Dear Parishioners of Our Beloved St. Paul:
Praised be Jesus Christ, and Mary, His Most Holy Mother! Today I would like to return to my little series about the virtues, something I began several weeks ago. It is my fond hope that these mediations on the virtues will help us all to grow in holiness.
Human virtues acquired by education, by deliberate acts and by a perseverance ever-renewed in repeated efforts are purified and elevated by divine grace. With God's help, they forge character and give facility in the practice of the good. The virtuous person is happy to practice them. It is not easy for man, wounded by sin, to maintain a moral balance. Christ's gift of salvation offers us the grace necessary to persevere in the pursuit of the virtues. Everyone should always ask for this grace of light and strength, frequent the Sacraments, cooperate with the Holy Spirit, and follow His calls to love what is good and shun evil.
The human virtues are rooted in The Theological Virtues, which adapt man's faculties for participation in the divine nature, for the theological virtues relate directly to God. They dispose Christians to live in a relationship with the Holy Trinity. They have the One and Triune God for their origin, motive, and object.
The theological virtues are the foundation of Christian moral activity; they animate it and give it its special character. They inform and give life to all the moral virtues. They are infused by God into the souls of the faithful to make them capable of acting as his children and of meriting eternal life. They are the pledge of the presence and action of the Holy Spirit in the faculties of the human being. There are three theological virtues: faith, hope, and charity.
Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because He is truth itself. By faith "man freely commits his entire self to God. For this reason the believer seeks to know and do God's will. "The righteous shall live by faith." Living faith "work[s] through charity."
The gift of faith remains in one who has not sinned against it. But, as St. Paul says, "faith apart from works is dead." When it is deprived of hope and love, faith does not fully unite the believer to Christ and does not make him a living member of His Body.
The disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it: "All however must be prepared to confess Christ before men and to follow him along the way of the Cross, amidst the persecutions which the Church never lacks." Service of and witness to the faith are necessary for salvation: "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven." (See the Catechism of the Catholic Church, #s 1812-1816).
An Act of Faith: O my God, I firmly believe that You are one God in Three Divine Persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I believe that Your Divine Son became Man and died for our sins, and that He will come to judge the living and the dead. I believe these and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because in revealing them You can neither deceive nor be deceived.
Security at St. Paul’s: As many of you know, for the thirteen years prior to my arrival at St. Paul’s I served as resident chaplain of the Novitiate of the Little Sisters of the Poor in addition to my work in the Diocesan Tribunal. Our mailing address was Queens Village, but, as the computer reveals, the actual location was Cambria Heights. We were on Springfield Blvd., south of Hempstead Ave and north Linden Blvd. Some
called the neighborhood St. Albans, others Springfield Gardens, and still others Laurelton. I mention this only because these areas are considered among the highest crime areas in New York City. We lived within the confines of the 105th precinct of NYPD, for whom I have only the utmost respect and admiration. I am happy to remember that I was friends with many of the officers, detectives and inspector of the 105th!
In June of 2013 I was appointed the pastor of St. Paul the Apostle in Brookville. I was under the impression that I was coming to a very safe area and with little crime. Such has not been the case at all. I could write pages of the criminal misdeeds that occur on our property from the pouring of bleach into the field maintenance vehicles (hardly a children’s prank) to the deliberate setting of fire on the property to the incessant “doing donuts” on our property. There is, in general, a great lack of respect for the property and buildings of St. Paul’s. This has been of great concern to me and our staff, particularly our Pre-School Staff and Faith Formation Staff in which so many young people are enrolled. And like all major problems it begins with little things. No wonder that a former mayor of New York began to tackle serious crime by first ending minor infractions. If there is respect in the little things, there will be respect in the greater (so wrote St. Thomas Aquinas).
Thus it is no wonder that we have criminal activity on the grounds when people walk their dogs here (a violation of the statutes of the Town of Oyster Bay), park their cars for days, play golf, and loiter all over the property at all hours of the day and night. The idea of private property is long forgotten and essentially the climate at St. Paul’s is that one may do here whatever one wants. I have been in the rectory while individuals have pounded at the doors, windows, and walls. Cars have been parked across the garage to prevent me from “getting away.” When I mentioned this to a local Protestant minister he replied that he has begun a parishioner watch on the grounds of his Church (I will refrain from naming it). That is parishioners are organized to watch the parochial plant and report suspicious activity and trespassing. I told the local pastor that would not work at St. Paul’s because the perpetrators were parishioners. These activities are not being done by strangers but by parishioners who resist any guidance or normal discipline. They live the spirit of the age, it’s all about me! How often do we hear, no one tells me what to do. I do whatever I want. It’s all about me.
On May 27th our Finance Council met and I spoke to them of these difficulties. I am happy that the Finance Council agreed with me about the necessity of a security system for St. Paul’s. Some have told me that many parishioners have these systems at their homes. We have just received diocesan approval for the installation of a security system which will be in place this summer. This will especially protect our dear little ones in the St. Paul Pre-School. We did a great deal of work in purchasing our system, looking at close to 10 vendors, seeking who would give us the protection we need.
I am particularly sensitive about the issue of security. On March 13, 2002, Bishop Murphy appointed me the administrator of the Church of Our Lady of Peace in Lynbrook. The reason for this was that on the previous morning (March 12, 2002) the pastor, Father Lawrence Penzes, was celebrating the 9.00am Mass. During the Mass a “disturbed” individual entered the Church, walked right up the center aisle, took out a rifle and killed the priest at the altar as well as a dear parishioner. (Very few remember this or even bothered to talk of it).
It is my hope that this new security system at St. Paul’s as well as our new lighting in the parking lot will discourage criminal activity and allow our parish grounds to be a place of order and peace. It is my hope that the parishioners will cooperate in creating a safe, secure, and healthful environment. May the Holy Guardian Angels watch over all of us.
Memorials: At the present time I am praying that some parishioners will offer some much needed liturgical items in memory of their loved ones. A plaque will be placed in the narthex of the Church with the names of the donors and their loved ones. (We just hung a plaque about two months ago with the names of recent donations.)
We are in need of the following:
Crucifixes for the confessionals so that the penitents may look upon the loving Cross of Our Lord when they confess. We are in need of four (4) at $150 each.
Two Censers (thuribles) which burn the incense at Solemn Mass and Funerals as well as the stand upon which they are hung.
Six (6) pavement lamps which are placed around the coffin at funerals. They burn the unbleached wax candles as a sign of both hope and mourning. When Bishop Murphy was here at Confirmation he remarked how happy he was that a parish in the diocese follows this ancient custom of burning unbleached wax candles at funerals. These are $600 each.
May I humbly ask that some benefactors contribute to the beauty of holiness as you have always done. May God bless and reward you.
Please visit our parish website: www.stpaulsbrookville.org
Nos cum prole pia,
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda