Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we shall celebrate our Independence Day. It is a great moment to thank the Lord for the freedom that He has given us and to be able to live justly respecting each other. However, not everyone can be free today. Therefore, I would like to raise two issues regarding the lack of freedom that people suffer from.
This week there is a new movie coming out in theaters called “Sound of Freedom.” This movie has been in the making for many years. It was produced by Eduardo Verástegui, a great defender of the Catholic Faith and also the producer of “Bella”, and “Unplanned.” At the peak of his carrier, he decided to stop working in mainstream Hollywood in order to defend his faith. His life turned around and he decided only to work on movies that really help people. After producing his first movie “Bella,” he noticed how many people were helped by it and how many babies were saved from abortion. In his new production, he was joined by Jim Caviezel, who played the role of Jesus in the “Passion of Christ.” Both of them bring to the big screen the problem of children who are abducted and sold in the human-trafficking world. According Caviezel, the United States is the biggest buyer of trafficking pedophilia in the world and Mexico the biggest producer of it, with over 300,000 children being taken into the United States under the age of 18. The problem of human-trafficking of adults is also a major problem, not only for Eastern Europe, but also here in the States. Some data whether people are trafficked around Las Vegas for exploitation, or in the Southwest to work in the fields, it is a major issue that often goes unspoken. The movie is based on the true story of Homeland Security Special Agent Tim Ballard who leaves his job in order to save children from trafficking in South America. There are some parishioners who will be going to watch this movie on Thursday, July 6th at 6:40pm here in Marlboro.
Another issue related to freedom is those who suffer from spiritual bondage. Not only is there the issue of diabolical influence, which is rising in today’s world, but also there are problems of vices and things from the past that become a burden to people. Spiritual slavery is often related to people’s sufferings from the past, such as, problems/traumas from childhood, failure of parental or self-expectations, frustrated plans of life that never came to fruition, anger issues, lack of forgiveness, or also the day to day problems of life. God has created us to live in his freedom, to be able to love one another as He has loved us. Jesus Christ came to bring us the forgiveness of our sins and to help us to forgive others as well. However, the Devil throws lies against us that bind us and do not allow us to love. He convinces us that we don’t deserve God’s love, or that it’s impossible to forgive, or that we are incapable of being a spouse, parent, and saint. This is completely false, but, since he is the father of lies, he ends up convincing us every time that what he says is true. Here in the Archdiocese there is a ministry to help people who feel this spiritual bondage, who are not able to move on with life. We have tried to do a day retreat this past semester, but there was no availability. Next semester we will be looking into scheduling this retreat again. It is amazing to witness the change in a person oppressed by these things through the power of Jesus Christ who frees them. It could be compared to someone dropping off a very heavy bag pack after carrying it for a long time. I have witnessed to Jesus lifting up people’s burdens that have oppressed them for very long, as well as occasions of reconciliation that seemed impossible, and acceptances of the limitations of life.
It is fundamental to understand that God acts in our lives in order to help us get closer to him. He may allow humiliations, precariousness, issues beyond our strength, only to prove to us that nothing is impossible for Him. Therefore, in this week as we celebrate the freedom of our Country, let us also think and pray for those who are imprisoned, enslaved, or in spiritual bondage.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend, we say goodbye to two cantors that have been singing here at Immaculate Conception Parish for several years as they will be heading to College. They are Bethany Gibson and Morgan Weatherbee. We also have a parishioner Marco Ferrari who will also be leaving the parish to enter into religious life. Please see their write ups below. Please keep them and their families in your prayers.
Bethany Gibson - "My parents first brought me to church 2 weeks after I was born, and since then have guided me on my path of faith. My many years at IC as a parishioner, and as a CCD student, will always be a part of my heart and soul. This beautiful and historic church is not only a place of worship for me, but my home and gathering place with family and friends to share my faith with God. My faith allowed me to share my source of feeling toward the good Lord, through my voice as the lead cantor at the Sunday 5pm Mass for quite some time. Singing gives me great joy by expressing my love and faith through my voice. This Fall, I will be starting my college journey at Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, with a double-major in Exercise Science for Physical Therapy, and also majoring in Musical Theater. I know my long history here at IC, both in faith, learning, and singing, will guide me along the way as I venture out into this beautiful world God has provided. To my parents, my parish, and parishioners, I love you all and will miss you." - Bethany Gibson
Morgan Weatherbee - I’m Morgan Weatherbee and I am a recent high school graduate from Hudson High School. I’ve been a cantor at Immaculate Conception Parish for about two years now, and my love for singing has always been closely intertwined with this community. I grew up with this parish, as I attended the former Immaculate Conception School from preschool up until the fifth grade, and during my time there had the opportunity to join the children’s choir. There, I discovered my love for singing and continued to pursue my musical passions both within the church and outside it as I participated in musical theater. Following the COVID-19 pandemic, I pursued cantoring to continue to connect with the parish that has been my home for all these years. It has been such a privilege to serve the Immaculate Conception community through song. This upcoming school year, I will be attending the University of Vermont to study biology, and look forward to returning to the parish on holidays and summer breaks.
Marco Ferrari - Why do young men go to war? Perhaps it's because they see the result of the war pressing on their lives, especially in the lives of those who are near to us. I have personally witnessed the effects of a different kind of war. The war that can lead people we love into eternal despair or hopefully to eternal joy.
As a young adult, I have been to several funerals and been rattled by the knowledge
that my friend had made his last decision. And now he awaits to see the beatific vision
or God forbid eternal suffering. This left me feeling like those boys who want to enlist in the promise of a better tomorrow. And so I pondered what that would look like. I thought of what the bombs of the devil look like and I thought of what the defending forces of heaven have countered with. I was again frightened and almost despaired at all that was in the enemies disposal the kids of feeling of abandonment and deceit all around the least complex of souls.
Then I was reminded that Jesus never abandons us. I was reminded that even if the enemy wins some battles; God has and will always win the war. I thought about how God acts and I found that all of heaven in my opinion is built on three main things that saints and angels spend eternity with. Charity, prayer and obedience to God. And with these three simple things the All mighty wins all the wars necessary for His kingdom to come. Armed with these three weapons one can make the biggest of sinners change for good. Change out of love and knowing that he matters no matter the cost.
So I am enlisting to do what angels spend their whole eternal life doing, I am enlisting to make my life have the biggest impact on those I love. I am Happily and through God's grace, going to be a Benedictine Monk. This way I will spend my days in prayer obedience and charity.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today there are a few very important items to talk about. I will try to cover them as best as I can with the limited space that we have.
This weekend we remember Father’s Day. Whether they are near or far, if we talk to them or not, if they are alive or have gone home to the Lord, it is important that we pray for them. As a priest, having a fatherly call, I struggle at times to offer what is best for the people under my care. Other times, I can’t give what is best for the other, and it’s painful and frustrating. I say this especially for those whose relationship with their fathers is not the best. Some of our fathers either did not have their own father while growing up, or their fathers also struggled with life. Therefore, we can’t ask them to be a father for us if they don’t have a father figure of their own. Only by the fact that through their agency, regardless of their state of life, we have life, we are called to be grateful to them. We as children are also called to pray for our fathers. As fellow Christians, we also need to support the fathers. As any other vocation nowadays, fatherhood is also under attack. Since the 70’s, when every authority was put to question, it has been hard for fathers to exercise the authority given by God for them to govern their families. It is not a matter of who is better, but who does what. Looking at the Holy Family of Nazareth, we see how God put Joseph in charge of the household where Jesus will grow up. Each person in their families will have their own role, and the role of the father is to be the head of the family in communion (working together) with the mothers. I often joke that the husband is the head of the family, but the wife is the neck that supports and assists the head in where it should be looking. On this Father’s Day, let us pray for our own fathers, for their sacrifices and weakness, as well as every man with the call to fatherhood. Guided by St. Joseph, may all men be protectors of their households, providers for their families, and strong, but gentle and kind examples for their children.
We have a small gift for all the Father’s. Please see the volunteers in the lobby of the church after the masses.
