This weekend finds us in the midst of the annual observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “...the task of restoring unity, which demands all our energy and efforts, is infinitely above our own possibilities. Unity with God and our brothers and sisters is a gift that comes from on high…” Let us pray earnestly and always for this gift! This week was chosen because January 18 used be celebrated as the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter and January 25 is the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. These great apostles stand as two great pillars of the Church: immortal witnesses to the unity of believers. Unity among all followers of Jesus Christ is a concern that should never be far from our thoughts. There are many legitimate theological and ecclesiastical differences among Christians and we continue to be haunted by the sad and sometimes violent history of division. However, there are also many signs of hope. Locally we are blessed to have a wonderful cooperative spirit of ecumenism among many congregations in the Greater Latrobe Ministerial Association. May our cooperation and discussion allow us to learn more about each other. Ignorance breeds fear and hate, while understanding breeds unity and peace.
February 8 marks the 114th anniversary of the founding of the Boy Scouts of America. We will celebrate Boy Scout Sunday on February 11 at the 10:30AM Mass at Holy Family. All Tiger Cubs, Cub Scouts, Boy Scouts, Venturers, and Explorers and their leaders are invited and encouraged to attend this Mass in uniform. Please be present by 10:20AM for line up and instructions. Scouts and their leaders who may not be able to attend this Mass are still encouraged to wear their uniforms to whichever Mass they attend that weekend.
Many folks are battling colds, flu, and RSV, and of course, covid is still making its presence felt. Perhaps this is a good time to review some common-sense suggestions and common courtesy at Mass: 1) When you’re seriously sick, stay home. Return to church when you have recovered. Since the obligation to attend Mass is a serious one, absenting oneself from Mass must therefore correspond to an equally serious reason for doing so. 2) If you’re coughing, wheezing, or sneezing, you may exchange the sign of peace in a manner that minimizes physical contact. As Ben Franklin so famously said: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
Just a gentle reminder about the strain the winter weather puts on the parish budget. Every time it snows—even if it’s only a “nuisance snow”—parking lots need to be cleared and sidewalks need to be shoveled and salted. And, of course, the furnaces and boilers get quite a workout. The terrible weather conditions also have a negative impact on Mass attendance and our weekly offertory is often reflective of that. So, I put forth this gentle reminder to please keep current with your offertory. If you are not able to make it to Mass, hold on to your envelopes until you can or you can always mail them to the office.
On Wednesday the Church honors the great bishop and doctor of the Church, St. Francis de Sales. He was the oldest of six children born into a noble family in the Duchy of Savoy (in modern-day France) in 1567. As the eldest son, Francis was expected by his father to be well-schooled for a life as a privileged politician. But while in college, Francis had what might be considered a “dark night of soul”. Influenced by the doctrine of predestination, being taught by Calvinists at the time, Francis was convinced of his own damnation, leading to a prolonged personal crisis of faith. He had a great epiphany in early 1587 as he prayed the Memorare at a shrine to Our Lady of Good Deliverance, namely, that God had good in store for him because God is love. This great revelation led him to forgo the wishes of his family and he was ordained a priest in 1593. Francis was well-known as a powerful and charismatic preacher, teaching and preaching of God’s love and mercy. He also did much writing, contributing greatly to the development of spirituality for the laity, most famously in his book, The Introduction to the Devout Life. He spent the last 20 years of his life as Bishop of Geneva, continuing his ministry of building up the Church in the wake of the Reformation. Francis de Sales died of a stroke days after Christmas 1622. He is venerated as the patron of writers and journalists, because he made extensive use of broadsheets and books both in spiritual direction and in his efforts to convert the Calvinists of the region. St. Francis also developed a sign language in order to teach a deaf man about God. Because of this, he is the patron saint of the deaf.