Pastor’s Columns

September 22, 2019

Last weekend I was blessed to attend the Grand Opening of the Museum of Family Prayer at Holy Cross Family Prayer Ministries on Stonehill’s Campus. The museum’s goal is to help families pray together, and it honors the legacy of Fr. Patrick Payton, CSC, who was known the “Rosary Priest.” Fr. Payton, who is in the process of canonization (hopefully he soon will be declared a saint) had the saying that “The family that prays together stays together.”

During his homily at the Mass, Bishop da Cunha talked about the importance of praying as a family. He also talked about things that help the family stay together, including the importance of eating together as a family. From my own personal experience growing up, I value family meals – even though sometimes as a kid I wanted to be anywhere but the family table. My feelings towards family meals were confirmed in an interaction with a young man living at a transitional shelter I helped run in Phoenix. Every night, the staff and guests residing in the shelter ate together. One guest staying with us, at the end of his third day there told me, “Father, I don’t mean any disrespect. But this is all very different and kind of strange to me. I never had a family meal.” I appreciate his honesty, but his experience broke my heart. What had he been missing his whole life without knowing it? He grew to become one of our biggest proponents of the meal together.

Numerous studies indicate the importance of eating together for feelings of belonging, being nurtured, and for children’s socialization skills. Kids who eat family meals are less likely to show signs of depression, and one report indicated that teens who ate more family meals together had higher grades.

As we begin our Faith Formation programs this weekend, I have been thinking in a more special and intentional way about our families and our children. God knows that there are MANY activities pulling us in multiple directions. We all want what is best for ourselves, and for our children.

I have complete confidence in our Faith Formation and sacramental prep programs. We have great leaders for our programs, and they have tremendous resources to help catechists and aids guide our children. No matter how good our programs are, the children spend less than two hours with us every week. The other 160+ hours of the week they will be schooled in how to act and what to believe by family, friends, and media – everything we allow them to consume.

So many stories in the Gospel revolve around food: Jesus either feeding or eating with people. The Church teaches that the Mass, our main celebration of faith, is both sacrifice and a meal. We gather around the altar table. As a Church, the Lord invites us to gather at least once a week for a family meal together – the Mass. Thank you to those who make the commitment to regularly come together as a family at this meal. For those who have not yet made that regular commitment, I invite you to start next weekend.

I pray that our practice of gathering as a faith family for a meal (Eucharist) every week can carry on to family meals at home. I know schedules can make it difficult to gather the whole family at home. Many family meals may not be exciting or revealing, but they do not have to be. The studies say they are very important. Often our presence is often present enough. As a parish, we want to make God known, loved, and served. We can do so by following the example of our Lord who was extremely busy, but who also took the time to sit down with people to share a meal. Sharing meals together can strengthen the bonds of our families and of our faith.

For some other possible resources to help grow as a family, perhaps you can look at http://catholicmom.com/  (trust me, you don’t have to be the mom to get something out of this website). Have a blessed week, and bon apatite.

Fr. Eric

September 15, 2019

This weekend we celebrate two major Feasts: Saturday is the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross of Jesus. Sunday is the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, the special patron of the priests, brothers, and sisters of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Our parish, founded and staffed by Holy Cross, has a statue of Our Lady of Sorrows in the vestibule next to the images of three major Holy Cross figures: Blessed Fr. Moreau, Fr. Dujarie, and St. Br. Andre.

The Constitutions of Holy Cross say, “There stood by the Cross of Jesus his mother Mary, who knew grief and was a Lady of Sorrows. She is our special patroness, a woman who bore much she could not understand and who stood fast. To her many sons and daughters, whose devotions ought to bring them often to her side, she tells much of this daily cross and its daily hope”

Fr. Basil Moreau, CSC, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, often stressed the importance of conforming one’s entire life to Christ, which Mary models through her Seven Sorrows. He said, “It is (in her sorrows) that we shall see to what extent she has loved us! She stood at the foot of the cross, among the executioners and soldiers, so close to her dying Son that no detail of his death could escape her. . . What did she do in this circumstance, so painful for her heart, being minister before the altar on which the sacrifice of our redemption was accomplished? Truly she fulfills her part in the work of Christ.” Simeon prophesied that her heart would be pierced. She suffered Seven Sorrows during her life, so she is depicted with seven swords piercing her heart. The sorrows are:

The prophesy of Simeon                              Mary meets Jesus on the way to Calvary

The flight into Egypt                                        Jesus dies on the cross

Losing the child Jesus in the Temple        Mary receives the body of Jesus in her arms

Placing the body of Jesus in the tomb

The motto for the Congregation of Holy Cross, “Ave Crux, Spes Unica” – “Hail the Cross, Our Only Hope” reflects Fr. Moreau’s idea of following Mary’s example in trying to conform our lives to the life of her son, our Lord Jesus Christ. Life is difficult. There are crosses and sacrifices, often which we do not want to embrace. But, it is only by going through the cross that we reach resurrection.

As Catholics, we embrace this mystery almost every time we pray, though it may not be conscious. When we make the sign of the cross, we name who our God is. We believe that God is Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Three persons, but only One God. We physically cover ourselves in the Lord. We do so, marking ourselves with the sign of our salvation: the sign of the cross. When we were first introduced into the Catholic Christian faith, at baptism, we were claimed for Christ with the sign of the cross. When we bless ourselves and make the sign of the cross, we renew that initial claiming from our baptism, and we claim the cross as our hope. We claim the cross as the mystery that we will live and embrace. We follow the example of our mother Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, as we try to imitate her Son.

Next week begins our Faith Formation programs with the Generations of Living Faith (GOLF). Pray for our catechists, helpers, and students who will learn to embrace the mysteries of our salvation and follow Christ. May they always live under the sign of the cross.

In three weeks, on October 5, we will have a fun event for the parish. Last year the Fall Festival took the form of a Patriot’s game watch. This year it will be a dinner on Saturday, with Elvis. More details on that are found in this bulletin, as well as details about many other things happening in this wonderful parish.

Happy Feast Day!

Fr. Eric

September 8, 2019

Is today a good day for ice cream? I know that this may sound like an odd question. Of course, almost any day can be a good day for ice cream. However, I usually associate ice cream with summer, but last weekend was Labor Day and so summer vacations, etc. seem to have flown by.

Still, today could be a day for cake and ice cream because we are exactly 9 months from December 8, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception – the feast of when Mary was conceived in her mother’s womb without original sin. That means September 8 is the feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary. You may not need to sing Happy Birthday with candles for Mother Mary, but this weekend we can celebrate her life and the way she constantly intercedes for us. Happy Birthday Mary!

As students and teachers are now back in school and many of the parish ministries are restarting their regular meetings, I find this time of year is a time people move into regular routines. For me, this can also be a time similar to New Year’s in which we can make resolutions as to how we want to live our lives. We can ask ourselves what we want to make room for in our daily and weekly schedules. As various programs and ministries get going in earnest, now is the perfect time to renew your commitment to be an active member of Holy Cross Parish.

 

I am uplifted by the great number of people who take stewardship seriously here, getting involved and sharing their time and talents in thanksgiving to God who gives these gifts to us to use. The love and active participation of so many people here makes Holy Cross a vibrant and attractive parish. For those who are already involved, thank you! For those who have not yet gotten involved, please consider something you can do here to share who you are. Personally, I have found that St. Francis of Assisi’s saying is true, “It is in giving that we receive.” The more we use our gifts God gives to us, the more they grow.

“How can I get involved?” you ask. We have a list of ministries on our parish website found at http://www.holycrosseaston.org/programs-ministries-2 . You can also find a list of ministries, and click to “join” them through our parish communication system, Flocknote. By joining a ministry there, you will receive emails and/or texts from that group to help keep you updated on what is happening and to allow you to better stay connected to our family of faith here at Holy Cross Parish. More info on Flocknote is found in this bulletin – with a way to sign up either online or by texting to join.

If you find yourself unable to be as active within a specific ministry or group, please know that you are still important and can contribute! Everyone can offer prayers for those in need in the parish. I remember in a special way St. Br. Andre Bessette, CSC, the first canonized saint in Holy Cross. When he came to join Holy Cross, he was illiterate and sickly. The community wondered what he could do. Someone said, “he will at least be able to pray for us.” His prayers worked miracles. We can never underestimate the power of prayer. No matter where we are in life, we can always pray for each other.

It takes time, talent, and effort to make a house or apartment a home. It takes the same to make a church building a vibrant family home for us to practice our faith. Thank you again to all who do so. Thank you to all who will do so this year. Sharing together, we can continue to make God known, loved, and served at Holy Cross, and in the world.

Fr. Eric

 

September 1, 2019

This weekend we celebrate Labor Day. This national holiday started over 120 years ago. In the late 1800s, most workers in the United States worked 12-hour days, many of them seven days a week, just to eke out a basic living. Many laborers worked under unsafe working conditions. With the rise in manufacturing eventually came the growth of labor unions protesting the inhumane working conditions.

What does our Catholic faith say about labor? First, the Catechism talks about God placing humans in the Garden of Eden with the command to till and keep the soil. This was before Original Sin, and work was not yet a burden. Instead, it was a collaboration with God in perfecting creation (CCC #378). The pain and difficulty we face in work is the result of Original Sin (CCC #1609). Because humans are created in the image and likeness of God, we are invited to work with God (CCC #2427). Working conditions should respect human dignity. Finally, Church also teaches that people should receive fair and just wages for their work. Meanwhile, the worker is obligated to put in the work to earn the wage. It is interesting to note these teachings fall in the catechism in the section talking about the 7th commandment, “Thou shall not steal” (CCC #2426-2434).

These teaching of the Church, deeply rooted in Scripture are important. There is dignity in work. God gives us the talents to work. How we use the gifts God gives to us is important. Human labor is meant to collaborate with God in creation. How we use our talents can have negative consequences on the environment, God’s creation, but it does not have to. When we use the talents God gives to us, we can work with God and God’s plan for creation.

We also look to the example of Jesus who grew up a carpenter in Nazareth before starting his ministry preaching and healing. His example shows that work can be redemptive (CCC #2427). This happens especially when we use our talents for the common good instead of selfish use. As we use our talents in service of God and others, our work can become an acceptable sacrifice to God (CCC #901, 1914). Work here is not limited to physical labor. It is using our gifts for God.

When we use the talents that God gives to us in ways that build each other up, we give glory to God. No one is an island. We are interconnected. This labor day we can remember the dignity of using our talents for God and helping each other. We can also think of our interconnectedness. The box of pasta I grab from the shelf on the store needed people to plant the wheat, harvest, process it, people to transport it, people to make the roads as well as the vehicles for transportation, and many more.

This weekend I also invite you to pray for five young men in Holy Cross who will make their perpetual vows on Saturday, pledging their lives forever as members of Holy Cross: Br. Joseph DeAgostino, CSC, Mr. Vincent Nguyen, CSC, Mr. Mark Pedersen, CSC, Mr. Zachary Rathke, CSC, and Mr. Gilbrian Stoy, CSC. Br. Joseph has discerned that God is calling him to serve as a religious brother in Holy Cross. On Sunday, his four classmates professing final vows with him will be ordained transitional deacons. We thank God for the gift of their vocations. We ask God to send more laborers into the harvest through Holy Cross. We also ask God to help us to live the vocation that God calls us to live.

Fr. Eric