From the Pastor ~ Oct. 27, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

This week we will celebrate the mystery of life and death in a particularly Catholic way: we observe the Holy Day of Obligation, All Saints’ Day on Friday, and the commemoration of all the deceased on All Souls’ Day on Saturday.

You see, all the saints in heaven and all the souls in purgatory have all gone before us, but we would never say they are actually ceased to be, they are just not here. Wherever they are, we still maintain our friendships, because love is stronger than death. And we have the opportunity to form new friendships whose fullness will be experienced on the last day when we will all come together at the fulfillment of God’s creation. But in the meantime, we must pray for one another.

We rely on the saints to pray for us, as much or even more than we rely on one another on this earth for prayer. The saints are the pros, after all, and behold God face to face. The souls in purgatory rely on the saints, as well, and us to help them in the helpless condition where they are now. It is through our prayers and good will and charity that they have hope. Without us, they are lost.

The greatest thing you can do for someone who has passed from this world is offer the Mass. This is why we have funerals. And this is also why not having a funeral is the most tragic decision you can make for a person of faith. The sacrifice of the Mass is the most effective remedy for the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of our souls, our hope of salvation, our foretaste of the kingdom to come. So many people today don’t have a funeral, even when they know that is what their parent or grandparent or loved one would have wanted, because they are uncomfortable. Maybe they haven’t been to Mass in a while, or have even left the Church themselves. Please – allow us to provide the comfort and ease the uneasiness. We will help. It is too important a gift which we are easily able to provide, to pass it up.

So, it is the custom of the Church to celebrate Masses for the intention of all our dead. In this practice, the Catholic Church is the only one which has maintained this ancient Spiritual Work of Mercy. We speak in general terms, because we must pray for all those we know, as well as for those we don’t. We must include our friends and our enemies in this plan. And especially we must not forget those who are forgotten or have no one to pray for them.

Did you know that Halloween began as a special eve (vigil) of all the saints (all the “hallowed”)? It was a holy feastday vigil, far from what it has become today. It is the night before All Saints’ Day and the custom was to dress up as a saint. Popular customs for “the day of the dead” which you might hear about on the news are also cultural adaptations of what used to be a day of prayer and offering to God for the benefit of the poor souls who rely on our help. Many of these customs to pray for the dead were lost in the Reformation after 1517.

Here at St. Mary we will have a special holy day schedule of Masses for All Saints’ Day, with a vigil Mass on Thursday at 6pm and our usual Holy Day of Obligation schedule on Friday. On Saturday, All Souls’ Day we will have our usual Mass at 9am, and a special additional Mass at Noon. At this Mass we will remember in a special way all those who have died in the past year, and pray for them. We have invited the families and friends of all our departed brothers and sisters to come to this Mass.

We will also have a special rosary after the Noon Mass, led by our Magdalenes. Since we know not everyone is able to come to Mass at noon, we ask and hope that everyone in the parish will pray the rosary at the 1 o’clock hour for those who have died. Imagine the power of these prayers of an entire parish to help those souls who are relying on us for the resurrection on the last day.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ Oct. 20, 2013

It is not too late to turn in your Commitment Card. Mail it or bring it to the Parish Office. Thank you to all those who have responded.

Have you volunteered in the parish during the past year? Be sure to join us for the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Dinner this Thursday, October 24. Please RSVP to the Parish Office by Monday, October 21.

All boys and girls in 5th grade and above are invited to learn about being an Altar Server. Altar Server training begins on Tuesday, October 22. Contact Chris Lanzarone in the Parish Office or clanzarone@stmaryfred.org.

Come to the Council of Catholic Women Annual Bazaar and Bake Sale on October 26 & 27 – Lots of great gifts for Christmas!

All Saints Day (Friday, Nov. 1) is a Holy Day of Obligation. Our Masses are at 6pm on October 31, and 6:30 & 9am, 12 Noon, 6 & 7:30pm on November 1. All Night Adoration follows the 7:30pm Mass on November 1.

Remember to include your loved ones in our annual All Souls’ Day Novena of Masses. Envelopes were included in your bi-monthly envelope packet. Additional envelopes are available in the vestibule or in the Parish office.

SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.

Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 & 10:30 Masses.

From the Pastor ~ Oct. 20, 2013

Dear Good People of Saint Mary,

This fall I was able to attend the International Catholic Stewardship Conference in Dallas. There were many presentations about how to inspire parish communities to come to life spiritually and socially, to develop a healthy spirit of volunteerism, to start a fire for the spirit of peace and justice in our cities, to invite people to really get invested in the present and future of their church that sits at the heart of their lives.

It is a beautiful vision, the one where the Church is the heart of the community. But what about those who don’t hold the Church at the heart of their lives?

Or what do we do with the all-too-common experience of “I’ll go where they will give me what I want”? This is the modern-day megachurch model for many Christian communities, one that turns the faith / religion / church biz into a kind of consumerism where I will support and give as long as I feel my investment is providing sufficient returns to me. What we are seeing is the advent of churches whose sole purpose is to help me feel good about myself, to help me justify subjective opinion, to turn the gift of faith into whatever I want it to be, as long as it seems to work for me. We want a homily that challenges us just enough and makes us think some, but not too much. And it has to be politically correct. Do you see how the self is the center of this whole description? The so-called Gospel of Prosperity (which is so popular today) actually teaches that Jesus wants you to be rich, and powerful, and happy, and people are flocking to it.

Studies show that a lot of Catholics are turning to these churches, but they don’t last long there. The biggest problem is, when they decide to move on again, they generally don’t land in another church home. They become unchurched. On one level, I think this is so because they realize how difficult it is to replace the ancient truth with a new opinion. The truth is a hard act to follow.

So, back to this idea of consumerism. One of the speakers at the conference spoke about how unhealthy it is to always be validating parish ministry with progress reports. It doesn’t make sense to create ministry for ministry’s sake if there isn’t the heart behind it in the community to will it into being. Nor can a pastor just decide that a parish is going to be kind, compassionate, gentle, generous and pious. He can guide, and mentor, but not make it up, or force it to happen.

In the same way, he said, do away with all fundraising. Don’t conceal the integrity of peoples’ giving spirit by handing them a candy bar or a lottery ticket, or even an engraved plaque. I had never really thought about this before, because I’ve always known fundraisers and just regarded them as a “necessary evil.” No, he said, just let people give. If they don’t, then you just won’t have. This is honest.

When you invite people to dinner, invite those who could never return the favor, taught Jesus. Give, and don’t count the cost, and don’t expect any return. In these teachings he was describing himself, and then calls us to follow him.

But he isn’t talking about money here. In a way, it would be a whole lot easier if he were just talking about money. But when it comes to the life of faith, and we approach his altar, it isn’t with a wallet that he calls us up, but with our hearts and hands open, and our life’s accomplishments and failures, with our daily gladness and difficulties. He asks us to bring all that up and make our offering. He asks us to give ourselves back to him, since he gave it all to us in the first place. Generosity will over flow into the collection basket, too, but only as an effect of the relationship that sits at the heart of our lives, which we call “church.” Otherwise we are simulating an effect without realizing what caused it to be; what caused us to be, and to be here in this place and time, fully, actively and consciously his.

God bless you.

Fr. Don

Express Announcements ~ Oct. 13, 2013

Thank you to all those who have turned in their Commitment Cards. If you haven’t responded yet, there is still time! You may mail your card or bring it to the Parish Office.

Join us for our TAIZE Ecumenical Prayer Service this Monday 8:15-9pm in Church.

There are no Religious Education Classes this week. Students are required to attend one of the Teaching Masses being offered on Tuesday or Thursday.

The All Souls Novena begins November 2. Envelopes are in your packets, and are also available in the Parish Office and in Church.

Columbus Day is Monday, October 14. The Parish Office will be closed.

SCRIP is on sale in the Parish Life Center after all Masses except Saturday 7pm and Sunday 2pm. Please use SCRIP, and a percentage of what you spend will be applied to our school.

Sunday Coffee Shop is open this weekend after the 7, 8:30 & 10:30 Masses.

Watch here, please, in future bulletins for the latest news of the week, and stay tuned for updates in our parish website soon that will improve our communication with you
online: www.stmaryfred.org.