January 24, 1999
Third Sunday in Ordinary Time
1) Isaiah 8, 23 - 9, 3
2) 1 Corinthians 1, 10-13.17
3) Matthew 4, 12-23
"Reform your lives!" is the message Jesus preaches. (3) Sometimes we see reforming our lives in the context of doing a little "touch-up" job. But the reformation which Jesus calls us to is a complete remodeling. We were once a people walking in darkness, but now we have seen the great light. (1) It is our turn now to use all of our resources-the whole of our reformed lives-to share that light with the world.
Next Sunday, the reading's will be: 1) Zephaniah 2, 3; 3, 12-13; 2) 1 Corinthians 1, 26-31; 3) Matthew 5, 1-12.
The visit of Our Holy Father to St. Louis will be this week, Tuesday and Wednesday. Let us continue to pray for him, and for the occasion of Faith which his visit will be for our area, and our entire country. I would like to offer, as a reflection, some of his thoughts from his first encyclical, REDEMPTOR HOMINIS, which he wrote at the beginning of his ministry as Bishop of Rome and Vicar of Christ:
2.1 It was to Christ the Redeemer that my feelings and my thoughts were directed on October 16 of last year, when, after the canonical election, I was asked: Do you accept? I then replied: With obedience in faith to Christ, my Lord, and with trust in the Mother of Christ and of the Church, in spite of the great difficulties, I accept. Today I wish to make that reply known publicly to all without exception, thus showing that there is a link between the first fundamental truth of the Incarnation, already mentioned, and the ministry that, with my acceptance of my election as Bishop of Rome and Successor of the Apostle Peter, has become my specific duty in his See.
2.2 I chose the same names that were chosen by my beloved Predecessor John Paul I, indeed, as soon as he announced to the Sacred College on August 26, 1978, that he wished to be called John Paul - such a double name being unprecedented in the history of the papacy -I saw in it a clear presage of grace for the new Pontificate. Since that Pontificate lasted barely 33 days, it falls to me not only to continue it but in a certain sense to take it up again at the same starting point. This is confirmed by my choice of these two names. By following the example of my venerable Predecessor in choosing them, I wish like him to express my love for the unique inheritance left to the Church by Popes John XXIII and Paul VI and my personal readiness to develop that inheritance with GodŐs help.
The primary logo for the Papal Visit, designed by St. Louis-based Henning Communications, displays the Pope's pastoral staff, which contains an image of Christ crucified. The image also includes a stylized version of the Gateway Arch, which cuts through the background of the logo, and a fleur-de-lis, another easily recognizable symbol of St. Louis. The "A.D. 2000" in the logo reminds us of the approach of the Third Millennium. Dominant colors used in the logo are the papal colors of yellow and white, accented by the color blue. The text surrounding the graphic image says, "Pastoral Visit* January 1999* Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri." In an interview with the St. Louis Review, Partrick Henning Communications called the log "distinctively Christian in the image of Jesus Christ and distinctively St. Louis in that we are reaching out to the entire metropolitan community." The logo will appear on all official publications of the visit. It will also be used on light standard banners, public displays, and T-shirts.
A secondary image, seen on billboards, displays a photograph of the Pope and St. Louis skyline, with the words:
"...to ensure that the power of salvation may be shared by all." This quotation, taken from the Holy Father's 1994 apostolic letter entitled On the Coming of the Third Millennium, was selected as the theme for the Papal Visit.
In writing about Ordinary Time last week I began to reflect on what is "ordinary" for Christians. The "ordinary' emphases in the life of a Christian begin with the gathering of those who believe in Jesus, the Christ. We gather on the first day of the week, the Lord's Day, the day of His Resurrection. We come to be formed into the Body of Christ, to bring our presence to His Presence and give thanks and praise to the Father for this gift. Our loving Triune God graciously shares His Life with us under the forms of bread and wine. Our communion brings us into a common union with our God and with one another. Other sacraments also bring us into the presence of God. It is "ordinary" for Christians to receive all the sacraments that are available to them in their state of life, to confess their sins and receive the Eucharist, to seek the support of the Christian community in time of illness and danger of death in the Rite of Anointing. It is "ordinary" to be confirmed, married or ordained according to the Rites of the Church. It is "ordinary" to follow the prescribed ascetic practices of fast and abstinence during the seasons of preparation for our great liturgical feasts. It is "ordinary" for Christians to give financial and physical support to the mission of the Church. Yes, it is "ordinary" for Christian life to be different. The Lord bless us and keep us in our "ordinary" life.
In the second reading we find Paul challenging the people of Corinth about the division caused by different groups. He makes an important point that we are all members of Christ.
The temptation is ever present to be selective and go where we are comfortable or in agreement with what is being offered. It is not a popularity contest. As Jesus proclaims in the Gospel of MT. - Reform your lives! We are more receptive to listen when the speaker or group reinforces our convictions. Never the less, in the Christian community the criterion is not opinion but the truth of Jesus Christ.
Paul preached the message of the cross of Jesus Christ and found in Him the One who unifies us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Pope John Paul's II visit to St. Louis is close at hand and the Scripture readings for this Sunday present themes that connect with his life and mission as the Vicar of Christ and Chief Shepherd of our Church. The Gospel selection from St. Matthew proclaims a call to conversion-Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand, which is preceded by a quote from Isaiah the people who sit in darkness have seen a great light. In the second reading St. Paul calls members of the Corinthians church to turn away from factions toward unity of mind and purpose. Our newspaper and TV/radio stations have reported many commentaries on the forthcoming visit of Pope John Paul II and his impact on our world. Last Sundays post Dispatch presented articles by the Catholic authors Fr. Andrew Greely and St. Alban Roe's former pastor Fr. John Jay Hughes. Fr. Greely's article presented evidence (surveys, polls, etc.) that American Catholics like Pope John Paul but disagree with him on matters that they think he is misinformed. Fr. Hughes article is more complimentary regarding Pope John Paul's impact on our world. The following excerpts seemed most affirming-He contradicts the notion that what is right can be established through polls. He condemns sexual exploitation based on the mindless philosophy, 'if it feels good, do it.' He protest against today's 'culture of death': the killing of the unborn, of the aged and ill and of criminals through capital punishment.
Pope John Paul is controversial because he is a sign of contradiction. Yet this is the man who rallies millions of young people better than any rock star. How does he do it? Through two qualities he shares with Mother Teresa. Young people appreciate the lonely individual who dares to speak the truth to power. And today's youth, spiritually hungry amid material abundance, resonate to the person of prayer. 'Man cannot live by bread alone,' Jesus said, quoting his beloved Jewish scriptures. Modern society considers bread sufficient, given enough varieties and cake for dessert. John Paul, visibly at home in the spiritual world, proclaims the need to nourish the soul. Young people love that.
The pope's major role in the sudden collapse of communism in 1989 is undisputed. Mikhail Gorbachev confirmed it in a 1992 article: Everything that happened in Eastern Europe in these last few years would have been impossible without the presence of this pope and without the important role-including the political role-that he played on the world stage.'
There are five church seasons: Advent, Christmastime, Lent, the Pascal Triduum (a three-day season), and Eastertime. There are two blocks of Ordinary Time. First, in winter come the weeks between Christmastime and Lent. Then, in summer and fall come the weeks between Eastertime and Advent. On most days in Ordinary Time, green vestments are worn.
Ordinary Time isn't a season, just a way to describe the weeks between seasons. The word ordinary means regular, plain, run-of-the-mill. It also has another meaning. It means counted. Ordinal numbers are first, second, third, fourth and so on.
We count each week. There's the first week in Ordinary Time, which begins right after the feast of the Baptism of the Lord. The 34th week of Ordinary Time comes right before Advent begins. We count the Sundays, too. The Sunday after the Baptism of the Lord is called the Second Sunday in Ordinary Time because it begins the second week in Ordinary Time. We do all this counting to keep track of the weeks so we know which scriptures to read when we assemble for the liturgy.
Each year at Sunday Mass during Ordinary Time we read bit by bit through one of the gospels. One year we read through the Gospel of Matthew. The next year we read Mark's gospel. The next year Luke's gospel is read; then we read through Matthew's gospel again.
The church's biggest feast during these winter weeks of Ordinary Time is the Presentation of the Lord, on February 2. The Presentation is a turning point. We look back to Christmastime. We look forward to Lent and Easter.
One of the goals of the larger Church in preparation for the Jubilee is the hope for Christian unity. A worldwide observance, the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began as long ago as 1908 in New York's Hudson Valley. With the Second Vatican Council, a number of Roman Catholics joined other Christians each year for common prayer for unity. The Council's Decree on Ecumenism, 1964, called prayer the soul of the ecumenical movement and encouraged the observance of what is now known as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In 1966, the World Council of Churches and the Vatican began collaborating on a common test and theme for use with ecumenical groups throughout the world.
One of the goals for the Shrine of St. Anne for the Jubilee is to host an ecumenical celebration. The Jubilee Committee is presently working on this project. We invite everyone to show their support for Christian Unity by joining with us in this special time of prayer. As more details come to light, we will make them known. At present, we ask for your prayers for the end to division and for all Christians to be one in love. We ask that you will make a personal goal of working toward Unity of all Christians. We must never forget that it was when Jesus faced the cross that he prayed that we might be one.
We know from our own life experience that it is when we face difficulty that we pray our most earnest prayers. Jesus knows us well and knows that at times, we have made our difference more important than our unity. Our challenge at the close of this second millennium is to recommit ourselves to the unity and renewal of our broken human community.
February 2nd is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord, also known as Candlemas day. Candles are blessed on that day to commemorate Christ as the light of revelation to the gentiles and represents his entry into the temple.
Candles have been used in the Church's liturgy sincere early times. They are an emblem of God, the giver of life and enlightenment. Being pure, they represent Christ's spotless body, the flame a figure of the Divine nature.
It is an old practice to have blessed candles in the home so that they may be used at visits to sick or the dying. Also, at times of bad weather one may light candle as a sign of One's trust and faith in the God who protects.
1. ISAIAH 8:23-9:3
The Prophet writes to encourage his people. The Lord is the light that brings great joy and hope. He describes the change that faith will bring into the lives of his people. He compares it to the light of day that scatters the darkness.
APPLICATION: Those whom God releases from bondage, be it physical or spiritual, can always find reason to rejoice gratefully and respond lovingly.
2. 1 CORINTHIANS 1:10-13-17.
In this second reading we hear St. Paul's powerful plea for unity among the followers of Christ. He calls upon them to stop their quarreling. Their focus must be on God's love as manifested in Christ's death on the cross.
APPLICATION: Christ and his Church have helped change the face of the earth. And now it is our turn to make our peaceful contribution toward building the Kingdom here into the hereafter.
3. MATTHEW 4:12-23.
Christ fulfills all prophecy. The words of Isaiah are taken up again, the great light has come into the world. Jesus begins his public ministry with a proclamation of the approach of the Kingdom of God. He summons his followers to join him in the mission of universal salvation.
APPLICATION: The call of Jesus to discipleship is radical, challenging, complete and absolute. Now is the time to turn from whatever vestiges of darkness and strife remain in our lives and to walk in the light of the Lord.
Fr. Eugene R. Sinz
By: Joseph F. Pearce, C.O.
Fr. William has asked me to share some brief reflections with you on our liturgy and sacraments. This will be the first in a series of brief reflections.
Since Vatican II our Sunday's liturgy has been referred to as Eucharist rather than Mass. While both terms do refer to the same liturgical action, Eucharist is the preferred term because it emphasizes the action of Thanksgiving. The word Eucharist comes from the Greek words Eucharistein and Eulogein which mean to give thanks. We give thanks to God for our worship and our celebration. Most importantly, we give thanks to God for sending his only Son, Jesus the Christ, to redeem us from our sins and to reconcile us to God. Eucharist must be more than something we do. It has to be part of our attitude. We must be thankful that God has called us to worship, reconciliation and forgiveness every time we attend the Eucharist.
On this Third Sunday in Ordinary Time the scriptural readings can be summarized in this way: Reform your lives and work together to follow the One who ushers in the kingdom of God at hand, the great light that overcomes darkness.
Keeping with our theme of this Ordinary Time revealing for us how we become "full of grace and truth," we see that the Word calls for two movements in our spiritual journey.
One movement is inward: a renewal of life or an ongoing change of heart. The implication here is that we are always on a journey toward improvement. We can never be satisfied with the state of our soul, the state of our situation in life, the state of our relation with others. The Word of God and the promptings of the Holy Spirit are continually stretching us a little further beyond our comfortable boundaries, and, if we are to be faithful to the God dwelling within, we are willing to move beyond our comfort level to take the risk of change.
The other movement is outward: making a concerted effort to build community.
There are two characteristics which are essential for a member of a community to be a true, committed, and effective contributor to community-building: a sense-of-community and a will-toward-community.
The sense-of-community is a vision, coming from the Word of God in Sacred Scripture, that the community experience is imperative for personal holiness, for productive worship, and for credible evangelization. It's the realization that I can't get to heaven, I cannot participate legitimately in liturgy, and I can't proclaim the Gospel honestly without the support and accountability of others in my faith community. This sense-of-community is the "aha experience" of letting the Word of God jump out and enlighten one's mind and warm one's heart with the insight that salvation just doesn't happen in isolation as individuals.
The will-toward-community is that passion for being a "gatherer," desiring to incorporate others into what you're doing, making sure that collaboration and dialogue always happen, establishing a mind-set that the common good always take priority over individual agendas, and avoiding any "lone ranger" techniques for getting things done, even though it might take longer to do things in a communal way.
These two indispensable movements in our spiritual life are necessary to allow us to be filled with grace and truth and to communicate that grace and truth to others.
--Father Benet OFM
Archbishop Justin Rigali has many years of experience at the Vatican. He worked at the Vatican for more than 25 years as the English translator for the Pope and member of the Vatican diplomatic staff. Pope John Paul II refers to Archbishop Rigali as his friend. It was this Pope who ordained Archbishop Rigali a bishop in 1985 and who chose him in 1994 to serve as the Shepherd of the Church of St. Louis. In April 1998 Pope John Paul II accepted Archbishop Rigali's invitation to visit the people of the Church of St. Louis.
The Holy Father is coming to visit an area with a large Catholic population. There are more than 558,000 Catholics in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and another 110,000 Catholics in the Diocese of Belleville. Also, the Archdiocese of St. Louis, long known for its exemplary commitment to Catholic education, has the largest percentage of Catholic students in Catholic parochial, archdiocesan, and private schools of any diocese in the United States.
Pope John Pail II's pastoral visit to St. Louis will be a wonderful opportunity for people of all faiths. But the Papal Visit will also be an extraordinary opportunity for all of us as Catholics of the Archdiocese to give witness to our Catholic faith, to be an evangelizing community of faith to the people of St. Louis, to the nation, and to the world. May we all take advantage of this unprecedented opportunity and invite family members, friends, colleagues, and neighbors of all faiths to share in the joy of the Papal Visit.
Let us pray for the Holy Father during his travels and let us also pray that his visit to St. Louis will be a special occasion for spiritual renewal, reconciliation, and conversion for all the people of St. Louis, and, in a special way, for all Catholics of the Church of St. Louis.
Celebrate 2000!...Reflections on Jesus, The Holy Spirit, and the Father, by Pope John Paul II. Man, The Image of the God Who Is Love...God created man in His own image and likeness (see Genesis 1:26-27): Calling him to existence through love, He called him at the same time for love.
God is love (see 1 John 4:8) and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. [FC n. 11]
The vocation to love, understood as true openness to our fellow human beings and solidarity with them, is the most basic of all vocations. It is the orgin of all vocations in life. That is what Jesus was looking for in the young man when He said: Keep the commandments (see mark 10:19).
In other words: Serve God and your neighbor according to all the demands of a true and upright heart. And when the young man indicated that he was already following that path, Jesus invited him to an even greater love: Leave all and come, follow Me; leave everything that concerns only yourself and join Me in the immense task of saving the world (see verse 21). Along the path of each person's existence, the Lord has something for each one to do. [TPS 40/3, 1995, 162]
With this series of historical vignettes we review the history of the parish and archdiocese.
FOUNDING OF THE ST. VINCENT DE PAUL SOCIETY IN AMERICA.
Wherever there is a genuine flourishing interior life of grace and prayer, there will most probably be an overflowing of charity to other external areas. So it was with the charitable sociological relations of the Old Cathedral parish and the people of St. Louis. Already in 1818 there had been formed a society for mutual aid in illness and for the support of the families of the deceased members.
It was known as the Erin Benevolent Society. In 1824 there was organized by Father Fiel, the Female Charitable Society. Three years later the Missouri Hibernian Relief Society was established. Later in 1838 Bishop Rosati called together some of the more prominent Catholic gentlemen of the city and formed the "Society for the Diffusion of Alms." In 1841 the Catholic Orphan Association of St. Louis was organized.
Yet amid the flowering of these various charitable organizations, the greatest in St. Louis was yet to be born. In May, 1833, Frederick Ozanam, a brilliant young lawyer and author in Paris, called about him seven of his youthful companions and formulated plans for the organization of a society, whose object should be to minister to the wants of the poor, and thereby answer the taunts of an irreligious world which was proclaiming the death of the Christian spirit of charity. Of this meeting was born the St. Vincent dePaul Society which quickly grew in membership, and within a few decades was to be found in every country on the globe.
Just twelve years after the inauguration of this noble work, Mr. Bryan Mullanphy, returning from his studies in Paris, full of enthusiasm for the achievements of the society in France, called together a few of the prominent Catholic laymen of St. Louis, and in a school room of the old college building on Second Street, established the first council of the St. Vincent dePaul Society in America on November 20, 1845. In the minutes of this meeting we read that Mr. Mullanphy presided. In an election of officers that followed, Dr. M.L. Linton was elected president, Bryan Mullanphy, first vice-president; James McGuire,Jr., secretary and Patrick Ryder, treasurer.
On this Christ-like work, Bishop Peter Richard Kenrick bestowed his wholehearted blessing, and on February 10, 1846, the General Council in Paris admitted the first conference of the St. Vincent DePaul Society in America to all the rights and privileges of the society.
The math teacher saw that little Johnny wasn't paying attention in class. She called on him and said, "Johnny!
What are 5, 4, 17, and 44?" Little Johnny quickly replied, "NBC, CBS, HBO, and the Cartoon Network!"
In Jesus' Love, Fr. John