Thursday, November 22, 2012

USCCB - "Five Things to Remember..."

Five Things to Remember on Nov. 21

1.      On Thanksgiving, when we think of pilgrims to America, we might recall that 30 percent of new priests ordained in the United States are foreign-born.  Many gifts to the United States come from beyond our borders.

2.      There are more than 40 lawsuits against the federal mandate forcing private health plans to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs. Federal judges have issued initial rulings in four cases brought by people of faith who run a business – and in three out of four, the company has won a preliminary injunction against the mandate. This speaks well for a few judges’ understanding of freedom of conscience, which lies at the heart of Freedom of Religion.

3.      Generous Catholics help U.S. dioceses meet basic needs. The U.S. bishops announced Nov. 19 that thanks to the Catholic Home Missions appeal they awarded $8.4 million in grants to 84 mission dioceses in the U.S. The Fairbanks, Alaska diocese, where many villages see a priest only once a month, got $135,000 for training deacons and Eucharistic ministers. The Cheyenne, Wyoming diocese, that has 45 priests to serve 53,000 Catholics spread over 98,000 miles, got $75,000 to help educate 11 seminarians. The El Paso, Texas diocese, where the ratio of priests to Catholics is 1:6,800, got $105,000 for youth and evangelization programs.
4.      Nov. 22 is the feast of St. Cecilia, patroness of musicians. “Singing belongs to one who loves,” said St. Augustine of Hippo. The General Instruction of the Roman Missal (para 39) speaks of the importance of singing as a part of worship and notes an ancient proverb: “One who sings well prays twice.”

5.  God loves you.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

40 Hours Eucharistic Devotions

Today our parish begins her  annual retreat: her annual Eucharistic Devotions - commonly called "40 Hours."  Why is it called "40 Hours?"  To honor the forty hours that the body of Christ rested in the tomb, the Blessed Sacrament is solemnly exposed for this period of time, during which public services, private meditation and prayer take place.  This devotion developed in the 16th Century.  The exact period of forty hours' exposition, in practice, is not strictly adhered to.  The Holy See granted an indulgence to those who take part.

History of the Devotion

A chronicler from Milan describes the custom which began in May, 1537. He gives details as to the church with which it started. Less than two years later, Pope Paul III granted an indulgence to anyone who participated in the devotion.  

The practice without doubt spread rapidly. Already before the year 1550 this, or some analogous exposition, had been established by St. Philip Neri for the Confraternity of the Trinita dei Pellegrini in Rome; while St. Ignatius Loyola, at about the same period, seems to have given much encouragement to the practice. As this devotion also commonly lasted for a period of about forty hours, it seems to have been given the name "Quarant' Ore"; and under this name it is still maintained in many places.

St. Charles Borromeo speaks as if this practice of praying for forty hours was of very ancient date; and he distinctly refers it to the forty hours our Lord's Body remained in the tomb, seeing that this was a period of watching, suspense, and ardent prayer on the part of all His disciples.

St. John Neumann, Bishop of Philadelphia, advocated the devotion here in the United States.  Visiting his parishes in the 1850’s he noted with sorrow that few people took time for a private visit to the Blessed Sacrament.  In 1853 each parish in his Diocese was to hold a Forty Hours Eucharistic Celebration.  Since at that time, we were part of the Philadelphia Diocese, the parishes in our area would also have begun the devotion.  We continue that tradition today with our parish’s annual celebration of Forty Hours.    
You are invited to come, spend some time with the Lord in prayer during these days.  This year the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed all-day and all-night - so come at any time of the day or night to spend some time with the Lord.  Sunday, Monday & Tuesday evenings there will be a Eucharistic Service of Praise - and this year our guest homilist is our very own Deacon Kevin Kayda.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Great way to Celebrate Advent

Finding good Advent music is often difficult to find - but this looks really great!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Election Day Prayer

And now, with the Presidency, all 435 House seats and 33 in the Senate, the legislature of 44 states, hundreds of city or county posts – and, not to be forgotten, several key ballot-questions facing voters – all up for grabs today, as ever at moments like this, let us return again to the foundational text of Faithful Citizenship, American Style – the Prayer for the Nation and its Government written and first delivered in August 1791 by John Carroll of Baltimore: adviser to Washington, cousin of the Declaration's lone Catholic signer, the first shepherd of this church in these States....
We pray, Thee O Almighty and Eternal God! Who through Jesus Christ hast revealed Thy glory to all nations, to preserve the works of Thy mercy, that Thy Church, being spread through the whole world, may continue with unchanging faith in the confession of Thy Name. 
We pray Thee, who alone art good and holy, to endow with heavenly knowledge, sincere zeal, and sanctity of life, our chief bishop, Pope [Benedict XVI], the Vicar of Our Lord Jesus Christ, in the government of his Church; our own bishop, [Joseph McFadden], all other bishops, prelates, and pastors of the Church; and especially those who are appointed to exercise amongst us the functions of the holy ministry, and conduct Thy people into the ways of salvation. 
We pray Thee O God of might, wisdom, and justice! Through whom authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment decreed, assist with Thy Holy Spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that his administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to Thy people over whom he presides; by encouraging due respect for virtue and religion; by a faithful execution of the laws in justice and mercy; and by restraining vice and immorality. Let the light of Thy divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government, so that they may tend to the preservation of peace, the promotion of national happiness, the increase of industry, sobriety, and useful knowledge; and may perpetuate to us the blessing of equal liberty. 
We pray for his excellency, the governor of this state , for the members of the assembly, for all judges, magistrates, and other officers who are appointed to guard our political welfare, that they may be enabled, by Thy powerful protection, to discharge the duties of their respective stations with honesty and ability. 
We recommend likewise, to Thy unbounded mercy, all our brethren and fellow citizens throughout the United States, that they may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of Thy most holy law; that they may be preserved in union, and in that peace which the world cannot give; and after enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. 
Finally, we pray to Thee, O Lord of mercy, to remember the souls of Thy servants departed who are gone before us with the sign of faith and repose in the sleep of peace; the souls of our parents, relatives, and friends; of those who, when living, were members of this congregation, and particularly of such as are lately deceased; of all benefactors who, by their donations or legacies to this Church, witnessed their zeal for the decency of divine worship and proved their claim to our grateful and charitable remembrance. 
To these, O Lord, and to all that rest in Christ, grant, we beseech Thee, a place of refreshment, light, and everlasting peace, through the same Jesus Christ, Our Lord and Savior. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Bishop McFadden Issues Letter for Election

                                                                                                            November 3, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

This week the citizens of the United States will elect the political leadership for our country, our state and our local communities who will guide our government into the future and will legislate and execute laws that will affect the way of life in our country. As Catholics it is necessary that we understand the importance of our participation in this civic activity and exercise our civic duty to elect office holders who will represent us in the public square. As we choose from the candidates who have presented themselves, I encourage you to look carefully at the positions that they have taken and the platforms upon which they are running and select the individual that you feel in conscience best reflects the values that you believe as a Catholic are necessary for the common good in our society. Please make use of the voter guides and resources that have been provided by the Pennsylvania Catholic Bishops and the United States Conference of Catholic bishops. These are available at   

As you exercise this civic right and duty, I encourage you to be guided by the Catholic principles that reflect our understanding of human life and the intrinsic value and dignity of every human person made in the image and likeness of God. I ask that you keep in mind our Catholic social teaching and its emphasis on providing for the common good of all citizens and our right to religious freedom guaranteed in our constitution.

     I encourage all Catholics to make every effort to fulfill your civic responsibility and vote this Tuesday, November 6th for our civic leaders. I also ask that we pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit in electing leaders that will be able to guide our country with wisdom and grace and lead us into a time of deeper peace and tranquility. Pray that those elected will have the strength of character and the integrity of life to face the challenges confronting our country and work to secure its future for all citizens.

May the good Lord continue to shower on our country His blessings and help us to entrust our nation to His protection as did our Founding Fathers at its foundation.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Joseph P. McFadden
                                                                                                            Bishop of Harrisburg

Friday, November 2, 2012

All Souls Day

Often overshadowed by the two days preceding it, Halloween (October 31) and All Saints Day (November 1), All Souls Day is a solemn feast for us which commemorates all of those who have died and now are in Purgatory, being cleansed of their venial sins and the temporal punishments for the mortal sins that they had confessed and atoning before entering fully into Heaven.

The importance of All Souls Day was made clear by Pope Benedict XV (1914-22), when he granted all priests the privilege of celebrating three Masses on All Souls Day: one, for the faithful departed; one for the priest's intentions; and one for the intentions of the Holy Father. Only on a handful of other very important feast days are priests allowed to celebrate more than two Masses.

On All Souls Day, we not only remember the dead, but we apply our efforts, through prayer, almsgiving, and the Mass, to their release from Purgatory.  There are two plenary indulgences attached to All Souls Day, one for visiting a church and another for visiting a cemetery.  (The plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery can also be obtained every day from November 1-8, and, as a partial indulgence, on any day of the year.)  While the actions are performed by the living, the merits of the indulgences are applicable only to the souls in Purgatory.

Praying for the dead is a Christian obligation.  In the modern world, when many have come to doubt the Church's teaching on Purgatory, the need for such prayers has only increased.  The Church devotes the month of November to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory, and participation in the Mass of All Souls Day is a good way to begin the month.

And this we will do here our parish on Sunday at 7pm... remembering all the following members of our parish family who have died since the last All Souls Day:
  • Doris George (November 30, 2011)
  • Betty Jane Topper (December 6, 2011)
  • Dora O'Toole (December 13, 2011)
  • Regina Hockenberry (December 17, 2011)
  • Richard O'Toole (December 19, 2011)
  • Jay Wilkinson (December 20, 2011)
  • James Jarvis (January 1, 2012)
  • Betsy Boland (January 15, 2012)
  • Elizabeth Matapeter (February 4, 2012)
  • Louis LaSorsa (February 7, 2012)
  • Robert Britsch (February 16, 2012)
  • Mary Serbin (February 17, 2012)
  • Max Shearer (March 13, 2012)
  • Helen Pawloski (March 20, 2012)
  • Josefine Huber (March 28, 2012)
  • Robert O'Toole (April 10, 2012)
  • Della Wagaman (April 16, 2012)
  • Claudia Brandes (May 4, 2012)
  • Cindy Caron (June 22, 2012)
  • C. Robert Brezler (September 9, 2012)
  • Ellen Mulcahy (September 24, 2012)
  • Ronald Mackey (October 1, 2012)
Here is a wonderful prayer, coming from the Byzantine Church, we can offer for them and for all the faithful departed:

By Thy resurrection from the dead, O Christ, death no longer hath dominion over those who die in holiness. So, we beseech Thee, give rest to Thy servants in Thy sanctuary and in Abraham's bosom. Grant it to those, who from Adam until now have adored Thee with purity, to our fathers and brothers, to our kinsmen and friends, to all men who have lived by faith and passed on their road to Thee, by a thousand ways, and in all conditions, and make them worthy of the heavenly kingdom.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

All Saints Day!

Just about every day in the Church calendar has the celebration of a saint, but today, the Solemnity of All Saints, is when the Church honors all the saints, known and unknown.  This is kind of like the American holidays Veterans Day and Presidents Day, where many people are honored on one day.  While we have information about many saints, and we honor them on specific days, there are MANY unknown or unsung saints, who may have been forgotten, or never been specifically honored.  On All Saints Day, we celebrate these saints of the Lord, and ask for their prayers and intercessions.  The whole concept of All Saints Day is tied in with the concept of the Communion of Saints.  This is the belief that all of God's people, on heaven, earth, and in the state of purification (called Purgatory), are connected in a communion.  In other words, Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that the saints of God are just as alive as you and I, and are constantly interceding on our behalf.  Remember, our connection with the saints in heaven is one grounded in a tight-knit communion.  The saints are not divine, nor omnipresent or omniscient.  However, because of our common communion with and through Jesus Christ, our prayers are joined with the heavenly community of Christians.  St. Cyril of Jerusalem (AD 350) testifies to this belief:

We mention those who have fallen asleep: first the patriarchs, prophets, apostles, and martyrs, that through their prayers and supplications God would receive our petition... (Catechetical Lecture 23:9).

The Catholic Catechism concisely describes this communion among believers, by which we are connected to Christ, and thus to one another:

"Being more closely united to Christ, those who dwell in heaven fix the whole Church more firmly in holiness... They do not cease to intercede with the Father for us... So by their fraternal concern is our weakness greatly helped."

" Christian communion among our fellow pilgrims brings us closer to Christ, so our communion with the saints joins us to Christ, from whom as from its fountain and head issues all grace, and the life of the People of God itself: We worship Christ as God's Son; we love the martyrs as the Lord's disciples and imitators, and rightly so because of their matchless devotion towards their king and master.  May we also be their companions and fellow disciples (CCC 956, 957)!