As we are about to celebrate Veterans Day this Monday, it is important that we all take time to reflect on the meaning of this holiday and to remember all those who have and still do serve in our Armed Forces. This year of 2019 holds a special place in our hearts and minds since we are fully aware of our military men and women serving in many places around the world, especially those who were fighting with the Kurds until a few weeks ago when our troops were suddenly withdrawn.
On November 11, 1919, President Woodrow Wilson issued a message to his countrymen on the first Armistice Day, in which he expressed what he felt the day meant to Americans:
“A year ago today our enemies laid down their arms in accordance with an armistice which rendered them impotent to renew hostilities, and gave to the world an assured opportunity to reconstruct its shattered order and to work out in peace a new and more just set of international relations. The soldiers and people of the European Allies had fought and endured for more than four years to uphold the barrier of civilization against the aggression of armed force. We ourselves had been in the conflict something more than a year and a half.
“With splendid forgetfulness of mere personal concerns, we remodeled our industries, concentrated our financial resources, increased our agricultural output, and assembled a great army, so that at the last our power was a decisive factor in the victory. We were able to bring the vast resources, material and moral, of a great and free people to the assistance of our associates in Europe who had suffered and sacrificed without limit in the cause for which we fought.
“Out of this victory there arose new possibilities of political freedom and economic concert. The war showed us the strength of great nations acting together for high purposes, and the victory of arms foretells the enduring conquests which can be made in peace when nations act justly and in furtherance of the common interests of men.
“To us in America the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service, and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of nations.”
After the end of World War II, the holiday was changed to Veterans Day so that it would commemorate all men and women who have served our country in times of war and of peace. Many of these veterans still spend weeks and months separated from their families sometimes on bases in our country but often in lands afar for the cause of peace. Many who have served are in VA hospitals because of their physical and mental wounds. Some still suffer from bouts of depression, COPD, and many related illnesses. We pray for, thank, and support all of them not only today but always.
At the same time, let us do all in our power to do everything possible to promote peace at home and around the world and to never again enter into a buildup of arms and an abundance of nuclear devices that have the potential to wipe out millions of people if they were ever used. We lead the way through diplomatic channels in consort with other nations or one-to-one to promote peace through just and moral leadership. We invite you to a special Veterans Day Mass at 1:15 on Monday, November 11, to honor Veterans.
THIRTY-SECOND SUNDAY IN ORDINARY TIME
Today’s readings reinforce our faith that beyond death there is life with God forever. In the First Reading, a mother and her seven sons are put to death because of their loyalty to their Jewish faith. The mother is forced to watch as her seven sons are put to death on the day before she is killed. The sons’ conviction in the resurrection of the dead enables them to remain faithful to their beliefs.
Not all Jews at the time of Jesus believed in the resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees were one such group and that is the pretext for posing their absurd question to Jesus in today’s Gospel. Jesus’ answer is concise and to the point, “The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and he is not God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.” Jesus is referring to the story of Moses, who encounters God in the burning bush. God reveals his name to Moses as “I am…the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob.” The point Jesus makes is that God did not say, “I was their God,” but that “I am their God.” They are still alive because God is the God of the living, not of the dead. The very name of God “I AM” continues to hold them in existence. They are eternally alive because of God’s eternal “I AM.” God’s name is the assurance that our faithful departed are alive in God.
In today’s reading from Maccabees, we hear that the king’s attendants marveled at the courage of the brother that they tortured. We do not hear that the attendants were changed, but it is likely that the faith of the brothers affected their torturers. The encyclical Spe salvi notes that when people live out their faith, others are given hope that they also can live the faith. Pope Benedict XVI writes in the encyclical on hope: “But in truly great trials, where I must make a definitive decision to place the truth before my own welfare, we need witnesses—martyrs—who have given themselves totally, so as to show us the way—day after day. We need them if we are to prefer goodness to comfort, even in the little choices we face each day—knowing that this is how we live life to the full” (#39).
In Thessalonians, Paul encourages the community as he tells of God’s love and encouragement. Paul is doing God’s work on earth and inviting the Thessalonians to continue to do so. This community has embraced Christ and so by their lives has risen with Christ. As disciples, they are participating in the Paschal Mystery. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “Christ will raise us up ‘on the last day,’ but it is also true that, in a certain way, we have already risen with Christ. For, by virtue of the Holy Spirit, Christian life is already now on earth a participation in the death and Resurrection of Christ” (#1002).
For Your Reflection: When has another inspired you to live your faith? Would someone know that you have faith that God will strengthen and guard you? What is your vision of life with God?
BRAZILIAN FRIARS COMING TO ST. PETER’S
The Custody of Saint Benedict of the Amazon has an inheritance of missionary presence of Franciscan Friars who came from Germany, Northeastern Brazil, and the United States to the Amazon Region of Brazil more than 100 years ago. In 1943, the first American friars from the Sacred Heart Province came to Brazil in order to continue the work of evangelization in this very vast region. It was not until March 10, 1990, that the Custody became an independent entity of the Franciscan Order. Since this time, the Custody has seen an increase in local vocations as more and more of the friars are Brazilian.
