Un Mensaje del Padre Felipe (5 de enero de 2003)
Estoy bien agradecido a todos que llenaron los formularios de mayordomía para el año 2003. Para estar seguro que hemos incluido a todos los que llenaron una tarjeta, he puesto la lista en la entrada del templo. Si Ud. ha hecho un compromiso y su nombre no esta en la lista, favor notificar al Sr. Abel Magaña, Mónica Orozco o a su servidor. Estoy contento reportar que 503 feligreses llenaron tarjetas. Muchas gracias. Por supuesto, me doy cuenta que algunos que son donadores regulares, no han llenado los formularios. Desde luego, estoy agradecido a todos que apoyan a la parroquia de Sagrada Familia.
Bulletin (Jan 5, 2003)
Thank you for Christmas kindness
I want to thank you for your kindness and generosity at Christmas time. Many of you remembered Fr. Ramon and me with cards and gifts which were deeply appreciated. I don’t know about Fr. Ramon, but I believe I may have put on a pound or two during the past couple of weeks.
Some of you even remembered Samwise, my puppy. (I know that he put on a few pounds). He received various dog treats which I am trying to ration to him to reinforce good behavior, such as sitting, fetching a ball or climbing into his crate. A few people even got Samwise some dog toys. Fortunately they make them virtually indestructible. He had previously torn a rubber mat into small pieces and started gnawing on the fence. He is making a good effort on his Christmas toys, but like I say, so far, they seem quite resistant.
Animal Rights and Human Rights
Since getting Samwise last May, I have been paying more attention to news about pets and other animals. There is a group call PETA which works for ethical treatment to animals. That seems to me a worthy goal, as there is too much unnecessary cruelty to animals in our world. However, some of the animal rights groups seem to go to an extreme. They want to give animals and humans identical rights. I have been trying to figure out exactly what they mean. When I think of rights, what comes to my mind are things like the first ten amendments to the U.S. constitution which we call the Bill of Rights. But I don’t think that can be because those include things like freedom of speech, freedom of religious, right to bear arms, to be tried a jury of peers, etc. I love my dog but I don’t think he’s interested in any of those rights – except maybe the freedom to bard.
On the other hand, Animals now have rights that humans do not. For example, the Endangered Species Act protects 170 species of creatures, from mammals to crustaceans, subjecting a violator to a $50,000 fine and/or a year in jail. In addition, there are humans of state and local laws aimed at protecting animal populations. R.T. Neary, the past President of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, has suggested that we work on extending those same rights to fellow human beings:
“One couldn’t help but speculate what the reaction might be if the non-human denizens of this planet were subjected to the violent treatment which abortionists inflict daily on innocent human in utero. There would be a tidal wave of opposition, the media would have batteries of cameras filming every move of the activists, and the practice would be stopped posthaste.” (New Oxford Review, January 2003)
I think Neary has a point. He has even suggested forming an environmental group to promote pro-life goals. He would call it project EARTH – and an acronym for Extend Animal Rights to Humans. When I look at our stained glass window of St. Francis, I am reminded of the importance of compassion for all our fellow creatures. And although it is sometimes very difficult, we must begin first with our fellow humans.
Occult Group Reports First Human Cloning
True compassion must strive to take into account the other person’s entire existence, not just the part that touches me personally. For that reason we must care about the beginning and end of human life, as well as all that comes between conception and natural death. A recent news item underscores how much we have come to disregard the beginning of human life. A company called Clonaid announced that they had successfully cloned a child and brought her to birth. I personally doubt the report, but it shows what the Vatican called a “brutal” approach to human life. The word is precise because cloning reduces humans to the level of brutes. While it might be ethical to clone an animal, human beings have a natural right to be conceived within the marital act. Anything less introduces degradation into the very beginning of human existence. These are serious concerns that we need to reflect and pray about.
