Even though it is not fully a holiday (in the religious sense of the word), Thanksgiving is one of the very best holidays. Please don’t misunderstand me… Christmas and Easter are still the most important. However, there is a simplicity, a serenity to Thanksgiving which makes it so refreshing, when we purposely enter into the meaning of the day.
Yes, there’s turkey and pumpkin pie and all the trimmings, but the meaning isn’t there. Put those things aside. Yes, there are football games, but the meaning isn’t there as well. Put that aside. (Easier to do this year with all the nonsense that’s happening in the NFL.) Yes, the craziness of Black Friday is just around the corner, and all the other “preparations” for December 25th. Put all that stuff aside, too. Oh yes, and many of us will be surrounded by family and friends soon. We may mistaken them for the heart of Thanksgiving, but the meaning is not found (fully) with them, either. They are part of the meaning, but still, put them to the side—if but momentarily. Put aside everything and everyone which might get in the way of giving thanks for the biggest blessing.
It is Providence that we celebrate Thanksgiving at the very end of the liturgical year. With the close of the liturgical year, the Church bids us to reflect upon the conclusion of salvation history, the full coming of the Kingdom of God. She asks us to reflect upon the greatest blessing, one which is yet to be bestowed: Eternal Life. All other gifts pale in comparison!
We ask for that blessing before all else: for ourselves, for those whom we love, and especially for those far from the love of God… That is the heart of Thanksgiving.
In the Redeemer —
A few items to share … Liturgy of the Word for Children at the 9:30 AM Mass on Sundays is facing a bit of a shortfall in terms of adult personnel. It’s a wonderful thing for the kiddies, and I’d hate to shelve it for lack of qualified adults. How to resolve this temporary impasse? Quite simple: I invite any parents who’d like to participate to join. I’m sure that the situation will resolve itself eventually, but this is a good way to make sure it continues.
Secondly, once we arrive at Sunday the 7th of January, we’ll be going to a new Sunday Mass schedule. The 9:30 and 11:15 Masses will be merged into a 10 o’clock Mass. If you are accustomed to attending either Mass, you will need to switch either a half-hour later or 75 minutes earlier. This change is being made for practical long-term reasons. If that doesn’t work for you, then there are three other Masses to choose from, as they currently are: 4 PM on Saturday, 8 AM and 5 PM on Sunday. This change will be announced again at the end of Mass as we approach 2018.
Tambien, si hablas espanol, pienso empezar las confesiones para ustedes a las doce (hasta uno menos quince) con el cambio de horario. Pero, la fecha de este cambio sera 14 de enero.
Last of all, Deacon Larry and I are instituting a change for baptismal preparation, starting in January. (Please pass this news to everyone you know.) In order to properly prepare couples and godparents, there will be a difference of two months between the preparation and the conferral of the sacrament of Baptism. For example, preparation in June will mean an August baptism. It is NOT a denial of the sacrament to anyone, rather, it is time buffer to make sure everything is in right order—particularly with the selection of godparents. Please plan your child’s baptism well, working with us, not against us. Thank you.
In the Redeemer —
End of October:
November is the last month of the liturgical year. It ends with an exclamation point—and no, I’m not referring to Thanksgiving and the Macy’s Parade. Rather, I’m pointing toward the Feast of Christ the King. That feast points us to the moment when He will come again and all the angels and all mankind will be gathered before Him. We are nudged and cajoled to consider the last things, eternal things, the one thing necessary.
Yet, before we arrive at Christ the King we have other feasts to ponder, ones which have just passed by. The holy day of obligation of All Saints (November 1st) reminds us that we have brothers and sisters who have gone before us, having endured faithfully the trials of this life, and to whom we are still intimately connected. They are our heavenly advocates, incessantly praying for us who are still in the battle.
The day after (November 2nd) often gets the most attention: All Souls. We would be wise to consider the Catholic truth attached to this day. While we celebrate the Church Triumphant on the 1st (and to join them we should all be yearning), we equally need to remember the Church
Suffering. Oh, they are a joyful lot, for their salvation is assured! But they are a sorrowful lot, because what they now most wish for is denied them because they are not yet ready for the brilliance of God’s light. Fully dependent upon God’s mercy and our prayers, they long for the day of their release. God’s mercy will not disappoint; if anything will disappoint, it will be our prayers.
Love makes demands. That is the nature of true love, divine love. If that love is coursing thru our hearts, we rejoice for our brothers and sisters on the 1st, and in that rejoicing we beg for their prayer all the more. As for the 2nd, for those who are still in need of purification of any remnant of sin, we beg the Lord to have mercy upon their spirits so we have another advocate in heaven. (So, don’t canonize anyone too quickly, for you may very well be doing them and yourselves a great injustice.) All together, then, we hope to greet our Savior at the end of days, as our rightful and eternal King.
In the Redeemer —
Sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit, and a good story helps. When I first heard the following vignette, it gave me a very good laugh. It appears that all good stories have either a great punch line or an excellent lesson. This story, I believe, has both ….
In 1957, Christian Herter was running hard to be reelected as governor of Massachusetts. One day, since he had had neither breakfast nor lunch, he arrived late and starving at a BBQ on the campaign trail. As he moved down the serving line, he held out his plate and received one piece of chicken. He said to the serving lady, “Excuse me. Do you mind if I get another piece of chicken? I’m very hungry!”
The woman replied, “Sorry, I’m supposed to give one piece to each person.” With doleful eyes, he repeated, “Please, but I’m starved,” and she said, “Sorry, only one to a customer.”
Now, Governor Herter was normally a modest man, but he decided that was the time to use a little political influence. He said, “Ma’am, do you know who I am? I am the governor of this great state.”
She replied, “Do you know who I am? I’m the lady in charge of chicken. Move along, mister.”
Regardless of who we are, may we always act humbly.
Equally true, regardless of who we are, may we take pity on others and give of ourselves. True virtues should never be in conflict with each other.
In the Redeemer —
This weekend we are sandwiched between two 100th anniversary celebrations. Our celebrations as a parish will be happening on Monday and Tuesday, with a dinner and a Mass. Bigger than that is the 100th anniversary of Fatima, which is celebration for the Universal Church.
But, what is an apparition? An apparition is a charismatic gift granted by God to a person or persons for some greater purpose than the benefits of the primary recipients. Think of Juan Diego with Our Lady of Guadalupe. Think of Bernadette with Our Lady of Lourdes. And think of Lucia, Jacinta, and Francisco with Our Lady of Fatima. Mary’s appearances were not just for these persons, but for the world, for the Universal Church.
Is it something to concern ourselves about? Yes, but with the right perspective. Strictly speaking, these visitations are not part of the Deposit of the Faith, which closed with the apostles. As such, they do not carry the same weight. On the other hand, there is nothing in these apparitions which is contrary to the faith and, so, the Church has deemed them to be “worthy of belief.”
However, a bit more than an “intellectual vision” took place at Fatima. The Miracle of the Sun, attested to as a widely manifest miracle from those both near and far away, give credence to the belief that the Virgin Mary was the true messenger sent there to those three small children. As a result, the cry from heaven for conversion, penance, and prayer need to be taken with the utmost seriousness. And given how much more wicked the world has become in the past century, the more all of her children should listen to and obey her request. After all, she is but the messenger of her son, the Son of the Father, who wishes us to know these things.
May we listen well to the message and ardently conform our lives to the gospel.
In the Redeemer —
I have several items to share with everyone ….
The 100th Anniversary Mass will be taking place at 5:30 on Tuesday the 17th. Father Tizio will be the homilist and Father Paul will be the main celebrant. Even if you haven’t made a reservation to attend the dinner at Longfellow’s the previous day, we hope that many will attend the Mass and stuff the church to the rafters! Wouldn’t that make for a wonderful celebration?
Next, if there are still any piggie banks out there, it’s now time for them to come home. I’ve already turned mine in, for a total of $282.
Finally, there are two changes when January arrives ….
First, the Sunday morning Mass schedule will change.
The 9:30 and the 11:15 will be consolidated into one Mass—at 10 o’clock. January 6th will be the change date. This will be mentioned again numerous times as we approach 2018.
Second, starting in January, there will be a two-month difference between baptismal preparation and the actual baptism. (For example, if the preparation is done in May, then the baptism will be in July.) The reason for this change is practical: some parents still do not understand what makes for eligible godparents, and often more time is needed to find suitable candidates.
Some people also do not understand why this is important and why we cannot accede to their choices.
If you have a particular date in mind, please plan accordingly so you get your desired date. Please share this information with anyone who may be seeking their child’s baptism after January arrives. Thank you very much.
In the Redeemer —
From early October:
Have you ever heard of Crush, Texas and how that town got its name? In 1896 there was a publicity stunt, that of a controlled train wreck with two old locomotives, put on by the regional railroad. It was so well advertised that approximately 40,000 people showed up to witness the spectacle. While the accident was “controlled,” the crowd was not, and the crowd pressed in to the see the crash. However, upon impact, both boilers exploded—killing several and wounding many.
I mention this because there might be a train wreck of sort in the near future. (Mind you, I’m not saying there will be!) If you pay attention to the news, four cardinals submitted five Dubia (doubts) with respect to the document Amoris Laetitia written by Pope Francis. He has not responded to these cardinals and, as surely as the sun rises in the east, a further response will be forthcoming. (It is a properly called a Fraternal Correction.) I suspect that will cause shock waves throughout the Universal Church.
All that I’ve stated so far is fact—with a reasonable conjecture at the end. Some parishioners seem to be aware of this tug-of-war between bishops, cardinals, and the Holy Father. Others seem to be wholly unaware. What is one to think? What to say, what to do? What to pray for?!
Monsignor Charles Pope (of the Archdiocese of Washington) is a priest who has a daily blog easily found online. He is much more intelligent, thoughtful, and prayerful than me. And, I believe, he is very even-handed in all of his writing about anything Catholic. With that said, I would like to recommend to you a blog he wrote on September 5th called “Fraternal Correction, the Neglected Virtue.” It is an excellent article that would serve us all well to reflect upon.
Is a crush, a crash coming? I do not know, but I suspect there is—and I would hope that no one is wounded by unknowingly standing too close.
In the Redeemer —
A Vatican summary of Amoris Laetitia.
Next weekend our new music minister, Jeffrey Halstead, will begin here at Saint Clement’s! I’m certain that some parishioners are already familiar with him. He teaches music at Saratoga High and several years ago he was the music minister at Saint Peter’s. May everyone take a moment to welcome Jeff over the next several weeks.
Two 100th’s are quickly approaching and are worth
The first 100th is our parish anniversary! On Monday the 16th we will celebrate with a festive dinner at
Longfellow’s. (Yes, a price is attached but, fortunately, we CSsR have defrayed some of the cost). Hopefully many will attend and make it a memorable evening.
Reservations are needed by October 2nd, however, so please do not delay! On Tuesday the 17th we will have a thanksgiving Mass. Father Joe Tizio will be the preacher—and I hear he’s fired up! I hope to see you there, too!
The second 100th is Our Lady of Fatima’s 100th anniversary on October the 13th. If you wish to boost your spiritual life, this is the opportunity to take advantage of a plenary indulgence. Confessions will be from 4 o’clock to 6 o’clock, followed by a rosary, then a thanksgiving Mass, Adoration, and a reception in Our Lady’s chapel.
Details for both 100s can be found in the bulletin. Wow, the middle of October is a busy time for Saint Clement’s!
In the Redeemer —
September 17th is my brother’s birthday. Mine was last week. Naturally many wishes and jokes pass between Matt and me each September, with a flurry of texts and well-chosen greeting cards. Next year I’ll hit him with several cards as he approaches membership in the “over the hill club.”
Besides remembering birthdays, our dates always remind me of great turning points in history. Mine is the 11th. Its significance is burned into our collective memory. His, September 17th, is just as dark a day, perhaps even darker. It marks the Battle of Antietam near Sharpsburg, Maryland, which resulted in 25,000 casualties in one day! However, since it’s not of recent history, its memory and significance has faded.
There are certainly many other dates and events in our nation’s history (and in the world’s) which have been forgotten. It is impossible to remember them all. Yet, they have shaped who we are as Americans and as human beings. The Moments which shape us the most happened twenty centuries ago with the Incarnation and the Paschal mystery. For the apostles and disciples living thru that moment, it probably appears to be utterly unjust and maddening, and absurd. But in God’s wisdom it was the most noble and efficacious moment, for it brought about true freedom and redemption.
We always do well to remember. And, while it is impossible to remember everything, we remember the greatest sacrifice of all, because everything else in wrapped up and made meaningful with that Moment.
In the Redeemer —
“We all reminisce” can be transformed to “It is our story.” Sacred Scripture is God’s love story. When that story is shared consistently, it becomes our story. But, if the Scriptures are not shared regularly, they cease having impact. Meaning cannot be conveyed if done in only a few tellings over a lifetime. Scripture can be compared to a love letter… unless it is read many times by the recipient, he or she will not comprehend the deep meaning. In time, it is easily forgotten.
During the past two years, I’ve gone thru Marriage Prep with many couples. My opening session is to ground the sacrament in Scripture. I talk about covenant and the applicable passages and stories; from Genesis and Exodus, from the gospels, from Saint Paul. However, when I ask questions most of the participants (but not all) give me the “deer caught in the headlights” look. If I ask Baby Boomers the questions, they’d have a ready answer! Ask a Gen Xer (my generation) and it’s probably 50-50. It appears that asking a Millennial, you will often be met with silence. What of the next generation, called iGen by some in the media?
Some Catholic journalist have opined over the years that catechetically we have lost a generation. I give these couples great credit for wanting to be married in the Church, for they are not part of that lost generation. However, it seems that some suffer from the same effects, namely not knowing God’s love story, and ours. Priests, teachers, and catechists can only do so much. The key has always been the family, especially parents, grandparents, and godparents. It is here, within the heart of the family, where stories of Scripture will first be planted, nurtured, watered, and cared for.
We all reminisce. I’m certain you go back to particular moments in your life, ruminating over what you’ve experienced. Sometimes those moments are innocent, happy memories. Other times they may be that “worst day ever.” For whatever reason—good, bad, undetermined—memories are emblazoned upon our memories and the mind’s eye can easily “take one back.”
However, as clear as those memories may be to you, chances are you can’t fully share them. They are, in a manner of speaking, a private possession. A case in point, my brother Matt and I (isn’t this the way it works as one grows older?) have shared many memories over the past few years, especially since my father’s death in 2010. Matt has mentioned things that I’ve had, at best, a shadowy remembrance of. Likewise, I’ve mentioned things which have puzzled him. The kicker is that these are instances where we’ve both been there! So, go figure.
Collectively, we share the Scriptures every time we gather together for Mass. It’s a bit at a time, yet over the course of several years, we hear much of the Old Testament, most of the Psalms, many passages from the epistles, and most of the four gospels. Then it all repeats. And it’s not just my experience of listening, but ours. It’s all of us listening to God’s love story, and that constant repetition helps it to sink in. Once or twice, it seems, is not enough.
It may not seem to be our story, but actually it is. The story of salvation history—in its great sweep from Creation, to Abraham and Moses and David, thru the prophets, to Jesus and His apostles, and finally to the mysterious Day of the Lord—does include us. God’s word “takes us back,” while it also cajoles us to look forward toward eternity. It is our story.
I have more thoughts to share along these lines, but space is now running out …. so, I’ll pick up this theme later ….
From Late August:
Over the years I’ve heard the following phrase several times: “I go to church to feel good about myself.” We might shrug our shoulders and think nothing of it, but that is really a nonsensical statement. That cannot be the primary reason we pursue the spiritual life.
The 4th Common Preface prayer (the prayer just before the “Holy, Holy”) states the reason with eloquence: “For, although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness, but profit us for salvation, through Christ our Lord.”
The Lord has no need of our praise?! The reason is given shortly afterwards, namely, we cannot add to nor diminish His greatness. Ah! so then there must be something else which is the difference maker, no? Of course there is! We’re told that a thankful heart is a gift in itself. (Looking from another angle, who of us wants to have a small, crusty, selfish heart?) And what are we meant to do with this gift? Maybe it’s more like what will that gift do for us?
At Mass, our Lord is like a father sitting at the dinner table, with his children ringed about him, and telling them, “Eat your veggies.” He’s saying that for their own good, wanting to see them grow up healthy and strong. It neither adds nor detracts from his well-being if they do so.
But, more to the point: we are created in His Image & Likeness. That needs to be constantly renewed with His gifts, His grace. It should be no wonder then that every preface prayer begins with, “It is truly right and just, our duty and our salvation, always and everywhere to give you thanks ….”
In the Redeemer —