Prayer for healing & comfort for Bev Smith’s health problems, as well as her upcoming surgery
October seems to be one of the most active months in the Church’s year, apart from the liturgical seasons of Lent, Easter, Advent and Christmas. As I have previously written, this is the month of the Rosary, in addition to being Respect Life Month. This Sunday, we add another important annual celebration – World Mission Sunday. It is worth sharing a portion of the letter that Bishop Paprocki wrote for our celebration this year:
World Mission Sunday joins all Catholics of the world into one community of faith. At Mass that Sunday, we recommit ourselves to our common vocation, through Baptism to be missionaries, through prayer, participation in the Eucharist, and by giving generously to the collection for the Society for the Propagation of the Faith.
Pope Francis’s message for World Mission Sunday this year reflects on the theme: “We cannot but speak about what we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). He reminds us that, “as Christians, we cannot keep the Lord to ourselves,” as we “recall with gratitude all those men and women who by their testimony of life help us to renew our baptismal commitment to be generous and joyful apostles of the Gospel.”
Think of what our lives would be like if we did not have people who were willing to teach us and witness to our Catholic faith? We would be overwhelmed with all the wordly values and would be missing out on so many blessings that give meaning to our lives and true hope for our future. But thanks be to God, there have been people, many people, who have been like those first disciples and felt the obligation and opportunity to share the Good News with us as missionaries.
Perhaps on this World Mission Sunday, we can spend some time in prayer, calling to mind those missionaries who have been instruments of our receiving the faith. For me, I recall my mother in a special way, who taught me how to pray, and who made sure I was able to learn about my faith and to practice it by going to Mass. I know that she had this passed on from her mother and father, who likely received it from their parents as well. I think of the priests who served at my parish growing up. I think of my brother priests with whom I share the privilege of being a missionary sent to proclaim the Good News, how so many of them, by their word and example, have been a powerful witness to me. I also think of many of you who have shown me the love of God through the witness of your lives as disciples of Jesus.
Who are those missionaries in your life that have brought you to where you are now in your relationship with Christ? Bring them to the Lord and ask Him to bless them for their generosity in sharing this most beautiful gift with you. Then I invite you to ask the Lord for the grace to be willing to continue the chain, passing on this Good News to those you encounter in those places to which the Lord has sent you as a missionary – your families, your workplaces, this parish, and the community around you.
For many years, the slogan “my body, my choice” has been used in defense of legal protection for abortion. The idea is that a woman should have complete autonomy over her own body because we live in a free country, and to put limits on abortion takes away a woman’s “right to choose.” More recently, this same slogan has been employed by people who, for various reasons, do not want to receive a Covid vaccine. This article is not about vaccine guidance, as our bishop has given very clear guidance on this for the past year or so in our Catholic Times. In addition, our Catholic Times also publishes Fr. Tad Pacholczyk’s bioethics column, which recently has covered the topics of Covid and vaccine mandates.
Whenever the slogan, “my body, my choice” comes into play, it usually indicates a lack of understanding of what freedom is. Our Catechism gives a good definition of freedom in paragraph 1731: “Freedom is the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate action on one’s own responsibility.” Free will can be used for good or evil. God made us in his image and likeness, giving is the ability to think (reason) and choose (will), which ultimately gives us the unique ability to love as God loves.
Human freedom is the reason that our society has laws, even laws against certain types of actions which only affect our own bodies. We are not able to just walk into a pharmacy and buy any type of medication for ourselves because some substances can be harmful if used in the wrong way. We need a doctor’s prescription to buy and take certain drugs, because doctors are trained to know what is good for our bodies and what is bad for our bodies. Drugs such as heroine and cocaine are illegal because they are bad for people and bad for society. As I wrote recently, this is grounded in at least a basic understanding of the natural law: human beings are designed to flourish and grow in relationship, which can be perceived by any clear thinker.
Recently the Speaker of the House of Representatives and fellow Catholic Nancy Pelosi made an interesting but shockingly immature statement about freedom regarding abortion. She said, “I believe that God has given us free will to honor our responsibilities.” For this reason, she supports the legalization of abortion so that everybody can have the freedom to choose abortion and utilize their God-given free will. Speaker Pelosi does not have a basic understanding of what the Church means by “freedom.” Of course, God made us free, but the whole reason for having a legislative system is because people can use their freedom to make evil decisions, and as a society we need to prevent that from happening when we can, or punish people when they make gravely evil decisions. I would be interested to hear Speaker Pelosi give her thoughts on why our government exists, since her understanding of freedom seems to mean that nothing should be illegal.
As Catholics, we should not use the phrase, “my body, my choice” because it misrepresents why God made us. A better slogan would be “my body, God’s gift” because none of us are totally autonomous or independent. (Or maybe we just shouldn’t use slogans…) We depend on God for our existence, and we depend on other people in many ways. God has given us the gift of community because he made us as one human family and he wants us to grow, love, and suffer in union with each other. One person’s actions can have an impact, for better or worse, on that person’s family and community. May we all seek true freedom, which is ultimately found through a relationship with God, who made us in his image and likeness.
Feast Day: October 28th
The apostles Simon and Jude are given the same feast-day because tradition holds that they were martyred together in Persia or Armenia, having carried the Gospel with great success to the pagan peoples north of Israel. We know precious little of what took place between Galilee and Armenia, but this, I think, points us back to the middle of their story, and asks a profound question: how were they changed by getting to know Jesus?
We are introduced to Simon and Jude early in the Gospels, at the point where Jesus chooses the 12 men called into particularly close relationship with him. There, at the end of the list, before Judas Iscariot is listed, we are told that Jesus named as apostles “Simon who was called the Zealot, and Judas the son of James.” [Luke 6:15-16; Acts 1:13 names them both in this same fashion].
Simon, we are told, is a “zealot”, a term that will, in a few decades, go down in infamy as the name of the violent revolutionaries who tried to kick the Romans out of Israel, and upon whom the anger (and might) of Rome was levied, destroying Jerusalem, the Temple, and hundreds of thousands of Jews finding refuge there in 70AD. Those terrible days were far in the future when Simon stood out of the crowd of Jesus’ followers and was named an apostle, yet this is the word that Luke uses to describe him when he gets to writing down his Gospel account of that morning.
Something in Simon’s character called to mind the zealous Maccabees who had revolted against their Hellenistic despots a century before Christ. (It is enlightening to recall that two of the Maccabean brothers were themselves named “Simon” and “Judas”, so our two apostles have popular names associated with the great heroes of a century before.) “Zeal” is the word also used to describe Paul’s fiery temperament, originally directed against those who believed Christ to be the Messiah, and after his own encounter with Christ, transformed into a fiery love for the Body of Christ, His Church.
In Paul, we get to witness the moment of that transformation, and though we do not get a similar scene for Simon, as he began to follow Jesus, his zeal as well was redirected and captured for the sake of Christ. We get the briefest glimpses of this process in the Gospels. On the one hand, Jesus offers all the apostles an example of true, God-like, zeal. On the Passover, in the Temple, seeing the money-changers he overturns the tables, looses the animals, and drives the merchants out of the house of God. The apostles can only have watched wide-eyed as their meek rabbi and miracle-worker tore through the temple precincts. One word came to mind: zeal. They recall Psalm 69:9 “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Fast forward to a later Passover. This time Jesus has left the Temple and made his way to the upper room, this time it is not righteous anger, but sadness and compassion that fills his eyes. He takes off his robe, He washes their feet, He returns to the meal: “he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” And then Jude, the son of James, for the first and only time in the Gospels, speaks “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” How will you be made manifest? The people hailed you as Messiah and successor to David when you entered Jerusalem, do we now go the rest of the way and crown you king? When does the victory happen? What should our zeal look like? “Jesus answered him, “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.” [John 14:21-24]
In this answer, of course, both men are transformed. Of course, Simon’s zeal had to be reordered from earth, to heaven. But his friend and companion, Jude, also had to reorder his own life, in his case his identity had to be reordered from earthly heritage, to heavenly. Both men encountered Jesus, and found in Him the fiery love that comes from His Heavenly Father. It is a zeal for God, and like God, and a love for God, and from Him.
– Fr. Rankin, has only slowly befriended Simon and Jude. It’s so much easier to relate to the more fleshed-out characters of Peter or John (or any of the many more recent saints we also know more about). But sometimes the Lord deepens our relationships with the saints simply on that spiritual level, without as many of the personal details we usually desire. Such was the case as He drew me close to St. Jude because my sister’s convent is entrusted to his patronage, and St. Simon, in that wrestling match to give my zeal to the Lord.
Monday, October 25
7am – Anna A. Eleyidath
5:15pm – Jean Anne Staab
(Fred & Rita Greenwald)
Tuesday, October 26
7am – Kathy Jarvis
5:15pm – Anna Geraldine Gasaway
Wednesday, October 27
7am – Mr. & Mrs. Leo Giannone
5:15pm – Richard Willaredt
(Janet, Stacie, & Darren)
Thursday, October 28
7am – Kathy Jarvis
(Della & George Laurenzana)
5:15pm – Puring Garde
Friday, October 29
7am – Catherine Ponce
(Leonard & Paula Koliste)
5:15pm – Gregory Krisch
(Elaine & Angela Foreman)
Saturday, October 30
8am – Janet Segar
(Elmer & Sheila Wortham)
4pm – Tommy Regan
(Vick & Janet Burghart)
Sunday, October 31
7am – Tony Cilano
10am – Fr. Eugene Prenoiville, OMI
(Becky & Woody Woodhull)
5pm – For the People
For Elizabeth as she endures cancer treatment while mourning the recent loss of her husband.
Last week, I shared with you a practice that I have when praying with the mysteries of the Rosary, asking Mary to help me better understand what she wants me to see from each decade. I had also mentioned how I often use the final two Glorious Mysteries (the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary) to ask for the grace to strengthen my desire for eternal life, the final destination to which all of God’s children are called.
As I continue to reflect on the Rosary during this month of October (the month of the Rosary), I think of the many different places and times where I have prayed the Rosary. One set of memories sticks out in a special way during this month of October which is also Respect Life Month in the Church. While I was in seminary in St. Louis, a group of seminarians would travel across the river to Granite City every Saturday morning to pray in front of the Hope Abortion Clinic. The first time I went, I had no idea what to expect. There were a few different groups around the building and we joined a group of Catholics who were peacefully praying the Rosary. The group would pray all 20 mysteries of the Rosary, something I had never done before. They used a little booklet of Pro-Life Rosary meditations to introduce each decade, giving the group something to consider as we prayed each decade. Those meditations often come to mind as I pray the Rosary now, and the meditation introducing the Assumption is one that I have found particularly powerful:
The Blessed Virgin Mary was taken body and soul into Heaven because she is the Mother of God. Mother and child are united. The Assumption reminds us that they belong together. We pray that society will see that it cannot love women while killing their children, and cannot save children without helping their mothers. We pray that people will be touched by the pro-life question, “Why can’t we love them both?”
That question would often sit in my mind as I prayed the Rosary, especially as I saw women entering the clinic for an abortion. For each woman, there was a story, often a very sad story such that they felt as through they had no option but to go through with the pregnancy. While some on the sidewalks tried to appeal to the mothers that there was a human life in their womb and that they needed to turn back from having the child in their womb taken, this often did not register. As one woman told me who had done much counselling for women faced with an unplanned pregnancy, those appeals almost never worked, because the women were so sacred about what this pregnancy meant to themselves. The counsellor said that what these women needed most was to be loved, to be encountered with love, not defined by the action they were about to take. Those women who encountered somebody on the sidewalk who loved them and appealed to them, not just the baby in their womb, were those most likely to reconsider because they were able to reassess their own value and dignity, which opened their hearts to move beyond the fears and to finally recognize the gift they had been given with the child in their womb.
As we pray the Rosary during this Respect Life Month, perhaps we can ask our Blessed Mother to touch the hearts of all the good people who work to build a culture of life, that as we undertake our various efforts, we may always be motivated by an authentic and generous love not just for the unborn children in the womb, but especially for the women who carry that gift of life. May we one day have a culture in which these women will find in us a loving encounter with Christ, for being touched by His love for them will be the most effective means for them to choose life.
Feast Day: October 18th
We learn a lot about someone when we get to know their friends. For our saint this week, I would like to get to know St. Luke, the man entrusted by God to craft the third Gospel of His Son. Our story begins with St. Paul, who sits in a prison in Ephesus. He had been working there for a few years, zealously proclaiming the Gospel and building the local Church alongside of his close friends (and roommates of a fashion) Aquila and Prisca, but it seems that he got in trouble with the synagogue leaders, or perhaps the roman officials thought he was causing too much trouble, and so, in the mid-50s, there he sits in prison writing letters to the communities he had founded elsewhere.
The Apostle to the Gentiles first crafts the unique, personal, letter to Philemon to be delivered by Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway-slave, and then he dictates a communal letter to the Colossians (speaking at length on the topic of slavery, something that seems to have been in his mind both having just encountered Onesimus, but also now himself being “a slave of Christ Jesus”, to steal his opening line from his letter to the Romans, when he is “in chains” a different time). As Paul concludes that letter, he mentions all the others who also send their greetings, and in this list (almost the same as mentioned in that letter to Philemon), we get a glimpse into those who have remained close to the imprisoned-apostle: “Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas … and … Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. Epaphras, who is one of yourselves, a servantof Christ Jesus … Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you.”[Colossians 5:10-14]
Luke, Loukas, a Greek/gentile name we immediately notice (and Paul emphasizes it), is not only faithful to Paul in the sticky spot he finds himself, but he is also described as “beloved” (agapetos, notice the root “agape”, which indicates a close brotherhood), and “physician” (iatros, literally one-who-heals, a doctor). Like the best of doctors in our day Luke, we learn, combines both a tender-hearted concern for those around him (Paul included), and, as we quickly find once we flip to the Gospel “according to Luke”, also a man concerned with precision and an “orderly account” [Luke 1:3], in this case of the life of Christ. In his Gospel, many more times than any other, we find that same root-word “iaomai” occur again and again as Jesus is shown as a healer, a physician of sorts Himself, showring His love on the ignored and degraded. And to that second characteristic, Luke’s Gospel is the one most focused on historical and informative details of Christ’s life. Where the other evangelists skip straight to stories or parables, Luke takes time to explain to his gentile audience, throughout both Luke and Acts, the historical dates and persons engaged in the scenes he relates as well as the nuances of Jewish practices that they may not understand.
Isn’t it amazing that, through the eyes of Paul in prison, we get to know the young man who risks a visit to him?! And there, as Paul is encouraged by the compassion and courage of Luke, we can also see Luke’s eyes catch the same fire that had captured Paul. Was it here, in a dingy dungeon in Ephesus, that Luke heard story after story of Jesus’ birth, preaching, healings, and sufferings, and found in his own heart God’s invitation to write it all down? And … to not stop the story with Jesus’ resurrection, but to write an entire second book, recounting how the early Church was also born, and preached, and healed, and suffered?! (And so the Church continues to this day!)
– Fr. Rankin’s closest friends are all ones who have brought him close to Jesus. I have been taught and formed by brother priests – much like Paul did for Luke, telling him the stories and teachings of Jesus. My classmates and friends from seminary – much like Mark – have been brothers in the journey and have offered countless insights into what a relationship with Jesus is like. And so many families and friends around my assignments, and in my family, have been to me like Aquila and Priscilla and Mary and John were to Luke. The question this week: am I not only the kind of friend that stands by when suffering strikes, but also, am I the kind of friend who gives the greatest gift I can to those I love: the gift of a relationship with Jesus?
Monday, October 18
7am – Stephanie Sandidage
5:15pm – Jean Greenwald
(Fred & Rita Greenwald)
Tuesday, October 19
7am – Albert Crispi, Sr.
5:15pm – Thomas & Betty Rapps
Wednesday, October 20
7am – Paul & Alma Bergschneider (Shana Gray)
5:15pm – Jean Anne Staab
(Vincent & Amma Fanale)
Thursday, October 21
7am – Anna A. Eleyidath
5:15pm – Special Intention for Ellen Mattox
Friday, October 22
7am – Vincenzo & Jennie Darrigo
5:15pm – Kathleen & Jeff Porter & Family
(Kay & Richard King)
Saturday, October 23
8am – Kathy Jarvis
(Della & George Laurenzana)
4pm – Richard & Valeria Shaughnessy
(Mr. & Mrs. Shaughnessy & Family)
Sunday, October 24
7am – Mary Anne Midden
10am – For the People
5pm – Special Intention for Paul Palazzolo
As many of you are aware, our house at the Cathedral is a house of runners. While not all of us run every day like Bishop Paprocki, and not all of us run as fast as Father Rankin, we all have been known to “pound the pavement” around town with some regularity. I have to admit that I do not love running. Do not get me wrong, it is good exercise and it is something that I do not mind doing. I just find it difficult to get motivated to get outside and, once I start running, to keep going! For me, the secret to boosting my motivation is the Rosary. I always carry a finger rosary with me and I find that praying the Rosary keeps my mind occupied with holy thoughts, distracting me from the discomfort of running.
Several years ago, a priest made suggestion to me about how I might get more out of praying the Rosary. He invited me to pause at the end of each decade, asking Mary what she wanted me to understand about the mystery that I had just prayed. This practice has been extremely fruitful, as it helps me from turning the Rosary into a repetitive set of words without much reflection.
October is the Month of the Rosary, so it can be a good time for us to examine the role this devotion plays in our spiritual life. Maybe you find yourself struggling with not getting much out of the Rosary, feeling that it is too repetitive. Perhaps you can adopt the practice that was suggested to me, one which I make use of regularly.
As you know, our theme for our Family of Faith catechesis program for this month is our Vocation to Beatitude. I like to tie this theme of Beatitude to the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, because these mysteries focus especially on the Resurrection which is the event that makes our sharing in heavenly beatitude possible. The final two Glorious Mysteries are the Assumption of Mary and the Coronation of Mary. These two mysteries invite us to reflect on the fact that, at the end of her earthly journey, Jesus welcomed His mother into Heaven, body and soul, to share in this gift of eternal beatitude. As I stop at the end of these two mysteries, asking Mary for her guidance to understand them, I am always drawn by the image of the joy the she must have in being reunited with her son, knowing that nothing will ever separate them again. This thought strengthens within me a desire to share in that same gift when I reach the end of my journey.
Another image that comes to mind when I reflect on these two mysteries is the desire that Mary has for us, her children, to share in this gift as well. After all, at the foot of the Cross, Jesus gave her to us to be our mother. The thought of her longing for us to be in Heaven should bring us great peace. But even more than our awareness of her desire for us to be with her and her son is the fact that she is constantly working on our behalf to have that desire realized. Each time when we pray the Hail Mary, we ask her: “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.” She is right next to her son in Heaven, constantly asking Him to help us. There is no moment in our lives, no matter how difficult, that she is not praying for us and as a result, there is not a single moment when her son is not happily accepting her request for us, sending us the graces we need to persevere and one day join them in Heaven.
During this month of October, perhaps we can ask our Blessed Mother to help us to understand how in each of the mysteries of the Rosary, they reveal God’s love for us and His plan for us to be with Him forever in Heaven. She can help us to see how through His life, death, and Resurrection, He has each of us in mind, “For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (Jn 3:17)