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March 19, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

March 20: St. Joseph (transferred from March 19th due to 4th Sunday of Lent)
Everything we know about the husband of Mary and the foster father of Jesus comes from Scripture. We know he was a carpenter, a working man, for the skeptical Nazarenes ask about Jesus, "Is this not the carpenter's son?" (Matthew 13:55). He wasn't rich for when he took Jesus to the Temple to be circumcised and Mary to be purified he offered the sacrifice of two turtledoves or a pair of pigeons, allowed only for those who could not afford a lamb (Luke 2:24).

We know Joseph respected God. He followed God's commands in handling the situation with Mary and going to Jerusalem to have Jesus circumcised and Mary purified after Jesus' birth. We are told that he took his family to Jerusalem every year for Passover, something that could not have been easy for a working man.

Since Joseph does not appear in Jesus' public life, at his death, or resurrection, many historians believe Joseph probably had died before Jesus entered public ministry. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, the Apocryphal Date for Joseph's birth is 90 BC in Bethlehem and the Apocryphal Date of his death is July 20, AD 18 in Nazareth.

Joseph is the patron saint of the dying because, assuming he died before Jesus' public life, he died with Jesus and Mary close to him, the way we all would like to leave this earth. Joseph is also patron saint of the Universal Church, families, fathers, expectant mothers (pregnant women), travelers, immigrants, house sellers and buyers, craftsmen, engineers, and working people in general. We celebrate two feast days for Joseph: March 19 for Joseph the Husband of Mary and May 1 for Joseph the Worker. March 19 has been the most commonly celebrated feast day for Joseph, and it wasn't until 1955 that Pope Pius XII established the Feast of "St. Joseph the Worker" to be celebrated on May 1. This is also May Day (International Workers' Day) and believed to reflect Joseph's status as the patron of workers.

March 23: St. Turibius
Together with Rose of Lima, Turibius is the first known saint of the New World, serving the Lord in Peru, South America, for 26 years. Born in Spain and educated for the law, he became so brilliant a scholar that he was made professor of law at the University of Salamanca and eventually became chief judge of the Inquisition at Granada. He succeeded too well. But he was not sharp enough a lawyer to prevent a surprising sequence of events. When the archdiocese of Lima in Peru required a new leader, Turibius was chosen to fill the post: He was the one person with the strength of character and holiness of spirit to heal the scandals that had infected that area.

He cited all the canons that forbade giving laymen ecclesiastical dignities, but he was overruled. Turibius was ordained priest and bishop and sent to Peru, where he found colonialism at its worst. The Spanish conquerors were guilty of every sort of oppression of the native population. Abuses among the clergy were flagrant, and he devoted his energies and suffering to this area first.

He began the long and arduous visitation of an immense archdiocese, studying the language, staying two or three days in each place, often with neither bed nor food. Turibius confessed every morning to his chaplain and celebrated Mass with intense fervor. Among those to whom he gave the Sacrament of Confirmation was the future Saint Rose of Lima, and possibly the future Saint Martin de Porres. After 1590, he had the help of another great missionary, Francis Solanus, now also a saint. Though very poor his people were sensitive, dreading to accept public charity from others. Turibius solved the problem by helping them anonymously.

March 25: The Annunciation
The feast of the Annunciation, now recognized as a solemnity, was first celebrated in the fourth or fifth century. Its central focus is the Incarnation: God has become one of us. From all eternity God had decided that the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity should become human. Now, as Luke 1:26-38 tells us, the decision is being realized. The God-Man embraces all humanity, indeed all creation, to bring it to God in one great act of love. Because human beings have rejected God, Jesus will accept a life of suffering and an agonizing death: "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." (John 15:13)

Mary has an important role to play in God's plan. From all eternity, God destined her to be the mother of Jesus and closely related to him in the creation and redemption of the world. We could say that God's decrees of creation and redemption are joined in the decree of Incarnation. Because Mary is God's instrument in the Incarnation, she has a role to play with Jesus in creation and redemption. It is a God-given role. It is God's grace from beginning to end. Mary becomes the eminent figure she is only by God's grace. She is the empty space where God could act. Everything she is she owes to the Trinity.

Mary is the virgin-mother who fulfills Isaiah 7:14 in a way that Isaiah could not have imagined. She is united with her son in carrying out the will of God (Psalm 40:8-9; Hebrews 10:7-9; Luke 1:38).

Scripture Readings Fourth Sunday of Lent - 1 Samuel 16:1b, 6-7, 10-13a; Ephesians 5:8-14; John 9:1-41


March 12, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

March 17: St. Patrick
Legends about Patrick abound; but truth is best served by our seeing two solid qualities in him: He was humble and he was courageous. The determination to accept suffering and success with equal indifference guided the life of God's instrument for winning most of Ireland for Christ.

Details of his life are uncertain. Current research places his dates of birth and death a little later than earlier accounts. Patrick may have been born in Dunbarton, Scotland; Cumberland, England; or in northern Wales. He called himself both a Roman and a Briton. At 16, he and a large number of his father's slaves and vassals were captured by Irish raiders and sold as slaves in Ireland. Forced to work as a shepherd, he suffered greatly from hunger and cold. After six years, Patrick escaped, probably to France, and later returned to Britain at the age of 22. His captivity had meant spiritual conversion. He may have studied at Lerins, off the French coast; he spent years at Auxerre, France, and was consecrated bishop at the age of 43. His great desire was to proclaim the good news to the Irish.

In a dream vision it seemed "'all the children of Ireland from their mothers' wombs were stretching out their hands" to him. He understood the vision to be a call to do mission work in pagan Ireland. Despite opposition from those who felt his education had been defective, he was sent to carry out the task. He went to the west and north - where the faith had never been preached - obtained the protection of local kings, and made numerous converts.

Because of the island's pagan background, Patrick was emphatic in encouraging widows to remain chaste and young women to consecrate their virginity to Christ. He ordained many priests, divided the country into dioceses, held Church councils, founded several monasteries and continually urged his people to greater holiness in Christ.

He suffered much opposition from pagan druids and was criticized in both England and Ireland for the way he conducted his mission. In a relatively short time, the island had experienced deeply the Christian spirit, and was prepared to send out missionaries whose efforts were greatly responsible for Christianizing Europe. Patrick was a man of action, with little inclination toward learning. He had a rock-like belief in his vocation, in the cause he had espoused. One of the few certainly authentic writings is his Confession, above all an act of homage to God for having called Patrick, unworthy sinner, to the apostolate.

March 18: St. Cyril of Jerusalem
The crises that the Church faces today may seem minor when compared with the threat posed by the Arian heresy, which denied the divinity of Christ and almost overcame Christianity in the fourth century. Cyril was to be caught up in the controversy, accused of Arianism by Saint Jerome, and ultimately vindicated both by the men of his own time and by being declared a Doctor of the Church in 1822. Raised in Jerusalem and well-educated, especially in the Scriptures, he was ordained a priest by the bishop of Jerusalem and given the task during Lent of catechizing those preparing for Baptism and catechizing the newly baptized during the Easter season. His Catecheses remain valuable as examples of the ritual and theology of the Church in the mid-fourth century.

There are conflicting reports about the circumstances of his becoming bishop of Jerusalem. It is certain that he was validly consecrated by bishops of the province. Since one of them was an Arian, Acacius, it may have been expected that his "cooperation" would follow. Conflict soon rose between Cyril and Acacius, bishop of the rival nearby see of Caesarea. Cyril was summoned to a council, accused of insubordination and of selling Church property to relieve the poor. Probably, however, a theological difference was also involved. He was condemned, driven from Jerusalem, and later vindicated, not without some association with and help from Semi-Arians. Half his episcopate was spent in exile; his first experience was repeated twice. He finally returned to find Jerusalem torn with heresy, schism and strife, and wracked with crime. Even Saint Gregory of Nyssa, who was sent to help, left in despair.

They both went to the Council of Constantinople, where the amended form of the Nicene Creed was promulgated in 381. Cyril accepted the word consubstantial - that is, Christ is of the same substance or nature as the Father. Some said it was an act of repentance, but the bishops of the Council praised him as a champion of orthodoxy against the Arians. Though not friendly with the greatest defender of orthodoxy against the Arians, Cyril may be counted among those whom Athanasius called "brothers, who mean what we mean, and differ only about the word consubstantial."

Scripture Readings Third Sunday of Lent - Exodus 17:3-7; Romans 5:1-2, 5-8; John 4:5-42


March 5, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

March 7: Saints Perpetua and Felicity
"When my father in his affection for me was trying to turn me from my purpose by arguments and thus weaken my faith, I said to him, 'Do you see this vessel - water pot or whatever it may be? Can it be called by any other name than what it is?' 'No,' he replied. 'So also I cannot call myself by any other name than what I am - a Christian.'"

So writes Perpetua: young, beautiful, well-educated, a noblewoman of Carthage in North Africa, mother of an infant son and chronicler of the persecution of the Christians by Emperor Septimius Severus. Perpetua's mother was a Christian and her father a pagan. He continually pleaded with her to deny her faith. She refused and was imprisoned at 22. In her diary, Perpetua describes her period of captivity: "What a day of horror! Terrible heat, owing to the crowds! Rough treatment by the soldiers! To crown all, I was tormented with anxiety for my baby... Such anxieties I suffered for many days, but I obtained leave for my baby to remain in the prison with me, and being relieved of my trouble and anxiety for him, I at once recovered my health, and my prison became a palace to me and I would rather have been there than anywhere else." Despite threats of persecution and death, Perpetua, Felicity - a slavewoman and expectant mother - and three companions, Revocatus, Secundulus and Saturninus, refused to renounce their Christian faith. For their unwillingness, all were sent to the public games in the amphitheater. There, Perpetua and Felicity were beheaded, and the others killed by beasts. Felicity gave birth to a daughter a few days before the games commenced.

March 8: St. John of God
Having given up active Christian belief while a soldier, John was 40 before the depth of his sinfulness began to dawn on him. He decided to give the rest of his life to God's service and headed at once for Africa where he hoped to free captive Christians and, possibly, be martyred. He was soon advised that his desire for martyrdom was not spiritually well based, and returned to Spain and the relatively prosaic activity of a religious goods store. Yet he was still not settled. Moved initially by a sermon of Saint John of Avila, he one day engaged in a public beating of himself, begging mercy and wildly repenting for his past life. Committed to a mental hospital for these actions, John was visited by Saint John, who advised him to be more actively involved in tending to the needs of others rather than in enduring personal hardships. John gained peace of heart, and shortly after left the hospital to begin work among the poor.

He established a house where he wisely tended to the needs of the sick poor, at first doing his own begging. But, excited by the saint's great work and inspired by his devotion, many people began to back him up with money and provisions. Among them were the archbishop and marquis of Tarifa. Behind John's outward acts of total concern and love for Christ's sick poor was a deep interior prayer life which was reflected in his spirit of humility. These qualities attracted helpers who, 20 years after John's death, formed the Brothers Hospitallers, now a worldwide religious order. John became ill after 10 years of service but tried to disguise his ill health. He began to put the hospital's administrative work into order and appointed a leader for his helpers. He died under the care of a spiritual friend and admirer, Lady Ana Ossorio.

March 9: St. Frances of Rome
Frances' life combines aspects of secular and religious life. A devoted and loving wife, she longed for a lifestyle of prayer and service, so she organized a group of women to minister to the needs of Rome's poor. Born of wealthy parents, Frances found herself attracted to the religious life during her youth. But her parents objected and a young nobleman was selected to be her husband. As she became acquainted with her new relatives, Frances soon discovered that the wife of her husband's brother also wished to live a life of service and prayer. So the two, Frances and Vannozza, set out together - with their husbands' blessings - to help the poor.

Frances fell ill for a time, but this apparently only deepened her commitment to the suffering people she met. The years passed, and Frances gave birth to two sons and a daughter. With the new responsibilities of family life, the young mother turned her attention more to the needs of her own household. The family flourished under Frances' care, but within a few years a great plague began to sweep across Italy. It struck Rome with devastating cruelty and left Frances' second son dead. In an effort to help alleviate some of the suffering, Frances used all her money and sold her possessions to buy whatever the sick might possibly need. When all the resources had been exhausted, Frances and Vannozza went door to door begging. Later, Frances' daughter died, and the saint opened a section of her house as a hospital. 

Frances became more and more convinced that this way of life was so necessary for the world, and it was not long before she requested and was given permission to found a society of women bound by no vows. They simply offered themselves to God and to the service of the poor. Once the society was established, Frances chose not to live at the community residence, but rather at home with her husband. She did this for seven years, until her husband passed away, and then came to live the remainder of her life with the society - serving the poorest of the poor.

Scripture Readings Second Sunday of Lent - Genesis 12:1-4a; 2 Timothy 1:8b-10; Matthew 17:1-9


February 26, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

March 3: St. Katharine Drexel
St. Katharine Drexel is the second American-born saint to be canonized by the Catholic Church. This amazing woman was an heiress to a large bequest who became a religious sister and a brilliant educator. Katharine was born in Philadelphia on November 26, 1858, the second child of a prominent and wealthy banker, Francis Anthony Drexel and his wife, Hannah Langstroth. He mother passed away just five weeks after Katharine was born. Her father remarried to Emma Bouvier in 1860, and together they had another daughter in 1863, Louisa Drexel.

The girls received a wonderful education from private tutors and traveled throughout the United States and Europe. The Drexels were financially and spiritually well endowed. They were devout in the practice of their faith, setting an excellent example of true Christian living for their three daughters. They not only prayed but practiced what the Church calls the spiritual and corporal works of mercy.

Katharine grew up seeing her father pray for 30 minutes each evening. And every week, her stepmother opened their doors to house and care for the poor. The couple distributed food, clothing and provided rent assistance to those in need. The Drexels would seek out and visit women who were too afraid or too proud to approach the home in order to care for their needs in Christian charity.

After watching her stepmother suffer with terminal cancer for three straight years, Katharine also learned that no amount of money could shelter them from pain or suffering. From this moment, Katharine's life took a turn. She became imbued with a passionate love for God and neighbor, and she took an avid interest in the material and spiritual well-being of black and native Americans.

In 1884, while her family was visiting the Western states, Katharine saw first-hand the troubling and poor situation of the Native Americans. She desperately wanted to help them. As one of their first acts following their father's death, Katharine and her sisters contributed money to assist the St. Francis Mission of South Dakota's Rosebud Reservation. Katharine soon concluded that more was needed to help the Native Americans and the lacking ingredient was people.

In 1887, while touring Europe, the Drexel sisters were given a private audience with Pope Leo XIII. They were seeking missionaries to help with the Indian missions they were financing. The Pope looked to Katharine and suggested she, herself, become a missionary. On February 12, 1891, Katharine made her first vows as a religious and dedicated herself to working for the American Indians and African-Americans in the Western United States. Taking the name Mother Katharine, she established a religious congregation called the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament for Indians and Colored, whose members would work for the betterment of those they were called to serve.

From the age of 33 until her death in 1955, she dedicated her life and her fortune to this work. In 1894, Mother Katharine took part in opening the first mission boarding school called St. Catherine's Indian School, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other schools quickly followed - for Native Americans west of the Mississippi River and for the blacks in the southern part of the United States. St. Katharine was beatified on November 20, 1988, and canonized on October 1, 2000, by Pope John Paul II.

March 4: St. Casimir
Casimir, born of kings and in line to be a king himself, was filled with exceptional values and learning by a great teacher, John Dlugosz. Even his critics could not say that his conscientious objection indicated softness. As a teenager, Casimir lived a highly disciplined, even severe life, sleeping on the ground, spending a great part of the night in prayer and dedicating himself to lifelong celibacy.

When nobles in Hungary became dissatisfied with their king, they prevailed upon Casimir's father, the king of Poland, to send his son to take over the country. Casimir obeyed his father, as many young men over the centuries have obeyed their governments. The army he was supposed to lead was clearly outnumbered by the "enemy"; some of his troops were deserting because they were not paid. At the advice of his officers, Casimir decided to return home. His father was irked at the failure of his plans and confined his 15-year-old son for three months. The lad made up his mind never again to become involved in the wars of his day and no amount of persuasion could change his mind. He returned to prayer and study, maintaining his decision to remain celibate even under pressure to marry the emperor's daughter.

He reigned briefly as king of Poland during his father's absence. He died of lung trouble at 25 while visiting Lithuania of which he was also Grand Duke. He was buried in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Scripture Readings First Sunday of Lent - Genesis 2:7-9, 3:1-7; Romans 5:12-19; Matthew 4:1-11


February 19, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

February 21: St. Peter Damian
Maybe because he was orphaned and had been treated shabbily by one of his brothers, Peter Damian was very good to the poor. It was the ordinary thing for him to have a poor person or two with him at table and he liked to minister personally to their needs. Peter escaped poverty and the neglect of his own brother when his other brother, who was archpriest of Ravenna, took him under his wing. His brother sent him to good schools and Peter became a professor.

Already in those days, Peter was very strict with himself. He wore a hair shirt under his clothes, fasted rigorously and spent many hours in prayer. Soon, he decided to leave his teaching and give himself completely to prayer with the Benedictines of the reform of Saint Romuald at Fonte Avellana. They lived two monks to a hermitage. Peter was so eager to pray and slept so little that he soon suffered from severe insomnia. He found he had to use some prudence in taking care of himself. When he was not praying, he studied the Bible.

The abbot commanded that when he died Peter should succeed him. Abbot Peter founded five other hermitages. He encouraged his brothers in a life of prayer and solitude and wanted nothing more for himself. The Holy See periodically called on him, however, to be a peacemaker or troubleshooter, between two abbeys in dispute or a cleric or government official in some disagreement with Rome.

Finally, Pope Stephen IX made Peter the cardinal-bishop of Ostia. He worked hard to wipe out simony - the buying of church offices - and encouraged his priests to observe celibacy and urged even the diocesan clergy to live together and maintain scheduled prayer and religious observance. He wished to restore primitive discipline among religious and priests, warning against needless travel, violations of poverty, and too comfortable living. He even wrote to the bishop of Besancon complaining that the canons there sat down when they were singing the psalms in the Divine Office.

He wrote many letters. Some 170 are extant. We also have 53 of his sermons and seven lives, or biographies, that he wrote. He preferred examples and stories rather than theory in his writings. The liturgical offices he wrote are evidence of his talent as a stylist in Latin. He asked often to be allowed to retire as cardinal-bishop of Ostia, and finally Pope Alexander II consented. Peter was happy to become once again just a monk, but he was still called to serve as a papal legate. When returning from such an assignment in Ravenna, he was overcome by a fever. With the monks gathered around him saying the Divine Office, he died on February 22, 1072. In 1828, he was declared a Doctor of the Church.

February 23: St. Polycarp
Imagine being able to sit at the feet of the apostles and hear their stories of life with Jesus from their own lips. Imagine walking with those who had walked with Jesus, seen him, and touched him. That was what Polycarp was able to do as a disciple of Saint John the Evangelist. But being part of the second generation of church leaders had challenges that the first generation could not teach about. With the apostles gone, heresies sprang up pretending to be true teaching, persecution was strong, and controversies arose over how to celebrate liturgy that Jesus never laid down rules for.

Polycarp, as a holy man and bishop of Smyrna, found there was only one answer - to be true to the life of Jesus and imitate that life. Saint Ignatius of Antioch told Polycarp "your mind is grounded in God as on an immovable rock." When he was tied up to be burned, Polycarp prayed, "Lord God Almighty, Father of your beloved and blessed Son Jesus Christ, through whom we have received knowledge of you, God of angels and powers, of the whole creation and of the whole race of the righteous who live in your sight, I bless you, for having made me worthy of this day and hour, I bless you, because I may have a part, along with the martyrs, in the chalice of your Christ, to resurrection in eternal life, resurrection both of soul and body in the incorruptibility of the Holy Spirit. May I be received today, as a rich and acceptable sacrifice, among those who are in you presence, as you have prepared and foretold and fulfilled, God who is faithful and true. For this and for all benefits I praise you, I bless you, I glorify you, through the eternal and heavenly High Priest, Jesus Christ, your beloved Son, through whom be to you with him and the Holy Spirit glory, now and for all the ages to come. Amen."

The fire was lit as Polycarp said Amen and then the eyewitnesses who reported said they saw a miracle. The fire burst up in an arch around Polycarp, the flames surrounding him like sails, and instead of being burned he seemed to glow like bread baking, or gold being melted in a furnace. When the captors saw he wasn't being burned, they stabbed him. The blood that flowed put the fire out.

Scripture Readings Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48


February 12, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

February 14: Saints Cyril and Methodius
Because their father was an officer in a part of Greece inhabited by many Slavs, these two Greek brothers ultimately became missionaries, teachers, and patrons of the Slavic peoples. After a brilliant course of studies, Cyril (called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before his death) refused the governorship of a district such as his brother had accepted among the Slavic-speaking population. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years in a governmental post.
A decisive change in their lives occurred when the Duke of Moravia asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule and ecclesiastical autonomy (having their own clergy and liturgy). Cyril and Methodius undertook the missionary task.

Cyril's first work was to invent an alphabet, still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet. Together they translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul's letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic, and composed a Slavonic liturgy, highly irregular then. That and their free use of the vernacular in preaching led to opposition from the German clergy. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests, and Cyril was forced to appeal to Rome. On the visit to Rome, he and Methodius had the joy of seeing their new liturgy approved by Pope Adrian II. Cyril, long an invalid, died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit.

Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. He was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop and then given an ancient see (now in the Czech Republic). When much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction, the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. As a result, Emperor Louis the German exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release.

Because the Frankish clergy, still smarting, continued their accusations, Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. He was again vindicated. Legend has it that in a feverish period of activity, Methodius translated the whole Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died on Tuesday of Holy Week, surrounded by his disciples, in his cathedral church.

Opposition continued after his death, and the work of the brothers in Moravia was brought to an end and their disciples scattered. But the expulsions had the beneficial effect of spreading the spiritual, liturgical, and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe.

February 17: Seven Founders of the Servite Order
In 1240, seven noblemen of Florence mutually decided to withdraw from the city to a solitary place for prayer and direct service of God. Their initial difficulty was providing for their dependents, since two were still married and two were widowers. Their aim was to lead a life of penance and prayer, but they soon found themselves disturbed by constant visitors from Florence. They next withdrew to the deserted slopes of Monte Senario.

In 1244, under the direction of Saint Peter of Verona, O.P., this small group adopted a religious habit similar to the Dominican habit, choosing to live under the Rule of St. Augustine and adopting the name of the Servants of Mary. The new Order took a form more like that of the mendicant friars than that of the older monastic Orders. Members of the community came to the United States from Austria in 1852 and settled in New York and later in Philadelphia. The two American provinces developed from the foundation made by Father Austin Morini in 1870 in Wisconsin.

Community members combined monastic life and active ministry. In the monastery, they led a life of prayer, work and silence while in the active apostolate they engaged in parochial work, teaching, preaching, and other ministerial activities.

Scripture Readings Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Sirach 15:15-20; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Matthew 5:17-37


February 5, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

February 9: St. Jerome Emiliani
A careless and irreligious soldier for the city-state of Venice, Jerome was captured in a skirmish at an outpost town and chained in a dungeon. In prison Jerome had a lot of time to think, and he gradually learned how to pray. When he escaped, he returned to Venice where he took charge of the education of his nephews - and began his own studies for the priesthood. In the years after his ordination, events again called Jerome to a decision and a new lifestyle. Plague and famine swept northern Italy. Jerome began caring for the sick and feeding the hungry at his own expense. While serving the sick and the poor, he soon resolved to devote himself and his property solely to others, particularly to abandoned children. He founded three orphanages, a shelter for penitent prostitutes and a hospital.

Around 1532, Jerome and two other priests established a congregation, the Clerks Regular of Somasca, dedicated to the care of orphans and the education of youth. Jerome died in 1537 from a disease he caught while tending the sick. He was canonized in 1767. In 1928, Pius Xl named him the patron of orphans and abandoned children.

February 10: St. Scholastica
Twins often share the same interests and ideas with an equal intensity. Therefore, it is no surprise that Scholastica and her twin brother, Benedict, established religious communities within a few miles from each other. Born in 480 of wealthy parents, Scholastica and Benedict were brought up together until he left central Italy for Rome to continue his studies.

Little is known of Scholastica's early life. She founded a religious community for women near Monte Cassino at Plombariola, five miles from where her brother governed a monastery. The twins visited each other once a year in a farmhouse because Scholastica was not permitted inside the monastery. They spent these times discussing spiritual matters.

According to the Dialogues of St. Gregory the Great, the brother and sister spent their last day together in prayer and conversation. Scholastica sensed her death was close at hand, and she begged Benedict to stay with her until the next day. He refused her request because he did not want to spend a night outside the monastery, thus breaking his own Rule. Scholastica asked God to let her brother remain and a severe thunderstorm broke out, preventing Benedict and his monks from returning to the abbey. Benedict cried out, "God forgive you, Sister. What have you done?" Scholastica replied, "I asked a favor of you, and you refused. I asked it of God, and he granted it."

Brother and sister parted the next morning after their long discussion. Three days later, Benedict was praying in his monastery and saw the soul of his sister rising heavenward in the form of a white dove. Benedict then announced the death of his sister to the monks and later buried her in the tomb he had prepared for himself.

February 11: Our Lady of Lourdes
On December 8, 1854, Pope Pius IX proclaimed the dogma of the Immaculate Conception in the apostolic constitution Ineffabilis Deus. A little more than three years later, on February 11, 1858, a young lady appeared to Bernadette Soubirous. This began a series of visions. During the apparition on March 25, the lady identified herself with the words: "I am the Immaculate Conception."

Bernadette was a sickly child of poor parents. Their practice of the Catholic faith was scarcely more than lukewarm. Bernadette could pray the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Creed. She also knew the prayer of the Miraculous Medal: "O Mary conceived without sin." 

During interrogations Bernadette gave an account of what she saw. It was "something white in the shape of a girl." She used the word aquero, a dialect term meaning "this thing." It was "a pretty young girl with a rosary over her arm." Her white robe was encircled by a blue girdle. She wore a white veil. There was a yellow rose on each foot. A rosary was in her hand. Bernadette was also impressed by the fact that the lady did not use the informal form of address (tu), but the polite form (vous). The humble virgin appeared to a humble girl and treated her with dignity.

Through that humble girl, Mary revitalized and continues to revitalize the faith of millions of people. People began to flock to Lourdes from other parts of France and from all over the world. In 1862, Church authorities confirmed the authenticity of the apparitions and authorized the cult of Our Lady of Lourdes for the diocese. The Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes became worldwide in 1907.

Scripture Readings Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 58:7-10; 1 Corinthians 2:1-5; Matthew 5:13-16


January 29, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

January 31: St. John Bosco
John Bosco's theory of education could well be used in today's schools. It was a preventive system, rejecting corporal punishment and placing students in surroundings removed from the likelihood of committing sin. He advocated frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and Holy Communion. He combined catechetical training and fatherly guidance, seeking to unite the spiritual life with one's work, study and play.

Encouraged during his youth in Turin to become a priest so he could work with young boys, John was ordained in 1841. His service to young people started when he met a poor orphan in Turin, and instructed him in preparation for receiving Holy Communion. He then gathered young apprentices and taught them catechism.

After serving as chaplain in a hospice for working girls, Don Bosco opened the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales for boys. Several wealthy and powerful patrons contributed money, enabling him to provide two workshops for the boys, shoemaking and tailoring. By 1856, the institution had grown to 150 boys and had added a printing press for publication of religious and catechetical pamphlets. John's interest in vocational education and publishing justify him as patron of young apprentices and Catholic publishers. John's preaching fame spread and by 1850 he had trained his own helpers because of difficulties in retaining young priests. In 1854, he and his followers informally banded together, inspired by Saint Francis de Sales. With Pope Pius IX's encouragement, John gathered 17 men and founded the Salesians in 1859. Their activity concentrated on education and mission work. Later, he organized a group of Salesian Sisters to assist girls.

February 2: Presentation of the Lord
At the end of the fourth century, a woman named Etheria made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. Her journal, discovered in 1887, gives an unprecedented glimpse of liturgical life there. Among the celebrations she describes is the Epiphany, the observance of Christ's birth, and the gala procession in honor of his Presentation in the Temple 40 days later. Under the Mosaic Law, a woman was ritually "unclean" for 40 days after childbirth, when she was to present herself to the priests and offer sacrifice - her "purification." Contact with anyone who had brushed against mystery - birth or death - excluded a person from Jewish worship. This feast emphasizes Jesus' first appearance in the Temple more than Mary's purification.

The observance spread throughout the Western Church in the fifth and sixth centuries. Because the Church in the West celebrated Jesus' birth on December 25, the Presentation was moved to February 2, 40 days after Christmas. At the beginning of the eighth century, Pope Sergius inaugurated a candlelight procession; at the end of the same century the blessing and distribution of candles which continues to this day became part of the celebration, giving the feast its popular name: Candlemas.

February 3: St. Blaise
We know more about the devotion to Saint Blaise by Christians around the world than we know about the saint himself. His feast is observed as a holy day in some Eastern Churches. In 1222, the Council of Oxford prohibited servile labor in England on Blaise's feast day. The Germans and Slavs hold him in special honor, and for decades many United States Catholics have sought the annual Saint Blaise blessing for their throats.

We know that Bishop Blaise was martyred in his episcopal city of Sebastea, Armenia, in 316. The legendary Acts of St. Blaise were written 400 years later. According to them Blaise was a good bishop, working hard to encourage the spiritual and physical health of his people. Although the Edict of Toleration (311), granting freedom of worship in the Roman Empire, was already five years old, persecution still raged in Armenia. Blaise was apparently forced to flee to the back country. There he lived as a hermit in solitude and prayer, but he made friends with the wild animals. One day a group of hunters seeking wild animals for the amphitheater stumbled upon Blaise's cave. They were first surprised and then frightened. The bishop was kneeling in prayer surrounded by patiently waiting wolves, lions and bears.

The legend has it that as the hunters hauled Blaise off to prison, a mother came with her young son who had a fish bone lodged in his throat. At Blaise's command the child was able to cough up the bone. Agricolaus, governor of Cappadocia, tried to persuade Blaise to sacrifice to pagan idols. The first time Blaise refused, he was beaten. The next time, he was suspended from a tree and his flesh torn with iron combs or rakes. Finally, he was beheaded.

February 4: St. Andrew Corsini
He was born in Florence on November 30, 1302, a member of the powerful Corsini family. Wild in his youth, Andrew as converted to a holy life by his mother and became a Carmelite monk. He studied in Paris and Avignon, France, returning to his birthplace. There, he became known as the Apostle of Florence. He was called a prophet and miracle worker. Named as the Bishop of Fiesole in 1349, Andrew fled the honor but was forced to accept the office, which he held for 12 years. He was sent by Pope Urban V to Bologna to settle disputes between the nobles and commoners, a mission he performed well. Andrew died in Fiesole on January 6, 1373. So many miracles took place at his death that Pope Eugenius IV permitted the immediate opening of his cause.

Scripture Readings Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Zephaniah 2:3; 3:12-13; 1 Corinthians 1:26-31; Matthew 5:1-12a


January 22, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

January 23: St. Raymond of Penafort
By the time he was 20, he was teaching philosophy. In his early 30's, he earned a doctorate in both canon and civil law. At 41 he became a Dominican. Pope Gregory IX called him to Rome to work for him and to be his confessor. One of the things the pope asked him to do was to gather together all the decrees of popes and councils that had been made in 80 years since a similar collection by Gratian. Raymond compiled five books called the Decretals. They were looked upon as one of the best organized collections of Church law until the 1917 codification of canon law.

At the age of 60, Raymond was appointed archbishop of Tarragona, the capital of Aragon. He didn't like the honor at all and ended up getting sick and resigning in two years. He didn't get to enjoy his peace long, however, because when he was 63 he was elected by his fellow Dominicans to be the head of the whole Order, the successor of Saint Dominic. Raymond worked hard, visited on foot all the Dominicans, reorganized their constitutions and managed to put through a provision that a master general be allowed to resign. When the new constitutions were accepted, Raymond, then 65, resigned. He still had 35 years to oppose heresy and work for the conversion of the Moors in Spain. He convinced Saint Thomas Aquinas to write his work Against the Gentiles. In his 100th year, the Lord let Raymond retire.

January 24: St. Francis de Sales
Francis was destined by his father to be a lawyer so that the young man could eventually take his elder's place as a senator from the province of Savoy in France. For this reason Francis was sent to Padua to study law. After receiving his doctorate, he returned home and, in due time, told his parents he wished to enter the priesthood. His father strongly opposed Francis in this, and only after much patient persuasiveness on the part of the gentle Francis did his father finally consent. Francis was ordained and elected provost of the Diocese of Geneva, then a center for the Calvinists. Francis set out to convert them, especially in the district of Chablais. By preaching and distributing the little pamphlets he wrote to explain true Catholic doctrine, he had remarkable success.

At 35, he became bishop of Geneva. While administering his diocese he continued to preach, hear confessions, and catechize the children. His gentle character was a great asset in winning souls. He practiced his own axiom, "A spoonful of honey attracts more flies than a barrelful of vinegar."

Besides his two well-known books, the Introduction to the Devout Life and A Treatise on the Love of God, he wrote many pamphlets and carried on a vast correspondence. For his writings, he has been named patron of the Catholic Press. His writings, filled with his characteristic gentle spirit, are addressed to lay people. He wants to make them understand that they too are called to be saints. As he wrote in The Introduction to the Devout Life: "It is an error, or rather a heresy, to say devotion is incompatible with the life of a soldier, a tradesman, a prince, or a married woman... It has happened that many have lost perfection in the desert who had preserved it in the world."

January 25: Conversion of St. Paul
Saint Paul's entire life can be explained in terms of one experience - his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus. In an instant, he saw that all the zeal of his dynamic personality was being wasted, like the strength of a boxer swinging wildly. Perhaps he had never seen Jesus, who was only a few years older. But he had acquired a zealot's hatred of all Jesus stood for, as he began to harass the Church: "...entering house after house and dragging out men and women, he handed them over for imprisonment." (Acts 8:3b). Now he himself was "entered," possessed, all his energy harnessed to one goal - being a slave of Christ in the ministry of reconciliation, an instrument to help others experience the one Savior.

One sentence determined his theology: "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting" (Acts 9:5b). Jesus was mysteriously identified with people - the loving group of people Saul had been running down like criminals. Jesus, he saw, was the mysterious fulfillment of all he had been blindly pursuing. From then on, his only work was to "present everyone perfect in Christ. For this I labor and struggle, in accord with the exercise of his power working within me" (Colossians 1:28b-29). "For our gospel did not come to you in word alone, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and [with] much conviction" (1 Thessalonians 1:5a).

January 26: Saints Timothy and Titus
Timothy had a Greek father and a Jewish mother named Eunice. Being the product of a "mixed" marriage, he was considered illegitimate by the Jews. It was his grandmother, Lois, who first became Christian. Timothy was a convert of Paul around the year 47 and later joined him in his apostolic work. He was with Paul at the founding of the Church in Corinth. During the 15 years he worked with Paul, he became one of his most faithful and trusted friends. He was sent on difficult missions by Paul - often in the face of great disturbance in local churches which Paul had founded. Timothy was comparatively young for the work he was doing. Several references seem to indicate that he was timid. And one of Paul's most frequently quoted lines was addressed to him: "Stop drinking only water, but have a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent illnesses" (1 Timothy 5:23).

Titus has the distinction of being a close friend and disciple of Paul as well as a fellow missionary. He was Greek, apparently from Antioch. Even though Titus was a Gentile, Paul would not let him be forced to undergo circumcision at Jerusalem. Titus is seen as a peacemaker, administrator, great friend. Paul's second letter to Corinth affords an insight into the depth of his friendship with Titus and the great fellowship they had in preaching the gospel. The "Letter to Titus" addresses him as the administrator of the Christian community on the island of Crete, charged with organizing it, correcting abuses, and appointing presbyter-bishops.

Scripture Readings Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 8:23-9:-3; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13, 17; Matthew 4:12-23


January 15, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

January 17: St. Anthony of the Desert
The life of Anthony will remind many people of Saint Francis of Assisi. At 20, Anthony was so moved by the Gospel message, "Go, sell what you have, and give to [the] poor" (Mark 10:21b), that he actually did just that with his large inheritance. He is different from Francis in that most of Anthony's life was spent in solitude. He saw the world completely covered with snares and gave the Church and the world the witness of solitary asceticism, great personal mortification and prayer. But no saint is antisocial, and Anthony drew many people to himself for spiritual healing and guidance.

At 54, he responded to many requests and founded a sort of monastery of scattered cells. Again, like Francis, he had great fear of "stately buildings and well-laden tables." At 60, he hoped to be a martyr in the renewed Roman persecution of 311, fearlessly exposing himself to danger while giving moral and material support to those in prison. At 88, he was fighting the Arian heresy, that massive trauma from which it took the Church centuries to recover. "The mule kicking over the altar" denied the divinity of Christ.

Anthony is associated in art with a T-shaped cross, a pig, and a book. The pig and the cross are symbols of his valiant warfare with the devil - the cross his constant means of power over evil spirits, the pig a symbol of the devil himself. The book recalls his preference for "the book of nature" over the printed word. Anthony died in solitude at age 105.

January 20: St. Sebastian
Almost nothing is historically certain about Sebastian except that he was a Roman martyr, was venerated in Milan even in the time of Saint Ambrose, and was buried on the Appian Way, probably near the present Basilica of St. Sebastian. Devotion to him spread rapidly, and he is mentioned in several martyrologies as early as 350.

The legend of Saint Sebastian is important in art, and there is a vast iconography. Scholars now agree that a pious fable has Sebastian entering the Roman army because only there could he assist the martyrs without arousing suspicion. Finally, he was found out, brought before Emperor Diocletian and delivered to Mauritanian archers to be shot to death. His body was pierced with arrows, and he was left for dead. But he was found still alive by those who came to bury him. He recovered, but refused to flee.

One day he took up a position near where the emperor was to pass. He accosted the emperor, denouncing him for his cruelty to Christians. This time the sentence of death was carried out. Sebastian was beaten to death with clubs. He was buried on the Appian Way, close to the catacombs that bear his name.

January 21: St Agnes
Almost nothing is known of this saint except that she was very young - 12 or 13 - when she was martyred in the last half of the third century. Various modes of death have been suggested - beheading, burning, strangling.

Legend has it that Agnes was a beautiful girl whom many young men wanted to marry. Among those she refused, one reported her to the authorities for being a Christian. She was arrested and confined to a house of prostitution. The legend continues that a man who looked upon her lustfully lost his sight and had it restored by her prayer. Agnes was condemned, executed, and buried near Rome in a catacomb that eventually was named after her. The daughter of Constantine built a basilica in her honor.

Scripture Readings Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 49:3, 5-6; 1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34


January 8, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

January 13: St. Hilary of Poitiers
"They didn't know who they were." This is how Hilary summed up the problem with the Arian heretics of the fourth century. Hilary, on the other hand, knew very well who he was - a child of a loving God who had inherited eternal life through belief in the Son of God. He hadn't been raised as a Christian, but he had felt a wonder at the gift of life and a desire to find out the meaning of that gift. He first discarded the approach of many people who around him, who believed the purpose of life was only to satisfy desires. He knew he wasn't a beast grazing in a pasture. The philosophers agreed with him. Human beings should rise above desires and live a life of virtue, they said. But Hilary could see in his own heart that humans were meant for even more than living a good life. If he didn't lead a virtuous life, he would suffer from guilt and be unhappy. His soul seemed to cry out that wasn't enough to justify the enormous gift of life. So Hilary went looking for the gift giver. He was told many things about the divine - many that we still hear today: that there were many Gods, that God didn't exist but all creation was the result of random acts of nature, that God existed but didn't really care for his creation, that God was in creatures or images. One look in his own soul told him these images of the divine were wrong. God had to be one because no creation could be as great as God. God had to be concerned with God's creation - otherwise, why create it? At that point, Hilary tells us, he "chanced upon" the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures. When he read the verse where God tells tells Moses "I AM WHO I AM" (Exodus 3:14), Hilary said, "I was frankly amazed at such a clear definition of God, which expressed the incomprehensible knowledge of the divine nature in words most suited to human intelligence." In the Psalms and the Prophets, he found descriptions of God's power, concern, and beauty. For example in Psalm 139, "Where shall I go from your spirit?", he found confirmation that God was everywhere and omnipotent.

But still he was troubled. He knew the gift giver now, but what was he, the recipient of the gift? Was he just created for the moment to disappear at death? It only made sense to him that God's purpose in creation should be "that what did not exist began to exist, not that what had begun to exist would cease to exist." Then he found the Gospels and read John's words including "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God..." (John 1:1-2). From John, the learned of the Son of God and how Jesus had been sent to bring eternal life to those who believed. Finally, his soul was at rest. "No longer did it look upon the life of this body as troublesome or wearisome but believed it to be what the alphabet is to children... namely, as the patient endurance of the present trials of life in order to gain a blissful eternity." He had found who he was in discovering God and God's Son Jesus Christ.

After becoming a Christian, he was elected bishop of Poitiers in what is now France by the laity and clergy. He was already married with one daughter named Apra. Not everyone at that time had the same idea of who they were. The Arians did not believe in the divinity of Christ, and the Arians had a lot of power including the support of the emperor Constantius. This resulted in many persecutions. When Hilary refused to support their condemnation of Saint Athanasius, he was exiled from Poitiers to the East in 356. The Arians couldn't have had a worse plan - for themselves.

Hilary really had known very little of the whole Arian controversy before he was banished. Perhaps he supported Athanasius simply because he didn't like their methods. But being exiled from his home and his duties gave him plenty of time to study and write. He learned everything he could about what the Arians said and what the orthodox Christians answered and then he began to write. "Although in exile we shall speak through these books, and the word of God, which cannot be bound, shall move about in freedom." The writings of his that still exist include On the Trinity, a commentary on the Gospel of Matthew, and a commentary on the Psalms. He tells us about the Trinity, "For one to attempt to speak of God in terms more precise than he himself has used: to undertake such a thing is to embark upon the boundless, to dare the incomprehensible. He fixed the names of His nature: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Whatever is sought over and above this is beyond the meaning of words, beyond the limits of perception, beyond the embrace of understanding."

After three years, the emperor kicked him back to Poitiers because, we are told by Sulpicius Severus, the emperor was tired of having to deal with the troublemaker, "a sower of discord an a disturber of the Orient." But no one told Hilary he had to go straight back to his home and so he took a leisurely route through Greece and Italy, preaching against the Arians as he went. In the East, he had also heard the hymns used by Arians and orthodox Christians as propaganda. These hymns were not based on Scripture as Western hymns but full of beliefs about God. Back at home, Hilary started writing hymns of propaganda himself to spread the faith. His hymns are the first in the West with a known writer.