One curious aspect of the cloning report was the person who made the announcement to the media. Her name is Brigitte Boisselier and she is scientific director of the cloning company Clonaid and "bishop" of the Raelian sect. They believe life on Earth was created by extraterrestrials through genetic engineering and that cloning is the path to immortality, a chance to live forever. This mixture of science and the occult seems to be part of the air we breathe today. Over Christmas vacation, I had the opportunity to read some of the Harry Potter books. I was struck by how well the author captures this science/occult atmosphere. In the books Harry Potter studies magic at a place called Hogwarts as if he were studying biology or medicine. Of course, these are just stories, but companies like Clonaid are engaged in experiments which could have enormous consequences in creating a world devoid of humanity.
Example of the Wise Men
The Wise Men (Magi) give us an indication about what attitude we should take toward the occult. They were astrologers in as much as they searched the sky for signs, but when they finally found the Christ Child, they laid their greatest treasures at his feet. For some people astrology, magic, psychics, etc. can be a step toward discovering a transcendent reality (God). But when we find God, we must worship him alone and leave behind any occult practices.
The problem I have seen as a parish priest is that people involved in such practices are leaving the door open to spiritual forces they do not understand (or sometimes don’t even believe in). Not every spirit is good. Besides God (and the angels and saints united to him) there are spirits who have separated themselves from God. The Bible calls them demons or devils. And in the middle are you and I. We are spirits enmeshed in a nature with a downward pull - so it is easy for us to be attracted to things contrary to God. For that reason John tells us not to trust every spirit, but to discern the spirits. (1 Jn 4:1) Is that voice from God, from my own self or from the enemy?
Strategic Planning for Parish
In previous bulletins I have giving you updates on how we are doing with our strategic planning process. Our parish council will meet on the 16th of this month. I should have a more complete report after that. Also I want to update you on how we are doing financially. These have been challenging months, but you have responded with generosity both in the first collections and the two-bit collections. In addition, various parishioners have made special donations to help the parish. For all that I am most grateful. We have made some cutbacks in the school and overall parish which should bring some savings over the next six months. Our goal is to get out of debt and balance our parish budget so that we can address the urgent building needs of our parish (school seismic and ADA requirements, leaks in church and Ailbe house, etc.).
Thank you for Sacrificial Giving Pledges
I am grateful to all who made Sacrificial Giving pledges for 2003. To make sure that we have included everyone who filled out a pledge card, I have placed a list on bulletin board in the vestibule (Roxbury entrance). If you made a pledge and you name is not included, please notify Tom Weber, Monica Orozco or myself. I am happy to report that 503 parishioners filled out commitment cards. Thank you. I realize some parishioners have not filled out the forms, but are regular parish donors. I of course am grateful for the support of all members of Holy Family.
Thirtieth Anniversary of Roe v. Wade
When the U.S. Bishops met last November they made an important statement regarding the thirtieth anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision. Here is part of what they said:
Most Americans are surprised and shocked to learn about the lack of any meaningful legal limitations for abortion. Most know things have gone too far.3 Together with those from many other faith communities, we work to bring about a society that recognizes abortion for what it truly is. Many young people today comprehend the legacy of Roe. They look at thirty years of legal abortion and weep over the 40 million lives destroyed. They are aware that one in every four pregnancies ends in abortion,4 and they grieve for the world they will soon inherit. They mourn the fact that each year approximately 1.3 million abortions take place, and that thousands of them are done in the sixth month of pregnancy or later, when the child would likely survive if born.5
On January 16, at noon, there will be a pro-life demonstration on the capitol steps in Olympia. I encourage you to join the hundred who will be there that day. And pray that the words of the Pledge of Allegiance will be become a reality – that we will be “one nation under God with liberty and justice for all.”
Christmas Greetings from Vernon Wells
Vernon Wells, who served as youth minister at Holy Family, sent the following message: “A very joyous and blessed Christmas season to each of you. I’m sorry that I’ve not yet provided a full-length letter detailing my time here; life as a Novice is busier than I anticipated. Hopefully I’ll have a chance to whip one up soon, but until then, be assured that I am very well…I pray for each of you daily. May the Father richly bless you with the perfect Grace flowing from the cross of our Lord during the coming year.” --Brother Pio-Marie (the Novice formerly known as Vernon) There is a picture of Vernon and his fellow novices on the bulletin board. His address is St. Dominic’s Priory, 2390 Bush St., San Francisco, CA 94115-3124.