Dear Brothers & Sisters,
When we are ordained priests, we always make a card as a memorial of such an important day. On one side there is an icon and at the back, a scriptural passage and the information of the ordination. One of the passages that I almost chose was the last sentence of today’s gospel, For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many." The reason I liked this passage is because I feel that the call of each Christian is to serve. Whether as a priest, a married person, widow or single, we are all called to serve one another. As we continue to celebrate the “Respect Life” month, today we will look into how we can serve/help others.
First of all, the service of others does not mean that we do something waiting for something else in return. Nor do we do something for an agenda or a goal that we want to achieve. We serve others because we were served by others first. I’m sorry to quote the famous saying, but it does apply to this situation as well, “everything that goes around, comes around.” Although this is often referred to something bad that is done to others comes back to oneself, so should doing something good as well. In this case, God has loved and served us before we were born.
Secondly, it is important to serve all those around us, regardless of who they are. In a passage from the Gospels (Mt 5:46/Lk 6:32) Jesus says, “If you love those who love, what credit is there, even sinners love those who love them.” In a sense, if we serve those who serve us, what credit is there? This is the least we should do. (It is true that at times we don’t serve those closest to us). We need to serve those in need. Whether it is a person begging on the streets, someone with a disabled car, giving preference for someone else to go ahead in front of you entering in a place or at the intersection. There are many ways we can serve others. We need to be attentive to the needs of others and show acts of kindness to one another so that when the occasion arises, we are there.
Thirdly, we don’t judge the other. If we see a person begging for alms, it’s very tempting to judge that person as lazy, someone who does not work by choice, or someone who will use the money for their vices. Once I heard a priest saying this and it stuck in my mind that what the other person does with the money or the help we give them, it’s something between them and God. However, whether we help that person or not, that will be between God and us! We respond only to our actions. Jesus tells us that every time we serve the least of his brothers, we serve Jesus. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you made me welcome, lacking clothes and you clothed me, sick and you visited me, in prison and you came to see me." (My 25:35-36). Therefore if we can help a person in need, we can do it out of love for God and our neighbor.
Lastly, we need serve the way we can. Some are called to be leaders on the frontlines helping others. Some are called to contribute with their goods so that people can be helped. Still others are called to support them even in little ways. There is a famous line from Mother Theresa of Calcutta, we cannot do great things, but small things with great love. Whether we can give a quarter, or more, it’s imperative to help the person with love. Even when we can’t help others, at least we can ask their names and pray for them, or wish them a blessed day. Maybe it’s a matter of being prepared to help others, so planning ahead and keep some change in the car. You may have heard the time that I didn’t have any money with me when a person asked for help. However at the time I kept a small package of Oreos in the glove compartment in case I could not have lunch. The moment gave the Oreos to this person, he was so happy and it was worth more than anything to him. Although that was my lunch for the day, his joy was my joy!
Brothers & Sisters, today at the end of mass we have another opportunity to help those in need. The Knights of Columbus will be doing their annual Tootsie-Roll drive to help children with disabilities. It’s actually known as the “Fund Drive for Children with Intellectual Disabilities” and all funds raised are distributed to agencies who provide day care, respite care, and other support services to families with children with intellectual disabilities. In 2019, the Knights in Massachusetts raised and distributed more than a quarter million dollars to more than 25 agencies in eastern Massachusetts. Our local Council #81 came in 11thamong all councils in eastern Massachusetts, and we are hoping to break into the top 10 this year.
I pray we can be generous to others as God has been generous to us! Remember, if God is good all the time and all the time God is good, let’s imitate our Heavenly Father by helping those in need around us.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
In this weekend’s Gospel, there is a young man who asks Jesus what is necessary to inherit eternal life. Immediately Jesus replies that it is necessary first to love our neighbor. So, this weekend I would like to call your attention to a group of people that need our help. As we continue the Respect Life Month, this weekend we will be focusing on the unborn children.
Recalling this weekend’s Gospel, one may think that Jesus should have begun asking the young man if he loves God above everything else. We know it’s the first commandment. The second and the third are also in reference to the love of God. Instead Jesus skips to the second grouping of the commandments, which are all focused on the love of the neighbor. One may argue that if we don’t love our neighbor first, we can’t love God. We read in the first letter of John, “If someone says, ‘I love God’, and yet hates his brother or sister, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother and sister whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20) So now the question becomes, who is my neighbor? Jesus himself in the parable of the good Samaritan tells us that our neighbor is those in need close to us. In our society we do have a lot of people in need. So, WHO SHOULD WE HELP? EVERYONE!!!! The poor, the needy, the stranger…everyone that God puts in our path. Surely there might be times in which our help may be limited, but there is always, at least something small, that we can do. However, there is a group of people that REALLY NEED OUR HELP, who are COMPLETELY DEFENSELESS, that don’t have anyone to defend them, and they are the UNBORN.
We believe in the Church that life begins at the moment of conception. We know from science, that the child begins his development from that moment. Week by week we can observe the formation of the heart, brain, and all the other organs. However, at that stage in life, they are completely vulnerable to all sorts of things, including the hardships of the mother. In my short time as a priest, many people who had an abortion say that they did not see any other feasible solution other than abortion. Today, with much regret, they understand it was the wrong decision. They see that there were indeed other ways to deal with the pregnancy. That’s why when we raise our voices against abortion, it’s not about the mother or the unwanted pregnancy. The main problem is that abortion is not and never will be a way to deal with pregnancy. Whether the federal government grants legal rights to the unborn child or not, we understand that there is a divine mandate to love and respect every single person, including those in the womb. That child has an innate right to live. So, when facing a situation in which the mother cannot raise the child, the annihilation of her baby is not the solution. Unfortunately, we also see how there is an industry that came about exploiting this vulnerable moment for the women. Allow me to make a very important note here. More often than not, the burden of the pregnancy falls on the woman, because the man does not take responsibility. For them it is very easy to run away or abandon their partner, which is very worrisome. If the father of the child were to stand with his partner, I believe that a number of them would not search for an abortion.
In light of this situation, WHAT CAN WE DO? We, as the Church, always pray for the mothers, the fathers, and the unborn. We have dedicated holy hours for the unborn and for the healing of anyone who had an abortion. Here in the Archdiocese we have the Project Rachel, which is a healing ministry for women. There are pregnancy help centers (we have two in Marlboro), and much more. This weekend there is one more way in which we can help the babies. Back in December, here in Massachusetts, the State Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing a legislation expanding the abortion laws, overriding the veto from Gov. Baker. Besides lowering the age of abortion, and removing the consent of parents for minors, the law also allows children who were born alive from an abortion to die. After a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court intervention, we were allowed to collect signatures to place a petition for next year ballots to protect these babies who survive an abortion. At the end of the masses this weekend, those would like to support this cause, we ask you to sign the petition. The petition forms are town specific, so please sign only the town in which you are registered to vote. This is a voluntary signature drive.
Regarding last week’s bulletin, in which we were also asked to help the elderly against the physician assisted suicide bill, below is the contact information of our State Senator and Representative.
James Eldridge State Senator - 617-722-1120 and Danielle Gregoire, Representative - 617-722-2140.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week we have a very important pro-life message. As I wrote last week, the term “Pro-Life” includes all issues regarding life, from conception to natural death and anything in between. In this year in which we dedicated to St. Joseph, we are called to be protectors of Life, especially those who are vulnerable. This week I would like to call your attention regarding a new bill that soon will be up for vote regarding Physician Assisted Suicide. Please read the important message below from all the Bishops from Massachusetts. I, personally, believe that people need companionship and support in harsh moments, and not to end their pain. Recently with Fr Przemek, we witnessed a miracle of a couple who truly reconciled after almost 20 years of total disagreement. It only happened due to his pain on his deathbed. And there are many graces (and miracles) that happen in these moments, where we can unite our suffering to that of Christ, and, therefore, prepare ourselves for heaven.
LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD
Say NO to Physician Assisted Suicide
The Massachusetts State Legislature is considering passing into law two deeply troubling bills this session which would legalize Physician Assisted Suicide. The bills, House 2381 and Senate 1384, are identical in text and titled “An Act relative to end of life options”.
“The Catholic Bishops of Massachusetts stand united in our strong opposition to Physician Assisted Suicide. It is an affront to life and a dangerous precedent for determining end of life issues. Physicians are trained to care for the ill, not to hasten death.”1
Here are some facts to consider before you take action:
The bills would allow a physician to provide a deadly drug mixture to an individual diagnosed with less than 6 months to live that, when consumed, would cause death.
NOTE- That diagnosis could be wrong. Countless individuals have outlived that 6 month diagnosis and enjoyed many more precious months and years with family and friends.
No Real Safeguards - A vulnerable individual (who could be depressed or fears being a “burden”) may be subject to undue influence by others to take the drug mixture, especially if there is a financial benefit as an incentive.
The primary focus of elected officials should be dedicated to legislation providing quality health care, mental health care and palliative care to the sick and dying – particularly in the underserved, poor and minority communities that suffer the most at the time of need.
How can your voice be heard?
Call or email your legislators, let them know you are a Massachusetts voter, and say NO Physician Assisted Suicide! Log on to www.macatholic.org and follow the links to find contact information for:
Your individual State Senator and Representative via address and zip code link.
Members of the legislative Joint Committee on Public Health who will be considering these bills.
For individuals without internet access, please call the Massachusetts Catholic Conference at 617-746-5630 for legislative contact information.
Boston Pilot - Statement of the four Roman Catholic Bishops of Boston, Fall River, Springfield, and Worcester (December 8, 2017)
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we are about to start Respect Life Month in October, I would like to address the issue about Pro-Life as being really Pro-Life and not anti-abortion or other misconceptions that one might have. Part of this letter is based on an article by the National Catholic Report from July 15, 2018 entitled “What Does it REALLY Mean to be “Pro-Life’?”
First of all, the Church does not hate anyone nor does it shun any person for doing something. Often we hear that the Church condemns a person who committed abortion or has same sex attraction. Actually, it is the contrary. The Church has great love always for the PEOPLE, especially when they are hurt or left abandoned by what they did. The condemnation is always towards the ACTION. We speak against abortion, euthanasia, approval of homosexual union. Therefore as the first point, it’s fundamental the understanding that the universal call to love (Love one another as I have loved you) does not exclude anyone.
The Second point, the Church has in it’s core that the human life is sacred from the moment of conception to the natural death. That entails also the promotion and the defense of the dignity of every human person. By extension of the human person, we can also add the holiness of human family that will come out of this same idea. The order in which was spelled out, is not by accident. In our last elections, there was a lot of debate as to what does it mean to be Pro-Life, the care of other people such as migrants and helping the general population or the end of abortion. (this is not an accurate description of the debate, but very vaguely written). Pro-Life and life issues are far broader than these “hot-topics.” There is a hierarchy among offenses that involve direct attack against innocent human life. Pope Saint John Paul II, in his Encyclical The Gospel of Life, provides a sort of categorization based on a Pastoral Constitution from the Second Vatican Council (Gaudium et Spes #3). This categorization could be divided into these broad categories:
1. “Whatever is opposed to life itself” (Murder, genocide, abortion, euthanasia, suicide)
2. “Whatever violates the integrity of the human person” (mutilation, torture, coercion)
3. “Whatever insults human dignity” (subhuman living conditions, arbitrary imprisonment, deportation, slavery and human trafficking, prostitution
4. “Disgraceful working conditions” that exploit and dehumanize workers (this appears to be a fourth category, but could be considered part of 3).
5. Therefore, we cannot consider the issue of abortion on the same level as immigration
or elderly care. But again, these are all important topics for us to talk about and defend.
The third point, again using the words from John Paul II in his encyclical, is that we are called to be “unconditionally pro-life.” He writes, “…we are facing an enormous and dramatic clash between good and evil, death and life, the ‘culture of death’ and the ‘culture of life’. We find ourselves not only ‘faced with’ but necessarily in the ‘midst of’ this conflict: we are all involved and we all share in it, with the inescapable responsibility of choosing to be unconditionally pro-life.” (EV#28) People need our help advocating for them, whether they are in the womb, hospital, nursing home, or suffering discrimination. Ultimately, being Pro-Life is to love one another as God has loved us.
October is traditionally celebrated as “Respect Life Month.” Therefore, we will be addressing different topics that impact our lives and the lives of the people around us. I’m not sure if we will be able to offer some talks on some subjects, but please stay tuned. We will be doing a drive to help Birthright of our two pregnancy centers in town (more information on the next page.) Please pray during this time that people might recognize life as a gift of God, and so treat it respectfully regardless of one’s race, religion, or political party. Remember that by our Baptism, WE ARE ALL CHILDREN OF GOD, AND SO WE ARE ALL BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST!
Father Steven Clemence