Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Saint Lawrence Ruiz

Lawrence (Lorenzo) was born in Manila of a Chinese father and a Filipino mother, both Christians. Thus he learned Chinese and Tagalog from them and Spanish from the Dominicans whom he served as altar boy and sacristan. He became a professional calligrapher, transcribing documents in beautiful penmanship. He was a full member of the Confraternity of the Holy Rosary under Dominican auspices. He married and had two sons and a daughter.

His life took an abrupt turn when he was accused of murder. Nothing further is known except the statement of two Dominicans that "he was sought by the authorities on account of a homicide to which he was present or which was attributed to him."

At that time three Dominican priests, Antonio Gonzalez, Guillermo Courtet and Miguel de Aozaraza, were about to sail to Japan in spite of a violent persecution there. With them was a Japanese priest, Vicente Shiwozuka de la Cruz, and a layman named Lazaro, a leper. Lorenzo, having taken asylum with them, was allowed to accompany them. But only when they were at sea did he learn that they were going to Japan.

They landed at Okinawa. Lorenzo could have gone on to Formosa, but, he reported, "I decided to stay with the Fathers, because the Spaniards would hang me there." In Japan they were soon found out, arrested and taken to Nagasaki. The site of wholesale bloodshed when the atomic bomb was dropped had known tragedy before. The 50,000 Catholics who once lived there were dispersed or killed by persecution.

They were subjected to an unspeakable kind of torture: After huge quantities of water were forced down their throats, they were made to lie down. Long boards were placed on their stomachs and guards then stepped on the ends of the boards, forcing the water to spurt violently from mouth, nose and ears.

The superior, Antonio, died after some days. Both the Japanese priest and Lazaro broke under torture, which included the insertion of bamboo needles under their fingernails. But both were brought back to courage by their companions.

In Lorenzo's moment of crisis, he asked the interpreter, "I would like to know if, by apostatizing, they will spare my life." The interpreter was noncommittal, but Lorenzo, in the ensuing hours, felt his faith grow strong. He became bold, even audacious, with his interrogators.

The five were put to death by being hanged upside down in pits. Boards fitted with semicircular holes were fitted around their waists and stones put on top to increase the pressure. They were tightly bound, to slow circulation and prevent a speedy death. They were allowed to hang for three days. By that time Lorenzo and Lazaro were dead. The three Dominican priests, still alive, were beheaded.

Pope John Paul II canonized these six and 10 others, Asians and Europeans, men and women, who spread the faith in the Philippines, Formosa and Japan. Lorenzo Ruiz is the first canonized Filipino martyr.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Time and Talent Weekend

Dear Parish Family,

All of us at Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish have been so blessed by the ways in which we work together as a true parish family to serve the Lord through one another.  We all benefit from the many ministries that form the very fabric of our parish.   Often those who experience the greatest blessings are those who provide the service.  The activity level at our parish is a clear sign that faith is alive and well here!  As ministries increase and as the size of the parish increases, the need grows for more people to step out in faith and serve the Lord in a variety of ministries.

We all know that Jesus summarized the Law of the Prophets in two great commandments: You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with your whole soul, and with your whole mind...and...You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Matthew 22:37-39).  Ministry, then, is a way of life - a "life principle" which will inspire an increase in a joy-filled spirituality.  It invites involvement as an "attitude of gratitude" to God for all His wondrous gifts.

One of the ways that we respond to the grace of God is by giving back a portion of our time and our talent to Him in His service to our faith community.  On September 25-26, we are going to share with the parish, at all the Masses, how becoming involved in ministry touches our lives in a personal way.  We will have several of our parishioners share how God has touched them through their willingness to serve others in our parish.  You will then be invited to prayerfully consider what areas of ministry you might be interested in learning more about.

I am looking forward to sharing with you how your involvement has blessed my life.  Over this past year, my first as your pastor, you have given me your unconditional support in building a parish family alive with faith, prayer and good works rooted in Jesus' example and the Holy Spirit's inspiration.  I have been able to lean on you to help me in any way to make the vision a reality.  It is your generous response that makes Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish the truly blessed parish that it is.  You know how much I believe in you and this loving, extraordinary parish.  Together we are continuing the work that Jesus will one day see to completion.

I ask you to please come to Mass the weekend of September 25-26 to hear what a blessing involvement in parish ministry truly is - for you and for those whom you will serve.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Fr. Bateman

Friday, September 24, 2010

A Time for Everything

If I had a dime for every time my mom told me to "clean my room" when I was a kid - I'd be a MILLIONAIRE!  How many times have we all had to tell our kids, "If you just took ONE second to hang that up, put that in the hamper, put it away..."  I don't know about your kids, but I never listened.  But if I had, life would have been much easier - and so would cleaning my room have been easier.  But, at the time, I had other things I wanted to do.

Today's reading from the book of Ecclesiastes is a reminder of our use of time.  Here's the reading...

There is a season for everything, a time for every occupation under heaven: A time for giving birth, a time for dying; a time for planting, a time for uprooting what has been planted. A time for killing, a time for healing; a time for knocking down, a time for building. A time for tears, a time for laughter; a time for mourning, a time for dancing. A time for throwing stones away, a time for gathering them; a time for embracing, a time to refrain from embracing. A time for searching, a time for losing; a time for keeping, a time for discarding.  A time for tearing, a time for sewing; a time for keeping silent, a time for speaking.  A time for loving, a time for hating; a time for war, a time for peace.  What do people gain from the efforts they make?  I contemplate the task that God gives humanity to labor at.  All that he does is apt for its time; but although he has given us an awareness of the passage of time, we can grasp neither the beginning nor the end of what God does. 

The Scriptures are reminding us to use every moment well - to put all of our efforts into doing whatever God has given us to do in the present moment - because the present moment is the ONLY one we have.
Does it do any good to worry about tomorrow?  No.  We can't do anything to change it or influence it. 

Does it do any good to fret about the past?  No.  What's done is done.  Perhaps our present moment is affected by it (we offer God prayers of thanksgiving or contrition, for example) - but we can't change it.

And so, what time do we really have?  Only the present moment.  THIS is the only one we are given - it is the only one we can change, it is the only one we can us.  So, let's learn to use each moment to do whatever task God has given us...

(and for any of you who, like me, think of the Bird's song when you hear this reading...)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Saint (Padre) Pio of Pietrelcina

Padre Pio (Francesco Forgione) was born to Giuseppa and Grazio Forgione, in the small farming town of Pietrelcina, Italy on May 25, 1887. Although the Forgiones were poor in material goods, they were certainly rich in their faith life and in the love of God.

Even as a young boy, Francesco had already shown signs of extraordinary gifts of grace. At the age of five, he dedicated his life to God. From his early childhood, he showed a remarkable recollection of spirit and a love for the religious life. His mother described him as a quiet child who, from his earliest years, loved to go to church and to pray. As a young boy, he was able to see and communicate with, not only his guardian angel but also with Jesus and the Virgin Mary. In his simplicity, Francesco assumed everyone had the same experiences. Once a woman who noticed his spiritual demeanor asked him, "When did you consecrate your life to God? Was it at your first Holy Communion?" and he answered, "Always, daughter, always."

When Francesco was fifteen years old, he was admitted to the novitiate of the Capuchin Order of the Friars Minor in Morcone, Italy. He was admired by his fellow-students as well as by his Superiors for his exemplary behavior and his deep piety. One of the novices stated, "There was something which distinguished him from the other students. Whenever I saw him, he was always humble, recollected, and silent. What struck me most about Brother Pio was his love of prayer."

On August 10, 1910, at the age of twenty-three, Padre Pio was ordained to the priesthood. The celebration of the Holy Mass was for Padre Pio, the center of his spirituality.  Due to the long pauses of contemplative silence into which he entered at various parts of the Holy Sacrifice, his Mass could sometimes last several hours.  Everything about him spoke of how intensely he was living the Passion of Christ. The parish priest in Pietrelcina called Padre Pio's Mass, "an incomprehensible mystery." When asked to shorten his Mass, Padre Pio replied, "God knows that I want to say Mass just like any other priest, but I cannot do it."

His parishioners were deeply impressed by his piety and one by one they began to come to him, seeking his counsel. For many, even a few moments in his presence, proved to be a life changing experience. As the years passed, pilgrims began to come to him by the thousands, from every corner of the world, drawn by the spiritual riches which flowed so freely from his extraordinary ministry. To his spiritual children he would say, "It seems to me as if Jesus has no other concern but the sanctification of your soul."

Padre Pio is understood above all else as a man of prayer. Before he was thirty years old he had already reached the summit of the spiritual life known as the "unitive way" of transforming union with God. He prayed almost continuously. His prayers were usually very simple. He loved to pray the Rosary and recommended it to others. To someone who asked him what legacy he wished to leave to his spiritual children, his brief reply was, "My child, the Rosary." He had a special mission to the souls in Purgatory and encouraged everyone to pray for them. He used to say, "We must empty Purgatory with our prayers." Father Agostino Daniele, his confessor, director, and beloved friend said, "One admires in Padre Pio, his habitual union with God. When he speaks or is spoken to, we are aware that his heart and mind are not distracted from the thought and sentiment of God."

Padre Pio suffered from poor health his entire life, once saying that his health had been declining from the time he was nine years old. After his ordination to the priesthood, he remained in his hometown of Pietrelcina and was separated from his religious community for more than five years due to his precarious health.  Although the cause of his prolonged and debilitating illnesses remained a mystery to his doctors, Padre Pio did not become discouraged. He offered all of his bodily sufferings to God as a sacrifice, for the conversion of souls. He experienced many spiritual sufferings as well. "I am fully convinced that my illness is due to a special permission of God," he said.

Shortly after his ordination, he wrote a letter to his spiritual director, Father Benedetto Nardella, in which he asked permission to offer his life as a victim for sinners. He wrote, "For a long time I have felt in myself a need to offer myself to the Lord as a victim for poor sinners and for the souls in Purgatory. This desire has been growing continually in my heart so that it has now become what I would call a strong passion. . .It seems to me that Jesus wants this." The marks of the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, appeared on Padre Pio's body, on Friday, September 20, 1918, while he was praying before a crucifix and making his thanksgiving after Mass. He was thirty-one years old and became the first stigmatized priest in the history of the Church. With resignation and serenity, he bore the painful wounds in his hands, feet, and side for fifty years.

In addition, God endowed Padre Pio with many extraordinary spiritual gifts and charisms including the gift of healing, bilocation, prophecy, miracles, discernment of spirits, the ability to abstain beyond man's natural powers from both sleep and nourishment, the ability to read hearts, the gift of tongues (the ability to speak and understand languages that he had never studied), the gift of conversions, the grace to see angelic beings in form, and the fragrance which emanated from his wounds and which frequently announced his invisible presence. When a friend once questioned him about these charisms, Padre Pio said, "You know, they are a mystery to me, too." Although he received more than his share of spiritual gifts, he never sought them, never felt worthy of them. He never put the gifts before the Giver. He always remained humble, constantly at the disposal of Almighty God.

His day began at 2:30 a.m. when he would rise to begin his prayers and to make his preparation for Mass. He was able to carry on a busy apostolate with only a few hours of sleep each night and an amount of food that was so small (300-400 calories a day) that his fellow priests stated that it was not enough food even to keep a small child alive. Between Mass and confessions, his workday lasted 19 hours. He very rarely left the monastery and never took even a day's vacation from his grueling schedule in 51 years. He never read a newspaper or listened to the radio. He cautioned his spiritual children against watching television.

In his monastery in San Giovanni Rotondo, he lived the Franciscan spirit of poverty with detachment from self, from possessions, and from comforts. He always had a great love for the virtue of chastity, and his behavior was modest in all situations and with all people. In his lifetime, Padre Pio reconciled thousands of men and women back to their faith.

The prayer groups that Padre Pio established have now spread throughout the world. He gave a new spirit to hospitals by founding one which he called "The Home for the Relief of Suffering." He saw the image of Christ in the poor, the suffering, and the sick and gave himself particularly to them. He once said, "Bring God to all those who are sick. This will help them more than any other remedy."

Serene and well prepared, he surrendered to Sister Death on September 23, 1968 at the age of eighty-one. He died as he had lived, with his Rosary in his hands. His last words were GesĂș, Maria – Jesus, Mary - which he repeated over and over until he breathed his last. He had often declared, "After my death I will do more. My real mission will begin after my death."
In 1971, Pope Paul VI, speaking to the superiors of the Capuchin order, said of Padre Pio, "What fame he had. How many followers from around the world. Why? Was it because he was a philosopher, a scholar, or because he had means at his disposal? No, it was because he said Mass humbly, heard confessions from morning until night and was a marked representative of the stigmata of Our Lord. He was truly a man of prayer and suffering."

In one of the largest liturgies in the Vatican's history, Pope John Paul II canonized Padre Pio on June 16, 2002. During his homily, Pope John Paul recalled how, in 1947, as a young priest he journeyed from Poland to make his confession to Padre Pio. "Prayer and charity–this is the most concrete synthesis of Padre Pio's teaching," the Pope said.

Drawing approximately eight million pilgrims each year, San Giovanni Rotondo, where St. Pio lived and is now buried, is second only to the shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico in its number of annual visitors.

St. Pio's whole life might be summed up in the words of St. Paul to the Colossians, "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the Church."

St. Pio of Pietrelcina, pray for us.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Diocesan Marian Year EXTENDED

The Diocesan Marian Year has been extended and will close on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2010.

In view of the fact that Bishop Rhoades, who convoked the Marian Year, was transferred to another diocese and the office of bishop was vacant for 7 months of the Marian Year, it is Bishop McFadden's desire to allow more time for the faithful to focus on this great moment of grace.  Consequently, the closing Mass scheduled for October 2, 2010 at the Grotto of Our Lady of Lourdes at Mount Saint Mary's in Emmitsburg is canceled.  

Bishop McFadden also has asked that every parish commit to making the month of October a special time to encourage individual and group recitation of the Holy Rosary both at home and in the Parish Church.  He encourages the Pastors and parochial vicars to use the Saturdays in October to celebrate votive Masses in honor of the Blessed Mother and to say the rosary with their people.   

There are many wonderful resources available to help us to celebrate this Marian Year - check them out on the Diocese's Prayer and Resources page

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Blessed John Henry Newman

The Holy Father has declared that John Henry Cardinal Newman will "henceforth be invoked as Blessed." Despite inclement weather, tens of thousands of faithful attended to celebrate the life of Newman, revered for his intellectual contributions to Christianity. 

Cool weather and sporadic sprinkles of rain were no obstacle to the pilgrims in attendance for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman in Birmingham's Cofton Park this morning.  Multi-colored ponchos and umbrellas peppered the vast 55,000 person crowd who cheered for the Pope upon his arrival and joined in with a massive choir to warm up the atmosphere.

Beginning the rite, the Archbishop of Birmingham, Bernard Longley, made the official request of the Pope "that the Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman be beatified." A short biography was then read by the vice postulator for the Cause for the Canonization of Cardinal Newman, Fr. Richard Duffield.

Fr. Duffield, also provost of Newman's Birmingham Oratory, read the brief description of the life of the 19th century celebrated Catholic convert from the Anglican Church.  He was remembered as a prominent figure in the Church of England, a preacher, theologian and leader of the Oxford movement as an Anglican in the first half of his life. 

Drawn to full communion with the Catholic Church, he converted at 44 years old.  He founded the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in Birmingham in 1847 with encouragement from then-Pope Pius IX.  Fr. Duffield summarized his contributions throughout his life, saying, "(h)e was a prolific and influential writer on a variety of subjects, including the development of Christian doctrine, faith and reason, the true nature of conscience and university education."

The vice postulator also remembered him as being "(p)raised for his humility, his life of prayer, his unstinting care of souls and contributions to the intellectual life of the Church."  He was created cardinal by Pope Leo XIII in 1879 and lived with the oratorians until his death in 1890.

"Acceding to the request" of the Archbishop of Birmingham, the bishops and faithful, Pope Benedict XVI declared that "venerable Servant of God John Henry, Cardinal, Newman priest of the Congregation of the Oratory, shall henceforth be invoked as Blessed and that his feast shall be celebrated every year of the ninth of October."

At that point an image of the Blessed appeared in the digital altarpiece to the right of the Pope, punctuating the moment, also met by the cheers from the faithful.  Following the declaration a song written by Blessed Newman was sung praising "the Holiest in the height" and thanks were given to Benedict XVI for presiding over the celebration, his first beatification ever.

The rite concluded with a reliquary procession which included some of Newman's family members and oratorians.

Among the many prelates present for the beatification from England, Wales and beyond was Cardinal Edwin Egan, Archbishop-Emeritus of New York and many other "red berets."

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Catechetical Sunday 2010

Each year the Church in the United States celebrates Catechetical Sunday. It is a day set aside when we recognize the role of Catechesis (teaching the Faith).  This applies, certainly, to our teachers - both in our CCD program and in our Catholic School.  However, this year, the Bishop's have expanded the focus a bit to remember, as we say so often, that "Parents are the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith."

The National Director for Catechesis reminds us that: "The ministry of the Word is a fundamental element of evangelization through all its stages because it involves the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the eternal Word of God…   The Word of God nourishes both evangelizers and those who are being evangelized so that each one may continue to grow in his or her Christian life. (National Directory for Catechesis [NDC] [Washington, DC: United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, 2005], no. 17) 

This year, Catechetical Sunday, September 19, 2010, focuses on the theme, “Matrimony: Sacrament of Enduring Love.”  Those who have been designated by the community to serve as catechists will be called forth to be commissioned for their ministry.   Catechetical Sunday is a wonderful opportunity to reflect upon the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.  Catechetical Sunday is an opportunity for all to rededicate themselves to this mission as a community of faith.

There are two WONDERFUL documents which you may find helpful as we celebrate this Catechetical Sunday.  Links to them are here:

The Pope in England - Addresses Parliament & Greeted by Excited Youth

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pope Greeted by Queen Elizabeth II in Scotland

Today the Holy Father arrived in Scotland for a 4-day official State visit to Great Brittan.  Already, in the plane to England, he commented on the horrible sins of the sexual abuse of minors and said: "These revelations [of sexual abuse of minors by priests] were for me a shock and a great sadness. It is difficult to understand how this perversion of the priestly ministry was possible," he told reporters aboard his plane to Scotland. "How a man who has done this and said this can fall into this perversion is difficult to understand."  He added, "It is also a great sadness that the authorities of the church were not sufficiently vigilant and insufficiently quick and decisive in taking the necessary measures."

The Holy Father's trip to England is the first EVER State Visit of a Pope to England.  Some may remember that Pope John Paul II visited England, but that was a pastoral visit, not an official state visit.  This is why, this time, Pope Benedict was greeted at the plane by Prince Philip, the husband to Queen Elizabeth.  She then met the Holy Father personally at Holyroodhouse Castle in Scotland. 

There are many places where you will be able to follow the Holy Father's trip including EWTN, SKY news, and the official 24/7 webcam of the events.  

Here are two videos: the welcome of Queen Elizabeth and the Holy Father's opening remarks, both of which were made at Holyroodhouse in Scotland...

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Our Lady of Sorrows

The title, “Our Lady of Sorrows,” given to our Blessed Mother focuses on her intense suffering and grief during the passion and death of our Lord.  Traditionally, this suffering was not limited to the passion and death event; rather, it comprised “the seven dolors” or “seven sorrows” of Mary, which were foretold by the Priest Simeon who proclaimed to Mary, “This child [Jesus] is destined to be the downfall and the rise of many in Israel, a sign that will be opposed and you yourself shall be pierced with a sword so that the thoughts of many hearts may be laid bare” (Luke 2:34-35). 
These seven sorrows of our Blessed Mother included the flight of the Holy Family into Egypt; the loss and finding of the child Jesus in the Temple; Mary's meeting of Jesus on His way to Calvary; Mary's standing at the foot of the cross when our Lord was crucified; her holding of Jesus when He was taken down from the cross; and then our Lord's burial. In all, the prophesy of Simeon that a sword would pierce our Blessed Mother's heart was fulfilled in these events.  For this reason, Mary is sometimes depicted with her heart exposed and with seven swords piercing it.  More importantly, each new suffering was received with the courage, love, and trust that echoed her fiat, “let it be done unto me according to Thy word,” first uttered at the Annunciation. 
This Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows grew in popularity in the 12th century, although under various titles.  Granted, some writings would place its roots in the eleventh century, especially among the Benedictine monks.  By the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the feast and devotion were widespread throughout the Church.

Interestingly, in 1482, the feast was officially placed in the Roman Missal under the title of “Our Lady of Compassion,” highlighting the great love our Blessed Mother displayed in suffering with her Son.  The word compassion derives from the Latin roots cum and patior which means “to suffer with.”  Our Blessed Mother's sorrow exceeded anyone else's since she was the mother of Jesus, who was not only her Son but also her Lord and Savior; she truly suffered with her Son.  In 1727, Pope Benedict XIII placed the Feast of Our Lady of Compassion in the Roman Calendar on Friday before Palm Sunday. This feast was suppressed with the revision of the calendar published in the Roman Missal of 1969.

In 1668 the feast in honor of the Seven Dolors was set for the Sunday after September 14, the Feast of the Holy Cross.  The feast was inserted into the Roman calendar in 1814, and Pope Pius X fixed the permanent date of September 15 for the Feast of the Seven Sorrows of the Blessed Virgin Mary (now simply called the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows).  The key image here is our Blessed Mother standing faithfully at the foot of the cross with her dying Son: the Gospel of St. John recorded, “Seeing His mother there with the disciple whom He loved, Jesus said to His mother, 'Woman, there is your son.' In turn He said to the disciple, 'There is your mother.'” (John 19:26-27).  The Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution on the Church wrote, A...She stood in keeping with the divine plan, suffering grievously with her only-begotten Son. There she united herself, with a maternal heart, to His sacrifice, and lovingly consented to the immolation of this Victim which she herself had brought forth” (#58). 

St. Bernard (d. 1153) wrote, “Truly, O Blessed Mother, a sword has pierced your heart.... He died in body through a love greater than anyone had known. She died in spirit through a love unlike any other since His” (De duodecim praerogatativs BVM).

Focusing on the compassion of our Blessed Mother, our Holy Father, Pope John Paul II, reminded the faithful, “Mary Most Holy goes on being the loving consoler of those touched by the many physical and moral sorrows which afflict and torment humanity.  She knows our sorrows and our pains, because she too suffered, from Bethlehem to Calvary. ' And they soul too a sword shall pierce.'  Mary is our Spiritual Mother, and the mother always understands her children and consoles them in their troubles.  Then, she has that specific mission to love us, received from Jesus on the Cross, to love us only and always, so as to save us!  Mary consoles us above all by pointing out the Crucified One and Paradise to us!” (1980). 
Therefore, as we honor our Blessed Mother, our Lady of Sorrows, we honor her as the faithful disciple and exemplar of faith.  Let us pray as we do in the opening prayer of the Mass for this feast day: “Father, as your Son was raised on the cross, His Mother Mary stood by Him, sharing His sufferings. May your Church be united with Christ in His suffering and death and so come to share in His rising to new life.”   Looking to the example of Mary, may we too unite our sufferings to our Lord, facing them with courage, love, and trust.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross

In the year 627, during the reign of the emperor Heraclius I of Constantinople, the Persians conquered the city of Jerusalem and removed from its venerable Sanctuary the major part of the true Cross of Our Lord, which Saint Helen, mother of the emperor Constantine, had left there after discovering it on Mount Calvary.  The emperor resolved to win back by combat this precious object, the new Ark of the Covenant for the new people of God.  Before he left Constantinople with his army, Heraclius went to the church wearing black in the spirit of penance; he prostrated himself before the altar and begged God to sustain his courage. And on leaving he took with him a miraculous image of the Savior, determined to combat with it even unto death.

Heaven visibly assisted the valiant emperor, for his army won victory after victory.   One of the conditions of the peace treaty was the return of the Cross of Our Lord, in the same condition as when it was removed.   Heraclius on his return was received in Constantinople by the acclamations of the people; with olive branches and torches, they went out to meet him. And the true Cross was honored, on this occasion, in a magnificent triumph.

The emperor wished to give thanks to God by going in person to Jerusalem to return this sacred wood, which had been in the power of the pagans for fourteen years.  When he reached the Holy City, he placed the precious relic on his shoulders, but when he came to the gate leading out to Calvary, it became impossible for him to go forward.  He was greatly astonished, and those in attendance were stupefied.  “Take care, O Emperor!” said the Patriarch Zachary to him. “Certainly the imperial clothing you are wearing does not sufficiently resemble the poor and humiliated condition of Jesus carrying His cross.”  Heraclius was touched on hearing this; he removed his shoes and his imperial robes, adorned with gold and jewels.  Wearing a poor man’s tunic, he was able to go up to Calvary and depose there his glorious burden.  To give greater brilliance to this triumphant march, God permitted several miracles to occur by the power of the Cross of Christ.  A dead man returned to life, four paralytics were cured; ten lepers recovered their health and fifteen blind persons their sight; many possessed persons were delivered from the evil spirit, and a large number of sick persons were completely cured.
In those days the greatest power of the Catholic world was the Empire of the East, and that bulwark against the eastern pagans was verging toward its ruin, before God put forth His hand to save it in this way.  The re-establishment of the Cross at Jerusalem, by means of the emperor’s Christian valor, was a sure pledge of its protection.  It was after these events that the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross was instituted, to perpetuate their memory in the Church.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Pope Asks for Prayers for Upcoming trip to England

Entering The Convent Is Anything But Conventional

Think that no young women are considering becoming Religious Sisters anymore?  WRONG!  More young women have been investigating consecrated life in the past 5 years.  Watch this inspiring story about Mary Hollis from, of all places, MTV...  Entering The Convent Is Anything But Conventional

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Now that Summer is "unofficially" over - we return to our regular Mass times:

     Saturday: 4pm 
(Confessions 2:30-3:30pm)
     Sunday: 8am & 10:45am

We will return to our "summer schedule" on Memorial Day Weekend in May, 2011.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Pilgrim Statue of Assumption of Mary visits St. Andrew Parish

This image of the Assumption was crowned at the Diocesan Pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on October 24, 2009 by Bishop Kevin Rhoades.  Since then, the statute has been traveling to parishes, schools and institutions of the diocese for Marian celebrations throughout the Diocesan Marian Year.  

The statue is 4-feet-tall, painted in traditional colors and decorated in gold and silver leaf, was crafted by Demetz Studio in Ortesi, Italy. It is inspired by the painting “Assumption of the Virgin” by Bartolome Esteban Murillo, painted in 1678 and now housed at the Museo del Prado in Madrid.

We are so happy to have the image here in our parish this Labor Day weekend.  The Mass this weekend will be, with the permission of Bishop McFadden, a votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary - Gate of Heaven.  Mary, under this title, inspired the official song of the Marian Year, written by Martin Doman.

The refrain is: 

Gate of Heaven, hear our prayer.
Blessed Mother, lead us to your Son.
Draw us, Mary, to your heart.
Lead us home to God.

CLICK HERE to listen to the entire song.

There are many resources available about the Marian Year on the diocesan website. 

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Hannah Baxter and Alexander Strait Married

Today, in a beautiful Nuptial Mass, Hannah Elizabeth Baxter and Alexander Kyle Strait were married here at Saint Andrew the Apostle Parish.  Alex is the son of Roger & Janice Strait of Saint Andrew Parish.  Hannah is the daughter of John Baxter & Cathleen.  Hannah and Alex overcame many obstacles to celebrate their Marriage in the Church.  Alex is in the United States Marine Corps (as you can see from the photo).  Getting a leave scheduled was not an easy thing to do.  Then a little hurricane named Earl hovered off the coast of the Carolina's, where Alex is currently stationed.  Despite the hurdles, Hannah and Alex were determined to celebrate their Marriage here at Saint Andrew's.  Congratulations to you both!  May the Lord bless you with many, happy years together!

Remembering Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta