Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! This week I wish to write about several of the feasts of Our Blessed Mother that are kept in September and about other items concerning our parish.
On September 8th we keep the Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, nine months to the day after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The birth of Our Lady was the dawn of our salvation, for St. Ann gave birth to that One who would be the Mother of God. On September 12th we keep the Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary.
The Feast of the Most Holy Name of Mary is an historical feast, i.e., it celebrates a historical event in the life of the Church. On September 12, 1683, the Turks were poised to invade Vienna, the very heart of Christian Europe, and to impose Islam on the Holy Roman Empire.. The faithful of the City prayed for the protection of the Holy Virgin and at the great battle of Vienna, the Christian forces were victorious over the Turks. This was due in large part to the intervention of the Polish King John Sublieski, the maternal grandfather of the martyred king Louis XVI of France. In celebration of the victory the Viennese bakers baked the bread the next day in the shape of the crescent moon, the symbol of Islam, to show that the Turks were broken as bread is broken. The French name for crescent is croissant, and thus was born the famous breakfast bread eaten in Catholic nations. The Turks fled so quickly that they left bags of Arabica coffee beans in their camps. The coffee was discovered by the Viennese and thus began the great custom in Vienna of drinking coffee (sometimes with the wonderful chocolate cake called the sachretort!)
On September 15th we keep the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows as we recall Our Lady’s standing at the Cross of Our Lord and on September 24th we keep the Feast of Our Lady of Ransom or Our Lady of Mercy. Our Blessed Mother is that Inexhaustible Cup which satisfies every desire of the human heart. Go to Her on Her Feast days and seek her never-failing protection.
THE MARANISTS AND FATHER JAMES: Every parishioner is very well aware of the presence and dedicated work of the Marianists here at St. Paul’s. The Marianists were founded by a French Priest, Blessed William Joseph Chamindae. The Marianists have a very rich and beautiful history. They have provided many saints to the Church and many martyrs especially during the Spanish Civil War of 1936-1939. The former Spanish King, Juan Carlos I, was educated by the Marianists, and often said that any good in him was to be attributed to the Marianist education that he was given.
The Marianists have served us in too many ways to be enumerated. Obviously, and most visibly, the Marianist Fathers offer Holy Mass for us and absolve us of our sins in confession. But they assist us in so many ways. Br. Joseph Bellizzi, S.M., is the principal of Chamindae High School. He is the Director of Religious Education here at St. Paul and has implemented a confirmation program here that the Bishop has called the finest in the diocese. We are grateful to him and to Mrs. Louise Shannon our Faith Formation Administrator.
The Marianists maintain our fields here at St. Paul’s. I have only been here for fifteen months, but many of you will remember when the fields were a barren waste. The Marianist took these fields and invested hard work and hundreds of thousands of dollars to make them what they are today. The only thing St. Paul provides is water for the grass (and this summer on two occasions, August 13th and August 31st) the good God provided more than enough water. Everything else is the hard work of the Marianists. Without them, we could imagine what the fields would be like. It was they who planted the trees that grow along the property lines.
May God bless the Marianists and may they be with us for many more years to come.
One of the Marianist Fathers, Father James Williams, S.M., will be returning to Rome to continue his doctoral studies at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum). St. John Paul II earned his doctorate at the Angelicum. The late pope wrote his thesis on the Spanish mystic, St. John of the Cross. Father James has served St. Paul’s for 15 years and is beloved by us all. Father James will celebrate the 9.30am Mass next Sunday before his return to Rome. After the Mass there will be a reception for Father in Monsignor Costa (the Lower) Hall. Please make every effort to attend. We remind you that Monsignor Costa Hall will be dedicated on Sunday October 12, 2014, at the 11.00am Mass. After the Mass we will proceed to the blessing of the hall and reception. Make every effort to attend.
Pre-School: Tomorrow will be opening day of St. Paul the Apostle pre-School. Our little ones will return to a clean, bright, cheerful environment (thanks to Bart). Our Pre-School is at its highest enrollment in years. That is due to our outstanding faculty, to our Director Mrs. Gayle Crimarco and Administrative Assistant Mrs. Debbie Oliva. May the Guardian Angels watch over our dear ones and keep them safe. Your continued cooperation in following the Town of Oyster Bay ordinance forbidding dogs to be walked on school (and private) property is greatly appreciated.
Last week I wrote about several of the projects on which we are working here at St. Paul’s. I am most grateful to a family in the parish who provided an extremely generous donation to finish one suite of rooms, the Pastor’s. May God reward them. The Marian Guild provided the means by which that suite as well as the Dining Room were furnished. (When I arrived there was no furniture in the pastor’s suite). As you know this suite and furniture is not my own. It belongs to the parish and I am certain many pastors in the future will benefit from this great generosity. Another family provided the white PVC fence that you may have noticed at the rectory.
However, as I wrote last week, my primary concern is not the rectory, not the parking lot, not mold, not mice, not trees, but the House of God our dear Church.. Each day I recite Psalm 42: O Lord, how I love the beauty of thy House and the Place where thy glory dwells. Christ is the center of all our lives and the Heart of the World. On my First Sunday here I was so happy and thankful to be among you as the sixth pastor of St. Paul. We looked at one another. And yet I had a very uncomfortable sense in my heart. It had nothing to do with you whom I have grown to love. It had to do with where I was situated in the Church. Here I was in the center and higher than anything or anyone…I who am simply a servant of God and the faithful felt like a king seated on a throne. I kept thinking what Pope Francis would think of a Pastor seated as a King in the Church. No one should have to step down to the altar. Do we not pray in Psalm 42: I will go up to the altar of God… I promised Our Lord on that day that He would be the center of our Church as He must be the center of our lives. For that reason I have already begun plans for the moving of the Tabernacle to the center of our Church and to the greatest place of prominence. On the day of my ordination my prayer was quite simple: He must increase, but I must decrease. (This was the motto printed on my ordination card). I need your material support but even more your moral support in making this prayer a reality and I know I can rely on you. Jesus Christ Our Lord must be the center of our Church, not me His unworthy servant! As we pray in the Psalms: I shall look up to the Lord from whom comes my help.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda