Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Transfiguration is meant for US

The scene of the Transfiguration recorded in this week’s Gospel is a pivotal moment in the life of Jesus and His disciples. Jesus had reached the point in His public ministry when He was being opposed by many of the religious leaders of the Jewish community, and the reaction of the crowds was far from enthusiastic acceptance of His teaching. He could count on a handful of faithful disciples only: His messianic career seemed to be a total failure. In addition, the hill of Calvary was looming before Him. He began to speak of it to His disciples around this time, and to them He offered the cross and a life of self-denial. This is more than apparent failure: it is a real stumbling block, where even the faith of the most loyal followers could be shattered.

Against this background, Jesus goes up the mountain with Peter, James and John and is transfigured before them. These three apostles (and through them, all of us) receive a glimpse of Our Lord’s divine glory shining through His humanity, and they hear the Father’s voice, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” Moses and Elijah, personifying the law and the prophets, appear and speak with Jesus about His approaching death — the “exodus that He was going to accomplish in Jerusalem,” an exodus to which the Old Testament points.

Christ’s transfiguration made a lasting impression on the apostles: It strengthened their faith and prepared them for the Lord’s death on the cross. This is how Our Lord always behaves toward those He loves: In the midst of the greatest sufferings and trials, He gives us the consolation and strength we need to keep going forward and never to doubt His promises to us. This is also the reason why the Church places this moment of the Transfiguration before us so early in the Lenten season. We are given hope that by persevering in our Lenten penance and mortification, we will come to share in the Lord’s glory. Through the discipline of Lent, we are being purified, and we experience our own transfiguration into the disciples Jesus calls us to be.

The flash of Jesus’ glory swept the apostles up into an experience of overwhelming joy. “Master, it is good that we are here,” Peter says. He wanted to make that moment last longer, but the Transfiguration came to an end, and the only person the apostles saw before them was Jesus: the Jesus whom they knew, who was sometimes tired, sometimes hungry, who tried to make Himself understood. They saw Our Lord without any special manifestations of glory.

This is the Jesus we must find in our ordinary life, in the midst of our work, on our streets, in our families, in the people around us, in our prayer. We have to find Him when He forgives us in the sacrament of penance, and above all, in the sacrament of the Eucharist, where He is truly, really and substantially present. Normally, Our Lord does not show Himself to us with any special revelation; instead, we have to find Him in our everyday activities and routines. We should never forget that the Jesus whom the three apostles were with on Mount Tabor is the same Jesus who is daily at our side. When He speaks, we should be ready to listen to Him; when He calls, we should be ready to follow. If crosses and trials appear in our lives, we should understand that He gives us the strength to bear them and not be defeated by them. The transfigured Lord of glory, the humble Jesus of Nazareth and the crucified victim of Calvary are one and the same. It is this Jesus who is constantly present to us, and how good it is that we can be with Him each day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Retreat Days for the Ladies

Today the Ladies of the CCW (Council of Catholic Women) sponsored a Lenten Day of Reflection for women entitled, "Daughters of God: do we really know who we are?" Karen Bruskewicz from Saint Catherine Laboure Parish in Harrisburg was the retreat director. It was a wonderful morning of sharing and prayer.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Father Bateman Issues Lenten Pastoral Letter

Each year, I try to write a pastoral letter for Lent to provide parishioners with a source of reflection and action during Lent. This year's letter has the theme of "welcome."
  • Welcoming those new Catholics who are part of the RCIA and will be initiated at the Easter Vigil.
  • Welcoming Inactive Catholics to come back to the practice of the Faith.
  • The welcome that Christ extends to each of us in the Sacrament of Penance (Confession).
  • Being a welcoming community where everyone feels "at home."
Read the entire pastoral letter here.

My dear brothers & sisters in Christ,.

In my years as pastor, I’ve developed a custom that I now bring to our parish of Saint Andrew the Apostle: a Lenten Pastoral Letter. Each year, in prayer, I strive to discern what might be an appropriate source of reflection and action for our parish during the coming season of Lent. Over the years the topics have been varied – from summaries of Papal Encyclicals to an explanation of the Sacrament of Reconciliation – each to address the concerns and needs of each parish at that particular moment in time.

For the past month or so, I’ve been praying about what might be the proper theme for this year’s pastoral letter. Several things have come together in the development of the theme: my being new in the parish and experiencing your wonderful welcome into your community; our Diocesan Marian Year (and one of the intentions – the return to the Church of non-practicing Catholics); working so closely this year with the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults – those who are studying and preparing to become members of our parish and the Catholic Church); and this season of Lent (during which we are all invited to return to the Lord; most especially through the celebration of the Sacrament of Reconciliation). As you can hear in these various experiences, the common theme is one of welcome, and so that seems to be the reflection that God is offering our parish this Lent – Welcome.

Before he was transferred by Pope Benedict XVI, Bishop Rhoades gifted our diocese with a Marian Year; a year in which we have been invited to walk with our Blessed Mother on our Pilgrimage of Faith, Hope and Love (see Bishop Rhoades’ Pastoral Letter for the Marian Year – still available in the church entryway). He also asked that, as a diocese, we remember very specific intentions. One of those intentions is worded like this: “Star of Evangelization, intercede for our brothers and sisters who have drifted away from the practice of the faith. Help them to hear the voice of the Holy Spirit and return home to the Catholic Church.” We all know people who were once part of our parish, but who – for various reasons and due to various circumstances – no longer practice their Catholic faith. Sometimes they are even members of our own family (children, siblings, even parents) who have left the Faith that we hold so dear.

