Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Seventeenth Sunday After Pentecost
Dear Parishioners of Our Beloved St. Paul:
Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother!
It was fifteen years ago today that our beloved nation was ruthlessly attacked and so many of our fellow New Yorkers and even parishioners and their relatives died. We pray that God may give a place of refreshment, light and peace, to all who perished on September 11, 2001, and that Our Lady, the Joy of All Who Sorrow, will comfort those who mourn them.
On Wednesday of this week we will celebrate the Feast of the Exultation of the Holy Cross. Cross, most faithful, you are the noblest tree of all. No other tree can compare with your leaves, your flower and your fruit. Thus did we all sing last Good Friday as we came forth to venerate the Holy Cross (which now hangs in the daily Mass Chapel).
Through the Passion of Our Lord the Cross became a throne of glory, not a gallows of infamy. Today, in her liturgy, the Church sings: How radiant is that precious Cross which brought our salvation. Through the Cross we are victorious. With the Cross we shall reign. By the Cross all evil is destroyed, alleluia!
The feast we will celebrate has its origin in the first centuries of Christianity. According to ancient testimony this commemoration began the day the Cross was found by the Empress St. Helena, the mother of Constantine the Great. It developed quickly in the Eastern Church and soon spread throughout all of Christendom. In Rome a solemn procession from the basilica of St. Mary major to that of St. John Lateran took place to venerate the Holy Cross before Mass.
At the beginning of the seventh century the Persians ransacked Jerusalem. They destroyed many churches and took possession of the sacred relics. A few years later the Emperor Heraclius recovered them. According to pious tradition, the splendidly-dressed monarch, in full regalia, personally wanted to carry the Holy Cross to its original place on Calvary. The weight became increasingly unbearable as he walked the Via Dolorosa. The Bishop of Jerusalem, Zechariah, explained to him that in order to carry the Holy Cross he must imitate the poverty of Christ, who bore it free of every earthly attachment. Heraclius immediately divested himself of the imperial garments and put on humble pilgrims’ clothes. He was then able to carry the Holy Cross barefoot to the summit of Calvary.
As children we all learned how to make the sign of the Cross as an external sign of the profession of our faith. The Church makes use of the Holy Cross on her altars during Holy Mass and the Cross is displayed atop the church buildings. As a tree of most savory fruit it is a powerful weapon for warding off all kinds of evil, and especially for instilling fear in the spiritual foes of our salvation. Lord through the Holy Cross, free us from our enemies, we pray each day before signing ourselves with the sign of the Cross.
One of the great Fathers of the Church, St. John of Damascus, teaches us: The Cross is a shield against the devil as well as a trophy of victory. It is the promise that we will not be overcome by the angel of death. The Cross is God’s instrument to lift up those who have fallen and to support those still on their feet fighting. It is a crutch for the crippled and a guide for the wayward. It is our constant goal as we advance, the very wellspring of our body and soul. It drives away all evils, annihilates sin and draws down for us abundant goods. This is indeed the seed of the resurrection and the tree of eternal life.
The Cross is present in our lives in different ways. It may be manifest through sickness, poverty, tiredness, pain, scorn, false accusations or loneliness. Though hard to bear at times, the encounter with the Cross can become a source of purification, and when it is embraced with love, it becomes our life and joy. Embracing the Cross should lead us never to complain when suffering adversity and setbacks.
We pray: Most honorable Cross of the Lord! Through You, mankind has been relieved of the curse. You are a sign of joy indeed, and of terror to our spiritual enemies; you are the help of Christians, the glory of kings, the strength of the just, the splendor of priests, a staff of power to your people, and a source of peace. Around You the Angels gather in awe: You are the Glory of Christ who grants great mercy to the world!
PARISH GALA DINNER/DANCE AND CASINO NIGHT: Please save the date of Friday October 28th. That will be our annual Parish Gala Dinner/Dance and Casino Night. Once again we will have the casino night provided by the M&M Twins (my good friends, Marco and Michael Posillico). This proved to be so enjoyable last year and was a great success. May I ask and invite all parishioners to attend this wonderful evening at the newly refurbished Cottage of the Milleridge Inn. Mr. Butch Yamali, the new owner of the Milleridge Inn, recently invited me to go there to bless this new endeavor. I was accompanied by the Chair of the Gala Mrs. Paula Maturo and by committee member Mrs. Anne Maione. I entered every room of the Inn to bless it and sprinkle the Holy Water in all the shops, and the cottage and carriage house. It is remarkable how this historic inn is being restored to its original splendor. Mr. Yamali is a good friend to us at St. Paul’s and I would encourage everyone to come that night and to see the refurbished Inn. It is our major fundraiser through the course of the year. You may have noticed that this year I have completed 35 years as a priest. I am very honored that on that evening we will also celebrate these years of priesthood. We do not honor the priest individually, for every priest’s prayer is that of St. John the Baptist, he must increase, but I must decrease. But rather we give thanks to God for the gift of the priesthood which is love at the heart of the Church. I am most grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her committee for all they have done for the success of this wonderful evening.
PILGRIMAGE TO THE BASILICA OF THE NATIONAL SHRINE OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION IN WASHINGTON, DC: Please see the bulletin for information about our Diocesan Pilgrimage to the National Shrine in Washington. This magnificent Church is our nation’s gift to the Blessed Virgin Mary under the title of the Immaculate Conception. Our lady has promised many blessings to all those who will invoke her intercession at this magnificent shrine. I am very grateful to Mrs. Gina Cinelli for all her hard work and effort. May God bless and reward you, Gina!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda