Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! One of the most beautiful Churches in the United States is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Rhode Island Avenue in Washington, D.C. It is the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Washington (not to be confused with the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception).
St. Matthew’s is quite near to the White House and there is a large congregation for weekday Mass because of all the offices in the vicinity.
From January 1961 until early November 1963 a very distinguished looking young man would often attend Holy Mass there on Sundays at 9.00am. He would usually arrive a few minutes late and would be accompanied by two other men and his young daughter. They would slip into a pew at the rear of the Church. The gentleman’s wife would remain at home with their young son. When the Mass was over, the man would always say to his little daughter, come on, let’s go and light a candle for Uncle Joe. And father and daughter would make their way over to the altar of the Sacred Heart and there light a candle and remain for some moments in quiet prayer. They would both leave very comforted realizing that the gentle living flame would continue their prayer after they had left the Church. Uncle Joe had been the man’s brother and a Navy pilot who had been killed on a mission in the Second World War.
The gentleman and his daughter would light their last candle at St. Matthew’s on November 17, 1963. Daddy would be going on a trip related to his work later that week. Although he would not light a candle there ever again his casket would be brought to that very same Church on November 25, 1963, for his Funeral Mass. His mortal remains would lie in that Church during the Funeral Mass and then would be brought to Arlington National Cemetery where, like all the faithful, they await the hope of the resurrection.
I am sure you realize by now that the gentleman to whom I am referring was the thirty fifth President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The little girl who loved to light the candle with her father is, of course, Caroline B. Kennedy who now serves as the American Ambassador to the Imperial Court Japan. “Uncle Joe” was Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. the older brother of the president.
I write of this charming incident to illustrate how the lighting of a candle seems to bring comfort and consolation to the believer and glory and honor to God. The lighting of candles is as old as Christianity itself and has often sustained the faithful in hardship and difficulty. It sustained President Kennedy through many hardships
Many may remember the beautiful custom, still followed in all the Homes of the Little Sisters of the Poor, to light a candle and put it at the death bed of the departing souls. Many light a blessed candle during storms and other calamities.
When I arrived at St. Paul’s I noticed that we did indeed have candles in the Church, but they were not living flames. They were not a holy flame that spends itself to God’s glory. Instead they were electric candles, turned on and off by a switch. They did not offer themselves as a sacrifice to God Our Lord.
Many have entered our Church and have asked to light a candle. I prayed that somehow God would allow for this to happen. I am so happy that now we have real candles for the faithful to light in the church. This is through the great generosity of wonderful parishioners. They are real candles, living flames, and a sign of faith, hope and love. It is my fond hope that many of our parishioners will avail themselves of this opportunity and visit the Blessed Sacrament and there light a candle. (I lit the first two of our new candles on Tuesday evening, one on each side; our Director of Liturgical Music, who was in the Church for choir practice, will testify that the Pastor put the offering into the box!)
So I would encourage all of you to light a candle for “Uncle Joe,” or for whatever is the intention of your heart and soul. Light candles for your loved ones, living and deceased. Parents, light candles for your children, and children light candles for your parents.
The candles themselves are smokeless and burn over water into which they completely spend themselves. They are endorsed by insurance companies because they are not an open flame. They should be lit by the lighters which are placed on the racks and never by a match or taper. Children should not light the candles without parental supervision. These are the same candles that one may find at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York (where they go through 40,000 a week!!!) and at both our neighboring parishes St. Edward and St. Rocco. Like St. Patrick’s Cathedral, St. Edward and St. Rocco the offering for these candles at St. Paul’s is $2.00. The artificial candles were $1.00. The offering is placed in the offering receptacle right on the candle rack, not into a separate box.. The boxes have been removed.
Let us continue to offer God true living things, not what is dead, sterile and lifeless. (We will also no longer have artificial trees, wreaths, etc. in the Church at Christmas). It is not appropriate to offer to the True and Living God that which is artificial.
MONSIGNOR COSTA HALL: We will all remember with great emotion and happiness the dedication of Monsignor Costa Hall which took place last Sunday, October 12, 2014. (It would have been Msgr. Costa’s 88th birthday). I am grateful to all who worked toward this happy endeavor and to the unusually large number of parishioners who came out that day. The Costa family was particularly touched that Monsignor was still remembered with such love and affection. May this dedication of the Monsignor Mario C. Costa hall help us all to live as a beautiful parish family in peace and charity.
RETREAT DATES: Please save the dates for our annual Autumn Parish Mission. It will be on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, October 27th, 28th, and 29th. The Mission will be given by the Augustinian Canons who staff the parishes in Glen Cove. Make every effort to attend the Mission and do good to your soul. Confessions will be available all three nights. The Mission will be from 7.00pm until 8.00pm each evening. It is not too early to mark your calendar for our Advent Evening of Recollection which will be on Thursday evening December 11th at 7.30pm. Our Advent preacher will be Father Gregory Rannazzisi, S.T.L. Father Rannazzisi is the Vice-Rector of the Seminary of the Immaculate Conception. Father will present a beautiful evening of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.
MEMORIALS: For those who would like to give a memorial in memory of a loved one, please call the Parish Office and speak with Mrs. Genna, our administrative assistant. We are presently in need of Holy Water fonts (only one left), poor boxes, a statue of St. Paul, and six pavement lights for funerals. We are grateful for all you have contributed to our new state of the art sound system (done by Monte Brothers who installed the sound system in the newly renovated St. Patrick’s Cathedral).
MR. JACK SHANNON: One of our dear parishioners Mr. Jack Shannon went home to God on October 7th, the Feast of the Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary. His wake was held on October 12th, the Feast of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Pillar, and his Funeral Mass was October 13th, the Anniversary of the last Apparition of Our Blessed Mother at Fatima in 1917. Jack’s wake and funeral were attended by a great many parishioners, including Monsignor Clerkin, our former pastor. Qualis vita, mors est ita! Love is repaid by love. May Our Blessed Mother Mary, the Joy of All that Sorrow, comfort Louise, Lauren, John, Jack’s mother, brother and sister, family and reward all those who prayed for him.
SECOND COLLECTION: We are ever grateful for your contribution to our parish maintenance collection which will be next week. This special collection (when the basket is passed twice) is taken up once each month. Your generosity has enabled us to continue to meet our extraordinary expenses of the upkeep of the buildings.
May God bless and reward each and every one of you.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda