Bulletin (November 23, 2003)

This week we celebrate Thanksgiving. I invite you to begin your celebration in the very best way – by attending the great prayer of Thanksgiving, the Eucharist. Our Mass (mainly English, but with some Spanish and Filipino) will begin at 9 a.m. this Thursday. Please bring an item from your own Thanksgiving meal (bread, pie, etc.) to be blessed at the end of Mass. Also bring a non-perishable food item for the poor. Our parish St. Vincent de Paul and Madre Teresa groups receive many requests during the holiday season. Also we are setting up the “giving tree” for Christmas presents for needy families. Please take a tag and bring an unwrapped gift for the pre-Christmas gift distribution.

Thank you to those who filled out Stewardship pledge cards last Sunday. On Sunday evening I did a tally with these results:

5 p.m. Saturday - 57 pledges, $58,440 (average pledge - $1,025)
8 a.m. Sunday - 36 pledges, $43,240 (average - $1,201)
11 a.m. Sunday - 47 pledges, $41,260 (average - $878)
6 p.m. Sunday - 13 pledges, $9,204 (average - $708)

I was again touched by the generosity of Holy Family parishioners. Besides some quite large pledges (some over five thousand dollars) we also had smaller, but very sacrificial pledges from struggling families, for example from single moms raising a couple of children.

If you have not yet returned your pledge card, please place it in the collection basket or drop it by the parish office. This Sunday is Commitment Sunday in our Spanish Masses. (We did receive 15 early pledges totaling $6,685.) Please pray that all parishioners will respond with grateful hearts to this call to be good administrators of the gifts entrusted by God.

You no doubt have read that Massachusetts' highest court ruled Tuesday that same-sex couples are legally entitled to wed under their state constitution. While many people consider this simply an extension of the principles of tolerance and non-discrimination, really much more is involved. For us as Christians marriage is sacred because it is a sacrament of the union of Christ the bridegroom with his bride the Church. Because of that, marriage involves a total self-giving of a man and woman in an exclusive and life-long union. That self-giving much include the greatest natural gift which is fecundity – the ability to make that other person a father or a mother.

Friendship between two men or two women is a beautiful thing, but to make that relationship equivalent to marriage is disastrous – both for marriage and for friendship. One of the best books on this topic is The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis. I highly recommend it as a help to thinking through this most important issue. I don’t think any of us would object to two men or two women working out whatever legal arrangement they wanted as far as inheritance, common property, power of attorney, health insurance, hospital visitation, etc. but all that can be done without making the relationship legally equivalent to marriage.

Over the past twenty years, men and women have shared with me their struggles regarding same sex attraction. For many it is a special cross, but like any cross it can bring with it a great refinement of ones soul. That happens to all of us if we strive to resist temptations. All of us, of course, are weak, but that does not mean we have to define ourselves by our weaknesses. Jesus calls us to chastity. As the Catechism states,

Chastity includes an apprenticeship in self-mastery which is a training in human freedom. The alternative is clear: either man governs his passions and finds peace, or he lets himself be dominated by them and becomes unhappy. "Man's dignity therefore requires him to act out of conscious and free choice, as moved and drawn in a personal way from within, and not by blind impulses in himself or by mere external constraint. Man gains such dignity when, ridding himself of all slavery to the passions, he presses forward to his goal by freely choosing what is good and, by his diligence and skill, effectively secures for himself the means suited to this end." (# 2339)

As I say, Jesus’ teaching on chastity is difficult for all of us – especially in a culture like ours which exalts sexual fulfillment above other values. Living Jesus’ teaching requires God’s grace, sound friendships, repentance and confession when we fall. It also requires a clear vision of the meaning of sexuality which must include a reverence for the sanctity – and the uniqueness – of marriage.

Esta semana celebramos Thanksgiving (Acción de Gracias). Les invito a celebrarlo en la mejor forma – asistiendo en la gran oración de agradecimiento, la Eucaristía. Nuestra misa (mayormente en inglés, pero con algo de español y filipino) comenzará a las 9 a.m. este miércoles. Favor traer algo de su propia mesa (pan, postre, etc.) para ser bendecido al final de la misa. También traer comida que no necesita refrigeración para los pobres (por ejemplo, verduras enlatadas o arroz seco). Los grupos de San Vicente de Paúl y Madre Teresa reciben muchos pedidos durante este tiempo. También estamos pidiendo regalos para niños para distribuir unas semanas antes de Navidad.

El domingo pasado recibimos compromisos de mayordomía en las misas de ingles:

5 p.m. sábado - 57 compromisos, $58,440
8 a.m. domingo - 36, $43,240
11 a.m. domingo - 47, $41,260
6 p.m. domingo - 13, $9,204

Es un buen comienzo. Este domingo pedimos compromisos durante las misas de español.

Sin duda, han escuchado que en el estado de Massachusetts, la corte suprema ha declarado que parejas del mismo sexo tienen derecho de casarse legalmente según la constitución de aquel estado. Mientras muchas personas consideran este juicio como solamente una extensión de los principios de tolerancia y no-discriminación, realmente implica mucho más. Para nosotros como cristianos, matrimonio es sagrado porque es un sacramento de la unión de Cristo con su novia la Iglesia. A causa de eso, matrimonio es una auto-donación total que es exclusiva y por toda la vida. Esta auto-donación tiene que incluye el don mayor de fecundidad – la capacidad de hacer a la otra persona un padre o una madre.

Amistad entre dos hombres o dos mujeres es algo lindo, pero considerla equivalente al matrimonio es dañino – para matrimonio y para amistad. No hay problema si dos hombres o dos mujeres quieren hacer un acuerdo legal para herencia, propiedad común, seguros médicos, etc. pero se puede hacerlo sin considerar la relación equivalente al matrimonio.

Durante los últimos veinte años hombres y mujeres me han contado sobre sus luchas de atracción a personas del mismo sexo. Para muchos es una cruz especial, pero como cualquier cruz puede refinar el alma. Eso sucede a todos cuando tratamos de resistir tentaciones. Desde luego, todos somos débiles, pero no significa que tenemos que auto-definirnos por nuestras debilidades. Jesús nos llama a la castidad. Como dice el Catecismo.

2339 La castidad comporta un aprendizaje del dominio de sí, que es una pedagogía de la libertad humana. La alternativa es clara: o el hombre controla sus pasiones y obtiene la paz, o se deja dominar por ellas y se hace desgraciado (cf Si 1,22). "La dignidad del hombre requiere, en efecto, que actúe según una elección consciente y libre, es decir, movido e inducido personalmente desde dentro y no bajo la presión de un ciego impulso interior o de la mera coacción externa. El hombre logra esta dignidad cuando, liberándose de toda esclavitud de las pasiones, persigue su fin en la libre elección del bien y se procura con eficacia y habilidad los medios adecuados" (GS 17).

La enseñanza de Jesús sobre castidad es difícil para todos – especialmente en una cultura como la nuestra que exalta el cumplimiento sexual como el valor más importante. Vivir la enseñanza de Jesús requiere la gracia de Dios, amistades sanas, arrepentimiento y confesión si nos caímos. También requiere una visión clara del significado de la sexualidad que tiene que incluir una reverencia para la santidad del matrimonio