Bulletin (November 23, 2008)
Today we celebrate the great Feast of Christ the King - the culmination of our liturgical year. Next Sunday (First Sunday of Advent) we begin a new Church Year. As we make this transition, many of you acknowledged the kingship of Christ by making your Stewardship Pledge to our parish. I was deeply gratified that, as of the beginning of last week, we had received 477 pledges, for a total of $385,000. Thank you!
We are in the process of sending out thank-you letters to those who made a pledge - as well as reminders to those whose pledge we have not yet received. Due to the large number of pledges - and the very welcome number of new pledges - it has taken a little longer than expected to enter this data and print the thank-you letters. Also I am personally signing each of the letters. For me it is a moment to thank God for your support and to say a praying for each of you and your families. I am blessed to be your pastor - and the month of November is special moment to express that gratitude.
This Thursday we have a day set aside for gratitude. I invite you to begin your Thanksgiving celebration by coming to our 9 a.m. Thanksgiving Day Mass. Please bring an item of food (bread, dessert, etc.) from your Thanksgiving table to be blessed at the end of Mass and taken home. Also you are invited to bring an (non-perishable) item of food for our St. Vincent de Paul Christmas baskets. Our school children are setting a great example by collecting food for the poor. In addition to the food drive, the entire collection for our Thanksgiving Mass will go to assistance of the poor in our neighborhoods by way of St. Vincent de Paul and Madre Teresa.
In preparing for Thanksgiving, I re-read President George Washington's 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation. He asked all Americans to set aside that fourth Thursday of November as "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer, to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God, especially by affording them an opportunity peaceably to establish a form of government for their safety and happiness."
Besides thanking God for his blessings, President Washington was also aware of our national shortcomings. He encouraged Americans to humbly pray to God and "beseech Him to pardon our national and other transgressions." At that time our great national transgression was the practice of slavery. It treated an entire class people as property with no personal rights. Today we have done the same with the unborn. While we thank God for the great blessings he has given to our nation, we need to again hear the voice of great presidents like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln who reminded us that we stand under the judgment of God.
You are probably aware that there is a movement to take away from the unborn even the very modest protections that have been achieved by legal means. For example, in some U.S. States, informed consent laws (sometimes called "Right To Know" laws) require that a woman seeking an elective abortion be given factual information by the abortion provider about her legal rights, alternatives to abortion (such as adoption), available public and private assistance, and medical facts, before the abortion is performed (usually 24 hours in advance of the abortion). Also most states have passed laws requiring pregnant teens to involve their parents in any decision whether to have an abortion. The so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) would take away these and other modest gains. The U.S. Bishops have warned that FOCA could take away the freedom of conscience of physicians and hospitals regarding abortion. In effect it would force them to participate in abortions - or lose their licenses to practice. The bishops said up-front that - if that were to happen - they would close all Catholic hospitals.
In the vestibule you will find copies of An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama. It was written by someone who was a Obama supporter and who has great hope that the Obama administration will reach out to all, including those who consider defense of the unborn as the "defining issue" of our society - as slavery was to a previous generation. The letter addresses the harm and division that will come if the new administration follows its campaign rhetoric and pursues FOCA. I encourage you to read the letter and - if you are in agreement - to sign and send it our representatives and to our new president-elect. Besides the copies available in the vestibule, you can find the letter on the Internet at: http://vox-nova.com/2008/11/17/an-open-letter-to-president-elect-barack-obama/
Again, I want to encourage your prayers for our new president-elect. He has an enormous job and his decisions will effect our lives and those of people throughout the world. When I was in Peru, there was great interest in the U.S. elections. This was especially the case because our economic crisis is having a deep impact on that nation and, really, on every country in the world. We have a mixed image in the world, but (for better or worse) people still look to as a model.
A great aid to prayer is the "Sunday Missal." This weekend we will have copies of the 2008-2009 "Living with Christ" Missal in the vestibule. You may pick up your copy for a five dollar donation. You can put your donation in an envelope and drop in the collection. The Missal has all the Sundays readings, beginning on November 30 (First Sunday of Advent). Using the Missal, you can read the Scripture lessons in advance and then meditate on them during the week. Besides giving the readings, the Missal has helpful reflections and explanations.
Hoy celebramos la Fiesta de Cristo Rey. Tambien es el Memorial del Beato Miguel Pro, que murio el 23 de 1927. La foto le muestra momentos antes de su muerte, con los brazos extendido, para grita "Viva Cristo Rey." Como el Padre Pro queremos reconocer a Jesus como nuestro Rey. Muchos de ustedes lo han hecho en una forma muy concreta al llenar su tarjeta de compromiso de Co-Responsabilidad. Les agradezco mucho. Mas de quinientas personas han hecho este compromiso y sus nombres estan en la entrada del templo. Estamos en el proceso de enviar cartas de agradecimiento y tambien cartas para recordar a los que todavia no han entregado su tarjeta. Si todavia la no han llenado, favor de hacerlo esta semana.
Les invito a participar en la Misa del Dia de Accion de Gracias (Thanksgiving Day Mass) a las 9 a.m. este jueves. Favor de traer algo de su mesa (pan, postre, etc.) para bendecir al final de la misa. Ademas pedimos comida enlatada o en paquetes para repartir a los pobres durante el tiempo entre Thanksgiving y Navidad. La colecta de la misa de Thanksgiving sera dividida entre San Vicente de Paul y Madre Teresa para ayudar a los pobres.
Seguimos rezando por el nuevo presidente-electo Barack Obama y los que van a ser parte de su administracion. En mi columna en ingles hay un mensaje importante sobre una Carta Abierta al Nuevo Presidente-Electo. Les invito leer la carta y repartirla.