I seek to control my imagination?
  Do I pray at once to banish impure thoughts and temptations?

10    You shall not desire your neighbor's goods.
  Am I jealous of what other people have?
  Do I envy the families or possessions of others?
  Am I greedy or selfish?
  Are material possessions the purpose of my life?

2846 Hubbard Road, Madison, Ohio 44057
December 16, 2018


      December 2nd, 2018       
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From the Pastor.... The Disappearance of Advent

     What ever happened to Advent? Weeks before the first candle of the Advent wreath is illuminated, display windows, restaurants, television and print advertisements (and even some homes) begin displaying Christmas decorations. Further, the concern about the “disappearance” of Advent pales in comparison to what our society has done to Christmas. Many seasonal displays and programs give the impression that we are merely celebrating a winter holiday, rather than the birth of Jesus.
     Let’s start with our home. Even in a family whose celebrations have evolved to the point where little of the Christ-Child matters any more, the gentle suggestion to add an Advent wreath to the home’s décor for the preceding weeks can deliver a subtle invitation to prepare inwardly.
     When the subject of Christmas parties (during the season of Advent) comes up among the neighbors, a fruitful response might be, “thanks for the invitation. I love Christmas gatherings! In our home we add to the joy by calling in friends for quieter and smaller gatherings that begin with some Advent prayers and lighting of the Advent wreath in the days before the actual arrival of Christmas. Do you know about this custom?” The introduction of very subtle activities can begin to draw family, friends, and neighbors to Christ at Christmas, when the culture exercises its influence to distract attention away from Him. Why not return to the habit of sending only religious Christmas cards? A secular card is not going to impress people. It will not inspire them to ask questions or think about the important things, the way that a conspicuously beautiful Madonna and Child will do.
     It is not necessary to harangue those who skip the season of Advent altogether. Simply refuse to do it yourself. Observe Advent and others will notice. Shop, prepare feasts and gifts as you need, but do not let your house become a warehouse for sales items or a workshop for processing and packaging merchandise. Share gifts beyond your circle of friends. Remember the poor and the lonely.
     Without castigating those who do not or will not, feature religious symbols in your business, workplace or home (yes, as much in the public arena as possible). You will have the consolation of knowing that you have put out the message that Jesus is our Savior and He is coming again.


      November 18th, 2018       
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From the Pastor.... How do we understand the "end of the world"?

     We must be sure that the “end of the world” (as it is popularly called) will come and that certain signs have already been given. The ?rst sign (which Jesus spoke about) was the destruction of Jerusalem in the year 70, along with the Jewish Temple. When the Roman Army invaded Jerusalem, there was so much destruction and turmoil that the people must have thought the world was ending. Their world was ending and a new one was starting. It is the world in which we live, sometimes called the "last days" or the "end times". What we call “A.D.“: the Year of the Lord.
     Jesus gives a list of them (in other places): wars, rumors of wars, persecutions of it's people, natural disasters. These things are happening now. Does this mean that the end is near? In a certain sense, the end is always near. These tribulations show us that the world is an unstable place, far from perfect. lts perfection is yet to come to pass. It will come to pass, but in God’s time and according to His plan. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of a new heaven and a new earth. The full restoration of creation can only take place when Jesus comes to establish fully His universal kingdom of justice, love and peace.
     What does this demand of us? (Some might think that it does not involve them. We will all be present for it.) It reminds us of the call to conversion which is incumbent upon all of us. The Book of Daniel speaks rather graphically about the final reckoning. “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake; some shall live forever, others shall be an everlasting horror and disgrace.” Jesus puts it a little differently, but with the same point. “The Son of Man, coming in the clouds with great power and glory...will gather his elect from the four winds. . . .”
     The tumult and injustice of the world will be conquered by Jesus when He returns in glory to judge the living and the dead. Evil, imperfection and sin will not have the last word. For this, we should be grateful.


      November 11th, 2018       
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From the Pastor.... Why pray for the dead?

     It is an ancient custom to pray for the dead. The Book of Maccabees tells us that the Jews were already doing it within 200 years of the coming of Jesus. The general, Judas Maccabcus, prayed for his fallen comrades who had all died in battle. lt was discovered that they had been wearing pagan amulets (which was a sin). Judas arranged for an expiatory sacrifice to be made on their behalf in the temple.
     It is clear from early inscriptions in the catacombs that the first Christians did the same. St. Augustine writes of his mother St. Monica. It seems that he and his brother were discussing, at her bedside, where she should be buried (she was near the end of her life). She interrupted her sons and said, "Never mind where you bury me. Remember me at the altar." St. Monica was a very devout Catholic who understood the power of the Mass for the living and the dead. (She lived in the fourth century.)
     To this day, the Catholic Church offers Masses for the dead. Any parish bulletin will list daily Masses along with the intention of the Mass. The intention is usually for someone who has died. Funeral Masses are offered not only for the consolation of the living, but also for the welfare of the deceased. Outside the Catholic Church this is often not the case. For example, when Princess Diana died, she had a grand funeral at Westminster Abbey. There were no prayers at the service for the repose of her soul. To help make up for this, Pope John Paul sent a telegram of sympathy to the queen in which he indicated that he would pray for the princess.
     The Church teaches that those who have died in God’s grace and friendship, but who are yet perfectly puri?ed, are indeed assured of their salvation, but alter death they undergo puri?cation so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven. (Cf. CCC #1030.) Puri?ed of what? Selfishness, defects in devotion, faults, attachments to venial sin, laziness, etc. (I recall the vision of the priest who appeared to a village girl who didn't recognize him. He said that he was in purgatory for celebrating many Masses perfunctorily.)
     There should be great consolation that we can help the dead with our prayers. A woman who had prayed for her husband's conversion for 30 years was distraught when he finally committed suicide. The parish priest (St. John Vianney) who had special gifts, told her that her husband was in purgatory. He repented before he hit the water. Never give up on anyone's salvation. Pray for the living and the dead..

From the Pastor...


      November 4th, 2018       
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Litany of the Saints

Lord have mercy,
Christ have mercy on us.
Christ hear us,
Christ graciously hear us.
God the Father, have mercy on us.
God the Son, have mercy on us.
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, have mercy on us.
Holy Mary, pray for us.
St. Michael, pray for us.
St. Gabriel, pray for us.
St. Raphael, pray for us.
All you holy angels and archangels, pray for us.
St. John the Baptist, R. pray for us.
St. Joseph, All you holy Patriarchs and prophets, pray for us
St. Peter, St. Paul, St. Andrew, St. James, St. John, St. Mary Magdalen, pray for us.
All you holy apostles and evangelists, All you holy martyrs, pray for us.
All you men and women, Saints of God, make intercession for us.
Be merciful, spare us, O Lord! Be merciful, graciously hear us, O Lord!
From all evil, O Lord, deliver us. From all sin, O Lord, deliver us.
From anger and hatred, O Lord, deliver us.
Through your death and resurrection, O Lord, deliver us.
In the day of judgement, O Lord, hear us.
That you would forgive us and all those we love, O Lord, hear us.
That you would grant peace and unity to all, O Lord, hear us.
That you would give rest to those who have died,. O Lord, hear us.
That you would lift up our minds to heavenly desires, O Lord, hear us.
Son of God, O Lord, hear us.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Graeiously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb ol' God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us.
Say the Lord's Prayer (Our Father...) and The Glory Be (Glory Be to the Father... etc)


      October 28th, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

How can you spot a saint?

     Catholics recognize many “official” saints. Popular ones include St. Francis of Assisi (even many non-believers know who he is. The U.S. Postal Service had a stamp of him at one time). There is St. Anthony (a statue/picture of whom is found in nearly every parish church). He is often relied upon to find lost items. There is St. Therese. (How many people receive roses after asking for her special help?)
     Some saints are known for extraordinary mystical gifts. Padre Pio worked many miracles and had the wounds of Christ on his body for 50 years. World War II pilots never bombed the monastery. Many reported seeing this giant monk in the sky. Joseph Cupertino (much to his embarrassment) used to float up to the rafters when in church. St. Catherine of Siena had the hidden stigmata and nearly every other mystical gift. What makes a saint, though, is not extraordinary endowments of this type (or most of us would not be eligible). To be a saint means to be very holy and, ultimately, to share in God’s life in heaven.
     How do we know whether we are saints in the making or how to spot the saints among us? St. Matthew (5.1-12) gives us a descriptive list of the qualities of these people. They strive to be like Jesus. They are poor in spirit (material wealth is not important to them). They bear their afflictions well (they bear wrongs patiently). They are gentle or meek (i.e., they are not disposed to anger). They are merciful (they are understanding toward other people’s defects). They are pure of heart (which includes chastity according to one's state in life), etc.
     The thing is, while on earth, we have to strive to be holy. It does not come easily. We need the assistance of the sacraments, prayer, penance, etc. But we can grow in holiness and become more like Jesus (which is what we are supposed to be striving to do). The problem is that too many people have standards that are much too low. “I didn’t kill anyone this week” (to say something like this in the confessional is to compare oneself with Al Capone, rather than Jesus). Many people seldom go to confession. Many are satisfied with a lackluster prayer-life. One woman even told me that a Catholic doesn’t have to go to Church. (I don’t know where she picked this up. You won’t find it in the writings of any of the saints!) We need not only saints in heaven. We need “saints” (unfinished though they may be) on earth. The world is always a better place to the extent that there are holy people influencing it.
     Thursday, Nov. 1st, is the feast of All Saints. It is (fittingly) a holy day of obligation.


      October 21st, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

"Could you not spend one hour with me?" This is Jesus's request, originally made to three of His closest collaborators on the night before He died. (See Mt 26.40). Jesus makes the same request of us. The good news is that, as Catholics, we have a tangible way of doing this: spending the time before Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. With that in mind, everyone is invited to come before Our Lord during our annual "40 Hours" devotion. The Eucharist will be exposed in our chapel (at the south end of the Gathering Area). ....
     There is no salvation without the cross: the cross of Jesus and our participation in this mystery. What forms does the cross take in the life of the Catholic? Anything that involves saying "yes" to God when it is not easy to do so. What are some of these things?
     For example, someone who resists the temptation to forgo Sunday Mass is dying to his own desire to stay home or to treat the day as any other day. That is the mystery of the cross in action, on a practical level. Yet, many people miss Mass regularly because it is not convenient for them. Some, rather than reforming, will even complain that the Church has too many "rules".
     Going to the sacrament of reconciliation can be painful, certainly humbling. This would explain why there are many people who rarely use the sacrament. Yet, Jesus did not shy away from doing things that were not attractive or easy. We have no excuses, if we take Jesus seriously.
     Any gesture of mercy is a participation in the mystery of the cross. The cross is a sign of God's love for us sinners. How do we show mercy to others? One way is to bear wrongs patiently. Jesus did so on the cross (and throughout His ministry). Forgiving others is another example of demonstrating mercy. Are you having any difticulty here? Make the sign of the cross for strength.
     The cross is a sign of penance and reparation for sin. Do we live lives of penance? There are three traditional forms: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These things ought to be part of the way we live even outside of Lent.
     Prayer itself can be a cross. It often carries with it difficulties, temptations, dryness. Yet, we cannot live without prayer.
     The cross is a sign of humility: God's humility. Do we try to practice this virtue? How do we handle correction or criticism? Do we always want to be noticed and highly regarded?


      October 14th, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

What difference does Jesus make in your life?

     Pastoral Column...
     What would be different about the way we lived if we stopped believing in Jesus? (Outside of not going to Mass….) What decisions/changes would we make if we were to stop believing in Jesus? To say, “I would hold up a bank or commit adultery” is not a valid answer. There are many people who are not “religious”, but who are, otherwise, "good citizens".
     Many people have a difficult time answering the question. Does Jesus make a difference and if so, how? I will give you a hint. A disciple is a “learner”. Jesus said, “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble of heart.” How do we learn from Him? We have to make the effort. It doesn’t come automatically. We should read the Sermon on the Mount, and strive to emulate what is presented. What does Jesus say, for instance, about praying for one’s enemies or forgiving others? What does Jesus say about the Christian’s attitude toward material possessions? (Blessed are the poor in spirit.) What does He say about suffering patiently (blessed are the sorrowing). What does He say about anger? (Blessed are the meek.) Then there is Mt 5:23-24: “If you bring your gift to the altar and there recall that your brother has anything against you, leave your gift at the altar, go first to be reconciled with your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
     Jesus leads us to a whole new way of life. The problem is that many people do not apply it to themselves. They strive to be “good” people, but not specifically “Christian”. Remember, Jesus told the rich, young man, “No one is good but God alone.” We can’t be “good” without God who is revealed to us by Jesus.
     Jesus calls people today, to be His disciples. He even calls some people to give up their homes, family, property, and so forth. Many in the Church have addressed this by living lives of voluntary poverty/celibacy. For example, There are many monks, nuns, and consecrated virgins, even today.
     Jesus is not talking only to priests, monks, nuns and single people who are celibate for the kingdom of God. He addresses Himself to everyone. Even the Catholic layperson, while living in the world and having a family and owning property, is never supposed to be entirely comfortable in his earthly circumstances. Everyone must have a spirit of detachment, regarding such things. Why? Our real home is heaven, and God must be first.


      October 7th, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

An Endangered Species

     The American bishops have designated the first Sunday in October Respect Life Sunday. Why? Because, there are 4,000 pre-born children each day (in our country) whose lives are purposely terminated while yet in the womb. And these deaths have the blessing of our nation’s Supreme Court and law enforcement system, since Jan. 22, 1973. Over 50 million of our own people have not been permitted to complete the journey down the birth canal. ( And, of course, these children will never have any descendants.) The effects of such a large-scale loss of life are incalculable. (The most important aspect of ecology is human ecology. People are our greatest asset.)
     Anyone born after Jan. 22, 1973 is a survivor. To class pictures and group photos of people under 45 years of age, you can add (mentally) unfilled silhouettes totaling as much as 30% of the class. These unfilled silhouettes are the peers who were never allowed to be born. What are the local abortion statistics? We lose about a classroom full of children every year, from Madison and Geneva (19 and 22 babies were aborted in 2016, respectively).
     We must hold that human life is sacred. Why? Because not only were we made in the image of God, but God Himself took on our nature and became one of us. He started out smaller than the head of a pin, in His mother's womb. He went through nine months of gestation, birth, and all phases of human development. He grew into manhood.
     Pray the rosary (this is the month of the rosary). Fast (Fridays is especially selected as the day of penance, because Jesus died on Friday). Be willing to instruct the doubtful. Help pregnant women. Assist those who need healing because of post-traumatic stress caused by abortion. There are many helping services, including the Bethesda House of Mercy in the Cleveland area and Project Rachel. Use the Internet to locate them. Participate in Rosary for Life: every first Saturday, interested parties meet in the church parking lot at 7:30 and travel to Cleveland for Mass at the Benedictine monastery, followed by prayer before the abortuary on Shaker Blvd. (the deadliest street in the city).


      September 23, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

The Ongoing Mess

     Different media outlets have been abuzz with stories pertinent to corruption in the Church. Corruption is a terrible thing. Unfortunately, it has always been with us. As far back as New Testament times, we have liars and hypocrites (see Acts 5.1-11), those who used religion for personal gain (Acts 8.9-24), conflicts among Church leaders Acts 15.36-41), disorder at worship ceremonies 1 Cor 11), various moral scandals (1 Cor 1-5), etc. Why? Because people are weak and we are all sinners in need of continuing reform. We all need guidance, strength to do the right thing, and the grace of God. We can all be saints, but we have to work on it. It doesn't happen automatically.
     This applies even to the clergy. Priests (and bishops) need to follow the moral laws and live lives of continuing conversion. Christians have to be careful about giving in to the secular culture, which has turned its back on God a long time ago. St. Paul reminds us (see 1 Cor 6.9f): "Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators [people who have sexual relations outside of marriage], nor idolaters, nor adulterers, ... nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor slanderers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God."
     Too many of our people (including some clergy) have been deceived by the world, and live lives that shut them out of God's kingdom. If a bishop has a priest in his diocese who is living an immoral life, he has to take action, even if the behavior is not a "crime" (e.g., sodomy with a "consenting adult"). The priest needs to be removed, and certainly, not promoted. If a bishop is living an immoral life, or he is allowing sins against the sixth commandment to go unchecked, among certain of his priests, the Holy Father needs to act.
     Finally, a bishop has to be careful not to rash judge any of his clergy. Allegations of misconduct need to be investigated and scrutinized. My home pastor was the victim of false accusations. He was treated as a pariah by his diocese for 16 years until his death, which took place a couple of weeks ago. Another priest, I know, counter sued and won the counter suit (because the accusations were false).


      August 12, 2018       
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Saving Marriage

St. Paul speaks about the union of husband and wife, in the context of the great mystery of Jesus and His love for His Bride
      The divorce rate is nearly 50% in this country. Laurence Stone, a professor of family history at Princeton, says that such a thing is unprecedented in recorded history. (There are 1,000 annulments each week, processed through U.S. marriage tribunals.) A divorced person may have had good reasons for divorce (sometimes people are victims of divorce), but without a Church annulment, cannot validly remarry (if the estranged spouse is still alive).
      Many people are not even getting married. (I remember one time interviewing a cohabiting couple. ("Why are you living together outside of marriage?" "We don't want to be divorced.") Each year, it seems, there are fewer and fewer weddings. What accounts for this? Cohabitation and a developing mentality among a certain segment of our secularized society that settling down to marry and raise a family is somehow quaint or even amusing.
      In a word, the solution is faith: faith in God. As society becomes more secularized, many fall away from faith and their appreciation for what God has made diminishes accordingly. God is the author of marriage and the Lord of life. We cannot maintain an authentic civilization when many people relegate God, to irrelevance.
      As Christians and Catholics, we also need to believe in Jesus. Jesus is the Savior. He said, "where two or three are gathered in my name, I am in their midst." One cannot exaggerate the importance of prayer (couples can pray together), participation in the Eucharist and regular reception of the sacrament of penance. The weakest point in any marriage is that the people involved are sinners who stand in need of Jesus' saving work. He is the Savior of marriage.
      The widespread acceptance and use of contraception/sterilization has not been good for the state of marriage in our country. The generosity of the spouses in welcoming children is important for their relationship to grow. Fertility is a gift from God. The first thing He ever said, as a commandment to His new human creatures: "Go forth and multiply...." If a couple has fertility problems, the Church advises adoption. There are many orphans and unwanted children in our society, who need parents. What about those who are having marital troubles? Turn your marriage over to God. Get help. Visit the Blessed Sacrament. Read the Scriptures together. Receive counseling. Call a priest. He can be a good first point of contact to assist couples. Retrouvaille is a successful marriage recovery program.


      August 12, 2018       
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The Glory of Mary

      Some years ago, I had the privilege of celebrating Mass at the purported House of Mary near the ancient city of Ephesus (in Turkey). There is an old tradition that she lived there before she departed from this world. Jesus had given her to the care of St. John who provided the house for her. The ruins of the house (which has since been rebuilt) were rediscovered according to the directions given by the German mystic Ann Catherine Emmerich. The house stands as a valuable relic, as there are no first class relics of Mary (i.e., bodily remains).
      That Mary was assumed into heaven is a belief that goes back many centuries. The feast had different names (e.g., the dormition). The Assumption was formally promulgated as a Catholic dogma in 1950 by Pope Pius XII. In the document promulgating this teaching, the Pope referred to the many cares, anxieties, and troubles that weighed down upon him during his pontificate, and at the same time the consolation he derived from Catholic devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Interestingly, World War II ended on Aug. 15, 1945. One can't imagine the number of prayers directed to the Mother of God to bring an end to the war. (Within eight blocks of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima, Japan, was a Jesuit church called "Our Lady's Assumption". The church and the four priests stationed there survived the explosion.)
      Our Lady's assumption into heaven is connected with her sinlessness, and the fact that she was redeemed ahead of time by her Son. Jesus and Mary are the only two people who are in heaven bodily (all the other saints have yet to rise bodily). Jesus and Mary are the progenitors of the redeemed human race: the new Adam and the new Eve.
      Wednesday, August 15th, is the feastday of the Assumption: a holy day of obligation.
See the Mass schedule


      August 5, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

Labor not for the Food that Perishes

      Whenever we ask our Father to give us this day our daily bread, we are asking Him (among other things) for material sustenance, without which we could not live. He is the one who provides such things. Having said this, Jesus warns us about laboring for the food that perishes. This is not to suggest that we do not need to work. (St. Paul said, "He who does not work should not eat."); nor is it to suggest that we do not need to eat. The human body requires food. In fact it would be a violation of the 5th commandment for a person to starve himself voluntarily. (Starvation is a terrible way to die.)
      A good example involves the famous entertainer and comedian, Bob Hope. Why did he live 100 years? He lived a long time because the Lord permitted it, and Mr. Hope took very good care of himself (as many entertainers will do). Notwithstanding his regimen of exercise and diet, his life in this world eventually came to an end. Health is a blessing (with which we should cooperate), but even people in the best of health eventually die.
      Recognizing this, Jesus said that we need more than the food that perishes. We need the food that only He can give us. We need Him: His truth, His mystery, His gifts. It is possible for someone to be well fed, but spiritually malnourished or even starving. Only Jesus can fill the human soul with what it needs. As He Himself said, "Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God."
Bob Hope was blessed with a wife who understood his need for something more than what the fruits of his career could provide. Delores Hope, a Catholic, prayed for her husband regularly. After retiring from show business, Bob became Catholic himself. He was baptized, received into the Church, made his first penance and First Communion. He died with a priest at his bedside.


      July 29, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      This month marks the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI's document Humanae Vitae. The document made several predictions about what would happen should artificial contraception be widely accepted and practiced. Women would be objectified. Marital infidelity would be adversely affected. The level of morality in the culture would deteriorate. Governments (such as ours) would try to impose contraceptive use as a condition for receiving foreign aid. The pope's predictions have all come true. If anything, they were understated. There is no doubt that the level of morality in our society has plummeted. The divorce rate has skyrocketed. Millions of children are unwanted. And, the more contraception, the more abortion (it is like fighting fire with gasoline). Planned Parenthood drums up its abortion business by first distributing contraceptives.
      Besides the moral and marital ill-effects of contraception, we have adverse medical effects. Recently, the largest and most comprehensive study on the link between oral contraceptive use and breast cancer, was conducted in Denmark. 1.8 million women were tracked in the new study, let by Lina Morch. The study found that women who used hormonal contraception had a 20 percent elevated risk for breast cancer, compare with those who had never used a hormonal method. It also showed that women who used hormonal contraception longer than 10 years saw their risk for breast cancer increase by almost 40 percent.
      If there is a good reason to postpone a pregnancy, the answer is Natural Family Planning. NFP has no ill-effects. It is safe and can also be used to help achieve a pregnancy.


      July 15, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      Presently, there is much fervor for the overturning of the disastrous Supreme Court rulings of Roe V. Wade and Doe V. Bolton. Together, these rulings have hamstrung the states in protecting pre-born children from the abortionists' suction machines. The reason for the fervor is the imminent appointment of a new Supreme Court justice. It is believed that the appointment of a pro-life justice will lead to a restoration of sanity, regarding people's respect for human life. If these Supreme Court decisions are overturned, there will still be much work to do in that the issue will revert to the states. Each state will have to put into effect laws that protect the tiniest among us. Some states will outlaw abortion, while others probably will not.
      Abortion, though, is actually a symptom of a deeper cultural malaise. The culture has come to accept the fallacy that sexual intimacy is merely for "recreation" and not for babies and marital bonding. Contraception has led to an immense breakdown in people's understanding of marriage and sexuality. Promiscuity is rampant. Sexual cohabitation outside of marriage is taken for granted by many, as if it is a good thing. Many marriages have been undermined, because of the cultural confusion. We are not even replacing ourselves, as a population, because the birthrate is below 2.1.
      What to do? People need to be informed about the sanctity of marriage and the Lord's purposes for human sexuality. We cannot allow ourselves to be indoctrinated by a secular culture that has little use for God or marriage as He designed it (an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman, until death). Please pray that people will wake up and embrace the truth.


      July 15, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      How to be an Apostle
      Why did Jesus give His apostles a share in His authority and power (i.e., to preach repentance, drive out demons, and heal the sick)? Because He was putting together His Church so that His work might continue. How does the work continue today? The apostolic work continues in the Church that Jesus founded. The bishops and the pope are the successors to the apostles. The priests are the collaborators of the bishops. What about the laity? Lay people are not merely "helpers" for the priests. Canon law states that anyone who is confirmed is "deputed to the apostolate". To be an apostle, in this sense, means to be sent on a mission. Everyone has a part to play in being instruments of our Jesus our Savior.
      How can "lay apostles" participate in the Church's mission of calling people to repentance? First, we must turn away from our own sins. The Mass's Penitential Rite reminds us of this. Also, we should make regular use of the sacrament of penance. A nightly examination of conscience is also recommended. We must pray for sinners, and lead others by good example. Sometimes we have to correct people. We do it out of love for them and a desire for their salvation.
      How do lay apostles "cure the sick"? The Church carries out this charge by caring for the sick (the hospital was invented by the Church), praying for the sick, and assisting them with the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. Everyone can and should be involved in the healing ministry of the Church.
      What about "expelling demons"? Living in a state of grace is necessary. The demons do not have much influence on holy people. The prayer to St. Michael is part of a long exorcism. The Lord's Prayer contains a petition for deliverance. The use of sacramentals (blessed religious articles) and holy water are other means to keep evil spirits at bay. Live the faith, and spread the faith. Satan's dominion cannot stand wherever the Lord's kingdom is present.


      May 20, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      Recently, Fr. Dwight Longenecker wrote an analysis as to why marriage is in crisis (see his website). He listed ten reasons. Included among them are the following factors. No fault divorce: it undermines the idea of having a lifelong marriage. When divorce becomes easy, quick and cheap, innumerable couples will pursue it (presently the divorce rate is 50%). Another factor contributing to the demise of lifelong stable marriage is artificial contraception. Says Fr. Longenecker, "this one is HUGE". Once sexuality was separated from procreating children, marriage becomes simply a vehicle for the couple's self-fulfillment and self-indulgence. In other works, contraception changes the chemistry of the marriage, such that the partners are more interested in seeking their own happiness. When the happiness is not there, one or both partners consider finding someone else who can provide this "happiness".
      Pornography wreaks havoc on marriage. The person's capacity to establish a mature, caring and loving relationship with a spouse becomes stunted. Promiscuity endangers people's ability to stay in lifelong, faithful unions. The more partners one has had, the more his capacity to sustain a permanent union is impaired. Cohabitation, or living together before marriage, makes for a shaky marriage. The reason is that the partners have colluded publicly to live immorally. The relationship sows seeds of distrust among the partners. "How can I trust this person not to have an intimate, sexual relationship with someone else (outside of wedlock) He is already doing it with me." (This is how the psychology goes.) This distrust does not bode well for what is required to maintain a good, stable marriage.
      Our Lady of Fatima is supposed to have said that Satan's last great assault will be against marriage and the family. We can see that he has already taken many casualties.


      May 20, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      What difference does the Holy Spirit make? He makes all the difference in the world. I can give many examples. One is what happened this weekend at our cathedral: four men were ordained priests. And to those who might think that such men are rare. There are more young men interested in serving the Church in this capacity than you might think. All in all, there are about 500 ordinations each year in the U.S. Why would anyone become a priest? (These men could easily have chosen different professions or "career paths".) Because the Holy Spirit impels him. Without the Holy Spirit, we would not have priests. We would not have the sacraments. We would not have missionaries or lay-activists. We would not even have a Church. For that reason, some people call Pentecost the birthday of the Church. Birthday means that the Church is alive. It is not merely an institution (although it has a structure); it has a life. The Church is a real, active, dynamic force in the world. This is thanks to the Holy Spirit.
      At a more fundamental level, We need the Holy Spirit to make it possible for us to live the Christian life, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to put to death the misdeeds of the body ("sin"). The Holy Spirit prays in us when we pray. (See Romans 8.) In short, we can't live a spiritual life without the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit makes it possible for us to bear fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control....
      We must put aside all blockages to His influence. One is unforgiveness. We must forgive everyone who has ever hurt us. The Holy Spirit cannot make His influence felt, otherwise. We must repent of all sin. We need to utilize all the means of forgiveness (including the sacrament of penance). We need to pray. No prayer-life; no Holy Spirit-life. Acknowledge the Holy Spirit and have a devotion to Him. Pray the Glory Be. Sing the Come, Holy Ghost (every Catholic should know it). Ask for His gifts and graces. Jesus told us that such a request is especially potent: “How much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him” (Lk 11.13). We need to practice our faith and follow the teachings of the Church. As the Apostle John reminds us (1 Jn 4) there are many unholy spirits that influence the way people think. These spirits resist the Catholic teachings given to us by the Holy Father and the college of bishops.


      May 5, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      What is the proof that God loves us? Creation (which includes our own existence: that we were given parents, along with the world around us), Jesus, His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, forgiveness, the sending of the Holy Spirit, the Blessed Virgin Mary (our spiritual mother), God's desire to for us to share in his life forever ("heaven"), many of the people around us who do so much good for us, etc.... (God's love reaches out to us even when we are not in church.)
      How do we receive God's love? By opening ourselves to it via prayer, meditation, visiting the Blessed Sacrament, confessing our sins, receiving the sacraments with due preparation, listening to His word. by living a life of faith, and by being open to the people who reach out to us in love, support (etc.).
      How do we respond to His love? “You will live in my love if you keep my commandments.” Christian charity is Christ-centered: “Live on in my love. It begins with recognizing His love for us; accepting it, and taking Him seriously. Besides, permissiveness is not love. He loves us sinners so much, that He doesn’t want us to perish in our sins. He wants us to be able to live with Him for all eternity.
      Why not just love others? A columnist once wrote that it would be better for people to spend Sunday mornings helping in a soup kitchen than in going to church. The greatest lovers of neighbor, however, are those who love God first. Also, beware of putting limits on Christian charity, e.g., “I consider myself a charitable person because I don’t hurt anyone.” There is more to love than simply not hurting others. Charity is quite demanding. It may mean that we pray for people. It means that we are kind to people. We are patient with people. We forgive people. We respect people. We reach out to people. Etc.


      April 22, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      April 22nd is World Day of Prayer for Vocations. Jesus works much of his shepherding through the ministry of the Church. As such, He employs some people to be shepherds of His flock as priests or religious. Most of the sacraments require a priest's involvement. Certainly, there would be no Mass without priests. And without the Eucharist, there would be no Church.
      Our diocese is fortunate to have two seminaries (Borromeo and St. Mary's). These institutions provide for the formation of candidates to the priesthood. I went through four years of formation at St. Mary's (when it was located on Ansel Road in Cleveland). My ordination class is a total of 19. In those days (I was ordained in 1982), the numbers of ordinations were always in double digits. In recent years (since the 1990s), while we manage to have ordinations each year, the numbers are much lower (three to five, perhaps). Next month, new priests will be ordained. This is always good news. Please continue to pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life (nuns, monks...). We need shepherds because the Church must continue. The Church, of course, does not exist for herself, but to bring people to God and into the communion of saints.
      How do we understand the shortage of priests? Actually, it is a symptom of a bigger problem. We have a shortage of good, committed Catholics. When we consider that the second largest "religious group" in the U.S. consists of inactive Catholics, it puts things into perspective. If there is a vocations crisis, it begins in the culture. Priests (normally) come from good, committed Catholic families. A moral of the story is the importance of living the faith and bringing children up in the faith. If parents truly shepherd their children in the ways of the faith, it does make a difference. I am personally indebted to my parents for what they provided me over the years.
      Pray for families. And families, pray together. Let the Good Shepherd's voice be heard.


      April 15, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

      How do we witness to Jesus' resurrection? (I.e., that Jesus is alive and continues to work in His Church today?) We witness to Him by participating at Mass each Sunday (which is the day of resurrection). We witness to the resurrection be putting our faith in the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, Jesus is present in a way unlike any other presence. John 6 also speaks of His body and blood leading people to eternal life (their own resurrection). The Eucharist is sometimes called the Easter sacrament for this reason. We witness to His resurrection by receiving His word. Every Mass has a liturgy of the word. The word we receive is not that of a dead religion, but that of the living Christ. We not only remember Jesus, but also, we hear Him speaking to us today.
      We witness to His resurrection by keeping His commandments (see 1 John). St. John says: "He who has this hope in Him keeps himself pure as He is pure." A pagan, for example, is a person whose hope is not in Jesus. The resurrection means nothing to him. There is no motivation for him to live a life of moral purity. As St. Paul indicates, lack of faith in God (a God who is living) is the basis for all moral deviance. If we should sin, we witness to our faith in the living Christ, by repenting. For this reason, Jesus laid the foundation of the sacrament of penance on the evening of the first Easter Sunday (St. John speaks about this. It was the gospel from last week.)
      We witness to the resurrection by praying. We pray because we believe that Jesus is alive. He hears us and brings our prayers to the Father. Pray every day. It is far more important than the many trivial things that people do that clutter up their lives and take up their time.
      We witness to the resurrection by living our faith when we are out in the world, with our families, co-workers, friends, associates, strangers. How do we conduct ourselves? We cannot be afraid of being different. We are not different just to be different (that is missing the point). We must be conformed to Christ. And if people notice that we are different, that is a good sign. You see, people cannot see Jesus, and they never will (before the judgment after death, barring a miraculous appearance). So, they have to see Him in us, His people, His Church.


      April 8, 2018       
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Background of The Divine Mercy Devotion

    From the diary of a young Polish nun, a special devotion began spreading throughout the world in the 1930s.
    The message is nothing new, but is a reminder of what the church has always taught through scripture and tradition: that God is merciful and forgiving and that we, too, must show mercy and forgiveness. But in the Divine Mercy devotion, the message takes on a powerful new focus, calling people to a deeper understanding that God's love is unlimited and available to everyone - especially the greatest sinners. The message and devotion to Jesus as The Divine Mercy is based on the writings of Saint Faustina Kowalska, an uneducated Polish nun who, in obedience to her spiritual director, wrote a diary of about 600 pages recording the revelations she receive about God's mercy. Even before her death in 1938, the devotion to The Divine Mercy had begun to spread. The message of mercy is that God loves us-all of us-no matter how great our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins, so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.
A- Ask for His Mercy. Go wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly, repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and upon the whole world.
B- Be Merciful. Go wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He does to us.
C- Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more we will receive.    EWTN


      April 1, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

    How do we know that Jesus is risen? 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


      March 10, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

    There are many practical effects of failure to believe in God's love:, distrust of God, failure to pray or live the faith, a psychological fear of God ("faith" without hope), scrupulosity, the attitude of "I practice my religion (e.g., go to Mass) because I have to" (heartless faith), a life without any real joy, etc. It is not good for anyone to dismiss the mystery of God's love as something that is unimportant or irrelevant or untrue.
    Even if God loves us, some think, what does it matter? We do not need His love (they think). The world can get on quite well without Him. Why? Because, they say, for example, the world has so many wonderful things made possible by technology. Our ancestors never dreamed of being able to travel to another part of the globe in only a matter of hours (aviation), or to speak with someone across the country or in another part of the world (modern communications). Now we have Skype. I am certainly not against these things. They can be used for great good. But don't get fooled. The world is becoming smaller and smaller, but it is incapable of saving us. It does not hold the key to the fulfillment of human existence. The world is good because God made it, but it isn't God. It can't take His place. It cannot save us from perishing.
    So, how does God, who loves us, reach out to us? He sent His only Son. (And He continues to send Him, in various forms.) People receive Jesus all the time. (Look at the countless Catholic Communion lines, throughout the world. And, at any given time, how many of our people are going to confession? Many Catholics still use the sacrament. They understand that they need God's mercy.)
    Jesus, not the world, is the one who saves us from perishing, which, ultimately means dying in our sins. In fact, Jesus (and only Jesus) offers us the gift of eternal life. The best physicians and scientists the world has ever known cannot give anyone the gift of eternal life, no matter how much good they do for so many.
    The question remains, then, what is our relationship with Jesus like?


      February 25, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

    The third president of the U.S., Thomas Jefferson, was overly influenced by strange ideas about Jesus. He blacked out all of the passages in his Bible that had anything to do with supernatural manifestations: miracles and so forth. Surely, Jesus' Transfiguration on Mount Tabor was excised from his text. Jefferson was influenced by people who wanted a Jesus who was merely a teacher of "ethics", not the Son of God who died and rose from the dead.
    There are many people today who have the same idea. "I'm a good person. I don't need to go to church." It's interesting that, whether these people realize it or not, they decry practicing the religion, yet are actually holding on to its coattails. Remember, as Jesus said, "Only God is good". All goodness comes from God.
    I remember baptizing a baby, years ago, who looked up at me and smiled (the only time a baby whom I baptized ever did this). I entrusted him to his mother (who was a single mother). As time went on, it became clear that the mother had no interest in raising the child in the faith. To this day, the young man has never even made his First Communion. When confronted about her choice to raise the boy without religion, she said, I am raising him to be "good".
    How did the boy turn out? Pretty much as a product of the lax society in which we live. He became involved with drugs. He had a short career in the military and was cashiered because he got into trouble for something. He has had a scrape with the law or two. My point is, how can a person be "good" without God? It might work for one generation. It is only temporary. Besides, we are not merely called to be "ethical" people. We must be holy people; "heavenly" people; people of God; disciples of Jesus.


      February 18, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

    What is the meaning of "and lead us not into temptation?" The petition means both: "Do not allow us to enter into temptation," and "do not let us yield to temptation." Why should we be concerned about temptation? Because our sins result from our consent to temptation. (We must distinguish between being tempted and consenting to temptation.) What are the sources of temptation for us? The world, the flesh, and the devil. The world means the anti-Christian influences that saturate the air we breathe (e.g., the influence of peers, writers, television shows, entertainment, etc.). The world tends to be full of itself. The flesh is not limited to sexuality, but includes anger, gluttony, covetousness, etc. The devil is often the most difficult one to detect because he generally hides himself. A directly diabolical temptation is strong (scary or seductive), and often out of character for the person subjected to it. The devil has an easy time with many people (he doesn't have to do much) because they live at the level of the flesh (self-gratification) or they are overly influenced by the world. When the world and the flesh are held at bay ("holiness"), Satan can show his displeasure by physical assaults (St. John Bosco, St. John Vianney, et al.).
    Why would the Lord allow us to be tempted? (Note, He Himself tempts no one.) We can learn where our weaknesses are. Also, it gives us a chance to demonstrate that we want Him and we will not allow anything or anyone to take His place. "No one can serve two masters." Besides, earthly life is a time of trial. Heaven is something that must be chosen.


      February 11, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

    This Wednesday begins the penitential season of Lent. Ash Wednesday, all Fridays of Lent, and Good Friday, are days of fasting and abstinence from meat. (The age requirements are indicated in another part of this bulletin.) Ash Wenesday is not a holy day of obligation, but people are encouraged to come to Mass on that day. What about the other days of Lent? Everyone is encouraged to practice various forms of penance (e.g., different types of fasting), prayer, and the giving of alms (i.e., charity).

    The bishops of the U.S., in their 1966 document, state: "we strongly recommend participation in daily Mass and a self-imposed observance of fasting. In the light of grave human needs which weigh on the Christian conscience in all seasons, we urge, particularly during Lent, generosity to local, national, and world programs of sharing of all things needed to translate our duty to penance into a means of implementing the right of the poor to their part in our abundance. We also recommend spiritual studies, beginning with the Scriptures as well as the traditional Lenten Devotions (sermons, Stations of the Cross, and the rosary), and all the self-denial summed up in the Christian concept of "mortification."

    The parish will be providing opportunities for spiritual studies (Bible study on Monday nights, contemplative prayer-class on Tuesday evenings, and a study of the Catechism on Wednesdaynights), devotions (e.g., communal rosary before Masses and Stations of the Cross on Fridays after weekday morning Masses and at 7:00 p.m.), daily Mass, and confessions (Lent is an ideal time to turn away from sin and to make amends.) And do not forget about Eucharistic exposition each Wednesday, in our chapel, from 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.


