The English write and philosopher, G.K.Chesterton once observed:
"I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder."
On behalf of the entire parish staff, may I extend to all parishioners and friends of St Joseph's the very best as we commemorate this special day of gratitude.
P.S. Speaking of gratitude, according to the Catholic Star Herald, St Joseph's contributed $41,360 to the recent emergency collections for victims of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma...th second highest amount raised by a parish in the Diocese!
Last Sunday, an all too familiar act of violence was perpetrated at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, the ultimate "soft" target. At the time of this writing, 26 people were killed by an individual armed with an automatic rifle. The dead range from 5 to 72.
According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 307 mass shooting incidents in the United States this year. This resource uses the FBI determination of a "mass shooting" to mean the kiling of four or more people at the same time and location.
While we continue to pray for the victims of such horrendous acts,we are also called to believe that reasonable people can come together to discuss issues of iindividual rights and individual safety. Yes, the topic is complex but to simply say that this is the "new normal" may reflect an egregious abdication of responsible citizenship.
Earlier this year, Pope Franics reminded the faithful of their responsibility to create a "vocational culture" within the Church.
As part of our commemoration of National Vocation Awareness Week, our parish will be joined by John March on the weekend of November 11-12. He will be speaking at all our Masses.
John is currently a seminarian for the Diocese of Camden in his second year of theology at Immaculate Conception Seminary, on the campus of Seton Hall University, Orange, NJ.
In your name, I welcome him to St. Joseph's and assure him of our ongoing support and prayers.
I recall a poster which read "When someone you love becomes a memory ... that memory becomes a treasure."
During the month of November, the Church invites all the faithful to remember those who have blessed their lives and have passed away. Especially on All Souls Day, November 2, we join together in prayerful solidarity as we recall "those who have gone before us with the sign of faith and rest in the sleep of peace" (Eucharist Prayer I).
I invite all in our faith community to be mindful of loved ones who have died and to whom we are most indebted. May they rest in the peace of the Risen One.
While the recent weather in our region may be somewhat unusual, I came across an "Autum Prayer" composed by Father Douglas Leonhardt S.J. of Marquette University.
It may deserve a place of honor on your refrigerator door.
God of all seasons, we thank you for Autum.
We thank you
For the touch of coolness in the air that gives us a new burst of energy,
For the coloring of trees that shows the creativity of the Divine Artist,
For the falling leaves that reveal the strength of the branches,
For the hues of fields that bring peace to our souls,
For the smiles on pumpkins that bring peace to our souls,
For the smiles on pumpkins that bring joy to children,
For the fall harvest that brings us gratitude for the bounty of our land,
For this change of seasons that reveals the circle of life.
God of all seasons, as you transform the earth, transform us by your Spirit.
Once again, the parishioners and friends of St Joseph's "stepped up to the plate" with their support of the "Hand to Hand" Mission Team last weekend. Your generosity, as always, is greatly appreciated.
Given the "natural disasters in reecnt weeks and numerous requests for assistance, our parish has donated over $40,000 to the relief efforts.
In the face of several tragedies, St Joseph's continues to embody the gospel challenge of the Christian message in word and deed.
On September 28th, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise returned to Congress after being shot and seriously wounded on June 14th during a baseball practice in Alexandria, Virginia. His return was a joyous event for all in attendance as he entered, walking on cruches, but with a broad smile.
Having been recognized by the Speaker, Congressman Scalise began his remarks expressing gratitude and appreciation, "It starts with God" and, knowing he was shot, "I just started to pray ... it gave an unbelievable sense of calm knowing that at that point it was in God's hands."
Later in the day, most of the major media outlets reported these events in some detail. Of those I watched, all began with Mr. Scalise expressing gratitude to the Capital Police (quite rightly), his collegues, the skilled medical staff who attended him and his family (quite rightly, as well). Omitted from the coverage was the opening remarks of the congressman regarding his religious faith.
As I write this, the full horror of Las Vegas continues to unfold. To speak of these events, and others like them, as the new "normal" may be descriptive, but it is disquieting, as well.
Under the guise of enlightenment, have we not lost something of historic value...an abiding belief in God and His enduring message of peace..a sense of community which transcends the egocentricity of our modern age...a lived value system which nourishes our family and civic lives. To say it has been lost suggests it can be rediscovered and that may be a conscious choice which is being set before us...as individuals and instituitions.