From Father Steven - March 19, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week I would like to give you an update on some of our seminarians.
Last week I was present at the ceremony presided by Cardinal Sean at the seminary in which four seminarians (Vincenzo Caruso, Rafael Milla, Luis Alberto Piceno, Mateus Martins) were accepted as official candidates to become priests. The technical term is that they were admitted (Admissio) as candidates (Candidacy) to the Holy Orders. The rite was centered on a dialogue between the Cardinal and those four seminarians, who confirmed their willingness to complete their preparation to the priesthood, as a response to the Lord’s call, to spiritual formation in order to become faithful ministers of Christ and of his body which is the Church. The Cardinal then welcomed their intention, blessing them so that they may persevere in their vocation, and, united to Christ the High Priest, become authentic apostles of the Gospel. Below is their picture. You may recognize Rafael and Mateus as our seminarians assigned to our parish.
Other great news is that Gabriel Hanley (the tall, lean seminarian who sings very well) will be ordained transitional deacon on the morning of May 13th at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This would be the last step before the ordination as a priest. During his final year of formation, Gabriel will focus on pastoral and liturgical preparation as he will have a weekend assigned, besides continuing his studies in the seminary. If you have never seen an ordination, or if you have never been at the cathedral, this would be a great opportunity for everyone.
Some of you may have heard, that the Redemptoris Seminary will be hosting their 11th Gala Dinner on April 30th. This year the honorees will be Cardinal Sean and Jack Bassick. It’s a large event with many friends from the seminary that is being reassumed after COVID. If someone is interested, you may call the parish office or visit their website (www.rmsboston.org/galadinner). If someone does purchase tickets, please let us know so that we can try to sit everyone from IC together.
From Father Steven - March 12, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
On these next Sundays, those who are preparing to be baptized on Easter, called the Elect, will have some special rites during Mass called Scrutinies. I would like to explain a bit what these rites are. Part of the text was taken from an article from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
In the Rite of Christian Initiation, the Scrutinies that take place at Mass on the third, fourth and fifth Sundays of Lent are intended to help the Elect to “uncover then heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful in the hearts of the elect” and “to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong and good.” (RCIA, 141) They are about the overwhelming grace of God in Christ, who helps us overcome our sinfulness. In other words, the Scrutinies are God’s way of taking a close, loving look at the Elect. God does not scrutinize us (or baptismal candidates) in order to find everything that’s wrong with them, but to celebrate all that is beautiful and good and true in them. Practically speaking, there will be some prayers and imposition of hands over the Elect. One of those prayers are exorcisms. They are not fearful moments of driving out demons (like Hollywood), but grace-filled encounters with the Spirit’s healing touch.
Up to this point in their formation, the Elect have been instructed about the mystery of sin and everyone’s longing to be delivered from sin’s present and future consequences. They have been encouraged to identify the evils, temptations and falsehoods from which they need to be released so that they can live freely for the Kingdom of God. These falsehoods include some of today’s most powerful forces, like materialism, consumerism, sexism, racism, idolatry, malevolence, selfishness, prejudices, addictions, just to name a few. These are the cultural “demons” that can destroy our lives if we let them.
Having done this examination, an exorcism is prayed over the Elect. Through these prayers, falsehoods, blindness and the spirit of evil are renounced so that the individual might be liberated by grace from any obstacles that remain before celebrating the Sacraments of Initiation. The exorcism prayers conclude with a petition that the Elect may be strengthened to continue on their way to the waters of baptism.
One special significance of the Scrutinies is that the readings for Mass on the Sundays these rites are celebrated are taken from Lectionary Cycle A, regardless of which Cycle is currently being read. This is so the Elect may be filled with Christ the Redeemer, who is living water (John 4; Gospel of the Samaritan woman at the well; first scrutiny), the light of the world (John 9; Gospel of the man born blind; second scrutiny), and the resurrection and the life (John 11; Gospel of the raising of Lazarus; third scrutiny). These passages help to teach the Elect about God and the power of baptism. They can also be said to be the transformation that God wants to do in them, namely, bring them from sin to repentance, from thirst to satisfaction; from illness to health; from darkness to light; from death to new life. Jesus encounters three people in these Gospels, and they are changed forever.
But if you have already been baptized and are at a Mass with a Scrutiny, please join in praying for the Elect. And listen to the words of the intercessions and the prayers, and reflect on their meaning for your life, too. Just because you and I are already baptized does not mean we no longer need Jesus to search us and behold us! Let the Scrutinies call you to the living waters, to the light, to new life. Let them call you to a closer walk with Christ.
From Father Steven - March 5, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
On this Second Sunday of Lent, we are presented with Mount Tabor, where the Transfiguration of Our Lord takes place. On the first reading, we hear Abram (Abraham) being invited by God to leave his house in order to start a journey with the Lord. During this time of Lent we are all called to (re)start/continue our Divine journey as well. This journey we know leads us to experience a transfiguration like Jesus. This transformation is not about being a better person or correcting the mistakes in life, but rather to be like Christ. It means that God wants us to experience His glory, which is manifested in the resurrection of the dead. This Gospel is placed on the second week of Lent to help us to be focused on our goal during this time, namely, Easter. It is on Easter where we have the possibility to experience the resurrection of Christ. However, every time we are forgiven in the sacrament of the reconciliation we experience this same resurrection. From the death of sin, we pass over to life with God. Also, when we are reconciled with each other whether a spouse, siblings, children. As Abraham was invited to leave behind the security and the comfort to follow the call of the Lord, we are all called to discern what He is inviting us to do.
On a similar note, we have people here in the parish who have recently started their journey with the Lord. These brothers and sisters are preparing themselves to become Catholics this Easter. They all will be baptized, receive first communion and be confirmed. Last week they all were welcomed by the Cardinal to the Church at the Cathedral along with everyone else who will be baptized on Easter. Therefore, with great joy, I would like to present them to you and ask for your prayers to them. They are: Nina, Kirby, Andrea, Jackie, Tayla, Anabella, Ana Carolina, Samuel, Isabelly, Matheus, Milena, Luiza, Soffi, Sofia, Gabriel, Stephany, Sofia Martins, Ruan, Lucas, and Rhoger. Each week there will be different rituals at the 9am, 11am, and 1pm Mass as part of their preparations. Feel free to join us!
From Father Steven - February 26, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Lent is indeed a beautiful time in which the Lord invites us to return with our whole hearts to him. The early Fathers of the Church would refer to Lent as a time of betrothal with the Lord. However, we need help with this process, just as with our lives.
When we were children, the Church provided a catechism to introduce us to the ways of God. Just as in school, when we were in grammar school, we learned the basics. As adults, we learned very little about the ways of the Lord. It is as if we are now in post-graduate studies and we skipped most of our school years. Imagine if we had to do high-end calculus engineering when we barely remember the multiplication tables. Such is our situation when we have to face the hardships of life with our basic knowledge from CCD. Surely this may not be the case of everyone, but probably it’s the case of many of us. We find ourselves married, with children and no one taught us how to go from there. We also might have family and friends in this situation. How could we help others when we ourselves don’t have answers?
In its motherly way, the Church provides for all of us many possibilities to be helped. One of these ways, is through a series of talks Mondays and Thursday’s starting this Monday in the Church hall (school hall). These talks will be focused on Conversion, the Scriptures, the Eucharist, and provides an opportunity to begin a journey with God, or a school of faith if you will. God wants to give us the necessary graces for us to be enlightened of our cross, understand and be reconciled with the events of our lives, and to grow closer to the Lord. With all the approvals and seals of the Vatican, Pope Benedict has called this itinerary of faith as “a special gift inspired by the Holy Spirit”. Saint Pope John Paul II in 1988 recognized that we were living in a period of de-Christianization. He said, “it seems that the faithful, those baptized years ago, are no longer mature enough to oppose secularization and the ideologies which are contrary not only to the Church, to the Catholic religion, but also to religion in general; they are atheistic, indeed anti-theist.” Then referring to these talks he acknowledges “in different environments, [it tries] to rebuild what has been broken down”. These talks were inspired by the Virgin Mary who saw the need to create communities like the Holy Family, where they may live in humility, simplicity and praise, where the other is Christ.
Personally, I have experienced these talks in my family and in my own life. First, it has helped to bring my father to Church, where he received his first communion at the age of 38. It helped their marriage and how to raise two teenagers, even though, as you well know, I was the one giving them trouble. In my life, when all I was taught was that to be happy you had to be successful, I found myself in great anguish. I was successful in many ways, and still unhappy. Wanting to please people, I could not be myself, wearing different masks depending on the environment. Instead, after listening to these talks, I found myself in a community of different people that loved each other. I was not alone with my problems. It helped me to open my ears to listen to God, to put him first in my life. Surely there were struggles, but having a small community of truly brothers and sisters that knew each other’s difficulties made visible to me the immense love of God for me. It’s because of this that today I still believe in God, am still in the Church, and am a happy priest.
Therefore, if you or someone that you know feels lost in this world, feels that nothing changes in your lives, that God seems to be far away or we are stuck in some situation, come and listen. Christ, the good shepherd comes to rescue us, to place us with great joy on his shoulders, and to bring us back to himself. We will only find out if this is for us if we give it a fair shot to God. I did it once, and look what he did for me!!! I’m sure He will do many greater things for you as well.
Father Steven Clemence