Pastor's Column

 
September 20, 2020
St. Joseph, Pray for Us!
 
 
“Devotion to St. Joseph is one of the choicest graces that God can give to a soul, for it is tantamount to revealing the entire treasury of Our Lord’s graces. When God wishes to raise a soul to greater heights, He
unites it to St. Joseph by giving it a strong love for the good saint.” -- St. Peter Julian Eymard 
 
It is with anticipation of receiving many graces that our parish will begin a 33-day consecration to St. Joseph on Wednesday, September 30, through the use of Fr. Donald Calloway’s Consecration to St. Joseph:
The Wonders of Our Spiritual Father (Marian Press, 2020).
 
I have heard from a number of parishioners, from a priest friend of mine, and even from my own sister, how useful and efficacious this consecration can be.
 
Fr. Donald within the handbook’s first few pages explains its importance:
“To combat and overcome Satan’s deceptions, the Church needs St. Joseph. His example and protection
are the only way out of the confusing mess we are in. Who else can we turn to who can help us understand
what marriage and the family are all about if not to the Head of the Holy Family and the Terror of Demons?
 
Second, the entire world needs to be re-evangelized, including the vast majority of baptized Christians.
Saint Joseph was the first missionary. Today, he desires again to bring Jesus to the nations. Many nations and cultures that were previously Christian have fallen away from their Christian roots and are on a path of self destruction.  Countries once established on Judeo-Christian principles have become overrun by ideologies and organizations that seek to strip society of all that is sacred. Without a major turnaround, civilization itself is going to self-destruct.
 
In an apostolic exhortation on St. Joseph in 1989, Pope St. John Paul II reminded us of the necessity of invoking St. Joseph in the work of re-evangelizing the world. He wrote:
 
‘This patronage [of St. Joseph] must be invoked as ever necessary for the
Church, not only as a defense against all dangers, but also, and indeed
primarily, as an impetus for her renewed commitment to evangelization in the
world and to re-evangelization in those lands and nations where religion and
the Christian life were formerly flourishing and are now put to a hard test.’
 
Now is the time to consecrate yourself to St. Joseph! God is telling His Church that, in order to defend marriage and the family, elevate morals, recover lost ground, and win souls for Jesus Christ, we need to bring St. Joseph onto the battlefield. He is the Terror of Demons! With his powerful spiritual fatherhood, incredible love for his spiritual children, and constant intercession, the Church can be renewed as a light to the nations, a beautiful city on a hill (see Mt. 5: 14-16)!”
 
Fr. Calloway continues that consecration to St. Joseph “basically means that you acknowledge that he is
your spiritual father, and you want to be like him. To show it, you entrust yourself entirely to his paternal care so that he can lovingly help you acquire his virtues and become holy […] to the point of resembling him in virtue and holiness. Saint Joseph, in turn, will give those consecrated to him his loving attention, protection, and guidance” (pgs. 4, 5).
 
The handbook is available at www.consecrationtostjoseph.org. Please prayerfully consider joining us in this collective endeavor to pray through the intercession, and invoke the protection, of our great spiritual father, St. Joseph.
Fr. Michael Panicali
 
 
Pastor’s Column September 12 – 13, 2020

“Lord, if my brother sins against me,how often must I forgive?”

 

“Love means never having to say you're sorry" is a catchphrase based on a line from the Erich Segal novel Love Story which was popularized by its 1970 film adaptation starring Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal. The line is spoken twice in the film: once in the middle of the film, by Jennifer (Ali MacGraw's character), when Oliver (O'Neal’s character) apologizes to her for his anger; and also as the very last line of the film, by Oliver, when his father says "I'm sorry" after learning of Jennifer's death. The line proved memorable, and has been repeated in various contexts since. It was voted #13 in the American Film Institute's list of top movie quotes. It was the title of a top 40 hit song by the band Sounds of Sunshine in the year 1971. But the line has also been criticized or mocked for suggesting that apologies are unnecessary in a loving relationship. Another character played by Ryan O'Neal disparages it in the 1972 movie comedy What's Up, Doc?: in that film's final scene, Barbra Streisand's character says “Love means never having to say you're sorry.” while batting her eyelashes, and O'Neal's character responds in a deadpan voice, “That's the dumbest thing I ever heard.” – a sentiment with which I most wholeheartedly agree.
 
 
Our Gospel this weekend begins with Peter asking Jesus the question, “Lord, if my brother sins against me, how often must I forgive? As many as seven times?” Peter is thinking in limited, legalistic terms. The Jewish people of Jesus’ day were notorious for looking for every nuance in order to be able to satisfy the letter of the law, but not necessarily its spirit. It is as if Peter is saying: “At what point am I justified in saying enough is enough? What are the precise requirements expected of me? I will do that, but nothing more.” But Jesus responds by saying, “I say to you, not seven times but seventy-seven times.” According to St. John Chrysostom whose Feast Day is celebrated on Sunday, “When He says seventy- seven times he does not limit a definite number within which forgiveness must be kept; he signifies something endless and ever enduring.”
 
Jesus goes on to tell his disciples a parable in which he likens the kingdom of heaven to a king who decided to settle accounts with his servants. In comparing heaven to a person, Jesus is telling us that heaven is to be involved in an
intimate relationship with God which is sometimes expressed as the beatific vision, seeing God face to face. Our God is not some impersonal force or energy but rather a tri-personal relationship of love between the Father, Son, and Holy 
Spirit, and we are invited to share in that love and, ultimately, to live and dwell in that love forever. But all too often we injure that relationship by our sins. That’s when we need to tell God we are sorry and ask for his forgiveness, most especially in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. We all have our particular weaknesses. It is easy to become discouraged when we find ourselves confessing the same sins time and time again. But those feelings of despair certainly do not come from God. They are from the Evil One. As our Holy Father Pope Francis has pointed out, sometimes we get tired of approaching God and asking for forgiveness, but God never tires of forgiving us.
 
 
In the parable, the king forgives his servant’s huge debt, but when he hears that same servant refused to show mercy to a fellow servant who owed him a much smaller amount, the master had the wicked servant turned over to the torturers until he should pay back his whole debt. The king said, “I forgave you your entire debt because you begged me to. Should you not have had pity on your fellow servant, as I had pity on you?” Similarly, in the prayer that Jesus taught us, we ask our Father to “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” So remember, far from love meaning never having to say you’re sorry, love means having to ask forgiveness and to offer forgiveness over and over and over again. --
Fr. Bob

 
 

 

September 6, 2020              23rd Sunday in Ordinary Time
The Basics on Heaven, Purgatory, and the Resurrection of the Dead
 
One topic that is of intense intrigue, importance, and unfortunately, confusion, among the Christian faithful, is the destiny of the human soul upon physical death. Below, I would like to share some fundamental concepts.
 
The Church definitively teaches that Heaven, Purgatory, and Hell each exist and are separate and distinct from one another. Heaven is being in the presence of Christ. Those who die and are in no need of purification are already in Heaven (such as the saints of the Church.) They enjoy the Beatific Vision with God (and yet await the full participation of the Resurrection of the Dead at the end of time.)
 
Purgatory exists for those souls who die in charity that are in need of purification and cleansing. The Prayer of the Faithful of the Church is to affect them -- the intercession of the living faithful are to their benefit. Pope Benedict XVI has explained that in Purgatory, Christ’s purifying love is encountered – the purifying fire is nothing except a personal encounter with Christ.
 
The Church has much to say on how, in our physical death, we complete our sharing in the Death of Christ. In the Old Testament, death was associated with alienation from God. That death is done away with by Christ.  Christ’s Death becomes life for us, overcoming the alienation. His Death is related to a source of life for us.
 
In Galatians, St. Paul refers to both a fleshly, and a spiritual, presence. Upon death, the spiritual is raised – the bodily presence is fully permeated by the spirit. The soul is no longer limited to giving form to an organism. Its orientation is broadened: the physical body is spiritual, and there is fuller communion with others.
 
The dead can rest and participate in the Risen Life of Christ (those who see the Beatific Vision), but the fullness of this will come at the Resurrection of the Dead. St. Paul in 1 Thessalonians 4:16 explains that believers are already in the Body of Christ participating in Christ’s Resurrection, but that there will be a return of Christ and a Resurrection of the Dead.
 
The Patristic Fathers saw this as the ultimate hope of the Christian -- the Resurrection of the Dead. Pope Benedict XVI adds that between death and the Resurrection of the Dead, there is an intermediate state. After death, the soul can enjoy the Beatific Vision with God, and there is something complete – and yet, there is also something that is not yet realized.
 
Fulfilled communion comes to its completion and realization with the Resurrection of the Dead at the end of history, when the depth of communion is extended. Christians believe that this will bring absolute fulfillment of what God has planned for us.
 
~ Fr. Michael W. Panicali