Last weekend I spoke at all the Masses regarding the wrap-up of our Debt Retirement Appeal. Seeing as this is the time of year when people are traveling for graduations, confirmations, picking up children from college, etc. I thought I would reprint that talk for those who may have been out of town.
Time goes by rather quickly and it seems hard to believe that it was three years ago this month that we launched our Debt Retirement Appeal with the hopes of retiring a significant amount of the debt left on our Atrium and School Entrance building projects as well as providing funding for some important and needed capital improvements. The Appeal resulted in approximately $2 Million in pledges. The Appeal draws to a close this month and I am happy to share that the Appeal was an overall success and the vast majority of the pledges have been fulfilled – to all who pledged and gave, thank you.
It’s interesting to note too, as our attention turns to summer, that next month will be the first time since 2007 that St. Mary’s does not have an active capital campaign unfolding. In 2007 there was the launching of the Trust in the Lord Campaign to finance the Atrium and School Entrance projects, then followed the Faith in Our Future Campaign which took place throughout the Archdiocese and as that drew to a close we launched our Debt Retirement Appeal. Over these years we have made approximately $6.4 Million worth of improvements and needed repairs and have been able, thanks to your generosity, to have paid for 90% of them over these years.
As we move into the future, we do not see, at this point, the need to move towards another appeal, but will instead service the remaining debt through our normal parish operations. This is only possible because of your previous generosity to the various campaigns which have unfolded, but also because of your generous contributions on a weekly basis to the parish.
A few specific notes, if you had pledged to the Debt Retirement Appeal three years ago and have not yet had the opportunity to fulfill your pledge, if it is at all possible to do so that would be a great gift to the entire parish community and would help us service the remainder of the debt. If you are new to St. Mary’s or were not able to pledge or give to our Appeal you may want to consider giving and your generosity would be greatly appreciated. Finally, as I mentioned before, so many things rely on the regular weekly offerings, so we are deeply grateful for your continued generosity and to continue to reflect on the various gifts that God has given us and how some of those gifts can be used on behalf of the entire parish.
As our parish fiscal year draws to a close I am happy to share that the parish is on sound financial footing both in regular operations as well as in regards to the status of the debt. The parish has grown and we have seen, especially last year, an explosion of young children in the parish – in 2015 alone we had 78 baptisms. Our school has a solid enrollment and has a waiting list for kindergarten and the ministry of the parish continues to unfold on a day to day basis.
Thank you again for your generosity to the Debt Retirement Appeal and thank you for your regular weekly offerings – St. Mary’s is well positioned for the future and to continue to serve the Lord as is our call and that is made possible because of your generosity and the goodness of God. Thank you.
It’s hard to believe that the school year is drawing to a close and, at least when I write this article, the weather has finally turned warm and sunny! A blessed Memorial Day to all of you, a very special thank you to all of our veterans, and as I take my normal bulletin article hiatus over the summer months I hope and pray that this summer is a time of joy, rest and peace!
As we draw our look at the Anointing of the Sick to a close, we want to step back and examine a few things that surround the Anointing of the Sick which are sometimes, but not always, present in its administration and also examine the question of when the best time to be anointed is.
The first aspect that we want to examine is what is called Viaticum – Viaticum, is the administration of the Holy Eucharist for the final time before someone dies or is in danger of death. The name itself is rooted in the Latin with the sense that Christ, present in the Eucharist, journeys with the person as they make the passage through death. There is a short prayer added to the giving of the Eucharist as Viaticum, “May the Lord Jesus Christ protect you and lead you to eternal life.” When we think about it, whether we are heading out on a vacation or simply walking through life there is a joy that comes from having companions and what greater companion could we want or need than Christ Himself walking with us through death?
The second aspect we will need to consider is the Apostolic Pardon. The Apostolic Pardon is meant to be given towards the end of life by the priest and there are two options, one of which is “By the power which the Apostolic See has given me, I grant you a full pardon and remission of all your sins, in the name of the Father (+) and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” The Apostolic Pardon is not the same as sacramental absolution (for the forgiveness of sins which takes place in the Sacrament of Reconciliation), but instead forgives the temporal punishment due to sin (i.e. a plenary indulgence). In other words, provided we die in the state of grace and yet have not done adequate penance for our past sin, this inadequate penance is forgiven through the Apostolic Pardon, which is a great gift.
The final aspect of the Anointing of the Sick to consider is ‘when do I call for a priest?’ For many years the sense was that a priest should be called as near to the moment of death as possible, there is nothing wrong with this, however, it is appropriate to anoint someone in a number of circumstances – such as before a surgery, or due to a declining physical condition which may not necessarily be leading to death, or a chronic illness. While we may think of the Anointing of the Sick as “last rites” that is not necessarily the case and given how quickly one’s health can turn, it would probably be better to not wait until the “final moments.” There is another aspect of that and that is that due to the declining number of priests it is not always possible to get a hold of a priest in the case of an emergency and so if it looks as if someone is in their final illness it would be appropriate to contact a priest as soon as possible so that a time can be arranged for him to come and administer the Sacrament. This can also be helpful so that Viaticum can be administered as well, since it’s not unusual for people in their final days to slip into a coma and are unable to receive the Eucharist.
The Anointing of the Sick is a beautiful and powerful sacrament and shows and makes present the love and strength of God in the midst of the terrible reality of sickness.
(This article is part of a series of articles on The Sacraments which will appear in the bulletin over the course of this year.)
We are continuing to look at the Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick and now it’s time to turn to the ritual itself to see what it contains. While there are a number of rituals that can be used given various circumstances, we are going to look at the ritual for an Anointing Outside of Mass, which gives us the most complete picture of the ritual.
The first part of the ritual is the usual Sign of the Cross and greeting and an optional Sprinkling Rite followed by the Instruction on the Sacrament, in the Introduction we see two things emphasized – the first is the healing nature of Christ, of how the sick were drawn to Him and His power to heal, the second we hear is a quotation from the Letter of St. James which urges the sick to call upon the priest for an anointing which will lead to the Lord “raising them up” (whether to good health or, as the case may be, to eternal life). Following the Introduction it is appropriate for the sick person to make a good confession, or if that does not take place at that time, then a Penitential Act takes place, urging the sick person to seek forgiveness for one’s sins and then follows a short reading from scripture.
Following these introductory rites we move into the Liturgy of the Anointing. This part of the ritual begins with a short litany, asking God’s help for the sick person and calling upon His mercy. Following the litany the priest will then lay his hands on the head of the sick person – we have talked about the ancient gesture of the “laying on of hands” in prior articles and so we won’t repeat that discussion here, but will point out once again that it is associated with calling down the Holy Spirit and asking God to make His power manifest in a specific way, in this case, for healing. There is then a brief prayer of thanksgiving over the blessed oil, giving praise to God for His power and the way He uses that power for our sanctification, then there is the anointing itself.
In the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, the priest will anoint both the forehead of the sick person as well as the palms of the hands. While he anoints the forehead with the Oil of the Sick in the sign of the cross, he prays, “Through this holy anointing may the Lord in his love and mercy help you with the grace of the Holy Spirit.” As he anoints the palms of the hands he prays, “may the Lord who frees you from sin save you and raise you up.” Note that these anointings and the words that are prayed constitute the matter and form of the sacrament – the matter is the anointing with the oil and the form are the words that are prayed with the anointing. Following the anointing itself a prayer is prayed, then the Our Father and, if appropriate, the Eucharist is received, followed by a Prayer after Communion and a final blessing.
As I noted earlier in this article there are numerous variations on this basic ritual to take into account various situations, so, for instance, there is a shorter ritual designed to be used in hospitals or institutions where there may be a number of people to be anointed or when time is of the essence, there is a ritual for anointing within a Mass and then there are special prayers for use when someone is dying and rituals which include emergency situations, or Christian Initiation for the dying (including baptism, confirmation and reception of the Eucharist). In our next article we are going to look at a few specific things surrounding Anointing of the Sick, including when one should be anointed.
(This article is part of a series of articles on The Sacraments which will appear in the bulletin over the course of this year.)
We find ourselves approaching the end of the school year and with it the hopes for warm weather and a peaceful and restful summer. As we move towards the end of the school year, I wanted to inform you that our Parish Secretary, Mrs. Kathy Janusz will be retiring this month. She has served this parish community for over twenty years and over those years has experienced all the various aspects of parish life and while her duties have changed over the years, one of the constants has been her deep love for St. Mary’s and her desire to serve the needs of the parish and parishioners as they manifest themselves in various ways – from preparing the bulletin, scheduling facilities, taking care of the cemetery, planning social events, registering new parishioners, scheduling funerals and weddings and Mass intentions, bookkeeping work, answering the phone and door – for the past twenty years almost nothing unfolded at St. Mary’s without Kathy providing assistance in some way, shape or form to make it happen. It will be hard to picture the front office without her and so it’s with sadness for us as she steps into retirement, but hopefully it will be, for her, a time of rest and joy for a job well done. While she has asked that we not have a parish-wide celebration for her, I think it would be a great gift, when you see her, to thank her for all that she has done over these many years. We will miss you, Kathy, but may these years of retirement bring new joys!
Please keep in mind – as the school year draws to a close – our 8th Grade Graduates and all of the graduates in the parish as they step forward into new areas of life – may the Holy Spirit guide and protect them and may they seek the Lord at all times and in new endeavors.
This time of year also usually begins the “wedding season” – we have quite a few weddings coming up this Spring, Summer and Fall – please be sure to pray for these couples as they too embark on a new way of life, sharing the joys of married life. The Sacrament of Marriage is a beautiful witness to human love which is meant to reflect the love of Christ for His Church – a love that is faithful, permanent and fruitful. May the couples finalizing their wedding preparations always bear witness to this love.
As you have seen, this year I was writing a series of bulletin articles on the Sacraments. There are a couple of more to come treating the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, but I was not able yet to do articles on the Sacrament of Marriage nor of the Sacrament of Holy Orders – I plan to complete the series once fall begins.
Finally, a reminder that everyone is invited to join our 8th Graders and First Communicants at the Annual May Crowning, taking place this Thursday at 6:30 PM. Following the May Crowning we will process to the new statue in the Atrium Gardens and dedicate the statue.