Monday, August 31, 2020

When Priests show support to their brother Priest

From New Orleans and Violet and Marrero to Ragley LA (near Lake Charles) after Hurricane Laura; a great story thanks to our Clarion Herald:

We all must continue to help our brothers and sisters in need from this terrible hurricane.

Septembers first Saint of the Day

St. Giles, Abbot

Feastday: September 1
Patron: of beggars; blacksmiths; breast cancer; breast feeding; cancer patients; disabled people; Edinburgh (Scotland); epilepsy; fear of night; noctiphobics; forests; hermits; horses; lepers; mental illness; outcasts; poor peoples; rams; spur makers; sterility
Birth: 650
Death: 710

Image of St. Giles, Abbot
St. Giles, Abbot (Patron of Physically Disabled) Feast day - September 1
St. Giles is said to have been a seventh century Athenian of noble birth. His piety and learning made him so conspicuous and an object of such admiration in his own country that, dreading praise and longing for a hidden life, he left his home and sailed for France. At first he took up his abode in a wilderness near the mouth of the Rhone river, afterward near the river Gard, and, finally, in the diocese of Nimes.
He spend many years in solitude conversing only with God. The fame of his miracles became so great that his reputation spread throughout France. He was highly esteemed by the French king, but he could not be prevailed upon to forsake his solitude. He admitted several disciples, however, to share it with him. He founded a monastery, and established an excellent discipline therein. In succeeding ages it embraced the rule of St. Benedict. St. Giles died probably in the beginning of the eighth century, about the year 724.

A new Bishop helper for the Bishop of Rome

Pope writing a letter

Pope Names New Auxiliary Bishop of Rome

‘Fr. Gervasi Enjoys All of Our Esteem & Affection,’ & ‘We Know His Great Love for the Lord & Church,’ Says Vicar General of Rome, Cardinal De Donatis

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Pope Francis has named Father Dario Gervasi as new auxiliary bishop of Rome.
The appointment was announced in a bulletin of the Holy See Press Office this Monday, Aug. 31, 2020, stating: “The Holy Father has appointed as Auxiliary Bishop of Rome, Father Dario Gervasi, pastor of the Parish of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ, assigning him the titular see of Subaugusta.”
Born in Rome on May 9, 1968, Dario Gervasi would complete his studies at the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary. After his priestly ordination in May 1994, he continued his studies in Dogmatic Theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University where he obtained a licentiate.
The new auxiliary bishop has held various positions: Parish Vicar in the Parishes of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Trionfale and Santi Gioacchino and Anna; later parish priest in the parish of Saints Joachim and Anna, Vice Rector of the Pontifical Roman Major Seminary, Person in charge of the Work for Priestly Vocations of the Vicariate of Rome and Deputy of the Congregation of Missionaries of the Imperial Borromeo Institute.
Most recently, he has been serving as parish priest of the Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ Parish and Prefect of ‘Prefecture #17’ in Rome.
“Father Dario,” Cardinal De Donatis, Vicar General of Rome, says, “enjoys the esteem and affection of all of us. We know his love for the Lord and for the Church, for our diocese, his sense of responsibility, his humanity, the joviality and serenity that he transmits to everyone.”
“We wish him to continue with enthusiasm and passion which characterize him the delicate mission in the Southern sector and in the diocesan family pastoral, in the wake of the bishops who preceded him in recent years.”
Fr. Gervasi says, “I’m still a little dazed by joy and incredulous,” but also “very happy” to continue serving where he has been, to keep trying “to serve the Lord Jesus.”
“It is important,” he noted, “to remember to keep a look of faith, to entrust ourselves to
Christ the Lord, remind us that He is with us and is close to us so that we can give the witness of
our Christian life.”
“This is true for all of Rome, for everyone; together we can be the face of the Church of today, that knows how to face even difficult moments but with a deep spirit of faith, a gaze that know how to see beyond appearances.”

Pray with the Pope in September

The Pope's Monthly Intentions for 2020

September 2020

Respect for the Planet's Resources

We pray that the planet's resources will not be plundered, but shared in a just and respectful manner.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

For August; our last Saint of the Day

St. Aidan of Lindisfarne

Image of St. Aidan of Lindisfarne
Aidan of Lindisfarne, born in Ireland, may have studied under St. Senan before becoming a monk at Iona. At the request of King Oswald of Northumbria, Aidan went to Lindisfarne as bishop and was known throughout the kingdom for his knowledge of the Bible, his learning, his eloquent preaching, his holiness, his distaste for pomp, his kindness to the poor, and the miracles attributed to him. He founded a monastery at Lindisfarne that became known as the English Iona and was a center of learning and missionary activity for all of northern England. He died in 651 at the royal castle at Bamburgh.

The week ahead after the week of two hurricanes


Will they ever return to Mass? Will Covid19 impact church attendance and for how long?

Why Bother Going to Mass?

Voiced by Amazon Polly
When I was working as a chaplain at a Catholic high school, the parents of a ninth-grade boy made an appointment to see me. Jimmy was a bright, good-looking and popular student from a respectable Presbyterian family. Mother and father turned up on time, neatly dressed, and well-mannered. After some small talk, Jimmy’s mother expressed her concerns.
“Father, we’re very concerned about Jimmy…” She looks to husband here for moral support. “We’re worried. Aren’t we, dear?”
Husband nods dutifully.
“I see. What seems to be the problem?” I ask.

“We’re concerned about his spiritual life and think you may be able to help. Jimmy likes you and might listen to you.”
“Okay. I’ll do what I can. Can you tell me a bit more?”
“Jimmy has announced that he is not going to go to church anymore.” Mother begins to sniffle.
“You’re Presbyterians, correct?”
“That’s right, Father.”
“Does he say why he doesn’t want to go to church?”
Dad speaks up, “He says he can read the Bible and pray just as well at home in his room.”
“I see.” I’m thinking for a moment, and then I reply, “Well, Jimmy’s right, isn’t he?”
This is not the reply Mother wants. Father suddenly sits forward and is interested.
“What do you mean Father?” says Mother, quite flustered.
“What I mean to say is that Jimmy is right. He can sit at home just as well and read the Bible and pray. Let me ask you a question. Does your Church teach that you must attend church to get to heaven?”
“Well, no, not exactly,” hesitates Mother.
“I was brought up in your kind of religion, and as I remember it all you needed to do was get saved, right? You don’t have to go to church.”
“Yes, I suppose that’s right. But Jimmy really ought to come with us to church, shouldn’t he?”
“Don’t get me wrong. I do think it would be better for Jimmy to go to church than not go to church. But he’s a smart kid, and I think he has figured something out which is true. We Catholics have a different take on it. Would you like to hear about that?”
Now Father is really interested, and Mother sits back somewhat alarmed. Dad says, “Yes. What’s your take on it?”
“We say a Catholic has to go to church every Sunday because he or she is supposed to accept the Lord Jesus by participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, and you can’t do that at home on your own. You need a priest. In John, chapter six, Jesus says, ‘Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood you do not have life within you.’ So to get to heaven you have to go to church. That’s why Catholics have a rule that you have to go.”
Dad leans forward, “That’s really interesting, Father. I’d like to know more!”
At this point, Mother terminates the conversation thanking me politely for my help, and if I remember correctly Jimmy was withdrawn from the school soon after.
I tell that story because there have been a good number of articles circulating about the post-Covid-19 Church. Most writers have predicted that many of the Christians—both Catholic and Protestant alike—who have got out of the habit of church-going are unlikely to return. I think they’re right about that. Covid-19 will have single-handedly brought about the leaner, smaller, more committed Church that Cardinal Ratzinger predicted some decades ago.
While I think this prediction is accurate, what many commentators have missed is the reason why it is accurate. Many Christians—both Catholic and Protestant—will have asked themselves the same question ninth-grade Jimmy asked and come up with the same answer. “Church? Why bother?”
The monster under the bed here is moralistic, therapeutic Deism. Across America for the last fifty or sixty years, Christian leaders have very quietly substituted a placebo religion for the vital, supernatural, revealed religion that is authentic Christianity. As others have observed, this counterfeit Christianity is all about rules for respectability, a bland moral code, and making the world a better place. It’s doubled with pragmatic advice on spirituality, relationships, and life, and all of it is backed with a vague belief in a benign sugar daddy in the sky who will make everything nice one day.
Because twenty-first-century Christianity has been reduced to this cotton candy, a multitude of ninth-grade Jimmys have concluded that you don’t have to go to church for that sort of religion. You can learn about being nice and respectable at the country club. You can make the world a better place if you feel inclined by volunteering at the soup kitchen, and you can feel spiritual about the great Spirit in the Sky by perhaps lighting a scented candle or watching a beautiful sunrise. Why get up early on a Sunday to drag yourself off to a dreary auditorium to sing religious Joan Baez songs or ersatz Broadway music about Jesus, and then listen to a mediocre pep talk by a fat, aging pastor?
I’m on Jimmy’s side.
Lurking behind the possible (and perhaps inevitable) post-Covid-19 crash in church attendance is a disastrous loss of faith. This is not simply a case of individuals losing their faith, but a whole Christian Church and Christian nation losing their faith by falling for a sentimental substitute—a rationalistic pablum of bromides, which is not only not Christianity, it’s not even a religion.
Religion at all times, and in all places, and for all people everywhere down through history, in whatever form it has taken, has been about mankind’s encounter with the divine. Whether it was Aztecs decapitating their victims or Buddhist monks meditating on a holy mountain, or whether it was a Jehovah’s Witness witnessing or an Amazonian smudging for Pachamama, religion was about our meeting with the other side. America will stop going to church because what they have been given is no longer religion, and people don’t like being sold a bill of goods. They don’t go to a steakhouse for a veggie burger.
The most distressing thing about this very bad news is my personal impression that the vast majority of American Catholics have also come to believe in this bogus version of Christianity. From the church life I have observed among Catholics—from the lamentable level of catechesis to the thick-headed modernism amongst clergy and academics—this same moralistic, therapeutic Deism has spread like a noxious cancer throughout the Church. It would be interesting to ask American Catholics why exactly they should go to church. How many would say, “Because only there can I receive the saving body and blood of my Lord Jesus Christ?”
What will survive of this debacle? I am convinced that Catholicism in the second half of the twenty-first century will be mystical, mythological, and miraculous, or it will be nothing at all. What will survive is authentic religion. Traditional worship will survive, but not because the priest wears a fiddleback chasuble and holds his hands just so, or the ladies wear veils to church. It will survive because traditionalists believe in the mystical, the mythological, and the miraculous. Charismatic religion from Africa and Asia will survive, too, but not because they sing in tongues, dance to the jungle drum, and have long sermons. It will survive because they believe in the mystical, the mythological, and the miraculous.
What will die out? Jimmy’s mother’s Church, with its bland respectability and self-righteous message of social justice. That’s the form of Christianity—both Catholic and Protestant—which is at the end of its lifespan. May it rest in peace

Homily 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time

The great actor Jack Nicholson is remembered in part for uttering this line in the movie A Few Good Men: you can't handle the truth.

The great radio icon heard nationally Paul Harvey ended every broadcast with these words: and now you know the rest of the story.

Today Jesus gives us the full blown truth and we forever know the rest of the story.

Jesus will always tell the truth; Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.

In today's Gospel we move on from what we heard last week: the confession of Peter, Jesus declaring Peter as Rock, establishing His Church and the promise that the Church will endure forever.  Now, Jesus tells his friends the rest of the story: that he must suffer greatly, be killed and on the third day be raised.  Jesus is revealing in this passage the full truth of the Father's plan of salvation.  Yet Peter, hearing with human ears rejects this idea: God forbid, not on my watch, this will not happen to you.  And then we hear Jesus reply: Get behind me Satan, you are an obstacle to me.  My goodness, from Rock to Satan and obstacle in one Gospel passage, in one week's Gospel reading.  What happened?  What did Peter do, what did he say?  It's not really complicated, it's very simple actually: Jesus must be guided by the Truth, He is the Truth and Jesus must fulfill the plan of the Father.  The fullness of Truth requires no obstacle, no human action or declaration to stand in His way.  Jesus is speaking Truth in Love, even if, on first hearing it, seems harsh.

St. Paul hints at this in today's 2nd reading: do not be conformed to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind that you may discern the will of God; good, pleasing and perfect.  This is what Jesus is telling us in this Gospel do not fall in love with the truth of the world only but transform to the fullness of Truth found only in the plan and will of God the Father.  We are people of faith, we can handle the truth, we can handle the rest of the story.  And yes we can take up our cross and follow the Truth.

For a moment I want to redirect as we acknowledge this weekend the arrival of Katrina 15 years ago.  Many of us experienced this event with devastating consequences and many of us will never forgot.  Some may be living here on the Northshore and members of our parish family because you eventually moved here post Katrina.  We have come a long way since August 2005.  Despite all the devastation and even death, what I remember most is the outpouring of generosity, kindness, love and support.  I remember, once the power came back, sitting in a packed church during Mass at St. Jane and Fr. Robert asked for a show of hands of the people in the church because they could not go home, or perhaps would never go home.  Over half the hands in our church went up.  And now, 15 years later, those hands represent the growth and the many robust ministries of our parish family; and most importantly they all are our family!

A few short days ago Hurricane Laura came calling to our neighbors to the west.  The devastation in Cameron Parish and Lake Charles is overwhelming.  Bishop Provost of the Diocese of Lake Charles has reported a disaster, one that won't change in the foreseeable future.  The Bishop further reports every single parish church damaged, a few catastrophically and a major Catholic High School destroyed.  Even the Bishops of the Dioceses of Lafayette, Alexandria, and Shreveport are reporting physical damages.  Lake Charles, Lafayette, Alexandria and Shreveport were all places who came to our aid in 2005.  These places housed our family and friends, kept us fed and prayed and cared for us.  Dear friends, it's our turn.  We are ramping up efforts right now for supplies to be delivered to St. Jane Hall and to accept gifts of cash donations.  Archbishop Aymond is doing the same on an Archdiocesan level.  Catholic Charities is already up and running to support our fellow Louisiana citizens now experiencing what we experienced.  While there are many worthwhile avenues to donate in times like these please consider these efforts I've mentioned.  Remember Catholic Charities assists anyone and everyone as do the charitable arms of our Catholic dioceses.

Before there is recovery and return we all know there is the devastation and the hard work.  We are reminded then that before Resurrection there is Crucifixion, Jesus declared he would rise in today's Gospel but first there is suffering and death.

We embrace the whole truth, we embrace the rest of the story, we rise to the challenge and we restore hope to those in need because this is the will of the Father, good and pleasing and perfect.  Amen

Papal Angelus Address 08.30.2020

© Vatican Media

Holy Father’s Address at Angelus Prayer

‘The cross is the Holy Sign of God’s Love and of Jesus’ Sacrifice’

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Pope Francis before today’s Angelus in St. Peter’s Square commented on the Gospel of the day (Mt 16:21-27) in which Jesus explains his passion that is to come and the need for the disciples to follow him in suffering.
“Considering this, we allow the cross hanging on the wall at home or that little one that we wear around our neck, to be a sign of our wish to be united with Christ in lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and most fragile,” the Holy Father said. “The cross is the holy sign of God’s Love and of Jesus’ Sacrifice and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace. ”

Before the Angelus

 Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
Today’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 16:21-27) is linked to that of last Sunday (cf. Mt 16:13-20). After Peter, on behalf of the other disciples as well, has professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God, Jesus Himself begins to speak to them about His Passion. Along the path to Jerusalem, He openly explains to His friends what awaits Him at the end in the Holy City: He foretells the mystery of His death and Resurrection, of His humiliation and glory. He says that He will have to “suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and on the third day be raised” (Mt 16:21). But His words are not understood, because the disciples have a faith that is still immature and too closely tied to the mentality of this world (cf. Rom 12:2). They think of too earthly a victory, and therefore they do not understand the language of the cross.
At the prospect that Jesus may fail and die on the cross, Peter himself resists and says to Him: “God forbid, Lord! This shall never happen to you!” (v. 22). He believes in Jesus – Peter is like this, he has faith, he believes in Jesus, he believes – he wants to follow Him, but does not accept that His glory will pass through the Passion. For Peter and the other disciples – but for us too! – the cross is a stumbling block, a ‘hindrance’, whereas Jesus considers the ‘hindrance’ escaping the cross, which would mean avoiding the Father’s will, the mission that the Father has entrusted to Him for our salvation. For this reason, Jesus responds to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me; for you are not on the side of God, but of men” (v. 23). Ten minutes earlier, Jesus praised Peter, He promised him he would be the base of His Church, its foundation; ten minutes later He says to him, “Satan”. How can this be understood? It happens to us all! In moments of devotion, of fervor, of goodwill, of closeness to our neighbor, we look at Jesus and we go forward; but in moments in which we approach the cross, we flee. The devil, Satan – as Jesus says to Peter – tempts us. It typical of the evil spirit, it is typical of the devil to make us stray from the cross, from the cross of Jesus.
Addressing everyone then, Jesus adds: “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me” (v. 24). In this way He indicates the way of the true disciple, showing two attitudes. The first is ‘to renounce oneself’, which does not mean a superficial change, but a conversion, a reversal of mentality and of values. The other attitude is that of taking up one’s own cross.  It is not just a matter of patiently enduring daily tribulations, but of bearing with faith and responsibility that part of toil, and that part of suffering that the struggle against evil entails. The life of Christians is always a struggle. The Bible says that the life of Christians is a military undertaking: fighting against the evil spirit, fighting against Evil.
Thus the task of “taking up the cross” becomes participating with Christ in the salvation of the world. Considering this, we allow the cross hanging on the wall at home or that little one that we wear around our neck, to be a sign of our wish to be united with Christ in lovingly serving our brothers and sisters, especially the littlest and most fragile. The cross is the holy sign of God’s Love, it is a sign of Jesus’ Sacrifice, and is not to be reduced to a superstitious object or an ornamental necklace. Each timewe fix our gaze on the image of Christ crucified, let us contemplate that He, as the true Servant of the Lord, has accomplished His mission, giving life, spilling His blood for the pardoning of sins. And let us not allow ourselves to be drawn to the other side, by the temptation of the Evil One. As a result, if we want to be his disciples, we are called to imitate him, expending our life unreservedly out of love of God and neighbour.
May the Virgin Mary, united to her Son unto Calvary, help us not to retreat in the face of the trials and suffering that witnessing to the Gospel entails.
 After the Angelus
 Dear brothers and sisters,
The day after tomorrow, 1st September, is World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation. From this date, until 4 October, we will celebrate with our Christian brothers and sisters from various Churches and traditions the “Jubilee of the Earth”, to commemorate the establishment, 50 years ago, of Earth Day. I send my greeting to the various initiatives promoted in every part of the world and, among them, the Concert held today in the Cathedral of Port-Louis, capital of Mauritius, where unfortunately an environmental catastrophe has occurred recently.
I follow with concern the tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean area, which is under threat from various outbreaks of instability. I appeal, please, for constructive dialogue and respect for international law in order to resolve the conflicts that threaten the peace of the peoples of that region.
And I greet all of you gathered here today from Rome, Italy, and various countries. I see the flags there, and I greet the Religious Community of East Timor in Italy. Bravo, those of you with flags! The pilgrims from Londrina and Formosa, in Brazil; and the young people of Grantorto, diocese of Vicenza. Welcome! I also see Polish flags, I greet the Polish people; Argentine flags, also the Argentines. Welcome to you all!
I wish you all a blessed Sunday. Please do not forget to pray for me. Have a good lunch and arrivederci!