Praised be Jesus Christ and Mary His Most Holy Mother! One of the most beautiful Churches in the United States is the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle on Rhode Island Avenue in Washington, D.C. It is the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Washington (not to be confused with the National Shrine of the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception).
St. Matthew’s is quite near to the White House and there is a large congregation for weekday Mass because of all the offices in the vicinity.
From January 1961 until early November 1963 a very distinguished looking young man would often attend Holy Mass there on Sundays at 9.00am. He would usually arrive a few minutes late and would be accompanied by two other men and his young daughter. They would slip into a pew at the rear of the Church. The gentleman’s wife would remain at home with their young son. When the Mass was over, the man would always say to his little daughter, come on, let’s go and light a candle for Uncle Joe. And father and daughter would make their way over to the altar of the Sacred Heart and there light a candle and remain for some moments in quiet prayer. They would both leave very comforted realizing that the gentle living flame would continue their prayer after they had left the Church. Uncle Joe had been the man’s brother and a Navy pilot who had been killed on a mission in the Second World War.
The gentleman and his daughter would light their last candle at St. Matthew’s on November 17, 1963. Daddy would be going on a trip related to his work later that week. Although he would not light a candle there ever again his casket would be brought to that very same Church on November 25, 1963, for his Funeral Mass. His mortal remains would lie in that Church during the Funeral Mass and then would be brought to Arlington National Cemetery where, like all the faithful, they await the hope of the resurrection.
I am sure you realize by now that the gentleman to whom I am referring was the thirty third President of the United States, John F. Kennedy. The little girl who loved to light the candle with her father is, of course, Caroline B. Kennedy who now serves as the American Ambassador to Japan. “Uncle Joe” was Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. the older brother of the president.
I write of this charming incident to illustrate how the lighting of a candle seems to bring comfort and consolation to the believer and glory and honor to God. The lighting of candles is as old as Christianity itself and has often sustained the faithful in hardship and difficulty. It sustained President Kennedy through many hardships
Very often as I have walked the grounds of the parish I see how the faithful love to visit our chapel. The chapel is open Monday through Friday from 7.30am until 4.00pm. Of course it also open later on First Fridays and is also open on First Saturday. Many have entered the chapel and have asked to light a candle. I prayed that somehow God would allow for this to happen.
I am so happy that now we have candles for the faithful to light in the chapel. They are real candles, living flames, and a sign of faith, hope and love. It is my fond hope that many of our parishioners will avail themselves of this opportunity and visit the Blessed Sacrament and there light a candle. If these candles prove to be used by our dear parishioners, I’d like to replace the electric candles in the Church with a living and true light of the real candles.
So I would encourage all of you to visit the chapel and there light a candle for “Uncle Joe,” or for whatever is the intention of your heart and soul. Light candles for your loved ones, living and deceased. Parents, light candles for your children, and children light candles for your parents.
St. Joseph: A very kind and generous parishioner has donated a beautiful statue of St. Joseph for our chapel. The statue was hand carved in Italy and is of exceptional beauty and quality. St. Joseph is depicted accurately, as a young man. The statue was blessed on St. Joseph’s Day and is now in its permanent home where he will sanctify the parishioners of St. Paul’s for many generations. The donor, who wishes to remain anonymous, has given the statue in loving memory of Monsignor Mario C. Costa. Because we now have this beautiful statue we will add to our after Mass Novenas. Beginning on Wednesday of this week (March 26th) we will pray weekly the Novena in honor of St. Joseph after the 8.00am Mass. Wednesday is the day traditionally devoted to St. Joseph.
Lent: I was so pleased with the turnout for our first parish Lenten Soup Supper on Friday March 14th. Many of our parishioners came to this simple Lenten meal and then proceeded to the Church to pray the Way of the Cross. The supper was prepared and served by our squires who assist the parish and me in so many endeavors. May God bless and reward them.
Please remember that on each Friday of Lent we pray the Way of the Cross at 7.30 in the evening in the Church. On each of the Wednesdays of Lent there is a Holy Hour of Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament from 7.30 ending with Benediction at 8.30. During the Holy Hour I will try to offer a brief meditation.
CMA: I am pleased that as of today our good parishioners have pledged 94.97% of our parish goal to the Catholic Ministries Appeal. This will be of great assistance to the parish and may God bless and reward you. I am so grateful that during my first year as pastor the CMA has been so successful.
Bishop Andrzej: On Tuesday of this week we will celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary (it is exactly nine months before Christmas). On that day the angel Gabriel came to Mary and asked her to become the Mother of Our Great God and Savior Jesus Christ. An old legend tells us that even the birds of spring stop building their nests in honor of the great mystery of the Word becoming Flesh. It is believed that God created the world on March 25th and the first Good Friday, the day of Our Lord’s death was March 25th. On that wonderful Solemnity Bishop Andrzej will be consecrated a Bishop at St. Agnes Cathedral. Bishop Andrzej has been a dear friend to St. Paul’s and we will all be praying for him. Bishop Andrzej will come to St. Paul’s to give Confirmation to our dear students on May 17th and at that time he will also bless the outdoor shrine of St. Paul which a generous parishioner has donated to the parish. Bishop Andrzej will also be the Regional Vicar for the Western Vicariate of which St. Paul’s is part. Thus Bishop Andrzej will be our Vicar and we wish him many years in health and happiness.
May we all keep a Blessed Lent so that with confidence and assurance we may look upon Our Lord’s glorious face at Easter.
Benedicat Virgo Maria!
In Jesus and Mary,
Monsignor James F. Pereda