Thirty third Sunday in Ordinary Time

“60 Hours.” As I write this on Wednesday morning, our 60 Hours of Adoration has been very “successful,” in the sense that many adorers signed up and attended adoration even during the middle of the night. We usually have 2 to 6 (maximum 10) people at any given hour of our regularly scheduled weekly Adoration. When I checked in twice yesterday we had at least 10 during the middle of the day, which was great, but when I went to pray my holy hour at 9pm I found over 20 people praying! That’s exactly what I was hoping for. I also saw some new faces, faces that I’m not used to seeing at adoration—again, something I was hoping for. I am very proud of you, and let me thank you all for answering my call, and Christ’s call, to adore Him for “60 Hours.”

 

Bishops’ Assembly. Of course we held “60 Hours” to pray for the Bishops assembled in Baltimore to address the current scandal. It’s only half way through the meeting but watching some of the proceedings on tv it seems to me that nothing much is being accomplished.

Well, not quite. It seems they are largely in favor of a reasonable proposal to address part of the problem. According to Catholic World Report, they are considering: “two policies …: a code of conduct for bishops, and the creation of a lay-led panel to investigate claims of misconduct or negligence by bishops.” Maybe not a bad start, but not a word is being said about the homosexual corruption among the priests and bishops, which is one of the root causes of the problem.

Equally troubling is the apparent naïve trust they seem to continue to place in each other, as if they are all men of goodwill. Were they all men of goodwill when  former cardinal McCarrick was one of their leaders in 2002 when they exempted bishops from the rules that punish abusive priests (the “Dallas Charter”)? I was aghast as I was watching yesterday, and saw Cardinal Joseph Tobin give a talk about his important contribution the two proposals. Recall, that in Archbishop Vigano’s shocking letter accusing Vatican officials of knowingly coverup McCarrick’s abuse for years: Tobin is singled out by Vigano as a protégé of McCarrick, who lobbied for Tobin’s assignment to Newark, where Tobin then covered up payouts made years before by that Diocese to one of McCarrick’s adult male victims. If a priest “credibly charged” with abuse is immediately suspended until the investigation can be conducted, why is Tobin still on the job, AND, why do the bishops give him such power over writing the rules to punish bishops who cover up?

But there’s even worse news, sadly. On Monday afternoon, right before the start of the assembly, the Bishops announced that the Vatican (the Congregation for Bishops) had prohibited them from taking a final vote on the two proposals they are considering, ordered them to wait until after the worldwide meeting of bishops in Rome in late February, which will also discuss these issues. Even though they’ve known about their intentions for over 4 months, the cardinals and archbishops in the Vatican waited to the last second to spoil everything the American Bishops were trying to accomplish. There may be some good reason for this, but the optics are horrible: to many, it looks like either the Vatican doesn’t really care about the abuse or about corrupt bishops, or even that they are actively participating in the cover up. Note, I do not accuse them of this, but the optics cause many people to wonder. And that just makes everything worse!!!

By the way, this doesn’t mean we failed in our prayers, or that God hasn’t listened to us. We’ve done our part, now God will find a way, in His time and wisdom, to get the bishops and the Vatican to do their part. So keep praying. And trust in Christ and His Church, which is bigger than a few (or even scores of) bad bishops.

 

Thanksgiving. I hope all of you will have a great Thanksgiving. Although it’s a secular holiday and not a Catholic HOLY DAY, it’s a wonderful day of celebration. In fact, instead of “secular”, meaning “worldly”, which has all sorts of very negative connotations in the Christian context, let’s call it a “cultural holiday.” In that context, it reveals how deeply our culture is influenced by Christianity and how firmly it is rooted in Christian values.

In particular, the Christian virtues of fortitude and diligence (reflected in working hard to provide for oneself and one’s family), and charity (reflected in being willing to share the fruits of one’s labor or good fortune with others), and, of course most importantly and above all, gratitude or thankfulness to God for the gifts He’s given us.

In the end, everything we have is God’s gift. This, of course, is not at all to discount individual hard work and ingenuity, but rather to realize that whether it’s the skills and talents we have or develop, or the opportunities we make or stumble upon, or the free will we exercise to choose to use and develop all of that, in the end it all comes to us from God’s generosity and our response thereto. Whether it’s material goods, health, family, love, faith, or human dignity, rights, and liberty, God is the giver of all good things.

Unfortunately, if you watch and listen carefully, you will see that many people today treat Thanksgiving as a holiday to give thanks to one another, with no mention of  God at all, or at best, a mention of Him as an afterthought. There’s certainly nothing wrong with thanking people around you, but that is not the reason Thanksgiving was established as a national, cultural, holiday. As President Washington decreed 1789, as he proclaimed the first Thanksgiving Day: “Whereas it is the duty of all Nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly to implore his protection and favor, …a day of public thanksgiving and prayer [is] to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many signal favors of Almighty God … “

So let us keep Thanksgiving in its rich American Historical meaning, as a day to thank God for His gifts. In that regard, I encourage you all to begin the day by attending our 10am Mass, to celebrate the highest form of “thanksgiving”—the Eucharist, which is the Greek word for “thanksgiving.”

 

Birthday Party for Sofi. This last Thursday, November 14, was the 8th birthday of Sofi Hills. As many of you will recall, as a newborn baby she was left in our parking lot, where she was found by a parishioner and rushed to the hospital. We continue to give praise to the Lord Jesus for saving her life that day, and that she has grown into a healthy vivacious little girl. And in celebration we’re having a birthday party for Sofi in our Parish Hall, TODAY, November 18, after the 12:15 Mass. All parishioners are invited and encouraged to come and say hello to our little Sofi!

 

Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

 

 

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