Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! When we come to Holy Mass each Sunday we see the priest pouring a drop of water into the wine in the chalice while he says inaudibly May we who share His humanity come to share His divinity. Each Christian is called to holiness by virtue of his/her baptism into the life of the Most Blessed Trinity. This fact was so imbued into the heart of the Blessed Pope John Paul II that he often remarked that the greatest day of his life was not the day he was elected to the papacy, or the day he was consecrated a Bishop or the day he was ordained a priest. The greatest day of his life, the late pope said, was the day of his baptism. So important was baptism for the family of Pope Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger) that he was baptized the very day he was born!
Among the many titles used to refer to the Catholic Church, the title “Holy Mother Church” is frequently employed. Why? We are reborn and made new creations in the womb of the baptismal font (this is where we are “born again”; and an individual can only receive valid baptism once) by the priest pouring water over the baby’s head while invoking the Blessed Trinity with the words, “N., I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” We receive nourishment for our souls through Sacred Scripture (the Bible), Sacred Tradition, and the Magisterium (teaching authority) of Holy Church; most visibly in our worship and participation in the Sacraments. All of these components are the foundation necessary for living a Catholic Christian life. If we believe we can know and live the fullness of Truth on our own, we are deceiving ourselves. We need a Mother to give us birth, nourish, and guide us on our earthly pilgrimage. A Mother is always a mother to her children, and so the Church is always our Mother. The Church is not the address on the street; the Church is our Mother.
Parents should desire to give children good order in their home and instill basic family/life rules and guidelines for the well being of the entire family. In the same sense that it would not be very responsible for parents to allow their children free reign do whatever they choose, practically relinquishing all parental guidance, our Holy Mother the Church has provided her children with precepts. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) relates:
The precepts of the Church are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is meant to guarantee to the faithful the indispensable minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor:
The first precept (“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor.”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the saints; in the first place by participating in the Eucharistic celebration when the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which would impede such sanctification of these days. (continued)
The second precept (“You shall confess your sins at least once a year.”) ensures preparation for the Eucharist by the reception of the sacrament of reconciliation, which continues Baptism’s work of conversion and forgiveness.
The third precept (“You shall humbly receive your Creator in Holy Communion at least during the Easter season.”) guarantees as a minimum the reception of the Lord’s Body and Blood in connection with the Paschal feasts, the origin and center of the Christian liturgy.
The fourth precept (“You shall observe the days of fasting and abstinence established by the Church”) ensures the times of asceticism and penance which prepare us for the liturgical feasts and help us acquire mastery over our instincts and freedom of heart.
The fifth precept (“You shall help to provide for the needs of the Church”) means that the faithful are obliged to assist with the material needs of the Church, each according to his own ability. (see CCC #s 2041-2043)
Two other decrees of guidance, which should not be taken lightly, are often added to the five above: obedience to the laws of the Church regarding Matrimony and the Christian responsibility to participate in the evangelization of souls.
Many of my generation memorized the precepts of the Church. I remember as a child learning that every Catholic was bound to be married before a priest and two witnesses. We call this the Form of Marriage. Sadly, many today (often unknowingly) do not follow this precept as the idea of “destination” weddings or weddings at the beach, etc. become more popular. Please before making any wedding plans be sure to speak with your priest so that all may contract marriage in a holy, spiritual and valid manner according to the precepts of Holy Mother Church.
Our Mother has given a minimal framework for the external accountability of the faithful; a way of living for our sanctification and salvation. Her only desire is to lead her children on the surest path to almighty God, who always sees us as His very beloved sons and daughters. May He be well pleased with us.
May I remind you to save the date for next Sunday November 24th at the 11.00am Mass. On that day we will honor and bless both our parish volunteers and our founding parishioners. In a certain sense we would not have a parish without these groups. Our founders built our parish and church and our volunteers keep it journeying along the pathway to God which our founders first paved.
Please save the date of Friday May 16th. It will be our annual parish party held at the Cottage of the Milleridge Inn, our neighbors and parishioners. We are all grateful to Mrs. Paula Maturo and her committee who have already been working for several months so that we may all have a pleasant, enjoyable and grace-filled evening.
I always like to say that Our Lord Jesus Christ is the true Pastor of St. Paul. Please pray for me so that I may simply not get in His way. I am so grateful for your prayers of which I am in great need.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda