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Posted by on in Religious Education

Christians believe that at one moment in time, everything changed forever. That came on Holy Thursday, the night before Jesus died, when he sat down with his disciples for the Passover meal. Instead of bitter herbs and a lamb, he gave them bread and said, "This is my body," and a cup of wine saying, "This is my Blood."

Shortly after this Passover meal, on Good Friday, Jesus was arrested, scourged, died on a Cross, and was buried. Good Friday commemorates the Crucifixion, Death, and burial of Christ Jesus. Three days later his tomb was empty. God had raised Jesus from the dead. Easter Sunday crowns the Triduum celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord.

The New Testament refers to Jesus numerous times as the Lamb of God. He made the Passover radically new. The blood came not from an unblemished lamb, but from the innocent Son of God. The freedom won by this sacrifice is not just movement from one land to another, but from sin and death into life everlasting.

Alleluia! Alleluia!! Alleluia!!

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Posted by on in Religious Education

Stanislaus Szczepanowski (shchep-an-OV-skee) was the son of noble parents in Poland. He decided early in life that he wanted to be a priest. He was sent to the best schools, even as far away as Paris. Later, as a young preacher back in Kracow, on Sunday mornings he drew crowds from all over the city.

In 1072, Stanislaus was chosen to be bishop of Kracow. The people of the city were overjoyed. They loved their new bishop. They felt free to ask him for advice, shelter, food, or whatever they needed. He kept open house for the poor.

The king of Poland, Boleslaus II, was called "the cruel." He led his country into unjust wars. He cheated the poor. Of all the people of Poland, only Stanislaus spoke out. Everyone else was afraid. Stanislaus said that if a king was unjust, he had no right to be a king. He also said that an unjust king could not be a member of the church. King Boleslaus attempted to destroy the bishop’s reputation by spreading rumors about him. But the people did not believe the lies. Finally, King Boleslaus brought his guards to the church where Stanislaus was celebrating Mass. He ordered them to kill Stanislaus. When the guards wouldn’t obey him, Boleslaus took a sword and did it himself.

After some time, the king was forced out of Poland. According to legend, he repented of the wrongs he had done and spent his last years in a monastery in Hungary.

St. Stanislaus, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

Saint Benedict, The Moor, was born in 1526 to slaves who were brought to Sicily and later converted to Christianity. He was freed and later converted to Christianity. He was freed from slavery as a reward to his parents for their service. Benedict was uneducated and illiterate and worked at a series of menial jobs, but he gave his meager wages to the poor and sick. When he was twenty-one, he was publicly insulted for his race. The superior of a local group of Franciscans hermits noted his dignity and patience in the face of this indignity, and they invited Benedict to join their community. Eventually, he became their leader. In 1564, Pope Pius IV ordered the hermits to attach themselves to an established community, and Benedict moved to Palermo to join the Friary of Saint Mary. Initially he served as cook, but his holiness was soon recognized. In spite of the fact that he was an illiterate lay brother, he was elected guardian (the title Franciscans give to their superiors) and later he was given charge of training new members as the novice mater. Benedict was able to reform the friary by instituting strict observance of the Rule of Saint Francis. He had a reputation for his intuitive understanding of theology and the Scriptures—in spite of his lack of education—and was known as a wise spiritual counselor and healer of the sick. He died in 1589 at the age of 65, and was canonized in 1807. Benedict is a patron saint of African Americans.

St. Benedict, the Moor, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

Exactly nine months before Christmas, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, when the angel brought to Mary the amazing news that she would be the Mother of God’s son. On this day, as in Christmas Time, we contemplate the wonder of the Incarnation: in Jesus, God took on our flesh, becoming like us in all things but sin.

This solemnity almost always falls during Lent, and this seems appropriate because it was the Incarnation that made the Passion possible. In becoming one of us, Christ became capable of suffering as we suffer; he made himself vulnerable as we are vulnerable. "Beyond our grasp, he chose to come within our grasp," wrote Saint Leo the Great. "Existing before time began, he began to exist at a moment in time. Lord of the universe, he hid his infinite glory and took the nature of a servant. Incapable of suffering as God, he did not refuse to be a man, capable of suffering. Immortal, he chose to be subject to the laws of death."

The Annunciation is a Solemnity of the Lord, but it is also a day to give thanks to and for Mary. The Gospel account of the Annunciation in Luke reveals a great wonder: God sought the free consent of a young girl to carry out his plan for us. God asked for help! Many artists throughout the ages have chosen to depict this moment of decision that changed the world for ever.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

When Patrick was 16, his father’s farm in Britain was invaded. The raiders carried Patrick off with his father’s servants to be slaves in Ireland. Patrick spent the next six years tending sheep. As a slave, he suffered greatly from loneliness. But in his isolation he found a deep sense of God’s love for him. He began to pray.

Finally Patrick was able to escape. He made his way home to Britain. He became a monk and studied so that he could return to Ireland as a missionary. By the year 433, he had also become a bishop. Patrick went back to Ireland and traveled throughout the land. He preached to the Irish in their own language, which he had learned during his years of slavery. By the time Patrick died 25 years later, most of the Irish people were baptized.

Monasteries in Ireland became centers of learning. Missionaries sent from Ireland later played a large part in bringing Christianity back to Europe after European cities were destroyed by invading tribes. St. Patrick’s Day always comes during Lent, when the church is getting catechumens ready for baptism at Easter. Patrick used the three-leafed shamrock to try to explain to catechumens the mystery of the Holy Trinity.

St. Patrick, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

During the season of Lent, Eastern Christians celebrate the feast of the Forty Holy Martyrs. These saints were Christian soldiers of various races from the city of Sebaste in Armenia. They refused to obey the demand of the emperor Licinius that they abandon their religion, so they were sentenced to death by freezing. Forced to lie on a frozen pond, they encouraged each other during their ordeal.

One soldier lost heart and ran for a warm bath that the emperor had prepared to tempt them. A pagan soldier, inspired by the courage of the other 39, joined the martyrs. So their number remained complete.

This feast tells us something about Lent itself. During the 40 days of this season, we try to die to whatever is not life-giving in us. On this March day it is a custom to search for the returning birds and to listen for their songs. The deadly power of cold winter will not last forever. The Easter victory of Christ is coming soon.

Forty Holy Martyrs, pray for us.

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Vernalbe Samuel Charles Mazzuchelli was born in Italy and joined the Domincans at the age of 17. He was sent to the American frontier where he served as a missionary priest to the Northwest Territory, from the Great Lakes to the Mississippi. He ministered to immigrant settlers, miners, farmers, traders, political leaders, and native tribes. He has a deep love for the Native Americans, so he established schools that taught in their own language, and also published a Winnebago prayer book and liturgical almanac in Chippewa. Venerable Samuel also fought governmental injustices against Native Americans. Along with founding 30 parishes, he began a religious community of women, the Dominican sisters of Sinsinawa, to continue his mission of teacher and preaching. Mazzuchelli died on February 23, 1864.

Father Samuel helped to spiritually and physically build the Church where he served. After he died, many prayed for his canonization. On July 9, 1964, Mother Benedicta, Sinsinawa Dominican Prioress, formally petitioned for official establishment of the cause for his "hoped for" beatification and canonization.

Under the direction of the Vatican Congregation for Causes of Saints, Dominican Sr. Nona McGreal wrote a formal presentation of his life and virtue (called a positio.) The document’s historical review was completed in 1990. Next expert theologians reviewed it to determine the heroic quality of his virtues.

On July 6, 1993, Fr. Samuel Mazzuchelli was declared "Venerable" by Pope John Paul II. The title "Venerable" recognizes his holiness and completes the first step towards his canonization. Next, the Church examines reports of miraculous favors attributed to him. If a miracle is approved, the Pope would beatify Father Mazzuchelli with the title "Blessed." If the Church approves a second miracle, Father Samuel could be honored by the Church as "Saint Samuel." This would make many hearts dance with joy!

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Posted by on in Religious Education

"That which does not kill me makes me strong." The life of Peter Damian proves the truth of this old saying. Peter was a survivor. Born into an already large family in Italy, Peter was seen by his family as just an extra mouth to feed. When his parents died, Peter found himself in the household of an older brother, who underfed him and treated him as a slave. Like the prodigal son in the Gospel of Luke, Peter was forced to tend pigs. Finally another brother provided him with the money to go away to school.

Despite his lack of early training, Peter was a fine student. By the time he was 25 years old he had become a famous professor. He taught at the universities at Parma and Ravenna. Perhaps because he knew what it was like to go hungry, Peter invited poor people to dine with him almost every evening. He served the meal himself.

Peter wanted to pray and study scripture, so he became a monk. Soon he was appointed head of his community and he remained in that position for 30 years. Eventually Peter was named bishop of Ostia and a cardinal of the church. He fought hard against abuses of power by the clergy, such as paying bribes to obtain important jobs in the church. He encouraged monks to live a simple life of prayer. He was asked many times by popes to assist other monasteries, especially when they had arguments or scandals. Seven popes considered Peter their trusted advisor.

On the way home from one of his papal missions, Peter caught a fever and became very ill. He died a peaceful death while the monks around him sang Morning Prayer.

St. Peter Damian, pray for us.

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Saint Blase was a physician, bishop of Turkey, and martyr who was born sometime in the third century and died around the year 316. The earliest written reference to him doesn’t appear until the fifth or sixth century, where he is reputed to have healed a boy who was choking on a fish bone. For this reason, his intercession is invoked for illnesses of the throat, and it is customary for throats to be blessed on his memorial, using crossed candles. The instruments of his martyrdom were steel combs that would normally have been used to comb wool, and for this reason he is the patron saint of the wool trade. He was very popular in the 11th and 12th centuries, and is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers whose story is retold in the Golden Legend. The Fourteen Holy Helpers are a group of saints who are invoked against disease.

 

The tradition of blessing throats began at a time when the church’s calendar was filled with blessings for the saints’ days. Many of these are no longer practiced, but somehow, the custom of blessing throats survived. It is no surprise that this custom coincides with the peak of the sore throat and flu season. Years ago, wintertime illnesses were very dangerous. Before the discovery of penicillin, a person could die from complications of a sore throat.

 

Saint Blase, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

The classmates of Thomas Aquinas had a nickname for him. They called him "the dumb Sicilian ox" because he was big, slow-moving and shy. They didn’t realize until later that their classmate was fantastically intelligent. Thomas’s family was related to emperors. He was born in the family castle in Italy. His parents prepared him for a life of importance. Instead, humble Thomas joined the Dominicans, an order whose friars took a vow of poverty.

His family felt angry that Thomas would be begging for his living. His six older brothers, who were soldiers like their father, held him captive for more than a year while his mother and sisters tried to talk him into changing his mind. During this time, Thomas calmly read and studied. He also learned a great deal of the bible by heart. Finally his family gave in and allowed him to return to the Dominicans.

Thomas kept quiet in his university classes because he did not like to show off his intellect. However, he was so brilliant that he became a professor at the University of Paris. He was also known as a great preacher. In those years, just about everyone talked about religion. They got into big arguments over small matters. Some people insisted that the truth of spiritual things is different from the truth of material things and that only spiritual truths really mattered. But Thomas said to look in a mirror. Ask yourself, where does the body stop and the soul begin? How is it possible to separate spirit and matter? In future years the ideas of Thomas Aquinas became the way that theology was taught in much of the church. Thomas’s writing fill 20 volumes. Perhaps he was able to produce so much in the midst of a busy life because of his deep prayer life. Celebrating the Eucharist often moved him to tears. He treated everyone with patience and kindness. During his whole life he was never known to lose his temper or speak sarcastically about another person. Thomas died at age 50. Because of his writings, Thomas has been honored with the title "Angelic Doctor" ("doctor" here means "teacher").

St. Thomas Aquinas, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

Once again, all Senior and Middle School parents will be asked to sign permission slips for their child to participate in this aspect of our religious

education program. Please feel free to stop by the office to preview the Benziger Family Life textbook that will be utilized as a supplement to the current Sadlier We Believe religion textbook.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

Most of us know someone who died while still young. The value of a person’s life can’t be measured by the number of years she or he spends on earth. Some people live with more meaning and joy in one day than others do in years. Agnes was such a person; she lived a whole lifetime of love for God in just 13 years.

Although Agnes was young when she was martyred, her courage made a great impact on the people around her. A church was built over her tomb after her death. She may be the most famous of the early Roman martyrs.

According to legend, Agnes was very beautiful. When she refused a proposal of marriage from a pagan, the young man reported to the emperor that she was a Christian.

The name Agnes means "pure" in Greek. It sounds like the Latin word agnus, which means "lamb." Every year on this day, two lambs from a special flock are blessed in the Roman church that bears her name. At Eastertime, the soft wool from these lambs is sheared and made into vestments for the bishops of the church.

St. Agnes, pray for us.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

St. Andre’ Bessette, known as Frere Andre, was born to an impoverished working-class French-Canadian family. His father worked at various trades, trying to make enough to support his family. Eventually he found work as a lumberjack but was tragically killed by a falling tree, leaving behind a widow and ten children. Three years later, Andre’ was orphaned at the age of twelve when his mother died of tuberculosis. He was taken in by his aunt and uncle. He tried his hand at several trades, but his poor health and lack of education made it difficult for him to hold a job, so he emigrated to the United States and spent time working in a textile mill in New England. Andre’ was always exceptionally pious, and he eventually returned to Canada and entered the Congregation of the Holy Cross in Montreal. He was made doorkeeper at Notre Dame College in Quebec. He held this position for forty years and developed a great following once his reputation for wisdom and holiness spread. In 1904 he began building a small chapel on Mount Royal, which later developed into Saint Joseph’s Oratory. Thousands of miraculous healings were attributed to him during his lifetime, but he always gave credit to Saint Joseph, to whom he had a great devotion. When he died in 1937, aged ninety-one, a million people paid their respects. Andre’ Bessette was canonized by Pope Benedict CVI on October 17, 2010.

St. Andre’ Bessette, pray for us.

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Sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion:

To OMMS parents wishing sacraments of First Reconciliation and First Communion for their children in May 2014. The last day to turn in sacramental request form to the Religious Education Department is October 19th. Please be sure to fill out Sacramental Request form, include a copy of your child’s Baptism Certificate, and $20 documents and processing fee. Larry LaGrasta, R.E. Coordinator ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Thursday, October 3rd – Special liturgy will be held in the Historic Church on the anniversary of St. Francis’ death. Dessert reception following in the Sacred Garden.

Sunday, October 6th – Parish Celebration of the Feast of St. Francis & Welcome Sunday

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There is a required meeting for parents requesting 1st Communion for their child scheduled for October 17th @ 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm in the Parish Dining Room. A repeat session will be offered Saturday, October 19th, @ 9:00 am to 11:00 am, in the Parish Dining Room.

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Posted by on in Religious Education

 Parents please remember to register with our parish to enroll your child if you are requesting the Sacraments of 1st Reconciliation and 1st Communion for 2013/2014.

 There are required meetings to attend for parents and some for the children plus interviews and rehearsals.   Please watch for further information to be included in future newsletters.

 If you have any questions please contact

Larry LaGrasta – This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

or 760-547-0712.

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