The Consecrated Life Vita Consecrata
Everyone is probably well aware by now that as of December 8, 2015, we have entered into a special time of grace. We have entered into the Jubilee Year of Mercy. I would encourage all of you to make the pilgrimage to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., on Saturday September 24th which is the Feast of Our Lady of Mercy. I am very grateful to Mrs. Gina Cinelli who has been organizing this pilgrimage for us.
But we have also recently ended another grace filled observance, the Year of Consecrated Life. What is meant by the Consecrated Life, or, as is said in Latin, vita consecrata?
Each week at Sunday Mass there is a special prayer after the Profession of Faith that is called the General Intercessions. This is sometimes, but mistakenly called, the Prayer of the faithful. In the General Intercessions we pray for all the state of the Church and the world. And each week we use the same phrase…For the Pope and for all the Bishops, the priests, deacons, those in consecrated life, and all the faithful…Who are those in consecrated life?
Those who are in consecrated life are dedicated or consecrated to God in a very specific way. They are in sacred bonds (sometimes called vows or even promises) to follow God exclusively through the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience. These are the monks and nuns, the friars, religious brothers and religious sisters. These are all members of religious institutes. Some of these institutes are orders, some are Congregations and some are Societies of Apostolic Life. The monks and nuns are called to the monastic and contemplative life. They generally live the rule of cloister, i.e., separation from the world. Although the term nun is often used to describe all women who are members of religious institutes, this is not the case. The nuns are in cloisters bound by solemn vows. So the general rule of thumb is that if you can see the person, she is probably not a nun but a religious sister. The religious sisters teach, run hospitals, and work in many charitable foundations. If you went to Catholic Grammar Schools years ago you were taught not by nuns (although many called them such), but rather by religious sisters.
The religious sisters and brothers are in simple vows which bind them in their consecration to God. There are also other forms of consecrated life which are not religious, i.e., while the individuals are consecrated to God, they are not members of religious institutes. These are the consecrated virgins and hermits. There are also individuals who live in the world and who live the consecrated life as members of secular institutes. They are consecrated members of the Church but not religious.
Here at St. Paul’s we have seen the wonderful witness of the consecrated life by both men and women. The Marianists is a male religious institute in the Church comprising both men who are ordained and men who are not ordained. The Fathers and Brothers. The Marianists have educated our children in religious education programs. They have been of assistance for weekend Masses and confessions and they maintain our beautiful fields.
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We have also had the Dominican Sisters of Amityville who have served so selflessly in our parish. (They are not nuns, but religious sisters). Sr. Regina Kraft served as Faith Formation Director for many years and today, August 28th she celebrates her 75th birthday. May God grant her many more years in health and happiness.
We also welcome each year the Little Sisters of the Poor who visit us to raise funds for their Queen of Peace Residence. They, too, are not nuns. They are religious sisters.
The Consecrated Life is not superfluous to the life of the Church, but of its very essence. We are grateful for their heroic witness in the Church and in our parish.
THURSDAY MORNING MASS: Beginning this week there will no longer be a Thursday Morning Mass at St. Paul’s. Obviously, we continue with Mass at 8.00AM on Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays. It is normal practice that in parishes served by only one priest that there is one weekday when Mass is not celebrated. I encourage all who attend daily Mass to attend one of our many neighboring parishes on Thursday mornings.
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.
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda