November 19, 2017

Preparing for uncertain change: I hope that you have been keeping up with all the news about On Mission for the Church Alive! The Pittsburgh Catholic has been providing great updates and articles. You can, of course, also use the internet and social media to keep abreast of the latest news as well. It is only by understanding the possible future that many of the things happening in our parish will make sense.

What do I mean by that? Well, since On Mission began, we have all known that no final decisions were made (and still haven’t been). However, as news comes out and plans are being discussed, one option is to prepare as if the current possibility will become the final option. This is a catch 22. It means sometimes we prepare for what is coming and sometimes for what will not. Having taken this approach, I think we have been prudent and I know that our parish family has benefited from this tactic. We are a parish that continues to embrace what it means to be Church! We are a parish that is reaching out and expanding our cooperation, collaboration and ministry. We are ready for the change (whatever it might be) that On Mission will bring.

Our promotion of social media and the use of technology is a prime example. Imagine the following possibility− St. Colman, Good Shepherd, St. John Fisher, St. Jude the Apostle, Madonna del Castello, St. Maurice and Word of God parishes being served by one administrator and three assisting priests (see http://onmissionchurchalive.org/recommended-groupings-by-parish/). That is seven parishes with four priests. Communication of information in this possible reality will be challenging. Social media and the use of online calendars can and will help. But the best practices of communication with technology for our parish and our grouping will not just spontaneously arise. So, like many steps we have taken, we are continuing to expand and experiment with the use of technology to help us evangelize. As we do this, please know that the investments we are making are in movable technology and hardware. We have done this so that no matter what final decision is made by On Mission the parish resources now being used will continue to enhance our future parish as we provide a Church Alive and vibrant ministry to our members and neighbors.

I feel very good about Saint Maurice’s position entering the next stage of On Mission! The April 26, 2018 announcements will begin the “transition phase” of On Mission. From May to September, clergy in new parish groupings will determine how to provide pastoral care. New Mass schedules will be developed. Then the implementation phase will begin on October 15, 2018 when the new clergy assignments and Mass schedules take effect.

November 12, 2017

Purple on All Souls Day: I had a few questions about why I wore purple on All Souls Day (one even from a priest). Often this celebration, like a funeral liturgy, is celebrated wearing white. As you know, the use of colored vestments conveys a significant meaning in the liturgical celebration. White, when used for funerals, symbolizes the resurrection of our Lord, when He triumphed over sin and death, sorrow and darkness. It also denotes rejoicing and purity of the soul−thus the reason All Saints Mass was celebrated in white. Purple, however, is a sign of preparation. Thus, as we offered the All Souls Mass for those preparing/purifying themselves for entry into heaven, I chose the liturgical color of purple. This is based upon the understanding that the Mass was offered for those souls in purgatory.

The Reality of Purgatory: The custom of praying for the dead is rooted in the very nature of heaven. Revelation 21:27 states, “nothing unclean will enter it.” The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven (1030). They do this in purgatory. The Church identifies the souls in purgatory as “our brethren … who having died are still being purified” (Lumen Gentium, No. 51). They continue to be important members of the Church, of the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ according to the belief in the communion of saints. We are able to assist the faithful departed by our prayers, just as they can also help us by their prayers (CCC 958). The Catholic Church has taught this for centuries. We commend the souls in purgatory to God’s mercy and pray for them.

November is dedicated to prayer for the Holy Souls in Purgatory; let us remember to keep them in our prayers out of love. Let us remember that prayers can be extremely powerful in assisting the souls of our loved ones in their journey to attaining eternal life and peace. Be mindful as well that we can help them by also by offering a Mass in their name, by giving alms, by indulgences or other works of penance done for their benefit (CCC 1032). A partial indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, can be obtained when the Eternal Rest (Requiem aeternam) is prayed.

For more information I recommend researching Catholic Activity: Praying for the Dead and Gaining Indulgences During November. Information for this article was taken from Catholicstand.com’s Praying for the Souls of the Dead: A Catholic Tradition by Nada Mazzei • October 24, AD2016.

November 5, 2017

Health Update: First off, I want to thank all of you for your continued prayers. I recently joked with some that if I don’t get back to 100% soon people’s faith will be shaken. But, of course, we as Catholics know that illness is part of the great mystery of salvation. We may not understand it, but we do know how to deal with it. When faced with illness we have the option to join our suffering with Christ in such a way that brings us closer to Him (or we can depend on methods to avoid all pain and suffering). Contrary to what seems to be the logical choice, our faith ensures us that our illnesses, suffering, and pain are bearable only when faced head on with the Lord−and following doctor’s orders.

Over the past two weeks I followed my doctor’s instructions and had a bone marrow biopsy and a PET/CT scan. Both tests were to check for cancer. I am very pleased to report that all my tests showed that I am healthy! No cancer. However, I am still dealing with a blood disease. For the next few months I will be taking a low dose of steroid to maintain healthy blood counts. I will slowly be taken off this medicine and the hope is that when this occurs my body will be back to normal. I am very hopeful that, as my treatment moves forward, my body will respond and my overall energy and focus will improve. In the meantime, please keep me in your prayers.

A joy to meet a native son called to the ordained life: This past week I meet Deacon William F. Strathmann. You may know him. His home parish (the one he grew up in) is Saint Maurice. Deacon Bill is the first person who I have met who was raised at our parish and responded to the call to a religious vocation. I often ask parishioners if any native children became seminarians, male or female religious, deacons or priests. To this point no one has identified any. Deacon Bill changes this narrative. If you know of anyone else, please let me know. More importantly, if you know someone in our parish who you think has a religious vocation let him or her know. You might be surprised that 4 out of 5 men ordained to the priesthood in 2017 were urged to consider the priesthood by someone from their parish. If you are interested in more details about vocations check our twitter feed for the article 4 Ways to Promote Priestly Vocations in Your Parish (written by Brenton Cordeiro and published on Catholic-link.org).

Two new ministries: Please see details in this bulletin about two exciting new opportunities at our parish. One is an adult education program called Becoming Confidently Catholic (a modification of our occasional series from last year called Confident Catholic). The other is a ministry to families with infants and young children to provide them an opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist together and find support and fellowship following Saturday morning Mass.

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