My column in this week's bulletin is going to consist of a mish-mash of news about things that are happening in our parish. Today (Sunday), is ordinarily the Feast of St. Blaise – a bishop who lived in Armenia and was martyred for his faith. Because a boy – who was choking to death from something caught in his windpipe – was suddenly healed when Bishop Blaise blessed him, Catholics traditionally have their throats blessed on his Feast Day. This blessing of St. Blaise is an act of faith in God's power over illness, and a prayer for protection against illness and evil. Everyone is invited to remain after Mass today to have their throat blessed.
This Sunday is Boy Scout Sunday in our parish. For this reason, some of the Boy and Cub Scouts from our area will attend the 9 AM Mass together. A number of them will be recognized for earning their Catholic Religious Awards – and I want to offer each of them my sincere congratulations.
I would also like to recognize Mark Zgoda, a young man of our parish who received the St. Timothy Award from our bishop last Saturday evening. The St. Timothy Award is given to a high school junior or senior who not only lives the Catholic Faith, but shows leadership in doing so. Many of the "regulars" at the 7 AM Sunday Mass are familiar with Mark, who has faithfully served that Mass for 10 years! He is a Christian gentleman who takes his faith seriously, and often brings others to Church with him. I want to congratulate him and his family.
Our bishop has asked our entire diocese to observe a Year of Spiritual Awakening that will culminate in the consecration of our diocese to Our Lady of Guadalupe. The consecration will happen on Our Lady of Guadalupe's Feast Day in December. Until that time, we will do a whole bunch of things to deepen our faith and learn why such a consecration is a good thing to do.
Among other things, we will say a special Prayer to Our Lady of Guadalupe at the beginning of Holy Mass each week – just after the announcements and before the Entrance Procession. We will also have an Our Lady of Guadalupe Kit that families can take home for a week. The kit contains a DVD to be watched, prayers to be said, and a beautiful image of Our Blessed Mother to keep in your home for the week. When the week is over, you return the kit to the Church (or parish office) so that the next family can take it. It is my hope that every family will take a turn with the kit this year.
There is an insert in this week's bulletin with a lot more about Our Lady of Guadalupe. It includes a tear off "sign up" sheet that you can use to sign up for the kit. Please fill it out and return it in the collection next week – or drop it at the parish office. We will make a schedule and get the whole thing going within the next week or so. Finally, I want to thank everyone who came to the meeting with our Bishop in Mercy Hall last Wednesday. Many people had a chance to speak and ask questions about the whole Fr. Tom situation. Some parents at the meeting asked for help in speaking about this with their children and teens. After doing some research, I found the following articles on line.
A website called Peanut Butter and Grace (www.pbgrace.com) has an excellent article entitled: "The Clerical Abuse Scandals: What Parents Can Do and How to Talk With Kids" [Click here to read.]. Catholic News Agency (CNA) had an article called "How to Talk to Children about the Church Sex Abuse Scandal" [Click here to read.]. I personally found both of them helpful – and the first one especially so. I offer them to parents and hope you find them helpful!
In the meantime, please say a Hail Mary for me today and every day. You are most certainly in my daily prayers.
Have a great week!