From Father Steven - July 3, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, we have an opportunity to thank God for the birth of our nation. As we rest this weekend, and over the next weeks, we are also invited to dedicate time to God and our neighbor. This great nation was not founded and built without God and neighbor. So, this week we are invited to stop for a moment to thank them.
Over these next weeks there will be plenty of picnics, BBQs, time to visit family and friends. Whether we travel or stay home, it is important to rest from our regular activities. Considering that our warm months are now, we should take advantage and go out, exercise, and enjoy God’s creation. Speaking of God, we never take vacation from Him. Quite the contrary, we should also dedicate more time to him. I understand that during the busy months, we are running up and down with our duties, and we don’t have much time for prayer. Maybe we do the minimum such as our morning prayers and devotions, rosary, grace before meals, and the night prayers. Now that we are more relaxed, we can attend adoration every day 6:30-7:30am, daily masses at 7:30am, stop by the church to pray at any time during the day (until 6pm) among other activities. We can also take advantage of this time to choose some good book(s) for our summer reading. The classics never get out of fashion, such as, The Confessions by St. Augustine, The Story of a Soul by St. Therese, “How to Benefit from our Faults” by Joseph Tissot, “The Return of the Prodigal Son” by Henry Nouwen, and “The Spiritual Combat” by Lorenzo Scupoli. For those who will be traveling, you will be in our prayers and we will make sure that we schedule our travels in such a way that allows us to attend Sunday masses.
In the summer, we also have time to take care of our neighbors. In our daily activities, sometimes we lose contact with friends and relatives for not having time to call or visit them. This is the perfect time to catch up with old pals. If they live out of state, a phone call here and there will also be great. We should also open our hearts for those who live near us. Sometimes we make a big effort to connect with people across the world, and that next door we limit ourselves to a polite wave on the way in or out of the house. We should create bridges with those around us. Whether baking something for them, inviting them over, or a simple friendly chat across the yard goes a long way. In my ministry I see people isolated quite often. There are several reasons for which they might not be able to reach out, but most would react well if someone reaches out to them. The same can be said for those who are struggling with homelessness. During the winter time there is a great concern for them because of the cold. During the summer, heat can be another very serious issue. As dehydration and sunstroke is a concern to us and our children, but it affects them even more. Therefore, if you see someone in need, don’t be afraid to reach out. This is again how our country grew stronger, by building it together!
Finally, let us pray for our Nation on this Independence Day:
God, source of all freedom, this day is bright with the memory of those that declared that life and liberty are your gift to every human being. Help us to continue a good work begun long ago. Make our vision clear and our will strong; that only in human solidarity will we find liberty, and justice only in the honor that belongs to every life on earth. Turn our hearts towards the family of nations: to understand the ways of others, to offer friendship, and to find safety in the common good for all. We ask this through Christ our Lord, Amen.
PS. Next week I will write about the decision of the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v Wade.
Happy Fourth of July!
From Father Steven - June 26, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
June is almost over! There were a lot of events recently from graduations to the Procession of Corpus Christi. It would be good to look at them once again.
First of all, I would like to draw our attention to April. It may sound like a long time ago, but we had a great Easter Sunday, where some adults were welcomed into the Church, some youth were baptized, confirmed and received their first communion. All our cantors, servers, and decoration team did an extraordinary job to make our celebrations so beautiful. Following that, we began our Easter time with many weddings from all three communities. It’s always a beautiful moment in the life of the parish when young (and not so young) couples get married. Some did not have children, while others had as many as 6. But what counts is that all of them are now living in God’s grace!
In May we had our first communions in all three communities. Shortly after that, we also had our confirmations. Along with the youth, we had some adults who received their first communion and/or confirmation. None of that would be possible without the help of our catechists, parents, and those who were present in their lives witnessing their faith in action, like grandparents, uncles and aunts, older siblings and friends.
As we turned the corner into June, the celebrations continued. The first weekend we celebrated Pentecost. The Brazilian and the Spanish prayer groups came together for the first time to have an evening of prayer worship. It was an amazing moment of prayer and of communion. Even though we were speaking different languages, the Holy Spirit made us into one spirit! The following weekend we had the Brazilian Junina Festival (Festa Junina). It is a Brazilian Tradition that every June the faithful get together to celebrate the three “big saints” that we honor in June, namely, St. Anthony, St. John the Baptist, and St. Peter. There was a great turn out of families from the Metrowest area who came to celebrate. People were also very generous in their time and talent, donating all sorts of things. With everyone’s help, the Festival raised $62,003.61 to the parish! Finally, last weekend we had the 24hr adoration in preparation for the Feast of Corpus Christi. Once again it touches me to see how many people come to pray, whether during the day or in the middle of the night. For several weeks, a group of parishioners were planning the decoration of the sawdust carpet for the procession. While some were coloring the sawdust, others were researching and drawing the moldings to be used. After some hard work (and prayers that the rain would not damage what was already done), they had a beautiful red carpet for our Lord to walk through. Many thanks to all the work that was done throughout this month.
As we look forward, we are having a Raffle for two Honda CR-Vs for the benefit of the parish with a small percentage going to the Seminary. We are looking for anyone who is willing to help us sell tickets to family and friends. We have envelopes with 20 tickets in each envelope that would be handed to the volunteers to be sold through the summer. If you are interested, please contact the priests.
During the summer, there is a group of the Neocatechumenal Way who will be participating in a pilgrimage to the Holy Land along with other 8,000 youth from all over the States. Please pray for them as they will be praying for all of our parish in the different holy sites.
July and August will be months for us to rest, charge our batteries and continue to move forward in September. During these months, we will have confessions only Saturday 2-3pm, and in July the office will be closed on Fridays. The mass schedule will continue the same.
From Father Steven - June 19, 2022
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The other day while in Adoration I was contemplating how great of a father God is. On this Father’s Day, I invite you, as we pray for our own father and all other fathers, to meditate on how God has been an amazing father to all of us, by providing, loving and protecting us.
When we recite the second part the “Our Father”, we ask God the Father to provide our “daily bread.” As a providing Father, God gives us our sustenance each day. He does not necessarily give us physical “bread”, as “man does not live on bread alone.” Instead, He provides nourishment for our souls whether by his word or by the Body and Soul of his Son. This food that God provides, is not merely symbolic, but rather it’s real food. Only by opening our minds and hearts to what the senses cannot fathom, we hear in the deepest part of your soul the words Jesus said in the Gospel of John, “Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you...For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. ” (6:53-57). The feast of Corpus Christi, which we also celebrate this weekend, was instituted as a sign to help the faithful adore Christ present in the Eucharist.
The following petition we ask God to be a loving Father. In order to “forgive us our transgressions”, He first has to love us. He who created us from nothing out of love, and loved us much to the point of giving us His only begotten Son, continues to love us. In spite of our continuous shortcomings, God is a Father that never gives up on us or grows tired with our sins. Quite the contrary, God’s love for us grows more each day.
In the last petition, we ask our Father to protect us against temptation and from every evil. Every father is called to protect his children from every source of danger. Some dangers come from ourselves, that is, they are internal. Many children have played at least once in the rain during a thunderstorm, or have stuck a metal object into a power outlet, or played with sharp objects and so on. We can get hurt very easily on our own. In the same way we can hurt ourselves through the temptations that we have. As harmless they may seem, like the activities recently described, they can get us killed. In front of these things we ask our Father to allow us to fall into temptation (sometimes the translation can be misleading). Other dangers are external and can greatly harm us. In the spiritual world, the devil is out there to get us. He only has one goal in mind that is to bring us to hell. Some people don’t believe in the devil or the influence that he can have on us and on the world, but it is as real as you and me. Therefore, we ask our heavenly Father to protect us from every evil.
We can continue this topic forever, but most importantly is to realize that our Father only wants what is best for us. He is always on our side. At times, He spoils us with spiritual gifts, such as graces, and physical ones, like sunsets, beautiful flowers, etc. Other times, He corrects to help us avoid hurting ourselves or others. Finally, on this Father’s Day, let us take some time, as we show our gratefulness to our earthly fathers, to realize how much our heavenly Father loves us. As the first tries to be good but due to their limitations and sinfulness cannot, the second is good “ALL THE TIME”, and “ALL THE TIME, GOD IS GOOD!”
God Bless You,
From Father Steven - June 12, 2022
Car Show, Trinity Sunday, and Corpus Christi
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I hope that this title has confused your minds! How is it possible that we can put all these three things together? Very simply, those are our hidden treasures that we celebrate once a year.
Every year, I have always walked down the street to the corner of Prospect and Main St. to take a peek at the cars. This year however; after all the masses, I adventured to look at all the cars. It is amazing how cool and awesome it was to see the beautiful design of the cars. But it is also “sad” that we don’t get to see them that often riding on the streets. Some of the cars are true hidden gems that are probably guarded very safely somewhere away from the curious eyes. The same can be said about our Trinity and the Body and Blood of Christ. Those are true gems that often are not seen and rarely spoken about.
Although the Holy Trinity is a mystery and there is very little that we can comprehend, we believe that there is only one God, who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Not three different gods, but Three distinct persons in one God. If we look at a clover leaf or shamrock, as St. Patrick did in his days, we can understand a little how three leaves make one leaf. In such a similar way it is with God. Although, there is much more to the Holy Trinity than the shamrock. We are called to explore the mystery more deeply. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC), which we should all own and read, dedicates 16 pages to the Holy Trinity. It speaks of the Holy Trinity in a succinct and precise way. The CCC continues for another 100 pages speaking on each person of the Holy Trinity. On Pentecost the Holy Trinity is finally revealed to us when we celebrate the descent of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles, the work of the Creation of the Father, the Redemption of the Son, and the Sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is only suitable that the Sunday after Pentecost be dedicated to the Holy Trinity. Once again, unless we take this gem out of the garage of our knowledge or from our books, they remain hidden and no one can see them.
The following week, we will be celebrating the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also known as Corpus Christi. In the old days we celebrated it on Thursday after Trinity Sunday, but here in the United States of America, it has moved to Sunday. For almost 1000 years, the Church has always celebrated this day with a procession with the Blessed Sacrament through the streets around the churches. Even before the Reformation, the Church has always believed and affirmed that “By the consecration, the transubstantiation of the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ is brought about. Under the consecrated species of bread and wine Christ himself, living and glorious, is present in a true, real, and substantial manner: His Body and His Blood, with His soul and His divinity” (CCC 1413 quoting the Council of Trent). Unfortunately, many people nowadays do not believe in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. In spite of the many miracles around the world and even recently, where the consecrated host became the tissue of a human heart, and the consecrated wine became real human blood, people refuse to believe in it or ignore the miraculous. Recent studies have shown that even a major number of Catholics including practicing Catholics do not believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist, but that it is only a mere representation of him. St. Alphonsus Liguori writes in a great reflection book titled Visits to the Blessed Sacrament, “Loving souls can find no greater delight than to be in the company of those whom they love. If we, then, love Jesus Christ much, behold we are now in his presence…let us console ourselves in his company; let us rejoice in his glory and in the love in which so many enamored souls bear him in the Most Blessed Sacrament.” We are called first of all to be close to Jesus under the sacramental species, not only when he is present inside the tabernacle, but above all when he is exposed. We will have the special grace to do a 24 hour Adoration in the upper Church starting Wednesday, June 15th from 6:00pm through Thursday, June 16th 6:00pm in preparation for this special feast. On Saturday, June 18th, the Archdiocese will be having a great Eucharistic Congress with Bishop Baron and other great speakers - you can buy the tickets at the door. For those not attending, parishioners will be working all day in creating a sawdust carpet with holy images on Prospect St., which will be closed for the weekend. Then on Sunday, at 2:30pm we will gather at Meehan Hall for a short period of adoration praying for peace in the world and for the renewal of our faith, and at 3:00pm all three communities will gather for a procession through downtown Marlboro. It will be our time to take our greatest gem out “from hiding” and show it to everyone!!!! Last year we had a great attendance, and I invite you to reach out to family and friends and invite them to celebrate this awesome event with us!
Father Steven Clemence