On Monday the Vatican released Pope Francis’ third Apostolic Exhortation, Gaudete et Exsultate, or its English title, “Rejoice and be Glad”. Its subtitle is, On the Call to Holiness in the Contemporary World. A Papal Exhortation is considered to rank third in importance for a papal document below an apostolic constitution and an encyclical.
While I haven’t yet gotten a chance to read it. I’m looking forward to it. From press reports it seems that the document is written in Pope Francis’ usual down to earth style. Rev. James Martin, S.J. wrote a review of the document for America Magazine. In his article Fr. Martin wrote of five takeaways on holiness that he felt a reader should learn.
Holiness means being yourself. Pope Francis cites examples of saints who were all very different. Some were great at accomplishing deeds. Others were more pious. Some had great senses of humor. They were what we might call comfortable in their skins. They recognized God’s gifts and used them the best way they knew how. So, take the gifts God has given you and use them to show your love for God and other human beings and you will be on the road to holiness.
Everyday life can lead to holiness. Francis says that saints live next door. You don’t have to be a bishop, priest, Religious Sister to become a saint. You don’t have to be the founder of a religious order or a miracle worker to become one. Francis says you don’t need to walk around with your eyes cast down or “swooning in mystical rapture” to be considered a saint by God. He reminds us that it is in the little gestures and habits of life that we grow in holiness. Francis says it is in the resistance to get caught up in gossip, showing little acts of charity and recognizing that we are called to mission in our lives that we grow in holiness. So, sanctity is within your grasp.
Two tendencies to avoid: Gnosticism and Pelagianism. These are two old heresies that date back to the early Church but still have a tendency to creep out in our lives of faith today. Gnosticism is the belief that what matters most is what you know. It is the belief that charity and good works don’t matter. All you need is the correct intellectual approach to faith. Francis says that Gnosticism raises its ugly head today in the belief that we have all the answers. It means being-a-know- it with all the answers to questions of faith and not letting the breath of the Holy Spirit work in people lives of faith. Pelagianism is the heresy that we are in control of our own salvation. It is the tendency to believe we don’t need God’s grace to guide us on the way of holiness. Remember it isn’t all about you but all about God’s grace.
Be Kind. The practical Pope Francis teaches us that kindness is the best vehicle to holiness. He warns the reader “don’t gossip, stop judging and, most important, stop being cruel.” At this point Francis addresses the problem of the cruel use of social media. According to the media he is explicit in what we can do to stop the abuses of social media. Maybe we should all shut off Twitter, Facebook and other forms of social media or at least control their use.
The Beatitudes are a roadmap for holiness. Yes, there is nothing like being faithful to Jesus Sermon on the Mount to guide us on the path of holiness. James Martin, S.J. and some other journalist write that Francis offers a beautiful reflection on the Beatitudes and how they can help us live a holy life and become a saint. I like to call them the constitution of our faith and the basic rule book for saints. I’m looking forward to reading “Gaudete et Exsultate” and trying with a big dose of God’s grace to become a saint someday.
We’ve Done it, Lenten Folders Build House in Haiti
As part of practicing the Lenten discipline of almsgiving parishioners were asked to fill their Lenten folders so that the proceeds could be used to send to the aid agency Food for the Poor. Our hope was to build a modest house for a family in Haiti. The cost of the house is $3,600. Well congratulations we did it! As of Monday, $3,914 has been raised in donations to that project. If you have not yet returned your Lenten folder please put it into the collection basket today or drop at the parish office as soon as possible. We would like to send our contribution in this week. Thank you to those who contributed it is a job well done.
Building on Our Parish Mission
Our Lenten House in Haiti project was a great success but we can do so much more! Two more parish outreach projects are in the works. One is a plan to develop a twining relationship with a parish in Latin America or the Caribbean. Hopefully, this will be done through our parish conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society. Each SVDP conference is encouraged to have an international twin conference in a developing country. The proposed plan is to contribute the proceeds the parish receives from the donations made to the candle stands, about $1,500 a year, to share with an international twin. Hopefully, this will help our parish develop a relationship with this overseas parish. It might lead to mission trips to the international parish and other activities to help a conference overseas. Maybe our overseas twin can be the beneficiary of our Lenten folders next year.
- You can always help the work of the Holy Redeemer Conference of the St. Vincent de Paul Society by dropping a cash donation into the SVDP Poor Box. The box is at the back of the church on the left side. All your donations to the Poor Box go to the works of the parish St. Vincent de Paul Society.
- Locally, we would like to help support St. Joseph’s Shelter in Hyannis. Recently Fr. Sullivan visited run by the Diocese of Fall River’s Catholic Social Services. They are in need of assembling new home kits to give to the residents who are being placed in their own homes. The kits would include cleaning supplies, and household items such as pans, cutlery, bathroom accessories and other items anyone who was moving into an apartment would need to settle in. Our plan is to ask for donations to assemble these kits this summer.
- You can help St. Joseph’s Shelter right now. Parishioners provide a lunch of sandwiches, fruit and cookies for residents of the 60 bed shelter every first Wednesday of the month. They are always looking for more volunteers to help make the lunch. If you would like to share your time, talent and treasure with these homeless please volunteer by calling 508-945-1834.
No, I’m Not Too Busy for You
Pope Francis often gives his fellow priests a zinger. When he first became pope, he wasn’t reluctant to make some comments to challenge us. Most memorable was his observation that pastors need to “smell like the sheep”. In one of his Holy Week Homilies Pope Francis “joked” that you can tell a priest who doesn’t have time for his people when parishioners say to him, “Father, I know you are busy.” It isn’t such a joke but speaks to a real pastoral need. In past assignments I’ve tried to make a gesture to show my availability to parishioners by blocking off some time each week to be available if you feel the need to drop in to the Parish Office and talk with me. This week I made a conscious effort to renew that practice. I’ve blocked off Monday afternoons from 3 pm-5 pm as time I’ll always try to be free if you feel the need to just drop in to talk something over with me. Of course, you aren’t limited to this time slot and it’s always good to make an appointment but this is my small gesture to try not have people say to me, “Father, I know you are busy.”
Share Your Hopes and Dreams for Our Diocese
Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha, SDV invites all parishioners to a series of Listening Sessions to gather parishioner input as part of the diocesan strategic planning process. The sessions are being held at various parish locations throughout the diocese. A session is planned for Wednesday April 18, 2018, from 6:30-8 pm at St. Joan of Arc Church, 68 Canal Road, Orleans. Canal Road is left off of Rte. 28 just east of Orleans Center. Plan to attend and offer your insights and opinions to Bishop da Cunha.