Dear Parish Family,
“Love those who humble and contradict you, for they are more useful to your perfection than those who flatter you.” ~St. Margaret Mary Alacoque
FIRST FRIDAY: This Friday is the First Friday of the month. We will have Mass, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 5:30.
SUNDAY MASS: As you come to Mass this Sunday and going forward, we will no longer have ushers seating you! A huge thank you goes out to those men and women who have given their time over the past year to help find seats for everyone!!! While I understand that everyone loves “their” place in the church, PLEASE be aware of the need for everyone to find a seat without having to climb over those who are hugging the aisles. If possible, please scoot over to allow others to be safely seated. Also, be aware of the 3-foot social distance we are still required to maintain. (As a guide, for most people, from your nose to the fingertips of your outstretched arm is approx. 3 ft.) Thank you all for your cooperation and for your care and concern for your fellow St. Joseph Parish family members — let’s continue to take care of each other!!
Also, please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning this coming Sunday. Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday. As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation. If you have any questions about your particular situation, please call me and we can discuss it!
As we are well into our “return to normal,” this will be the last week of daily emails. I began sending them, along with the daily readings and Father Kevin’s homilies, at the beginning of the “shut-down” last year as a way to keep us all in touch and connected through all the difficulties that the pandemic foisted upon us all. Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday. I want to take this time to thank Father Kevin for providing his daily homilies for the last 15+ months. His words have been, on many, many days, exactly what we needed to hear to take us through another day!
Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
First Reading: Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9
When the angel
Raphael and Tobiah had entered Media and were getting close to Ecbatana,
Raphael said to the boy, “Tobiah, my brother!” He replied: “Here I am!” He said: “Tonight we must stay with Raguel, who is a relative of yours. He has a daughter named Sarah.”
So he brought him
to the house of Raguel, whom they found seated by his courtyard gate.
They greeted him first. He said to them, “Greetings to you too, brothers! Good health to you, and welcome!” And he brought them into his home. Raguel slaughtered a ram from the flock
and gave them a cordial reception. When they had bathed and reclined to eat, Tobiah said to Raphael, “Brother Azariah, ask Raguel to let me marry my kinswoman Sarah.” Raguel overheard the words; so he said to the boy: “Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled
to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother. Besides, not even I have the right to give her to anyone but you, because you are my closest relative. But I will explain the situation to you very frankly. I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours,
and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink. I am sure the Lord will look after you both.” Tobiah answered, “I will eat or drink nothing until you set aside what belongs to me.” Raguel said to him: “I will do it. She is yours according to the decree of the Book of Moses. Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven! Take your kinswoman;
from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after.
And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace.” Then Raguel called his daughter Sarah, and she came to him. He took her by the hand and gave her to Tobiah with the words: “Take her according to the law. According to the decree written in the Book of Moses she is your wife. Take her and bring her back safely to your father.
And may the God of heaven grant both of you peace and prosperity.” Raguel then called Sarah’s mother and told her to bring a scroll, so that he might draw up a marriage contract stating that he gave Sarah to Tobiah as his wife according to the decree of the Mosaic law. Her mother brought the scroll, and Raguel drew up the contract, to which they affixed their seals. Afterward they began to eat and drink. Later Raguel called his wife Edna and said, “My love, prepare the other bedroom and bring the girl there.” She went and made the bed in the room, as she was told,
and brought the girl there. After she had cried over her, she wiped away the tears and said:
“Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter.” Then she left. When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.” She got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs. And they began to say: “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5
R. Blessed are
those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
Blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Gospel: Mark 12:28-34
One of the
scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Mark 12: 28-34
Have you ever written a love letter? Did it express what you wanted to say to the one you loved? Did it touch the heart of your beloved?
Or was it “dismissed” as “nice” or “precious” and put aside like a greeting card?
There’s an art to writing a love letter. Tom Chiarella, a professor of creative writing at DePauw University, has had his own successes and failures at writing love letters. He offers these tips to anyone trying to write a good love letter:
Remember, first, that it’s a letter, not a card. If what you want to express is a sentiment that you can buy, then what you’re feeling might not be love.
Sit down and write. Letters take time; letters have a rhythm. There are no bullet points. No clipping and pasting. The words have to be yours.
Keep in mind that the purpose of a love letter is to acknowledge, Chiarella advises. You’re creating a record of the previous four months or two weeks or that day or the very moment in which you find yourself. A good love letter is about memory.
Show your beloved what you love about him or her before you tell them what you love about them.
Don’t overdo the earnestness or the genuineness. Strive for clarity.
And remember that a love letter is private — and therefore it can bear some risk. In this way, a love letter is like love itself. [Esquire.com, June 24, 2010.]
A well-written and thought-out love letter requires the same focus that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel. To love as God loves us demands every element of who we are — our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength.
Like a good love letter, love begins with a commitment of time and attention. Love is expressed in our words, however clumsy and unsophisticated they may be, but the words must come from our heart and then move from the page to relationship. Love is discovered and nurtured in memories of those moments when the love of God becomes real to us in the goodness and grace of the one we love. And the love of God forces us outside our comfort zone, to put our own feelings and wants on the line, to risk being hurt or misunderstood for the sake of the beloved.
It’s in such complete and uncompromising love that we most mirror that of God; it’s in selfless and simple generosity and giving that we participate in the very life of God.
Teach us to love as you love us, O God: totally, completely, without condition or
qualification. Help us to possess the humility and gratitude to mirror your loving forgiveness and healing compassion within our homes and families, our communities and churches, our schools and workplaces.
An Act of
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart. I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Saints Charles Lwanga and
Patron Saint of African youth
Young African Christians die like the martyrs of old
Many of the faces of the saints in heaven that shine with the light of God are dark faces. North Africa was one of the first regions to be evangelized and was home to a vibrant, diverse, and orthodox Church for over six hundred years. North Africa had over four hundred bishoprics and enriched the universal Church with a wealth of theologians, martyrs, and saints. That Catholic culture drowned under the crushing waves of Arab Muslim armies that inundated North Africa in the seventh century, altering its cultural and religious landscape. Small pockets of Christianity continued to exist in isolation for a few centuries more. But by 1830, when French colonists and missionaries settled in Tunisia and Algeria, local Christianity had totally disappeared. The Christian light had gone out in North Africa centuries before.
Yet today’s saints are nineteenth-century African martyrs. While North Africa has remained in the tight grip of Islam, sub-Saharan Africa has lived a contrary reality. It has embraced Christianity. Throughout the nineteenth century, daring missionary priests and religious from various European countries penetrated deep into the towns, savannas, jungles, and river deltas of the “dark continent,” carrying the light of Christ. For the most part, they were well received and initiated the long and complex process of evangelization, inculturation, and education that has turned today’s sub-Saharan Africa into a largely Christian region.
Charles Lwanga and his companions were all very young men, in their teens and twenties, when they were martyred. They ran afoul of their local ruler for one reason and one reason only—they were Christians and adhered to Christian morality. The ruler did not otherwise question their loyalty, devotion, or service to him. He was suspicious of the European priests who had brought the faith, wary of outside interference in his kingdom, and also eager to impress his subjects with a display of ruthlessness and power. He was also a sodomite who wanted these young men to engage in unholy sexual acts with him. For refusing to satisfy his disordered and abusive lust, they became victims of homosexual violence.
The ruler and his court questioned the young males who served as their pages and assistants to discover if they were catechumens, had been baptized, or knew how to pray. Those who answered “Yes” were killed for it. One was stabbed through the neck with a spear and another’s arm was cut off before he was beheaded. But most were marched miles to an execution site, cruelly treated for a week, then wrapped in reed matts and placed over a fire until their feet were singed. They were then given one last chance to abjure their faith. None did. These tightly wrapped human candles were then thrown onto a huge pyre where they returned to the dust from whence, they came. One of the executioners even killed his own son. The executioners and onlookers knew their victims had succumbed to the flames when they no longer heard them praying.
The site where these Ugandan martyrs died is now a popular shrine and a source of pride dear to the heart of African Catholics. Charles Lwanga and his companions, though new to the faith, acted with the maturity of the wise and the aged, choosing to sacrifice lives full of promise rather than surrender the pearl of greatest price—their Catholic faith.