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March 2010

February 2010

Ash Wednesday 2010

Lectionary Readings for Daily Mass

Ashes-_-snow  I remember reading that ashes, especially fireplace ashes can be used in winter weather to spread on slippery roads and walkways for traction. (Be sure to wipe shoes or leave them at the door because they also track inside even better than sand and salt!)

It's not a bad metaphor for today - ashes for traction. Seems like just what I need, anyway, spiritual traction for Lent. The weather wreaked havoc not only with our roads, but with church and school attendance and our daily routine. I'm guessing we could all use some traction to get off to a good start this Lent.

We confess our sinfulness, we acknowledge our mortality, we place our faith and hope in God, especially in Jesus' passion, death and resurrection. We even walk around in public with the sign of our true hope marked on our foreheads.

May everyone who receives ashes today get off to a good start on Lenten prayer, fasting and alms giving and remain faithfully sure-footed on the journey to Easter.

Sacrament of Reconciliation during Lent


The past few years, our Penance services in Lent have been sparsely attended. It seems difficult to pick a convenient time , despite the effort and expense of arranging for priest confessors, so this year we're going to try something new.

Instead of scheduling one penance service, we will make the sacrament more widely available before and during Saturday vigil and Sunday masses.

Keep alert for bulletin announcements and announcements at the beginning of mass for confession times. 

Ash Wednesday Prayer Services and Imposition of Ashes


Reprinted below is the Liturgical Schedule for Ash Wednesday, which is also printed in the bulletin here.

Liturgical Schedule for Ash Wednesday

9:00AM (Gymatorium) Mass with imposition of ashes

12 Noon (Church) Latin Mass with imposition of ashes

4:00PM (Church) Prayer Service with imposition of ashes

7:00PM (Church) Evening Prayer with imposition of ashes

There will be no Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.


Palm Burning in the Snow?

Well, burn we must. Mrs. Graham decided the children have missed too much class time to make up for them to watch, but I don't think we should use last year's ashes (not sure we even have any left, or if the extra were buried). The weather may be inclement to be outside. So it will be a "private" burning.


World Marriage Day - Protect Marriage, Support Husbands and Wives

Bride_groom_96381  The shocking suggestions in an article in the New York Times that not only should marriage be redefined to include same-sex couples, but that marriage need not include fidelity, should make it clear to Catholics how important it is to maintain the traditional definition of marriage as a life-long, exclusive commitment between a man and a woman. The article, "Many Successful Gay Marriages Share An "Open" Secret,"  suggests that as we change the definition of marriage to include same-sex partners, we should also be open to the possibility of "open" marriages with the mutual consent of both parties. In this brave new world, same-sex couples are leading the way, reports The Times, by agreeing to flexible marriages. Full disclosure, consent of both parties and no sex with strangers may be all that is necessary to end the stigma of "affairs" in a marriage, if heterosexual couples follow the example of many same-sex "married, who find the traditional expectations of marriage too confining. As our life span increases, so have the presumed length of marriage commitments - an unreasonable expectation unless adaptations are made, The Times article asserts. Where exactly is the "success" the headline attributes to such marriages?

The sacrament of marriage sanctifies the love between a man and a woman who give themselves to each other for life without reservation, and who remain open to the gift of children in the marriage. We need to do all we can to strengthen those who are living this vocation and their commitment to each other.

Speaking of Women Religious...

OMreceptionsava22 A propos of Sunday's homily on women religious communities, one of the vital groups of sisters will be featured on Oprah tomorrow.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist will be featured on Tuesday's show and promotional teasers already tip Oprah's incredulity that the sisters can do without sex and live happily. Hopefully, there will be a serious look at their lives and the happiness that completely giving yourself to God can bring.

Curiously, the show will also feature a close-up of the women who work in the "only Western Geisha," apparently sticking with the theme of women living together in hidden communities? We can pray that the media attention to the sister will bring positive results for vocations in the Church.

Visit the sisters webpage here.

Mass Attendance on Snow Weekend


Mass attendance was down about 15% this weekend. The masses were held mostly before and after the worst winds and drifting of snow, but the roads remained icy. We had a fairly respectable showing considering the weather and public school holidays, I think, helped on Sunday by everyone's eagerness to participate in the pancake breakfast after masses.

Congratulations to 7B for the week's best attendance, and to 8A who continue to show a good faith effort to improve their mass attendance.


Hate Speech?

In case you didn't see the much maligned and highly anticpated ads during the Superbowl featuring Tim Tebow and his mother Pam, here is one of them. The first spot aired before the game and this, the second ad, aired during the first quarter.

What's amazing is that the controversy was generated by groups labelling themselves in favor of choice. The pre-game hysteria surrounding the (as then unseen ad) ad by pro-choice groups makes one wonder.

Day of the Great Pancakes


Have you ever had an pancake loaded with M & M candies? Well, they were a popular item on Sunday as was all the great food prepared and served up by Holy Cross Mens' Group.

Despite the threatening storm, a great crew of helpers turned out on Saturday evening to set up the tables and chairs.

All three of the 50-50 winners donated their proceeds back to the church! Thank you.

Thanks to all who helped in any way to contribute to this spirit-building annual parish event and to David Heine and our Holy Cross Mens' Group for their dedication and generosity.

A Little Snow on Your Pancakes?

Pancakes01_005332 Intrepid members of our Men's Group are setting everything up for tomorrow's Pancake Breakfast after the 10:30 AM mass. Stop by and enjoy the finest pancakes and coffee in town tomorrow morning and spend time with some of our most active and friendly parishioners. 

Remember that the 10:30 mass itself will be held in the church. 

The parking lot is clear of snow, but it is extremely icy. Please be cautious driving and walking on it if the temperature remains below freezing.

New Study Shows Some Patients in Vegetative State Actually Aware

20070807_blue-brain  Ever since Pope John Paul II and later the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued guidelines which encouraged, then presumed the use of feeding tubes for persons in the vegetative state to be measures of “ordinary care,” neuroscientists have been learning more about impaired states of awareness.

News media coverage of Terri Schiavo’s medical condition was not particularly helpful, especially since many reports confused “coma” with “vegetative state (VS).” It was clear from several videotapes of Terri that she was not in a coma, and that she was awake, but that wasn’t the medical problem. Was she ”awake but not aware,” – that is the true definition of vegetative state.

Medical researchers wondered if some patients who are now classified as being in a vegetative state might actually be conscious (that is aware, not simply awake) but unable to express themselves (due to paralysis, for example).

Dynamic MRI studies measured patterns of brain activity of persons diagnosed as being in the vegetative state after they were asked questions and to imagine specific scenarios. In a way, the scans read minds, even when the person couldn’t respond with externally visible signals. These scans detected willful and predictable brain activity in some patients who were thought incapable of it. Re-examination of some of these patients at the bedside revealed detectable signs of responsiveness to questions – responses which had been missed despite careful examination by experts. Physicians could find no signs of clinical responsiveness in one patient whose scan showed awareness. The only patients in the study who showed any signs of brain scan awareness had suffered traumatic brain injury, not stroke or oxygen deprivation.

The study supports the idea that a small percentage of patients thought to be in VS are actually aware and might be able to communicate if given the means to do so. Awareness may be present with subtle and missed clinical responses, or present without any detectable clinical signs.  Researchers hope that further studies will enable such patients to report whether they are in pain, and perhaps to express their thoughts and influence their environment.

Recent church teaching that even persons in vegetative states should ordinarily receive tube feedings has been controversial. This study supports the idea that a significant number of persons diagnosed as being in the vegetative state are actually minimally conscious. Routine clinical examination fails to detect some of these patients.

It will be interesting to see whether ethicists and clinicians respond to this study with skepticism, indifference, or heightened concern that we are starving some patients who are aware by failing to feed them. On the other hand, I am sure it will occur to someone to ask such persons if they wish the feedings stopped. More information doesn't guarantee more wisdom.

The article from the New England Journal of Medicine is here.

A balanced interpretation of the Papal teachings and those of the CDF by the Catholic ethicist Daniel Sulmasy, MD, OFM is here.

St. Blase in Michelangelo's Last Judgment


Three of the saints in Michelangelo's "Last Judgement." St.  Blase, St. Catherine and St. Sebastian. Tradition usually dictates that a saint is depicted with the instruments with which the saint was martyred or another symbol which stands for their life (e.g. a lily for chastity). Here Blase is shown with the combs with which his flesh was raked before he was beheaded, St. Catherine with broken wheel on which her the first attempt to kill her failed, and St. Sebastian with the arrows of his persecution.

Lenten "Faith Seeking Understanding" Books

1265212876 The two books we are using for reflection and discussion during Lent will be available in the parish office starting tomorrow. We ask a $20 donation to cover the cost of both books.

The first session on Feb. 24 will be more lively and informative if participants have already read the relevant chapters in each book.

Join us for all of some of the Lenten Wednesday sessions and learn about church history, the Fathers of the Church and their impact on what we still believe and pray today.

Saint Blase, Bishop and Martyr


Today we commemorate the optional memorial of
St. Blase, a bishop in the early church tortured and martyred. Traditions about the bishop abound, especially that he was renowned for the efficacy of his healing prayer. His symbols include two candles which call to mind his intercession for a child choking on a fishbone, metal combs or rakes which were the instruments of his torture, and sometimes wild animals who even came to the saint for healing. Devotion to the saint is especially strong in Eastern Europe, especially where he is invoked as patron.

The tradition of blessing throats on this day survives in many places, either as a general blessing or an individual blessing often with a pair of crossed candles applied to the throat. As a child, I always thought yesterday's blessing of the candles was a preparation for using them today on the feast of St. Blase, but of course they are unrelated. The traditions surrounding the Presentation and Candlemass day are based on Scripture and the life of the Holy Family.

HCWaxCandlesBlasus Today's blessing asks that through the intercession of Blase, bishop and martyr, we may be preserved from diseases of the throat and illness of every other kind in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

It is well to acknowledge our dependence on God for our very existence, including our physical health and to prayerfully ask God's help.


Faith Seeking Understanding Holy Week

Untitled Saints and Scoundrels of Holy Week in Art:

Wednesday of Holy Week, March 31

St. Michael Media Room at 7 :00 PM



Join us for an evening of reflection on the people we will encounter in Scripture and in the Stations of the Cross during Holy Week as shown in art through the ages. Our time together will be a thoughtful and prayerful introduction to the Sacred Triduum.

Faith Seeking Understanding Lenten Reflection Series

Here is the schedule of topics for the Wednesdays in Lent. We'll discuss the Father of the Church guided by Pope Bendict's reflections, Aquilina's guide and add a dash of church and world history, art, and theology. It should be fun and informative. The "reading lite" column is for those who don't have the time or interest to read all the chapters.

Church Fathers From Clement of Rome to Augustine, Pope Benedict XVI. Ignatius Press, 2008.

Companion Guide to Pope Benedict’s The Fathers, Mike Aquilina.  Our Sunday Visitor, 2008.




Reading Lite

February 24

The Beginnings of the Church

Aquilina,  pp. 7-28

Benedict, pp. 7-20


March 3

Apologists and Martyrs

Aquilina, pp. 29-44

Benedict, pp. 21-52


March 10

The Peace of the Church

Aquilina, pp. 45-60

Benedict, pp. 22-96

Athanasius of Alexandria

March 17

The Christian Empire

Aquilina, pp. 61-72

Benedict, pp.  97-121

John Chrysostom

March 24

Order in the Midst of Chaos

Aquilina, pp. 73-88

Benedict, pp. 122-166



We’ll gather in the St. Michael’s Media Room in the school at 7:00 PM. Call to reserve a copy of both books; $20 donation requested.