Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.
First there was the two Popes and then there was the movie version of the Two Popes and then a book pitting the Two Popes against each other. It’s enough to give you Two Popes, too many fatigue. The latest intrigue from our being present at this unique historical moment of having a Pope and a Pope emeritus is a film and a book.
The film, The Two Popes has been playing on Netflix as of late. What you need to know about the film is that it is FICTION. It never happened except in a writer’s creative mind. Nor is it based on pieces of actual evidence or what probably could have occurred. Just a yarn made from whole cloth. What’s good about the film is the acting. Both Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce give excellent performances and do not disappoint. What’s bad, is that it is stereotypic on many levels. The film uses a stereotypical Hollywood world view in which everything is divided into right-left, liberal-conservative categories. So, Pope emeritus Benedict is the rigid, rightwing villain and Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) is the oozing-compassion progressive. Then in stereotypical Hollywood characterization, a German personality by definition is hard, cold and unfeeling whereas the South American personality is infused with Tango tapping joy and joie de vivre.READ MORE
After the US Supreme Court issued the Dred Scott Decision, President Lincoln and the US Congress passed a law-making slavery illegal in any US territory or any new state that might be carved out of those territories. Lincoln refused to accept that a slim majority of the Court could impose a policy that was binding on the nation as a whole or on the voter who considered it wrong so as to remove the issue from legislatures and voters. It was a way to both undermine the institution of slavery and push back against the Supreme Court’s ruling. In a somewhat similar manner since January 1973, many Presidents and Congresses have issued executive orders or passed laws pushing back against the Court’s Roe v. Wade decision and demonstrating that abortion is not a settled policy binding upon the states. So, this week we mark another March for Life and another push to undermine the legality of abortion on demand.READ MORE
In his January 1, World Day of Peace Message, Pope Francis said, “The journey of reconciliation calls for patience and trust. Peace will not be obtained unless it is hoped for. In the first place, this means believing in the possibility of peace, believing that others need peace just as much as we do. Here we can find inspiration in the love that God has for each of us: a love that is liberating, limitless, gratuitous and tireless.”
It seems that when it comes to the Middle East, we have long since given up any hope for peace. After these 20 years of war it seems like war is just the routine condition that we are expected to live with, sort of like background noise that you can do little about. I had thought that President Trump had more resolve than to get sucked into another conflict in the Middle East. His challenge to our NATO allies to step up and do more was a hopeful sign. Likewise, Trump has taken time to listen not just to the Generals but to the soldiers on the ground. In a book by Peter Bergen: Trump And His Generals: The Cost Of Chaos: “It’s unwinnable. NATO’s a joke. Nobody knows what they’re doing,” the SEALs told Trump, according to Bergen’s book. “We don’t fight to win. The morale is terrible. It’s totally corrupt.” And like his predecessor, President Obama, Trump’s instincts seemed to be to bring the wars and conflicts to a conclusion. But also like his predecessor, he got talked into more war, not less.READ MORE
Welcome to the Roaring Twenties, or so we hope. Of course, the 1920's didn't end well so let's hope the 2020's don't end with a big crash on a Black Tuesday. Right now we are possibly set to imitate the economic prosperity of the 1920's: between 1920 and 29 the nation's total wealth more than doubled and we are presently witnessing a booming economy and the Dow setting records again and again.
Back then, the extra money in people's pockets helped usher in a consumer driven economy. One of the big factors that made the 1920's roar was the introduction of the automobile. In 1924, a Ford Model T would set you back a whopping $240! Of course, along with the car came the Service Station, where a polite attendant would come out and pump your gas, clean your windshield and ask if you wanted your oil checked. As 2020 approaches on most new cars the first oil change is at 10,000 miles and filling up your tank is a rather solitary experience! The car also helped birth the Motel which allowed people to slowly discover the country outside their previous reach so you could "get your kicks on Route 66"!READ MORE
Soon it will be the year that was. But was it a year to remember, or your favorite year? Was it the Best Year Ever, maybe a Year in the Life of a Fool? Or was it more the Days of Wine and Roses or a time we’d rather forget? However, those 525,600 minutes of those 365 days or those 31,536,000 seconds of the 52weeks plus one day of 2019 passed by I hope you can "nd many reasons for gratitude and thankfulness.
As 2020 dawns we have a new day and a new opportunity for sanctity. What kind of day will it be: a Holy Day, Ground Hog Day, or Independence Day or maybe Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? Might it be a Dog Day Afternoon, or the Day of the Jackal or a Day of Reckoning? Or will it just be the Longest Day or the End of Days, the Day of Wrath or just a Long Day’s Journey into Night? It possibly could be a Hard Days Night or just One Fine Day. For some it might be Training Day, D-Day, Judgment Day or the Last Day. Unlikely you’ll get a Snow Day but maybe a Fathers Day or Valentines Day and hopefully a Pay Day. One thing for sure it will be the First Day of the Rest of Your Life.READ MORE
At this time of year, I always remember a dear friend of mine, long since gone to God, and how she decorated her Christmas tree. She was as blue collar as they come, worked in a Factory and pretty much lived paycheck to paycheck. Though she always had a little stashed away, just in case. And those just in case times were usually for someone else who hit a hard time.
She would put up her Christmas tree and put the lights on but no decorations. Instead she would make, and I mean make, anyone who came over to her house, decorate the tree with money from their wallet. And everyone in the neighborhood knew that at some point between Christmas and Epiphany you’d better get to her house and pin something on the tree. And if she saw you on the street or on the bus or in the Grocery store, she would let you know that her Christmas tree was waiting to see you.READ MORE
A few months back Gallup reported the results of a survey among US Catholics about the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. And the results were not good: only 30% responded that they believe in the Real Presence. I’m not sure how accurate that is but even if it were 50% or 60% that would still be depressingly low. But even if only 30% of US Catholics believe in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist, I can tell you that 100% of Satanists believe in it.
In November, the Satanic Temple held a Black Mass in Houston and afterwards tweeted: The Catholics and their fat mama Mary did not stop our Black Mass. The consecrated host was defiled, destroyed, and swept into the trash where it belongs. Thank you…READ MORE
Coming into the Holiday season, I know we’ve all been a bit stretched with giving and I thank you for your sacrificial giving in the Together Let Us Go Forth Capital Campaign, (and don't forget to redeem your Pledge) so I want to remind you of ways you can still give but at no cost to your budget.
Shea Grant. As you know the Shea Family Charities awarded our School a grant to help upgrade the Campus. As of today, they have completed $3million in work to improve our Campus and School Infrastructure. Our part in the Grant is to raise 20% and currently we are still shy about $100,000. This spring we will apply for an additional Grant from Shea for work on the School that still needs upgrading. So, your support in helping us reach our 20% will help demonstrate our commitment to the project. Please contact Deacon Jim at the Parish Office to arrange for your gift or your multi-year pledge.READ MORE
Happy Advent. Another year to discover what the year of Grace 2020 may bring us in God’s providential plan.
Three years ago, our Parish changed in a very significant way with the arrival of five Sisters from the Servants of the Plan of God. As it often happens in the history of the Church, whenever the Church moves forward in some significant way, it is likely because of faithful women. While both men and women are often visionary, men tend to concern themselves too much with the how and women tend to concern themselves with the what. Men think, “How are we going to do that?” while women tend to concern themselves with “What God wants of us?”. I think the lesson is: don't worry about the how, God will provide that but do your best to figure out what God wants of us.READ MORE
Twenty years ago, on a Sunday when the Eagles defeated the Cardinals, I arrived at Mt. Carmel. I was not sure of what kind of welcome that would inspire but here I am still. At that point the Country was still trying to figure out who should be President or not, because of hanging chads, Bush or Gore. And here we are now with Impeach-a-palozza trying to figure out who should be President or not. I guess some things change and still remain the same.
From my end and I hope from yours there is much to be grateful for:
Those who find a home in the land of the giant cactus
Palm trees that look like cell phone towers or maybe it’s the other way
That keep us connected to one another
And the Church, the Mass that keep us connected
To the Lord
Two News headlines caught my eye recently, they both deal with the same subject matter but you wouldn't know it from the way the headlines were written. One read, “Federal Judge overturns Obamacare transgender protections” (The Hill). Sounds very broad and like a major loss for transgenders. But then the other headline read, “Judge Rules Doctors Can Decline To Perform Transgender Surgery On Religious Grounds” (Religion Unplugged). Again, both articles dealt with the same Court ruling, so which is more accurate? I would say the latter since there are still plenty of physicians who are willing to provide hormonal and surgical treatments to transgenders. The Court ruling allowed a small subset of medical professionals to opt out on religious or conscience grounds but didn’t prevent other medical workers from offering transgenders medical interventions but you would think otherwise from the first headline.READ MORE
Canon 915, in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, promulgated by Pope St. John Paul II states that “those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion”. This was the basis on which a Pastor in South Carolina denied Presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden Holy Communion at Sunday Mass a few weeks ago. Many have asked, “can he do that” and “should he do that”. To the first, yes. A priest especially a Pastor is responsible for custody and care of the Eucharist and proper administration of the sacraments. To the second, well that is where all the debate surrounds.READ MORE
Many of you have asked me about my thoughts, impressions or indigestion on the recently completed Vatican Synod on Amazonia. Well to start with, I thought it was a bit peculiar to hold a Synod for such a small subset of a much larger population. Why not have a Synod for Brazil, where most Amazonians live? Or even all of Latin America as the Church there is experiencing its share of challenges. That being said, still the people of the Amazon deserve to hear the Gospel and have the sacraments made available to them. But since the focus was so small it seemed the Synod might be used to push things that have to do with climate change for the rest of us to implement but nothing to do with evangelizing the Amazon. Though climate issues were definitely part of the final recommendations of the Synod to the Holy Father they were overshadowed by other issues.READ MORE