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January 2021

Conversion of St. Paul

'The_Conversion_of_St._Paul'_by_Paolo_Veronese _The_HermitageThe Conversion of Paul by Veronese

This image of Paul's conversion recalls its dramatic nature and although unlike some artists, Veronese does not include an image of Jesus, only the light, he does reinforce the non-Scriptural idea that Paul was felled from a horse.

Despite his fame for persecuting Christians, Paul became an equally effective evangelist for the faith. We can imitate his humility whenever we realize the error of our ways and publicly correct our Christian journey.


San Francisco Archbishop Corrects Nancy Pelosi

I hadn't read the Archbishop Cordileone's entire letter in which he responded to a public statement she made against Trump supporters as a grieving Catholic, but I'm glad I did. It's so good, I reproduce it here, but it  can also be read at the Archdiocese of San Francisco's Catholic newspaper, Catholic San Francisco.

Jan. 21, 2021
Most Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone
On Jan. 18, 2021, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized pro-life voters who voted for Donald Trump on the abortion issue, saying their votes cause her “great grief as a Catholic” and accusing them of “being willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue.” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone issued the following statement in response:

To begin with the obvious: Nancy Pelosi does not speak for the Catholic Church.  She speaks as a high-level important government leader, and as a private citizen.  And on the question of the equal dignity of human life in the womb, she also speaks in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years.

Christians have always understood that the commandment, ‘Thou shall not kill,’ applies to all life, including life in the womb.  Around the end of the first century the Letter of Barnabas states: “You shall not slay the child by procuring abortion; nor, again, shall you destroy it after it is born’ (#19).  One thousand, eight hundred and sixty-five years later, the Second Vatican Council affirmed: ‘Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes’ ("Gaudium et spes," n. 51).  

Pope Francis continues this unbroken teaching.  Addressing participants in the conference "Yes to Life! - Taking Care of the Precious Gift of Life in Its Frailty" on May 25, 2019, he condemned abortion in the strongest possible terms: ‘is it licit to eliminate a human life to solve a problem? ...  It is not licit.  Never, never eliminate a human life … to solve a problem.  Abortion is never the answer that women and families are looking for.’  And just yesterday (January 20, 2021) Archbishop Gomez, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, reiterated the declaration of the U.S. bishops that abortion is for Catholics the ‘preeminent priority.’  In doing so, he acted rightly and collaboratively in his role as USCCB President, and I am grateful to him for doing so.

Preeminent does not mean "only," of course.  There are certainly many evils we must confront and many goods we must pursue.  In his inaugural speech yesterday, President Biden gave a moving call to unity and healing.  He offered what I would call a ‘Litany of Compassion’ – bringing before the eyes of the nation the suffering of people across a wide spectrum of issues.  In my experience, advocates for unborn children also work diligently to be of service in many of these causes as well. Speaker Pelosi has chosen this week to impugn the motives of millions of Catholics and others for choosing to make voting on the issue of abortion their priority and accuses them of "selling out democracy." This is not the language of unity and healing.  She owes these voters an apology.

I myself will not presume to know what was in the minds of Catholic voters when they voted for the Presidential candidate of their choice, no matter who their preferred candidate was. There are many issues of very grave moral consequence that Catholics must weigh in good conscience when they vote.  But one thing is clear: No Catholic in good conscience can favor abortion.  "Right to choose" is a smokescreen for perpetuating an entire industry that profits from one of the most heinous evils imaginable. Our land is soaked with the blood of the innocent, and it must stop.

That is why, as Catholics, we will continue to speak out on behalf of those who have no voice to speak for themselves and reach out to, comfort and support those who are suffering the scars of the abortion experience.  We will do so, until our land is finally rid of this despicable evil.

You might want to drop the Archbishop a prayerful note of thanks!


5 PM Sunday Mass Ending

We restored the Sunday evening 5 PM mass in early Advent with the hope that it would draw more people back to church in anticipation of Christmas. It didn't. After 3 months of collecting statistics it clearly didn't. 

Sadly, another spike in concern over COVID may have thwarted a potential increase in attendance, but we have no way of knowing, nor can we predict the near outcome of the vaccine. 

Accordingly we are suspending the Sunday 5 PM Mass until such time as we need it again. The last Sunday 5 PM Mass will be on January 31st.

The Latin Mass at 7 PM will continue. 


USCCB Letter to the President Regarding Respect for Life

Full text of the letter here.

Archbishop Gomez of Los Angeles has issued a congratulatory welcome to the new President. The letter gives both praise and a warning and is couched in cautious optimism. Noting that Biden is the first Catholic president in sixty years, the statement lauds his faith and prays he will have the courage and wisdom to successfully lead our country in this time of secular activism against people of faith.

After the usual paragraphs of adulation and praise, the Archbishop sounds a somber note, calling "the injustice of abortion" a "pre-eminent...but not the only priority," while issuing a warning:

So, I must point out that our new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.

Let us pray that the announced trajectory of this administration can be modified by the intervention of believers of all faiths, our prayers and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.


St. Ita

Saint Ita is said to be the most popular female saint in Ireland after Brigid. A lyric poem about a vision she experienced of the Infant Jesus was composed and became a popular lullaby.

Recently, it has been set to music by Samuel Barber and many accomplished soprano soloists have YouTube videos performing the piece online. One of the beautiful performances with particularly intelligible lyrics is posted here, as are the lyrics.


St. Ita's Vision

“I will take nothing from my Lord,” said she,
“unless He gives me His Son from Heaven
In the form of a Baby that I may nurse Him.”
So that Christ came down to her
in the form of a Baby and then she said:
“Infant Jesus, at my breast,
Nothing in this world is true
Save, O tiny nursling, You.
Infant Jesus, at my breast,
By my heart every night,
You I nurse are not
A churl but were begot
On Mary the Jewess by Heaven’s Light.
Infant Jesus; at my breast,
what King is there but You who could
Give everlasting Good?
wherefore I give my food.
Sing to Him, maidens, sing your best!
There is none that has such right
to your song as Heaven’s King
Who every night
Is Infant Jesus at my breast.


Don't be Hard Hearted

HeartThis morning's Mass readings warn us about the dangers of hardness of heart. It grieves God because those who allow themselves to suffer from it become harder and harder for God to reach. Not only does it pose the risk of cutting us off from God's help, it isolates us from the human community. We become inaccessible to those who love us. Those in need of our help become invisible to us. 

In the gospel, Jesus gives us an example of compassion - his healing of the leper. Jesus responded with love to this outcast who requested healing. 

If our hearts have become encrusted with indifference, it will take deliberate chipping away of the stony layer by small acts done  for others. In time we may not have to force such helping acts. They may flow naturally from a new heart which beats with compassion. 

Printed Bulletins to Return This Weekend

SamuelAndEliNew diocesan regulations allow the distribution of bulletins after mass with a few caveats. 

  • No one may take them before mass and have them in the church. Please cooperate with this.
  • They cannot be distributed by an usher or other individual, but rather left in place for people to take home.
  • Nothing can be left in the pews or returned to the stack of bulletins.

Please patronize the advertisers in the bulletin, who make the printed bulletin available to the church free of charge.

As usual, the bulletin will continue to be posted on our webpage and on my blog. 

One more small step toward normalcy is a good sign!


Jesus Heals the Leper

One of the things Jesus always did when physically healing someone, was to break the social isolation the illness also imposed on the sick person. All disease, but especially communicable disease isolates those who suffer physical illness. Sometimes the emotional impact of the illness can be as grave as the physical effects. Jesus not only healed the physical illness, but restored the person to spiritual and community wholeness.

As the COVID virus continues to take its physical toll, the consequences of long-term isolation for those in hospitals, nursing homes and other institutions is only slowly being recognized. Let us pray that Christ's healing power sustains those in quarantine or socially distanced, that effective prevention and treatment is rapidly developed and that communities may return soon to wholeness.


Raymond of Penafort


Virgin of Mercy Image

Dolabella_St._Raymond_of_PenyafortSt. Raymond's Most Famous Miracle

St. Raymond became an illustrious civil and church lawyer and helped codify a collection of a century of church law. He is the patron saint of lawyers and was a worthy example of integrity and compassion in a profession sometimes not noted for either. The best application of church law restricts arbitrary power and personal whim and ensures the powerless and the poor have their rights respected. 

He angered a king by correcting his immoral behavior and was forbidden to leave the island to which he had travelled. Ship captains were threatened with punishment if they provided passage to Raymond, so taking off his Dominican cloak and rigging a makeshift sail with one end, he sailed to the continent on the other end. 

Saint Andre Bessette


It is fitting during the year honoring St. Joseph to remember St. Andre's lifelong devotion to St. Joseph, attributing to him the miraculous healings that occurred though Andre's hands and intercessions. His mission to accomplish the building of an oratory to St. Joseph on the highest mountain in Montreal was also fueled by his own hard work, the help of others and constant reliance on St. Joseph. Even during his lifetime, he was known as the Miracle Worker of Montreal.

Communion Silence

I have been noticing a gradual, but distinct rise in the level of conversations of those leaving the Church after communion. Out of respect for Jesus and in consideration of those still in the church, please be silent until you are out of the church building or away from open doors. The sound in the South transept vestibule travels directly into the church.

Spend a few moments in prayerful gratitude for the Eucharist and Christ’s presence in our noisy world.