Personally, I believe that in the years which followed the Second Vatican Council, we lost much of the clarity, mystery and culture of our Catholic Faith. This led to a time of great confusion in the lives of many Catholics – not because of the Council itself or its teachings, but because of the way in which the Council was interpreted or implemented. The Truths which many generations of American Catholics learned in the Baltimore Catechism were reinterpreted in an attempt to help us become more aware of how much God loves us. [For example, what used to be taught in this way: “Why did God make me? To know Him, love Him, serve Him in this life in order to be with Him in the next” became, much more simply, “God is love and will always love you.”] Both the new and old ways of teaching are True, but perhaps the way in which we sought to bring about a greater awareness of God’s love (which we needed) failed to teach several generations the basic theological Truths of our faith – Truths which have grounded many generations in the Catholic faith. Perhaps the new approach to teaching God’s love failed to instill in those same generations an awareness of the necessity and sacramentality of the Catholic Church, which made their departure from the practice of their faith easy, because there was no theological Truth in which they were grounded, no mystery in the liturgy which we celebrated, and no more Catholic culture which made us “different” from everyone else.

Inviting them to come home to the Church is one of our tasks as Catholics – and I propose it to our parish this Lent – that we do all we can, in prayer and in action, to welcome home those who no longer practice their Catholic faith. Prayer is the first thing we can do: as the intention for the Marian year says, praying to God that the Holy Spirit will speak to their hearts and that they will hear the Spirit’s call to come home. But there is much that we can do to invite them to come home. At Christmas, I sent each family the CD entitled 2 Minute Apologetics. I hope that, by now, you’ve had the chance to listen to it to learn more about our Faith. If you haven’t had the chance yet, maybe this Lent you can “pop it in” to listen and learn. How important it is for each of us to know our faith in order to be able to defend it. This requires our own study and reflection, however. Perhaps this Lent we could each spend some time in study – re-learning our Catholic Faith. Certainly the Catechism of the Catholic Church provides us a great tool for study. During this Lent, I’ll be offering various ways and opportunities for us to study our faith anew, thus learning again how much God loves us as we rediscover the beauty and integrity of the Magisterium of the Church. On Sundays when he is here, Deacon Rolling will be offering a course on the “Necessity of the Catholic Church” in the parish hall during CCD (between the 8am & 10:45am Masses). I’ll be offering a course on Fridays (following the Stations of the Cross) on the Sacraments. Watch the bulletin for announcements about the exact dates for both these opportunities to learn more about our Faith.

The season of Lent offers us other opportunities for welcome. If you’ve been attending the 10:45am Mass, you have seen the members of our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) called forward during Mass to “go forth and reflect more deeply” on the Scriptures which we heard. This season of Lent is an intense time of preparation for our Catechumens (those preparing for Baptism) and Candidates (those already baptized in other faith traditions, but who now seek to complete their Christian initiation by joining the Catholic Church). Many times over the years, the members of the RCIA have been told that they have been “loved into the Church.” How true that is. These men and women have found a welcome here in our community – they have found Truth in the Church’s teachings – and they have been nourished by joining in our liturgical life. Now, as a parish we prepare to officially welcome them into our community as they receive the Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil on April 3. As a parish family, we reach out to them now to officially welcome them as members of our parish family.

The welcome that is owed to these new members of our family of faith has been enshrined even in the Church’s liturgy. Washing the feet, as the first service to be rendered to a guest, was adopted into the Liturgy of Holy Thursday; and in the ancient rites of Baptism all the ceremonies that followed the administration of the Sacrament seem to constitute a pattern of hospitality – the feet of the new Christians were washed; their heads were anointed with oil; and milk and honey were set before them. The liturgy made use of these simple actions to signify the supreme hospitality of the divine host receiving a stranger into His Church. This welcome continues to be seen in the liturgy of the Easter Vigil as the presider, standing in the person of Christ, officially welcomes the new Catholics into the family of faith, often with an embrace.

There is a welcome that each of us can experience during this Lenten season – the welcome that Christ offers us in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Unfortunately, for some people, Confession is not an experience of welcome, but of fear. Confession is nothing to fear, but is a moment when, through the ministry of the priest, we are able to experience the love of God as He welcomes us back into His grace. The image of the Prodigal Son, which Jesus gives us in the Gospel, is truly apropos (see Luke 15:11-32). My favorite line of that Gospel passage is the one in which the son “comes to his senses” and realizes that he has offended his father. When the son does finally return home, his father is not angry with him, but has been looking for him, awaiting his return home. When the son confesses his guilt, the father simply embraces him and loves him. There’s no “you did what?” there’s no guilt – just a loving embrace and a “welcome home.” This is what each of us can experience in the Sacrament of Penance. During this Lent, I invite you to discover once again the Lord’s welcome to you – as He awaits you in the Sacrament of Penance. In addition to our regular confession hours (Saturday from 2:30-3:30pm; 1st Sunday of the month from 7-7:45am), there are penance services scheduled at various parishes in the area. We’ll be sure to let you know where and when.

One more welcome is important for our parish: the welcome we offer to one another each and every Sunday. I recently asked our Parish Pastoral Council to identify several areas that are of concern. One of those areas was “a sense of welcome for everyone who comes to our parish.” Many noted that the introduction to Mass which we began in September offers an initial welcome – but, as individuals, we need to extend that welcome to others. We all know that we have our “assigned seats” in church. We often get to know the people who are seated around us. But sometimes there’s someone we don’t know. Welcome them! Learn their names. Ask where they are from. Find out if there is some way that you can help them to feel “welcome” and at home.

Hospitality, offering welcome, has long been a hallmark of true Christianity, rooted in, among other things, the experience of Abraham in the plains of Mamre. “[Abraham] had a vision of the Lord, too, in the valley of Mamre, as he sat by his tent door at noon. He looked up, and saw three men standing near him; and, at the sight, he ran from his tent door to meet them, bowing down to the earth. Lord, he said, as thou lovest me, do not pass thy servant by; let me fetch a drop of water, so that you can wash your feet and rest in the shade. I will bring a mouthful of food, too, so that you can refresh yourselves before you go on further” (Genesis 18:1-5). Then, we see Abraham hastening to Sarah in the tent for three measure of meal; running to the byre, to fetch a calf, and giving it to his servant, “who made haste to cook it.” When all was prepared, “he stood there beside them in the shade of the trees” while they ate. These actions of Abraham, bowing before his unexpected guests, washing their feet, giving them bread to eat and milk to drink, embody the immemorial outward expression of hospitality.

In the earliest ages of the Church, great importance was attached to hospitality as one of the essential Christian virtues. Among those early Christians, hospitality was not merely a private virtue, but a feature of the public life of the organized hierarchical community. Any Christian stranger would find hospitality awaiting them in every parish.

Perhaps this is why our Pastoral Council has identified “hospitality” and “welcome” as a priority. There are always opportunities for us, as a parish family, to be more welcoming and hospitable, most especially to strangers and newcomers. It is a sad reality of our western culture that we have become very inhospitable. There’s a story of a Chinese pilgrim who was on his way from Peking to Rome on foot. The nearer he came, unfortunately, the less hospitality he found. In Central Asia there was no trouble at all; his journey through the Slavonic territories was fair enough; but once he got into the Latin countries he had, as they say, “had it.” It is a painful reminder that our Western culture, (and unfortunately even our Western, Latin Church) is rather deficient in this particular virtue today. If contemporary Christians are inhospitable, our Christianity can hardly be more than just skin-deep. If we are inhospitable, even here in our own parish, how well are we putting our faith into action?

Maybe this Lent, we can reflect on the ways in which we could go outside of ourselves to welcome the stranger and the newcomer. We all know when there is someone new at Mass (because we’re all in our “normal” seats). How can we reach out? How can we be welcoming? How can we make them feel a part of our parish family? After all, isn’t this sense of welcome and belonging and hospitality what Jesus came to bring? St. John put it this way, “Jesus was to die…not only for that nations’ sake, but so as to bring together into one all God’s children, scattered far and wide” (John 11:51-52).

This Lent, may we focus our lives on how to live hospitality – remembering that it is not only one-way: hospitality involves a receiving as well as a giving. God first called us into His life, into His Mystical Body, and into this parish family. It is in this exchange that we also experience an aspect of the communion of saints in heaven. It means opening and broadening the narrow circles in which we live and move, establishing channels of human communication, through which the life-giving Spirit of Christ may freely flow. We cannot fulfill our obligations merely by taking in strangers who come our way: we must sometimes be strangers ourselves in the way of others. This is, in fact, the link between hospitality and mission.

May our mission, our reaching out, be an expression of genuine, Christian hospitality and welcome. May we allow ourselves BE welcomed by Christ as we come to Him in the Sacraments – most especially in the Sacrament of Penance. This Lent, in word and song and action, may we learn more about our Faith and become the welcoming (and welcomed) family of faith that Christ came to establish here on earth.

God bless you all during this Holy Season of Lent.

Monday, February 22, 2010

RCIA celebrates Rite of Election / Call to Continuing Conversion

The Rite of Election marks the beginning of the final, intensive period of preparation of catechumens (those not baptized) for the sacraments of initiation, celebrated at the Easter Vigil.
During the ceremony, the church, through the person of the bishop or his representative (in our case – since we have no bishop right now – our Diocesan Administrator, the Very Reverend Chester Snyder), “elects” the catechumens, declaring that they will receive the sacraments of initiation at the vigil. From the time of the Rite of Election until the time of their initiation, the catechumens are referred to as “members of the elect.

The ritual corresponds with the beginning of Lent. This year, the rite was celebrated yesterday, February 21 at 3pm in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, Harrisburg. Because there is always a great number of people joining our Catholic Church, we actually have two celebrations of the rite (another at 7pm).

Also during that ceremony we celebrated the “Call to Continuing Conversion,” in which those individuals already baptized who are preparing for entrance into the Catholic Church are recognized and encouraged to continue their spiritual preparation.

The RCIA (the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) actually is comprised of 4 separate periods of formation:


The first stage is called the period of inquiry (or the precatechumenate). This is when the individual first expresses an interest in becoming a Christian or a Catholic, and begins to explore, with the help of the parish community, what his or her relationship with Christ might be and how that might be enriched and deepened by joining this Christian community. There is no liturgical rite to mark the beginning of this stage. This period of inquiry may last several months or several years and ends either when the inquirer decides against continuing in this direction or when the inquirer feels ready to move on and the community is prepared to welcome him or her.


The second stage is called the catechumenate and, for the unbaptized listed above, who are now called catechumens, should last no less than one full year. For the baptized but uncatechized the period should be a similar length. For the candidates for full communion, this stage could well be much shorter. The Rite of Acceptance into the Order of Catechumens and the Rite of Welcoming mark the beginning of this stage, and our parish celebrated this rite back in September. Catechesis for this period is rooted in the Lectionary and the Word as it is proclaimed in the midst of the community (which is why they are ordinarily “dismissed” from the 10:45am Mass to continue “breaking open the Word”). This is also a time for the catechumen or candidate to learn how to live as a Catholic Christian. This period ends when the catechumens and candidates express their desire to receive the sacraments of initiation and the community acknowledges their readiness.

Purification and Enlightenment

The third stage is the period of purification and enlightenment is what they celebrated yesterday, the First Sunday of Lent. During this time the elect (formerly the catechumens) and the candidates enter into a period of intense preparation and prayer which includes the three public celebrations of the scrutinies and is marked by the presentations of the Creed (8am on Saturday, March 13) and the Lord's Prayer 8am on Saturday, March 27). This period ends with the celebration of baptism, confirmation, and Eucharist at the Easter Vigil. (Note: only the elect are baptized. All the groups are confirmed and welcomed to the Table of the Eucharist.)


The fourth stage is the period of post baptismal catechesis or mystagogy. At this time, the newly initiated explore their experience of being fully initiated through participation with all the faithful at Sunday Eucharist and through appropriate catechesis. The period formally lasts through the Easter season and may be marked by a parish celebration on or near Pentecost. On a more informal level, mystagogy is a lifelong process, one that all Christians are engaged in, as we all work to deepen our sense of what it means to live the Christian life.

Interested? Want to learn more?

Then just contact us! Peg Wagaman (our parish DRE) or I will be happy to discuss with you the specifics of the initiation process here at Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish. Know that the prayers of a 65 million Catholics in the United States and the 1.2 Billion Catholics around the world are with you as you complete your journey. God be with you!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Parish Knights of the Holy Temple Initiated

Tonight, before Stations of the Cross, our parish Knights of the Holy Temple group was formally initiated into the Fraternity. You've probably already seen them serving at Masses. The Knights of the Holy Temple is a group specifically for young, high school age men. The purpose of the group is to provide young men an opportunity to contribute to the life of the parish in a meaningful manner. In addition, the Knights afford young men the opportunity to delve more deeply into Truths of the Christian Faith and attend to their own spiritual formation.

Their formation includes:
  • A deep reverence and devotion to Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and service to the poor;
  • A profound commitment to protecting and fostering the Culture of Life;
  • An environment for leadership development, Christian fellowship, and prayer support;
  • Vocational discernment for the priesthood, consecrated life, or married life;
  • Encouragement to properly live the faith both privately and publicly.
There are 8 Knights chapters in various parts of Indiana, one in Lewistown, PA, and now one here in Waynesboro.

The Stations of the Cross

For Roman Catholics throughout the world, the Stations of the Cross are synonymous with Lent, Holy Week and, especially, Good Friday. This devotion is also known as the "Way of the Cross", the "Via Crucis", and the "Via Dolorosa." It commemorates 14 key events on day of Christ's crucifixion. The majority concern His final walk through the streets of Jerusalem, carrying the Cross.

The Stations originated in medieval Europe when wars prevented Christian pilgrims from visiting the Holy Land. European artists created works depicting scenes of Christ's journey to Calvary. The faithful installed these sculptures or paintings at intervals along a procession route, inside the parish church or outdoors. Performing the devotion meant walking the entire route, stopping to pray at each "station."

Today, images of the Stations (or simple crosses representing them) are on display in almost all Catholic churches. They serve mainly as a focus for Lenten worship services. But the Stations can also be performed privately, at any time of the year, even at home. Many organizations offer free or inexpensive, illustrated pamphlets for this purpose.
The following are the principal regulations universally in force at the present time with regard to the Stations:
  • There should if possible be a separate meditation on each of the fourteen incidents of the Via Crucis, not a general meditation on the Passion nor on other incidents not included in the Stations. No particular prayers are ordered;

  • The distance required between the Stations is not defined. Even when only the clergy move from one Station to another the faithful can still gain the indulgence without moving;

  • It is necessary to make all the Stations uninterruptedly (S.C.I., 22 January, 1858). Hearing Mass or going to Confession or Communion between Stations is not considered an interruption. According to many the Stations may be made more than once on the same day, the indulgence may be gained each time; but this is by no means certain (S.C.I., 10 Sept., 1883). Confession and Communion on the day of making the Stations are not necessary provided the person making them is in a state of grace;

  • Ordinarily the Stations should be erected within a church or public oratory. If the Via Crucis goes outside, e.g., in a cemetery or cloister, it should if possible begin and end in the church.

In conclusion it may be safely asserted that there is no devotion more richly endowed with indulgences than the Way of the Cross, and none which enables us more literally to obey Christ's injunction to take up our cross and follow Him. A perusal of the prayers usually given for this devotion in any manual will show what abundant spiritual graces, apart from the indulgences, may be obtained through a right use of them, and the fact that the Stations may be made either publicly or privately in any church renders the devotion specially suitable for all. One of the most popularly attended Ways of the Cross at the present day is that in the Colosseum at Rome, where every Friday the devotion of the Stations is conducted publicly by a Franciscan Father.

If you'd like to make the stations "online" - here are several options.

And there are MANY others out there. As we celebrate our First Friday of Lent, don't forget to make the Stations part of your day.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Is Lent all about Sacrifice - or is it about Love?

This is the question that I've been pondering in my prayer as late - and if you've been listening to me preach the past week, you know that. I always used to think of Lent as that time that I "gave up" ice cream or chocolate - when I suffered and sacrificed. But now, perhaps it's age, I don't see it as sacrifice and suffering anymore - oh, sure, it's still there. However, now Lent is much more about learning better how to LOVE. Isn't that really what the cross was all about?

Jesus' death on the cross was the ultimate expression of His Love for us. His Paschal Sacrifice on Calvary is the way that He proves His total, life-giving, sacrificial Love for each of us. Our sharing in the cross is, then, our way of loving Him in return.

In the Gospel this morning, Jesus tells us to "take up our cross daily and follow Him." DAILY we need to embrace the cross - not just the big things, but the very little things every day. Embracing the cross, lovingly, is the way to true happiness and joy - and ultimately, holiness. I found this in my prayerbook today, the little one I read every day:

"One of the clearest symptoms of lukewarmness having entered into a soul abandoning of the Cross, a contempt for little mortifications, a scorning of anything that in some way involves sacrifice and self-denial. On the other hand, to flee from the Cross is to turn one's back on holiness and joy; because one of the fruits of the mortified soul is just this capacity to relate to God and other people, and also a profound peace, even in the midst of tribulations and exsternal difficulties. The person who abandons mortification is inevitably ensnared by his senses and become incapable of any supernatural thought." In Conversation with God; Volume 2; Page 8.

That's what we want to AVOID this Lent - forgetting the Cross. This is what our Lenten Penances and Sacrifices are about - to learn to LOVE the Cross - to become Holy - to follow in Jesus' steps each day, carrying our own crosses.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Music and Reflection to begin Lent

As Lent begins today, and we've all received our ashes, here's a beautiful piece of music (Psalm 51 - Miserere) to aid in your reflections. The images are beautiful - and the text is translated for you (maybe best viewed "full screen."

And some reflection on Psalm 51 as we begin this holy season:


Sin abounds, but how best to approach it? At any given moment a person may benefit from a different angle on sin—a theological definition, a consideration of a particular fault, a portrayal of the horror of sin, or a reflection on God's infinite mercy.

Perhaps it makes most sense to begin with The Catechism of the Catholic Church which gives us an overview of the nature of sin, its categories, and its implications, all in a relatively short space for such a vast topic!

After gaining a basic understanding, we will wish to become more personally aware of our own sinfulness. Psalm 51 is the famous Miserere, a sinner's plea to God for mercy. Meditate on it along with Pope John Paul II's brief commentary listed below.

Then you can go one of two ways. Interested in compelling spiritual reading? Try St. Francis de Sales' Introduction to the Devout Life. Or, for a more thorough academic exploration of the Church's standard theology of sin, turn to the extensive article on Sin in the early twentieth-century Catholic Encylopedia.

If you only have time to look at three things, LOOK AT THESE.

  1. Brief Instruction on the Nature of Sin (from the Catechism)
  2. Meditation on the Miserere (Psalm 51)
  3. An Academic Exploration

And if you've got more time...

If you can take time for a longer study, search for "Sin Consequences" on this web site and, from the results, choose the eight chapters of Henry Edward Manning's 1986 book Sin and Its Consequences. This covers not only sin but temptation, grace and the sacrament of penance, Christ's abandonment to sin on the Cross, and the joys of the Resurrection.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Preparing for Ash Wednesday and Lent

Well, it’s upon us. Today we all eat those Fausnaughts and have our last taste of chocolate or ice cream (or whatever you give up for lent). Tomorrow, our penance and fasting and prayer begins in earnest.

Masses for Ash Wednesday will be at 6:30am, 9:30am and 7pm. There will also be an ecumenical prayer service at the chapel at PSU Mont Alto at 2pm.

Oh, and don't forget that Ash Wednesday is a required day of fasting and abstinence for all Catholics. That means no meat for anyone age 14 and older. It means no meat for everyone between the ages of 18 and 59. It also means no snacks and that there should be only one full meal – and two smaller ones if desired.

Ash Wednesday

The time has now come in the Church year for the solemn observance of the great central act of history, the redemption of the human race by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. In the Roman Rite, the beginning of the forty days of penance is marked with the austere symbol of ashes which is used in today's liturgy. The use of ashes is a survival from an ancient rite according to which converted sinners submitted themselves to canonical penance. The Alleluia and the Gloria are suppressed until Easter.

Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on all Fridays during Lent. This applies to all persons 14 and older. The law of fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday applies to all Catholics from age 18 through age 59.

At the beginning of Lent, on Ash Wednesday, ashes are blessed during Mass, after the homily. The blessed ashes are then "imposed" on the faithful as a sign of conversion, penance, fasting and human mortality. The ashes are blessed at least during the first Mass of the day, but they may also be imposed during all the Masses of the day, after the homily, and even outside the time of Mass to meet the needs of the faithful. Priests or deacons normally impart this sacramental, but instituted acolytes, other extraordinary ministers or designated lay people may be delegated to impart ashes, if the bishop judges that this is necessary. The ashes are made from the palms used at the previous Passion Sunday ceremonies. — Ceremonies of the Liturgical Year, Msgr. Peter J. Elliott

The act of putting on ashes symbolizes fragility and mortality, and the need to be redeemed by the mercy of God. Far from being a merely external act, the Church has retained the use of ashes to symbolize that attitude of internal penance to which all the baptized are called during Lent. — Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

From the very early times the commemoration of the approach of Christ's passion and death was observed by a period of self-denial. St. Athanasius in the year 339 enjoined upon the people of Alexandria the 40 days' fast he saw practiced in Rome and elsewhere, "to the end that while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a laughing stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure in those days." On Ash Wednesday in the early days, the Pope went barefoot to St. Sabina's in Rome "to begin with holy fasts the exercises of Christian warfare, that as we do battle with the spirits of evil, we may be protected by the help of self-denial."

Daily Missal of the Mystical Body

Things to Do:

  • Go with your family to receive ashes at Mass today. Leave them on your forehead as a witness to your faith.
  • Today parents should encourage their children to reflect upon what regular penances they will perform throughout this season of Lent. Ideally, each member of the family should choose his own personal penance as well as some good act that he will perform (daily spiritual reading, daily Mass, extra prayers, almsgiving, volunteer work, housecleaning, etc.), and the whole family may wish to give up one thing together (TV, movies, desserts) or do something extra (family rosary, Holy Hour, etc.).
  • The use of Sacrifice Beans may help children to keep track of their Lenten penances. Some families begin this activity (with undyed beans!) on Ash Wednesday and then use the collected beans to cook a penitential bean dish for Good Friday at the end of Lent.
  • Read the Holy Father's 2010 Message for Lent.
  • Read Fr. Bateman’s Pastoral Letter for Lent (which will be arriving in your mailbox in the next few days).

Monday, February 15, 2010

Alexa Ochoa Makes First Holy Communion

On Sunday, February 14, as we celebrated our love for one another on Valentine's Day, one of our parishioners celebrated and received for the first time, the embodiment of Christ's love for us in the Holy Eucharist. Alexa has been preparing for some time, and all her work came to fruition in a wonderful celebration. Our parish celebrates with you, Alexa!

Fun in the Snow

With all our recent snow, even Deacon Rolling got out in it and had some fun. Kids will be kids...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What Happened to Saint Valentine?

When we were little, February 14 was called Saint Valentine’s Day. Whatever happened to him?

Well, it turns out that Valentine was a very popular name in ancient Rome, and the Roman Catholic Church dropped the celebration from the list of saints in 1969 because they could not identify one person who could have been the namesake!

However, the traditional "Saint Valentine" story goes like this:

Saint Valentine was a priest in Rome who assisted the martyrs in the persecution under Claudius II. He was apprehended, and sent by the emperor to the prefect of Rome, who, on finding all his promises to make him renounce his faith without effectual, commended him to be beaten with clubs, and afterwards, to be beheaded, which took place on February 14, about the year 270. Pope Julius I is said to have built a church near Ponte Mole to his memory, which for a long time gave name to the gate now called Porta del Popolo, formerly, Porta Valetini. The greatest part of his relics are now in the church of St. Praxedes. His name is celebrated as that of an illustrious martyr in the sacramentary of St. Gregory, the Roman Missal of Thomasius, and all other martyrologies on this day. To abolish the heathens lewd superstitious custom of boys drawing the names of girls, in honor of their goddess Februata Juno, on the fifteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints in billets given on this day.

The Origin of St. Valentine

The origin of St. Valentine, and how many St. Valentines there were, remains a mystery. One opinion is that he was a Roman martyred for refusing to give up his Christian faith. Other historians hold that St. Valentine was a temple priest jailed for defiance during the reign of Claudius. Whoever he was, Valentine really existed because archaeologists have unearthed a Roman catacomb and an ancient church dedicated to Saint Valentine. In 496 AD Pope Gelasius marked February 14th as a celebration in honor of his martyrdom.

Additional evidence that Valentine was a real person: in that catacomb and church unearthed by archaeologists, alongside a woodcut portrait of him, text states that Valentinus was a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius the Goth [Claudius II]. Since he was caught marrying Christian couples and aiding any Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius in Rome [when helping them was considered a crime], Valentinus was arrested and imprisoned. Claudius took a liking to this prisoner -- until Valentinus made a strategic error: he tried to convert the Emperor -- whereupon this priest was condemned to death. He was beaten with clubs and stoned; when that didn't do it, he was beheaded outside the Flaminian Gate [circa 269].

Saints are not supposed to rest in peace; they're expected to keep busy: to perform miracles, to intercede. Being in jail or dead is no excuse for non-performance of the supernatural. One legend says, while awaiting his execution, Valentinus restored the sight of his jailer's blind daughter. Another legend says, on the eve of his death, he penned a farewell note to the jailer's daughter, signing it, "From your Valentine."

St. Valentine was a Priest, martyred in 269 at Rome and was buried on the Flaminian Way. He is the Patron Saint of affianced couples, bee keepers, engaged couples, epilepsy, fainting, greetings, happy marriages, love, lovers, plague, travellers, young people. He is represented in pictures with birds and roses.

Whoever the inspiration, the concept of expressing your love to someone close to you should not be relegated only to one day in February. Tell people often, and show them. Love one another!

If you'd like to send an "e-Valentine," click here...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Our Lady of Lourdes - World Day of Prayer for the Sick

Have you ever seen the stained glass window of Mary in the sanctuary of our church? It's up there on the left - so not able to be seen at all if you normally sit on the left side of the church. This image of Mary is Our Lady of Lourdes - whose feast we celebrate today. It is also World Day of Prayer for the Sick - because of the connection between the healings which occur at Lourdes, France and the ill who go seeking those healings.

World Day of the Sick was launched by Pope John Paul II in 1992. He designated February 11, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, to be an annual day of prayer and consideration of the sick and of those who care for them. It is a day on which we reflect on the Christian meaning of illness, pain and suffering - whether we are healthy or not. People in the medical profession are invited through this day to recognize and value the spiritual dimension of their work.

The Shrine of our Lady of Lourdes in southern France is the most visited pilgrimage site in the world - principally because of the apparent healings which occur at the spring - which appeared during the apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the poor, 14-year-old, St. Bernadette Sourbiroux.

The first apparition occurred on February 11, 1858. There were 18 in all; the last took place July 16 of the same year. Bernadette often feel into an ecstasy during these apparitions, as was witnessed by the 100's who attended the later visions, though no one but Bernadette ever saw or heard the apparition. The mysterious vision Bernadette saw in the hollow of the rock, where she and her friends had gone to gather firewood, was that of a young, beautiful lady. "Lovelier than I have ever seen" said the child. She described the Lady as clothed in white, with a blue ribbon sash and a Rosary hanging from her right arm. Now and then the apparition spoke to Bernadette.

One day, they Lady told her to drink of a mysterious fountain within the grotto itself, the existence of which was unknown. Bernadette scratched the ground and a spring immediately bubbled up and soon gushed forth. On another occasion the apparition bade Bernadette go and tell the priests she wished a chapel to be built on the spot and processions be made to the grotto. At first the clergy were incredulous. The priest said he would not believe unless the apparition gave Bernadette her name. After another apparition, Bernadette reported that the Lady told her, "I am the Immaculate Conception." Though the girl was unfamiliar with the term, Pope Pius IX had infallibly declared the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary just 4 years prior in 1854.

Four years after the visions, in 1862, the Bishop of teh diocese declared the faithful "justified in believing the reality of the apparition" of our Lady. A basilica was built upon the rock and in 1873 the great "national" French pilgrimages were inaugurated. Three years later the basilica was consecrated and the statue solemnly crowned. In 1883 the foundation stone of another church was laid, as the first was no longer large enough. It was built at the foot of the basilica and was consecrated in 1901 and called the Church of the Rosary. Pope Leo XIII authorized a special office and Mass, in commemoration of the apparition, and in 1907 Pius X extended the observance of this feast to the entire Church; it is now observed on February 11.

Monday, February 8, 2010

More Snow Cancellations

ATTENTION LADIES: The CCW meeting scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2010,+ has been cancelled due to the upcoming inclement weather. We apologize for those who were looking forward to seeing the Graced and Gifted Series, but, your safety is our #1 concern and we will reschedule our meeting in the near future. Stay safe and warm! Donna Drumsta, President, CCW

Lord, what must I leave to follow you?

"'Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man'...'Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.' When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed Him" (cf Luke 5:1-11).

This weekend, Deacon Rolling issued a challenge to all of us: he challenged us to read this weekend's Gospel each day this week - then to ask ourselves, "What must I leave behind, Lord, in order to follow you?" You see, in this Gospel, Peter and James and John leave EVERYTHING they have - their boats and livelihood and even family - to follow Jesus. So many times, being a disciple of Christ requires the same of us - there are things or habits or sins that we must "leave behind" in order to faithfully follow Christ and witness to Him by our lives. That Gospel is printed here in its entirety to help you pray it each day this week.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to Saint Luke:

While the crowd was pressing in on Jesus and listening to the word of God, he was standing by the Lake of Gennesaret. He saw two boats there alongside the lake; the fishermen had disembarked and were washing their nets. Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat.

After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, "Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.” Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that the boats were in danger of sinking.

When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, “Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon. Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.” When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.

The Gospel of the Lord

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Obligation to Attend Mass Feb 6-7 Lifted

Special Announcement to ALL Parishes Within the Franklin Deanery
The obligation to attend the Sunday Mass for the Weekend of February 6-7, 2010 has been lifted.
On Saturday morning, February 6th, Fr. Chester Snyder, Administrator for the Diocese of Harrisburg, notified Fr. Jim O'Brien, Dean of Franklin Deanery, that permission has been granted to dispense the faithful from the Sunday obligation due to the local snow emergency. Therefore, under the advisement of the civil authorities to remain off the roads and the difficult task of snow removal from the property, this weekend's Religious Education Classes and the Confirmation cross making have been canceled. The First Communion Parent Meeting scheduled for Sunday February 7th has been postponed. A new date will be communicated this week.

Mass will still be celebrated at the regular times for brave souls who are able to walk, but PLEASE do not put yourself or your family in danger trying to travel the roads to attend Mass – the obligation has been lifted by our Diocesan Administrator.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good Student Awards

Sometimes a picture is worth 1000 words. We have GREAT students here at Saint Andrew School! We're so proud of them ALL!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI Issues Lenten Message 2010

Today, Pope Benedict XVI issued the annual Lenten Message to the faithful of the world. In it he cautions against a purely secular approach to achieving justice in society.

The Pope's annual message takes its title from St. Paul's letter to the Romans: "The justice of God has been manifested through faith in Jesus Christ." Pope Benedict begins with some reflections on the meaning of the word "justice." He notes that the most common definition involves giving every person his due. But a problem arises immediately, he notes: "What man needs most cannot be guaranteed to him by law."

The goal of the faithful during Lent, the Pope writes, should be to root out the evil in their own hearts. This effort requires humility, because Christians must acknowledge that they cannot change the world-- or even change themselves-- by their own powers; they must rely on the help of their Savior. Christians must be determined to pursue God's justice, not their own.

At a Vatican press conference introducing the Pope's Lenten message, Hans-Gert Poettering, the former president of the European Parliament, observed that the Pope "has indicated that a secularly radicalized form of the idea of distributive justice that is decoupled from faith in God becomes ideological." He added: "As a politician, I would like to add: We have experienced in collapsed socialism where this thinking can lead to."

The Lenten Message in its entirety follows:

Snow Cancellations

3:30 pm - Saturday - February 6

Well, the weather service is forecasting... SNOW! Glad I don't need anything at the grocery story today. Because the office will be closed, this is probably the best place to let people know about any cancellations here at the parish. So far, ALL Saturday events are postponed - except for 4pm Mass. Here are some of the posponed activities and their rescheduled dates:
  • Catholic Schools Celebration Skating Party - POSTPONED until Friday, February 12 (4pm)
  • Knights of the Holy Temple Initiation - POSTPONED until Friday, February 19 (5:45pm)
  • Youth Group Tubing - POSTPONED until Friday, February 19 following Stations of the Cross (7pm)
  • Cantor / Lector Workshop - CANCELLED
  • Baptismal Class - POSTPONED. We will find a new date next week with those who were scheduled to attend.
  • Cub Scout Mass - POSTPONED until later in February. Date will be announced.
  • Mentor Couple Meeting - POSTPONED. We'll find a new date during this next week.
  • CCD is CANCELED (this includes the Confirmation Class cross making project)
  • First Communion Parent Meeting - CANCELED. Information about a new date will be sent home via email this week.
  • Knights of the Holy Temple Meeting - CANCELED. Initiation on Friday, February 19.

I'll keep updating this as I hear of other events being canceled.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Pastries with Parents; Presentations and Punxsutawney Phil

As part of this week's celebration of Catholic Schools, today our Saint Andrew students invited their parents to join them before school for pastries. A wonderful way for our students to show their appreciation to their parents for sending them to a Catholic School - for choosing to invest in their education - knowing the dividends that result: faith, knowledge, discipline and morals.

It is also a wonderful way to celebrate today's liturgical feast - the Presentation of the Lord (commonly called "Candlemas Day"). Today the Church commemorates the purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the presentation of Christ in the temple, which took place 40 days after his birth as Jewish law required. According to Mosaic law, a mother who had given birth to a boy was considered unclean for seven days. Also, she was to remain 33 days "in the blood of her purification." Luke tells us, quoting Exodus 13:2,12, that Mary and Joseph took Jesus to Jerusalem because every firstborn child was to be dedicated to the Lord. They also went to sacrifice a pair of doves or two young pigeons, showing that Mary and Joseph were poor. Once in the temple, Jesus was purified by the prayer of Simeon, in the presence of Anna the prophetess. Simeon, upon seeing the Messiah, gave thanks to the Lord, singing a hymn now called the Nunc Dimittis:

Lord, now you let your servant go in peace,
your word has been fulfilled:
My own e
yes have seen the salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of every people:
a light to
reveal you to the nations
and the glory of your people Israel.

Simeon told Mary, "Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against, (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), that thoughts out of many hearts may be revealed." Simeon thus foreshadowed the crucifixion and the sorrows of Mary at seeing the death of her Son.

The name Candlemas comes from the activities associated with the feast. It came to be known as the Candle Mass. In the Western Church, a procession with lighted candles is the distinctive rite. According to post Vatican-II discipline, (if possible) the beeswax candles are to be blessed somewhere other than where the Mass is held. Often your local parish will hand out candles, or you may bring your own, to be blessed before the procession. These may be saved for later use in your home. After an antiphon, during which the candles held by the people are lighted, there is a procession into the church. During the procession to the church, the Nunc Dimittis is sung, with the antiphon "Lumen ad revelationem" (Luke 2:32). This procession into the church for Mass commemorates Christ's entrance into the temple. Since Vatican II, the feast is reckoned a feast of the Lord (as opposed to a feast of Mary), and officially designated "The presentation of the Lord."

Egeria, writing around AD 380, attests to a feast of the Presentation in the Jerusalem Church. It was kept on February 14th. The day was kept by a procession to the Constantinian basilica of the Resurrection, with a homily on Luke 2:22-39. However, the feast had no proper name at this point; it was simply called the 40th day after Epiphany. This shows that the Jerusalem church celebrated Jesus' birth on the Epiphany Feast (as is common in some Eastern Churches today).

In regions where Christ's birth was celebrated on December 25th, the feast began to be celebrated on February 2nd, where it is kept in the West today. In 542, the Emperor Justinian introduced the feast to the entire Eastern Roman empire in thanksgiving for the end to a great pestilence afflicting the city of Constantinople. Perhaps this is when Pope Gregory I brought the feast to Rome. Pope Sergius (687-701) introduced the procession to the Candlemas service. The blessing of candles did not come into common use until the 11th century.

While some scholars have asserted that the Candlemas feast was developed in the Middle Ages to counteract the pagan feasts of Imbolc and Lupercalia, many scholars reject this, based on Medieval documents. While the feast does coincide with these two pagan holidays, the origins of the feast are based in Scriptural chronology. Some superstitions developed about Candlemas, including the belief that if one does not take down Christmas decorations by Candlemas, traces of the holly and berries will bring about the death of the person involved. In past times, Candlemas was seen as the end of the Christmas season.

Candlemas Day was also the day when some cultures predicted weather patterns. Farmers believed that the remainder of winter would be the opposite of whatever the weather was like on Candlemas Day. An old English song goes:

If Candlemas be fair and bright,
Come winter, have another flight;
If Candlemas bring clouds and rain,

Go winter, and come not again.

Thus if the sun cast a shadow on Candlemas day, more winter was on the way; if there was no shadow, winter was thought to be ending soon. This practice led to the folklore behind "Groundhog's Day," which falls on Candlemas Day - and so today, all across the nation, we await Punxsutawney Phil's weather prediction - 6 more weeks of winter? Phil will tell us.