Why do we offer Mass for the Dead

11-08-2020Weekly ReflectionFather William Saunders

The offering of Mass for the repose of the soul of the faithful departed is linked with our belief in Purgatory. We believe that if a person has died fundamentally believing in God but with venial sins and the hurt caused by sin, then God in His divine love and mercy will first purify the soul After this purification has been completed, the soul will have the holiness and purity needed to share in the beatific vision in heaven. While each individual stands judgment before the Lord and must render an account of his life, the communion of the Church shared on this earth continues, except for those souls dammed to hell.

The Vatican Council II affirmed, "This sacred council accepts loyally the venerable faith of our ancestors in the living communion which exists between us and our brothers who are in the glory of heaven or who are yet being purified after their death..." (Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, No. 51). Therefore, just as we pray for each other and share each other's burdens now, the faithful on earth can offer prayers and sacrifices to help the departed souls undergoing purification, and no better prayer could be offered than that of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

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Declarations of Pope Francis Regarding Civil Unions

11-01-2020Weekly ReflectionRaymond Leo Cardinal Burke

The worldwide communications media have reported with strong emphasis, as a change of course, the news that Pope Francis has declared that persons in the homosexual condition, as children of God, “have a right to have a family” and that “no one should be thrown out or be made unhappy because of it.” Moreover, they write that he has declared: “What we have to create is a civil union. In this way they will be legally covered. I have defended this.” The declarations were made in an interview with Evgeny Afineevsky, director of a documentary, “Francesco,” premiered on October 21, 2020, on the occasion of the Rome Film Festival (Festa del Film di Roma).

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Marriage and Family Life

10-11-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

70. The family founded upon marriage is the basic cell of human society. The role, responsibilities, and needs of families should be central national priorities. Marriage must be defined, recognized, and protected as a lifelong exclusive commitment between a man and a woman, and as the source of the next generation and the protective haven for children.8 The institution of marriage is undermined by the ideology of "gender" that dismisses sexual difference and the complementarity of the sexes and falsely presents "gender" as nothing more than a social construct or psychological reality, which a person may choose at variance with his or her biological reality (see Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, no. 224). As Pope Francis has taught, "the removal of [sexual] difference creates a problem, not a solution" (General Audience, April 22, 2015). "Thus the Church reaffirms . . . her no to 'gender' philosophies, because the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator" (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Jan. 19, 2013). This affirmation in no way compromises the Church's opposition to unjust discrimination against those who experience "deep-seated homosexual tendencies," who "must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2358).

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Applying Catholic Teaching to Major Issues

10-04-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

63. Politics is a noble mission to promote the common good. As such, it is about ethics and principles as well as issues, candidates, and officeholders. To engage in “politics,” then, is more than getting involved in current polemics and debates; it is about acting with others and through institutions for the benefit of all. The fact that much of our political rhetoric has become very negative and that political polarization seems to have grown should not dissuade us from the high calling to work for a world that allows everyone to thrive, a world in which all persons, all families, have what they need to fulfill their God given destiny. In our democracy, one aspect of this task for all of us requires that we weigh issues and related policies. In this brief summary, we bishops call attention to issues with significant moral dimensions that should be carefully considered in each campaign and as policy decisions are made in the years to come. As the descriptions below indicate, some issues involve principles that can never be abandoned, such as the fundamental right to life and marriage as the union of one man and one woman. Others reflect our judgment about the best way to apply Catholic principles to policy issues. No summary could fully reflect the depth and details of the positions taken through the work of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). While people of good will may sometimes choose different ways to apply and act on some of our principles, Catholics cannot ignore their inescapable moral challenges or simply dismiss the Church’s guidance or policy directions that flow from these principles. For a more complete review of these policy directions and their moral foundations, see the statements listed at the end of this document.

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Why Does the Church Teach About Issues Affecting Public Policy?

09-27-2020Weekly ReflectionThe United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship - A Call to Political Responsibility From the Catholic Bishops of the United States

Why Does the Church Teach About Issues Affecting Public Policy?

The Church’s teachings concerning contingent situations are subject to new and further developments and can be open to discussion, yet we cannot help but be concrete—without presuming to enter into details—lest the great social principles remain mere generalities which challenge no one. . . . The Church’s pastors, taking into account the contributions of the different sciences, have the right to offer opinions in all that affects people’s lives, since the task of evangelization implies and demands the integral promotion of each human being. 14 (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, no. 182)

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Evidence Shows Mass is Safe When Guidelines are Followed, Doctors Say…

09-06-2020Weekly Reflection(Article form the Catholic News Agency)

CNA Staff, Aug 25, 2020 / 02:52 am MT (CNA).- Evidence suggests that church services following public health guidelines do not present a greater risk of spreading the novel coronavirus than other similar activities, doctors said last week. Washing hands, social distancing, and mask requirements have helped prevent the spread of COVID-19, even in cases when contagious, pre-symptomatic parishioners took part in church events, three members of the Thomistic Institute Working Group on Infectious Disease Protocols for Sacraments & Pastoral Care concluded. Doctors Thomas McGovern, Deacon Timothy Flanigan, and Paul Cieslak authored an article for Real Clear Science on Mass attendance and COVID-19 Aug. 19.

“For Catholic churches following [the] guidelines, no outbreaks of COVID-19 have been linked to church attendance, even though we have examples ... of asymptomatic, unknowingly infected individuals attending mass and other parish functions,” they wrote. “Their attendance could have led to an outbreak if appropriate precautions were not followed, yet in each case, we found no evidence of viral transmission.”

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The Integrity of Human Love (Part 1)

08-23-2020Weekly ReflectionDavid S. Crawford

As a convert, I am sometimes asked what brought me into the Catholic faith. Conversion cannot be reduced to a simple formula, but the answer for me, at least in part, was being deeply struck and attracted by the truth and beauty of the Church’s understanding of marriage. We often hear that the Church’s teachings on marriage and sex drive people away, but this certainly not my own response as a husband and father.

When it comes to such topics, it is easy for people to reject the Church’s teachings out of hand. This is certainly the case with Blessed Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, which for 50 years has been much maligned but seldom read.

Contrary to popular belief, the Catholic Church is not opposed to sex. Rather, an examination of some of Humanae Vitae’s key teachings — including the four characteristics of married love and the inseparable connection of the meanings of sex — reveals the Church’s high regard for sex, viewed in its proper context.

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Internet Allows Priests in Flemington to Continue Catechizing to World

08-16-2020Weekly ReflectionKaren Corpora

Many people are familiar with the EWTN show, “Web of Faith 2.0” which Father Kenneth D. Brighenti and Father John Trigilio Jr., have been cohosting for the past 10 years. Many more individuals, especially parishioners of St. Magdalen de Pazzi Parish, were introduced to a new version of the show during the pandemic.

Once the coronavirus spread, Father Brighenti, pastor of St. Magdalen, and Father Trigilio, Jr., who had been teaching at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary, Emmitsburg, Md., until the coronavirus caused a lockdown and he moved into the Hunterdon County parish, decided to do a quarantined version of their show. Posted on the parish’s website and YouTube, “Web of Faith 2.1½” is filmed in the parish rectory.

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That Sin, Again?

08-09-2020Weekly ReflectionBr. Luke VanBerkum, O.P.

Have you ever confessed a sin and then, no matter how earnestly you intended to amend your life, had the desire to commit that sin again? Why aren’t we simply fixed after Confession?

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession that our sins may be forgiven and that we may return to friendship with him. He renews our souls, again filling them through the Holy Spirit with the many spiritual gifts first given to us at Baptism. Yet a certain inclination to sin—not the sin itself—remains. The Tradition calls this inclination the fomes peccati, the tinder for sin, or, we might say, the dregs (CCC 1264). These dregs of sin stick around in our minds through the memories of evil committed, and they also remain in our desires through the habitual bad decisions and actions that shape us. As the desires surface, they hurt quite a bit, but as long as they remain temptations we refrain from sinning.

These pinpricks of the desire to return to past sin are what we might call with St. Paul “thorn[s] in the flesh” (2 Cor 12:7). The temptations to commit that same old sin frustrate us, but the grace of Confession helps us to see these temptations in a new light.

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Praise in the Midst of Pain

08-02-2020Weekly ReflectionBrother Anthony Van Berkum O.P.

“I pray the Divine Praises when I’m in pain.”

I’ve been visiting hospital patients this summer, and I have had the privilege of hearing many beautiful expressions of faith. This one particularly struck me; it’s such a jarring image. Praise is not my first reaction to pain, but as soon as I heard this I couldn’t help but see that it could be, and perhaps even should be. We can combat the evil that afflicts us by praising the goodness of God right in the midst of its attack. Often when we are seriously in pain, a prayer recited hastily from memory is all that we can manage. And in that moment, such a prayer is enough. Now, though, we are at liberty to begin to reflect on this prayer more deeply. In so doing, we can prepare ourselves to confront pain by glorifying God’s everlasting goodness. Blessed be God.

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Fruitful Follower

07-12-2020Weekly ReflectionFather Brighenti

Dear Parish Family,

Ultimately there are two things to which we’re called —to holiness and mission, to be a faithful disciple and an ardent apostle — and in today’s parable, Jesus helps us to understand both better, instructing us how to be a fruitful follower and an effective evangelist, how to hear God’s word well and proclaim it well, how to receive God’s grace and how to live in accordance with it. In the Parable of the Sower, the Seed and the Soil, Jesus tells us that good soil produces fruit, and not just a little fruit, but abundant fruit: 30, 60 or 100 fold, all huge numbers according to the Jewish mentality of the age. Do we listen to God’s word with the intention to bear great fruit? Do we respond to God’s work in our lives with an openness and a desire to do something great for him? Just as a sower would scatter seed over all four types of earth, so Jesus scatters his word, his grace, his saving deeds over all four kinds of people represented by the respective soil samples. We see all four soil types among his first listeners. The big question is how we’re going to listen: whether we’re truly going to hear with our ears and be converted, whether we’re going to receive what he teaches on good soil and allow that word to bear abundant fruit in our lives, or whether we’re going to receive what he says on the three types of soil that end up bearing little or no fruit at all.

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Follow Him

07-05-2020Weekly ReflectionFather Brighenti

Dear Parish Family,

In today’s readings, Jesus praises the Father and invites us to follow Him. Jesus speaks lovingly and gently when he invites all those who are weary and burdened with life to seek relief and respite in him. He says, “Your souls will find rest, for my yoke is easy and my burden light.”. During these difficult times, let us come to Him for comfort and prayer. Thanks be to God, the Church is now slowly starting to get back to some sort of normalcy. Our Masses have restarted and slowly we are seeing the parishioners come back. How wonderful it is to see our families in Church again!

The Bishop was very clear that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass will remain in effect until further notice. It is not a sin, in any way to not attend Mass especially if you are elderly or have underlining conditions where it is necessary for you to keep the Stay at Home Orders. The decision regarding whether to attend Mass is left to the individual. If you or someone in your household is ill, especially with a fever or flu like symptoms please do not enter the Church.

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