PASTOR’S CORNER

Deacon Ken’s Second Sunday of Ordinary Time Homily

      Who of us could ever forget our wedding day? Men and women alike have described their weddings day as more than happy: They have described that infamous day as joyous. It is a day that only the birth of a child could surpass. The loved one has for their spouse is different than any they have ever experienced before. It is different than the love for a parent and even siblings. Married love is a deeper love. It is a love when most learn what it means to give of oneself to another.

     I think it’s pretty slick of the prophet Isaiah to use wedding language to help the Israelites re-discover the love of God. The Israelites have just returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian exile. The place is a mess. It’s been ransacked by all who have passed by. The giant doors that had protected it have been burned. The temple grounds have become the feeding ground for the wild animals. To the Israelites, God seems so far away. Isaiah contrasts the love of newlyweds to the joyous love God has for his people. The Israelites come to find peace and even joy in God’s love, even in their dire circumstances.

      There’s much going on at the Wedding Feast in Cana. Most of the “goings on” are examples of love. It’s where Jesus begins his Priestly Ministry. it is a ministry that will lead him to do the will of His Father. The will of the Father will lead Jesus to the cross.

     For the newlyweds It was supposed to be the happiest day of their life. Soon, it would become one of the most embarrassing days of their lives, if something wasn’t done about the lack of wine. The newlyweds must have felt horrible. How could they face their friends? What were they going to do? While we will never know their financial status, It couldn’t have been that great. They were running out of wine way to early at their wedding banquet, and they were newlyweds.

      Somehow Mary is alerted that these newlyweds were running out of wine. As a mother, Mary understands how embarrassing it would be for the newlyweds to run out of wine. Mary doesn’t want what is supposed to be one of the happiest days of their lives to be ruined. Mary approaches Jesus and tells him: “the newlyweds have run out of wine.” Then Mary tells the servers to “do whatever he tells you.” Mary knows what is supposed to happen. Six stone jars full of water, become wine. Not only did they have wine but, they had an abundance of high-quality wine. God uses people just like you and I to come to someone else’s rescue. In one story, God sent a prophet to speak words of encouragement, so the Israelites would not give up hope: that God was coming to their rescue. In another, God sends Mary to tell Jesus to assist the newlyweds. It was at Mary’s prompting, that Jesus performed his first miracle.

     There is a name for what the readings have expressed today. It’s called love working through faith. The thing about love working through faith is that we never know when God might need us to give another a word of encouragement. God might even ask us to help a friend in need. You can be assured that if God calls us to show love working through faith, He will give us what we need to complete our task. My brothers and sisters, enter into the wedding feast at Cana Where: Mary intercedes for the newlyweds through Jesus. Water is turned into wine. Jesus’ glory is revealed, and the apostles begin to believe. Enter into God’s love and be joyous in it.

 

Second Sunday of Ordinary Time

     This Sunday we begin the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. For many Sundays in this lectionary cycle (Cycle C), our readings will be taken from the Gospel of Luke. Occasionally, however, we will read from John’s Gospel. This is true of today’s Gospel reading, which describes the beginning of Jesus’ ministry and his first miracle.

      To situate today’s reading within the context of John’s Gospel, we note that John’s report of this event follows Jesus’ call of his first disciples. John tells us that Jesus and his disciples were invited to this wedding at Cana, as was Jesus’ mother, Mary. There is no parallel report of this miracle at Cana in the Synoptic Gospels. In the Church’s liturgical history, the wedding feast of Cana is closely associated with the baptism of the Lord and the adoration of the infant Jesus by the Wise Men. In this context, the sign Jesus performs at the wedding feast is celebrated as an epiphany or a manifestation of Jesus’ divinity.

        Yet awareness of Jesus’ impending passion and death is ever present in John’s Gospel. Even in this report of Jesus’ first sign, the language used anticipates Jesus’ passion. When Jesus says to his mother that his hour has not yet come, he protests her wishes in language that John will use again when reporting Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples. When introducing the story of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet, John writes that Jesus knew that his hour had come. In John’s Gospel, Jesus is very much in command and aware of all that is to happen to him. Here, as elsewhere in John’s Gospel, Mary is not mentioned by name, but is referred to instead as the mother of Jesus. Mary is influential in Jesus’ first sign. She will also be present at his Crucifixion, a witness to the final manifestation of his divinity.

      John’s Gospel describes seven signs that indicate Jesus’ identity to his disciples. John never speaks of these signs as miracles because their importance is not in the deed that Jesus performs but in what these deeds indicate about Jesus’ identity. Here, as when John describes the other signs, the disciples are said to begin to believe, but no mention is made as to whether the other wedding guests are even aware of what has happened.

       Marriage and wedding feasts are metaphors used in Scripture to describe God’s salvation and the Kingdom of God. Here at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, John’s Gospel seeks to establish that Jesus is going to reinterpret and fulfill Yahweh’s promise to Israel. Jesus establishes the New Covenant. A hint about what this New Covenant will be like is made evident in the deed that Jesus performs. Asked to do something to address the awkward situation that the absence of wine at a wedding feast would create, Jesus’ miracle produces vast quantities of wine-six jars holding thirty gallons each are filled to overflowing with choice wine.

      This lavish response to a simple human need is a vision for us of the abundance of God’s kingdom. It challenges us to respond generously when confronted with human need today. We respond as best we can, fully confident that God can transform our efforts, bringing the Kingdom of God to fulfillment among us.

 

SYNOD SYNODALITY

     The Holy Father in seeking to hear from all the People of God on how to better bring the Mission of the Church to the world, has announced Synod 2021- 2023. To start, he is asking for all dioceses throughout the world to conduct local meetings to discuss this very topic. Who are the People of God? It is all the baptized. That means not only the lay faithful, those in religious orders and the clergy. It also means those who are poor, disabled migrants and immigrants elderly young adults, those who no longer practice the faith, women and men. In other word everyone.

      Did you know that when you are baptized you were called to a priestly prophetic, and kingly mission to bring the good news to all? This duty then does not lie strictly with the clergy. The Holy Spirit dwells within God’s people. The Holy Father recognize that coming together to discuss how to better further the mission of the Church is where the Holy Spirit can work powerfully.

The 10 themes of the Synod that will be discussed:
• Companions: In our local Church, who are those who “walk together”?
• Listening: How is God speaking to us through voices we sometimes ignore?
• Speaking Out: What enables or hinders speaking up courageously, candidly, civilly, and responsibly in our local Church and in society?
• Celebration: How do prayer and liturgical celebrations actually inspire and guide our common life and
mission in our community?
• Sharing Responsibility: As missionary disciples, how is every baptized person called to participate in
the mission of the Church?
• Dialogue: To what extent do diverse peoples in our community come together for dialogue.
• Ecumenism: What relationships does our Church community have with members of other Christian traditions and denominations?
• Participation: How does our Church community identify the goals to be pursued, the way to reach
them, and the steps to be taken?
• Discerning: What methods and processes do we use in decision-making?
• Forming Ourselves: How does our church community form people to be more capable of “walking together, “listening to one another, participating in mission, and engaging in dialogue?

Learn more at http://www.CatholicAOC.org/Synod. Want to participate? On the website you will find an opportunity to sign up for one of our local meetings near you. We hope to see you there! And, if you know someone who has left the faith, please invite them to participate tool

The North Dayton deanery gathering is scheduled for Thursday, January 13, 2022, from 7-9 pm at St Peter.

 

Feast of the Epiphany

THE THREE WISE MEN

      Epiphany of the Lord is an important feast that comes shortly after Christmas, in the early days of January. The word Epiphany comes from Greek verb epiphainesthai, to appear and epiphaneia, which means manifestation (usually associated with a divine being). Thus, Epiphany is the manifestation of Jesus to the outside world.

      Epiphany also means a wonderful discovery or a great revelation. It is a remembrance of the coming of the Magi or the three Wise Men to the infant Jesus at Bethlehem. Generally, Epiphany is the manifestation of the infant Jesus to the gentile world, or to all non- Jews.

      The Three Wise Men came from Persia, the present- day Iran and their religion was Zoroastrianism. Many years before the birth of Christ, the book of Psalms prophesied that “The kings of Tharsis and the islands shall offer presents; the kings of the Arabians and of Saba shall bring him gifts: and all the kings of the earth shall adore him”; (Psalm 71:10). Some ancient pictures depict these men in three colors – black, brown, and white, to represent the different races of the world and to express the universality of the gen- tiles or non-Jews, as well as the all-embracing mission of Jesus.

      The story of the Wise men and their visit to the infant Jesus is very instructive. First, these Wise Men were experts in astrology and in the interpretation of dreams. They were also known as Magi, which is the plural form of the Latin word Magus, which means a Magician. It is interesting to see how their knowledge of astrology assisted them in tracing where Jesus was born. However, this natural skill was insufficient as they lost their way. This was why they went to the palace of Herod to make enquiries. The scribes and priests had to refer to the Holy Book to recall that a savior was to be born in Bethlehem. Therefore, it was not only the stars, but also the light of the Word of God that led them to the stable where the child was born. The action of the Scribes and Priests in consulting the word of God goes to show that Jesus the Word of God made flesh is the way through which all those who are lost can find the right way. The Wise Men were knowledgeable people as their title suggests, but they were not omniscient and so their Natural endowment was not enough to bring them to God. This is to say that supernatural grace supplements natural knowledge in leading people towards God.

       Secondly, we notice that these Wise Men were not Jews and yet they came to worship him. This is another sign that Jesus, the prince of Peace came to break the barriers of race, tribe, or religion. These Three Wise men were pagans who came to the land of the Jews to worship the Messiah. Does this story not speak loudly to our world of today where there are serious conflicts between Islam, Judaism and Christianity? These conflicts that exist between these three religions are a cause for concern. The East and West can look up to the three wise men as bridge.

     ARISE AND SHINE: Epiphany is also known as the feast of light to reflect the coming of the infant Jesus, light of the world. The prophet Isaiah asked his people to take advantage of this light by rising and shining. He says, “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you” (Isaiah 60:1). Similarly, Jesus instructs his disciples, “Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and give glory to your father in heaven” (Mat. 5:16). To Arise and Shine means you are to bloom wherever you are planted. To arise and shine also means that you can be better than who you are today, and you can go further than where you are today.

     We are called to arise from our weakness, to arise from our negative thoughts, to arise from our sin, to arise from darkness into the wonderful light that has come, to arise from our fears, to arise from our mediocrity and soar higher like eagles. To arise and take the place where God has prepared for us and to be in the position where God has placed us. There is a need to take the dust out of the gold to enable it shine more brightly.

BY: Fr. Gerald M. Musa

 

Feast of Holy Family of Mary Joseph & Jesus

Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph
      The nativity of Jesus Christ calls for celebrating the family into which He was born. In doing so, Christian families should learn from the Holy Family of St. Joseph, Mother Mary and the child Jesus.

COMPLEMENTARY GENDER PARENTING OF A CHILD
      The feast of the Holy Family is being celebrated at a time when some men deny responsibility for the conception of their children, other children are born out of wedlock, adults of the same gender try to raise children and some single ladies seek artificial conception through anonymous sperm donors. Therefore, before learning from the individual members of the Holy Family, it is worth emphasizing that in God’s design, a child should be born into a family. That is, barring the death of a parent, a child should be lovingly received into the world and nurtured by both his/her mother and father.

       So important is this complementary gender parenting that God made St. Joseph the foster father of the child Jesus. In other words, even in the case where the divine holiness of the child (Jesus) necessitated bypassing the natural contribution to conception by St. Joseph, God still deemed it necessary to make him the foster father of Jesus. Consequently, we should respect God’s will about having a child born into a family and parented by both his/her father and mother

LOVE: PRIMARY KEY OF MARRIAGE

      Love is the primary key of marriage and family life, and the Holy Family exhibited perfect love in various ways. The demonstration of love between St. Joseph and Mother Mary and their love for the child Jesus was motivated by their understanding of the divine mission of their marriage and family. Similarly, every couple (a husband and a wife) should base their love for each other on God’s mission or purpose for their marriage and family. That is, every couple should understand that marriage, as a divine institution, is a vocation. It is the calling of a man and a woman by God to establish a unique partnership of mutual love, fidelity and total self-giving for life. The appropriate elements (e.g., kindness, care, nurturing, etc.) of their love are to be extended to their natural or adopted children.

        Where a couple limit their relationship to purely human reasons of love and overlook the divine mission, some challenges in their relationship and/or some difficulties of life in general could lead to the weakening of their love, the breaking of their oath of fidelity and, in the worst case, the eventual break-down of the marriage. So, beloved, if you are married or about to marry reflect with your spouse (-to-be) on how to let the divine mission for marriage become your supreme mutual motivation. Otherwise, you may get a trained marriage counsellor or a priest (with the requisite counselling skills) to facilitate the (re-)activation of your supreme mutual motivation.

JOSEPH: HUSBAND AND FATHER

      Here, let us consider how St. Joseph demonstrated love to Mother Mary and the child Jesus. He exhibited what it means to love one’s wife in good and bad times in several ways. In the first place, true love for Mother Mary made St. Joseph decide to divorce her quietly when he found her pregnant without any marital encounter between them (Matt. 1:18-20). St. Joseph’s decision was made to avert any danger to the life of his betrothed. If you are married, the question is: how do you react to your spouse when you feel offended by him/her? Does your reaction take into consideration the safety, security or general well-being of your spouse?

      Secondly, true love for Mother Mary made St. Joseph accept as credible the message he received in a dream about her pregnancy. Without a precedence of a virgin conceiving without any inter- course, only true love for Mother Mary could have made St. Joseph open to the message of his dream. True love overcomes the spirit of suspicion and gives enough room for the benefit of doubt. Therefore, if you are married, the question is: are you often suspicious of your spouse or do you give your spouse adequate space for the benefit of doubt?

       Thirdly, only true love could have made St. Joseph journey with the expectant Mother Mary to Bethlehem as well as care and pro- vide for her to ensure her safe delivery. Like the journey to Bethlehem, marital love is a lifelong journey during which spouses care and provide for each other. Therefore, if you are married, do you still adequately care and provide for the needs of your spouse (and children)?

        Fourthly, true love motivated St. Joseph to make a longer journey to Egypt to escape threat to the life of the child Jesus and possibly to the life of Mother Mary. Without true love and from a purely human perspective, St. Joseph would have said of the child: “your conception disrupted my planned normal marital life, your birth has turned the whole nation into confusion, and I have the trouble of taking you and your mother away to Egypt. Probably, my dreams are merely dreams and this whole venture is not from God.” On the contrary, true love made St. Joseph take the right decision and act accordingly. If you are married, then, what is your reaction when, apparently or in reality, a child or your spouse is the cause of crisis in your family?

        Furthermore, once St. Joseph understood that his marital love had been raised to another level because of the divine mission, he executed to perfection his role as the spiritual leader of the Holy Family. He remained the spiritual leader of his family despite the higher spiritual status of Mother Mary and the divine nature of the child Jesus. In this regard, he communicated to Mother Mary the angelic messages he received in his dreams and ensured that they acted accordingly. Also, he ensured that the child Jesus was dedicated in the Temple of Jerusalem in accordance with the Law of Moses (Luke 2:22-24). In addition, he ensured that his family made the annual pilgrimage to Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-50), etc.
Similarly, fathers of families should become true spiritual leaders of their respective families. In this role, they should ensure that the family gathers around the Word of God at home to discern His messages. Also, they should ensure that the family members are dedicated to God through the reception of the Sacraments. As far as the reception of the Sacraments are concerned, I wish to encourage the regular reception of the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation. Years ago, I observed in a previous parish where I ministered, that a few families (parents together with their children who were communicants) visited the Confessional on monthly basis (and took turns to confess their sins, waited for each person do their penance and then return to their homes). This is worthy of emulation by other families.
In addition, as St. Joseph ensured the regular visit to the Temple, so fathers should ensure that their families go for worship together, at least, every Sunday. Once again, like St. Joseph who appreciated the higher spiritual status of Mother Mary and the child Jesus, fathers who discern that their spouses or children have some spiritual gifts or calling (vocation) should assist in fostering them to the highest level for the good of the community and the glory of God. They should in no circumstance discourage their children who may receive the call to priestly or religious vocation from responding appropriately to God.

CONCLUSION

      The Holy Family teaches us that a child should be lovingly welcomed into the world and raised by both father and mother, that love is the primary key of marriage and that the divine mission of each marriage and family should positively influence how love is expressed. Finally, may the intercession of St. Joseph and Mother Mary and the unique mediation of Jesus at the right hand of the Heavenly Father bring renewal in the love of all Christian marriages and families. Amen!

By Very Rev. Fr. John Louis

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent Homily

       At the Advent retreat last week, we offered prayers to God that we would find a way to open our hearts to the coming of the savior. We discovered that we had several ways to prepare for God’s only Son’s arrival. We had spiritual exercises such as participating in the Rosary and attending the advent retreat and praying. We also could prepare ourselves by participating in the Reconciliation service where we could cleanse our minds and bodies of sin, drawing us closer to God. Not one to let a good joke get away, we learned about George. George was an interior painter. He painted the interiors of houses and apartments. To increase his profit margin, George would add water well beyond the amount commended by the paint manufacturer. One day as George was leaving the paint store his bucket of paint in hand, a lightning bolt from heaven struck the earth near his feet. George looked up to heaven and said: “Was that you Lord?” The Lord said: “Yes it was.” George said: “Why did you do that Lord?” The Lord said: “George, repaint, repaint and thin no more!”

       What I find interesting about the Advent season is that it is like two sides of one coin. On one side we’re asked to welcome the Lord’s coming through Spiritual exercises like prayer, retreats and penance services, personal acts, like forgiving those who have hurt us. And last but not least, by performing charitable acts for the poor who Jesus has a special heart for. The other side of the coin is the miracles that occur, announcing the coming of the Lord, before and during Advent.

      Seven hundred years before the birth of Christ, the prophet Micah announces to the nation that a savior is going to be born. This Saviors greatness will reach to the ends of the earth. The savior will come from a place that is said to be too small is unworthy and has little value or worth.

 

      Zechariah and Elizabeth are an old couple. They both are well beyond child- bearing age. They are found righteous in the Lord, but they are without children. God sends the angel Gabriel to Zechariah and Elizabeth to announce Elizabeth’s pregnancy. Their child will “bear witness to Christ by his preaching, his baptism of conversion, and through his martyrdom” (CCC523).

      That same angel Gabriel announces to Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and that she would conceive a son. Her son would be fully divine and yet fully human. He tells Mary that her son will be the savior of the world. Though Mary doesn’t understand at first, Gabriel gives her confirmation
that if God can make an old barren woman be with child, how easy it is for God to make a virgin conceive. “For nothing is impossible for God”.

      In just a short while, the Priest will elevate the host containing wine, and a patten filled with bread and he will ask the Holy Spirit to come upon these gifts and make them holy, just as the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary. It is through the Eucharist, by the power of the Holy Spirit, we will carry the Savior of world in our bodies, just as Mary carried the savior in hers. Receiving the Eucharist, we “hasten” to set about doing good by announcing the coming of the Lord to others, so that they too may leap for joy.

      Finally, a statue, not expected to be shipped to our church until sometime in February, arrives in time to be consecrated at the Christmas Mass. I ask you, how is that not a miracle in Advent?

       A savior comes from an unlikely place, a barren woman and a virgin conceive, bread and water are turned into the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have been consecrated to the Lord
through the offering of the Body of Jesus Christ. For our part, we are only asked to trust and believe!
For indeed, nothing is impossible for God.

 

Deacon: Kenneth Stewart

 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Venerable Pierre Toussaint
PRAYER AND LOVING SERVICE TO OTHERS

     Pierre was born in 1766 modern-day Haiti as a slave. Tous- saint’s master allowed him to be taught how to read and write by his grandmother. In his early 20s, Toussaint, his younger sister, his aunt, and two other house slaves accompanied their master’s son to New York City because of political unrest at home. Apprenticed to a local hairdresser, Pierre learned the trade quickly and eventually worked in the homes of rich women in New York City. When his master died, Toussaint supported his master’s widow and the other slaves himself and was freed shortly before the widow’s death in 1807. Four years later, he married Marie Rose Juliette, whose freedom he had purchased. They later adopted Euphemie, his orphaned niece. Both preceded him in death.

     Even during his lifetime, Toussaint enjoyed the reputation of an exceptionally devout and charitable person within the Catholic community. Every day he attended the 6:00 a.m. Mass in St. Peter’s Church, where he was a pewholder for many years. He also raised funds to build the original St. Patrick’s Cathedral and St. Vincent de Paul Church. Toussaint donated to various charities, generously assisting blacks and whites in need. He and his wife opened their home to orphans and educated them. The couple also nursed abandoned people who were suffering from yellow fever. Perhaps his favorite charity was St. Patrick’s Orphan Asylum, an institution that he often visited. Urged to retire and enjoy the wealth he had accumulated, Toussaint responded, “I have enough for myself, but if I stop working I have not enough for others.”

      In recognition of Pierre Toussaint’s virtuous life, the late Cardinal Terence Cooke introduced Pierre’s cause for canonization at the Vatican in 1968. In December 1989, the late Cardinal O’Connor had the remains of Pierre Toussaint transferred from Lower Manhattan to St. Patrick’s Cathedral in midtown Manhattan where he is currently buried as the only lay person alongside the former cardinal archbishops- ops of New York City. On December 17, 1997, he was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II.

Servant of God Julia Greeley
DEVOTION TO THE SACRED HEART OF JESUS

      Denver’s Angel of Charity was born into slavery at Hannibal, Missouri, between 1833 and 1848. As a young child, Julia’s right eye was destroyed when a cruel slave master’s whip, intended for her mother, also caught her. Freed by the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, Julia subsequently earned her keep by serving white families in Missouri, Colorado, Wyoming, and New Mexico-though mostly in the Denver area. She spent whatever she could spare to assist poor families in her neighborhood. When her own resources were inadequate, she begged for food, fuel, and clothing for the needy. To avoid embarrassing the people she helped, Julia did most of her charitable work under cover of night through dark alleys.
Julia entered the Catholic Church at Sacred Heart Parish in Denver in 1880. The Jesuits who ran the parish considered her the most enthusiastic promoter of devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus they had ever seen. Every month she went on foot to every fire station in Denver and delivered literature of the Sacred Heart League to the firemen, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Julia had a rich devotion to the Blessed Sacrament and the Blessed Virgin. She was a daily communicant and continued her prayers while working and moving about. She joined the Secular Franciscan Order in 1901 and was active in it until her death in 1918. To the present day, many people have asked that her cause be opened for canonization. This request was finally granted in the Fall of 2016. As part of the Cause for Canonization, Julia’s mortal remains were transferred to Denver’s Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on June 7, 2017.

Servant of God Sister Thea Bowman
DEEP AND ABIDING LOVE AND FAITH IN GOD

      A self-proclaimed “old folks’ child,” Thea Bowman was born Bertha Elizabeth Bowman in 1937, the daughter of a doctor and a teacher. She was raised in Canton, Mississippi. As a child she converted to Catholicism through the influence of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and the Missionary Servants of the Most Holy Trinity, who taught her and nurtured her faith. Growing up, Thea listened and learned from the wit and wisdom of family members and those in the community. Ever precocious, she would ask questions and seek new insights on how her elders lived, thrived and survived. From them she learned survival skills and coping mechanisms. She was exposed to the richness of the African- American culture: its history and stories, music and songs, customs and rituals, prayers and symbols. Thea was cognizant that God was indeed the God of the poor and oppressed. Her community instructed her, “If you get, give–if you learn, teach.” She developed a deep and abiding love and faith in a God who would make “a way out of no way!”

 

 

Third Sunday of Advent

Venerable Mother Henriette Delille & Servant of God Mother Mary Lange

HUMILITY IN SERVICE TO JESUS CHRIST
Henriette Delille was born in 1812 in New Orleans, Louisiana, as a free woman of color. When she was 24, she experienced a religious conversion and proclaimed: “I believe in God. I hope in God. I love. I want to live and die for God.” Henriette eventually founded the Society of the Holy Family, responding to the need of treatment for the enslaved, elderly and sick, and care and education for the poor.
Henriette received tribute for her life’s work in these words from her obituary: “[Henriette] devoted herself untiringly for many years, without reserve, to the religious instruction of the people of New Orleans, principally of slaves.” The last line of her obituary reads: “. for the love of Jesus Christ, she had become the humble and devout servant of the slaves.” Archbishop Philip M. Hannan began the canonization process for Henriette DeLille in 1988. A special commission in Rome gave approval in 1988 after a review process. As of this time, an alleged miracle attributed to Henriette is being tried in a Catholic Tribunal, and the decree of judicial validity was issued in the investigation of her life, virtues, and reputation of sanctity. Henriette was declared Venerable by Pope Benedict XVI in 2010.

EMBRACING YOUR VOCATION WITH JOY
Elizabeth Lange was born around 1794 in Santiago de Cuba, where she lived in a primarily French-speaking community. She received an excellent education and in the early 1800s she left Cuba and settled in the United States in Baltimore. Elizabeth was a courageous, loving, and deeply spiritual woman. There was no free public education for African American children in Maryland until 1868, so she responded to that need by opening a school for the children in her home in the Fells Point area of the city. Providence intervened through the person of Reverend James Hector Joubert, SS, who was encouraged by James Whitfield, Archbishop of Baltimore to present Elizabeth Lange with the idea to find a religious congregation for the education of African American girls. Father Joubert would provide direction, solicit financial assistance, and encourage other “women of color” to become members of this, the first congregation of African American women religious in the history of the Catholic Church. Elizabeth joyfully accepted Father Joubert’s idea. On July 2, 1829, Elizabeth and three other women professed their vows and became the Oblate Sisters of Providence. Elizabeth the foundress, and first superior general, took the religious name Mary.

The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine for the Causes of Saints approved the cause of her sainthood in 2004, and Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore celebrated a canonical celebration at the transfer and blessing of Mother Lange’s remains. The faithful venerated the relics before they were sealed in a reliquary and sarcophagus in the chapel’s oratory.

 

Second Sunday of Advent

Venerable Father Augustus Tolton

PERSERVERANCE IN THE FACE OF ADVERSITY

     Augustus was born in the U.S. to two slaves. Tolton’s father escaped to the North at the beginning of the Civil War, where he served in the Union Army and was killed in the war. His widow sought freedom and managed to cross the Mississippi River and settled in the small town of Quincy. When her children attempted to attend Catholic school to be educated by the sisters of Notre Dame, parents of the other school children protested, so the sisters of Notre Dame decided to tutor the Tolton children privately.

     As Augustus grew older, he began to display an interest in the priesthood. Denied entrance to diocesan seminaries, Tolton’s parish priests began Augustus’ education in theology themselves. Finally in 1878, the Franciscan College in Quincy accepted Augustus, and two years later he was enrolled at the college of the Propaganda Fidei in Rome.

     Augustus Tolton was ordained on April 24, 1886. His first assignment was Saint Joseph parish in Quincy, where he served for two years and gained enormous respect from many of the German and Trish parishioners. He was later given a parish on the south side of the city, Saint Augustine (later St. Monica’s). This would be Fr. Tolton’s parish for life, and the center from which he ministered to all the Black Catholics of Chicago. He addressed the First Catholic Colored Congress in Washington DC in 1889.

     The cause for Fr. Tolton’s canonization was begun in 2010. In 2015, the cause received affirmation of the juridical validity of the Archdiocesan inquiry into his life and virtues by the Congregation for Causes of Saints, and Fr. Tolton received the distinction of Servant of God.

 

First Sunday of Advent

     Talking about the signs of the end, Jesus said as read in to- day’s gospel: “When you see these things take place, stand erect, hold your heads high, because your liberation is near at hand” – Lk. 21:28. A good question is what these things are referring to. Sure, they are the incidents Jesus described in previous verses – cosmic signs, nations in agony, bewilderment by the clamor of ocean and its waves; men dying of fear as they await what menaces the world…the powers of heaven being shaken. For goodness’s sake, all these are what should make someone despondent instead of raising any hope; they should rather make the heads bend in utter disappointment instead of keeping heads high and erect. Yet, Jesus courageously tells us to pick up courage, hold our heads high and “be glad” for our liberation is at hand. What an irony! We as humans panic most when hard times impend. We are gripped with fear when things are not interesting. In my primary geography, I recall being thought by my teacher that the higher you go up the sky the cooler it becomes.

      In other words, we see it normal that things get more settled as we approach the end, and would it be the other way round; fear grips us as we see it to be abnormal. At any rate, for those who are used to traditional music or cultural dances, a close observation shows that when the music tempo gets hotter and faster, perhaps the dancers become more wild and get a bit violent, then we know they are about to end the music and take some rest finally

      You may be experiencing some violence this time now that the year is packing up. The music of life may be playing faster and more fearful for you. The question would be: why me this time that the year is almost ended? I thought I should be heaving a sigh of relief by now. Why should I face this disappointment in my business this dying minute? Why has this man, this woman disappointed me when I thought I would be sending my invitation cards for my traditional marriage this December? Why must I be bereaved this time? God’s words are: “when you see all these things happening, hold your head high, stand erect for your liberation is at hand”. Do not lower your head to bow before any god. Such gods would twist it finally for you. Hold it high. Do not give up; your miracle is on the way. Our help is in the name of the Lord, and we cannot behold this help if our heads are bowed down. Psalm 121 says: “I lift up my eyes to the mountains from where my help shall come…”

      Blessed are those who do not give up on the Son of Man in time of adversity. Stand erect. There is light at end of that tunnel.

BY: Fr. Christian Eze

 

        Today’s Jesus Christ is presented to us as the King of the Universe. My attention has always been drawn by the emphasis the Bible grants to the word “King” when applied to our Lord. «The Lord is king, robed with majesty», we sing in Psalm 92. «I am a king» (Jn 18:37), we have heard from Jesus & apos; very lips. «Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord» (Lk 19:38), people shouted when He was entering Jerusalem.

        The word “King”, applied to God and to Jesus Christ, does not certainly have the inferred meaning we give to it when speaking of the conventional monarchy, as we know it. Yet, in the popular language the word “king” does have a certain affinity with the Biblical language. For instance, when a mother is taking care of his baby and tells him: —You are the king of our home. What is she implying? Just a very simple thing: that her little baby is her number one priority and means everything to her. And when teenagers claim that so and so is the king of the Rock, they actually mean there is no other one like him as much as when they refer to the basketball king. Enter a teen-ager room and you will probably see in his walls who are really his “kings”. I believe these popular expressions very much resemble what we mean when we acclaim God as our King and help us to understand Jesus’ assertion about his kingdom: «My kingship does not come from this world» (Jn 18:36).

        For us Christians our King is our Lord, that is, the center where the deepest feelings of our lives are going to. When in the Lord’s Prayer we say Your kingdom come, we mean we would like to see that more and more people could find the source of their happiness in God, while following the path He shows to us, which is the path of the beatitudes. Let us therefore ask it with all our heart, for «wherever Jesus Christ is, there are our life and our kingdom» (St. Ambrose).

Fr. Frederic RÀFOLS i Vidal (Barcelona, Spain)

    

AUTOBIOGRAPHY
OF FR. FRANCIS TANDOH C.S.Sp.

         I am Fr. Francis Tandoh. I was born to the parents of Mr. Andrew Tandoh & Mrs. Dorothy (Payne) Tandoh. I am the fourth child from a family of 12 children with ten surviving. I pursued my elementary and high school education in Kumasi, Ghana. I received my call to the priesthood at an early age. I attended St. Hubert’s Seminary in Kumasi. I left the seminary to continue my Sixth Form (at a time high school was seven years in Ghana) education in T. I. Ahamadya Islamic School, in Kumasi. I entered the teaching career and taught in St. Benedict Middle School, Kumasi, Ghana, from 1981-83.

          I decided to join the Missionary and Religious Order of the Holy Spirit Congregation and entered into the Postulancy in 1983. I completed my Novitiate and started my philosophical studies in 1985, at the School of philosophy Insukka, Nigeria. I took some time off reflecting on my vocation to the priesthood. During this time, I taught Social Studies in St. Anthony Junior High School, in Kumasi Ghana. At the same time, I was engaged in a rural ministry for young adults.

          I went to continue my studies for the Priesthood and missionary life in the Spiritan International School of Theology, Enugu, Nigeria. I was ordained in the Star of the Sea Catholic Cathedral by the late Most Rev. Charles Kweku Sam on July 24, 1993, in Takoradi, Ghana, my home Diocese, after completing my theological studies.

           I hold a degree in Religious Education; master’s in educational administration/Leadership. I hold a certificate in Pastoral Counseling; I am a certified Clinical Chaplain with CPSP. I suspended my candidacy as a student in licentiate/Doctoral degree with Marian Research Institute, University of Dayton, due to my parish workload, but I hope to take it up very soon. Before my ordination, I was the Publicity Officer for the Kumasi Diocesan Youth Council; Bursar Holy Ghost Pre-Novitiate, Ghana.

          In my Ministry as a Priest, I single-handedly founded a benevolent group called Spiritan Friends, who support the Spiritans and their ministries. I have served at Our Lady of Fatima Parish while in residence as Religion Teacher in St. Edward’s Middle School, Bwiam the Gambia and St. Peters High School; Pastor Star of the Sea Parish, an affluent Parish of 1000 families; Pastor St. Charles Luanga Parish of about 2000 in Sunday mass attendance. Rector St. Peters Seminary, all in the Gambia.

          I was transferred here to the United States in 1996 to serve as the Mission Coordinator for the Holy Spirit Fathers, West Africa Province, now Ghana Province, a position that I still served until 2016. My main work was to write grants and preach
in Catholic Churches to creating awareness about the missions, especially in Africa in soliciting funds to support the church’s activities in Africa, especially in training priest for the Spiritans coming from Ghana. To support myself I was employed to be the Religious Education Director in Resurrection Catholic School, now St. Benedict the Moor Catholic School, while still being the Parochial Vicar for St. James and Resurrection Parishes in Dayton Ohio until my appointment as the Pastor of St. James and Resurrection Parishes, in December 2000.

             In 2000 soon after my appointment, I led the parish community of 400 families through a church building campaign, Vision to Victory, which finally gave them a new church edifice, with a new parish, St. Benedict the Moor. The church holds 1050 people in the sanctuary and a hall which seats 600 people, I am the first pastor of this newly created parish. In that same year, I was appointed the Pastor of St. Augustine, Germantown and St. Mary, Camden with Fr. Joshua Otusafo as my Associate.

             In July 2009 in addition to the three Parishes, I was asked to be the Pastor of St. Mary’s and Holy Family in Dayton. In 2010/2011, Holy Family Parish was closed to the English Congregation due to financial constraints. I still have all these three Parishes. St. Mary’s Camden was given out to the Preble County Parishes in 2014.

          Recently in 2015, I led my parishes into accepting the only Catholic school in the West side of Dayton that was closing, reasons being poor Academic Standards and Financial Constraints. Today St. Benedict the Moor School is opened and thriving academically and raising good students for the future of our community and country. Advocacy has been my passion for the ministry. I believe the word becomes more meaningful when parishioners see it reflected in the community and their life. For
more than six years I was the Co-chairperson and Chairperson of Leaders of Equality of Action in Dayton (LEAD). LEAD is an interfaith Justice Group who work with City leaders and Congregations to hold the system and Politicians accountable to bring freedom and peace into the community. In my terms we were able to have victories with the RTA busing Board to be more inclusive, the City of Dayton to change its ordinance to be friendlier to Ex-Offenders (Bann the Box), City increasing the demolishing of dilapidated buildings and many more victories.

         As I celebrate this weekend the 25 years milestone today, it is my will to work together with all of you who are my flock to expand the missionary work of God with affection and love for the good of you, my parishioners, and the community that we serve. May the good Lord who has entrusted me with his flock help me with good health, courage and good directions that comes from the guidance of his spirit to bring it to a fruitful end.

Thank you for your support during all these years
GOD BLESS

 

 

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