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January 2018

Saint John Bosco

John Bosco came from humble beginnings and eventually worked his way to the privilege of receiving an education. He worked at many jobs during his schooling, many of which he would eventually help teach his own students. After ordination he was assigned chaplain to a girls' home and school but became distressed with how many young boys and men were imprisoned on his visits to render pastoral care to the inmates. Determined to do something to prevent juvenile delinquency, he vowed to help boys and young men avoid unemployment, delinquency and imprisonment.

His small community of boys met with much opposition but continued to grow in number and took a major step forward when boys whom Bosco had helped became determined to help him in this unique ministry. In 1859 he founded the Salesians (after Francis de Sales and with great devotion to Our Lady Help of Christians) to continue and promote his ministry.

Local residents complained the boys made too much noise during recreation and his homes were forced to move several times. Political leaders also became alarmed when the numbers of youth grew, fearing a political or military union.

Despite criticism from within and without the the Church, Bosco persisted and religious society continues to this day in nations throughout the world.

Shimei and Social Media

ShimeiShimei, a friend of King Saul, whom David had replaced, taunted King David as he retreated from Jerusalem to avoid battle with his own son Absalom. He cursed and threw rocks and dirt at David, who was surrounded by armed loyalists. One of them wanted to put an end to Shimei's taunts by simply cutting off his head. David forbade it and tolerated the criticism even speculating that it could be sent by God.

How different from today's social media strategy which seems to be mutual annihilation. No comment is too small to be ignored. Reason and debate are ignored, name calling and personal insults rule the day.

King David shows a restraint not often seen in today's world. 

St. Angela Merici

St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursulines, had important insights about evangelization and catechesis: 1) there was a need for women religious outside of convents and monasteries for apostolic ministry to the world; 2) a crucial path for catechesis was the family, especially by mothers. To this end, she housed and educated young girls - a ministry which survives today.


Blessed Candles for Candlemas Day

CandlesIt is customary for the Church to bless candles for liturgical use on Candlemas Day, also celebrated as the Presentation of Our Lord or the Purification of Our Blessed Virgin Mary, February 2nd.

Bring your own candles (predominantly beeswax) from home or receive two candles for a donation to be blessed at the 9 AM Mass on Friday, February 2nd.



Nine Days for Life Prayers Conclude Tomorrow

Usccb-9-days-round-logo-org-crcleOur Novena for Life, "Nine Days for Life," concludes with prayer after tomorrow morning's 9 AM mass. Praying each intention aloud and quietly reading the reflection gave us much to think about and an appreciation of the breadth of the Church's teachings on the dignity of human life without veering too far from the traditional groupings of concerns under this category of Church teachings.



The Conversion of St. Paul

If we ever think we can't change, we have the example of St. Paul to consider. His hatred for Christ and his followers changed to ardent love and apostolic zeal.

Is there someone we dislike, do we feel stuck in a rut of habit, routine or thinking? Can our love for Christ burn with more ardor, as the prayers from the Mass for the Conversion of St. Paul implore?

There is hope. There is Christ.

StPaulMosaic of the Conversion of Paul in Westminister Cathedral

St. Francis de Sales



St. Francis de Sales was born to a well-to-do family. His parents assumed he would become a lawyer and protect the family's interests, including propagating its line. Francis did obtain a law degree and after a struggle with the idea of predestination, which had become popular in Calvinist Switzerland, decided to do the best he could, eventually hearing Christ call him personally through the gospels.

He became a priest then bishop and an ardent preacher, pastor and shepherd of souls in the style of St. Vincent de Paul with whom he was friends.

Saint Marianne Cope

Sr. Marianne Cope emigrated from Germany to upstate New York with her family when she was one year of age. She entered a convent and for many years was an educator and administrator, eventually becoming the Superior General of her religious community. When the call for help came to care for the lepers, especially the children in Hawaii, she responded generously and personally, travelling to Hawaii herself with a group of sisters. She opened a school and home for girls and became a co-worker with Fr. Damian on the leper colony at Molokai and cared for him as be became ill. When Fr. Damian died, she assumed leadership of his school and home for boys.

Her administrative leadership, compassion, courage and personal service are but a few of her many admirable qualities and above all her zeal for serving Christ in the most needy.


Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children

We prayed Mass with our parish community this morning and were joined by the Holy Cross School students to mark this Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. Immediately following mass we prayed Day Five of the Nine Day Novena For Life. Today's intention was "May each person suffering from the loss of a child through abortion find hope & healing in Christ."

Brave Wluff-Esboo

Common Sense with Communion and Communicable Illness

Since the flu season is upon us, it is important that we take simple precautions to minimize the chance of spreading it during our Masses. 

Some common sense guidelines are worth repeating: 1) If you are experiencing the effects of any potentially contagious illness, refrain from taking communion from the common chalice. 2) If you are coughing repeatedly and not feeling well, it is sensible to stay home and not attend Mass until you are well. 3) If you have a cough and runny nose (not allergies) it would be prudent to refrain from shaking hands.

Here is a recent guideline from the bishop's office:

With the guidance of the bishop it is the role of the pastor to judge whatever measures are needed to ensure the well-being of his parish community and to take every opportunity to remind the faithful that they should refrain from receiving Communion from the chalice if they are ill.  The sick are not obliged to attend Mass and should use prudence and good judgment before coming into contact with others.


Saul and David Reconciled

ReconciliationIn this morning's reading, mutual suspicion and enmity gives way to reconciliation as King Saul, moved by David's putting aside an opportunity to kill him, reaches peace with David.

This sculpture was erected in Derry, Northern Ireland as a sign of peace and reconciliation between North and South.

Nine Days for Life

This morning we began praying the Novena for Life after morning mass. Please join us or participate online by clicking the link below to reach the website of the USCCB (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) for the materials.

This year, for the first time ever, our president will address marchers at the March for Life in Washington, DC via satellite hookup from the Oval Office. There are still seats on the bus Holy Cross has chartered for the day trip tomorrow (Friday). Call our office to reserve and pay for your seat now.

Joining together to pray for the protection of human life at all its stages is a crucial contemporary mission. 


Nine Days for Life

Saint Jaime Hilario

JaimeSaint Jaime Hilario's studies for the priesthood in Catalonia, Spain were ended by a serious inner ear infection. Still wanting to serve God, he became a Christian brother and taught for 20 years in Catholic schools run by his order until declining hearing forced his retirement from teaching. Instead, he became the gardener for the local Christian brother's community.

He was caught up in the Spanish Civil war and executed (1937) for being a Catholic religious brother. After confirming that he was martyred "in hatred of the Catholic faith" the path was cleared for his beatification and nine years later, after a verified miracle, canonized a saint by St. Pope John Paul II in 1999.


Saint Anthony of Egypt

When St. Anthony was a prosperous cloth merchant, he heard Jesus' words in the gospel as he never had before - if you wish to be perfect, sell everything, give to the poor and then come follow me. He did just what Jesus said and became the preeminent monk in the Church and the founder of monasticism. 

He set up habitation in a small cave at the top of a mountain whose base contained a spring of water and lived there for much of his long life of 105 years. He died in 356 AD but his cave can still be seen and the monastery founded at the base of the mountain shortly after his death is still houses a community of monks.

A monk at St. Anthony's monastery recently explained one of the purposes of their constant prayer, "We're you're backup." The prayers of those who have left the world support those who still labor in the world for the gospel.



Saint Fursey

Yesterday we remarked about the important effect St. Ita had on the church as an educator, one of her pupils being St. Brendan the Navigator. Today, a student of Brendan the Navigator is on the church's calendar of saints, St. Fursey.

So our window with Ita and Brendan introduces us to St. Fursey, one of the first missionaries to the Angles and the Saxons and an important founder of monasteries in Ireland as well. Fursey was reportedly gifted with visions of heaven and hell which he wrote down, long before Dante.

Let us continue the ripple effect through which the faith has been handed on to us and empowered by the Holy Spirit to be vehicles of God's grace and mercy in the world.

SaintfurseySaint Fursey with a monk

Saint Ita of Kileedy

One of the "Window Saints" at Holy Cross Church, Saint Ita was the most well known woman saint in Ireland after St. Brigid. Her name is also translated as Deirdre or Dorothy.

A woman of noble lineage who dedicated her virginity to Christ, she established a school for girls and another for boys. She is sometimes called Mother of Saints because several of her pupils went on to sainthood in the Church, including Brendan the Navigator.

Here is a photo of her shrine in Kileedy. Not only did she educate her pupils to become more learned, but also more holy. Let us pray for that gift in Catholic education today.


I Come Through the Window


...or the roof. Some may remember the tag line of Stan Freberg's parody of Harry Belafonte's Banana Boat song. The too-loud, shrill lead singer has been banished from the recording studio for his most piercing lines, locks himself out at the end of the song and after the sound of crashing glass, he returns to finish the song, "I come through the window." I guess you had to be there.

This morning I thought about the stretcher bearers lowering the paralytic who "come through the roof" to encounter Jesus. Our prayers could occasionally use a boost of earnestness and hope. 



Philistines Capture Then Release the Ark of the Covenant


In this morning's first reading, the Philistines defeat Israel in battle and capture the Ark of the Covenant, bringing it back to their territory as booty.

This mural shows the Philistines preparing to send the Ark of the Covenant back to the Israelites. Possessing it brought the Philistines nothing but trouble with boils, vermin infestations and the desolation of the pagan temple in which they had housed it (shown in the painting above).