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February 2018

Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?

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In today's gospel, Jesus asks his disciples a direct question, "Can you drink the chalice that I am going to drink?" They answer yes, probably not understanding the implications of their quick answer.

It is the chalice of his Own Blood, the Chalice of Blessing and the Spiritual Drink of eternal life, but it also a Chalice of Suffering, a Chalice of Self-Sacrifice and ultimately a Chalice of Martyrdom.

The Blood of Christ is not a super-food to save us from suffering, but an eternal medicine for everlasting life.


Good Measure, Packed Together, Shaken Down and Overflowing
Contents May Settle During Shipment

The world's generosity it not like God's. God's generosity will not be outdone and doesn't require fancy packaging to get our attention. Today's reading from Luke's gospel reassures us:

Give and gifts will be given to you;
a good measure, packed together, shaken down, and overflowing,
will be poured into your lap.
For the measure with which you measure
will in return be measured out to you.

Fast and Abstinence During Lent









From the Bishops of the United States:

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence for Catholics. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence.

Fasting is obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person is permitted to eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals that together are not equal to a full meal.

Abstinence from meat is binding upon members of the Latin Catholic Church from age 14 onward.


The distinction between fasting and abstaining is a little confusing, particularly because people have begun to talk about "fasting" from things like video games, television programs, etc. during Lent. Fasting was traditionally understood as voluntarily having an empty stomach for a while.

Abstinence, such as when one abstains from voting, means refraining from something. Abstaining from meat is refraining from eating meat, but not necessarily going with an empty stomach, since full meals may be eaten unless one is also fasting. Abstaining from alcohol, dessert, etc. is the typical "giving up" something for Lent tradition many Catholics still practice. These sacrifices typically have no relation to whether or not the person is also fasting.

Fasting is not enjoined on anyone whose age or medical condition makes it unwise. Abstinence is still a worthy practice during Lent. It strengthens our self-discipline as the opening prayer in today's mass acknowledges. In small matters, we experience victory over whims or passing pleasures strengthening our prudence and restraint. These virtues serve us well in everyday life and during times of temptation.




St. Claude de la Colombiere

ClaudeA Jesuit priest who became confessor to St. Margaret Mary Alacoque and was the first to believe the authenticity of her visions and revelations. St. Claude and St. Margaret Mary promoted devotion to the Sacred Heart during a time in the French Church when Jansenism (a particularly severe and gloomy spirituality) was afoot. 

The mercy of a loving Jesus was a refreshing and necessary counterpoint to this viewpoint.

He was later transferred to England and became the confessor to the Duchess of York but was falsely ensnared in the "Popish Plot" during the Titus Oates controversy, was imprisoned and nearly lost his life but for the intercession of King Louis XIV.

His health suffered greatly during his cruel imprisonment and he never fully recovered after his return to France.

His bones are preserved in the chapel outside which this statue stands. He points to an image of the Sacred Heart inscribed with the words, "He loved but was loved not." This highlights an aspect of devotion to the Sacred Heart which is to make reparation for the insults and slights to Jesus' love for us.

Ash Wednesday To Begin Our Lenten Observance

AshesToday we remember that we all are part of the natural cycle. We may hear "Remember you are dust and unto dust you shall return," as the ashes are imposed on our foreheads.

The green, fresh, joyful palms of celebration on Palm Sunday have withered and been burned, nothing left but ash. 

We also remember that we have been baptized into an eternal cycle of life with Christ through his birth, death and resurrection. A supernatural cycle which supervenes the temporal one.

Let us resolve to observe this Lenten season with prayer, fasting and almsgiving to grow closer to Jesus who is our Hope.


Palm Burning For Ash Wednesday Ashes

High winds and inclement weather often postpone our outdoor palm burning and this year was no exception. Delayed due to the high winds of last week, we have rescheduled the ceremonial fire for Monday, February 12th at 1 PM so our school children can be present. Parishioners are also invited for this brief, 15 minute prayer service.


Church Elevator Back In Operation

ElevatorAs you may know, the church elevator was damaged by water caused by the bursting of a fire sprinkler pipe during the recent cold snap.

It required replacing the entire electronics panel of the operating mechanism, which will be partially covered by our property insurance we pay through the Diocese of Trenton (minus deductible).

Thank you for your patience during the inconvenience. We're taking steps to ensure the pipes remain warm enough during extremely colds snaps like we experienced this winter.

Blessed Anne Catherine Emmerich

Religious, visionary, stigmatist - on the path for sainthood after a temporary suspension due to conclusions that some of her writings dictated and translated were embellished by the translator many years after her death. Her cause for sainthood is proceeding on the merits of her life, since her writings will not be considered as proof of sanctity at St. Pope John Paul II's instructions. Her writings came to light in modern times partly due to the influence they had on Mel Gibson's movie The Passion of the Christ. 

The official church position on the authoritative nature of private revelations has always been reserved and skeptical and doesn't promulgate private revelations dogmatically.

Receiving the stigmata is a relatively uncommon phenomenon and seems to occur in some who have a great devotion to the passion of Christ. St. Francis of Assisi and in modern times, St. "Padre" Pio also received the wounds of Christ in their bodies. 

Such saints remind us that sanctity isn't always so simple and that there are more things in heaven and on earth than we understand.



Papal Infallibility


Today is the feast day of Saint Pope Pius IX , who is noted for many things, perhaps the most lasting is Vatican I which defined the doctrine of papal infallibility.

Still widely misunderstood (and deliberately misconstrued by some), it has been confused to mean that the pope's opinions on everything from politics to sport teams are divinely inspired to be free from error. Not so. The dogma of papal infallibility is rather specific and has only been formally invoked one time in church history to proclaim the dogma of the Assumption. (The dogma of the Immaculate Conception was declared by Pius IX before the formal passage of the doctrine of Papal Infallibility.)

The doctrine of papal infallibility  states "when, in the exercise of his office as shepherd and teacher of all Christians, in virtue of his supreme apostolic authority, he defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals  (ex cathedra or "from the throne") to be held by the whole Church." It is hard to construe papal opinions on politics, global warming or interviews granted on a plane to the press as meeting such criteria. Vatican I itself was adjourned due to warring armies invading the papal states, putting  governmental decisions made by the pope and the Vatican in critical perspective.

The inerrancy of the Church's teachings in faith and morals are ensured by the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit - good news for all faithful Catholics.


Candlemas Day or Punxsatawney Phil ?

As I researched the history and meaning of Candlemas Day and its interrelationship with the Presentation of the Lord and/or the Purification of the Blessed Virgin, especially with regard to secular observances of the occasion, I was struck by one particular comment: "In the United States, the celebration of the Candlemas Day has largely been supplanted by Groundhog Day." Sad commentary? 



Saint Brigid - A Holy Cross Window Saint

Saint_Brigid_by_Patrick_Joseph_TuohyBrigid is part of the Irish Trinity of saints along with Patrick and Columcille. As with many of the ancient Irish saints, her life story is probably part legend, part history.

Baptized by St. Patrick and witness to his preaching, Brigid dedicated her life to Christ and eventually founded the first dual monastery in Ireland with an enclosure for men and an enclosure for women. 

Many miracles and healings are attributed to her intercession. She is another example of the leadership role woman played in the Irish Church.