Saturday, October 30, 2010

On Eve of Election - Catholics Reminded of the "Golden Rule"

Cardinal-designate Raymond Burke, the US born prelate who is the "chief judge" of the Church court - the Roman Rota, addresses the abortion issue in relation to the upcoming mid-term elections.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween - Origins and Celebration

The celebration of Halloween has dual origins.  The first is in a pre-Christian Celtic feast associated with the Celtic New Year.  The second is in the Christian celebration of All Saints Day (Nov. 1st) and All Souls Day (Nov. 2).  In the British Isles November 1st is called All Hallows, thus the evening before is All Hallows Eve.

The Celtic Feast

The ancient Celtic peoples who inhabited England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Brittany (NW France) celebrated their New Year's Day on what would be November 1st on our calendar.  Prior to their conversion to Catholicism these peoples practiced a pagan religion controlled by a priest class known as Druids.  The Druids are most famous for the stone monument of Stonehenge and other astronomical calendars that remain in their former domains.

The period prior to the New Year, as the year wound down, was a time to consider the mystery of human death.  It was believed that on the last night of the year the lord of death, Samhain, allowed the souls of the dead to return to their homes.  Souls that had died in sin, and in Celtic belief imprisoned in the bodies of animals, could be released through gifts to the lord of death, including human sacrifices.  It was also thought that evil spirits, demons, ghosts, witches were also free to roam around this night and could be placated by a feast.  They would also leave you alone if you dressed like them and thus appeared to be one of them.  Families would also extinguish their hearth fires on this evening to be re-lit from a common New Year's bonfire built on the hilltops, which was meant to symbolize the driving away of darkness and evil with the coming of the new year.  The jack-o-lantern - as a means of scaring away evil and providing light - may be a vestige of this custom.  When the Romans conquered Gaul (France) and Britain (excluding Scotland and Ireland) in the century before and after Christ, the bloody elements of Druidic practice were banned.

The Christian Feasts of All Saints and All Souls

During the first three centuries of Christianity the Church frequently had to operate "underground" due to the persecutions of the Roman state against her.  During these periods there were many martyrs who died for their faith in Jesus Christ.  The most renowned of these were honored locally by the preservation of the relics (if available) and by the  celebration of the anniversary of their death, as a feast in honor of their birth into eternal life.  As time passed, neighboring dioceses would honor each others martyrs and even exchange relics for veneration, the way the first century Christians kept the clothes and handkerchiefs touched by St. Paul (Acts 19:12).

At the end of the third century and the beginning of the fourth the most vicious of all persecutions occurred, that of the emperor Diocletian (284-305).  The martyrs became so many that in some places it was impossible to commemorate even the most significant of them.  The need for a common feast of all martyrs was becoming evident. This common feast became a reality in some places, but on various dates, as early as the middle of the fourth century.  As far as Roman practice goes it is known that on 13 May 609 or 610, Pope Boniface IV consecrated the ancient Roman Pantheon as a temple of the Blessed Virgin and All Martyrs.  Beginning with Gregory III (731-741) the celebration of a feast of All Saints was commemorated at St. Peters on November 1.  Gregory IV (827-844) extended this feast to the entire Church.

The feast of All Souls developed more gradually, first with a monastic celebration of their departed on October 1st.  This seems to have occurred first in Germany in the 900s. The patronage of St. Odilio of Cluny extended this feast to other monasteries, first of his own Order, then to Benedictines and others, from where it spread to dioceses, including Rome.  It was only in 1915 that the special privilege of three Masses was granted to all priests by Pope Benedict XV.

Halloween during Christian Times

The conversion of Celtic peoples to Christianity did not dampen their enthusiasm for the pre-Christian year-end custom of feasts, bonfires, and   masks, essentially new year's eve costume parties.  The proximity to the developing Christian feasts of All Saints and All Souls resulted in an attempt to move the celebration to the evening before All Souls, when children would go door to door receiving treats for a promise of prayer for the dead of the household.  This attempt to associate the Celtic remembrance of the dead with the Christian memorial ultimately failed and the celebration remained a year-end custom (by the old Celtic calendar), though Halloween remains primarily a children's feast.

With the massive emigration of Irish in the last century the All Hallows Eve customs of costumes, jack-o-lanterns and trick or treating, were transported to North America.  Scary costumes remain the historical norm for Halloween, though the advent of more sinister and violent times has encouraged many parents to take a gentler approach.  Today many families, Catholic schools and even entire parishes, hold group celebrations, often with costumes of the saints, the poor souls or famous Catholics (such as the Pope, Mother Teresa or the like) and other elements which re-enforce the Christian side of Halloween's origins.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Saints Simon and Jude

Simon was a simple Galilean, a brother of Jesus, as the ancients called one’s close relatives — aunts, uncles, first cousins; he was one of the Saviour’s four first cousins, with James the Less, Jude and Joseph, all sons of Mary, the wife of Alpheus, or Cleophas, either name being a derivative of the Aramaic Chalphai. The latter was the brother of Saint Joseph, according to tradition. All the sons of this family were raised at Nazareth near the Holy Family. (See the Gospel of Saint Matthew 13:53-58.) Simon, Jude and James were called by Our Lord to be Apostles, pillars of His Church, and Joseph the Just was His loyal disciple. 

Saint Simon the Zealot or the Zealous, was the name this Apostle bore among the twelve. He preached in Egypt, Mauritania (Spain), and Lybia, leaving behind him the fertile hills of Galilee, where he had been engaged in the healthful cultivation of the vineyards and olive gardens. He later rejoined his brother, Saint Jude, in Persia, where they labored and died together. At first they were respected by the king, for they had manifested power over two ferocious tigers who had terrorized the land. With the king, sixty thousand Persians became Christians, and churches rose over the ruins of the idolatrous temples.
But the ancient enemy, who never sleeps, rose up, and when the two went elsewhere the pagans commanded them to sacrifice to the sun. Both Apostles, just before that time, had seen Our Lord amid His Angels. Simon said to Jude, “One of the Angels said to me, I will take you out of the temple and bring the building down upon their heads. I answered him, Let it not be so; perhaps some of them will be converted.” They prayed for mercy for the people and offered their lives to God. Saint Simon told the crowd that their gods were only demons, and ordered them to come out of the statues, which they did, revealing themselves under hideous forms. But the idolaters fell on the Apostles and massacred them, while they blessed God and prayed for their murderers.

Saint Jude has left us a short but powerful epistle, written after the death of his brother James, bishop of Jerusalem, and addressed to the new Christians being tempted by false brethren and heretics.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Pilgrimage to "Historic Saint Mary's" in Lancaster

Saint Mary’s is the fourth oldest church in the original thirteen colonies, following the Maryland, Philadelphia and Conewago missions.  Its long history reveals the important part it played in the beginnings of Roman Catholicism n this country.  In Colonial America, Catholics faced persecution, rugged terrain, and constant obstacles.  The church was consecrated in March of 1854 in the presence of Bishop John Neumann (now St. John Neumann).  Nearly all of the works of art in the church came about through the inspiration and effort of the parish’s 26th pastor, Rev. Dr. Peter J. McCaullagh.  In 1885, under his direction, the entire exterior and interior were renovated and transformed.  The sanctuary was enlarged and the Gothic arches were constructed, with new side altars replacing former storage rooms.  These new side chapels were formed after Saint Peter’s in Rome.  The choir loft was lowered and spiral staircases added.  The reconstruction of the organ, with its large front pipes ornamented with gold leaf, was one of the main attractions.  In the late 1880’s, Fr. McCullagh commissioned the creation of the stained glass windows , the marble altars, the marble statues of Mary and St. Anne and St. Joseph, the relief-sculptured Stations of the Cross, and the three altar paintings, done by Italian artist Fillipo Costaggini in 1886.  Mr. Costaggini was famous for completing the paintings on the frieze encircling the Rotunda of the capitol building in Washington, D.C.  
St. Mary’s (or, the official title, the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) was granted a special spiritual bond with the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome on February 5, 2009, and with it comes the privilege of a Plenary Indulgence for each member of the faithful who makes a pilgrimage to the church under the normal conditions (confession, communion and no attachment to sin).  Bishop Rhoades had requested the privilege following an invitation by the archpriest of the papal basilica to bishops around the world.  In announcing the granting of the spiritual bond, Bishop Rhoades told The Catholic Witness, “Saint Mary’s Church in Lancaster is one of the most historic and beautiful churches of our diocese.  The original chapel was the third place of public Catholic worship in Pennsylvania.  This parish, and indeed our whole diocese, is honored by the wonderful privilege bestowed upon St. Mary’s Church – the special spiritual bond with the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome.  

The Basilica of St. Mary Major is the largest church in Rome dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary.  It is one of the four great papal basilicas, along with St. Peter, St. Paul Outside the Walls and St. John Lateran.  The basilica’s construction was inspired by the Council of Ephesus in 431, which proclaimed Mary as the Mother of God.  It is the only patriarchal basilica in Rome to have kept its original structure.  

This special relationship between St. Mary’s in Lancaster and the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome demonstrates the unity and universality of the church.  As Baptism and reception of the Most Holy Eucharist makes us one in Christ, this communion is manifested in other ways.  For example, we are gathered and strengthened by our Bishop who is a successor to the apostles and unites us to the Body of Christ in a unique way.  Now, this extraordinary connection between these two churches in Lancaster and Rome also testifies to the unity of the universal Church.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Father Invites Parish to Participate in "Total Consecration to Mary"

Total Consecration to Mary, explains St. Louis de Monfort, “consists in surrendering oneself in the manner of a slave to Mary, and to Jesus through her, and then performing all our actions with Mary, in Mary, through Mary, and for Mary” (The Secret of Mary, No. 28). It is also known as “True Devotion to Mary,” “Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary,” and “Holy Slavery.”  The Lord has been inspiring me to begin this total consecration to coincide with the closing of our Diocesan Marian Year (December 8).  I invite our entire parish to make this total consecration to Mary with me, consecrating ourselves and our parish to Mary.  According to St. Louis de Monfort, “True Devotion to Mary is nothing more than the perfect and certain and shortest way to live our baptismal vows.”  Each day, beginning November 5, those in preparation will pray certain prescribed prayers and meditations until December 8 when, during the 7pm & 9:30am Masses we will officially complete the consecration with a ceremony.  By making this consecration to Mary, you are placing yourself completely and totally in her hands. You are giving her permission to form you, discipline you, and mold you into a true follower of Christ. Do not be afraid, though, because she loves you. She will always take care of you, and knows better than anybody how to do so. It is always good to remember her words to St. Juan Diego in Mexico, "Hear and let it penetrate into your heart, my dear little son: let nothing discourage you, nothing depress you: let nothing alter your heart or your countenance. Also do not fear any illness or vexation, anxiety or pain. Am I not here who am your Mother? Are you not under my shadow and protection? Am I not your fountain of life? Are you not in the folds of my mantle, in the crossing of my arms? Is there anything else that you need?"  For more information visit: and click on "Total Consecration."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

32 Years Ago Today...

Saint Margaret Mary Alacoque & the Sacred Heart of Jesus

In seventeenth-century France the faith of the people had been badly shaken; there was rebellion against the Church and neglect of her teachings; the rise of Protestantism and the spread of heresy both had a part in the weakening of the structure built up through the ages.  But as every threat brings its response, so now there rose up fresh, strong forces to counter these trends.  Margaret Mary Alacoque was a simple nun of the order of the Visitation.   Her special work was to popularize the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. 

She was born in 1647 at Janots, a small town of Burgundy, the fifth of seven children, of Claude and Philiberte Alacoque.  Her father was a prosperous notary; the family owned a country house and farmland, and had some aristocratic connections.   Her father died of pneumonia when she was about eight, and this was a severe shock to the little girl.  Claude had loved his family dearly but had been short-sighted and extravagant.  His death put them in hard straits.  However, Margaret was sent to school with the Urbanist Sisters at Charolles.  She loved the peace and order of the convent life, and the nuns were so impressed by her devotion that she was allowed to make her First Communion at the age of nine.  A rheumatic affliction kept her bedridden for four years.  During this time she was brought home, where some of her father's relatives had moved in and taken over the direction of the farm and household.  She and her mother were disregarded, and treated almost as servants.  This painful situation grew more acute after Margaret's recovery, for the relatives tried to regulate all her comings and goings.  Not allowed to attend church as often as she pleased, the young girl was sometimes seen weeping and praying in a corner of the garden.  It grieved her deeply that she could not ease things for her mother.  Her eldest brother's coming of age saved the day, for the property now reverted to him, and the family again had undisputed possession of their home.

Philiberte expressed a hope that Margaret would marry; the girl considered the step, inflicting severe austerities upon herself during a period of indecision.  At the age of twenty, inspired by a vision, she put aside all such thoughts and resolved to enter a convent.  While awaiting admission, she tried to help and teach certain neglected children of the village.  At twenty-two she made her profession at the convent of the Visitation at Paray-le-Monial.  The nuns of the Order of the Visitation, founded in the early years of the seventeenth century by St. Francis de Sales, were famed for their humility and selflessness.  As a novice Margaret excelled in these virtues.  When she made her profession, the name of Mary was added and she was called Margaret Mary.  She began a course of mortifications and penances which were to continue, with more or less intensity, as long as she lived.  We are told that she was assigned to the infirmary and was not very skillful at her tasks.

Some years passed quietly in the convent, and then Margaret Mary began to have experiences which seemed to be of supernatural origin.  The first of these occurred on December 27, 1673, when she was kneeling at the grille in the chapel.  She felt suffused by the Divine Presence, and heard the Lord inviting her to take the place which St. John had occupied at the Last Supper.  The Lord told her that the love of His heart must spread and manifest itself to men, and He would reveal its graces through her.  This was the beginning of a series of revelations covering a period of eighteen months.  When Margaret Mary went to the Superior, Mother de Saumaise, with an account of these mystical experiences, claiming that she, an humble nun, had been chosen as the transmitter of a new devotion to the Sacred Heart, she was reprimanded for her presumption.  Seriously overwrought, Margaret Mary suffered a collapse, and became so ill that her life was despaired of.  Now the Mother Superior reflected that she might have erred in scorning the nun's story and vowed that if her life were spared, she would take it as a sign that the visions and messages were truly from God.  When Margaret Mary recovered, the Superior invited some theologians who happened to be in the town -they included a Jesuit and a Benedictine-to hear the story.  These priests listened and judged the young nun to be a victim of delusions.  Their examination had been a sheer torture to Margaret Mary.  Later a Jesuit, Father Claude de la Columbiere, talked to her and was completely convinced of the genuineness of the revelations.  He was to write of the nun and to inaugurate this devotion in England.

For many years the nun suffered from despair, from self-inflicted punishments, and also from the slights and contempt of those around her.  In 1681 Father Claude returned to the convent and died there the following year.  Margaret Mary was appointed assistant and novice-mistress by a new Mother Superior who was more sympathetic towards her.  Opposition ceased-or at least was restrained-after an account of Margaret Mary's visions was read aloud in the refectory from the writings left by Father Claude, who had taken it upon himself to make known to the world the nun's remarkable experiences.  That she was finally vindicated was to her a matter of indifference.  When she was forty-three, while serving a second term as assistant superior, Margaret Mary fell ill.  Sinking rapidly, she received the Last Sacraments, saying, "I need nothing but God, and to lose myself in the heart of Jesus."

Although the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus was practiced before this time, it now gained a strong new impetus through the work of Father John Eudes and the writings of Father Claude.  The Sacred Heart is regarded as "the symbol of that boundless love which moved the Word to take flesh, to institute the Holy Eucharist, to take our sins upon Himself, and, dying on the Cross, to offer Himself as a victim and sacrifice to the eternal Father."  The devotion first became popular in France, then spread to Poland and other countries, including, at a later period, the United States.  The first petition to the Holy See for the institution of the feast was from Queen Mary, consort of James II of England.  The month of June is appointed for this devotion, and since 1929 the feast has been one of the highest rank.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Respect Life Month

On Sunday, October 3, 70+ people gathered in the Waynesboro Square for a public witness to the sanctity of human life from the first moment of conception.  Those gathered prayed and stood in silent witness to all who passed by.  Our own parish Knights of the Holy Temple were among those who stood and prayed in witness to Life.

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Several people asked me for a copy of this weekend's homily.  Here you are.  Enjoy - and "thank you" for all you do.

10 October 2010 – 28th OT C

If I told you that I’ve got a secret that will change the entire outlook of your life – would you want to know it?

If I told you that this secret is a really easy thing to do – would you believe it?

Well, I DO have that secret – and it IS really easy – and that secret is contained in today’s readings. The secret is… be thankful. If you are, your entire outlook on life will be different.

In today’s readings we hear about people being cleansed of leprosy. We know what leprosy is – but we may not know much about it. Let’s remember what that disease really was:
  • Leprosy is a bacterial infection that causes the extremities of the body - fingers and toes, hands and feet, nose, ears, and mouth - to die and slowly rot away, even while the person remains alive.
  • In those days it was so contagious that even the lepers' closest relatives did not dare to come near them.
  • Lepers were required to live in isolated colonies.
  • If they had to travel, the law required them to ring a bell wherever they went, shouting out, "Unclean! Unclean!" This explains why these ten lepers addressed Christ "from a distance", as St Luke points out.
  • On top of the isolation, lepers had to live with the almost unbearable pain and stench of their own decaying bodies.
  • Leprosy was a long, humiliating, and dismal agony, the most horrible of ancient diseases.
Naaman and one of the lepers in today’s Gospel have their lives changed – they come to realize what God has done for them – and they want to give him thanks.

Did God HAVE to cure them? No. Did God WANT to cure them? YES! That’s the different in attitude between the 9 lepers who failed to come back and the one who did. The 9 thought, perhaps, that this cure was owed them – so they receive the gift and go away – ungrateful for what they’ve received.

The one, on the other hand, sees his healing for what it is – a gratuitous gift from God – and as a result, HE becomes a man of thanks as he comes back to Christ to say, “thank you.”

Which are we?

Well, maybe some example will help us answer that question:
  • A week or so ago, I was waiting in the check-out line at Martin’s. I couldn’t help but hear the lady behind me complaining about the road construction going on 16. Has it been annoying? YES! All summer it’s seemed that you can’t get in or out of Waynesboro without hitting serious road construction. Anyway, this person behind me in line went on and on about how terrible this construction was, what a bad job they had done scraping, complaining about the way you had to go around all the man-hold covers and sewer grates… She just went on about it, like it was the worst thing in the world. Annoying? Yes! But, stop for one second! The road work means that, soon, we’ll have really nice, smooth roads to drive on – no more avoiding the potholes. It’ll be so nice – soon. Instead of taking a step back and looking at what lies ahead, we just like to complain about the current situation. But maybe we’d rather complain than be grateful for the upgrade…
  • Over the years as a priest, I have, unfortunately, dealt with the death of a child several times. 
    • I remember one family – mom was just filled with anger and grief – how could God do this?! It was very much, “God’s fault” in her mind. To this day, she has not been able to overcome her anger at God for “taking” her son from her.
    • Then I remember another family – a completely different response. They, too, were devastated. But there was a real difference. Instead of being furious with God, they were thankful that God had given their son to them for 14 years – certainly they wished it could have been longer – but they saw the blessings that their son had been to them – and they were able to thank God for having given him to them for those few years. Yes, they still grieved their loss, but with hearts thankful to God.
  • Another thing I deal with often as a priest is illness. Again, it seems we could have two different attitudes when dealing with illness – either our own or a loved one’s:
    • Why me? Why does God hate me so? What did I do to deserve this? That’s one reaction.
    • The other, an awareness of the cross – gratitude for the love and care and concern of family and others. Sometimes even a thankfulness that God had chosen them to carry this cross.
Our relationship with God – and with others – does come down to our own attitude and outlook. Are we people who see the terrible – and only the terrible – in our lives?  OR are we people who see a bad situation – but are able to find in it something for which to be thankful?

Why do we come to Mass? Because we have to – for some, that’s the right answer…

We come to Mass because it is absolutely necessary for us to learn to be thankful people. THIS is why coming to church EVERY Sunday is one of the 10 commandments – and why purposefully missing Mass on a Sunday is still mortal sin. Because God wants to teach us how to be grateful and thankful people.

Why does God value gratitude so much? Is he vain? Is his self-esteem so weak that he gets depressed if we don't praise and thank him?

No. He values gratitude because gratitude is valuable - it's valuable for us, for the health of our souls.
  • In the first place, gratitude keeps us grounded in the truth, which is key for our ongoing relationship with God.
    • To be ungrateful to God is not only unjust, but it's also living an illusion.
    • The simple fact is that everything we have is a gift from God: creation, life, talents, opportunities, hope in heaven, the grace that helps us persevere in doing what is right - these are all God's gifts.
    • God is totally gracious in giving us so much – even difficulties. He offers us all salvation! Question is, what is our response?
  • In the second place, gratitude is the perfect antidote to sin. Sin turns us in on our selves, like an ingrown toenail; gratitude opens us up to God and neighbor.
    • It directly contradicts self-centeredness, self-indulgence, and self-absorption.
    • It builds bridges, unites communities, and softens hearts.
    • It counteracts depression and releases anxiety.
Gratitude is one of the most beautiful flowers in the garden of virtue - what a pity that it's so rare!

God wants us to develop the virtue of gratitude because he wants us to experience the joy that comes from knowing we are loved by him without limits or conditions.

But, like every virtue, gratitude can only grow if we exercise it.

How can we exercise gratitude? There is nothing easier. All we have to do is say thank you - and mean it. I’ll never forget the lesson of my pastor in Hanover: countless times I heard him say to someone, “thank you.” It was constant and sincere – always offering thanks to people for the things they did in the parish – whether large or small. Problem with me is, I often take too long to say thank you: But it is never too late to offer thanks.

Gratitude is a virtue who we have to learn to practice… but we all know how a small “thank you” goes a long way:
  • We have all received a note of thanks at some time in our life, long after we had performed the favor.
  • When that thank you note arrives, it warms our heart, because it shows that our action lasted, that someone was thinking of us long after the favor was done.
I remember after going to the seminary, I wanted to thank the priest who had gotten me back on the right road – a priest from Philadelphia where I had gone to college. He simply one day asked me why I wasn’t going to church – I started going back again, got involved in my local parish teaching CCD, and then ended up in the seminary. I just wanted to write and thank him because we priests often don’t know the impact of our words on people – we certainly hear when they are upset with our words, but rarely do we hear how we have helped people by our priestly ministry and challenges.

A few years ago at our annual priest workshop I was out to dinner with some priests – and one of them, who had taken some time away on a leave-of-absence recalled an important moment in his life: he had just returned to the priesthood from his leave and found that many of the guys weren’t talking to him – they were somehow “shunning” him for having taken some time off to get his head on straight. He recalled seeing me for the first time at a priest funeral. He began to cry as he recounted how, when I saw him, I simply went over and hugged him. “I’ll never forget that – it meant so much to me” he said – wiping tears from his eyes. “Thank you, John, for welcoming me back.” It was a thank you for something I didn’t even realize I had done.

This is why we come to Mass – to be THANKFUL people. Every time we hear the Scriptures proclaimed – we remember all that God did (and does) for us – how he called us to be His own special people – how He offers us healing and cleansing when we but come to Him with faith (like the lepers in the Gospel today)…

Then, greatest of all gratuitous gifts, He gives us Himself in the Holy Eucharist – the very word means, “thanksgiving.” We come to thank God who does and has done so much for us – and in return, he heals and nourishes us! Just as the bread and wine are changed into His Body and Blood, WE are changed to become thankful and responsive people.

It is such an important virtue, that God put thankfulness it at the very center of Christian worship: the celebration of the Eucharist.

This is why we don't just stay home and say some prayers, or to go to the mountains and enjoy the view.
Those are good things to do. But what happens here, in this community and on this altar, goes much, much deeper – and can never be replaced by our private prayers or journeys to the mountain or sea.

Gratitude is an affectionate and the only appropriate response to a favor.  So he himself provided a way for us to offer him a perfect thanksgiving, an infinite act of gratitude: through the Eucharist.

The Eucharist is Christ himself, truly present, body, blood, soul and divinity, under the appearances of bread and wine.  And since Christ is present in this sacrament, so are all of Christ's actions and prayers, most especially, his self-sacrifice on the cross.  By uniting our minds and hearts - and even our bodies, through Holy Communion - to Christ's own self-offering in the Eucharist, our human prayer of thanksgiving becomes divine.

And so, we are able to say thank you to God as we ought to, as we want to, and as God truly deserves.

That's what we have come together to do today. And we can only do it here, at Mass. Today, lets learn the secret to changing our outlook on life – starting today, let's be like the grateful Samaritan: let's look at things from a different perspective – and rather than complain, let’s start to say “thank you.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Saint Francis Blessing for the Beasts

On Monday evening, October 4, a group of animals (and their human counterparts) gathered in the cold air in front of Saint Andrew School for the blessing of animals.  Saint Francis of Assisi is well known as the patron saint of animals and so, recognizing the role that animals play, not only in our own lives, but also in salvation history, the Church has a long custom of blessing animals on St. Francis' feast day.  We sang, prayed and blessed asking the intercession of Saint Francis for our "furry friends."

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Our Lady of the Rosary

today is the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary.  The Rosary has long been an important part of Catholic spirituality and prayer...

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Joyce Harbaugh

Mrs. Joyce W. (Walter) Harbaugh, 82, of 937 Sunset Avenue, Waynesboro, PA entered into eternal rest at 8:30 P.M. Monday, October 4, 2010 in her home.

She was born on July 5, 1928 in Waynesboro; she was the daughter of the late Lawrence E. and Elsie C. (Welty) Walter. She was a lifelong resident of Waynesboro and Shady Grove areas.

Joyce graduated from Waynesboro Senior High School with the class of 1946.

She and her late husband, Mr. Wilfred "LeCron" Harbaugh, II, were married on October 25, 1952 in Waynesboro. They moved from their Shady Grove home to the present residence in December 2006. Mr. Harbaugh died February 11, 2008.

In her early life, she worked for the Waynesboro Telephone Company until 1958. She then raised her family and worked with her husband, who owned and operated Harbaugh's Hardware on Main Street, Waynesboro. They retired in 2004.

Mrs. Harbaugh was a member of St. Andrew Catholic Church, Waynesboro.

Spending time with her family was very important; she enjoyed gardening, reading, caring for people, and playing cards.

She is survived by the following children, Randall L. Harbaugh, Waynesboro; Gregory W. Harbaugh wife Laurie of Waynesboro; Amy Harbaugh Heufeld husband Stephen of Potomac, MD; Laura H. Schoonover husband Stephen of Waynesboro, seven grandchildren, Douglas Harbaugh, Stephanie Harbaugh, Sophia Neufeld, Ivy Schoonover, Jacob Schoonover, Stanley Michael Schoonover, Lydia Schoonover and a number of nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by three brothers, Donald R. Walter, Carroll E. "Jack" Walter and Robert G. Walter.

Memorial mass will be celebrated at 11:00 A.M. Friday, October 8, 2010 in St. Andrew Catholic Church, 12 N. Broad Street, Waynesboro with Rev. John B. Bateman, Jr. officiating. Burial will be at the convenience of the family in Green Hill Cemetery, Waynesboro.

Family will receive friends one hour prior to services in the church.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to St. Andrew Catholic School, 12 N. Broad Street, Waynesboro, PA 17268.

Grove-Bowersox Funeral Home, Waynesboro is handling the arrangements.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Respect Life Sunday

Today we celebrate Respect Life Sunday.  Today there are many events planned to stand in solidarity and support and defend life at all stages.  You will certainly notice the crosses in front of Saint Andrew School.  The crosses represent the number of abortions that take place every hour in the United States.  it is a shocking reality!

Here is a schedule of today's Respect Life activities:
- 8 & 10:45 am Masses: Fr. Paul Schenck will preach at both Masses.  Fr. Schenck is the Diocesan Director of the Respect Life Office.
- 9:30 - 10:30 am - Life Chain in front of Saint Andrew School.
- 1:00 pm: Holy "Hour" for Life in the church.  Fr. Schenck will preach.
- 2:00 pm - the Life Chain takes place in the Waynesboro Square.

LIFE CHAIN is a peaceful and prayerful public witness (not a protest) of pro-life individuals all around our nation who stand for 60 minutes praying for our nation and for an end to abortion. It is a visual statement of solidarity by the Christian community that abortion kills children and that the Church supports the sanctity of human life from the moment of conception until natural death.

During both events there are no protest rallies nor speeches, just silent witness & prayer. Waynesboro officials are aware of the LIFE CHAIN and have given permission for the event to take place on the sidewalks at both locations. Come, be involved!  Stand up for life!

Family Fun Day

It was a BEAUTIFUL day in Waynesboro for the Annual Family Fun Day.  Our school and parish family came together and worked together for what appears to have been a VERY successful day.  Many thanks to everyone who worked to hard to make it a great day!

Friday, October 1, 2010

St. Therese of the Child Jesus - the Little Flower - of Lisieux

Therese Martin was the last of nine children born to Louis and Zelie Martin on January 2, 1873, in Alencon, France.  However, only five of these children lived to reach adulthood.  Precocious and sensitive, Therese needed much attention.  Her mother died when she was 4 years old.  As a result, her father and sisters babied young Therese.  She had a spirit that wanted everything.

At the age of 14, on Christmas Eve in 1886, Therese had a conversion that transformed her life.  From then on, her powerful energy and sensitive spirit were turned toward love, instead of keeping herself happy.  At 15, she entered the Carmelite convent in Lisieux to give her whole life to God.  She took the religious name Sister Therese of the Child Jesus and the Holy Face.  Living a hidden, simple life of prayer, she was gifted with great intimacy with God.  Through sickness and dark nights of doubt and fear, she remained faithful to God, rooted in His merciful love.  After a long struggle with tuberculosis, she died on September 30, 1897, at the age of 24.  Her last words were the story of her life: "My God, I love You!" 
The world came to know Therese through her autobiography, "Story of a Soul".  She described her life as a "little way of spiritual childhood."  She lived each day with an unshakable confidence in God's love.  "What matters in life," she wrote, "is not great deeds, but great love."   Therese lived and taught a spirituality of attending to everyone and everything well and with love.  She believed that just as a child becomes enamored with what is before her, we should also have a childlike focus and totally attentive love.  Therese's spirituality is of doing the ordinary, with extraordinary love.

Therese saw the seasons as reflecting the seasons of God's love affair with us.   She loved flowers and saw herself as the "little flower of Jesus," who gave glory to God by just being her beautiful little self among all the other flowers in God's garden.  Because of this beautiful analogy, the title "little flower" remained with St. Therese.

Her inspiration and powerful presence from heaven touched many people very quickly.  She was canonized by Pope Pius XI on May 17, 1925.  Had she lived, she would have been only 52 years old when she was declared a Saint.

"My mission - to make God loved - will begin after my death," she said.  "I will spend my heaven doing good on earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."  Roses have been described and experienced as Saint Therese's signature.  Countless millions have been touched by her intercession and imitate her "little way."  She has been acclaimed "the greatest saint of modern times."  In 1997, Pope John Paul II declared St. Therese a Doctor of the Church - the only Doctor of his pontificate - in tribute to the powerful way her spirituality has influenced people all over the world.

The message of St. Therese is beautiful, inspiring, and simple.