By: Father James E. Shea, C.Ss.R.
Dear Parishioners and Friends:
The fish weren’t biting. But that didn’t matter. Our friend, an atheist, was enjoying a quiet day our on the water. Suddenly something hit his boat. He looked over the side of the boat. It was the Loch Ness monster. The atheist hung on for dear life. The monster swam under the boat, raised its head and flipped the boat high in the air. The monster opened its mouth waiting for the atheist and boat to come back down. As the atheist and boat was approaching the monster’s open wide jaws, everything froze in place. There hung the atheist staring into the jaws of the Loch Ness monster. Without thinking the atheist shouted, “Oh God! Oh God! Help me!”
A moment later a resounding voice came out of the heavens, saying, “I thought you didn’t believe in me!” “Come on, God, give me some slack,” the man pleaded. “I didn’t believe in the Loch Ness monster either!”
In the month of October we are reminded of the most precious gift given to human beings. It is the gift of life. It is a gift from God. Every human being has a right to this gift. We believe that no one has the authority to deprive a human being of life. For it is God who gives and God who takes away. Bless the name of God. With October being the Respect Life month, we must ask ourselves if we are a nation of believers or atheists. If atheists deny that there is a God then they also must deny that life comes from God. We don’t know where they think life comes from. As believers, we hold that the gift of life and the inalienable right to life comes from God.
There are many ways that humans usurp the power of God by preventing or destroying human life. Our government has legalized abortion. Many states use capital punishment. Euthanasia is becoming more popular, or as Dr. Kevorkian called it, ‘assisted suicide.’ Then there is in vitro fertilization. Unfortunately, in IVF, children are engendered though a technical process, subjected to “quality control,” and eliminated if found “defective.” We destroy life in many ways.
Scriptural tradition, Christian tradition and Catholic tradition all make sacred the gift of life. We do not subscribe to abortion, euthanasia or capital punishment. We subscribe to LIFE. Not only is the month of October Respect life month, but it is also a month dedicated to the rosary. Next Saturday we celebrate the memorial of the most holy rosary. We call up Mary, the mother of Christ, to intercede for us as we say the rosary.
On Saturday, October 7th we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary. The title of Our Lady of the Rosary can be traced to an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary to Saint Dominic. According to Dominican tradition, in 1208, St. Dominic was in Prouille, France, attempting to convert the heretical Albigensians. Dominic was meeting little success until one day he received a vision of the Blessed Virgin, who gave him the Rosary as a tool against the heretics. This feast was originally entitled ‘Our Lady of Victory’ as a reminder of The Battle of Lepanto. The Catholic Holy League defeated the Ottoman Empire in this battle on October 7, 1571. The faithful were praying the rosary during the five hour battle. In 1573, Pope Gregory XIII changed the title of the feast to “The Feast of the Holy Rosary.” Pope Pius X declared that the date of the Holy Rosary would be October 7th. When Mary appeared to the children at Fatima she said, “I am the Lady of the Rosary.” Monday we celebrate the memorial of the holy Guardian Angels. Then, on Tuesday we honor Saint Francis of Assisi.
And let’s not forget the guardian angels. We honor them on Monday. A minister was visiting the homes of his parishioners. He did not bother calling ahead to set up an appointment. His style was to ring the doorbell unannounced. He came upon the home of a newly married couple. He rang the doorbell. There was a slight pause. Then he heard a woman’s voice shouting, “Is that you, angel?” The minister shouted back, “No, but I’m from the same department.”
No one had ever seen an angel. No one has ever heard an angel speak. No one knows for sure whether angels have wings. So, what do angels look like? The look like the little old lady who returned your wallet yesterday. Like the clerk who told you that your eyes light up the world when you smile. Like the small child who showed you the wonder of creation in simple things. Like the poor man who offered to share his lunch with a stranger. Like the motorist who just happened to come along when your tire went flat. Like the friend who embraced you when you heard about the death of your mother.
They are hard to find when your eyes are closed. Yet angels are everywhere you look, when you chose to look for them. An angel could be standing in line with you at the grocery store. Or perhaps an angel is sitting next to you in the theatre. Or in that car which speeds by you on the highway.
Saint Francis of Assisi founded the men’s Order of Friars Minor, the women’s Order of St. Clare, and the Third Order of Saint Francis. St. Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. He became associated with patronage of animals and the natural environment, and it became customary for Catholic churches to hold ceremonies blessing animals on his feast day of October 4th. He is often remembered as the patron saint of animals.
On 13 March 2013, upon his election of Pope, Archbishop and Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina chose Francis as his papal name in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. He chose the name because he was especially concerned for the well-being of the poor. Before being elected pope Cardinal Claudio Hummes had embraced him and whispered, “Don’t forget the poor,” which had made Bergoglio think of Saint Francis. Bergoglio had previously expressed his admiration for St. Francis, explaining that “He brought to Christianity an idea of poverty against the luxury, pride, vanity of the civil and ecclesiastical powers of the time.”
A tourist is a person who travels to see things that are different and then complains when things aren’t the same.
Fr. Jim Shea, C.Ss.R.