The Franciscans in the Amazon seek to follow Jesus Christ more closely under the action of the Holy Spirit and, as bearers of the Good News of the Kingdom of God, want to bring the Gospel message to the people of the Brazilian Amazon in the immensity of the rivers, forests and cities. They serve through prayer and contemplation, in pastoral and social services, in the ministry of reconciliation and religious assistance, and in missionary activity with indigenous peoples.
On Tuesday, November 12, Franciscans from the Custody of Saint Benedict of the Amazon will be at St. Peter’s to share with you their experiences and ask for your support of their missionary activity. They will speak at all the Masses on Tuesday and will be in the lobby all day to answer questions and to receive your donations. You may want to use this occasion to get their perspective on the recently completed Synod of the Amazon since the conditions that caused Pope Francis to call this special Synod is very close to them. After the 5:00 Mass there will be a small reception in the auditorium on the lower level for all those interested in learning more about the friars’ lives and work in the Amazon Region. We hope you will be able to join them.
COMMUNAL ANOINTING OF THE SICK
Here at St. Peter’s we celebrate the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick in a communal setting four times a year. The next opportunity for you to receive this sacrament in this form will be on this coming Wednesday, November 13, during the 1:15 Mass. Since the Second Vatican Council the Church has resurrected the practice of offering this sacrament much more frequently than what had been the practice, namely, only when a person was dying. In fact, I remember specifically years ago sometimes walking into a hospital room to visit a parishioner, and in the course of our conversation asking a patient whether he/she would like to receive the sacrament. Sometimes the individual would get a worried look on his/her face and whisper to me, “Do you know something that I do not?” Obviously that person was still thinking of what we called “Extreme Unction” rather than the newer view of the sacrament.
We are celebrating this communal service on the Memorial of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, who spent so much of her life ministering to the sick and suffering she came to know. She had a deep reverence for those in these situations and went on to found a religious community whose primary ministry was caring for the sick as they established many hospitals here in the United States and in many other countries. In 35 years, Frances Xavier Cabrini founded 67 institutions dedicated to caring for the poor, the abandoned, the uneducated and the sick. Seeing great need among Italian immigrants who were losing their faith, she organized schools and adult education classes.
The compassion and dedication of Mother Cabrini is still seen in hundreds of thousands of her fellow citizens who care for the sick in hospitals, nursing homes, and state institutions. We complain of increased medical costs in an affluent society, but the daily news shows us millions who have little or no medical care and who are calling for new Mother Cabrinis to become citizen servants of their land.
Anyone over the age of 62 or a person suffering from a chronic condition such as diabetes, depression, frequent bouts of pneumonia, etc., or someone undergoing a series of tests or about to have an operation is welcome to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick. We ask you to come ten to fifteen minutes before the beginning of the 1:15 Mass so that you may be seated in such a way to allow the ministers of the sacrament to come throughout the church in order to lay on hands and to perform the anointing of your forehead and hands. We hope to see you this Wednesday at 1:15.
WELCOME HOME, FR. KEN CAPALBO, O.F.M.
As many of you know, Fr. Ken has been living and teaching in Vietnam for a number of years. After teaching at Quincy University in Quincy, Illinois, for twenty years, he found a new life in teaching Franciscan seminarians in the areas of Franciscan history and spirituality. Most recently (September) he travelled back to Vietnam to teach another semester, but he fell, was in the hospital for several days, and has been recuperating at the seminary. Fr. Ken is returning to St. Peter’s November 8 and will resume some ministry after a short time of recovery. We are pleased to have him with us again and wish him well in the days ahead.
CELEBRATING THE WORLD DAY OF THE POOR
You might remember from years past that Pope Francis has declared the 33rd Sunday in Ordinary Time as the World Day of the Poor. He has suggested that people throughout the world do something special on or around this day in order to reach out to the poor, advocate for the needs of the poor, and in some way become more concerned about the poor. Here in our cluster for Renew My Church, each of the six parishes has chosen to do this in whatever way seems most appropriate for their particular faith community. Last year we at St. Peter’s served a sit down luncheon near the World Day and invited the poor and the homeless We called it “Breaking Bread with Our Neighbors in Need.”
We have decided to do something similar again this year with a luncheon on Wednesday, November 20. There will be more about this in next week’s bulletin, but we wanted to alert you now so that you would keep this important event in your thoughts and prayers.
A CHUCKLE FOR YOUR PLEASURE
His request approved, the news photographer quickly used a cell phone to call the local airport to charter a flight. He was told a twin-engine plane would be waiting for him at the airport. Arriving at the airfield, he spotted a plane warming up outside a hanger. He jumped in with his bag, slammed the door shut, and shouted, “Let’s go!”
The pilot taxied out, swung the plane into the wind and took off. Once in the air, the photographer instructed the pilot, “Fly over the valley and make low passes so I can take pictures of the fires on the hillsides.”
“Why?” asked the pilot.
“Because I’m a photographer for cable news,” I responded, “and I need to get some close up shots.”
The pilot was strangely silent for a moment. Finally he stammered, “So, what you’re telling me is…you’re NOT my flight instructor?”