Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we have the celebration of Immaculate Conception, our patroness. It is also our parish feast! I’m not sure how many people are aware of our parish history. I would like to share a few facts from the beginning of the Immaculate Conception Parish.
The first priest assigned to Marlboro was Fr. Edward Farrelly back in 1850. Prior to that, families had to walk eight miles to the nearest mass in Saxonville. With the growth of the population due to the shoe factories, Bishop Fitzpatrick saw the need to send a priest to minister to the Catholics of the area. In 1854, Father Farrelly began to build a church on Charles Street and in November he celebrated the first mass. Originally he named the church St. Columba (Columbkille) after one of the Irish patron saints. However, that same year the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception was approved by the church under Pope Pius IX. Although the belief that the Virgin Mary was conceived without original sin was a long-standing tradition of the Church, only then it was declared a definite teaching. Bishop Fitzpatrick intervened at the creation of the parish and decided to dedicate it to the Immaculate Conception. A few years later in 1862, under the new pastor, Fr Walsh, the property on Prospect Street was purchased and they started the construction of the new church. Nine years later, the new church was dedicated by Archbishop Williams. The bell tower was incorporated into the church roughly twenty years later. It was the same that fell during the hurricane of 1938 (one of the most severe to hit New England). A new one, shorter in height, would be built after that.
Much more could be said about our parish and the church building, such as the emblems of the different titles of Mary on the top of the walls of the main nave. However, the parish and the church are more than the buildings. WE ARE THE PARISH. Now, as a parish, we are called to be a sign of the presence of Christ in Marlboro both in word and deed. Although times have changed from the beginning of the parish, people are still in need of Jesus. Many families are breaking up, people who cannot forgive, and those who are lost. This week God calls us to reflect upon our actions in the church. What are we doing to help in the mission of Christ in the world? There are many people who are evangelizing in different ways, whether visiting houses door to door, helping the poor through St. Vincent de Paul, and many other groups. And what about the rest of us? Today we have an average of almost 2000 people coming to all the masses of the parish through the weekend. Imagine what we can all do together?! As we continue in this process of discernment and growth of the parish, we can follow the example of the Blessed Mother, who made herself available to whatever God called her. In order to help us prepare to celebrate the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, I would like to invite everyone to participate in the Triduum (3 days) of prayer with the preaching of guests reflecting upon the life of Mary. Please see the information below. As for the Feast day, December 8th, which is a day of Obligation, we will have masses at 7:30am, 12:10pm, and a major celebration at 7:00pm with the Trilingual mass following reception. Please join us as much as you can!
Immaculate Conception Triduum
Tuesday, December 5th through Thursday, December 7th, 2023
Please join us for a celebration and talks each night starting at 7:00pm in Upper Church.
Tuesday: Life of Mary before she was born, Wednesday: Adult Life of Mary, Thursday: Heavenly Life of Mary. Masses for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (this is a Holy day off Obligation) on Friday are: 7:30am, 12:10pm, in English and 7:00pm Trilingual.
We will have a reception in Meehan Hall after the Trilingual mass. The Brazilian Community will provide the food. The Spanish Community will provide the appetizers and the English Community will provide water, soda and dessert. If you would like to bring water, soda or dessert, please call the parish office or email email@example.com. You can drop off food and drink items starting at 4:00pm in Meehan Hall. Please join us! All are welcome!
Christ the King
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On this last Sunday of Ordinary Time, the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King of the Universe. The Gospel will present Him seated in his glorious throne assisted by the angels, where He will judge the nations. I would like to reflect on this event with you this weekend.
Today society judges facts by its own truth, distorting the truth, so that lies and evil may seem good, and it is convinced to find life there is none. We know from the Gospels, that Jesus is the only Truth, He is the only Way, and only God is good (all the time). Here we already have to decide who we want to follow. We cannot follow both the world and Christ. They were already opposites in the past, but nowadays, it is becoming more and more polarized. We know that this world is passing, with its power, glory, and richness. However, the kingdom of God will never pass. His love will never end. If we look at history, mankind changes its values all the time. What in the past was right, today may be wrong and vice-versa. Pope Saint John Paul II has a famous quote in this regard, “Choices once unanimously considered criminal and rejected by the common moral sense are gradually becoming socially acceptable” (1995, Evangelium Vitae Encyclical #4). However, we know that the commandments of God have never changed. The values of the Gospel remain the same. It is based on them that Christ will judge. Some saints say that the Final Judgment will be based on how much people loved, which is the summary of all the law, love of God and neighbor.
Another element worth our reflection is the power of Christ. If we were to judge the power of Christ in the world today, it seems very weak and feeble. It seems that the voice of Christ is disappearing from the public square. We barely hear anything out of the church. Besides some common expression from our colloquial language that still remains, everything else is being eliminated. Lately, and soon we will see again, even Christmas disappeared and holiday wishes are given. Sunday is no longer the “Day of the Lord,'' but it's sports, NFL, shopping days. It may seem that way, but we know that Christ’s power remains with us. If we were able to look deeply in society, we see Jesus’ love in many places. Whether it is through kindness to strangers, people going out of their way to help others, compassion towards the needy, forgiveness to each other… Recently I heard two cases of people who passed away recently with “fame of holiness.” One of them, Fr. Damian, a priest who shortly after his ordination, was diagnosed with cancer. He was very much loved by all those who were on the floor of his hospital, both patients and health workers alike. The church was not able to hold everyone who came to his funeral. Many of those who met him in the hospital converted and became Catholics. After his death, there was a young man who cracked his skull in a terrible accident. His mother, who did not want to give up on his life when the doctors were waiting for his passing, prayed through the intercession of Fr. Damian. The following day, not only was the young man still alive, but his head was completely healed. There was not even a scar where the injury happened. This and many other cases show that Christ is still very much present in our daily lives. Even though stories like this don’t make it into the headlines, there are many out there.
Lastly, another element of Christ the King worth considering is that Jesus wants us to be with Him in his Kingdom. He is willing whatever it takes to bring us to heaven. He is willing to forgive our sins, fill us with His love, give us how many chances we need to start again, He does not hold our past against us if we ask Him, and so many other things. However, we must be willing to surrender our will to Him. If we want to be where He is, then we must follow his steps. Do not be afraid of what the world says or what people think of you. Christ as the true king has already won this war as we read in the book of Revelation. He is close to us to assist us in our battles, so that those who remain faithful to Him, will also enjoy His kingdom. Finally, let us remember that our kingdom is not from the world. We are only passing by, like Jesus. Let us set our eyes towards Heaven, and work towards the real, eternal, awesome prize!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we will hear the Gospel about the talents. We have already heard this story many times. However, I hope that this year it may strike us in a different way.
The other day someone said that the parable of the talents should be read in the light of the widow’s mite (the widow who puts her two coins in the temple and Jesus says that she gave her whole life). It is very easy to give our leftover time and talent to what is or fits comfortable in our schedule/lives. What we hear in the Gospel is that people go “immediately” to trade those talents. They did not wait for anything. Therefore, in light of this thought, do we do the same? Or do we act like the third person who buries his talent and gives it back to the owner later?
Today’s world teaches that we are on our own, and if we don’t take care of ourselves, no one will. However, we forget a few details of life. First, life is a gift of God, and it does not belong to ourselves. Second, God created us to live in community in this world, and not alone and fending for ourselves. Third, the gifts that God has given us are complementary with those of other people. This way, if each of us contributes with those gifts to each other, our lives will reach its peak. Lately I am exhorting the whole parish to discern what is our calling to serve the parish. Surely some of us are not gifted with singing, but some are!!! (I’m not one of those…) But then there are other gifts that we have. Whether we have a gift for welcoming people, helping those in need, cooking/baking, teaching either children or adults, etc., there is a place for us in the parish, which no one can replace us. It takes a village to keep our parish running and growing. Therefore, I urge you to listen to what God wants to tell you. It takes a bit of a risk to trade your talents. The same is to serve other people. There is always a risk to reach out to others. However, LET US NOT BE AFRAID OF LISTENING TO THE COMMAND OF GOD AND PUT OUR TALENTS TO WORK!
Having said that, there are three important things that I would like to call your attention:
1) Conmen have always taken advantage of people in the most creative, deceitful, evil ways. Nowadays it’s no different. However, with the progress of technology, and social engineering, con artists study our lives to come up with very convincing stories. Many of you are very generous, and, facing emergencies, you have helped me caring for needy families. In light of recent scams, I WILL NEVER CALL or TEXT YOU ASKING FOR ANYTHING. Please do not believe whatever is asked of you on my behalf. If you are asked something, please call the office to confirm the veracity of the request.
2) At the end of the month, we, priests formed at the Redemptoris Mater Seminary (myself, Fr Kevin, Fr Israel, Fr Francesco...), are hosting an appreciation dinner in benefit of the formation of new priests here in Boston. Once a parishioner here told me, “Father, if we want priests, we need to invest where priests come from.” There will be three nights, Tuesday, Nov 28 in Spanish, Thursday, Nov 30 in English, and Sunday Dec 3 in Spanish. It will be a fun event with a great meal, the seminarians playing music, and more. Anyone interested in attending, you can purchase the tickets at convivence.org and where it says seat me with, please write IC Marlboro. This way we will try to seat everyone together. Lee Ann can also facilitate the purchase of the ticket for anyone who needs help.
3) Next weekend we will host the annual mission appeal and we will welcome Fr. Sean McGillicuddy, C.SS.R. He will be preaching about his brother Pat’s ministry in Brazil, Fr. Patrick McGillicuddy, also a Redemptorist priest, works with and for the street population in Brazil. He and those who work with him run a spiritual and social center, a fully accredited school, a learning center for adults, and a drug rehabilitation center. There will be a second collection to help his brother’s mission. Please keep them in your prayers as well.
Finally, remember the Gospel of last week! Let’s stay vigilant and have our flasks full of the Holy Spirit by our good deeds. Lest we should not have enough oil and miss the coming of Christ.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Please see the letter below from Fr. Kevin.
This week Father Steven has asked me to write a column about the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. Whenever I think about the sacraments, I cannot help but remember what Christ told his disciples in Mt 28:20, “And Know that I am with you always; yes, to the end of time.” The sacraments are a visible sign of this invisible reality; that Christ has never and will never abandon his people. Jesus Christ established his Church for the purpose of our salvation and endowed her with the seven sacraments that sustain us and provide us with grace at the different moments of our lives. The sacraments are not only a ritual that we are mandated to do; they are means through which we can experience the love of God in this world as attested by Scripture and the Tradition of the Church.
We have the Sacraments of Initiation which are Baptism, Holy Eucharist, and Confirmation; they introduce us into the Christian life and enable us to live a life of virtue according to the will of God. The Sacraments of Service, Matrimony and Holy Orders give us the grace to help others get to heaven. Lastly, the Sacraments of Healing, Reconciliation (Confession) and Anointing of the Sick help us to heal when we reject the grace God by sinning against his commandments. The Sacrament of Reconciliation reconciles us to the Father by receiving his forgiveness and heals our soul when it has been wounded by sin. The sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick bestows on us another form of healing. When we are suffering from an illness or old age, we can ask the Church for an outpouring of grace that help us to be certain that Christ is with us in our physical infirmities. It also heals our souls from any sort of doubt or resentment that might arise against God or others on account of the suffering.
Like all the sacraments, the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, was established by Jesus Christ himself as he went around preaching and healing during his earthly life. We can read in Scripture that Christ healed many who were sick, and this was a sign of the full spiritual healing that he intends to bring to humanity. The Anointing of the Sick is not merely a ritual remembering what Christ did in the past; it is Christ himself coming to give us the bodily and spiritual healing that we all need during the time of illness. The Catechism explains, “The special grace of the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick has as its effects: the uniting of the sick person to the passion of Christ, for his own good and that of the whole Church; the strengthening, peace, and courage to endure in a Christian manner the sufferings of illness or old age; the forgiveness of sins, if the sick person was not able to obtain it through the sacrament of penance; the restoration of health, if it is conducive to the salvation of his soul; the preparation for passing over to eternal life” (CCC 1532).
There are some misconceptions regarding the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and Last Rites. Some think that they are both the same thing, and this leads them to wait until imminent death to receive the Anointing of the Sick. Some might also think that receiving the Anointing of the Sick will trigger death. This is NOT the case. Last Rites are the set of prayers and sacraments that occur when a person is preparing to die, when it’s evident that the person is in the process of dying. When we talk of Last Rites, we are talking about Eucharistic Viaticum, which is the receiving of Communion and last Confession as a person is preparing to enter eternal life. A part of Last Rites, a person may also receive the Anointing of the Sick, but it is IDEAL that they should have received it long BEFORE they began the process of dying.
The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament that is administered for the bodily and spiritual healing of a person who is seriously ill of any age. That person may not be dying but may be at serious risk from illness. The purpose of Anointing of the Sick is to bring about a healing and if its God’s will a bodily one, but most certainty a spiritual one with the hope that a person may then go on to live life and recover. The Catechism says, “The anointing of the sick is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death. Hence, as soon as anyone of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (CCC 1514).
The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick is truly a gift from the Lord. In my ministry, I have witnessed how the sacrament helps the elderly and the sick go through their sicknesses united with Christ and filled with hope. I encourage you or anyone that might need to receive it. Father Steven and I will be holding an Anointing of the Sick service in the Upper Church on Saturday, December 2nd at 5:00 PM. See you there!
Father Steven Clemence