July 26th, is the traditional Feast Day of the parents of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Saints Joachim & Anne. The Novena to St. Anne, is held from July 17 to 25. It concludes with the Feast Day. Settlers, missionaries, and sailors coming from France brought devotion to Saint Anne to North America, where it was widely accepted, especially at the Shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, Quebec, Canada where 350 years of devotion have already gone by.
(The following is taken from Saint of the Day, Fr. Don Miller, OFM. Franciscan Media): This is the “feast of grandparents.” It reminds grandparents of their responsibility to establish a tone for generations to come: They must make the traditions live and offer them as a promise to little children. But the feast has a message for the younger generation as well. It reminds the young that older people’s greater perspective, depth of experience, and appreciation of life’s profound rhythms are all part of a wisdom not to be taken lightly or ignored.
In the Scriptures, Matthew and Luke furnish a legal family history of Jesus, tracing ancestry to show that Jesus is the culmination of great promises. Not only is his mother’s family neglected, we also know nothing factual about them except that they existed. Even the names Joachim and Anne come from a legendary source written more than a century after Jesus died.
The heroism and holiness of these people however, is inferred from the whole family atmosphere around Mary in the Scriptures. Whether we rely on the legends about Mary’s childhood or make guesses from the information in the Bible, we see in her a fulfillment of many generations of prayerful persons, herself steeped in the religious traditions of her people.
The strong character of Mary in making decisions, her continuous practice of prayer, her devotion to the laws of her faith, her steadiness at moments of crisis, and her devotion to her relatives—all indicate a close-knit, loving family that looked forward to the next generation even while retaining the best of the past.
Joachim and Anne—whether these are their real names or not—represent that entire quiet series of generations who faithfully perform their duties, practice their faith, and establish an atmosphere for the coming of the Messiah, but remain obscure.
Saints Joachim and Anne are the Patron Saints of Grandparents.
Let us give thanks to our God who is so good!
Jesus told stories. Stories about forgiveness, stories about hope, stories about the problem of evil, stories like the wheat and the weeds. And by that story he told us our God is not a punishing, controlling God who plants evil. Our God only plants what is good, our God is not a punishing, controlling God but a patient God who says let’s let it grow. Let’s see what happens. Our God waits alongside us and is loving all the time. When bad things happen, like 9/11, or a natural disaster or an act of terrorism, when bad things happen to us, what do we say? We say it’s God’s will. Or, when things are really bad, we say it’s an act of God.
However, it’s not God’s intention, it’s not God’s will that there might be evil, but rather God stands with us when there is evil. There is always a cause for things. An earthquake is caused by the moving of tectonic plates, hurricanes are caused by low pressure systems. Terrorism is caused by anger and hatred. There’s always a cause. But not God’s reason. What God does is stand alongside us, like the man who planted the good seed, stands alongside us and offers opportunity. In the face of natural disasters, what an opportunity and a surprise was people’s generosity, people’s compassion to help those in need. In the face of war and chaos, what comes forth? What comes along in that opportunity is compassion and service, everything from Florence Nightingale to the Red Cross to Catholic Relief Services. And what happens to us? We at least learn. Someone has said when bad things happen to me, either I Become bitter or I become better.
Our actions have consequences, we have to be responsible for our actions and we either become bitter or we become better. Wheat and weeds – the problem of evil. Where is God in all this? God always desires our good, gives us gifts to respond, to grow and to learn, gives us courage and strength to do more than we could ever ask or desire.
Let us give thanks to our God who is so good.
One of the things which all Redemptorists are quite familiar with is St. Alphonsus’ seminal composition, Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament. To not know of this particular devotion is to not know Alphonsus. The saint had a great love for the Eucharist. With that love, he constructed a monthly devotion, for a 31-day month, that anyone could use.
I have a favorite passage or image from his book . . . Oh, there’s much to choose from, but the one that still captures my imagination, particularly when I’m quietly alone in front of the Blessed Sacrament, is this (an excerpt from St. Alphonsus’ 15th Visit): “I have come to cast fire on the earth, and what do I want if not that it be kindled” (Lk. 12:49). The Venerable Father Francis Olimpio used to say that there was nothing on earth that inflamed the first of divine love in human hearts more than the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar. Thus, the Lord manifested Himself to Saint Catherine of Siena in the Most Holy Sacrament as a furnace of love, from which came torrents of divine flames that spread thru the earth. The saint was astonished that people could live without burning with love for so great a divine love toward them. My Jesus, make me burn for You. Grant that I may not think, breathe, desire, or seek anything else but You. Oh, how blessed would I be, if Your holy fire would take complete possession of me and consume in me all my earthly affections as I advance in age!
If you are searching for a devotion (and we all should have one!), I can think of nothing better than Visits to the Most Blessed Sacrament and The Most Holy Mary by St. Alphonsus Ligouri (the Classic Text Translated with a Spiritual Commentary by Fr. Dennis Billy, C.Ss.R.), published by Ave Maria Press. Even if it’s used randomly—once, twice, several times a month—it should help anyone in growing with this greatest of all devotions. A thought to be pondered by us all on this feast of Corpus Christi, no?
In the Redeemer —
A hometown lad has just been ordained!! !! Nowadays it’s rare that one has the opportunity to celebrate an ordination. After seeing the bulletin inserts, I hope everyone is now “in the know” as to this grand occasion. Many congratulations to Father Daniel Corrou, SJ, who was ordained a priest at Fordham this Saturday the 10th and he will be celebrating his First Mass at Saint Clement’s on Sunday the 11th, at the 11:15 Mass!
I arrived in Saratoga 14 years after my ordination. Father Bob arrived just shy of his 12th anniversary. And Father Tuttle? Well, he was ordained just before I was born, in 1965! But here, you get to see what a freshly minted priest looks like! It’s my hope that many parishioners will celebrate with Father Daniel today. And it’s my great hope that many young men will take notice—and perhaps come to hear the same call with their lives.
Saint (Padre) Pio once said, “It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.” Not to dismiss the importance of other vocations, but certainly the priesthood is the most important vocation of all, for the priest is called to manifest Jesus Christ and His kingdom as no other can; to preach the Word, to absolve sins, to baptize, to anoint the sick, and especially to confect the Eucharist, these holy things are indispensable.
This world needs the Son more than it needs the sun.
Please pray for Father Dan as he begins his priestly journey. Also, please pray for every priest you know or have ever met. All for the greater glory of God and the salvation of souls!
In the Redeemer —
A stanza in Psalm 42 reads: “Deep is calling upon deep, in the roar of waters: your torrents and all your waves swept over me.” I often pondering when I hear that proclamation during morning prayer.. Of courses the Psalms were authored by King David. But, as is said about Scripture, “Christ is hidden in the Old Testament and He is revealed in the New Testament.” Here is a small reflection which has run thru my mind for some time now ….
“Your torrents and all your waves swept over me.” One might think immediately of the Great Flood or Israel passing thru the sea and the Egyptians destroyed. But to the Christian imagination these images prefigure the sacrament of Baptism. A trickle of water from a half-shell does not appear to be a torrent. But, water is not the only thing being poured out. Supernatural grace is the torrent at that moment, and if we could actually see that at a Christening, the sight would be overwhelming!
“Deep is calling upon deep, in the roar of waters.”
Deep, as in profound, sublime, grace-filled, beautiful, good, real, true—and utterly mysterious. The utterly mysterious God is the Deep. Yet, do we hear things correctly? He calling upon us since we can hear another “deep”?! Yes! We human beings are no mere creation, for is said in Genesis: “Then God said: ‘Let us make human beings in our image, after our likeness.’ God created mankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
So, yes, the Deep has called upon us, the deep.
Created in His Image & Likeness, we are—and thru the baptismal waters a torrent of grace washes over us. Something to ponder as we celebrate the birthday of the Church at Pentecost!
In the Redeemer —
This past autumn, Mr. Paul Macari, Esq. visited Saint Clement’s to talk to us about the various instruments one can use to financially contribute to a parish. In a word, while most people think in terms of bequests with their Last Will & Testament, other means do exist which may be a much better fit for some folks. (We always appreciate any gifts but, as the pastor, I would never want to see anyone put themselves and their families thru any hardship.)
You may remember me plugging for that meeting last year. Unfortunately, that meeting’s timing was woeful, because it the first significant snowfall (with a mixture of ice) of the year. Mister Macari was very gracious about it all, but I was quite disappointed.
He will be here again in June and I hope no snowstorm will get in the way this time! My simple request to everyone (if you are inclined to help the parish, but are not sure of exactly how you can best accomplish that) is to attend that 6:30 meeting on Thursday, June 15th. We will be in the Ligouri room but, being the optimist, I’m hoping for an overflow crowd so we will need to move the meeting to the church.
May this meeting bear many fruits for Saint Clement’s in the years to come!
It is better to lead to example. Equally true, it is better to offer a positive than a negative. With those thoughts in mind, I’d like to share this ….
For every weekend that the parish meets the weekly budget number for collections, we Redemptorists will write out a $100 check to add to the collection total. So, as a community, we could add approximately $5,200 to the general budget. Again, this contribution will be contingent upon how the parish responds each weekend.
It is my hope that everyone will look closely at what they give and, if possible, respond accordingly. Besides instituting this potential weekly contribution, the staff, the Finance Council, and I hope to use the next year to take a closer look at expenses to make wise use of funds.
In the Redeemer —
I’m putting out the call for lectors and extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist. As time slips by, those who are involved in these ministries begin to dwindle because of age, health, relocation, etc. It’s time beef up these ministries.
My request is simple: take it to prayer. One needs to reflect upon whether ultimately the Lord is calling one to serve at the liturgy in such ways. Nevertheless, one also needs to be qualified to do so: baptized, confirmed, have received communion, in good standing with the Church (that is, sacramentally married or living as a chaste single person), and practicing the Faith.
I’d also like to put the call out to our youth with respect to being altar servers. This is a ministry which needs to be added to, too.
If you feel called to serve in these way, please talk to me, Father Bob, or any of the Pastoral Council members. The picture array of the PC members can be found in the gathering space between the church and the front office.
Thank you for your time and consideration!
In the Redeemer —
Behind my mother’s house is a large slab of concrete that serves as a back porch. Just off the porch are several birdfeeders, and one is a gift my mother received last year from a friend. It’s shaped like a long bullet, made of metal with a sleek skin, and has four small notches where the littlest birdies can sit and eat. Chickadees, nuthatches, and goldfinches frequent it—as do the squirrels. The grand difference is those feathered friends get to eat to their hearts’ content…
Last Tuesday I was eating breakfast (bacon and eggs—thanks, Mom), when a big squirrel tried to perform the impossible. Somehow he scaled the curved pole to where he was hanging by his back paws, downward. But, as ingenious construction would have it, he was not quite able to reach the feeder’s first opening. Front paws probed for another place gain purchase, so as to hang and stretch out just a bit lower. Oh, and how he tried, and he thought he had found the right spot! However, as he shifted his weight, he slid down to the ground and into the flowers. (At this point I could imagine a cardinal and blue jay laughing at the whole scene from the pine tree.) “Poor fellow, when is he is ever going to learn? Birdseed is for birds!”
While I won’t put it past the squirrels (one more agile and less chubby) will eventually conquer that contraption, it will take ages, methinks, to see that particular moment arrive. But, certainly they will continue trying, for the lure is too great.
Do we fancy ourselves to be squirrels?
Do we fancy ourselves to be birds?
In the Redeemer —
Earlier in the month I met with several members of the Pastoral Council, the Sacristans, Music Ministry, and various others for a liturgy meeting. Part of the meeting was to prepare for Holy Week. Another part of the meeting was to look at the liturgy in general, and to see if there’s anything we need to do.
Three things came from the meeting …. And the plan is to implement these items starting next week, the final weekend of April.
First of all, Bishop Scharfenburger has made it known, wherever he goes to celebrate, that his preference is for people to kneel at the Lamb of God. While this may be difficult for some people given health or age (so, please feel free to sit), I’d ask for us to revert to this particular posture at that sacred hymn.
Secondly, during Sunday Masses it has been the custom to sing the Alleluia in response to the proclamation of the gospel. We can still make a joyful noise, but we really should respond the right way first: “Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.” but the said response needs to be voiced.
Last of all, we had a very robust discussion about silence, both before and after Mass. I’d ask, at the very least, that everyone make the effort to maintain silence before Mass. Silent prayer is needed more there, me- thinks, to prepare our hearts for the breaking open of the Word and the breaking of the Bread. And, if you see someone making a thanksgiving after Mass, in silent prayer, please be courteous and move your conversation elsewhere. My house is a house of prayer, says the Lord.
Thank you for your attention and cooperation with all of these!
In the Redeemer —
This weekend’s message is from Father Charlie….
“In my Redemptorist formation, I knew several seminarians who were from St. Clement’s, some of whom were in my class. All these young men were affable, engaging, and talented. Through them, my initial impression of the people of the parish was always positive, even before direct contact during the Mission.
I can’t help thinking of Our Lord’s saying, “By their fruits, you’ll know them.” Indeed, the Mission only confirmed that for me.
