A Blessed and Happy Thanksgiving!
On this Solemnity of Christ the King we hear the Gospel of St. Luke which tells of Jesus and the criminals on the cross. The rulers mock Jesus and one of the criminals does the same, saying “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us.” The other criminal says, “…this man has done nothing criminal.” Jesus responds: “…today you will be with me in paradise.” Even in these last moments of Jesus’ life, he shows compassion to this criminal. We celebrate this Solemnity of Christ the King to affirm that among the leaders in this world, Christ continues to be the most important one through the way that he shows his power and authority through service to humanity. This is something to celebrate.
As we celebrate Thanksgiving this week, remember to pause and give thanks for God’s presence in your life and for the blessings that we have all received. If you are traveling, have a safe journey. Daily life has its challenges, but it also has its blessings!
Advent begins next weekend. A booklet of Advent reflections will be given out at Mass, and there are many other books and Advent wreaths available in the Lobby of the Parish House.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
Although our nation has moved forward in a number of ways against racial discrimination, we have lost ground in others. Despite significant progress in civil law with regard to racism, social realities indicate a need for further catechesis to facilitate conversion of hearts. Too many good and faithful Catholics remain unaware of the connection between institutional racism and the continued erosion of the sanctity of life.
We are not finished with the work. The evil of racism festers in part because, as a nation, there has been very limited formal acknowledgement of the harm done to so many, no moment of atonement, no national process of reconciliation and, all too often a neglect of our history. Many of our institutions still harbor, and too many of our laws still sanction, practices that deny justice and equal access to certain groups of people. God demands more from us. We cannot, therefore, look upon the progress against racism in recent decades and conclude that our current situation meets the standard of justice. In fact, God demands what is right and just. (to be continued)
As we approach the end of the church’s year, we hear Scripture readings about the end of time and how it will happen. The Gospel is particularly frightening: “Nation will rise against nation… There will be powerful earthquakes, famines and plagues… ”
As we look around at our world situation, we see many of these very things happening now. How should we react? The last sentence in the Gospel is helpful: “By your perseverance you will secure your lives.”Yes, perseverance is what is called for during these times. We are called to deepen our faith, become a steadfast disciple, and resist reacting to day to day events with fear. St. Paul tells us to stay busy and avoid “minding the business of others.”
Our St. Francis Pilgrimage to France concluded Saturday as we boarded our plane at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. The day before, on our last day in Paris, we had a full day to visit the sights: the art galleries, the churches and even Notre-Dame Cathedral from the outside. Our final Mass was at Medaille Miraculeuse, the Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. Earlier in the week we celebrated Mass at the American Cemetery at the Normandy Beaches, at the Basilica of St. Therese in Lisieux, and at the Basilica of Sacré Coeur in Paris. All beautiful and inspiring churches. We thank God for the blessings we received on this pilgrimage. It is good to be home.
–Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
For a nation to be just, it must be a society that recognizes and respects the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. These rights precede any society because they flow from the dignity granted each person created by God. We are reminded of this fundamental truth in the earliest passages of the book of Genesis: “God created mankind in his image; In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.”
Pope Benedict XVI noted: “As a spiritual being, the human creature is defined through interpersonal relations. The more authentically he or she lives these relations, the more his or her own personal identity matures. It is not by isolation that (a person) establishes his/her worth, but by placing her/himself in relations with others and with God.” We are meant to love God with our whole being, which then overflows into love for our neighbor, “Whoever loves God must love his/her brother/sister.”
(to be continued)
I have always been amused by today’s Gospel story about the woman who was married to seven brothers and there were no children from any of the marriages. Tragic that there were no children, but amused at the story itself. Life after this life is something we all wonder about, but we do not know what God has prepared for us. I myself have heard from a number of people in hospitals who had “near death experiences.” They all mentioned seeing one or more of their loved ones either beckoning them to come forward or sending them back. They also described a feeling of peacefulness. There are a number of books written about the same subject; they all said basically the same thing about their experiences at that “near death” time. Interesting and enlightening.
Today, I am with 42 of our St. Francis Pilgrims in France. Saturday morning we had Mass at the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere. In 1643, the people in the town of Annecy asked the Virgin Mary to intercede for the town to be spared from the black plague. In thanksgiving, they built this basilica dedicated to her. We then toured Tours, stopping at historical sites. On Sunday, we will be going to the Chateau Cenonceaux, then to Chateau Amboise and later Mass at the Basilique de St. Martin. Tomorrow we travel to the famous Chartres Cathedral with its magnificent stained glass windows that were not destroyed during World War. We will going to the Normandy Beaches and have Mass at the American Cemetery there. We pray for you each day at Mass.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
How do we overcome this evil of rejecting a brother or sister’s humanity, the same evil that provoked Cain’s sin? What are the necessary steps that would lead to this conversion? We find our inspiration in the words of the prophet Micah: You have been told, O mortal, what is good,
and what the Lord requires of you: Only to do justice and to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God. (Mi 6,8)
To do justice requires an honest acknowledgement of our failures and the restoring of right relationships between us. “If we acknowledge our sins (God) is faithful and just and will
forgive our sins and cleanse us from every wrongdoing.” To love goodness demands pursuing “what leads to peace and to building up one another.” It requires a determined effort, but even
more so, it requires humility; it requires each of us to ask for the grace needed to overcome this sin and get rid of this scourge.
(to be continued)
We hear about the famous Zacchaeus in today’s Gospel. He was the chief tax collector and a wealthy man, and probably not a popular individual. It is interesting to follow how he could not see Jesus and so he ran ahead and even climbed a tree. Jesus sees him and to the surprise of the crowd, invites Zacchaeus to come down out of the tree and tells him that he is going to stay at his house. You can only imagine the reaction from the crowd. We get an idea of the reaction when they begin grumbling and say that he is going to the “house of a sinner.” Zacchaeus now has a chance to tell Jesus what positive things he is going to do: give half of his possessions to the poor and if he has extorted anyone, he will repay the person four times over.” Something beyond reason has happened to Zacchaeus… all of because of Jesus’ non-judgmental, accepting approach.
On Monday evening at 7:00 PM we will celebrate our annual All Souls Mass of Remembrance. Bring a photo of your loved one to place before the altar during the Mass. This is a special Mass
especially for those who were not able to attend the funeral of a loved one or those who died recently. See the announcement here.
This Wednesday, November 6, I will leave with 42 Pilgrims to visit some of the shrines and historical sites in France. We will have in many of these places and we always pray for those back , our benefactors, and our friends for health and blessings. fly to Geneva and travel into France from that direction. Please us in your prayers for a safe and inspiring pilgrimage.
-Fr. Andrew Reitz, O.F.M.
If you would like to remember a deceased friend or loved one on All Souls Day, we a have special card for a minimum offering of $5.00 each. You can purchase All Souls Day cards at the front desk of the Francis House or online HERE.
The cover of the card features a photo of the Angel of Redemption from the Sorrowful Mother Shrine. The inside message reads:
A Spiritual Gift in
Loving Memory of
will share in a special remembrance in the prayers and Masses celebrated
by the Franciscan Friars at the
Church of St. Francis of Assisi on All Souls Day.
Racism can often be found in our hearts – in many cases placed there unwillingly or unknowingly by our upbringing and culture. As such, it can lead to thoughts and actions that we do not even see as racist, but nonetheless flow from the same prejudicial root… Racism can also be institutional, when practices or traditions are upheld that treat certain groups of people unjustly. The cumulative effects of personal sins of racism have led to social structures of injustice and violence that makes us all accomplices in racism.
With the positive changes that arose from the civil rights movement and related civil rights legislation, some may believe that racism is no longer a major affliction of our society – that it is only found in the hearts of individuals who can be dismissed as ignorant or unenlightened. But racism still profoundly affects our culture, and it has no place in the Christian heart. This evil causes great harm to its victims, and it corrupts the souls of those who harbor racist or prejudicial thoughts. The persistence of the evil of racism is why we (the US Bishops) are writing this letter now. People are still being harmed, so action is still needed.
(to be continued)
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