Thirty First Sunday In Ordinary Time
Election and the Right to Life. I can’t wait for the current national election to be over. Please God, somehow in Your merciful will, give us the government we need.
Unfortunately, as I (and, probably also, you) keep lamenting, both major candidates seem so deeply flawed. But there does seem to be one key issue—the key issue—that they differ on which may offer us some glimmer of hope in discerning our choice. That issue is abortion.
As St. John Paul II once wrote: “[T]he common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights – for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture – is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with the maximum determination.” [Christifideles Laici, 38.] If you don’t have the right to live, what other rights do you have? None? And if you can take an innocent person’s life simply because that innocent person is a burden to you, how can we say that less permanent and horrible means of oppressing others are wrong: isn’t killing worse than, for example, denying voting rights, employment, health insurance, or immigration?
Some say, this is just one issue and we “shouldn’t be one issue voters.” That’s a nice slogan, but a ridiculous principle. What if the issue were slavery? What if a candidate seemed to be right on all the issues, except that she believed people of African descent were not fully human beings with fundamental human rights, so the rest of us could treat them as our property and even kill them if we wanted to? I hope most of us would agree that that “one issue” would be a deal breaker.
The thing is, there are candidates around today who say something identical to this, if we replace the term “people of African descent” with the term “unborn babies.” Could there be an issue more important than slavery or abortion? I suppose so: for example, if one candidate advocated actually killing all minorities or all immigrants, that would be as important as abortion. But no one is advocating those killings, just killing innocent human babies who are deemed a burden.
In the last presidential debate, one of the candidates, once again, proudly defended her support of abortion. But not just abortion. When she was in the Senate in 2003 Hillary Clinton voted against a ban on partial birth abortion (PBA), a procedure which crushes a 9 month-full-term baby’s skull as he or she is being born and partially outside of the mother’s birth canal. This is barbarism. Yet Clinton vigorously defended this form of abortion in the debate, while her opponent with calm reason (for a change) vigorously stated his opposition to this brutality (and abortion in general).
Clinton continues to deny what all doctors and even the Supreme Court found to be the vicious truth of what happens in a PBA. Moreover, she continues to talk about protecting the “health of the mother,” when 1) what she means by “health of the mother” includes even the slightest temporary difficulty encountered by the mother, whether physical or emotional, and 2) it is the consensus of medical professionals that PBA is never necessary to protect the “health of the mother.” In any case, claiming “health of the mother” to defend crushing a baby’s skull as she or he is already partially out of their mother’s body is grotesque. How can we vote for someone like this?
Finance Report. In today’s bulletin, you will find an insert detailing the parish’s finances for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2016. As you can see, things were pretty much the same as FYE 2015, with slight increases in collections offset by increases in employee salaries and benefits, facilities maintenance and improvements, and youth ministry, resulting in a slightly smaller “net income” of $479,159, which is a decline of 5.5%, but still very healthy. However, taking into account loan principle payments of $549,615 ($97 thousand more than last year) that gave us a “net deficit” (essentially net cash flow) of $70,456, which is not bad, considering we have the cash to pay down our building debt, which as of June 30 stood at about only $685,013 (as of today it stands at only $625,000).
So, we had a good year from a financial perspective. And I expect another good year ahead of us. But I do have some concerns going forward. First, there is a small but clear trend toward declining offertory collections. This appears to be mainly cyclical, at least partially due to parishioner turnover (with slightly more people moving-in than moving-out, but some of those moving out were long-time large donors) which led to losing some long-time large donors, and some sluggishness in the level of giving by new parishioners (which is understandable during transitions). Second, we are encountering significant increases in building maintenance expenses—at 10 years old the building is not as new as it once was, especially the HVAC. Third, as I mentioned last week, I plan some small but necessary construction projects this year. Fourth, there are continuing increases in employee benefits (health insurance, etc.), utilities, and other expenses that are not entirely under our control. Fifth, I have intentionally increased spending on our youth education and activities, because I think this must be a priority. Sixth, we have several large expenses looming in the next year or so, including a permanent solution to our lighting problem.
So, the forecast is good, but we proceed with prudence. Also, be aware that we will be having another campaign to increase our offertory next month (hopefully, as painless as possible). I continue to be thankful for and to count on your generosity and support, and Our Lord’s munificence.
A Holy Week. This Tuesday, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. Since all Catholics are required (under mortal sin) to attend Mass, we have our usual extra Masses scheduled (see below).
The next day, Wednesday, November 2, is All Souls Day, which is not a day of obligation, but I encourage all of you to attend Mass that day, and keep the whole day as one of prayer for the dead, especially those dear to you—it is a great act of love to pray for the Holy Souls in Purgatory.
Of course, all this is preceded by tomorrow, October 31, which is Halloween. As you know, I am not a fan of this day, since it not only tends to distract us from and trivialize the meaning of the important days that follow, but it is also used as a feast day by those that serve the devil (including Satanists, witches, etc.). Still, I understand the innocent fun, especially for kids, of dressing up in costumes and going trick-or-treating. But keep it balanced, and be careful not to let it, in any way, lead you or yours away from Christ, the Saints, or the Holy Souls.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles