From Father Steven - January 29, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
We would like to thank everyone who made our Christmas celebrations so beautiful! Special thanks to the decorators, the eucharistic ministers, lectors and altar servers that served the masses. We also would like to thank everyone who was so generous with cards, gifts, baked goods and most importantly your prayers for us. The Christmas cards that we received we keep up all year long because Christ comes into our hearts everyday! You will see the cards on the cover of the bulletin. We are very thankful for our parishioners and your generosity in so many ways!!
On February 3rd we celebrate the Feast of St. Blaise. We will have the Blessing of the Throats February 4th and February 5th at mass. Below is some information about St. Blaise.
St. Blaise of Sebaste was a physician and the bishop of Sebastea, in modern-day Armenia, around the 3rd century A.D. Not much is known about his life, but we do know that many people came to him seeking healing for body and soul. The Acts of St. Blaise is a series of legends about his life. According to the medical writings of Aetius Amidenus, Blaise would treat people who had objects stuck in their throats.
In 316, the governor of Cappadocia (modern-day central Turkey) was ordered by the Roman Emperor Licinius to persecute St. Blaise. Blaise was hunted down, imprisoned, and eventually beheaded.
St. Blaise became associated with blessings of the throat after a miracle he performed shortly before his death. According to his Acts, as St. Blaise was being taken into custody, a child nearby was choking on a fishbone. His mother threw herself at the saint’s feet and begged him for his intercession. Blaise prayed for the child, who was then cured. As a result, St. Blaise often intercedes for protection against illnesses and injuries of the throat. (Some accounts state that Blaise had been given two candles and formed the candles in a cross around the boy’s throat.)
The intercession of St. Blaise through the Blessing of the Throats can protect us from diseases and anything that distracts us from God and His healing power. Customs like this one, so deeply rooted in our history as a Church, show us the beauty of our faith and how close we are to the miraculous.
In time, the custom of blessing the throats of the faithful developed, with priests holding two tapered candles — blessed the day before on Candlemas, Feb 2 — over the head or the throat while invoking the intercession of St. Blaise against any ailment of the throat and body.
It’s an ancient custom of the Church to bless the sick, rooted in the ministry of Christ and his apostles. According to the Pastoral Care of the Sick: Rites of Anointing and Viaticum, the annual blessing of throats is a traditional sign of the struggle against illness in the life of the Christian. The blessing is ordinarily given during Mass or a celebration of the Word of God on February 3, the memorial of St. Blaise, following Candlemas, the feast of the Presentation of the Lord.
From Father Steven - January 22, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Each day is getting harder and harder to watch TV. Between the catastrophic news, political and ideological agenda getting pushed all over, and TV shows/movies that are not appropriate, there is not much left. But is there a good resource for a family night program, child friendly shows, or even for information about our faith? YES, there are some good platforms out there that are family and faith friendly!
Personally, I don't have much time left in my day to watch a movie or some TV show. The little time that I have I spend most of it trying to find something that is appropriate and healthy to watch. Besides finding a movie here and there, I started watching some old movies and TV shows, such as “Pluto” and “Good Will Hunting.” These programs are clean, have an edifying message and are truly entertaining. However there are so many of the good oldies out there. I have spoken in the past about this platform called FORMED.ORG that has a vast catalogue of movies, TV shows, interviews, documentaries, cartoons for kids, audiobooks, and more. And the best of it, the parish pays a fee to make it FREE FOR ALL PARISHIONERS. It’s a great source of entertainment that edifies us and helps us to be closer to God. Below I will recommend some of my favorite movies. I don’t personally use it, but I also heard that Hallow has a good variety of faith-based programs, besides all the prayers that the App contains. There are some YouTube Channels that are also a good source of knowledge and entertainment. I suppose by now many people have already watched the series “Chosen”. They have their own free app, but it can also be seen in other platforms as well.
You may have heard the saying that says “the eyes are the window to the soul.” Once I heard from a neurologist that the brain can retain images for about 14 years. Therefore, everything that we watch, even a brief scene, stays with us for quite a while. There are also studies that show how the acceptance of misbehavior can happen through TV shows. We experience a lot of confusion in the youth today, because the roles are not as well defined as in the past. Back in the day the good guy was good and the bad was bad. The lines are no longer so well defined, but rather blurred. Not too long ago there was a world-famous Spanish series on Netflix called “Money Heist” (La Casa de Papel). It narrates an intricate mind-twisting plan of a group who wants to carry out the biggest heist in history. The producers made it in such a way that the robbers are seen as heroes. The crowd ends up cheering for those who want to do wrong. This is happening more often across the board, which should make parents aware of what some shows are teaching the children. There is a misrepresentation and a confusion on the roles that they represent. Much more can be said regarding the content of TV shows and movies that are out there.
None of that occurs at Formed.org. That platform, which I often call the Catholic Netflix, contains a universe of content. From documentaries that explain better the sacraments, podcasts and interviews with many awesome faith-filled experts, great cartoons to great audiobooks. By now many of you know how much I like the saints. I believe that all my favorite saint’s movies are there (I Prefer Heaven; Padre Pio – Miracle Man; Don Bosco – Mission to Love; The Reluctant Saint; Saint Rita; Mother Teresa; St. Giuseppe Moscati; Karol; Maria Goretti; Restless Heart; among others. In order to CREATE A FREE ACCOUNT, go to the website “formed.org”, choose the option “sign up as a parishioner”, then insert the zip code of Marlboro (01752), our parish will appear, click on it, then by clicking “next”, you will be asked to enter your name and email. A verification link will be sent to you (check your junk mail in case you didn’t get it), and you will be given access to all their content FOR FREE. If you would like to download their App, only once the account was created can you do so. If you experience any difficulty, please reach out to our parish office and we will help you. This type of content will certainly exhort, encourage us to live holy virtues as the saints did. It will also help us better understand our Church and our faith so that we can love them even more. The content has almost everything in Spanish as well. On the app, you can scroll down to see all the different categories in both languages. There are also a variety of programs for children as well. On Youtube I watched a couple of videos from the saints (like cartoons) from a channel called “Christian Family TV”. Besides the life of the saints, they also have Bible stories for kids and much more. It’s worth checking for our children and grandchildren.
Not all the internet is bad. We only need some help to navigate and sort out the wheat and the weed!
From Father Steven - January 15, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I’m not sure how much people are aware of the power of prayer. In the case of the battle of Lepanto in the 1500’s it was enough to change the course of history. In many other circumstances, whether miraculous or not, prayer has a great power to help those in need. On this week which the March for Life will take place in Washington, we invite everyone to pray for life in our next 24h Adoration.
It may sound cliché, but every time when I met a priest or a nun, I always asked them to pray for me in their adoration. During my time in the seminary, I struggled for a while accepting the will of God and I would take whatever help I could get. After 9 years, I came across a number of people, I had many, many people praying for me. I firmly believe that if I am a priest today it is because of all of their prayers. There were moments that for “mysterious” reasons I followed God against my will, or I rejected great desires I had. None of that was by my own strength…it was that extra strength given to me by the grace of God through the intercession of others. Looking back at my life I still cannot understand how I was able to go through great challenges. Truth to be told, it was by the grace of God. There are many stories that I could tell, but they all would point in the same direction, people who gave up their time to pray for me.
The Pro-Life movement is not an anti-abortion association. It goes beyond saving babies’ lives. It is the care of ALL LIVES, from the moment of conception to natural death. The sacredness of life comes from the gift of God, and no one can tamper with it. In today’s world, every life is at risk! Whether it is an unwanted pregnancy, children whose care is neglected, sick people whose lives are measured by the money spent in their treatment, elderly whose value is forgotten because they “can’t function anymore”, and many lives that are on the brink of suicide for various reasons. There will be thousands of people marching this week in Washington to protest against laws that favor the access to abortion and prevent anyone from helping them. Since Roe v Wade was overturned, there were many state laws approved in many places that only expanded abortion to almost full term, but it also facilitated the access of abortion to minors without legal or parental consent and eliminated many medical provisions to safeguard the health of women. On the other spectrum of life, there is a new push to approve euthanasia for the elderly and eventually almost anyone (as it happens already in Europe). But what can you and I do about it? To pray for it in front of the Blessed Sacrament.
There is all sorts of stories of people who were about to commit suicide, abortion, euthanasia that in the last second something held them back and it was a major source of grace (and conversion). We can be part of that process with our prayers. Just imagine for a second that someone is alive because we spent one hour in front of the Blessed Sacrament. Whether it is a person known to us or not, every life matters. We might even have people from our families or our circles that might be struggling in their lives that surely could use some spiritual help from us. The same could be said for those in Congress or the House of Representatives who could change their vote in favor of life. Therefore, I exhort you to come to our 24 HOURS FOR LIFE THIS THURSDAY 6PM TO FRIDAY 6PM. If you would like to sponsor a full hour, please check on our website and sign up. If you cannot sign up, please come all the same whatever time you want.
Lastly, it is also important to note that we are the first beneficiaries when we pray to someone one. Every day, Fr Kevin and I pray for all of you and all the families from the parish in front of the Blessed Sacrament. It is a great source of grace to be able to pray for you, it’s my job, but it also kindles in me the fire of the love of God. Therefore, it’s a win-win situation for all of us!!! As we sang so many times this past month, COME LET US ADORE HIM!
From Father Steven - January 8, 2023
Dear Brothers & Sisters,
Please see the announcement below from Deacon Chuck and Deacon Elcio.
Greetings, Immaculate Conception Family. We have just experienced that great joy of Christ’s birth anew in our hearts! And a New Year also brings the opportunity for movement in our spiritual lives as well, as we continually respond to God’s call moving within us. In this respect, Dcn Elcio and I have some important news to share with you.
I'll be leaving IC within the next couple of weeks. Like all of you, I'm always listening to what God is telling me about moving my faith journey forward. Lately, over the past 2-3 months, He's been telling me to begin that process of exploring another new opportunity for working “in the vineyard”. This is a very difficult decision for me. My wife Joyce and I have been part of IC for over 40 years. I love my vocation so much. At the same time, I know Jesus is calling me to a new ministry that lies ahead. I don't have a new assignment yet, but I know there will be much richness and continued growth to be derived from it.
Our parish family has been such a blessing to me and Joyce! I have loved working with and simply being with all you so much. You live faith-filled lives, and our parish is greatly blessed by your active involvement in all we do! Thank you immensely for the joy you have brought to me in the laughs, conversations, and great spiritual moments we have shared. Jesus speaks volumes to me through you!
Be assured of my continued prayers for you all, your families and your work at IC. I humbly ask you to keep me and Joyce in yours as we continue our journey together.
With tremendous gratitude always for what Christ has given me in you –
Taking the opportunity from Deacon Chuck, I would also like to thank you for all your support. I will also be moving to another parish. I don’t know yet where it might be, but I would like to take this opportunity to ask for your prayers as I discern my next steps.
As I mentioned with the Brazilian community there are many of you who, even though are not ordained, serve as true ‘deacons’ within the parish, serving even more than I do. I can only thank God for the 5 years serving at IC. We were assigned at IC parish, but we are Deacons of the Archdiocese of Boston. We hope to be seeing you again in our work in the archdiocese. Please pray for me and my family, especially my son who is battling an unknown illness.
Yours, forever servant in Christ.
We would personally like to acknowledge and thank all of the clergy and staff with whom we have served in our assignments at IC. Their witness to Christ is what inspires us to embrace our vocations. Please continue to keep them and all clergy in your prayers, that God will continue to provide them with exactly what they need.
We would like to thank both of them for all their support over the years they served here at our parish and wish them all of God’s blessings in their new assignments. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.
Father Steven Clemence