      February 4, 2018       
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From the Pastor...

One of the common errors concerning our faith is to consider that maybe Jesus is no different from any other religious figure who has a significant following. For example, I recently spoke to someone who told me that he no longer practices his Catholic faith because he has discovered Buddha. The question for our consideration is: why Jesus and not Buddha? (Or, why Jesus and not Mohammed, Socrates, Confucius, etc.?) In a nutshell, what puts Jesus above all the others is stated in our Creed: i.e., that He is God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, consubtantial with the Father, through Him all things were made. For us men and our salvation He came down from heaven, and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and became man." Jesus is God made man, who has come to save us from perishing in our sins.

    What can we say about Buddha? Buddha is a mere mortal. Buddha promotes a "salvation" that is at odds with the salvation that Jesus offers. Buddhism teaches that one's "salvation" comes from liberating oneself from the world by achieving a state of perfect indifference to the world ("nirvana"). Jesus does not want us to indulge in a negative attitude toward the world, but to work to transform it. The world was created by God and is sustained by Him. As the gospel says, "God so loved the world that He gave his only Son so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life" (John 3.16).

    In sum, Buddha has no capacity to impart eternal life. And the same can be said for Mohammed, Socrates, Confucius, etc. Jesus is the only Savior given to the world. And the Church (which He founded) carries on His mission. So, don't be fooled by any religious fad that seeks to replace our Savior with a counterfeit.


      January 28, 2018       
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Presentation of the Lord

The feast was first observed in the Eastern Church as "The Encounter." In the sixth century, it began to be observed in the West: in Rome with a more penitential character and in Gaul (France) with solemn blessings and processions of candles, popularly known as "Candlemas." The Presentation of the Lord concludes the celebration of the Nativity and with the offerings of the Virgin Mother and the prophecy of Simeon, the events now point toward Easter.
"In obedience to the Old Law, the Lord Jesus, the first-born, was presented in the Temple by his Blessed Mother and his foster father. This is another 'epiphany' celebration insofar as the Christ Child is revealed as the Messiah through the canticle and words of Simeon and the testimony of Anna the prophetess. Christ is the light of the nations, hence the blessing and procession of candles on this day. In the Middle Ages this feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary, or 'Candlemas,' was of great importance. "The specific liturgy of this Candlemas feast, the blessing of candles, is not as widely celebrated as it should be, except of course whenever February 2 falls on a Sunday and thus takes precedence. There are two ways of celebrating the ceremony, either the Procession, which begins at a 'gathering place' outside the church, or the Solemn Entrance, celebrated within the church." From Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year.


      January 21, 2018       
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WASHINGTON-Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York called on everyone "concerned about the tragedy of abortion" to recommit to a "vision of life and love, a vision that excludes no one". His statement marks the 43rd anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. Cardinal Dolan chairs the Committee on Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Most Americans oppose a policy allowing legal abortion for virtually any reason – though many still do not realize that this is what the Supreme Court gave us," wrote Cardinal Dolan. "Most want to protect unborn children at later stages of pregnancy, to regulate or limit the practice of abortion, and to stop the use of taxpayer dollars for the destruction of unborn children. Yet many who support important goals of the pro-life movement do not identify as 'pro-life,' a fact which should lead us to examine how we present our pro-life vision to others."

"Even as Americans remain troubled by abortion," wrote Cardinal Dolan, a powerful and well funded lobby holds "that abortion must be celebrated as a positive good for women and society, and those who cannot in conscience provide it are to be condemned for practicing substandard medicine and waging a 'war on women'." He said this trend was seen recently when President Obama and other Democratic leaders prevented passage of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, "a modest measure to provide for effective enforcement" of conscience laws.

"While this is disturbing," said Cardinal Dolan, "it is also an opportunity." Pro-life Americans should reach out to "the great majority of Americans" who are "open to hearing a message of reverence for life." He added that "we who present the pro-life message must always strive to be better messengers. A cause that teaches the inexpressibly great value of each and every human being cannot show disdain or disrespect for any fellow human being." He encouraged Catholics to take part, through prayer and action.    USCCB


      January 14, 2018       
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Week of Prayer for Christian Unity January 18-25, 2018

Reconciliation     The theme of this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is "Your Right Hand, O Lord, Glorious in Power." (Exodus 15:6). According to Graymoor Ecumenical & Interreligious Institute (GEII). . . , "Throughout the Biblical narrative of salvation, an unmistakable motif is the unrelenting determination of the Lord to form a people whom He could call His own. The formation of such a people, united in a sacred covenant with God, is integral to the Lord's plan of salvation and to the glorification of His name. The prophets repeatedly remind Israel that their covenant demanded that relationships among its various social groups should be characterized by justice, compassion and mercy. Reconciliation often demands repentance, reparation and healing of memories."
    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)


      December 31, 2017       
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    There's always lots of talk at the end of each year about how horrible it is that Christmas has become a big secular marketing event. But the truth is, the Catholic faith has a long, venerable tradition of co-opting secular holiday, feasts and seasons, and making them our own. The date of Christmas was chosen, in part, to override the Roman celebration of Saturnalia. The feast of All Saints is a Christian counter to the pagan or druidic observance of Samhain. St. Valentine's day superceded the Roman Lupercalia.
    It seems odd, then, that we haven't had better success with a Christian celebration for the New Year. It's a time that is ripe for introspection and personal renewal, out with the old year, and in with the new. Apart from the parties and champagne, it's already a date with spiritual significance.
Perhaps the problem is that the Church's New Year, liturgically speaking, arrives on the first Sunday of Advent, and is almost entirely overshadowed by Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    January first is a solemn holy day – the Feast of Mary the Mother of God. Perhaps we can make this feast more relevant to the New Year by seeing in Mary a model for renewed Christian life: in her openness to the Holy Spirit, her radical assent to God's will for her life, her patience through suffering, and her willingness to bring the Savior into the world. Those are all qualities that would make any of us better people in the New Year.
by Fr. Larry Rice, CSP, USCCB

From the Pastor...

      December 24, 2017       
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    In the past century alone, more than 62 thousand volumes have been written about Him. (That is twelve books a week every week for a hundred years.) In the French National Library (a sort of mirror of Western culture) the subject "Jesus" ranks second in terms of the number of entry in the card catalogue, second only to "God." For hundreds of years, the best artists produced an almost unlimited collection of paintings and statuary depicting scenes from the life of Jesus (e.g., Fra Angelico, Michelangelo, El Greco and many others). The great art museums and churches of the western world are endowed with many such masterpieces, a favorite scene being the nativity. The landscape of Europe is dotted with monasteries and cathedrals (e.g., Notre Dame in Paris, Chartres,...) reflecting its Christian roots. Christianity built Western civilization.
    The very existence of the Catholic Church traces her roots to Jesus, who said to Peter, "You are rock and on this rock I will build my Church." Since that time there have been 266 men who have succeeded Peter as Pope. Since Jesus' time the world has not been the same. And though, not all in the world have accepted Jesus, there has been a constant procession of saints: martyrs, confessors, holy men and women, who stand as proof of St. John's assertion: "To all who received Him, who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God" (Jn 1.12). Jesus is clearly the most fascinating and influential personage in all of human history. Indeed, He is the Savior of the world (and the only Savior).
    Everyone must give an answer to two questions: "Who is Jesus Christ to you?" and "If you were to die tonight and the Lord asked, 'Why should I give you eternal life?', what would you say? (Think about these things.)
    Thank God for the gift of Jesus. Merry Christmas....

From the Pastor...

      December 17, 2017       
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     The third Sunday of Advent is only one of two Sundays of the year when the priest wears rose colored vestments. Whereas purple is a penitential color, rose represents the joy that comes with knowing that the Lord is near. Indeed, we are urged to "Rejoice always! These words were written by a man who was beaten numerous times, put in jail, accosted by angry mobs, deprived of eating or sleeping for protracted periods, shipwrecked, etc. Who am I speaking about? St. Paul.... How could Paul even speak about joy under these circumstances?
    He was not speaking about any kind of joy, but the deepest and most enduring kind: the joy that comes from having a relationship with God. It is a joy that the world cannot give, nor is it dependent on external circumstances. It is even possible to be sustained by this joy in time of pain or sorrow. (I can think of the St. Therese, smiling through her tears.) In another place (Gal 5), Paul tells us that this kind of joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit: "Love, joy, peace, patience, etc."
    The world has many counterfeits for true joy. One such counterfeit is pleasure. Now, there is nothing wrong with pleasure per se (many would starve if they derived no pleasure from eating). But it does not take the place of true joy. As our society becomes more and more de-Christianized, people resort to false substitutes for joy: the use of recreational drugs, overindulgence in alcohol, promiscuity, etc. So what does one have to do to be "joyful"?
    The person needs an abiding relationship with the Lord, that is nurtured by prayer. St. Paul says, "Pray without ceasing." He urges people to be grateful: "In all circumstances give thanks." St. Paul also tells us (in Galatians 5) that joy is a fruit of the Holy Spirit. Pray to the Holy Spirit. Live according to the Spirit, and not the flesh. Be reconciled to others. Go to confession. Forgive others. (There isn't anything that makes people less joyful than unforgiveness.) Avoid the traps of the world. Materialism has never made anyone happy. Blessedness does (see Matthew 5.1-12).

From the Pastor...

      December 10, 2017       
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    Pastor's Column:Behold Your Mother
December 8th is our patronal feast, and a holy day of Obligation: the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The mystery is depicted in the beautiful painting behind the altar in our sanctuary. Fr. Mulholland, the pastor who erected our church in 1953, saw to it that a prominent spot would be given to the painting. The painting is actually a handmade copy of the original. Looking at the painting, what did the artist depict? He painted the Blessed Mother (not Jesus). And he painted her in glory. What does this have to do with the Immaculate Conception? The answer is that the Immaculate Conception is not Jesus (He is the Son of God), but it is His mother.
    It was Pope Pius IX who solemnly proclaimed this truth about the Blessed Virgin, in 1854. Where did the Pope get the idea? Did he pull it out of thin air (invent it himself)? Actually, he did not. It was commonly held by many Catholics and others, (such as the Eastern Orthodox Christians) throughout the centuries, but had never before been formalized as a Catholic dogma by any Pope. (In fact our country was dedicated to the Immaculate Conception eight years before Pope Pius IX made this pronouncement.)
    Is such a thing mentioned in the Bible? We have to be careful about expecting everything to be articulated in the Bible, as we understand it today. (The Bible is not a catechism.) For example, there are religious groups that do not celebrate Christmas because the Bible does not tell us to do so. A better way of putting it is: is such and such a teaching consistent with what’s in the Bible? The answer, regarding the Immaculate Conception is "Yes".
    The archangel Gabriel gave Mary a new name. He did not call her "Mary". Instead, he said, "Full of grace". This means that Mary was immaculately conceived in the womb of her mother (i.e., she was holy from conception). She also maintained her holiness throughout her life (she never committed a sin). We call her "full of grace". As such, she reminds us that our vocation is to be holy. This is not to suggest that we will be as holy as she is, or that we were conceived in a state of holiness, but only that we have access to grace and should maintain ourselves accordingly: through prayer, use of the sacraments, acts of charity, penance, etc. When someone commits a mortal sin, he has lost his holiness (which he received through baptism). A Catholic in this position must go to confession to recover the life of God that he lost through sin. Ideally, we should strive to grow in holiness, and not be satisfied with mediocrity (or worse).

From the Pastor...

      November 26, 2017       
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Pastor's Column:Join the Revolution
    This Sunday's gospel is the famous scene of the Last Judgment, rendered in art by Michelangelo as a fresco on the wall of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The scene is quite moving, especially when it is artistically rendered. Jesus is at the center of the picture, surrounded on either side by the saints, on His right, and those descending into the nether world (hell) on His left. Millions of visitors to the Vatican look at the painting. I am always amazed at the way many people seem to miss the point of it, preferring, instead to busy themselves with their cameras (and people aren't even supposed to be taking pictures). Do they really understand what they are seeing, and how it applies to them (and everyone else)?
    So what does Jesus tell us? He speaks of the Judgment being based on charity for others. "Whatever you have done unto my least brethren, you did unto me." With these words, Jesus started a revolution. What do I mean?
    Many people have listened to Jesus and taken His word to heart, on the matter of charity for others. The saints are always examples. Then, there is the Church itself. As Matthew Kelly reminds us: "Every single day the Catholic Church feeds, houses and clothes more people, takes care of more sick people, visits more prisoners, and educates more people than any other institution on the face of the earth could ever hope to" (p.13). One example: one in five patients in the U.S., today, is being treated in a Catholic hospital. (There are 637 Catholic hospitals in our country.)
    Join the revolution. Visit the sick, pray for them, pray with them.... (Make the sacraments available to them, if they are Catholic.) Help the poor. Support Immaculate Conception Charities. Be generous in designated collections. Use your ingenuity.

From the Pastor...

      November 19, 2017       
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A Steward's Way
The life of a Christian steward models the life of Jesus. It is challenging and even difficult, in many respects, yet intense joy comes to those who take the risk to live as Christian stewards. Women and men who seek to live as stewards learn that "all things work for good for those who love God" (Rom 8:28). After Jesus, we look to Mary as an ideal steward. As the Mother of Christ, she lived her ministry in a spirit of fidelity and service; she responded generously to the call. We must ask ourselves: Do we also wish to be disciples of Jesus Christ and Christian stewards of our world and our Church? Central to our human and Christian vocations, as well as to the unique vocation each one of us receives from God, is that we be good stewards of the gifts we possess. God gives us this divine-human workshop, this world and Church of ours. The Spirit shows us the way. Stewardship is a part of that journey.
Stewards of the Church
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.   USCCB

From the Pastor...

      November 12, 2017       
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    This month is dedicated to praying for the souls of the deceased. I have in mind, specifically, a passage from the Bible that shows piety for the dead at its finest. A general named Judas Maccabeus, was quite alarmed when he discovered that many of his soldiers who had been slain in a battle had died with pagan amulets on their persons. In other words, they had compromised their faith and relied on false gods. What did the general do? He took up a collection and sent it to Jerusalem where the priests of the temple could offer expiatory sacrifices for the slain, so that they could be free from their sin and rise from the dead. (See 2 Maccabees 12.43-46.)
    From the earliest days of the Church, it has been customary to offer prayers and sacrifices (especially Masses) for the deceased. St. Augustine speaks about his mother telling her sons not to worry about where they should bury her (her death was imminent), but, rather, to remember her at the altar. Rome has a plethora of funerary artifacts that are replete with inscriptions attesting to the belief in the efficacy of prayers for the deceased. The practice was largely unquestioned until the 16th century and the advent of Protestantism. To this day, in the funeral services of many non-Catholic churches, there are no prayers for the dead. I remember when a high ranking member of the English royal family died, Pope John Paul II sent a telegram that he was praying for her soul. This was an act of charity on the part of the Holy Father.
    Why pray for the dead? Because we believe that prayers are efficacious and that death is not a barrier to prayer. People in heaven do not need prayers, of course. (And the people in hell cannot use them.) But does everyone go to heaven immediately after death? Many people must be purified of faults and failings (if not already purified while on earth) who otherwise died in a state of friendship with God. And some people die in a state of grace who have not done penance for serious sins that have been remitted, or they have venial sins for which they had not sought forgiveness. The state of purification is called "purgatory". Purgatory is not a "temporary hell". Purgatory, then, is more like a finishing school, where people are prepared for heaven.

From the Pastor...

      November 5, 2017       
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    Pray for Priests and Vocations to the Priesthood
Many Catholics could come up with a testimony about a priest who has made a difference (even a big difference) in their lives. It stands to reason, given the service rendered by a faithful priest over time. The work he does is going to bear some sort of fruit. Many people will appreciate this. Where would we be without having had the benefit of the ministry of men whom we call "father"?
    It is very important to pray for priests. I am happy that there is a group who meets regularly to do this: the Avilas. (Every priest in the diocese has a prayer Mom from this group.) If you cannot be a participating member of such an apostolate, you might think of becoming an associate member. Otherwise, on your own, pray for priests every day. The devil would like to undermine all of them. He will never be successful, of course, but there will be some casualties. Therefore, the more prayer, the better.
    Pope John Paul has left the Church a great legacy in the vast amount of writing that he bequeathed to us. The longest thing he ever wrote was entitled, I will Give you Pastors. In it he speaks about the priestly vocation as a gift from God. As such, the Church is called to safeguard this gift, to esteem it and to love it.
    The Christian family has a special role to play. (Vocations are often formed there.) The lay faithful are an important part of the promotion of priestly vocations: catechists, teachers, educators, youth ministers, etc. Special mention should be made of groups that promote vocations, such as the Avilas, the Knights of Columbus, the Serra Club. All members of the Church (from the bishop on down) have the grace and responsibility to look after vocations.
    The work of the Church must go on. If you see something in a young man that indicates a possible vocation, a simple question might get him thinking (i.e., Have you ever considered a priestly vocation?) Otherwise, encourage young people to pray regularly, especially before the Blessed Sacrament, and to go to Mass every Sunday. Jesus is the one who draws people to Himself.

From the Pastor...

      October 29, 2017       
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November 1st is a Holy Day of Obligation: The Feast of All Saints

      What do you think of when you hear the word "saint"? Most people would not think so much of people on earth, but of those in heaven, as in who is your "patron saint"? As our society becomes more secularized, many of our own people lose contact with the saints. There are many children who are baptized without any patron saint’s name and, more importantly, many people lose sight that as members of the Church, we are called to be saints.
      Catholics recognize many "official" saints. Popular ones include St. Francis of Assisi (even many non-believers know who he is. The U.S. Postal Service had a stamp of him at one time). There is St. Anthony (a statue/picture of whom is found in nearly every parish church). He is often relied upon to find lost items. There is St. Therese (how many people receive roses after asking for her special help?) Some saints are known for extraordinary mystical gifts. Padre Pio worked many miracles and had the wounds of Christ on his body for 50 years. Joseph Cupertino (much to his embarrassment) used to float up to the rafters when in church. St. Catherine of Siena had the hidden stigmata and nearly every other mystical gift. What makes a saint, though, is not extraordinary endowments of this type (or most of us would not be eligible). To be a saint means to be holy and, ultimately, to share in God’s life in heaven.
      Some people like to claim that saints are not important. We are all indebted to the saints, in more ways than we realize. How many of us have gone to schools staffed by nuns whose communities were established by saints? (I can think of St. Elizabeth Seton, for example.) We have St. Camillus, nursing, hospital work and the Red Cross. We can’t forget about St. Vincent de Paul who led a great symphony of charitable organizations. There is still a society that bears his name. Others say, only God is important. The problem with this idea is that saints come from God. It would be like saying that flowers are not important, only the gardener deserves our attention. The saints are something like the flowers in the garden of God. We need saints for their example, their prayers, and their friendship. Anyone who enters heaven enters a blessed community of saints. Make friends with the saints while on earth. All friends of the Lord should be our friends (it only makes sense).

From the Pastor...

      October 22, 2017       
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    ....Once again, Jesus's opponents try to trap Him: this time with a "political" question. Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar? If Jesus said, "yes", He would be regarded as a friend of the Roman government, that was occupying Israel at the time. If He said, "no", then He could be labeled as an insurrectionist. Jesus was aware of their tricks. He answered with the famous line: "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's".
In doing so, He was giving people more than they bargained for. He brought the debate to a new level.
    So, what did Jesus mean by this "enigmatic" statement? He was saying that every person must have a certain concern for the political and social well-being of his county ("Give unto Caesar"), and, at the same time, understand that he has obligations to God.
Further, in saying: "Give to God what is God's", Jesus was stripping political authority of any claims to be divine. However legitimate earthly authority is, all authority (including political authority) must put God first. No earthly government has any right to take the place of God in what it demands of its citizens.
    The best citizens are holy people. (Thomas More comes to mind. His last words, before being beheaded by King Henry VIII: "I die the king's good servant, but God's first." More's "crime" was refusing to accept the king's invalid marriage. Now, we have people in political office who are doing everything they can to overturn marriage as strictly a union between one man and one woman.) The best rulers, judges, lawmakers (etc.), likewise, are people of faith and common sense. There is nothing worse than a judge or head of state or legislator, who cares little for the things of God (e.g., the commandments, God-given rights, etc.). It sets the stage for tyranny.

From the Pastor...

      October 15, 2017       
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    October is the month of the Rosary, The term “rosary” comes from the Latin word “rosarium,” meaning rose garden, and refers to the religious practice of reciting prayers, as well as to the string of beads used for this purpose.
Rosary     Because the Rosary was given to us by Mary, it has great power. There have been many miracles associated with praying the Rosary. Our Lady of Fatima mentioned that the main reason for the loss of souls into the fiery abyss of Hell is that no one is praying for them. When you pray, you can offer up your Rosary for a particular intention, whether it be for the conversion of souls or for an end to abortion.
    The Rosary has a special power against evil. Through Mary and her Magnificat, her “yes” to God, we have Our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him we have our salvation, if we choose to accept it. Demons know and fear the Rosary. Blessed Pope Pius IX said, “Give me an army saying the Rosary and I will conquer the world.” This is how powerful the Rosary is. St. Francis de Sales, the great master of the spiritual life, wrote, “The greatest method of prayer is praying the Rosary.” And of course, Our Lady of Fatima said, “Pray the Rosary daily.”
    The Rosary will help to ward off temptations. Prayed together with the family, it will create a locus of stability and peace in the home.

From the Pastor...

      October 8, 2017       
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October is Respect Life Month
Once again, we mark the month of October as Respect Life Month. Looking back over the last year, there's been a lot of uncertainty, suffering, and heartache. Between tragedies that occur in the public eye and trials that take place in our personal lives, there's no shortage of reasons we cry out to God.

At such times, we may feel alone and unequipped to handle the circumstances. But we have an anchor of hope to cling to. With words that echo through thousands of years into the corners of our hearts, God says to us, "Do not fear: I am with you" (Isaiah 41:10).

The 2017-2018 Respect Life theme, "Be Not Afraid," reminds us of this promise.

God isn't a detached, distant observer to our pain; the Eternal Son became man and Himself experienced immense suffering—for you and for me. His wounds indicate the very essence of our identity and worth: we are loved by God.

There are times we may doubt the value of our own lives or falter at the thought of welcoming and embracing the life of another. But reflecting on the healed wounds of the Risen Christ, we can see that even our most difficult trials can be the place where God manifests his victory. He makes all things beautiful. He makes all things new. He is the God of redemption.

That's powerful. That's something to hold onto.

And, He is always with us. Jesus promised this when he gave the disciples the same mission he gives to each of us: Go.

As followers of Jesus Christ, we know that our identity and our mission are two sides of the same coin; like the apostles, we are called to be missionary disciples. We are not only invited to follow and take refuge in God, our stronghold, but we are also commissioned to reach out to one another, especially to the weak and vulnerable.

Building a culture of life isn't something we just do one month of the year, or with one event or initiative—it's essential to who we are. It happens through our daily actions, how we treat one another, and how we live our lives.
Timothy Cardinal Dolan, USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities

From the Pastor...

      October 1, 2017       
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    The litany of humility, for private devotions, is a moving prayer that can bring us closer to Christ. Do you worry constantly about what others think of you? Do you feel empty or frustrated if you're not the center of attention? The litany of humility asks for our Lord's assistance in humbly following in His footsteps and casting aside, or at least offering up to Him, all those nagging doubts and fears that come with our self-centeredness.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, Jesus. (repeat after each line)
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being honored,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred to others,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of being despised,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being suspected,
That others may be loved more than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it. (repeat after each line)
That others may be esteemed more than I,
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease,
That others may be chosen and I set aside,
That others may be praised and I unnoticed,
That others may be preferred to me in everything,
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should.

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.

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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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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        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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        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.

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.

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. 

    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. 

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.


    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

    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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