“The warm and intense response of the people of St. Clement’s to the Mission event was truly a grace, a blessing, a sign that God’s people are ever hungry to know and love Him more concretely in their daily lives. What happens on a Mission goes far beyond a ‘this world’ analysis. The Holy Spirit is always present to prepare and open up the hearts of the faithful with His dynamism, and to use the missionary (in this case, yours truly, a poor instrument) in the way He so desires for refreshing and revitalizing the faith of His people.
“Their sincerity, appreciation, generosity, and joy touched me deeply! My prayer is that the fire of their love for Our Good Lord and for His Mother becomes contagious for the entire city of Saratoga and beyond.
Blessings to you, to your Redemptorist community, and to your dear people!”
We approach Holy Week, which will conclude with the celebration of the Paschal Mystery hidden away in the Triduum.How will you celebrate it? I mention the following not to blow my own horn but, like the example of my confirmation namesake Saint Paul, I believe a priest should try to show good example.
When I was a freshman in high school, I was on the track team. When Holy Week arrived, even the public schools (1980) would set aside Holy Thursday and Good Friday as vacation days. As a little boy I’d gone to the Good Friday service every year, which is traditionally held at 3 o’clock. At that time in life I was awakening to my vocation, so I had added impetus to be at church.
Mr. M., the German teacher and track coach, was a fallen-away Catholic, who now said he was a staunch atheist. He announced that we’d have track practice that Friday at 3 o’clock—and he expected everyone to be there. I recognized his thinly-veiled challenge—and went to church anyway. When we saw each other on Monday, Mr. M was quick to tell me how disappointed he was with me. I acknowledged his comment by simply saying I understood. (I had asked him to move the time earlier or later, but he refused to budge.)
Although I loved running and I enjoyed learning German, I discontinued both my sophomore year. On Good Fridays I remember Mr. M—and I pray for him.
How will you spend the moments of remembering your redemption?
In the Redeemer —
Several months ago I referred to parishioners as being Clementines. I was quite surprised to later hear from several people that they don’t remember that moniker ever being used before. (For the record, I was thinking of Saint Clement and that old song “My Darling, Clementine” when that word popped into my mind, not about citrus fruit.) Chances are that many of you have an inkling, but in case you don’t even have that, we’re now on the verge of a Clementine celebration of 100 years ….
If you look out at the front of the church, you’ll see that two banners are now hanging. Perhaps you’ve seen them while driving by? Or maybe you usually walk in the front entrance when you come to Mass? Nevertheless, if you haven’t taken a good look at them, I’d hope that everyone makes the effort to view them up close, not just in passing.
The exact beginning of Saint Clement’s was in October of 1917. When we reach this coming October, we plan to celebrate. One hundred years is not to be sneezed at, for we’ve grown from humble beginnings into a vibrant parish—actually the second largest parish in the Albany diocese! A celebration is in order when October arrives.
So, oh my darling Clementines, please keep your eyes open to see what will be happening a half-year from now. The primary places you’ll find more info will be in the bulletin and on the website. Thank you.
In the Redeemer —
“Out of sight,
Out of mind.”
This is a phrase we’ve all heard, and it applies as much to us as it does to others. After all, that’s human nature.
I’ve mentioned several times that we have a mission at the end of March—and it starts Monday evening and runs to Thursday evening. Our missionary is Father Charlie Coury, CSsR. This weekend all of you are getting the chance to see and hear him, and I hope everyone will make the firm decision to attend during the whole mission. Yes, we certainly live very busy lives, but one might even say that our lives are hyperactive, jam-packed, and absolute relentless! In the midst of all that, a mission may very well seem like “just another activity” among many others. While that may be true with respect to schedules, I would contend that is false in terms of priorities. Please allow me to explain ….
How many of us will skip a night of sleep—just to get things done? How about skipping breakfast, lunch, and dinner—just to make sure that we get things done? And what about skipping a shower—just to accomplish other tasks? Clearly, these things are a priority! Sooner or later a growling stomach, yawning, and stinkiness will force us out of the “out of sight, out of mind” zone.
Physical needs press upon us daily, sometimes hourly. Do our spirits press upon us in the same way? No, they don’t, not sensibly. So, we can then say that these spiritual needs are less important? No, actually they press upon us even more! Grace, light, right relationship, joy, peace, hope …. and so many other things! We yearn for these gifts!
A mission in the middle of Lent is exactly what our souls need! May we Clementines fill the church every evening! Even more, may our hearts be filled with Jesus’ blessings!
In the Redeemer —