Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! For our meditation of today I would like to consider the wondrous apparition of the Holy Virgin Mary which took place at the small French village of Pontmain. This apparition occurred on January 17, 1871.
The summer of 1870 was a very tense one in Europe. In fact, it would not be until the summer of 1914 that things would be so tense on the international scene. There was great political and military disagreement centering on the succession to the Spanish throne. The Second Empire of Napoleon III was considered the greatest military power in the world at the time (at least in respect to the army). A relatively small German state Prussia was advancing the cause of a candidate opposed by the French. Finally toward the end of the summer, the French and Prussians went to war. The French predicted that they would be home to harvest the grapes. Instead on September 2, 1870, the French were decisively defeated at the battle of Sedan. The Emperor himself was captured and the Imperial government fell.
The Prussians thought they would teach the French a lesson and so they began to pillage and burn the whole country. In January 1871 they were poised to strike at the village of Pontmain. The faithful prayed to be delivered from the advance of the Prussians and on the evening of January 17, 1871, Our Lady appeared to the whole village above the parish Church. She did not speak, but rather appeared to comfort and console as she always does. Letters formed in the sky telling the people to pray for soon Our Lord will show his great mercy. The Prussian army did not invade Pontmain and instead went around it. Today a great basilica has been built there in honor of Our Lady and her miraculous protection.
Undoubtedly in life we too will feel overwhelmed but the difficulties that surround us. At such times must we turn to Our Lady who is the cause of Our Joy. She will restore to us our peace and serenity. Please pray the Holy Rosary each day, if possible as a family. The family will know peace and serenity in the acceptance of God’s will.
Lent: The Holy Season of Lent will soon be upon us. On March 5 we will come forward to be signed with the sacred ashes. We will place our feet once more along the path of holiness. I, for one, welcome Lent. As you know this past year has brought much change to my life and so I look forward to the stability and discipline of Lent.
The Highlight of Lent for us will be our parish Lenten retreat preached by Fr. Thomas Cardone, SM. Many may recall that Father Cardone has been a part of our parish family in assisting us in the past. Father is a well-known retreat director, and has preached the profession retreat of the Little Sisters of the Poor on many occasions. Father is presently the chaplain and religion professor at Kellenberg memorial High School.
Father will preach at all the Masses on the weekend of March 8th and 9th, the First Sunday in Lent. And our retreat will be 7.30 each evening on March 10, 11, and 12. Father will give us our Lenten Talk in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament and the evening will end with Benediction each night. During Father’s Lenten preaching I will be in the confessional for those who would like to make their confession.
During Lent we will have the Stations of the Cross on each Friday at 7.30pm. Please make every effort to walk with Our Lord as he carried the Cross.
On each Wednesday of Lent beginning with 12th we will have a Holy Hour in the Chapel from 7.30pm to 8.30 pm. During that time I will try to offer a Lenten meditation.
Please make a Holy Lent and try to instill into your children the importance of doing penance. How pleased is Our Lord when the little ones give up candy or cookies for love of Him.
CMA and parish Giving: Soon we will begin our annual Catholic Ministries Appeal. Many of you will be receiving a letter from me. Your generosity in this appeal is of great benefit to our beloved St. Paul’s. Many of you know that I also serve as the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese. In that capacity I assist the Bishop exercising his judicial authority. Your generosity to the appeal is not only of assistance to me as your pastor but also as the Judicial Vicar of the Diocese.
Increased Offertory Appeal: Next weekend I will speak at all the Masses to invite you to assist me in the important work of securing the future of our beloved parish. Although I have been with you for only eight months you may have noticed that speaking of such matters is difficult for me. But it is never difficult for me to ask you to assist me in our parish mission, which is quite, simply, that we all become saints.
May I thank you for your kindness and welcome to me. May God bless and reward each and every one of you.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda