Pastor’s Columns

October 20, 2019

This weekend we celebrate World Mission Sunday. One of the reasons why I chose to join the Congregation of Holy Cross was its missionary outreach. I spent my fifth year in the seminary overseas working in East Africa. I arrived unsure of myself, but comforted by the fact that I would be living and working with other Holy Cross religious. Adjusting to the new cultures (I spent 5 months in Kenya, then a year in Uganda) was exciting, challenging, educational, and transforming. Having to struggle to communicate as I was trying to learn Swahili taught me humility, and it has given me empathy for others who struggle to express themselves. Seeing joy in the midst of poverty, and feeling limitations in ministry as I could not speak the language well helped teach me to depend more on God than on my own talents. As a seminarian in East Africa, I attended Mass in churches as humble as a hut to a fancy cathedral, and I experienced liturgies that were as diverse as quiet & meditative to ones with dancing and joyful ululations. This taught me about the beauty of diverse ways to honor our traditions as Catholics while praising our God.

Not everyone is called to be a missionary working in a foreign country. The theme for this World Mission Sunday: Baptized and Sent, reminds us that God claims us in our baptism as part of God’s holy people. We are children of God. We receive incredible graces in baptism, and these graces are meant to be shared.

It is important to participate in the Church’s missionary effort throughout the world, bringing the Good News to others. This weekend we can help through our prayers and contribution to the collection. At the same time, we are sent to bring the Good News of the Gospel to people here, in a land where less and less people are embracing the faith. People have asked me, “What can we do besides pray?”

We can try to deepen our trust in Divine Providence – trusting that God will provide for us when we reach out to help provide for others. This Sunday’s theme, baptized and sent, also serves and an invitation to deepen our knowledge of the faith. Take time to study and learn about the richness of our Church and our faith that goes all the way back to Christ Himself who sent out the first apostles as missionaries.  Follow the example of so many missionaries, past and present, who share that their love and service come from a deeper place than just a general respect for humanity; it comes from a faith that teaches us that when we serve others, we serve Christ Himself.

As we are inspired by the missionary example of so many in the Church, perhaps we can ask ourselves the question, “How is God inviting me to be more active in my parish, in my faith?” We can also be missionary by inviting someone to come to Mass with us, or some other activity happening at the church. Consider coming for movie night after the 6:00 PM All Saints Day Mass on Friday, Nov. 1st. We will show the movie “Coco”, with themes of All Soul’s Day (which is Nov.2nd).

Fr. Eric

October 13, 2019

This past weekend we had our Fall Family Dinner. We had a nice turnout of people, and everyone seemed to enjoy the good food from Mario’s, and the fun music by Joe Presley, as well as Eddie and the Exciters. Many hands went into making this event a success. I particularly want to thank the committee members, Mary Calhoun, Kevin Dixon, Chris Goffredo, and Joyce Isiminger. Many others stepped up volunteering, such as Amy Goffredo, Dennis Kenny, Kacy Lubash, Claire Smith, Linda Sullivan, P.J. Celia, Debbie Kelley, Gail Shea, the Knights of Columbus, and many others who helped make sure this was a very enjoyable evening. I am quickly learning that this is a community that not only gathers and prays well together, but also has fun together. It is a pleasure to be part of the Holy Cross Parish family.

This weekend we have a special Healing Mass with the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. The Lord blesses us by inviting us to come every week to be nourished by His word in the Scriptures and fed by His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. There is nothing better for our hearts, minds, and souls than the gift of Jesus’ Himself, present in the Eucharist.

In addition to the blessings from the Eucharist, those who celebrate the healing Mass will receive the grace of the sacrament of Anointing of the Sick. This sacrament comes from the 5th chapter of the book of James in the Bible in which says, “If there are any who are sick, let them send for priests of the Church, and let the priests pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. The prayer of faith will save the sick persons, and the Lord will raise them up. If they have committed any sins, their sins will be forgiven them.” This is a sacrament that promises healing.  Indeed I have been blessed to see some incredible physical healings through it, such as a cancer cured or a person no longer needing surgery. I have also been blessed to see people struggling with mental or emotional illnesses helped through the sacrament. Trusting in the words of the Bible, we know that souls are healed through this sacrament with the forgiveness of sin.

Whenever we celebrate the Anointing of the Sick, we do not know what type of healing the Lord will bestow: physical, spiritual, emotional. We do have faith and trust that God will act and give the person receiving the sacrament what she/he needs.

This is not a sacrament to wait to receive. In the past, some have waited until the last moment to call a priest to perform the “last rites.” The priest would come and administer the anointing of the sick. Following the words of the Bible, the Church has recently emphasized that this is a sacrament for people who are seriously sick, not just those who are nearing the end of life. Therefore, anyone struggling with any kind of serious illness is welcome to receive the anointing. If you know someone in the hospital, please call us so that Fr. Jim or I can pray with them and anoint them. Laws prohibit hospitals from calling us to tell us who is admitted to the hospital. We depend on you to let us know who is sick and needs our prayers.

As we celebrate this Healing Mass today, we will pray for all in our parish who needs God’s healing touch.

Fr. Eric

October 6, 2019

This weekend in the Church we celebrate Respect Life Sunday. This is a very important weekend as it touches upon some very central themes of our faith.

