Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! As deadlines would have it. This is the Pastor’s first column I am writing after the celebration of Christmas.
Christmas at St. Paul’s was very grace filled for all of us. The Church was so beautifully decorated by Ursula and the members of the Altar Guild. It was a labor of love as Joanne, Anthony, Andy, Paula, Jessica, Daniel, John, Andy, Thomas, Irene, Julie, Sebastian and many others all worked together to make the Church so beautiful.
The music at Christmas was so uplifting. Through the kindness of a family in the parish, there was an orchestra at the 5.30 Mass. The music was magnificent and many did not want to leave. They wished to remain and hear more music. At the Midnight Mass our new schola/choir sang the parts of the Mass in the Gregorian chant settings. This schola/choir, who are all volunteers, have been working under Gary’s direction. They have been meeting every Tuesday evening for months and they sang for the first time at Christmas Midnight Mass. The choir will be singing at the 11.00am Mass. They will be singing the chants of the Church.
First Saturday Anointing of the Sick: It has long been the practice at St. Paul’s that the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick be administered after the First Saturday Mass. I wish to give a brief catechesis about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and encourage that we all adhere to the heart and mind of the Church in this matter.
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments of the Church, instituted by Our Lord Jesus Christ. The sacraments are outward signs, instituted by Christ, to give grace. Some of the sacraments should be received frequently (always with the proper disposition). These are the Holy Eucharist and Penance. Some sacraments may be received only once, and to repeat them would be a sacrilege. These are baptism, Confirmation, and Holy orders. The sacraments that may be received more than once, but not frequently, are marriage and anointing of the Sick. Thus one would not normally receive the sacrament of the anointing of the sick every time it is administered. While it is proper and very beneficial to go to confession monthly, it is not proper and beneficial to receive the Anointing of the Sick monthly. So that things will be clear. I will quote the General Instruction of the Church in regard to this sacrament. This is the official instruction published by the authority of the pope.
8. The Letter of James states that the sick are to be anointed in order to raise them up and save them. Great care and concern should be taken to see that those of the faithful whose health is seriously impaired by sickness or old age receive this sacrament. On the one hand, the sacrament may and should be given to those whose health is seriously impaired; on the other hand, it may not be given indiscriminately, or to any person whose health is not seriously impaired.9. The sacrament may be repeated if the sick person recovers after being anointed and then again falls ill or if during the same illness the person’s condition become more serious.
10. A sick person may be anointed before surgery whenever serious illness is the reason for the surgery.
11. Elderly people may be anointed if they have become notably weakened even though no serious illness is present.
Unfortunately, a great deal of misunderstanding has grown around this sacrament, sometimes even propagated by priests themselves. One should not receive the sacrament of the anointing unless one is seriously ill. One should not receive the sacrament again during the same serious illness, unless it grows worse. Unfortunately, many tenets of the New Age Movement have infiltrated even the Church. Thus it must be emphatically understood that one cannot receive the sacrament of the anointing on behalf of another, just as one may not be baptized on behalf of another. We stand in judgment before Our Lord as individuals and we answer to Him for our own behavior. One cannot repent on behalf of another.
When one is seriously ill, or is about to undergo surgery, one should receive this sacrament. In order that the integrity of the sacrament may be preserved we will begin the following practice on the First Saturday of each month.
After the Mass, the sick will be blessed. All who are at the Mass may then come forward to be anointed with Blessed Oil. This is the oil that burns in the lamp before the miraculous statue of St. Joseph in the Oratory of St. Joseph in Montreal. This is a sacramental, not the sacrament of the anointing of the sick.
After all have been blessed with the holy oil, those who have been diagnosed with a serious illness (and have not already been anointed), those who will be undergoing surgery, and those who are growing weak due to old age (and have not already been anointed) will receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick.
It is my fond hope that this will restore the integrity of the Sacrament and put an end to misunderstanding. I would encourage everyone to receive the Sacrament of penance (confession) at least once a month. This is the true sacrament of healing of mind, body and soul.
Holy Lent: On the Solemnity of the Epiphany those who were present for the 11.00am Mass heard the Solemn Announcement of the Moveable Feasts After the Gospel was proclaimed our Director of Liturgical Music came to the Ambo and beautifully chanted the dates of the Feasts for 2015. This is a very ancient practice. On Epiphany Day the people would solemnly hear the date of Easter and all the other feasts based upon its celebration. This was particularly useful in the days before people would have had calendars. But it was also a very moving reminder that after having celebrated the wondrous mystery of Christmas our attention was immediately drawn to Easter, and the beginning of Holy Lent.
Ash Wednesday will be February 18th. As was the custom last year, the Blessed Ashes will be distributed all day in the Church. On each of the Fridays of Lent there will be the Stations of eh Cross. Our annual Lenten Retreat will be March 9th, 10th and 11th. It is not too early to be thinking of making a Holy Lent.In closing may I extend sincere gratitude to all of you for your generosity to St. Paul’s. Your continued support enables us to be that Light on the Hill to all who pass by.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Marry,
Monsignor James F. Pereda