Some of us may wonder at all the trouble over what may seem only words to us now. But Hilary wasn't not fighting a war of words but a battle for the eternal life of the souls who might hear the Arians and stop believing in the Son of God, their hope of salvation. The death of Constantius in 361 ended the persecution of the orthodox Christians. Hilary died in 367 or 368 and was proclaimed a doctor of the Church in 1851.

Scripture Readings Epiphany of the Lord - Isaiah 60:1-6 - Ephesians 3:2-3a, 5-6; Matthew 2:1-12


January 1, 2023, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

January 4: St. Elizabeth Ann Seton
Elizabeth Ann Bayley Seton is a true daughter of the American Revolution, born August 28, 1774, just two years before the Declaration of Independence. By birth and marriage, she was linked to the first families of New York and enjoyed the fruits of high society. Reared a staunch Episcopalian, she learned the value of prayer, Scripture and a nightly examination of conscience. Her father, Dr. Richard Bayley, did not have much use for churches but was a great humanitarian, teaching his daughter to love and serve others.

At 19, Elizabeth was the belle of New York and married a handsome, wealthy businessman, William Magee Seton. They had five children before his business failed, and he died of tuberculosis. At 30, Elizabeth was widowed and penniless with five small children to support.

While in Italy with her dying husband, Elizabeth witnessed Catholicity in action through family friends. Three basic points led her to become a Catholic: belief in the Real Presence, devotion to the Blessed Mother and conviction that the Catholic Church led back to the apostles and to Christ. Many of her family and friends rejected her when she became a Catholic in March 1805. The thousand or more letters of Mother Seton reveal the development of her spiritual life from ordinary goodness to heroic sanctity. She suffered great trials of sickness, misunderstanding, the death of loved ones (her husband and two young daughters) and the heartache of a wayward son. She died January 4, 1821, and became the first American-born citizen to be beatified (1963) and then canonized (1975).

January 5: St. John Neumann
John Neumann was born in what is now the Czech Republic. After studying in Prague, he came to New York at 25 and was ordained a priest. He did missionary work in New York until he was 29 when he joined the Redemptorists and became its first member to profess vows in the United States. He continued missionary work in Maryland, Virginia and Ohio, where he became popular with the Germans.

At 41, as bishop of Philadelphia, he organized the parochial school system into a diocesan one, increasing the number of pupils almost twenty fold within a short time. Gifted with outstanding organizing ability, he drew into the city many teaching communities of sisters and the Christian Brothers. During his brief assignment as vice provincial for the Redemptorists, he placed them in the forefront of the parochial movement. Well-known for his holiness and learning, spiritual writing and preaching, on October 13, 1963, John Neumann became the first American bishop to be beatified. Canonized in 1977, he is buried in St. Peter the Apostle Church in Philadelphia.

January 6: St. Andre Bessette
At 25, Andre applied for entrance into the Congregation of Holy Cross. After a year's novitiate, he was not admitted because of his weak health. But with an extension and the urging of Bishop Bourget, he was finally received. He was given the humble job of doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Montreal with additional duties as sacristan, laundry worker and messenger. "When I joined this community, the superiors showed me the door, and I remained 40 years," he said. In his little room near the door, he spent much of the night on his knees. On his windowsill, facing Mount Royal, was a small statue of Saint Joseph to whom he had been devoted since childhood. When asked about it he said, "Some day, Saint Joseph is going to be honored in a very special way on Mount Royal!"

When he heard someone was ill, he visited to bring cheer and to pray with the sick person. He would rub the sick person lightly with oil taken from a lamp burning in the college chapel. Word of healing powers began to spread. When an epidemic broke out at a nearby college, Andre volunteered to nurse. Not one person died. The trickle of sick people to his door became a flood. His superiors were uneasy; diocesan authorities were suspicious; doctors called him a quack. "I do not cure," he said again and again. "Saint Joseph cures." In the end, he needed four secretaries to handle the 80,000 letters he received each year.

For many years, the Holy Cross authorities had tried to buy land on Mount Royal. Brother Andre and others climbed the steep hill and planted medals of Saint Joseph. Suddenly, the owners yielded. Andre collected $200 to build a small chapel and began receiving visitors there - smiling through long hours of listening, applying Saint Joseph's oil. Some were cured, some not. The pile of crutches, canes and braces grew.

The chapel also grew. By 1931, there were gleaming walls, but money ran out. "Put a statue of Saint Joseph in the middle. If he wants a roof over his head, he'll get it." The magnificent Oratory on Mount Royal took 50 years to build. The sickly boy who could not hold a job died at 92.

Scripture Readings Mary, Mother of God - Numbers 6:22-27; Galatians 4:4-7; Luke 2:16-21


December 25, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

December 26: St. Stephen
Acts of the Apostles says that Stephen was a man filled with grace and power who worked great wonders among the people. Certain Jews, members of the Synagogue of Roman Freedmen, debated with Stephen, but proved no match for the wisdom and spirit with which he spoke. They persuaded others to make the charge of blasphemy against him. He was seized and carried before the Sanhedrin. In his speech, Stephen recalled God's guidance through Israel's history, as well as Israel's idolatry and disobedience. He then claimed that his persecutors were showing this same spirit... you always oppose the holy Spirit; you are just like your ancestors." (Acts 7:51b).

Stephen's speech brought anger from the crowd. "But he, filled with the holy Spirit, looked up intently to heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'... They threw him out of the city and began to stone him. As they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' ...'Lord, do not hold this sin against them." (Acts 7:55-56, 58a, 59, 60b).

December 27: St. John the Evangelist
Because of the depth of his Gospel, John is usually thought of as the eagle of theology, soaring in high regions that other writers did not enter. But the ever-frank Gospels reveal some very human traits. Jesus gave James and John the nickname, "sons of thunder." While it is difficult to know exactly what this meant, a clue is given in two incidents.

In the first, as Matthew tells it, their mother asked that they might sit in the places of honor in Jesus' kingdom - one on his right hand, one on his left. When Jesus asked them if they could drink the cup he would drink and be baptized with his baptism of pain, they blithely answered, "We can!" Jesus said that they would indeed share his cup but that sitting at his right hand was not his to give. It was for those to whom it had been reserved by the Father. On another occasion, the "sons of thunder" asked Jesus if they should not call down fire from heaven upon the inhospitable Samaritans, who would not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem. But Jesus "turned and rebuked them" (see Luke 9:51-55).

John was with Peter when the first great miracle after the Resurrection took place - the cure of the man crippled from birth - which led to their spending the night in jail together. The mysterious experience of the Resurrection is perhaps best contained in the words of Acts: "Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they (the questioners) were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus." (Acts 4:13).

The Apostle John is traditionally considered the author also of three New Testament letters and the Book of Revelation. His Gospel is a very personal account. He sees the glorious and divine Jesus already in the incidents of his mortal life. At the Last Supper, John's Jesus speaks as if he were already in heaven. John's is the Gospel of Jesus' glory.

December 28: Holy Innocents
Matthew 2:1-18 tells this story: Herod was "greatly troubled" when astrologers from the east came asking the whereabouts of "the newborn king of the Jews," whose star they had seen. They were told that the Jewish Scriptures named Bethlehem as the place where the Messiah would be born. Herod cunningly told them to report back to him so that he could also "do him homage." They found Jesus, offered him their gifts, and warned by an angel, avoided Herod on their way home. Jesus escaped to Egypt. Herod became furious and "ordered the massacre of all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity two years old and under." The horror of the massacre and the devastation of the mothers and fathers led Matthew to quote Jeremiah: "A voice was heard in Ramah, sobbing and loud lamentation; Rachel weeping for her children..." (Matthew 2:18). Rachel was the wife of Jacob (Israel). She is pictured as weeping at the place where the Israelites were herded together by the conquering Assyrians for their march into captivity.

December 29: St. Thomas Becket
His career had been a stormy one. While archdeacon of Canterbury, he was made chancellor of England at the age of 36 by his friend King Henry II. When Henry felt it advantageous to make his chancellor the archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas gave him fair warning: he might not accept all of Henry's intrusions into Church affairs. Nevertheless, in 1162, he was made archbishop, resigned his chancellorship, and reformed his whole way of life! Troubles began. Henry insisted upon usurping Church rights.

At one time, supposing some conciliatory action possible, Thomas came close to compromise. He momentarily approved the Constitutions of Clarendon, which would have denied the clergy the right of trial by a Church court and prevented them from making direct appeal to Rome. But Thomas rejected the Constitutions, fled to France for safety, and remained in exile for seven years. When he returned to England, he suspected it would mean certain death. Because Thomas refused to remit censures he had placed upon bishops favored by the king, Henry cried out in a rage, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome priest!" Four knights, taking his words as his wish, slew Thomas in the Canterbury cathedral.

December 31: Pope St. Sylvester I
A great store of legends has grown up around the man who was pope at this most important time but very little can be established historically. We know for sure that his papacy lasted from 314 until his death in 335. Reading between the lines of history, we are assured that only a very strong and wise man could have preserved the essential independence of the Church in the face of the overpowering figure of the Emperor Constantine. In general, the bishops remained loyal to the Holy See, and at times expressed apologies to Sylvester for undertaking important ecclesiastical projects at the urging of Constantine.

Scripture Readings for Christmas

  • Vigil Mass - Isaiah 62:1-5; Acts of the Apostles 13:16-17, 22-25; Matthew 1:1-25
  • Mass During the Night - Isaiah 9:1-6; Titus 2:11-14; Luke 2:1-14
  • Mass During the Day - Isaiah 52:7-10; Hebrews 1:1-6; John 1:1-18


December 18, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

December 21: St. Peter Canisius
Peter was one of the most important figures in the Catholic Reformation in Germany. He played such a key role that he has often been called the "second apostle of Germany," in that his life parallels the earlier work of Boniface. Although Peter once accused himself of idleness in his youth, he could not have been idle too long, for at the age of 19 he received a master's degree from the university at Cologne. Soon afterward, he met Peter Faber, the first disciple of Ignatius of Loyola, who influenced Peter so much that he joined the recently formed Society of Jesus.

At this early age, Peter had already taken up a practice he continued throughout his life - a process of study, reflection, prayer, and writing. After his ordination in 1546, he became widely known for his editions of the writings of St. Cyril of Alexandria and St. Leo the Great. Besides this reflective literary bent, Peter had a zeal for the apostolate. He could often be found visiting the sick or imprisoned, even when his assigned duties in other areas were more than enough to keep most people fully occupied.

In 1547, Peter attended several sessions of the Council of Trent, whose decrees he was later assigned to implement. After a brief teaching assignment at the Jesuit college at Messina, Peter was entrusted with the mission to Germany - from that point on his life's work. He taught in several universities and was instrumental in establishing many colleges and seminaries. He wrote a catechism that explained the Catholic faith in a way that common people could understand - a great need of that age.

Renowned as a popular preacher, Peter packed churches with those eager to hear his eloquent proclamation of the gospel. He had great diplomatic ability, often serving as a reconciler between disputing factions. In his letters - filling eight volumes - one finds words of wisdom and counsel to people in all walks of life. At times, he wrote unprecedented letters of criticism to leaders of the Church - yet always in the context of a loving, sympathetic concern.

December 23: St. John of Kanty
John was a country lad who made good in the big city and the big university of Krakow, Poland. After brilliant studies he was ordained a priest and became a professor of theology. The inevitable opposition which saints encounter led to his being ousted by rivals and sent to be a parish priest at Olkusz. An extremely humble man, he did his best, but his best was not to the liking of his parishioners. Besides, he was afraid of the responsibilities of his position. But in the end he won his people's hearts. After some time, he returned to Krakow and taught Scripture for the remainder of his life.

John was a serious man and humble but known to all the poor of Krakow for his kindness. His goods and his money were always at their disposal, and time and again they took advantage of him. He kept only the money and clothes absolutely needed to support himself. He slept little, ate sparingly, and took no meat. He made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem hoping to be martyred by the Turks. Later, John made four subsequent pilgrimages to Rome, carrying his luggage on his back. When he was warned to look after his health, he was quick to point out that, for all their austerity, the fathers of the desert lived remarkably long lives.

Scripture Readings Fourth Sunday of Advent - Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 18-24


December 11, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

December 12 : Our Lady of Guadalupe
The feast in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe goes back to the 16th century. Chronicles of that period tell us the story. A poor Indian named Cuauhtlatohuac was baptized and given the name Juan Diego. He was a 57-year-old widower and lived in a small village near Mexico City. On Saturday morning December 9, 1531, he was on his way to a nearby barrio to attend Mass in honor of Our Lady. Juan was walking by a hill called Tepeyac when he heard beautiful music like the warbling of birds. A radiant cloud appeared and within it stood an Indian maiden dressed like an Aztec princess. The lady spoke to him in his own language and sent him to the bishop of Mexico, a Franciscan named Juan de Zumarraga. The bishop was to build a chapel in the place where the lady appeared.

Eventually the bishop told Juan to have the lady give him a sign. About this same time Juan's uncle became seriously ill. This led poor Juan to try to avoid the lady. Nevertheless, the lady found Juan, assured him that his uncle would recover, and provided roses for Juan to carry to the bishop in his cape or tilma. On December 12, when Juan Diego opened his tilma in the bishop's presence, the roses fell to the ground, and the bishop sank to his knees. On the tilma where the roses had been appeared an image of Mary exactly as she had appeared at the hill of Tepeyac.

December 13: St. Lucy
Every little girl named Lucy must bite her tongue in disappointment when she first tries to find out what there is to know about her patron saint. The older books will have a lengthy paragraph detailing a small number of traditions. Newer books will have a lengthy paragraph showing that there is little basis in history for these traditions. The single fact survives that a disappointed suitor accused Lucy of being a Christian, and she was executed in Syracuse, Sicily, in the year 304. But it is also true that her name is mentioned in the First Eucharistic Prayer, geographical places are named after her, a popular song has her name as its title, and down through the centuries many thousands of little girls have been proud of the name Lucy.

December 14: St. John of the Cross
John is a saint because his life was a heroic effort to live up to his name: "of the Cross." The folly of the cross came to full realization in time. "Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me" (Mark 8:34b) is the story of John's life. The Paschal Mystery - through death to life - strongly marks John as reformer, mystic-poet, and theologian-priest.

Ordained a Carmelite priest in 1567 at age 25, John met Teresa of Avila and like her, vowed himself to the primitive Rule of the Carmelites. As partner with Teresa and in his own right, John engaged in the work of reform, and came to experience the price of reform: increasing opposition, misunderstanding, persecution, imprisonment. He came to know the cross acutely - to experience the dying of Jesus - as he sat month after month in his dark, damp, narrow cell with only his God.

In this dying of imprisonment John came to life, uttering poetry. In the darkness of the dungeon, John's spirit came into the Light. There are many mystics, many poets; John is unique as mystic-poet, expressing in his prison-cross the ecstasy of mystical union with God in the Spiritual Canticle. But as agony leads to ecstasy, so John had his Ascent to Mt. Carmel, as he named it in his prose masterpiece. As man-Christian-Carmelite, he experienced in himself this purifying ascent; as spiritual director, he sensed it in others; as psychologist-theologian, he described and analyzed it in his prose writings. His prose works are outstanding in underscoring the cost of discipleship, the path of union with God: rigorous discipline, abandonment, purification.

Uniquely and strongly John underlines the gospel paradox: The cross leads to resurrection, agony to ecstasy, darkness to light, abandonment to possession, denial to self to union with God. If you want to save your life, you must lose it. John is truly "of the Cross." He died at 49 - a life short, but full.

Scripture Readings Third Sunday of Advent - Isaiah 35:1-6a, 10; James 5:7-10; Matthew 11:2-11


December 4, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

December 6 : St. Nicholas
Both the Eastern and Western Churches honor him, and it is claimed that after the Blessed Virgin, he is the saint most pictured by Christian artists. And yet historically, we can pinpoint only the fact that Nicholas was the fourth-century bishop of Myra, a city in Lycia, a province of Asia Minor. As with many of the saints, however, we are able to capture the relationship which Nicholas had with God through the admiration which Christians have had for him - an admiration expressed in the colorful stories which have been told and retold through the centuries.

Perhaps the best-known story about Nicholas concerns his charity toward a poor man who was unable to provide dowries for his three daughters of marriageable age. Rather than see them forced into prostitution, Nicholas secretly tossed a bag of gold through the poor man's window on three separate occasions, thus enabling the daughters to be married. Over the centuries, this particular legend evolved into the custom of gift-giving on the saint's feast. In the English-speaking countries, Saint Nicholas became, by a twist of the tongue, Santa Claus - further expanding the example of generosity portrayed by this holy bishop.

December 7: St. Ambrose
When the Empress Justina attempted to wrest two basilicas from Ambrose's Catholics and give them to the Arians, he dared the eunuchs of the court to execute him. In his disputes with the Emperor Auxentius, he coined the principle: "The emperor is in the Church, not above the Church." He publicly admonished Emperor Theodosius for the massacre of 7,000 innocent people. The emperor did public penance for his crime. This was Ambrose, the fighter sent to Milan as Roman governor and chosen while yet a catechumen 
to be the people's bishop.

There is yet another side of Ambrose - one which influenced Augustine of Hippo, whom Ambrose converted. Ambrose was a passionate little man with a high forehead, a long melancholy face, and great eyes. We can picture him as a frail figure clasping the codex of sacred Scripture. This was the Ambrose of aristocratic heritage and learning.

Ambrose's sermons were often modeled on Cicero, and his ideas betrayed the influence of contemporary thinkers and philosophers. His sermons, his writings, and his personal life reveal him as an otherworldly man involved in the great issues of his day. Humanity for Ambrose was, above all, spirit. In order to think rightly of God and the human soul, the closest thing to God, no material reality at all was to be dwelt upon. He was an enthusiastic champion of consecrated virginity.

The influence of Ambrose on Augustine will always be open for discussion. The Confessions reveal some manly, brusque encounters between Ambrose and Augustine, but there can be no doubt of Augustine's profound esteem for the learned bishop. Neither is there any doubt that Saint Monica loved Ambrose as an angel of God who uprooted her son from his former ways and led him to his convictions about Christ.

December 8: The Immaculate Conception
A feast called the Conception of Mary arose in the Eastern Church in the seventh century. It came to the West in the eighth century. In the 11th century it received its present name, the Immaculate Conception. In the 18th century it became a feast of the universal Church. It is now recognized as a solemnity.

In 1854, Pius IX solemnly proclaimed: "The most Blessed Virgin Mary, in the first instant of her conception, by a singular grace and privilege granted by almighty God, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ, the savior of the human race, was preserved free from all stain of original sin."

Two Franciscans, William of Ware and Blessed John Duns Scotus, helped develop the theology. They pointed out that Mary's Immaculate Conception enhances Jesus' redemptive work. Other members of the human race are cleansed from original sin after birth. In Mary, Jesus' work was so powerful as to prevent original sin at the outset.

December 9: St. Juan Diego
First called Cuauhtlatohuac ("The eagle who speaks"), Juan Diego's name is forever linked with Our Lady of Guadalupe because it was to him that she first appeared at Tepeyac hill on December 9, 1531. The most famous part of his story is told in connection with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe on December 12. After the roses gathered in his tilma were transformed into the miraculous image of Our Lady; however, little more is said about Juan Diego.

In time, he lived near the shrine constructed at Tepeyac, revered as a holy, unselfish, and compassionate catechist, who taught by word and especially by example. During his 1990 pastoral visit to Mexico, Pope John Paul II confirmed the long-standing liturgical cult in honor of Juan Diego, beatifying him. Twelve years later, the same pope proclaimed him a saint.

Scripture Readings Second Sunday of Advent - Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12


November 27, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

November 30: St. Andrew
Andrew was Saint Peter's brother and was called with him. "As [Jesus] was walking by the sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon who is now called Peter, and his brother Andrew, casting a net into the sea; they were fishermen. He said to them, 'Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.' At once they left their nets and followed him." (Matthew 4:18-20).

John the Evangelist presents Andrew as a disciple of John the Baptist. When Jesus walked by one day, John said, "Behold, the Lamb of God." Andrew and another disciple followed Jesus. "Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, 'What are you looking for?' They said to him, 'Rabbi (which translated means Teacher), where are you staying?' He said to them, 'Come, and you will see.' So they went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day." (John 1:38-39a). Little else is said about Andrew in the Gospels. Before the multiplication of the loaves, it was Andrew who spoke up about the boy who had the barley loaves and fishes. When the Gentiles went to see Jesus, they came to Philip, but Philip then had recourse to Andrew.

Legend has it that Andrew preached the Good News in what is now modern Greece and Turkey and was crucified at Patras on an X-shaped cross.

December 3: St. Francis Xavier
Jesus asked, "What profit would there be for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?" (Matthew 16:26a). The words were repeated to a young teacher of philosophy who had a highly promising career in academics with success and a life of prestige and honor before him.

Francis Xavier, 24 at the time and living and teaching in Paris, did not heed these words at once. They came from a good friend, Ignatius of Loyola, whose tireless persuasion finally won the young man to Christ. Francis then made the spiritual exercises under the direction of Ignatius, and in 1534, joined his little community, the infant Society of Jesus. Together at Montmartre they vowed poverty, chastity, obedience, and apostolic service according to the directions of the pope.

From Venice, where he was ordained a priest in 1537, Xavier went on to Lisbon and from there sailed to the East Indies, landing at Goa, on the west coast of India. For the next 10 years, he labored to bring the faith to such widely scattered peoples as the Hindus, the Malayans, and the Japanese. He spent much of that time in India and served as provincial of the newly established Jesuit province of India.

Wherever he went, Xavier lived with the poorest people, sharing their food and rough accommodations. He spent countless hours ministering to the sick and the poor, particularly to lepers. Very often he had no time to sleep or even to say his breviary but, as we know from his letters, he was filled always with joy. Xavier went through the islands of Malaysia, then up to Japan. He learned enough Japanese to preach to simple folk, to instruct, and to baptize, and to establish missions for those who were to follow him. From Japan he had dreams of going to China, but this plan was never realized. Before reaching the mainland, he died. His remains are enshrined in the Church of Good Jesus in Goa. He and Saint Therese of Lisieux were declared co-patrons of the missions in 1925.

Scripture Readings First Sunday of Advent - Isaiah 2:1-5; Romans 13:11-14; Matthew 24:37-44


November 20, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

November 21: Presentation of Mary
Mary's presentation was celebrated in Jerusalem in the sixth century. A church was built there in honor of this mystery. The Eastern Church was more interested in the feast, but it does appear in the West in the 11th century. Although the feast at times disappeared from the calendar, in the 16th century it became a feast of the universal Church.

As with Mary's birth, we read of Mary's presentation in the temple only in apocryphal literature. In what is recognized as an unhistorical account, the Protoevangelium of James tells us that Anna and Joachim offered Mary to God in the Temple when she was 3 years old. This was to carry out a promise made to God when Anna was still childless. Though it cannot be proven historically, Mary's presentation has an important theological purpose. It continues the impact of the feasts of the Immaculate Conception and of the birth of Mary. It emphasizes that the holiness conferred on Mary from the beginning of her life on earth continued through her early childhood and beyond.

November 22: St. Cecilia
According to legend, Cecilia was a young Christian of high rank betrothed to a Roman named Valerian. Through her influence, Valerian was converted and was martyred along with his brother. The legend about Cecilia's death says that after being struck three times on the neck with a sword, she lived for three days and asked the pope to convert her home into a church. Since the time of the Renaissance, she has usually been portrayed with a viola or a small organ.

November 23: St. Columban
Columban (Columbanus) was the greatest of the Irish missionaries who worked on the European continent. As a young man who was greatly tormented by temptations of the flesh, he sought the advice of a religious woman who had lived a hermit's life for years. He saw in her answer a call to leave the world. He went first to a monk on an island in Lough Erne, then to the great monastic seat of learning at Bangor.

After many years of seclusion and prayer, he traveled to Gaul with 12 companion missionaries. They won wide respect for the rigor of their discipline, their preaching, and their commitment to charity and religious life in a time characterized by clerical laxity and civil strife. Columban established several monasteries in Europe which became centers of religion and culture. His writings include a treatise on penance and against Arianism, sermons, poetry, and his monastic rule.

Like all saints, he met opposition. Ultimately he had to appeal to the pope against complaints of Frankish bishops, for vindication of his orthodoxy and approval of Irish customs. He reproved the king for his licentious life, insisting that he marry. Since this threatened the power of the queen mother, Columban was deported back to Ireland. His ship ran aground in a storm, and he continued his work in Europe, ultimately arriving in Italy, where he found favor with the king of the Lombards. In his last years, he established the famous monastery of Bobbio, where he died.

November 24: St. Catherine of Alexandria
According to the Legend of St. Catherine, this young woman converted to Christianity after receiving a vision. At the age of 18, she debated 50 pagan philosophers. Amazed at her wisdom and debating skills, they became Christians - as did about 200 soldiers and members of the emperor's family. All of them were martyred. Sentenced to be executed on a spiked wheel, Catherine touched the wheel, and it shattered. She was beheaded. Centuries later, angels are said to have carried the body of Saint Catherine to a monastery at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Devotion to her spread as a result of the Crusades. She was invoked as the patroness of students, teachers, librarians and lawyers. Catherine is one of the 14 Holy Helpers, venerated especially in Germany and Hungary.

Scripture Readings Christ the King Sunday - 2 Samuel 5:1-3; Colossians 1:12-20; Luke 23:35-43


November 13, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

November 14: St. Josaphat
At a relatively young age, upon becoming both bishop of Vitebsk and archbishop of Polotsk, Josaphat faced a difficult situation. Most monks, fearing interference in liturgy and customs, did not want union with Rome. By synods, catechetical instruction, reform of the clergy, and personal example, however, Josaphat was successful in winning the greater part of the Orthodox in that area to the union. But the next year a dissident hierarchy was set up, and his opposite number spread the accusation that Josaphat had "gone Latin" and that all his people would have to do the same. He was not enthusiastically supported by the Latin bishops of Poland.

Despite warnings, he went to Vitebsk, still a hotbed of trouble. Attempts were made to foment trouble and drive him from the diocese. A priest was sent to shout insults to him from his own courtyard. When Josaphat had him removed and shut up in his house, the opposition rang the townhall bell, and a mob assembled. The priest was released, but members of the mob broke into the bishop's home. Josaphat was struck with a halberd, then shot, and his body thrown into the river. It was later recovered and is now buried in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. He was the first saint of the Eastern Church to be canonized by Rome.

November 15: St. Albert the Great
Albert the Great was a 13th-century German Dominican who decisively influenced the Church's stance toward Aristotelian philosophy brought to Europe by the spread of Islam. Students of philosophy know him as the master of Thomas Aquinas. Albert's attempt to understand Aristotle's writings established the climate in which Thomas Aquinas developed his synthesis of Greek wisdom and Christian theology. But Albert deserves recognition on his own merits as a curious, honest, and diligent scholar.

He was the eldest son of a powerful and wealthy German lord of military rank. He was educated in the liberal arts. Despite fierce family opposition, he entered the Dominican novitiate. His boundless interests prompted him to write a compendium of all knowledge: natural science, logic, rhetoric, mathematics, astronomy, ethics, economics, politics, and metaphysics. His explanation of learning took 20 years to complete. "Our intention," he said, "is to make all the aforesaid parts of knowledge intelligible to the Latins."

November 16: St. Margaret of Scotland
Not Scottish by birth, Margaret was the daughter of Princess Agatha of Hungary and the Anglo-Saxon Prince Edward Atheling. She spent much of her youth in the court of her great-uncle, the English king, Edward the Confessor. Her family fled from William the Conqueror and was shipwrecked off the coast of Scotland. King Malcolm befriended them and was captivated by the beautiful, gracious Margaret. They were married at the castle of Dunfermline in 1070. Margaret tried to improve her adopted country by promoting the arts and education. For religious reform she encouraged synods and was present for the discussions which tried to correct religious abuses common among priests and laypeople, such as simony, usury, and incestuous marriages. With her husband, she founded several churches.

Although she was very much caught up in the affairs of the household and country, she remained detached from the world. Her private life was austere. She had certain times for prayer and reading Scripture. She ate sparingly and slept little in order to have time for devotions. She and Malcolm kept two Lents, one before Easter and one before Christmas. During these times she always rose at midnight for Mass. On the way home she would wash the feet of six poor persons and give them alms. She was always surrounded by beggars in public and never refused them. It is recorded that she never sat down to eat without first feeding 9 orphans and 24 adults.

November 17: St. Elizabeth of Hungary
In her short life, Elizabeth manifested such great love for the poor and suffering that she has become the patroness of Catholic charities and of the Secular Franciscan Order. The daughter of the King of Hungary, Elizabeth chose a life of penance and asceticism when a life of leisure and luxury could easily have been hers. This choice endeared her in the hearts of the common people throughout Europe.

At the age of 14, Elizabeth was married to Louis of Thuringia, whom she deeply loved. She bore three children. Under the spiritual direction of a Franciscan friar, she led a life of prayer, sacrifice, and service to the poor and sick. Seeking to become one with the poor, she wore simple clothing. Daily she would take bread to hundreds of the poorest in the land who came to her gate.

After six years of marriage, her husband died in the Crusades, and Elizabeth was grief-stricken. Her husband's family looked upon her as squandering the royal purse and mistreated her, finally throwing her out of the palace. The return of her husband's allies from the Crusades resulted in her being reinstated, since her son was legal heir to the throne.

In 1228, Elizabeth joined the Secular Franciscan Order, spending the remaining few years of her life caring for the poor in a hospital which she founded in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Elizabeth's health declined, and she died before her 24th birthday in 1231. Her great popularity resulted in her canonization four years later.

Scripture Readings Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Malachi 3:19-20a; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19


November 6, 2022, Bulletin... This Week's Saints

November 9: Dedication of St. John Lateran
Most Catholics think of St. Peter's as the pope's main church, but they are wrong. St. John Lateran is the pope's church, the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome where the Bishop of Rome presides. The first basilica on the site was built in the fourth century when Constantine donated land he had received from the wealthy Lateran family. That structure and its successors suffered fire, earthquake, and the ravages of war, but the Lateran remained the church where popes were consecrated. In the 14th century when the papacy returned to Rome from Avignon, the church and the adjoining palace were found to be in ruins. Pope Innocent X commissioned the present structure in 1646. One of Rome's most imposing churches, the Lateran's towering facade is crowned with 15 colossal statues of Christ, John the Baptist, John the Evangelist, and 12 doctors of the Church. Beneath its high altar rest the remains of the small wooden table on which tradition holds Saint Peter himself celebrated Mass.

November 10: Pope St. Leo the Great
Leo is known as one of the best administrative popes of the ancient Church. His work branched into four main areas indicative of his notion of the pope's total responsibility for the flock of Christ. He worked at length to control the heresies of Pelagianism - overemphasizing human freedom - Manichaeism - seeing everything material as evil - and others, placing demands on their followers so as to secure true Christian beliefs.

A second major area of his concern was doctrinal controversy in the Church in the East, to which he responded with a classic letter setting down the Church's teaching on the two natures of Christ. With strong faith, he also led the defense of Rome against barbarian attack, taking the role of peacemaker.

In these three areas, Leo's work has been highly regarded. His growth to sainthood has its basis in the spiritual depth with which he approached the pastoral care of his people which was the fourth focus of his work. He is known for his spiritually profound sermons. An instrument of the call to holiness, well-versed in Scripture and ecclesiastical awareness, Leo had the ability to reach the everyday needs and interests of his people. It is said of Leo that his true significance rests in his doctrinal insistence on the mysteries of Christ and the Church and in the supernatural charisms of the spiritual life given to humanity in Christ and in his Body, the Church. Thus Leo held firmly that everything he did and said as pope for the administration of the Church represented Christ, the head of the Mystical Body, and Saint Peter, in whose place Leo acted.

November 11: St. Martin of Tours
Born of pagan parents in what is now Hungary and raised in Italy, this son of a veteran was forced at the age of 15 to serve in the army. Martin became a Christian catechumen and was baptized when he was 18. It was said that he lived more like a monk than a soldier. At 23, he refused a war bonus and told his commander: "I have served you as a soldier; now let me serve Christ. Give the bounty to those who are going to fight. But I am a soldier of Christ and it is not lawful for me to fight." After great difficulties, he was discharged and went to be a disciple of Hilary of Poitiers. He was ordained an exorcist and worked with great zeal against the Arians. Martin became a monk, living first at Milan and later on a small island. When Hilary was restored to his see following his exile, Martin returned to France and established what may have been the first French monastery near Poitiers. He lived there for 10 years, forming his disciples and preaching throughout the countryside. The people of Tours demanded that he become their bishop. Martin was drawn to that city by a ruse - the need of a sick person - and was brought to the church, where he reluctantly allowed himself to be consecrated bishop. As death approached, Martin's followers begged him not to leave them. He prayed, "Lord, if your people still need me, I do not refuse the work. Your will be done."

November 12: Pope St. Martin I
When Martin I became pope in 649, Constantinople was the capital of the Byzantine empire and the patriarch of Constantinople was the most influential Church leader in the eastern Christian world. The struggles that existed within the Church at that time were magnified by the close cooperation of emperor and patriarch.

A teaching, strongly supported in the East, held that Christ had no human will. Twice, emperors had officially favored this position. Shortly after assuming the office of the papacy - which he did without first being confirmed by the emperor - Martin held a council at the Lateran in which the imperial documents were censured and in which the patriarch of Constantinople and two of his predecessors were condemned. In response, Constans II first tried to turn bishops and people against the pope.

Failing in this and in an attempt to kill the pope, the emperor sent troops to Rome to seize Martin and to bring him back to Constantinople. Already in poor health, Martin offered no resistance, returned with Calliopas, the exarch of Constantinople, and was then submitted to various imprisonments, tortures, and hardships. He is the last of the early popes to be venerated as a martyr.

Scripture Readings Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - 2 Maccabees 7:1-2, 9-14; 2 Thessalonians 2:16-3:5; Luke 20:27-38


October 30, 2022, Bulletin... 

Congratulations to those who received the Sacrament of Confirmation on the 30th day of October The year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Twenty-Two The Most Rev. James V. Johnston, Jr. Presiding!

Scripture Readings Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 11:22-12:2; 2 Thessalonians 1:11-2:2; Luke 19:1-10


May 1, 2022 Bulletin... First Communion

Congratulations to those who received their First Communion on this first day of May, 2022... Gage Brobst, Rayne Feeney, Bayless Finley, Blaise Garrison, Harrison Goad, Hattie Hays, Scarlett Lindley, Hudson Marcolla, Brecken Pope, Jack Schreiner, Vivian Vandemore, Alexandra Warren, Gabriel Widner

Scripture Readings Third Sunday of Easter - Acts of the Apostles 5:27-32, 40b-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19


April 24, 2022 Bulletin... New Parishioners

Twelve (12) people of all ages received Sacraments at this year's Easter Vigil, Saturday, 04/16/2022. We are blessed to have a large group of new parishioners who have received sacramental graces from God.

  • Baptism - Ellaina Jo Miller and Maverick Cranmer were Baptized. Ellaina is the 6-year-old daughter of Jacky and Joanna Miller. Maverick is the 3-year-old son of Ryan and Courtnie Cranmer.
  • Baptism and Confirmation - Max Cranmer, Rowdy Miller, and Jacky Miller were Baptized and Confirmed. Max Cranmer is the son of Ryan and Courtnie Cranmer. Rowdy Miller is the son of Jacky and Joanna Miller. Jacky Miller is the husband of Joanna and father of Ellaina and Rowdy.
  • Marriage - Jacky and Joanna Miller's Marriage was Con-Validated.
  • Profession of Faith and Confirmation - The following people have already been baptized in other Christian faiths, so they made a Profession of Faith in the Catholic Church and received the Sacrament of Confirmation: Betsey Garcia, Stephen Garcia, Sean Sensenich, Megan Sensenich, Elijah Sensenich
  • Confirmation - The following had already been Baptized in the Catholic Church but desired to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation: Joanna (Grohs) Miller, Theresa Jodi (Dinwiddie) Kent

Scripture Readings Sunday of Divine Mercy - Acts of the Apostles 5:12-16; Revelation 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; John 20:19-31


April 17, 2022 Bulletin... Divine Mercy Sunday

The Second Sunday of Easter was already a solemnity as the Octave Day of Easter; nevertheless, the title "Divine Mercy Sunday" does highlight and amplify the meaning of the day. In this way, it recovers an ancient liturgical tradition, reflected in a teaching attributed to St. Augustine about the Easter Octave, which he called "the days of mercy and pardon," and the Octave Day itself as "the compendium of the days of mercy." It is well known that the title "Divine Mercy Sunday" expresses the message of the prayers and readings traditionally appointed for this Octave Day. Liturgically, the day has always been centered on the theme of Divine mercy and forgiveness. That is why in its decree establishing Divine Mercy Sunday, the Holy See strictly insisted that the texts already assigned for that day in the Missal and the Liturgy of the Hours of the Roman Rite, "are always to be used for the liturgical celebration of this Sunday."

The Octave Day of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore points us to the merciful love of God, and the forgiveness of sins, that lies behind the whole Paschal Mystery - the whole mystery of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ - made present for us in the Eucharist. In this way, it also sums up the whole Easter Octave. As Saint John Paul II pointed out in his Regina Caeli address on Divine Mercy Sunday, 1995: "the whole octave of Easter is like a single day," and the Octave Sunday is meant to be the day of "thanksgiving for the goodness God has shown to man in the whole Easter mystery." Given the liturgical appropriateness of the title "Divine Mercy Sunday" for the Octave Day of Easter, therefore, the Holy See did not give this title to the Second Sunday of Easter merely as an "option," for those parishes and dioceses who happen to like that sort of thing. Rather, the decree issued on May 5, 2000 by the Sacred Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments clearly states: "the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II has graciously determined that in the Roman Missal, after the title Second Sunday of Easter, there shall henceforth be added the appellation 'Divine Mercy Sunday'...". Divine Mercy Sunday, therefore, is not an optional title for this solemnity; rather, Divine Mercy is the second name for this Feast Day.

In a similar way, the Octave Day of the Nativity of Our Lord was named by the Church "The Feast of the Mother of God." As Pope Saint John Paul II stated in his homily at the first universal celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday in 2001, "Divine Mercy! This is the Easter gift that the Church receives from the risen Christ and offers to humanity at the dawn of the 3rd millennium." This means that preaching on God's mercy is also not just an option for the clergy on that day - it is strongly encouraged. To fail to preach on God's mercy on that day would mean largely to ignore the prayers, readings and psalms appointed for that day, as well as the title "Divine Mercy Sunday" now given to that day in the Roman Missal (no pressure!). For the Lord, in the Gospel on that day, says "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained" (Jn 20:22-23). The 2nd part of the Gospel, with the account of St. Thomas, which actually happened on the Octave Day of the Resurrection, teaches us to trust in Jesus. The full Gospel is clearly illustrated in the image of The Divine Mercy.

In short, what Pope Saint John Paul II has done by establishing "Divine Mercy Sunday" is not to create an alternate theme or celebration for the Easter Season. All he has done is recover an ancient tradition of celebrating The Octave Day of Easter as a summary of the whole Paschal Mystery, and the merciful love of God that shines through that Mystery. Insofar as the devotional forms given to us by the Lord Jesus, through St. Faustina's faithful recordings, actually direct us to, and amplify for us, this same Paschal Mystery, and this same merciful love, then her faithful witness is an aid and not a hindrance to the People of God in their celebration of this great Octave Day solemnity.

Scripture Readings Easter Sunday - Acts of the Apostles 10:34a, 37-43; Colossians 3:1-4; John 20:1-9


April 10, 2022 Bulletin... Easter Triduum

The Latin word triduum refers to a period of three days is most often used to describe the three days prior to the great feast of Easter: Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday/the Easter Vigil. The General Norms for the Liturgical Year state that the Easter Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, reaches its high point in the Easter Vigil, and closes with evening prayer on Easter Sunday.

Holy Thursday: The Lord's Supper
The Triduum begins with the evening Mass of the Lord's Supper on Holy Thursday, which commemorates when the Eucharist was instituted at the Last Supper by Jesus. The traditional English name for this day, "Maundy Thursday", comes from the Latin phrase Mandatum novum - "a new command" (or mandate) - which comes from Christ's words: A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." (Jn 13:34).

The sacrificial nature of the Eucharist is brought out in the Old Testament reading, from Exodus 12, which recounts the first Passover and God's command for the people of Israel, enslaved in Egypt, to kill a perfect lamb, eat it, and then spread its blood over the door as a sign of fidelity to the one, true God. Likewise, the reading from Paul's epistle to the Christians in Corinth (1 Cor 11) repeats the words given by the Son of God to His apostles at the Last Supper: "This is my body that is for you. Do this in remembrance of me" and "This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me."

Thus, in this memorial of Jesus' last meal with His disciples, the faithful are reminded of the everlasting value of that meal, the gift of the priesthood, the grave dangers of turning away from God, the necessity of the approaching Cross, and the abiding love that the Lord has for His people.

Good Friday: Veneration of the Cross
This is the first full day of the Easter Triduum, a day commemorating the Passion, Cross, and death of Jesus Christ, and therefore, a day of strict fasting. The liturgy is profoundly austere, perhaps the most simple and stark liturgy of the entire year. The liturgy of the Lord's Passion consists of three parts: the liturgy of the Word, the veneration of the Cross, and the reception of Communion. Although Communion is given and received, this liturgy is not a Mass; this practice dates back to the earliest years of the Church and is meant to emphasize the somber, mournful character of the day. The Body of Christ that is received by the faithful on Good Friday was consecrated the prior evening at the Mass of the Lord's Supper.

The simple, direct form of the Good Friday liturgy and readings brings the faithful face to face with the cross, the great scandal and paradox of Christianity. The cross is solemnly venerated after intercessory prayers are offered for the world and for all people. The priest takes the cross, stands with it in front of the altar and faces the people, then uncovers the upper part of the cross, the right arm of the cross, and then the entire cross. He places the cross and then venerates it; other clergy, lay ministers, and the faithful then approach and venerate the cross by touching or kissing it. In this way each person acknowledges the instrument of Christ's death and publicly demonstrates their willingness to take up their cross and follow Christ, regardless of what trials and sufferings it might involve.

Holy Saturday/Easter Vigil
The ancient Church celebrated Holy Saturday with strict fasting in preparation of the celebration of Easter. After sundown, the Christians would hold an all-night vigil, which concluded with baptism and Eucharist at the break of dawn. The same idea (if not the identical timeline) is found in the Easter Vigil today, which is the high point of the Easter Triduum and is filled with an abundance of readings, symbols, ceremony, and sacraments.

The Service of Light begins outdoors and in darkness. A fire is lit and blessed, and then the Paschal candle, which symbolizes the light of Christ, is lit from the fire by the priest. The faithful then join in procession back to the main sanctuary. Everyone's candles are lit from the Paschal candle and the faithful return in procession into the church. Then the Exultet is sung by the priest. This is an ancient and beautiful poetic hymn of praise to God for the light of the Paschal candle. It may be as old as Saint Ambrose (d. 397) and has been part of the Roman tradition since the ninth century. In the darkness of the church, lit only by candles, the faithful listen to the song of light and glory: The Liturgy of the Word follows, consisting of several readings from the Old and New Testament. These readings constitute an overview of salvation history and God's various interventions into time and space, beginning with Creation and concluding with the angel telling Mary Magdalene and others that Jesus is no longer dead.

From the early days of the ancient Church, the Easter Vigil has been the time for adult converts to be baptized and enter the Church. After the conclusion of the Liturgy of the Word, catechumens (those who have never been baptized) and candidates (those who have been baptized in a non-Catholic Christian denomination) are initiated into the Church by (respectively) baptism and confirmation. The faithful are sprinkled with holy water and renew their baptismal vows. Then all adult candidates are confirmed and general intercessions are stated. The Easter Vigil concludes with the Liturgy of the Eucharist and the reception of the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of the Crucified and Risen Lord.

Scripture Readings Palm Sunday - Luke 19:28-40; Isaiah 50:4-7; Philippians 2:6-11; Luke 22:14-23:56


February 6, 2022, Bulletin... The Question of "Why?"

It's a one-word question that is the nightmare of many parents with young children: "Why?" Parents say something or explain something and the child simply asks, "why?". It's explained further, but the question repeats itself. Again and again, the child will simply ask this basic question as they attempt to rationalize in their young mind whatever concept you're explaining. Typically, the exchange ends with an exasperated parent and a partially-satiated child.

But the simplicity of the question masks its depth. The question of "why" is a question that only human beings are able to ask, and it's a question that cannot even be answered with science. Science explains how, not why. Therefore, this philosophical question, which can applied to almost anything, can often go unanswered, and depending on the circumstances surrounding the question, the lack of an answer can be our undoing.

Unfortunately, we have not yet been spared from further tragedy in our parish as two more parishioners have passed away in the last week. As with any loss, regardless of whether or not it was expected, many times the loved ones will ask that simple, yet profound question. Why? Why was our loved one "taken" from us? Why now? Why in this way? Why didn't they have more time? Why is God punishing us? Why, why, why?

These questions are natural because despite the certainty of death that we all have, we're never truly ready for it, regardless of whether our loved one was a child or 100 years old. Therefore, we seek understanding. We seek to know the circumstances surrounding the loss so as to bring closure. Having unanswered questions is like walking through an unfamiliar room that's dark. We move slowly, if at all, as we try to avoid hitting things and seek the exit. Getting answers is like having lights turn on that show us the room and allow us to walk through it confidently and without incident. Therefore, we desperately seek answers.

The issue then becomes when we ask questions that we cannot get answers to. We ask questions of God Who tends not to respond to us in "human" terms. We demand that He provide us with the complete layout of space and time so that we can understand exactly why what happened, happened. And when He doesn't give us the answers that we seek, we get angry and frustrated with Him, and He becomes the focal point of our anger, one of the stages of grief.

It's difficult to counsel people to simply let go and accept the situation. There's no way to say that in such a way that doesn't sound unfeeling and uncaring. We don't want to let go of our loved ones. We don't want to accept that they're no longer here on earth with us. Even with the certainty of everlasting life that our faith teaches were we to follow God's commandments and teachings, we still miss those we truly loved. Even with the sure and certain hope that those who have gone before us are on their way to eternity in the beatific vision that is the Infinite God of the universe, we'll never hug them again, hear their voice again, or see their smile again - at least, not until we follow after them.

Asking why things happen is natural, but asking questions that we won't get answers to any time soon will trap us in a spiral of grief, anger, and disillusion. When we find ourselves asking, "why", let us use that opportunity to offer up our prayers for our loved ones who have gone before with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-1133


January 30, 2022, Bulletin... A Word of Thanks

Kim Murrell and the entire Murrell family would like to extend their sincere thanks and gratitude to everyone in the parish who has reached out to them, prayed for them, or otherwise helped them in this difficult time. No matter how small the gesture, it has been very heartwarming for them to experience the true generosity of the parish; and they cannot thank you all enough.

Along those same lines, I would like to extend that same gratitude. As you all know, these past few weeks have seen an enormous amount of death and tragedy for our parish family. We can only pray we will be spared further heartbreak, at least for the near future.

Despite our knowledge of the inevitability of death, there is nothing that can ever truly prepare us for the death of a loved one. Those who have heard any of my homilies for funerals know that a supernatural void is created within us when we experience the death of someone we truly loved and only God can ultimately fill the void that's been created.

As a priest, life and death are acutely experienced as simply part of the job. We understand that we experience all parts of life with our parishioners, from the joys of baptism and marriage to the sadness and grief of death. It is something that many priests are able to detach themselves from in part, simply as a way of being able to carry on. But when tragedy hits home for the priest, or when there is such a deluge of death and heartbreak as we've experienced, it can very much take its toll, as the rest of the priest's life and schedule are not abated when funerals, etc. are added.

I suppose I often don't think much about "self-care" when it comes to my state of mind during times such as these. I hunker down and carry on because I know that's what's best for the parish. I don't like to be gone from the parish and despite the respite a good vacation can provide, it doesn't mean that the work stops and life stops happening. It has certainly been difficult these past few weeks with so much death and heartbreak happening all at once, but the priest is called to always think of others first and himself second. We die to ourselves which is why we wear black: to remind ourselves that we have done so.

But I've noticed over this past week or so that several parishioners have reached out to me about how I'm doing with everything going on. It jarred me at first because although I did lose a friend in Donnie as so many of us did, any grief I could be experiencing pales in comparison to the families of those who have passed from this life into the next. But the notes of concern I was receiving were simply about how I was doing coping with all of this and trying to keep everything going in the midst of a storm of suffering, and it made me so eternally grateful that God has blessed me with a parish such as this. I cannot count the blessings I've been party to since arriving just a few years ago. And times such as this, when I'm reminded in so many ways of the incredible people that call St. Columban home, I pray that whenever I'm called away from here, I can experience but a fraction of that kindness, generosity, and faithfulness wherever I end up serving.

I am so grateful for all of you; and I give thanks for you and the things you do for me on a daily basis. Know of my continuous prayers for all of you, especially those who have been suffering with grief over these past few weeks and months.

Your grateful servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 6:1-2a, 3-8; 1 Corinthians 15:1-11; Luke 5:1-11


January 23, 2022, Bulletin... 

Father Koster was out of town a couple of days this week, so please see below or the links above for past Features... a new Feature will be available in the next Bulletin.

Scripture Readings Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Nehemiah 8:2-4a, 5-6, 8-10, 1 Corinthians 12:12-30, Luke 1:1-4, 4:14-21


January 16, 2022, Bulletin... Stewardship Opportunities

I often get asked by people about ways they can be more involved around the parish. Typically, the larger the parish, the more groups, activities, organizations, etc. available for those who wish to do more. But regardless of the size of the parish, these groups, activities, organizations, etc. all rely on the time and effort of those involved to succeed. We all want to have an active parish that has numerous opportunities to be more involved, but we're seldom willing to help support them with our time and talent. Most groups and organizations require very little outside of time in order to be involved. I understand more than most how precious one's time can be as I'm often pulled in more than one direction at any given moment. However, I would like to highly encourage you to get involved in one of the groups listed below. Or, if something isn't listed that you would like to have, then perhaps you're the person we've all been waiting for to start it.

Knights of St. Michael: The Knights of St. Michael is a group made up of all of the altar servers of the parish. The group meets together on the first Wednesday of each month at 6:30 pm unless otherwise stated. The meetings, lasting 60-90 minutes, consist of training, group prayer, spiritual instruction, and fun activities for all members. Members progress through the various ranks based on age, merit, and knowledge. If your son, age 7 or older, is interested in becoming a server and joining the group, please email Fr. Koster for more information.

Knights of Columbus: We all know about the Knights of Columbus and Ladies Auxiliary, and we all love the work that they do for the parish and community. However, this work is shouldered by a small percentage who are always willing to donate their time and talent to the various endeavors the Knights undertake throughout the year. For those who are already members but do not attend the meetings or help out at the events, please make the effort to do so. For those not yet members, please contact Joe Timmons, Grand Knight. The Knights meet on the first Monday of the month at 7pm in the Knights Hall unless otherwise noted.

Choir: The choir is still rather new as far as something that meets on a regular basis. We have a great group of dedicated singers who are generously lending their voices to the enhancement of the liturgy. If you would like to add your voice to the group, they rehearse every Tuesday at 7pm in the choir loft and sing at the 10am mass every Sunday. Obviously, we understand that one isn't able to make it to every practice, but the more practices that you can attend, the more the group will be able to do.

Youth Group: The youth group is open to all youth of the parish, second semester 8th grade-12th grade. They meet on Wednesday evenings at 7pm in the Knights Hall (excluding first Wednesday). This is a great opportunity for young people to have fraternity and grow in their faith while having fun together. There is also always a need for more adult leaders to help facilitate the group.

Altar Society: The altar society takes care of the sanctuary and the sacristy, along with any other needs of the parish. It is open to all ladies of the parish. Meetings are published in the bulletin, and the group meets in the Knights Hall.

Bible Study: This is a new endeavor which starts the first Wednesday of February and is open to all adults and teens. This is a great way to grow in knowledge of the scriptures and to do so in a group setting that allows for fraternity and collaboration.

Lector: Several people have asked about possibly becoming a lector at mass. If anyone who is not currently a lector would like to start reading at mass, please send me an email, and I will organize some workshops here at the parish to train those interested.

This is not an exhaustive list; and if I forgot to mention a group, I apologize. We have an active and thriving community here that has the ability to do so much more than we already do. Complacency is a dangerous mindset, thinking that everything is just fine and that we can just keep doing the same things. I see great potential everywhere I look, but what we need are people who are willing to unlock that potential and turn it into action. Become more involved. We can all always do more.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 62:1-5; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; John 2:1-11


January 9, 2022, Bulletin... Epiphany and "Chalking the Doors"

Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night Theophany, or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of "chalking the doors." The formula for the ritual, adapted for 2022, is simple: take chalk of any color and write the following above the entrance of your home: 20 + C + M + B + 22.

The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi: Caspar, Malchior, and Balthazar, who came to visit Jesus in His first home. They also abbreviate the Latin phrase, Christus mansionem benedicat: "May Christ bless the house." The "+" signs represent the cross, and the "20" at the beginning and the "22" at the end mark the year. Taken together, this inscription is performed as a request for Christ to bless those homes so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year.

The chalking of the doors is a centuries-old practice throughout the world, though it appears to be somewhat less well-known in the United Sates. It is, however, an easy tradition to adopt, and a great practice whereby we dedicate our year to God from its very outset, asking His blessing on our homes and on all who live, work, or visit them there.

The timing for the chalking of the doors varies somewhat in practice. In some places, it is done on New Year's Day. More commonly, it is performed on the traditional Feast of the Epiphany: the Twelfth Day of Christmas. Most often the chalking takes place after Epiphany Mass, and can be done at any church, home, or dwelling. Traditionally, the blessing is done by either a priest or the father of the family. This blessing can be performed simply by just writing the inscription and offering a short prayer, or more elaborately, including songs, prayers, processions, the burning of incense, and the sprinkling of holy water.

Practicing traditions like the chalking of the doors helps us to live our faith more concretely and serve as an outward sign of our dedication to Our Lord. Our homes are also the place where many of us will make the greatest strides in our spiritual growth, through observance of daily prayer, spiritual reading, and work offered as an oblation to God. The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while passing in and out on our daily routines, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. It also serves as a reminder of the welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus. We should strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us! Below, I've provided some examples of how this ceremony can be performed.

NOTE: There is chalk that was blessed on January 6th, the traditional feast of the Epiphany, available at the entrances of the church.

On entering the home, Leader: Peace be to this house. All: And to all who dwell herein. All: From the east came the Magi to Bethlehem to adore the Lord; and opening their treasures they offered precious gifts: gold for the great King, incense for the true God, and myrrh in symbol of His burial. Leader: Our Father... And lead us not into temptation. All: But deliver us from evil. Leader: All they from Saba shall come. All: Bringing gold and frankincense. Leader: O Lord, hear my prayer. All: And let my cry come to You. Leader: Let us pray. O God, who by the guidance of a star didst on this day manifest Thine only-begotten Son to the Gentiles, mercifully grant that we who know Thee by faith may also attain the vision of Thy glorious majesty. Through Christ our Lord. All: Amen. Leader: Be enlightened, be enlightened, O Jerusalem, for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee - Jesus Christ born of the Virgin Mary. All: And the Gentiles shall walk in thy light and kings in the splendor of thy rising, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon thee. Leader: Let us pray. Bless, O Lord God almighty, this home, that in it there may be health, purity, the strength of victory, humility, goodness and mercy, the fulfillment of Thy law, the thanksgiving to God the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit. And may this blessing remain upon this home and upon all who dwell herein. Through Christ our Lord. All: Amen. After the prayers of the blessing are recited, each room of the home may be sprinkled with holy water. The inscription: 20+C+M+B+22 is written above each entrance door of the home, or simply the front door.

Another possible prayer to say during your chalking:
May all who come to our home this year rejoice to find Christ living among us; and may we seek and serve, in everyone we meet, that same Jesus who is your incarnate Word, now and forever. Amen. God of heaven and earth, you revealed your only-begotten One to every nation by the guidance of a star. Bless this house and all who inhabit it. Fill us with the light of Christ, that our concern for others may reflect your love. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. Loving God, bless this household. May we be blessed with health, goodness of heart, gentleness, and abiding in your will. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Baptism of the Lord - Isaiah 40:1-5, 9-11; Titus 2:11-14, 3:4-7, Luke 3:15-16, 21-22


January 2, 2022, Bulletin... A Possible Catholic High School, Part II

I think that when many people heard that I wanted to start a Catholic high school, they envisioned a multi-million dollar campaign to build a facility, hire a faculty and staff, and hope to God that enough students will show up and keep it afloat. Now don't get me wrong, I'd love to get the old hospital property down the street, complete with paved parking lots, and erect a beautifully sculpted temple to Catholic education. But that's not in the cards, nor is that how any Catholic school has ever been started.

In order for the school to be successful out of the gate, it needs to be basically impossible for it to fail. What I mean by that is that in the beginning, we cannot go all in on facilities, faculty, and other expenses that can cause the school to fail due to financial reasons. If the school doesn't work out and after a year the program folds, those who invested time and money into it must be able to keep going without missing a beat. There are ways to accomplish this.

What I envision is a cross between a homeschool cooperative and a homeschool hybrid learning model. A homeschool coop is when several homeschool families get together in one location and have classes together or do other activities together. A hybrid learning model for homeschoolers is when they get together in a formal classroom setting, a few days per week, and are taught by instructors, keep to a schedule, and basically mimic a "normal" school environment.

So the plan at the beginning, at least, is to have the students come together at a specific location, 4-5 days per week, and have a mix of structured classroom instruction for certain subjects and more independent learning with other subjects. Each student would purchase the same Catholic homeschool curriculum, which is accredited. Therefore, the classes are accredited by a separate institution and thus transferrable to other high schools and accepted by colleges. That way, there is no need for the new high school to be an accredited institution on its own at the beginning, which requires an enormous amount of work and infrastructure. So in the eyes of the state, the students are homeschooled, but the bulk of their work/learning is being done at a central location under supervision and formal instruction.

As for the costs, those would depend on a few factors. Depending on the facility that is used, there could be a cost associated with that. Additionally there would be the cost of any other instructor (apart from myself) who would need some kind of stipend to come in and teach. Then there's the curriculum itself and the books. The curriculum I currently have my eye on would cost around $1000 per student with books included. This encompasses everything. So hopefully, at least at the beginning, the costs associated with attending would be less than they are to attend Bishop Hogan. Ideally, costs would remain as low as possible moving forward so as to allow any to attend who wish to do so.

I know there are many who will look at this proposed model and think that it cannot work. I know that there are many who would not send their future professional athletes to a high school that didn't have an athletic program. There were also many who abandoned Jesus when He explained that they needed to eat His flesh and drink His blood to attain eternal life. This high school program isn't Jesus, but He is Who we're trying to bring these students closer to.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with questions, concerns, ideas, and suggestions about this. We do not need to build a giant facility and have everything intact when we begin. What we need is passion, determination, and the desire to create something while the rest of the world seems intent on tearing everything down. In so many places, the Church is shrinking, her schools are shrinking and closing, and the faith is dying out. In this place, let us deny ourselves, take up our Cross, and follow Christ together.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Feast of the Epiphany - Isaiah 60:1-6; Ephesians 3:2-3a; Matthew 2:1-12


December 26, 2021, Bulletin... A Possible Catholic High School, Part I

Over the past two weeks, I had the opportunity to meet with several parishioners about the possibility of starting a Catholic high school program here in Chillicothe. When I wrote about this a few weeks ago, I was rather vague about the plans because until I understood the concerns and desires of those who might be interested, I didn't want to attach myself to any one plan moving forward. Many of the questions that were asked at the sessions held over the past two weeks had to be given an answer that isn't always a good one: "it depends".

But, unfortunately depending on the question, there are many different factors on which the answer would depend. How much will it cost? It depends on the number of students, the facility that's used, the curriculum that's chosen, and the cost of anyone, apart from myself, who would be assisting in the teaching and administration. Where will it be housed? It depends on the number of students attending. So many things are unknown because this is the very earliest of stages.

That being said, I would like to take this opportunity to respond to some of the concerns raised in order to put many minds at ease. I understand there are many in the parish who remember the heartache and hardship caused when the Diocese made the decision to close the school. I have a bullet hole in my house as a friendly reminder. I assure you that won't happen again, at least not in the near future. I cannot guarantee that a school will never close, but St. Joseph's Academy lasted 97 years before it closed its doors.

I will not be setting up the high school as being dependent upon the parish. While Bishop Hogan is subsidized by St. Columban, the high school won't be. It will be under the jurisdiction of the parish, namely that the pastor is the superintendent of it as he is for Bishop Hogan, but the school itself will be financially independent. I don't want the Diocese to subsidize it because that gives the Diocese more jurisdiction over it to potentially close it or alter it. Additionally, I don't want the parish to be financially liable for it either because we simply do not have the resources to stretch that far.

I will not allow the church or the grade school to suffer on account of the high school. That would be backward if I did. The church is the most important. Without the church, the school means nothing. Everything stems from the sacraments and the liturgy that is offered at the church. Additionally, a high school cannot succeed without a thriving grade school. One of the things that is spurring this conversation now is the success of Bishop Hogan and the increased enrollment that we have. It would make zero sense to allow the grade school to suffer for the sake of a high school.

I would hope that in my brief tenure here thus far, the work that's been undertaken at the church, the school, and the rectory have shown that I want to preserve the great things that we have and make them even better. We have more space in the rectory now. We have more teachers, more students, more altar boys, more active musicians. I want to figure out how to renovate the upper floor of the red building to create more specialized classroom space for Bishop Hogan. I say these things, not to tout my own accomplishments, but to emphasize my commitment to solidify, grow, and improve the already wonderful things we have here in the parish. If anyone were to claim that I would voluntarily tank the finances of the parish, the school, or any other facet of the parish to pursue this endeavor, they would be speaking erroneously without any evidence to support it.

I have a great love of teaching and have taught high school in the past. I want to be able to lend my services and expertise to this new school in whatever ways I can. I also don't draw an additional salary for helping, so anything I can do helps to lower the initial costs to the students. That being said, I'm also acutely aware of how much time there is in the day, my own schedule, and most importantly my responsibilities when it comes to the parish and the school. I do not plan on burning myself out or neglecting my responsibilities elsewhere in favor of something else. To assume that I would is to assume that I'm ignorant of my job and my abilities. I know what it feels like to almost burn out as it happened about four years ago. I do not plan on letting that happen again.

Next week, I'll go through my vision as to what this program will look like in its formative years which is quite different than many people envision, which I believe has led to much of the confusion.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Feast of the Holy Family - 1 Samuel 1:20-22, 24-28; 1 John 3:1-2, 21-24; Luke 2:41-52


December 5, 2021, Bulletin... Catholic Education

Whenever I speak with someone from Kansas City or St. Joseph about Chillicothe, they're always surprised to hear that we have a Catholic grade school. I think some of that is general ignorance about the area, some of that stems from the fact that the school doesn't share the name of the parish (which is unusual for a parochial school), but I think a large part has to do with the size of the town and the fact that we're very much isolated from the major metropolitan centers in the Diocese. I say this is the main reason because they're also very surprised to hear that the school is thriving (in addition to existing). They are then stunned to learn that at one point a Catholic high school existed in Chillicothe.

St. Joseph's Academy opened in 1872 as a school for girls. In 1917, boys were admitted; and in 1921, it became a fully accredited secondary school by the University of Missouri. Traditionally, the Diocese has been in charge of secondary schools unless they are run by religious orders. Therefore, it was the Diocese that made the decision to close the school in 1969.

It's safe to say that many schools, including Bishop Hogan, struggled greatly in the latter half of the 20th century. In some places, due to myriad different reasons, Catholic schools continue to struggle and close. I could certainly wax on for many pages with my thoughts as to why this is, but that's not the purpose of this particular column.

A child's character is primarily formed during their high school years. This really should take place primarily in the home as the parents are always the first educators of their children, whether it's the faith, knowledge, or simply life in general. But obviously many hours are spent in school during those four years and those that the child interacts with, whether they be peers or instructors, can have a great deal of influence on them moving forward. In the right situation this is enormously beneficial. In the wrong situation, it can be devastating.

I'm preaching to the choir, no doubt, were I to talk about the radical ideas that are slowly making their way from one public school district to the next. It is a vocal minority that is pushing curricula and agendas that suit a particular narrative and that narrative is antithetical to the teachings of the Church. The problem that many parents have in our community is that there are really only two options: public school or homeschool. Homeschooling is a great thing (I was homeschooled for two years), but to do it properly, the parent really needs to be active in the home full time, and this is especially crucial at the high school level when the subject matter becomes more advanced and the children intrinsically more lazy (they are teenagers, after all).

Some in the parish have talked to me about what it would take to establish a third option in Chillicothe, namely, a Catholic high school. This is a complex question, and one that I've begun to investigate in an informal way. It's very much possible; and additionally, from the outset at least, could be rather simple. My first assignment was teaching high school in St. Joseph; and I did so for three years. I have a great love for Catholic education and the fruits that it can bear if it's done well.

However, before any real progress can be made to attempt to do anything, I need to gauge the feelings of the parish, and, in theory, the community at large. Therefore, I'm going to hold a few listening/information sessions to have a dialogue with interested parties and share my findings so far with what could, in theory, be possible. I understand that this is a chaotic time of year, so I'm going to have multiple sessions in the hope that as many who are at the very least curious may attend.

All sessions will be held in the Bishop Hogan cafeteria...
(1) Wednesday, December 8, 7pm (following the 6pm mass for the Immaculate Conception);
(2) Wednesday, December 15, 6pm (note the earlier time); and
(3) Thursday, December 16, 7pm
Additional sessions may be held if necessary; and I would be very happy to meet with anyone individually who cannot attend any session.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Second Sunday of Advent - Baruch 5:1-9; Philippians 1:4-6, 8-11; Luke 3:1-6


November 14, 2021, Bulletin... Upcoming Masses

Monday, November 22nd, is the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music and one of my patron saints as well. In her honor, the usual Traditional Latin Mass will be sung (as it was on All Saints' Day), and the time will be moved to 6pm so more have the opportunity to attend. Additionally, Monsignor Eugene Morris from St. Louis will be preaching the sermon for that mass. Msgr. Morris is an incredibly gifted homilist and was an instructor of mine in the seminary.

Tuesday, November 23rd, is the feast of St. Columban. Mass will be at 6pm as usual, but there will not be adoration beforehand. We will be having music provided by Kim Yoko (mother of parishioner Zeb Yoko) and our new choir. We will also be using the new hymnals. A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who attend mass in a church on its patronal feast day. Because of this opportunity, I thought it best to revisit indulgences and give them another explanation.

According to the Catechism, an indulgence, "is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church[...]. An indulgence is partial or plenary accordingly as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." Ok, so what does that actually mean?

The Catechism goes on to explain more precisely this definition. In order to understand this, we need to remember that sin has a double consequence. Mortal sin breaks our relationship with God. It deprives us of communion with God and makes us incapable of eternal life should we die in a state of mortal sin. That's why it's so important for us to go to confession whenever we're in a state of mortal sin, which is far more often than many realize. When we're deprived of eternal life due to our own actions, this is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. Venial sin doesn't break our relationship with God, but it does harm it. Every sin, even the less-serious venial ones, carries an unhealthy attachment to something of this world. That's why we commit sins: because we have an attachment to some aspect of that sin. These attachments to sin which we have must be purified before we may enter heaven, as Revelation states that nothing unclean may enter heaven. This purification therefore needs to happen either on earth or in purgatory should we not die in a state of mortal sin. The purification of our attachments to sin is called the "temporal punishment" of sin.

When we go to confession, we're purified of our eternal punishment of sin, since we confess our mortal sins and obtain absolution for them. We're now restored to our relationship with God, and this can only be done through sacramental confession. However, there still remains the temporal punishment because even though we've been absolved, we still tend to have those attachments to sin and thus will most likely sin again. If we die in a state of grace, which is to say that we're not in a state of mortal sin, then we're spared the eternal punishment of hell, but many still carry these attachments to sin and thus require the remission of the temporal punishment. This is what purgatory entails, but the remission can also happen while still alive. This is where indulgences come in.

Indulgences, whether partial or plenary, are gained through specific works and actions that are designated by the Church. These include works of devotion, penance, and charity. They are things that direct our thoughts and actions to God and by doing so, turn our minds away from sin, thus helping to remove those attachments to sin that we have. There are numerous ways to gain indulgences that can be found online and elsewhere and are too many to list here. What is also required to gain the indulgence, in addition to whatever the specific indulgence might be, is to go to confession within a week on either side of when the indulgence is done, receive communion in the state of grace, and to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Thirty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Daniel 12:1-3; Hebrews 0:11-14, 18; Mark 13:24-32


October 31, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Service
Holy Orders, Part 2

Given the importance of the ordination of bishops, priests, and/or deacons to local churches, it's desirable for the ordinations to happen in the cathedral of the diocese. Our diocese has two co-cathedrals as the Dioceses of Kansas City and St. Joseph were merged in 1956. Therefore, we've had a tradition in recent years of ordaining transitional deacons in the Cathedral of St. Joseph and priests in the Cathedral of Kansas City. Sometimes if there is only one person to be ordained a transitional deacon, it may be done in his own parish depending on the size of the church.

Like all other sacraments, Holy Orders has both matter and form. The matter of the sacrament is the imposition of hands from the bishop to the person being ordained. The bishop places both of  his hands on the head of the candidate for ordination in silent prayer as a physical conferral of the Holy Spirit. The form of the sacrament is the consecratory prayer which the bishop says one time over all of the candidates.

We can break down an ordination a bit more from just the matter and form. Specifically, we'll look at the ordination of a priest. Following the gospel, the candidates are called forward with each responding "present" when called by name. Then the homily is given with the candidates sitting in front of the bishop. The homily in this case is mostly directed towards the candidates as instruction to them. After the homily the candidates are examined, being asked a series of questions to which each responds, "I do". The last question, which asks if the candidate resolves to be united more closely every day to Christ the High Priest and will consecrate himself to God for the salvation of all, the candidates respond, "I do, with the help of God."

After these promises, each candidate kneels before the bishop with his hands folded in prayer. The bishop places his hands around the candidate's and asks if he promises respect and obedience to him and his successors. The candidate responds, "I do". After each has done this, all candidates will then lie prostrate, that is completely face down, and the Litany of Saints is spoken or sung. After the Litany, the bishop will lay his hands on each candidate (the matter). The candidates then kneel while all priests in attendance will lay their hands on the candidates as well. Then the candidates kneel while the bishop recites the prayer of consecration (the form). After the prayer, the candidates are now priests.

Following the prayer, the newly-ordained are vested in the stole and chasuble (outer vestment) of a priest. Then, each goes to kneel before the bishop who fully anoints the palms of both hands of the priest with Sacred Chrism. The priest's hands are then folded in prayer and wrapped in a piece of cloth called a maniturgium. The maniturgium will be given to the priest's mother after ordination and she is buried with it so when she arrives at the gates of heaven, she may tell God that she gave Him her son as a priest. After the priests have gotten the Chrism off of their hands, a chalice and paten are brought forward and the priest kneels before the bishop and holds both with the bishop. The chalice and paten, which will hold the Body and Blood of Christ, are the main symbol of the priest's ultimate function which is the offering of mass. The bishop then offers the sign of peace to the newly ordained and then all priests in attendance will do the same. The mass then proceeds as normal.

It's important to remember that no one has the right to receive the sacrament of Holy Orders. No one claims the office for himself; he is called to it by God. Anyone who thinks he recognizes the signs of God's call to the ordained ministry must humbly submit his desire to the authority of the Church, who has the responsibility and right to call someone to receive orders. Like every grace, this sacrament can be received only as an unmerited gift.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Thirty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deuteronomy6:2-6; Hebrews 7:23-28; Mark 12:28-34


October 24, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Service
Holy Orders, Part 1

The seventh and final sacrament to be discussed is Holy Orders. Holy Orders is the sacrament through which the mission entrusted by Christ to his apostles continues to be exercised in the Church until the end of time. Thus it is the sacrament of apostolic ministry which has three degrees/levels: episcopate (bishop), presbyterate (priest), diaconate (deacon).

The word "order" in Roman antiquity designated an established civil body, especially a governing body. Ordinatio (ordination) means incorporation into an ordo (order). So each level of Holy Orders is its own order: the order of bishops, the order of priests, and the order of deacons. Other groups also receive the name of order: catechumens, virgins, spouses, widows, etc. Integration into these groups was done through an ordination. Today, the word ordination is reserved specifically for those joining the one of the three holy orders. It also goes beyond simply joining the order because it confers a gift of the Holy Spirit that permits the exercise of a sacred power which can come only from Christ Himself through His Church.

Through the ordained ministry, specifically bishops and priests, the presence of Christ as the head of the Church is made visible in the midst of the community of believers. However, this presence of Christ in the minister is not to be understood as if the minister is preserved from all human weakness, especially sin. The power of the Holy Spirit doesn't guarantee all acts of ministers in the same way. While it does guarantee the efficacy of the sacraments regardless of the sinfulness of the minister who celebrates them, it obviously doesn't guarantee that the minister will be a holy and good person.

Holy Orders, like baptism and confirmation, leaves an indelible (permanent) mark. Therefore,  once someone is ordained, they cannot be "unordained". Like baptism and confirmation, Holy Orders is confirmed ultimately once; but if one is ordained a deacon, then priest, then God forbid a bishop, they are receiving a greater fullness of the same sacrament. In a way, you could liken it to confirmation conferring the fullness of the Holy Spirit that was begun with baptism, even though those are two different sacraments. However, to the point above, a priest (for example) is a priest forever regardless of his ministerial status. Priests are granted faculties at their ordination which are the things that he's permitted to do by the bishop who ordains him. These faculties can be revoked so that the priest can no longer serve in any public ministry. A priest can be "laicized" (to become a lay person again) by the Vatican. What this really does is not unordain someone but rather release them from the obligations of the clerical state. They are still technically a priest. However, the only thing that they can do in that state is hear someone's confession who is in danger of death. Otherwise, they cannot exercise any priestly function again.

Each degree of Holy Orders has its own function. Deacons are ordained to serve the priests and bishops as was their original function in Acts of the Apostles. They can baptize, witness marriages, and perform funeral rites outside of mass. Additionally, they proclaim the gospel and can preach. Priests, whenever they are doing any of those things, are exercising their diaconal role which they received when they were first ordained deacons. Likewise, whenever a bishop says mass, hears confessions, or anything else that a priest can do, is simply exercising his priestly role which he received at his priesthood ordination.

There are two types of deacons today: transitional and permanent. Transitional deacons are those men that are pursuing ordination to the priesthood. They must be ordained a deacon before priest. Often times, they're ordained a deacon before their final year in the seminary. Someone who is ordained a transitional deacon has the right to be ordained a priest within three years of his diaconate ordination unless he was to do something that would make him irregular for priesthood ordination. Permanent deacons must be at least 35 years old before ordination (for transitional deacons I believe it's 23 or 24 as you must be at least 25 to be ordained a priest. Permanent deacons may be married at the time of their ordination; but if one is ordained a permanent deacon and is not married, he cannot then go get married afterward. Deaconesses (women deacons) existed in name only in the early Church. They were not ordained, but rather they were conferred that title as their role was to help with baptisms which were done fully nude. Therefore, "deaconesses" aided the women who were being baptized, and deacons aided the men. When baptism was no longer done in the buff, the role of a deaconess became obsolete.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Jeremiah 31:7-9; Hebrews 5:1-6; Mark 10:46-52


October 17, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Service

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of children. This covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.

Scripture begins and ends with marriage. In Genesis, we have the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God; and in Revelation, we have the vision of the wedding feast of the Lamb. Throughout Scripture, it speaks of marriage and its mystery; its institution, the meaning God has given it, its origin and its end, its various realizations throughout the history of salvation, the difficulties arising from sin and its renewal in the new covenant of Christ and His Church. Scripture affirms that man and woman were created for one another. Woman is created from man and thus the two, through marriage, literally become one flesh.

Jesus unequivocally taught the original meaning of the union of man and woman as the Creator willed it from the beginning. The permission given by Moses for divorce was one of the many concessions in the Deuteronomic Law made for the hardness of the Israelites' hearts. The insistence on the indissolubility of the marriage bond may have left some perplexed in Jesus' time and seemed like an impossible burden. However, by coming to restore the original order of creation, disturbed by sin, He Himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses are able to receive the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ.

In the Latin Rite of the Church (to which we all belong), marriage is typically celebrated within the context of mass. The reason is because of the connection of all the sacraments to the Paschal Mystery. The Eucharist is also the memorial of the New Covenant when Christ united Himself to the Church, His bride. So it's fitting for the spouses to seal their consent to give themselves to each other within the same context. However, it is completely permissible to simply have a wedding ceremony. A wedding ceremony comprises of the procession, readings, homily (obviously the highlight), the exchange of consent/rings, and the nuptial blessing. Often times, when one spouse is not Catholic and thus most likely so is his or her entire family, a wedding ceremony is chosen as it's more familiar to non-Catholics.

The sacrament of marriage is unique among the sacraments insofar as the minister of the sacrament is not an ordained person. The spouses act as the ministers because it is by their exchange of consent that the sacrament is conferred. The priest, deacon, or bishop act as the witness of the Church.

In order for the sacrament to be valid, the parties must be free to marry and freely express their consent. To be free means that they're not under any constraint and they're not impeded by any natural or ecclesiastical (Church) law. The consent must be an act of the will of each of the contracting parties, free of coercion or grave external fear. So no shotgun weddings allowed. No human power can substitute for this consent. If this freedom is lacking, then the marriage is invalid. Also, if it was determined that one or both of the parties weren't of sound mind at the time of the consent, it's invalid. So no drinking before the wedding.

The minister of the Church receives the consent of the spouses in the name of the Church and gives the blessing of the Church. This is the reason why the Church normally requires that the faithful contract marriage according to Church form. Sacramental marriage is a liturgical act. However, dispensations may be given for good reasons, including getting married outside the Church by a non-Church officiant. But these must be granted before the wedding and are not retroactive. Additionally, permissions and dispensations are required for Catholics to marry baptized and non-baptized non-Catholics. I've never known for these permissions to not be granted.

Marriage is a thorny issue these days and has now become more about the wedding/reception than about the sacrament and the indissolubility of it. Marriage has also become very secularized and thus a "Church wedding" isn't something that many Catholics think they need or want, unfortunately to their own detriment. As I mentioned recently in a homily, any "irregular" marriage situation you think you might be in is fixable. Please do not hesitate to come talk to me about how it can be rectified. I promise you it will be worth it.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Ninth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 53:10-11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Mark 10:35-45


October 10, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Healing
Confession - Part 2

The confession of our sins, even from a purely human standpoint, frees us and facilitates our reconciliation with others. Through our admission of guilt, we look squarely at the sins we're guilty of, take responsibility for them, and open ourselves again to God and to the communion of the Church. And confessing our sins to a priest is an essential part of the sacrament. The Council of Trent said that when Christ's faithful strive to confess all the sins they can remember, they undoubtedly place all of them before the divine mercy for pardon. But those who fail to do so and knowingly withhold some, place nothing before the divine goodness for remission through the mediation of the priest. "For if the sick person is too ashamed to show his wound to the doctor, the medicine cannot heal what it does not know". It's ok to legitimately forget sins in confession because to forget is not intentional. If we withhold sins, though, then the absolution isn't valid.

According to the Church's command, the faithful are bound by an obligation to faithfully confess any mortal sins committed at least once per year. Anyone aware of mortal sin should not receive communion, as doing so constitutes the sin of sacrilege since we're knowingly putting the Eucharist in a spiritually unclean vessel: ourselves. If we do commit a mortal sin, we should seek recourse to the sacrament as soon as we're able. We're only bound to confess mortal sins in confession, technically. Venial, which is to say less-serious, sins need not be confessed, but doing so is a good practice as it makes us more acutely aware of all of the little ways we sin all the time.

When we confess mortal sins, we're also obligated to confess them in kind and number. Basically, what exactly did you do and how many times. The reason is that we shouldn't be committing so many mortal sins that we have no idea what we're doing or how many times. And if we're going so long between confessions and allowing mortal sins to pile up into uncountable numbers, then we need to go to confession far more often.

Before going to confession, one needs to make a good examination of conscience. There are many resources online to help guide someone through a good examination. When you do, my suggestion is to write it down, either on your phone where it can be easily deleted, or on a small piece of paper. I used to use post-it notes in the seminary and then flush them down the toilet afterwards. A good examination of conscience makes it to where we're not forgetting sins or continuing to do things that we didn't realize were serious sins.

Confession is not the hypothetical game. Do not confess sins as if you're not sure if you did them. Either you did or didn't. So phrases like, "if I've ever done X", "for any times I may have done Y", aren't helpful because you're not truly taking responsibility for an action. You did it or you didn't do it. If you're not sure or can't remember, then just say you did them. Better safe than sorry and it's not like there's extra judgment on the priest's part. Confession is also not about what everyone else did that caused you to sin. The priest doesn't need to hear about how awful other people are and how that caused you to sin. The priest doesn't need to hear about how you try to be a good person. We assume that you do because you're there. Be direct, be frank, and be honest. I've heard it all. You will not surprise me, and you will not shock me.

Confession is also not spiritual direction. What I mean by that is that because confession is before mass, and I have presumably more than one person wanting to go and a hard deadline when I need to leave, I tend not to give advice that's unsolicited unless I feel there's a good reason to do so. If you'd like to discuss certain things at a greater length, then please either make an appointment for confession or an appointment to see me in spiritual direction which carries nearly the same weight of confidentiality as confession.

The seal of confession is absolute. I cannot reveal anything said in the confessional. Ever. I would be automatically excommunicated by Church Law. I cannot even confirm to someone that a person even went to confession. I cannot indirectly violate the seal of confession by treating someone differently based on what they said or doing anything based on information learned in the sacrament. It is absolute. You cannot think of a scenario where the seal could be broken because if you could, then it wouldn't be absolute. Go to confession!

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 7:7-11; Hebrews:12-13; Mark 10:17-30


October 3, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Healing
Confession - Part 1

This sacrament is known by several names. Some call it confession, others penance, and others reconciliation. Each conjure a specific connotation in regard to the sacrament. Confession calls to mind the actual disclosure/confession of sins to a priest which is an essential element of the sacrament. Penance refers more specifically to the sinner's personal and ecclesial steps of conversion, penance, and satisfaction. Reconciliation calls to mind the love of God who reconciles us both to Himself and the Church.

Since this sacrament is basically exclusive to the Catholic Church and even within her ranks is not usually listed as the most favorite or practiced, it's important to understand it as much as we can. A good question to start with is why we need confession when we have baptism? Baptism has made us "holy and without blemish", but the apostle John says that if we say we have no sin, then we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. While baptism does cleanse us of original sin and, if baptized later on, of all sins prior to baptism, it doesn't make us stop sinning afterward, nor does it continue to forgive sins that we knowingly commit following our baptism.

We all still carry concupiscence, which is to say we still carry the inclination to sin. With this inclination, we obviously struggle with a variety of sins throughout our lives which may change for various reasons over the course of our lifetime. It is hoped that with the availability and use of confession, we learn to overcome our sins with the grace of God which comes to us through this sacrament. The worst trap we can fall into is to think that we don't really sin, or at least we don't really sin in any serious way. A protestant notion that's quite prevalent is that we do of course sin, but our sin is continually covered/washed away by the grace received in baptism. That's a nice thought, but it's also saying in reality that we're no longer liable for the sins we continually choose to commit. It takes away the responsibility of our sin which confession brings to the forefront.

It is true to say that only God forgives sin. The Church doesn't dispute this and in fact says it quite openly. However, He quite clearly imparted His own apostles with His power to forgive sins. Additionally, He gave them authority to reconcile sinners with the Church. Matthew 16:19, I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. The office of binding and loosing was given to Peter but was also assigned to the college of the apostles united to him. There are several scriptural passages that all reflect this ministry.

True penance requires the sinner to endure all things willingly, namely, to be contrite of heart, confess with the lips, and practice complete humility and fruitful satisfaction. That is from the Catechism published after the Council of Trent 500 years ago. So firstly, the penitent must be contrite. He must actually be sorry for the sins he's committed. Being sorry for a sin doesn't mean you don't think you could potentially do it again. Being truly contrite is not wanting it to happen again. As a bad example, I don't want the Chiefs to lose again, but I know that it's a very real possibility. In theory it's not, but let's be honest about it. That doesn't change my feelings about it now. The same holds true with our actions. When we commit a sin, which we no doubt greatly enjoyed at the time since we tend to enjoy most of the sins we do which is why we do them, we can still be contrite about the fact we committed the sin. However, if we're not actually sorry for it at the base level, then it cannot be confessed. We can feel justified about our sins, but that doesn't change the intrinsic nature of the sin. We tend to rationalize the sin, making it not really our fault and thus minimizing blame. We're sorry that we did it, but it really wasn't totally our fault. That mentality lessens our contrition because we're shifting blame away from ourselves and putting on another person or on something circumstantial.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Genesis 2:18-24; Hebrews 2:9-11; Mark 10:2-16


September 26, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Healing
Anointing of the Sick

Illness and suffering have always been among the gravest problems confronted in human life. In illness, man experiences his powerlessness, his limitations, and his finite nature. Illness can lead to anguish, self-absorption, and sometimes even despair and revolt against God. The Church received the charge to heal the sick from the Lord and strives to carry it out by taking care of the sick as well as by accompanying them with her prayer and intercession. The live-giving presence of Christ is particularly active through the sacraments.

At the Council of Trent, the Church said that the sacred anointing of the sick was instituted by Christ our Lord as a true and proper sacrament of the New Testament. It is alluded to indeed by Mark, but is recommended to the faithful and promulgated by James the apostle and brother of the Lord. From ancient times we have testimonies to the practice of anointings with blessed oil. Over the centuries, the sacrament became used almost exclusively for those at the point of death, hence the received name of "Extreme Unction". The Second Vatican Council revised the rite of the sacrament.

It is not a sacrament for those only at the point of death. If someone who is in bad health receives the sacrament and recovers, they could receive it again if they became sick again. It is a sacrament that can be received as many times as necessary. Only priests and bishops are ministers of the sacrament.

The celebration of the sacrament, like all others, is liturgical in nature when done in its fullness. Those who wish to receive the sacrament should be in a state of grace and therefore confession is recommended before receiving the anointing. The priest or bishop will begin by silently laying their hands on or over the sick person. This is a silent prayer of the minister to the Holy Spirit. The minister then anoints the forehead of the person by saying, "Through this holy anointing may the Lord in His love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit". Then the minister anoints both palms of the person while saying, "may the Lord Who frees you from sin save you and raise you up. Amen." If the person being anointing is a priest or bishop, then the backs of the hands are anointed because the priest or bishop's palms were anointed with Sacred Chrism during their ordination. A proper concluding prayer, depending on the particular circumstance, concludes the rite.

The effects of the sacrament are generally misunderstood. Anointing of the Sick is not necessarily associated with physical healing. The idea is not that when you're anointed you are now healed of all afflictions and if that doesn't occur then something went wrong. The first grace of the sacrament is one of strengthening, peace, and courage to overcome the difficulties that go with the condition of serious illness or the frailty of old age. It's a spiritual strengthening, not necessarily a physical one.

There is a union with the passion of Christ. By the grace of the sacrament, the sick person receives the strength and the gift of uniting himself more closely to Christ's passion. Suffering, which is a consequence of original sin, acquires a new meaning. It becomes a participation in the saving work of Jesus.

If the person who receives the sacrament is in danger of death, then there is the preparation for their final journey. It completes our conformity to the death and Resurrection of Christ, just as baptism began it. It completes the holy anointings that mark the whole Christian life, when baptism sealed new life in us, and when confirmation strengthened us for the combat of this life. This last anointing fortifies the end of our earthly life like a solid rampart for the final struggles before entering the Father's house.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Numbers 11:25-29; James 5:1-6; Mark 9:38-43, 45, 47-48


September 19, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Initiation
Eucharist, Part 3

You've hopefully heard me use the phrase, "Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ" several times in my homilies. The theology of the Eucharist is that what we are consuming is actually the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. It's not a metaphor, it's not a symbol, it doesn't represent something or stand in for something. It is actually the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. This crucial distinction alone is what separates Catholics from protestant denominations. So while in some areas we may have similar beliefs and practices as, say Lutherans, when it comes to the Eucharist which is the source and summit of our entire faith, we differ dramatically. And that's where it counts.

Many have probably also heard the word "transubstantiation" before as well. This word is used to describe what happens to the bread and the wine when it becomes the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. And how it works is actually explained by a concept that has its roots in Greek philosophy several centuries before Christ was born. The philosophical concepts were not used to create the teaching, but rather to explain it.

In John 6, the Bread of Life Discourse, Jesus uses increasingly blunt and almost graphic language to describe the Bread of Life/the Eucharist. At one point, the original Greek that the gospel was written in has the connotation of crunching on the bones of Jesus when He speaks of Himself being the Bread of Life. Each time He explains it, He gets more specific. The reasoning is that He didn't want there to be any question about how literal He was being. And He was so literal that everyone but the apostles leaves Him. If He was just being symbolic or metaphorical, then how would the teaching be so difficult for everyone? Then, at the Last Supper, Jesus gives the apostles the bread and says that it's His body. This connects back to John 6. Jesus says that His body is literally the Bread of Life, then He gives them the bread and says it's His body, and the apostles connect the dots. However, since the bread at the Last Supper did not turn into Jesus' right thigh or something, how can what He said in both instances (John 6 and the Last Supper) be true?

Everything has two sets of characteristics: accidental and substantial. A thing's accidental characteristics are the attributes of the thing that are tangible and detectable with our five senses. How it looks, smells, tastes, sounds, and feels. A thing's substantial characteristics are what make it one thing and not something else. The essence, the being of a thing that is not tangible but knowable. For example, a wooden table has its accidental characteristics that we're all familiar with. It's substance is that of a table. It's what makes it a table and not a sculpted pile of wood. We call it a table because that's its form/essence/being. You could sit on a table, but you don't call it a chair. If the table is broken down into its original parts, you don't call it a table. You call it wood and screws and nails. With me so far?

So bread and wine have accidental and substantial characteristics. Their accidental characteristics are known to us because we can sense them. Their substantial characteristics are also known to us, even though we cannot detect them with our senses. When the consecration happens, the substantial characteristics are changed but the accidental characteristics are not. So what we have is a transubstantiation of the bread and the wine into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We can't see it, taste it, smell it, feel it, or hear it, but we have faith that it occurs because otherwise Jesus is a liar. He's a liar because what He said in John 6 wasn't true. He's a liar because what He said at the Last Supper wasn't true. Since it's not a good starting place to call Jesus a liar, we know that the substance of the bread and wine is what changes while the accidents remain the same. But the substance is what matters. The substance is what makes us human beings and not piles of differentiated human cells. Our nature, our essence, and our being are what matter, not our varying accidental characteristics.

And so, it is only by faith that we can truly see and believe what is presented to us in the Eucharist. But because it looks the same before and after, it's very easy for us to forget and more easily dismiss the reality. But the reality is that we're receiving the actual divine substance of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ and how we receive it and treat it should always reflect that.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Wisdom 2:12, 17-20; James 3:16-4:3; Mark 9:30-37


September 12, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Initiation
Eucharist, Part 2

As early as the second century, we have writings from St. Justin that detail the general outline of the mass which show that from the earliest days, the structure of the mass has remained the same throughout history. The liturgy develops organically, meaning that changes occur over time as we better understand the theology of the sacrifice of the mass.

The mass itself is broken down into two main sections: the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The Introductory Rite contains the entrance antiphon, which is substituted with a hymn when the mass has music, the sign of the cross, and greeting. Next, the priest invites the faithful to acknowledge their sins in the Penitential Rite, which includes the Confiteor ("I confess") and the Kyrie ("Lord, have mercy"). Next comes the Gloria, if the mass includes one. Glorias are restricted to feast days of the first and second class, meaning Sundays and major feast days of saints or of the Lord.

The main section of the Liturgy of the Word follows with the readings from scripture. Again, depending on the class of the day, you'll have one or two readings from scripture, typically one reading from each testament depending on the liturgical season, plus the psalm. The climax of the Liturgy of the Word is, of course, the gospel, which we reverence by standing for it. Technically, the homily/sermon is outside of the mass, since its text is created by the celebrant or homilist. That's why I remove the maniple from my left arm before giving it, because the maniple is a vestment solely used for the mass. When I take it off, it symbolizes that something outside of the mass is occurring. The difference between a homily and a sermon is that a homily is based almost entirely on the readings. A sermon can address any theological, scriptural, or moral topic. We all secretly know that my homilies are the highlight of everyone's life; but for now, we'll just keep that between ourselves. Also, if you're reading this while I'm giving my homily... don't.

Following the homily/sermon, if there is one (they are only mandatory on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation), comes the creed which is only said on feast days of the first class. Petitions may follow in some form, but they are optional during the week and their length/number is to be determined by the celebrant.

The offertory follows where the priest offers to God the offerings of the people, namely the bread and the wine, and symbolically cleanses himself to offer the one, perfect sacrifice of Christ.

The Eucharistic Prayer follows; and this is the heart and the summit of the celebration. It begins with the preface where we give thanks to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit, lifting up our hearts to the Lord as is right and just.

During the Eucharistic Prayer, or the Roman Canon (which is the one I always use unless it's a funeral), the priest invokes numerous saints by name, all of whom were martyrs for the early Church. The priest then extends his hands over the gifts in the "epiclesis", asking the Father to send His Holy Spirit upon the gifts. The consecration comes next and the priest, standing in the person of Christ, speaks the same words over the bread and wine. Once spoken, they are elevated so that the faithful can see and venerate what has now substantially changed into the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

After the rest of the Canon, we come to the Communion Rite, which begins with the Lord's Prayer. The priest then offers the peace of Christ to the faithful directly, and optionally, the faithful may offer it to each other. Again, this is a part of the mass that has always been optional. After that the priest receives communion and completes the sacrifice. Technically, he is the only one required to receive communion at mass, as he must do so to complete the sacrifice he has offered. The Concluding Rite follows communion with the post-communion prayer, final blessing, and dismissal.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 50:4c-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35


September 5, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Initiation
Eucharist, Part 1

The holy Eucharist, the source and summit of our entire faith, completes Christian initiation. Those who have been raised to the dignity of the royal priesthood by baptism and configured more deeply to Christ by confirmation participate with the whole community in the Lord's own sacrifice by means of the Eucharist. All of the other sacraments and all of the other ecclesiastical ministries and works are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church.

We refer to the Eucharist by several different titles, each one evoking certain aspects of it. The word Eucharist has a Greek root which means thanksgiving, because the celebration of it is an act of thanksgiving to God. We call it the Lord's Supper because of its connection with the Last Supper of our Lord at which He instituted it. We call the mass the Holy Sacrifice because it makes present the one sacrifice of Christ and includes the Church's offering. We also use sacrifice of praise, spiritual sacrifice, and pure and holy sacrifice. We call it Holy Communion because by this sacrament we unite ourselves to Christ who makes us sharers in His Body and Blood to form a single body.

At the heart of the Eucharist are bread and wine, the signs under which the Eucharist is made present to us. We use these because we as His Church are faithful to His command to do this in memory of Him. And what He did when He said that was use bread and wine. They also signify the goodness of creation which is recalled in the prayers during the offertory (spoken aloud at daily mass here), which say that they are the work of human hands, but above all are fruit of the earth and of the vine; gifts from our Creator. The Church also references the old testament priest Melchizedek who brought out bread and wine, a prefiguring of the Church's own offering.

The three synoptic gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, as well as St. Paul have given us the account of the institution of the Eucharist. John's gospel reports the Bread of Life discourse in chapter 6 in the synagogue of Capernaum. These words prepare for the institution of the Eucharist as Christ calls Himself the bread of life. By celebrating the Last Supper and instituting the Eucharist in the course of the Passover meal, Jesus gave the Jewish Passover its definitive meaning. Jesus' passing over to His Father by His death and resurrection is anticipated in the Passover and celebrated in the Eucharist. This fulfills the Jewish Passover and anticipates the final Passover of the Church in glory of the kingdom.

During its institution, Jesus tells His apostles to do this in memory of Him. The command to repeat His actions and words until He comes again does not just ask us to remember Him and what He did. It is directed at the liturgical celebration of the memorial of Christ. From the beginning the Church has been faithful to this command. Acts 2 speaks of the people devoting themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of the bread and the prayers. Because it is a direct command from our Lord and God, the Church gives it the gravity that it deservers. Our free choice to not follow the command of God thus constitutes a grave and mortal sin.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Third Sunday in Ordinary Time - Isaiah 50:5-9a; James 2:14-18; Mark 8:27-35


August 29, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Initiation

By the sacrament of confirmation, the baptized are more perfectly bound to the Church and are enriched with a special strength of the Holy Spirit. Hence they are, as true witnesses of Christ, more strictly obliged to spread and defend the faith by word and deed. Confirmation has its roots with the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles at Pentecost. This is the fullness of the gift of the Holy Spirit that we receive at baptism. The apostles would impart to the newly baptized the laying on of hands, giving them the same gift of the Spirit they had received. Very early on, to better signify this gift by material means, an anointing with perfumed oil (chrism) was added to the laying on of hands. This is why the Eastern churches call the sacrament Chrismation. In the West, we say confirmation, which suggests that this sacrament confirms baptism and strengthens baptismal grace.

In the first centuries, confirmation was almost always tied immediately with baptism into one ceremony. Eastern churches have kept this tradition, even with infants, and so it is the priest that baptizes who also then confirms. We have this in the West whenever anyone above the age of reason is baptized. They are then immediately confirmed as well. Most are familiar with the tradition of baptizing the infant but then waiting to confirm by the bishop later. The Eastern tradition gives more unity to the sacraments of initiation, and the Western tradition gives those confirmed more unity with their bishop who is actually doing the confirming.

The anointing with chrism that is done in confirmation leaves an indelible, permanent mark. It is a spiritual seal of the Holy Spirit. Those who are marked with this seal share more completely in the mission of Jesus Christ and the fullness of the Holy Spirit with which He is filled, so that their lives may give off the "aroma of Christ".

When confirmation is celebrated separately from baptism, which is the norm in the Latin Rite Church, the liturgy itself begins with the renewal of baptismal promises and the profession of faith by the confirmands. The bishop then extends his hands over the whole group, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit from the direct successor of the apostles. The bishop then anoints each confirmand on the forehead with chrism. The saint which the confirmand has chosen as his/her patron is said by the bishop, who then adds, "be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit". The bishop then offers the newly confirmed the sign of peace.

It is evident from its celebration that the effect of the sacrament is the special outpouring of the Holy Spirit as granted upon the apostles at Pentecost. It brings an increase and deepening of baptismal grace. It roots us more deeply in the divine sonship, unites us more firmly to Christ, increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us, renders our bond to the Church more perfect, and gives us a special strength of the Holy Spirit to spread and defend the faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to confess the name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the cross.

Every baptized person not yet confirmed can and should receive the sacrament of confirmation. In the West, as said before, we tend to wait until after they've reached the age of reason, but in danger of death, children not yet at that age should still be confirmed. Preparation for the sacrament should aim at leading the Christian toward a more intimate union with Christ and a more lively familiarity with the Holy Spirit in order to be more capable of assuming the apostolic responsibilities of Christian life.

The ordinary minister of confirmation is the bishop. In danger of death, any priest can administer confirmation. Additionally, any priest who baptizes someone above the age of reason automatically has the faculty to confirm the person immediately. The bishop has the right to confirm all Catholics within his diocese. So someone who is baptized Catholic as an infant or below the age of reason is confirmed by the bishop. However, the bishop can extend the faculty of confirming already baptized Catholics to a priest in certain circumstances. The most common is when a Catholic who was baptized but never confirmed "reconverts" at the Easter Vigil. Since this is common, the bishop extends the faculty to priests for the Easter Vigil when the priest submits the specific names of the people needing to be confirmed on that occasion. Individual cases can also be delegated to the priest depending on the circumstances.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time - Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8; James 1:17-18, 21b-22, 27; Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23


August 22, 2021, Bulletin... Sacraments of Initiation

The seven sacraments: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, holy orders, marriage, anointing of the sick, and reconciliation are broken down into three groups - these are the sacraments of initiation, of service, and of healing. The three sacraments of initiation are baptism, confirmation, and the Eucharist. These lay the foundation of every Christian life. Paul VI said that the faithful are born anew by baptism, strengthened by confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments, they receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.

The word "baptism" comes from the Greek "baptizein" which means to plunge or immerse. The "plunge" into the water symbolizes the catechumen's burial into Christ's death from which he rises up by resurrection with him as a new creature.

Baptism was prefigured in several different ways in the Old Testament. From creation itself water has been the source of life and fruitfulness. Genesis said that water was overshadowed by the Spirit of God at the moment of creation. Noah's Ark is seen as a prefigurement of salvation by baptism because through it people were saved, and the world was cleansed through the water of the flood. The crossing of the Red Sea is a very easy comparison, for it was through the waters of the Red Sea that the children of Israel were literally set free from slavery. It is also prefigured in the Israelites crossing the Jordan, for it was through the crossing of that water that the Israelites entered the Promised Land.

All of these Old Testament prefigurations find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. He began his public ministry by having himself baptized by John in the Jordan. After his resurrection, he commands his disciples to baptize all nations. Jesus voluntarily submitted himself to the baptism of sinners, which is what John was doing, as a manner of self-emptying. He had no sins to confess and be forgiven for, but in order to fully identify with us, Christ underwent baptism because we are all in need of baptism. He chose to go through what we must go through. The same can obviously also be said about his death. Through his action, he also sanctified baptism.

The Church has been celebrating baptism since Pentecost. After Peter's speech, about 3000 people were baptized after witnessing the miracle. St. Paul said that through the Holy Spirit, baptism purifies, justifies, and sanctifies. Today, the celebration of the sacrament combines multiple symbols with physical and metaphysical realities. The sign of the cross at the beginning marks the one who will be baptized with the imprint of Christ. Since baptism signifies liberation from sin and from the Devil, one or more exorcisms are pronounced over the candidate. The celebrant then anoints him with the oil of catechumens on the breastplate. The baptismal water is consecrated by a prayer through which the Church asks that the power of the Holy Spirit be sent upon the water. Then the essential part of the rite follows, by which the sacrament is made valid. The water is poured over the head, the water must flow off the head, and the celebrant says, "[name], I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." If any part of that is altered, the baptism is not valid. The person is then anointed on the forehead with Sacred Chrism. Chrism is only used in sacraments that leave an indelible (permanent) mark: baptism, confirmation, and holy orders. The white garment traditionally worn symbolizes that the person baptized has "put on Christ". Then a candle, lit from the Easter candle, signifies that Christ has enlightened the new Christian.

Those who can receive baptism are anyone who has not yet been baptized. You cannot be baptized more than once which is why the Church recognizes protestant baptisms that use the above formula. Adult baptism was very common in the early Church but so was infant baptism. Children are born with a fallen human nature and tainted with original sin, so they have the need of the new birth in baptism. The Church and the parents would deny a child the priceless grace of becoming a child of God were they not to confer baptism shortly after birth.

The ordinary ministers of baptism are bishops, priests, and deacons. Anyone can be an extraordinary minister of baptism when there is danger of death present. They still must use the above formula when doing so.

Baptism is necessary for salvation for those to whom the gospel has been proclaimed and who have had the possibility of asking for this sacrament. The Church does not know of any means other than baptism that assures entry into eternal life. However, while God has bound salvation to the sacrament of baptism, He Himself is not bound by His sacraments. The Church has always held that those who suffer death for the sake of the faith without having received baptism are baptized by their death, called a baptism of blood. In regard to children who die without baptism, the Church teaches that we entrust them to the mercy of God, knowing that He desires for all to be saved. Children who are not baptized but are not yet at the age of reason haven't made a conscious act of sinning against the will of God. Thus, they cannot be punished eternally for acts they never committed.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time - Joshua 24:1-2a, 15-17, 18b; Ephesians 5:21-32; John 6:60-69


August 15, 2021, Bulletin...
The Liturgy of the Church

Before talking about the seven sacraments individually, the Catechism goes into great detail regarding the celebration of the liturgy within the Church. Liturgy is an action of the whole Christ, which is to say the entire Church. Each sacrament involves the celebration of a liturgy which takes on different forms depending on the sacrament, who is celebrating it, when it happens, and where it happens. All members, the whole community, celebrate the liturgy, but not all of the members have the same function. Certain members are called by God to a special service in the community. These servants are chosen and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, by which the Holy Spirit enables them to act in the person of Christ. The common priesthood of all the baptized, each according to his function, celebrate together in the unity of the Holy Spirit.

Celebrations of the sacraments are woven together from signs and symbols. The meaning of these signs and symbols is rooted in the work of creation and in our culture, specified by the events of the Old Covenant and fully revealed in the person and work of Christ. We need signs and symbols to communicate with others, such as through language, gestures, and actions. The same principle holds true for our relationship with God.

Holy images are also very important in our liturgical celebrations. The sacred image, the liturgical icon, principally represents Christ. It cannot represent the incomprehensible and invisible God, but rather the incarnation of the Son of God. All the signs in the liturgical celebrations are related to Christ, including images of Mary and other saints. They truly signify Christ who is glorified in them. The beauty of the images should move us to contemplation of the glory of God and keep our minds always focused on Him. That is why churches are decorated with icons, statues, and murals that depict holy things. Churches that are white-washed and don't contain any religious imagery don't avail themselves as a sacred space when the liturgy isn't being celebrated because the place takes on the look of a normal space when not in use. You cannot walk into St. Columban and think that's it not a sacred place regardless of the time of day.

The liturgical celebrations of the Church are all situated around the liturgical year. From the time of Moses, the people of God observed fixed feasts, such as Passover. They happen at the same time each year as a constant reminder of what God has done for us. In like manner, the Church has established the liturgical year as a way of keeping our lives rooted in the liturgy regardless of the day or time of year. The year begins with the first Sunday of Advent, then moves into the Christmas season, ordinary time part 1, Lent, Holy Week, Easter, and then ordinary time part 2. Easter is always the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring equinox which is why it moves. Ultimately, the liturgical year is focused on Easter as the feast of feasts. Christmas, being a fixed date, determines the beginning of the year, but everything following is based off of when Easter occurs. Included throughout the year are the recurring feasts of the saints who have suffered and been glorified with Christ. They are presented to us for the two "I's": Imitation and Intercession.

The liturgical celebrations of the Church are not confined to any particular space. The whole earth is sacred and entrusted to the children of men. However, when religious liberty is not being threatened, we build buildings for divine worship. They are not just gathering places, but make visible the Church that lives in a particular place. I would stand to argue that our church makes the Catholic community in Chillicothe very visible and showcases our devotion through its beauty. Within the church itself, there are certain furnishings that are (or should be) present. The altar is where the sacrifice of Christ is made present. Our high altar elevates our hearts, eyes, and mind to God as His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity are made present upon it. The tabernacle is always to be situated in a most worthy place and with the greatest honor, according to Pope Paul VI. Ours is right where it should be, for it contains the source and summit of our entire faith and thus should be in the heart of the focal point of the church: the high altar. Those who would argue that it should be placed off to the side would need to explain why the source and summit of something should be found off to the side somewhere. The ambo is where the word of God (and mediocre homilies) are proclaimed and thus deserves a high place of honor as well. The chair of the priest, according to the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, should express his office of presiding over the assembly and directing prayer. The beautiful sedilia (plural Latin for seats) certainly expresses this.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Revelation 11:19a; 12:1-6a, 10ab I; Corinthians 15:20-27; Luke 1:39-56


August 8, 2021, Bulletin...
Sacraments: Introduction

Over the next few weeks, we'll be looking at the sacraments of the Church in depth as the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) explains them. The whole liturgical life of the Church revolves around the Eucharistic sacrifice and the sacraments. There are seven sacraments in the Church: baptism, confirmation, Eucharist, penance, anointing of the sick, holy orders, and marriage. A sacrament is defined as "an efficacious sign of God's grace, instituted by Jesus Christ, and entrusted to the whole Church". It is through the sacraments that divine life is dispensed to us.

The Council of Trent in 1547 stated infallibly that it is through our adherence to the scriptures and apostolic tradition that we profess that all seven sacraments were instituted by Christ. The mysteries of Christ's life are the foundations of what He would dispense in the sacraments, through the ministers of His Church. Sacraments are powers that come forth from the Body of Christ, which is ever-living and life-giving. They are actions of the Holy Spirit at work in His Body, the Church.

The Church is ultimately the authority that determined the sacraments, their celebration, and their number. In the same way, she set forth the canon of scripture and doctrines of the faith. This comes from the guidance of the Holy Spirit, with which the Church is imbued. The number and celebration of the sacraments have come into form over the centuries, so it's always important to remember that things develop organically in the Church. Those who would point to "how things were done originally" as a way to justify a sudden change in things today do not understand this organic development and seek to simply do something based on an antiquarian argument. The sacraments are "of the Church" in the sense that they are by her and for her. They are by the Church because she is the sacrament of Christ's action at work in her through the mission of the Holy Spirit. They are for the Church since they manifest and communicate to men, most of all in the Eucharist, they mystery of communion with God.

The Church acts in the sacraments as a priestly community. Through baptism and confirmation, all Church members form a priesthood of the baptized which allows them to celebrate the liturgy. Those who have received holy orders, namely deacons, priests, and bishops, are appointed to nourish the Church with the word and grace of God. The ordained ministry is ultimately at the service of the priesthood of all the baptized, namely the people of God. Priests guarantee that it really is Christ who acts in the sacraments through the Holy Spirit for the Church. The saving mission entrusted by the Father to His Son was then committed to the apostles, and through them to their successors, the bishops, and their collaborators, the priests. The three sacraments of baptism, confirmation, and holy orders confer a sacramental character/seal by which the Christian shares in Christ's priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. It is an indelible mark, meaning it remains forever.

The purpose of the sacraments is to sanctify men, to build up the Body of Christ, and to give worship to God. They are signs, but they also instruct. They presuppose faith, but by words and objects they also nourish, strengthen, and express faith, which is why they are called sacraments of faith. The Church's faith precedes the faith of the believer who is invited to adhere to it. When the Church celebrates a sacrament, she confesses the faith received from the apostles. The ancient Latin phrase, "lex orandi, lex credendi", means the law of prayer is the law of faith. The Church believes as she prays. For this reason, no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.

When they are celebrated worthily in faith, the sacraments confer the grace that they signify. They are efficacious, meaning to give effect, because Christ Himself is in them at work. It is ultimately Christ who is acting in the sacraments. The Church affirms that the sacraments act "ex opere operato", meaning "from the work it is worked". So the worthiness of the particular minister is of no consequence, meaning that the priest/deacon/bishop could be a horrible person, but that doesn't change the efficacy of the sacrament. From the moment the sacrament is celebrated in accordance with the intention of the Church, the power of Christ acts in it and through it.

Sacraments are necessary for salvation for those. Sacramental grace is the grace of the Holy Spirit, given by Christ and proper to each sacrament.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings 19th Sunday in Ordinary Time - 1 Kings 19:4-8; Ephesians 4:30-5:2; John 6:41-51


May 2, 2021, Bulletin...
On Indulgences and the First Public Mass of a Newly Ordained Priest

In my column this week, I'm going to take a stab at explaining as clearly as possible what an indulgence is, what is required for obtaining one, and how this ties in with the upcoming celebration of the first mass of the future Fr. Armentrout.

According to the Catechism, an indulgence, "is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church [...] An indulgence is partial or plenary accordingly as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin." Ok, so what does that actually mean?

The Catechism goes on to explain more precisely this definition. In order to understand this, we need to remember that sin has a double consequence. Mortal sin breaks our relationship with God. It deprives us of communion with God and makes us incapable of eternal life should we die in a state of mortal sin. That's why it's so important for us to go to confession whenever we're in a state of mortal sin, which is far more often than many realize. When we're deprived of eternal life due to our own actions, this is called the "eternal punishment" of sin. Venial sin doesn't break our relationship with God, but it does harm it. Every sin, even the less-serious venial ones, carries an unhealthy attachment to something of this world. That's why we commit sins: because we have an attachment to some aspect of that sin. These attachments to sin which we have must be purified before we may enter heaven, as Revelation states that nothing unclean may enter heaven. This purification therefore needs to happen either on earth or in purgatory, should we not die in a state of mortal sin. The purification of our attachments to sin is called the "temporal punishment" of sin.

When we go to confession, we're purified of our eternal punishment of sin, since we confess our mortal sins and obtain absolution for them. We're now restored to our relationship with God; and this can only be done through sacramental confession. However, there still remains the temporal punishment because even though we've been absolved, we still tend to have those attachments to sin and thus will most likely sin again. If we die in a state of grace, which is to say that we're not in a state of mortal sin, then we're spared the eternal punishment of hell, but many still carry these attachments to sin and thus require the remission of the temporal punishment. This is what purgatory entails, but the remission can also happen while still alive. This is where indulgences come in.

Indulgences, whether partial or plenary, are gained through specific works and actions that are designated by the Church. These include works of devotion, penance, and charity. They are things that direct our thoughts and actions to God, and by doing so, turn our minds away from sin, thus helping to remove those attachments to sin that we have. There are numerous ways to gain indulgences that can be found online and elsewhere and are too many to list here. What is also required to gain the indulgence, in addition to whatever the specific indulgence might be, is to go to confession within a week on either side of when the indulgence is done, receive communion in the state of grace, and to pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.

A plenary indulgence, which is a full indulgence, is granted to a priest on the occasion of the first mass he celebrates and to the faithful who devoutly assist (which means attend) the same mass. So for all who are planning to attend the first mass of the future Fr. Armentrout, you will receive a plenary indulgence if you also do the other requirements (confession, communion, and prayers for the pope's intentions). There will be multiple priests in attendance; and my desire will be to have both confessionals staffed prior to the mass by visiting priests.

A first mass is a truly blessed event, and one that is unfortunately rare in most parishes. It hasn't happened here this century; and a first mass done as a Solemn High Latin mass hasn't been done here in quite a bit longer. It will be an experience unlike any other; and despite the fact that many may feel uncomfortable given that it's a Latin mass, the programs provided will help you follow along. The music will be provided by the Benedictines of Mary from Gower, MO. I know that Deacon Armentrout is very appreciative of the support that you've provided him along this long and almost-finished journey. I hope to see you all there as we celebrate its completion.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Fifth Sunday of Easter - Acts 9:26-31, 1 John 3:18-24, John 15:1-8


February 23, 2020, Bulletin... The Lenten Season

This Wednesday (02/26/2020) is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season. The Ash Wednesday mass times will be 8:15am, which will include the whole school, and 6pm. I would like to use this week's column to talk about Lent and what we will be offering here at the parish.

Of course, one of the most famous things about Lent are the Knights of Columbus Fish Fry Dinners. Those dates are Feb. 28, Mar 6, 13 & 27, and the time is from 5-7pm at Bishop Hogan. These are wonderful opportunities to not only support the Knights and the great work they accomplish throughout the year but also to grow in parish fraternity and community unity as many non-Catholics come to these events. It is an opportunity for us as a parish community to show the greater Chillicothe area who we are and what we're about during this penitential season. Abstinence from meat during Lent is a very visible and tangible reminder for Catholics that allows us to connect ourselves more closely with the sacrifice on Calvary that we commemorate most intimately on Good Friday.

But what many don't know is that abstinence from meat on Friday is not just contained to Lent. In fact, the Church asks that every Friday, Catholics abstain from eating meat. The exception that came about was that another suitable penance could be substituted outside of Lent on Fridays as opposed to not eating meat, but unfortunately most are unaware of this and don't substitute anything. I would encourage you all, as we move through the mandatory abstinence of Lent, to reflect upon this practice when we enter the Easter Season and beyond.

Adults aged 18-59 are also asked to fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday in addition to abstaining from meat on both days. The fast, a laudable spiritual and physical practice, means that we can have one normal-sized meal and two smaller meals that together, would not equal the normal meal. Fasting is a wonderful way to focus the mind on spiritual matters, because although the rumbling of our stomachs makes us immediately think of food, our next thought goes to the fast and the reason we're doing it.

I used to weigh 250 pounds when I was in college. At one point, I dropped all the way to 175 through what is called a "crash diet" and exercise. A crash diet is basically not eating a lot and minimizing caloric intake dramatically in order to facilitate weight loss. The problem with that is that you don't learn to actually eat right, you just eat less. I wouldn't recommend it as a long-term solution. But I mention this because at night I would often go to bed hungry, but that was a reminder that I was trying to become healthier and when I eventually did, I wanted to do everything I could to maintain that health. In like manner, when we fast and abstain from meat, we need to remember we are trying to grow spiritually; and if we persevere, we will want to maintain that spiritual growth no matter what.

On Fridays we will have Stations of the Cross at the parish at 6pm. The Stations of the Cross are a wonderful way for us to come more face to face with Christ's sacrifice, as they allow us to meditate and reflect more directly on every suffering step our Savior went through to gain for us the prize of salvation. I highly encourage all to attend and to even make them yourselves during Lent if you're unable to make the official time. The church is normally unlocked during the day.

Also, on the Tuesdays of March 3, 24, 31, and April 7, following the 6pm mass, we will have a soup dinner hosted by the Altar Society in the cafeteria of the school, and I will present a scripture study as well. One of the subjects I've formally taught was a course on the scriptures, and there are many nuances to passages we feel like we know so well that we're actually unaware of. I hope that through these sessions I can help expand your knowledge of the Word of God which will then help when we hear these passages during mass.

I pray that you all have a very fruitful and blessed Lenten Season. My prayers are continually for all of the parishioners here and students in our school. I am so blessed to be a part of such a wonderful and generous community, and not a day goes by that I don't stand in awe of the great honor that has been bestowed upon me to be your pastor.

Your servant in Christ, Fr. Koster

Scripture Readings Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time - Leviticus 19:1-2, 17-18; 1 Corinthians 3:16-23; Matthew 5:38-48


December 8, 2019, Bulletin ... Rorate Mass

On Saturday, December 14, instead of the normally scheduled 8:15 Latin mass, we will have what is called a "Rorate Mass". The mass will still be the Traditional Latin Mass, but it will begin at 6:45am instead of 8:15. The Rorate Mass takes its name from the opening words of the Introit which comes from Isaiah 45:8: "Rorate, caeli, desuper, et nubes pluant justum, aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem." "Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior."

The reason for the change in time is that the Rorate Mass is supposed to begin before sunrise. It is a votive mass in Mary's honor that is said during Advent. It is also lit only by candlelight. We will have personal candles for the faithful to hold in addition to all of the candles (and some extra!) lit on and around the high altar. In the dimly lit setting, the priest and the faithful prepare to honor the Light of the world, Who is soon to be born, and offer praise to God for the gift of Our Lady. As the mass proceeds and sunrise approaches, the church becomes progressively brighter, illumined by the sun as our faith is illumined by Christ.

The readings and prayers of the mass foretell the prophecy of the Virgin who would bear a Son called Emmanuel and call on all to raise the gates of their hearts and their societies to let Christ the King enter; asking for the grace to receive eternal life by the merits of the Incarnation and saving Resurrection of Our Lord. I hope that you will all be able to join us on Saturday morning before dawn to welcome the day as we will soon welcome Our Lord.

Sunday, December 8, is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception and also the Second Sunday of Advent. As such, in the new calendar, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception is transferred to Monday and is NOT a holy day of obligation. However, in the old calendar which is followed by the Traditional Latin Mass, the Immaculate Conception is not moved from Sunday. Therefore, Monday, December 9, is not the Immaculate Conception in the old calendar, but rather a weekday in Advent. Because the Traditional Latin Mass is offered on Mondays, that is why the Feast does not appear on our liturgical schedule. If you have any questions or need any clarifications on this, I will be happy to help.

Scripture Readings Second Sunday of Advent - Isaiah 11:1-10; Romans 15:4-9; Matthew 3:1-12


November 17, 2019, Bulletin... Celebration of 140th Anniversary of Church Dedication

As it was announced last weekend, on Sunday, November 24, at 2pm, we will have a Solemn High Latin Mass to commemorate the 140th anniversary of the dedication of our beautiful church. If you have never experienced a Solemn High Mass or even a Latin mass before, I highly encourage you to attend. The full array of the beauty of the Latin Rite, of which we are all members, will be on display. It's also a bye-week for the Chiefs.

What makes a Solemn High Mass different than the low mass which is celebrated on Monday and Saturday mornings already is that it is a much fuller expression of the rite. The low mass is said by the priest with or without a server. There is no music, and there cannot be more than two servers. Everything about a low mass is relatively simplistic. A Solemn High Mass involves more servers, music, as well as more clerics. There is a deacon and a subdeacon in addition to the priest. I am very grateful to Fr. Eric Schneider, pastor of St. Ann's in Plattsburg and St. Joseph's in Easton, and Fr. Kevin Drew, pastor of St. Joseph's in Trenton and Immaculate Conception in Princeton, for taking time out of their busy schedules to assist in these roles. They are both priests within our deanery, and it's a wonderful display of fraternity and unity within our local church as well to have them.

For those who might be skeptical because of the mass being in Latin and possibly unfamiliar in general, I have a few suggestions to help. First, I recommend reading my explanation on the Traditional Latin Mass that can be found in its entirety on the parish website. Second, I recommend coming to one of the low masses this week, either on Monday morning or especially Saturday morning, the 23rd, which is the feast of St. Columban. Third, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you might have in general. I'm always more than happy to offer explanations about the liturgy. Also, we will have booklets which will have the translations of the prayers and readings as well.

I've said many times that one of the beauties of the Traditional Latin Mass (for me personally) is the lack of pressure on the faithful. When I first began attending masses in Latin, it was only because I spent the night at a friend's house and that's where they went. I didn't understand what was going on, and I felt like I had to say and do the right things, otherwise I would be doing something wrong. But the more I began to understand the mass, the more I realized that all that is required of the faithful is to simply pray. The faithful offer their sacrifice through the priest but the manner in which they do that is up to them. They may respond with the servers and/or choir or not. They can spend the whole time kneeling and praying the rosary in the back of the church. What's important is the mindset. All you need to do is offer prayer along with the priest and you've fulfilled your role. In reality, it's very little pressure as opposed to needing to respond at certain times, etc.

The final thing I'll mention is the beautiful image that we will be on that Sunday afternoon. On an altar that's 115 years old, in a church that's 140 years old, with many last names the same as back then, we will offer the august sacrifice of the mass as one parish community, unbroken for 162 years and, by the grace of God, unbroken for decades and centuries to come. The chalice that I will be using is 62 years old and was the ordination chalice of Fr. Sinclair, whose first assignment was here in 1957 and taught at the high school.

I, as your servant in Christ, will face the same direction as you, leading us toward God and heaven. I know that some are uneasy about the priest facing the same direction as the congregation; and for that conversation, I will leave you with two points. First, the priest is offering the sacrifice on behalf of the people. In a way, he is "driving" the mass. Would you ever get on a bus where the driver was facing you and not the road? Second, the chalice I mentioned is gold-plated. As such, it's highly reflective like a mirror. When I elevate the chalice at the freestanding altar on the weekends, I see the high altar and the tabernacle behind me. That's a beautiful image. However, when I use it at the high altar, I have God within the chalice itself, and reflected in it I can see you. I see all of you reflecting off the vessel which holds God Himself. That's a more beautiful image and a more complete image. On the 24th, I hope to see the reflected image of a full church, the same as it would have been all of those years before.

Scripture Readings 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time - Malachi 3:19-20a; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12; Luke 21:5-19


September 29, 2019 Bulletin - Last weekend, we had two major fundraising events at the parish: the Fall Festival and the Quinn 5K. Both events, in order to be successful, needed good weather on a weekend with nothing but rain forecasted. When I was in seminary, I was told that the best thing to do to ward off unwanted rain was to pray the Memorare prayer to Mary as much as you can. When I looked at the forecast, I lit a candle on the Marian altar and said the first Memorare. Every time I thought about the weekend (which was often) or spoke with someone about it, I would pray one and encourage them to do the same. As the weekend approached, the forecast became more and more certain that rain would persist all weekend.

On Saturday, the rain tapered off around 7-7:30am, just before the run began. It started again after the race. On Sunday morning, as our amazing volunteers struggled with tents in the pouring rain, it appeared as if the whole event would be forced inside. However, when I walked over from the rectory at 11:45 with an umbrella, by the time I reached the gym doors, I no longer needed it. The sun came out, tables and chairs were set up for people to eat and watch the Chiefs game outside, and the rain held off even for the cleanup.

Mary is a powerful intercessor. Anyone who thinks that God's hand wasn't present that weekend as He watched over our parish and its events would be mistaken. Through Our Lady's intercession and the mercy of God, our fundraisers were both successful. Never doubt the power of prayer. Never doubt the power of Mary's intercession. Never doubt that our parish's devotion and love for God aren't rewarded. I am so grateful to Our Lord and our tremendous volunteers for a successful weekend, and it excites me to think what we'll be able to accomplish, with God's help, in the future. For if God is for us, who can be against us?


June 9, 2019 - I would like to use this week's column to introduce myself to all of you. This will allow me to preach about Pentecost this weekend as opposed to preaching about myself. I was born and raised in the northland of Kansas City, about 15 minutes from the airport. I attended Rockhurst High School and graduated in 2007 before heading to the University of Dallas to study history. My dream was to become a high school history teacher. However, after two years, I discerned that God was calling me to the seminary instead. I graduated from Conception Seminary College in 2011 and attended the Pontifical College Josephinum in Columbus, OH. I was ordained on May 23, 2015; and my first assignment was to teach full time at Bishop LeBlond High School (don't worry, all of my shirts are going into storage). I taught there for three years and also coached the boys and girls soccer teams as well. So I have been to Chillicothe several times but only to the high school and only on the visitor's sideline. After three years, I was assigned to St. Therese Parish in Parkville, MO, the largest parish in our Diocese, as the associate. While there, I also helped a bit at St. Pius X High School, helping to coach their soccer teams as well (and those shirts are going into storage as well). While there, I coached against my former teams at LeBlond; and I mention this, not because I'm a turncoat, but because I'm fiercely loyal. And while it might be awhile before I'm wearing the red and black of the Hornets, know that I am very happy to be here and look forward to the many ways in which I can serve the great community that we have here. One final note: there will undoubtedly be some things that will change from what Fr. Kneib did and while some change is always expected, I do not intend any of it to be disruptive. There is always a reason for why I do what I do, which means if you ever have a question about it, you will get an answer. I pray that my tenure here is long and fruitful, and know of my prayers for all of you as we start this new journey together.

A Duty Sanctioned - Parishioner Brenda O'Halloran has written a book based on the story of us. The book is entitled A Duty Sanctioned. You may read an excerpt by clicking on the book image here. We hope you will purchase your very own copy of the book to read in its entirety and to also help with this very worthwhile fundraising endeavor! TO ORDER: Contact Kim at the church office (email subject: Book Order). We prefer that you pick your order up at the church office, but mailing options are available (applicable shipping costs apply).

GUIDE TO OUR STATUES: A guide is available on this website to help you learn about the statues in the church. Mouse over the General Information tab at the top of any page to see a dropdown menu with a link to the guide or click here...

RESOURCES - Here are some resources available to aid us in being more knowledgeable about our faith. Please consider the following to determine which might be the best for you.

Flocknotes - an email service which sends a passage of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, gospels, or the diary of St. Faustina to you daily.

Magazines and Online Print - The following are available online and in print. Please click on the link or call the number to learn how to subscribe.

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St. Columban Catholic Church 1111 Trenton Street, Chillicothe, MO  64601
Phone: 660-646-0190

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