As Catholics, we believe that every person is made in God’s image and likeness. Every person has inherent dignity. That dignity begins at conception and continues until a natural death. There is nothing anyone can do that can either take away or forfeit that dignity. We believe that Jesus was born, taking our human nature, giving human nature greater dignity. He chose to suffer, die and be buried, before rising again to save all people. (see 1 Tim 1:5, John 3:16-17)

With this as a foundational tenet of our faith, the inherent dignity of all people from the first moment of their existence, comes our stance as Pro-Life. Because almost all actions, no matter how “privately” done, have consequences beyond just the person performing them, as Catholics we do not believe that abortion is simply a decision to be made by a mother. The decision to abort her child does not only affect her. It affects the life in the womb that is sacred. It affects others as well. As Catholics, we strive to uphold the sanctity of all human life.

In order to do so, we try to maintain a consistent ethic of life. It is not enough just to lobby for laws outlawing abortion. Just as we value the dignity of the child in the womb, we equally value the dignity of the pregnant woman. To uphold that dignity, as Catholics we want to work to eliminate things that can pressure a woman into a position where she may feel like abortion is a viable option. Equal pay for equal work can be important, but we also need adequate healthcare for the mother and her entire family. Another area to help in the Pro-Life cause is to push for Family Leave policies that uphold real family life and never punish – directly or indirectly – the mother nor the father for taking care of their family.

A Catholic consistent ethic of life extends to other issues. As we strive to Respect Life as a Church, we stand against intentionally killing someone. This includes both the death penalty and euthanasia. Christ offered forgiveness to the repentant thief crucified with Him. No matter how heinous the crime, if non-lethal means are available to defend and protect people from a criminal, we must use those means (Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 2266-67).

With respect to euthanasia, it is extremely difficult when a loved one faces debilitating diseases that weaken them and seem to diminish their dignity. However, as Catholics, we do not believe that dignity comes from what we can or cannot do, but instead from who we are: God’s daughters and sons made in His image and likeness. Nothing can diminish that. We do not say that people must use every means necessary to prolong life, especially when the diagnosis is terminal. In those situations, we do our best to alleviate suffering through the care that we offer, without intending to end the life of the person (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2276-79).

Often issues at the beginning and end of life garner the most attention, but there are issues in between. As Catholics called to Respect all Life, we uphold human dignity through our efforts to help everyone have adequate food, clothing, shelter, healthcare – the essentials needed to live.

Being Pro-Life is not always easy. Decisions as to how to uphold the dignity of everyone can become complicated. But our Lord did not say that following Him would be easy. Instead, he warned that we would be insulted and persecuted on account of His name. Yet if we strive to follow Him, respecting the dignity of all as true Pro-Life people, Jesus has one word for us: Blessed (Mt. 5:1-12)

Have a blessed week.

Fr. Eric

September 29, 2019

Last weekend we had a great kick off to our Faith Formation programs for the children in elementary school. I was uplifted by so many families joining us. This first session was a “GOLF” (Generations Of Living Faith) session with children and adults together. I heard lots of great answers to questions from the children. I saw many adults doing a fantastic job nurturing their kids in the faith. This weekend will begin our regular sessions with the children broken out by classroom. Please keep the children, parents, catechists and aids in prayer. I find it rewarding to work with children. We still have opportunities to help, and good materials to help guide you so that volunteering will be a lot easier. If you love God and want children to feel God’s love, I encourage you to contact the parish office to see how you can help.

Fall Family Dinner will be this coming Saturday. This promises to be a GREAT time. Recently I was blessed to attend a festival at a local church and saw how they celebrate. I believe that we have a program that will be more fun, and more economical. I hope to see a lot of you there to enjoy good food, great live music (and dance), and fantastic people.

Last Friday the Catholic Church celebrated the feast day of St. Vincent DePaul (1581-1660), the priest who was the founder of the Vincentians, the Sisters of Charity, and who is the patron saint of charities. We are blessed to have a very active St. Vincent DePaul society here at Holy Cross Parish who are finishing their Sundries drive to provide necessary hygiene products to people in need. St. Vincent had a great love for people, often preaching and doing what he could to help peasants. Although he and the communities he formed certainly cared for their basic needs (such as in orphanages, hospitals, prisons, etc.), he also remained very attentive to the spiritual needs. For example, St. Vincent strenuously fought against a heresy that he found elitist and that so downplayed the mercy of God that people doubted the possibility of salvation. Our parish has many programs reaching out to people in need. I pray that our parish will continued to follow St. Vincent’s example of caring for the least of our brothers and sisters, and so help all know the love and mercy of God.

This coming week we celebrate St. Theresa of the Child Jesus (1873-1897), known as the “Little Flower.” This young saint only lived to be 24 years old. Even though she lived in a cloistered convent since the age of 15, she has had a tremendous impact on the universal church. She described her life in her autobiography as “the little way of spiritual childhood,” inspiring people by her simplicity. While many at the time saw spiritual perfection almost impossible, they found in her writings and example a spirituality that anyone can follow. She wrote, “What matters in life is not great deeds, but great love.” We can become holy by doing ordinary things with extraordinary love.

We pray that, through the intercession of St. Vincent and St. Therese, and of all the saints, we can all grow in our faith, and do so through actions of great love.

See you next Saturday at the Fall Family Dinner.

Fr. Eric