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December 2017

Angels: God's Messengers

DreamToday's gospel relates the story in Matthew's gospel of one of Joseph's dreams: this one regarding Mary's virginal and unanticipated pregnancy by the Holy Spirit. The dream state is often seen as a liminal space, a place of privileged communication with spirits. As such, it was the perfect opportunity for God to send an angelic messenger to reassure Joseph about the integrity of his marriage-to-be.

Created Male and Female: An Open Letter From Religious Leaders

December 15, 2017

Dear Friends: 

As leaders of various communities of faith throughout the United States, many of us came together in the past to affirm our commitment to marriage as the union of one man and one woman and as the foundation of society. We reiterate that natural marriage continues to be invaluable to American society. 

We come together to join our voices on a more fundamental precept of our shared existence, namely, that human beings are male or female and that the socio-cultural reality of gender cannot be separated from one's sex as male or female. 

We acknowledge and affirm that all human beings are created by God and thereby have an inherent dignity. We also believe that God created each person male or female; therefore, sexual difference is not an accident or a flaw—it is a gift from God that helps draw us closer to each other and to God. What God has created is good. "God created mankind in his image; in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them" (Gen 1:27). 

A person's discomfort with his or her sex, or the desire to be identified as the other sex, is a complicated reality that needs to be addressed with sensitivity and truth. Each person deserves to be heard and treated with respect; it is our responsibility to respond to their concerns with compassion, mercy and honesty. As religious leaders, we express our commitment to urge the members of our communities to also respond to those wrestling with this challenge with patience and love. 

Children especially are harmed when they are told that they can "change" their sex or, further, given hormones that will affect their development and possibly render them infertile as adults. Parents deserve better guidance on these important decisions, and we urge our medical institutions to honor the basic medical principle of "first, do no harm." Gender ideology harms individuals and societies by sowing confusion and self-doubt. The state itself has a compelling interest, therefore, in maintaining policies that uphold the scientific fact of human biology and supporting the social institutions and norms that surround it. 

The movement today to enforce the false idea—that a man can be or become a woman or vice versa—is deeply troubling. It compels people to either go against reason—that is, to agree with something that is not true—or face ridicule, marginalization, and other forms of retaliation. 

We desire the health and happiness of all men, women, and children. Therefore, we call for policies that uphold the truth of a person's sexual identity as male or female, and the privacy and safety of all. We hope for renewed appreciation of the beauty of sexual difference in our culture and for authentic support of those who experience conflict with their God-given sexual identity. 

Sincerely Yours: 

Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera 

Bishop of Scranton

The Most Rev. Dr. Foley Beach 
Archbishop and Primate
Anglican Church in North America 

The Rev. John F. Bradosky
North American Lutheran Church 

Most Rev. Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia 
Chairman, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth 

Most Rev. James D. Conley
Bishop of Lincoln
Chairman USCCB Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage 

The Rt. Rev. John A. M. Guernsey
Bishop, Diocese of the Mid-Atlantic 
Anglican Church in North America 

Rev. Dr. Matthew Harrison
Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod 

Imam Faizal Khan
Founder and Leader
Islamic Society of the Washington Area 

Most Rev. Joseph E. Kurtz
Archbishop of Louisville 
Chairman USCCB Committee for Religious Liberty 

Archbishop of Pittsburgh 
Orthodox Church in America 

The Rt. Rev. Eric V. Menees

Bishop, San Joaquin 
Anglican Church in North America 

Rev. Eugene F. Rivers, III 
Founder and Director 
Seymour Institute for Black Church and Policy Studies 
Church of God in Christ 

Rev. Dr. Gregory P. Seltz, PhD 
Executive Director 
The Lutheran Center for Religious Liberty 

The Rev. Paull Spring 
Bishop Emeritus 
The North American Lutheran Church 

Rev. Tony Suarez 
Executive Vice President 
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference 

Very Rev. Nathanael Symeonides 

Ecumenical Officer 
Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 

The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor 
Stated Clerk, General Assembly 
Presbyterian Church in America 

Andrew Walker 

Director of Policy Studies 
Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission 

The Rev. Dr. David Wendel 

Assistant to the Bishop for Ministry and Ecumenism 
The North American Lutheran Church  

Paul Winter 

Sketch of Christ Crucified by St. John of the Cross

John of the cross sketchThis is a famous sketch of Christ crucified drawn by St. John of the Cross. It was later used by Salvatore Dali as his inspiration for one of his own paintings of Christ on the cross.

John of the Cross had so many wonderful insights about the spiritual life. The perceived absence of God, the "dark night of the soul" which can suddenly envelope believers, is actually a time when God draws nearest to us. It is precisely in times of feeling abandoned by God that we can experience the presence of God more intimately than ever before. We need to see and listen in the dark. 

In his imagery of the spiritual journey as an ascent to Mount Carmel, we gain the insight that the journey to God can best be made with guidance from expert climbers - experienced spiritual guides who help us along the way. The modern use of spiritual directors has much to do with John's writings and reflections.



Gifts Galore from "Stars for Jesus" Donations

It looks like Santa's Sleigh might have landed on Holy Cross' lawn for a few moments, but no, the generous gifts donated by parishioners and friends of Holy Cross to anonymous recipients were collected awaiting pick-up by the several agencies which participated in our Stars For Jesus annual Christmas gift drive.

Over six hundred gifts were donated, including sixteen brand new bicycles, clothing, toys, gift cards and others. 

Thank you to the organizers of the event for their energy and enthusiasm and to all those who took the time select a star, shop and wrap the gift.

May God bless your generosity and multiply the spirit of good will at Christmas.


Isaiah In Advent

Michelangelo _profeti _Isaiah_01
Michelangelo's Isaiah on the Sistine Ceiling

The readings from the Prophet Isaiah loose our minds from the historical context in which they were written, to pray about the two comings of Christ: in the Incarnation and at the End of Time.

The first we acknowledge with gratitude for the nourishment Jesus' Body and Blood gives us while we wait the the Second Coming in faith and hope.

The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception


Piazza Immacolatacolonnaroma
There are many columns around the world dedicated to Mary, this one in Rome is under the title of the Immaculate Conception. It was erected shortly after the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was promulgated.

Mary is shown with representations of the four evangelists along with her typical artistic calligraphy as the Immaculate Conception.

Since the column itself was originally raised by the local firemen, the custom of the fire department placing a bouquet at Mary's feet and a floral wreath around her outstretched arm on this date has developed. 

Mary's Immaculate Conception, her fiat or let it be done to me at the Annunciation and Jesus' Incarnation in her womb are each important parts of God's wonderful plan for our redemption.

Saint Ambrose

Saint Ambrose, bishop and one of original doctors of the Church helps keep the Chair of Peter aloft in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He is shown on the left front in mitre, with one of his pupils, St. Augustine in miter on the right front of the chair.

Ambrose wrote, spoke eloquently and defended the Church against heterodox doctrine while guiding the direction the Church would take until this very day.

Augustine was initially attracted by Ambrose's preaching style, but stayed for his substance and through Ambrose's influence re-animated his Christian faith.