Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 07 June 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 7, 2020

    Dear Parishioners,

    It's really important that we read and reread this short first reading from the Book of Exodus.  Let it form our mind.  Let it help our understanding of God.  We need this proper knowledge of the Lord if we are going to navigate the complexities of our moral and spiritual life.

    Moses returns up to Mount Sinai and Yahweh reveals another title by which he can be called: Lord.  I don't know about you, but I like using this title, Lord, for God.  Yes, I certainly use other titles when I pray and when I'm in relationship with God: Jesus, Father, friend, brother, Spirit.  'Lord' doesn't give me a sense of fear or servility in a bad way.  I like 'Lord' because it emphasizes for me that God is the one in control, not me.  He is guiding my life, he has a plan for me—a plan that is better than anything I could concoct—and that it is to my advantage to simply surrender to him.  Remember that "Surrender Novena" we prayed a few months ago?  The title 'Lord' is all wrapped up in that.

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27 Oct

Cor Ad Cor Loquitur

Fr. James with a toddler in a Baby Priest Halloween costume
 

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 27, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

John Henry Newman was canonized a saint two weekends ago by Pope Francis.  Newman was an English priest from the 19th Century.  Originally an Anglican, he converted to Catholicism and was later in life made a Cardinal in the Church.  He was (and still is) an intellectual giant, writing very influential texts such as Essay on the Grammar of Assent and his spiritual autobiography called Apologia Pro Vita Sua.  For a few years he was rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, which led him to write The Idea of a University.  Catholic student centers at various universities around the country are called "Newman Centers" because of this.  I'll be forever grateful to the Newman Center of my alma mater, which helped my faith and ultimately led me to the priesthood.

27 Oct

Our Goal of Perfection

A decade or so after his death a perception arose that George Washington was a perfect man: that he did not lie or sin. Throughout the 19th Century it was taught in public schools and held in the public square that the first president was infallible.   Even Abraham Lincoln defended the belief, saying about Washington: "It makes human nature better to believe that one human being [Washington] was perfect, that human perfection is possible."

27 Oct

Gospel October 27, 2019

The First Reading is from the Book of Sirach. Sirach insists that the poor person’s gift is equal in value to the rich person’s gift. God has no favorite. Although God has no favorites, he does have a special place in his heart for the prayer of the weak, oppressed, orphaned, the deaf, and widowed. These are not necessarily poor people; rather, they are those who approach God in prayer with humility, recognizing their needs and their dependence upon God for help.

27 Oct

Ave Maria

There are countless Catholic devotions. They range from common prayers, special prayers, grand gestures to very small gestures. A small gesture I do is before I jot down my notes for class I sign the page with the letters A and M overlapping. The letters stand for “Ave Maria”, Hail Mary. The artist in me loves to doodle, so if class is rather slow that day, I tend to go back to that little insignia and add some more to it. This time I added a few titles of Our Lady in both English, Latin and one Greek word. The Greek reads, “God-Bearer” the Latin reads, from top to bottom, “Mother and Immaculate”.

I was inspired to pick up this little devotion from watching Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen on Youtube. Before Sheen wrote anything on the blackboard, during his presentations, he would inscribe the letters, “JMJ”, on the top. The letters stand for “Jesus, Mary and Joseph”. It was a small gesture of honoring the Holy Family. I have seen some of my brother seminarians carry on this devotion as well. St. John Paul II also had a similar devotion. He would write on the top of his papers, “Totus Tuus”, Totally Yours. His papal motto and prayer to Our Lady. On the following pages he would add another piece of the prayer. These little gestures of devotion are ways in which we can turn our hearts to God throughout our day and let the little tasks in our day become sanctifying.

 

25 Oct

All Souls Day

All Souls’ Day, is a day for commemoration of all the faithful departed, those baptized Christians who are believed to be in purgatory because they died with the guilt of lesser sins on their souls. It is observed on November 2. Roman Catholic doctrine holds that the prayers of the faithful on earth will help cleanse these souls in order to fit them for the vision of God in heaven, and the day is dedicated to prayer and remembrance. Requiem masses are commonly held, and many people visit and sometimes decorate the graves of loved ones.

25 Oct

All Saints Day

Early History of Memorials for Martyrs and Saints

From the earliest days of the Church, Christians venerated martyrs on the anniversary of their deaths by celebrating Mass on their tombs. Over the next few centuries relics began to be transferred between dioceses and memorials for several martyrs were celebrated in common. During the persecutions of Diocletian in the early 300's so many Christians were killed that it became impossible to create separate memorials for each so joint memorials became common.

In the late 300s St. Basil the Great sent a letter to the bishops of Pontus inviting them to celebrate a common feast in honor of the martyrs.

The earliest record of a feast honoring all Christian martyrs  is from a homily of St. John Crysostom in the 407 saying that there was a feast celebrated in Constantinople.

All Saints Day in the Western Church

The first official recognition of a feast for all martyrs and the Virgin Mary comes in 609 or 610 on May 13th when St. Boniface IV concecrated the Pantheon as a church. The Pantheon had been given to the Church as a gift from Emperor Phocas. The feast coincided with the conclusion of the Pagan feast of Lemures which was celebrated to appease restless spirits.

Pope Gregory III (731-741) dedicated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to all saints during his reign. Louis the Pious made the celebration obligatory in the Frankish empire in 835 and Pope Gregory IV  officially declared that the Feast of All Saints Day was to be celebrated by the whole Church on November 1st in 837.

The octave of All Saints was added during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484).

The Feast of All Saints is a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church.

All Saints Day in the Eastern Church

In the Eastern Church the feast followed an ancient tradition of celebrating a feast for all saints on the first Sunday following Pentecost. The feast gained “official” status during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI (886-911). He built a church for his holy wife Empress Theophano and when told he couldn't dedicate it to her, dedicated it to “All Saints” in the hope that she might some day be named a saint and therefore be celebrated in the church.

The second Sunday following Pentecost is reserved for honoring local groups of saints.

All Saints in Architecture

The Pantheon in Rome was originally a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. In 609 the Byzantine Emperor Phocas gave the temple to Pope Boniface IV who rededicated as the church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Many remains of Christians who originally had been buried in the catacombs were transferred to the church and placed under the altar.

The Pantheon - Church of All Saints

25 Oct

All Saints Day

Early History of Memorials for Martyrs and Saints

From the earliest days of the Church, Christians venerated martyrs on the anniversary of their deaths by celebrating Mass on their tombs. Over the next few centuries relics began to be transferred between dioceses and memorials for several martyrs were celebrated in common. During the persecutions of Diocletian in the early 300's so many Christians were killed that it became impossible to create separate memorials for each so joint memorials became common.

In the late 300s St. Basil the Great sent a letter to the bishops of Pontus inviting them to celebrate a common feast in honor of the martyrs.

The earliest record of a feast honoring all Christian martyrs  is from a homily of St. John Crysostom in the 407 saying that there was a feast celebrated in Constantinople.

All Saints Day in the Western Church

The first official recognition of a feast for all martyrs and the Virgin Mary comes in 609 or 610 on May 13th when St. Boniface IV concecrated the Pantheon as a church. The Pantheon had been given to the Church as a gift from Emperor Phocas. The feast coincided with the conclusion of the Pagan feast of Lemures which was celebrated to appease restless spirits.

Pope Gregory III (731-741) dedicated a chapel in St. Peter's Basilica to all saints during his reign. Louis the Pious made the celebration obligatory in the Frankish empire in 835 and Pope Gregory IV  officially declared that the Feast of All Saints Day was to be celebrated by the whole Church on November 1st in 837.

The octave of All Saints was added during the reign of Pope Sixtus IV (1471-1484).

The Feast of All Saints is a holy day of obligation in the Catholic Church.

All Saints Day in the Eastern Church

In the Eastern Church the feast followed an ancient tradition of celebrating a feast for all saints on the first Sunday following Pentecost. The feast gained “official” status during the reign of the Byzantine Emperor Leo VI (886-911). He built a church for his holy wife Empress Theophano and when told he couldn't dedicate it to her, dedicated it to “All Saints” in the hope that she might some day be named a saint and therefore be celebrated in the church.

The second Sunday following Pentecost is reserved for honoring local groups of saints.

All Saints in Architecture

The Pantheon in Rome was originally a Roman temple dedicated to all the gods. In 609 the Byzantine Emperor Phocas gave the temple to Pope Boniface IV who rededicated as the church of St. Mary and the Martyrs. Many remains of Christians who originally had been buried in the catacombs were transferred to the church and placed under the altar.

The Pantheon - Church of All Saints

All Saints in Music

Here is a traditional recitation of the Litany of All Saints.

 

20 Oct

Prayer is a Battle

Father James at Regina High School with the SJS alumni

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 20, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

The Old Testament has so many great images of prayer, and particularly military images, which I like since I enjoy studying military history.  The Books of Joshua and Judges are particularly interesting.  For instance, there is Joshua's defeat of Jericho, which is done simply by having his army march around the outer walls seven times on seven consecutive days and then finally blowing a trumpet (cf. Joshua 6).  Or the story of Gideon, who, with only three hundred soldiers carrying empty jars with torches inside them, defeats the Midianite army that was "as numerous as locusts" (Judges 7:12).  In the first reading this Sunday we have the conquest of the Amalekites because Moses, overlooking the battle from a mountaintop, keeps his arms literally raised in the air.

20 Oct

The Church is Strong

There are two stories from the ancient world I would like to compare.  The first is that of Alcibiades, a figure from a war fought between Athens and Sparta in the 400s BC known as the Peloponnesian War.  A brilliant Athenian statesman and general, Alcibiades brought great success to Athens in the early part of the war.  While away on a naval campaign, however, he was accused by his political opponents of treason.  Placed under arrest by subordinates, he managed to escape, jumping ship (literally and figuratively).