Bulletin (March 20, 2005)

Welcome to Holy Week! This will be a week to remember, not just in the sense that memorable things will take place - that even in a humble, low-budget parish like ours, we will experience powerful liturgies. This is a week to remember in a deeper sense: remembering is the activity we engage in; we attempt to focus on what really counts. When all is said and done, we celebrate the one thing we must never forget. As Fr. Richard Neuhaus said, “If what Christians say about Good Friday is true, then it is, quite simply, the truth about everything.” May we not miss the graces God wishes to pour out upon us – that this will indeed be for us a week to remember. One beautiful way of receiving God’s grace during Holy Week and Easter Week is to make the Novena of the Divine Mercy. Prayer cards, which explain how to pray the Chaplet of the Divine Mercy, are available in pamphlet rack. Also, I have placed four more Catholic Answers tracts in our pamphlet rack:

Salvation Outside the Church: The Catechism of the Catholic Church, following historic Christian theology since the time of the early Church Fathers, refers to the Catholic Church as "the universal sacrament of salvation" (CCC 774–776), and states: "The Church in this world is the sacrament of salvation, the sign and the instrument of the communion of God and men" (CCC 780). Many people misunderstand the nature of this teaching.

Birth Control: In 1968, Pope Paul VI issued his landmark encyclical letter Humanae Vitae (Latin, "Human Life"), which reemphasized the Church’s constant teaching that it is always intrinsically wrong to use contraception to prevent new human beings from coming into existence. Contraception is "any action which, either in anticipation of the conjugal act [sexual intercourse], or in its accomplishment, or in the development of its natural consequences, proposes, whether as an end or as a means, to render procreation impossible" (Humanae Vitae 14). This includes sterilization, condoms and other barrier methods, spermicides, coitus interruptus (withdrawal method), the Pill, and all other such methods.

Purgatory: The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a "purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven," which is experienced by those "who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified" (CCC 1030). It notes that "this final purification of the elect is entirely different from the punishment of the damned" (CCC 1031). The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.

The Galileo Controversy: It is commonly believed that the Catholic Church persecuted Galileo for abandoning the geocentric (earth-at-the-center) view of the solar system for the heliocentric (sun-at-the-center) view. The Galileo case, for many anti-Catholics, is thought to prove that the Church abhors science, refuses to abandon outdated teachings, and is not infallible. For Catholics, the episode is often an embarrassment. It shouldn’t be. This tract provides a brief explanation of what really happened to Galileo.

Also available on the pamphlet rack is Stephen Wood’s fine booklet, Breaking Free (12 Steps to Sexual Purity for Men). It begins with a letter from Screwtape (the devil) explaining how he will use the Internet to destroy marriages and families, then outlines the twelve steps for resisting those demonic attacks. This is a good companion book to Jason Evert’s Pure Love.

As you know, last week we formally concluded our parish Capital Campaign. This does not mean we are not accepting pledges. In fact, several came in this week! Based on your response to the Campaign, we met Monday with the Archdiocesan Parochial Revolving Fund to request a bridge loan to renovate the ground level of the school. They responded positively, so we will begin taking the steps to do this project during the summer. Please keep this in your prayers. If we are able to do this project, it will make our school much more attractive by repairing the rest rooms and making them handicapped accessible. It will provide a secure space for BASS (before and after school child care), a room for pre-K (which currently meets in the rectory basement), tutoring spaces and additional storage space. The renovation will also provide a meeting place for receptions after weddings, funerals, quinceañeras and other parish events.

Also, I ask you to include in your prayers a young woman in Florida named Terri Schiavo. Her case has gained national attention because it would involve bringing about her death by the removal of her feeding tube. I remember when I went with my mom to help her draw up a “living will.” She said she would not want to be kept alive by extraordinary means, but would want to receive food and water. As a LPN, she knew what would be involved in death by thirst or starvation. Since that time, the Holy Father has clarified that the administration of food and water cannot be considered as “extraordinary.” The case of Terri Schiavo focuses our attention and prayers on this issue, which we will probably all face in some form.

A final note: This year Good Friday falls on March 25, Feast of the Annunciation which marks the beginning of Christ’s human existence - his conception in the womb of the Virgin Mary. In the Apostle's Creed we state that Jesus was “conceived by the Holy Spirit.” Conception is the crucial moment. Like all of us, He began as an embryo; from that day his human potential began to unfold. Join us for a Good Friday Service for Life at Gas Works Park from noon till three – the hours when Jesus suffered and died for our sins. This service will involve a peaceful procession to a biotech lab that promotes embryonic stem cell research and human cloning. Bishop Wuerl of Pittsburgh summed up the issue in these words:

While stem cell research may not be at the top of the list of concerns that many of us face in our day-to-day life, it is nonetheless of such significance that we all need to understand fully its realities as well as its consequences. Decisions made now could establish a principle that asserts and endorses that we are free to use the drastic means of taking another human life, if we deem that the end result justifies that dire action. To concede that the end – even if it is potential relief to long-standing illnesses and injuries – justifies the means is to send our children and grandchildren headlong down a slippery slope on a moral toboggan with neither a steering bar nor brakes.

¡Bienvenidos a la Semana Santa! Hoy comenzamos una semana para recordar, no solamente en el sentido que experimentaremos liturgias poderosas – aun en una parroquia humilde como la nuestra. Más importante que las liturgias mismas, es una semana para recordar en el sentido que, al final de las cuentas, celebramos la única cosa que tenemos que recordar. Una historia conmovedora nos ayudará a entender esto. Que no perdamos las gracias que Dios quiere derramar sobre nosotros – que realmente sea para nosotros una semana para recordar. Una forma linda de recibir la gracia de Dios es rezar la Novena de la Misericordia Divina. Hay tarjetas en la entrada (junto con los folletos y libritos) que explican como rezar la Coronilla.

Como Uds. saben, la semana pasada hemos concluido formalmente la Campaña Capital. No significa que no estamos aceptando compromisos. De hecho hemos recibido varios esta semana. Basado en su respuesta hemos pedido a la arquidiócesis que nos de un préstamo para renovar el primer piso (nivel de la calle) de la escuela. Estoy contento informarles que la respuesta ha sido positiva, pero todavía hay mucho que hacer para comenzar este verano. Esta renovación incluye la reparación de los baños, espacio para tutores, dos aulas para BASS (cuidado de niños antes y después de la escuela) y pre-Kinder (que ahora se reúne en el sótano de la rectoría) y espacio para almacenaje. También proveerá un pequeño salón para recepciones después de bodas, funerales, quinceañeras y otras actividades parroquiales.

Este boletín tiene la lista de los eventos de la Semana Santa. El Viernes Santo habrá un Servicio Pro-Vida en el Parque Gas Works. Habrá una procesión a un laboratorio de biotecnología que esta promoviendo experimentos usando embriones humanos y que quiere clonar seres humanos. El hecho que Viernes Santo cae en el día de la Anunciación (25 de marzo, día de la concepción de Jesús) nos hace recordar que Jesús comenzó su vida humana como nosotros – un embrión pequeño. El servicio se llevará a cabo desde mediodía hasta las tres de la tarde. Todos son bienvenidos.