Dear Brothers & Sisters,
This week I would like to share with you some experiences of the people who joined us in the pilgrimage to Washington DC for the March for Life. As some of you may have heard and seen, our pilgrimage started here in Marlboro Thursday Jan 20th. We were about 23 people from all ages (and a family of 7 joined in DC with 5 kids, one being a baby). After praying Morning Prayer where we spoke of the meaning of pilgrimages, we went to the Shrine of St. Frances Cabrini in NY to pray at her tomb. On the following day were up early to attend the Mass celebrated in conclusion of the Vigil for Life at the Basilica of the National Shrine presided by our Cardinal Sean O’Malley. He spoke very powerfully about how every person matters (and more)! Then we headed to the National Mall where everyone gathered for a Rally for Life. Many speakers spoke very well saying how their lives were affected by their families who chose life, including the famous film director Kirk Cameron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and Katie Shaw, which for me was one of the best pro-life speeches I ever heard. We marched alongside other pilgrims from Boston, including other parishes, schools, nuns and priests. It was very beautiful to see everyone praying, standing up for the TRUTH, and supporting those who cannot speak for themselves. Hopefully you all can join us in our next pilgrimage, whether to Stockbridge, Guadalupe, or for the March for Life 2023. Below are some excerpts from those who attended the pilgrimage that I would like to share with you:
We were the oldest couple in our group and our spirits were uplifted to see adults, young and families with children…We felt not only like brothers and sisters but like one God’s family. My wife had almost resigned from the pilgrimage due to her physical condition but eventually seeing parents and mothers of very small children who put trust in God was a lesson.
Being adopted as a baby, the march was particularly meaningful. As a member of the UMass Amherst Students for Life, I had seen prior marches on TV, but participating herself in person, among tens of thousands of fellow participants, was an all-together more intense and impactful experience. Overall, for our family, it was beautiful to see everyone marching to support life, particularly the numerous young people who will be fundamental in building a culture of life.
If I was to rate it from 1 to 100, I’d give it 101!!! The bus ride with it’s occasional prayers along the way was a wonderful way of “chilling out” from my regular “on the go” pace of life…I also loved seeing the “thousands of youth” showing their faith both at mass and at the rally. Finally, I feel that the “blessings” I’ve been getting since then…just keep coming especially in new and strengthened relationships from the other pilgrims.
Since the exposition of relics at Immaculate Conception in early December, I felt that "Mother Cabrini" was reaching out to me. I knew little about Mother Cabrini other than that she is the patron saint of immigrants, but felt compelled to pray for her intercession at the shrine. After the pilgrimage, I came to realize that God's plan through Mother Cabrini was for me to attend the March for Life. I feel blessed to have gone on such a meaningful pilgrimage with my fellow pilgrims from IC.
When we started this trip, I knew of a just a handful of the people going...As the trip progressed and spending time together, sharing meals and stories, we all got to know one another better and I must say it was a real pleasure sharing this experience with such a wonderful group of people ranging from all ages from young families to retired couples representing our entire parish community…I was blown away by the hundreds of thousands of people on the March! We had our own banner and marched with the Cardinal and the archdiocese. We prayed the Rosary, and had our own chants going! So many groups from church, youth, college, families with children etc. so many different signs being held up by the crowds that I liked and you could really feel the energy and enthusiasm! You could see Jesus everywhere!`
What touched me the most was what Fr Mike Schmitz said that we may not be able to change the law, or what the politicians think, but we can change our hearts and the way we think, and that is in itself a great victory.
It was a wonderful trip, because it was we travelled for life and for a life where abortion is not the solution.
It was an unique experience to see the bishops, the priests and so many young people all united representing God in our midst. Amazing.
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
These past three weeks we heard of the Epiphany of Jesus. We saw how he was revealed by the Magi as the child born of us, at the baptism, we heard that he was the son of God, and at the wedding of Cana, we saw the first miracle. These signs all point to the person of Christ, but how closely do we know Jesus? How often do we talk to Jesus? What’s the relationship that we have with him? This week I would like to reflect with you the power of adoration and visiting Jesus at the Blessed Sacrament.
I remember many years ago someone asking if we knew Tom Brady. Of course everyone knew Tom Brady! Then the speaker went on to ask if we actually knew him, his house, his hobbies. Unfortunately, no one knew Tom Brady, we only knew about Tom Brady. The same can be said of Jesus. If we don’t have a personal relationship with Christ, we can fall into the same problem, namely, we know about Christ, we have read about him, but we don’t quite know him. In my personal life, I remember meeting a very important person whose life was really centered on Christ. He wanted Jesus to be part of his life so much that he spent a lot of time with Jesus. Since he was a very busy man, I remember seeing him every single night spending time with his “buddy”. No matter how tired he was, or how late he got home, he always waited for the best part of his day, to spend time with the Blessed Sacrament. It is true that he had a chapel in his house, but all of us can find time to come to church to spend time with Jesus. This year I began again reading a book “A Year with the Eucharist: Daily Meditations on the Blessed Sacrament” by Fr. Paul Jerome Keller, OP. Each day it comes with a meditation from a saint regarding the Eucharist. I came across this quote from St. Alphonsus de Liguori from the “Visits to the Most Holy Sacrament” (another great little book). I believe it speaks for itself the importance of spending time with Jesus.
All the saints have been enamored of this devotion [to the Eucharist]. On this earth, we cannot find a more brilliant jewel or a more lovely treasure than Jesus in the sacrament. Certainly, after the frequentation of the sacraments, the adoration of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist is, of all devotions, the most acceptable to God and the most useful to us. Do not then, O soul, refuse to begin this devotion: from this day forward, retire each day from human conversation, and remain for some time, at least for half an hour or a quarter, in some church, before Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrament. “Taste, and see how sweet the Lord is” (ps. 34:8). Make a trial of this devotion, and you see the great fruit which you shall draw from it. Be assured that, of all the moments of your life, the time you spend in devotion before this most divine Sacrament will be that which shall give you the greatest support during life, and the greatest consolation at the hour of death, and for all eternity: be persuaded that you shall gain more in a quarter of an hour spent in prayer before the Holy Eucharist than in all the other spiritual exercises of the day. It is true, that God hears in all places the prayers of all who seek his graces; for he has said, “Ask, and you shall receive” (Matt 7:7)...Blessed Henry Suso used to say that Jesus on the altar hears the prayer of the faithful more readily than he does in any other place. And where but at the foot of the altar have holy souls made the most generous resolutions? Perhaps, you too, will one day, before some tabernacle, resolve to give yourself entirely to God?
Father Steven Clemence