5:00pm Mass during July and August
I was not expecting to be this painful to announce that during the months of July and August, we will not have the 5:00pm mass here at IC. We always try to be a welcoming parish inviting people to join us, but unfortunately, we will not be able to hold an afternoon mass during the summer. The reason for that is that it has become extremely difficult to find priests to help us when one of us is away. With the decrease of vocations, we have more and more priests who are alone in their parishes and even those willing to help us will also be going away. Both Fr. Kevin and I will be taking some time off during the summer and we will not be able to cover all the masses of the parish. After consulting with the Parish Council, we have decided to suspend the 5:00pm mass only during July and August. On September 3rd, we will resume the 5:00pm mass. Around us we have St. Elizabeth in Acton who has a 5:00pm Mass and St. Matthews in Southborough with a 6:00pm Mass.
Altar Server Training
We will be hosting a two-day altar server training on Tuesday, June 20th and Friday, June 30th from 6:00pm - 7:00pm in the main church. We encourage all the children going into Grade 3 and up to come serve the Lord. We will help them to learn how to serve at mass and there will be older altar servers to assist them as well. It is a great opportunity for the children to learn more about mass and to grow closer to the Lord. We have seen how those who serve at mass will always remember it in their lives and encourage their own children to also become altar servers.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, traditionally known as “Corpus Christi.” Some of us may have heard of the celebration, without knowing the beautiful story behind it. Also, the Eucharistic Procession is not a crazy invention of ours, but a long tradition of the Church.
This feast dates back from a couple of events from the early 13th Century. Before then there was no veneration of the Blessed Sacrament outside Mass. The blessed sacrament was reserved exclusively for the sick. However, at the change of Millenniums, in 1124, we see a start of a Eucharistic Movement centered in Belgium at the beginning of the second Millennium with the introduction of bells during consecration and blessings with the Blessed Sacrament. One hundred years after that, Sister St. Juliana of Liege, who was born during the Eucharistic Cenacle, had private visions regarding the desire from Jesus to create a feast of Corpus Domini (Body of the Lord). At the age of 16, she saw the moon in its splendor, but it was partially covered by a black spot. She understood that the moon symbolized the Church and the black spot the lack of a feast dedicated to the Body and Blood of Christ. She kept her visions to herself for many years, until it was made known to the Bishop Robert Thourotte, the Bishop of Liege at the time, and to the Archdeacon Jacques Pantaleon, who later in life became Pope Urbanus IV. It was Bishop Thourotte who first celebrated the feast in his diocese. Soon other local bishops also started celebrating this feast. A few years later, in 1264, there was a German priest who was doubting the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist while he was on a pilgrimage near Rome. During a mass he was celebrating, the consecrated host began to bleed and soaked the Corporal and the Altar linens. At that sight, they made a procession with the Blessed Sacrament to the nearby town of Orvieto, where the recently elected Pope Urbanus IV was staying. In that same year, moved by the visions of St. Juliana and the event that happened in Orvieto, the Pope ordered the Feast to be celebrated in the whole world.
This Feast is celebrated as a reminder that the Body and Blood of Christ is truly, really, and substantially present under the appearance of bread and wine. Although it still looks, smells, tastes like bread and wine, it is actually the Body and Blood of Jesus. This change of substance during the consecration of Mass while the priest repeats the words of Jesus (“this is my Body”, “this is my Blood”) is called in theology transubstantiation. While the Protestants believe that communion is a sign/symbol, a lookalike, we believe that it is indeed the Body and Blood of Christ. In a recent poll conducted here in the US, it showed that many people did not believe in the real presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. There were MANY Eucharistic Miracles in the world, when the Eucharist started bleeding or blood coagulated. Recently, these miracles were tested blindly in independent labs across the world and all the results are the same. It’s the same blood type, from an adult male that was severely beaten before death. If that was not sufficient proof, Jesus himself said that “IT IS HIS BODY AND BLOOD.” That is why the priest during consecration repeats the word of Jesus also to help people understand that it is truly the Body and Blood of Christ.
Pope Francis says that “every year the feast of Corpus Christ invites us to renew the wonder and joy for this wonderful gift of the Lord, which is the Eucharist.” I hope you are able to join us in our procession with the Blessed Sacrament this Sunday after our 11:00am outdoor mass. In case you cannot, at least come to admire the sawdust carpet that the parishioners are preparing to welcome Jesus into our Church.
Father Steven Clemence