From the Pastor–May 14, 2017

Posted by on May 22, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, The Church, in her wisdom, gives us the Month of May to honor Holy Mary—our Mother and our Queen. Mary the “Queen of Heaven” is honored for her unique relationship with Jesus and her love and guidance of each of us, her earthly children. You should note that to the left of our altar is the stunning stained-glass window of Mary being crowned “Queen of Heaven”—it is a true treasure of our parish. Pope Francis consecrated his papacy to Mary, under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, and he invited everyone to consecrate themselves to her tender, loving care.  This month, as we honor our Mother Mary and Queen, let us consider praying the Rosary, lighting a candle at Mary’s shrine, or praying one of the various novena prayers of Our Lady (Perpetual Help, Fatima, Un-tier of Knots, Guadalupe, Lourdes). As we honor our Holy Mother Mary  on this Mother’s Day, let us remember to pray for all of our mothers, living and in heaven, for the many gifts they have shared with us, and for the many ways that they have showed us God’s love. A Mother’s Day Prayer Thank you, Holy God, for our mothers. She gave me life and nurtured me all those years. She gave me my faith, helping me to know you and to know Jesus and His ways. She taught me how to love and how to sacrifice for others.  Bless her with the graces she needs and which you want to give her today. Help her to feel precious in your eyes today and to know that I love her. Give her strength and courage, compassion, and peace. Amen. Happy Mother’s Day and God Bless. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio, SJ Pastor...

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From the Pastor–May 7, 2017

Posted by on May 9, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today, in a special way, we congratulate and offer thanks to our young people of the parish and PREP program that celebrate their First Communion. We are very proud of you and your love for Jesus. Together, with your family and friends, we pledge our support and prayers! In today’s Gospel on this 4th Sunday of Easter, John the Evangelist writes: “But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” That shepherd, of course, is Jesus Christ who protects us, cares for us, and leads us to the Father. In turn, the Lord entrusted us, His Church, to our chief shepherd, our pope, who like Jesus leads us and us guides in holiness. We know that Jesus called himself the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). Throughout the Gospels the Lord talks about sheep, goats and shepherds, and He compares the people of God to the “flock of God.” In the image of Jesus, the Lord fulfills the prophecy from Ezekiel 34:23 where God himself promises to become the Good Shepherd who will judge His people with justice. Jesus fulfills this prophecy when He declares himself the Good Shepherd. But who would lead the flock after Jesus returned to heaven? Jesus said there would be “one flock, one shepherd” (Jn 10:16). After His resurrection, in a moving and tender conversation with Peter, Jesus assigns His job as shepherd of the sheep to St. Peter, our first pope. Peter becomes the spiritual father of the people of God and the prime servant of Christ’s Kingdom with full authority in Jesus’ absence. Today, as God’s flock, let us remember to pray for our earthly shepherd, Christ’s vicar on earth, Pope Francis, as well as for Pope Emeritus Benedict, and for all of our Church leaders who are charged with caring for us and leading us in holiness. A Prayer for the Pope: Let us pray. O God, the Pastor and Ruler of all the faithful, look down, in your mercy, upon your servant, Pope Francis, whom you have appointed to preside over your Church; and grant, we beseech you, that both by word and example, he may edify all those in his care; so that, with the flock entrusted to him, he may arrive at length unto life everlasting. Through Christ our Lord. Amen. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor–April 30, 2017

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today on this Third Sunday of Easter, the Gospel reading is the well-known passage known as the “Road to Emmaus.” Emmaus, as we know, is a small town outside of Jerusalem. Today’s gospel account from Luke reports that Jesus appeared there, after his death and resurrection, to two of his disciples while they were walking on the road and that it was only in the breaking and sharing of bread that they recognized him. The fundamental Gospel message that the Emmaus story seeks to convey is that it is not one’s destination so much as it is one’s actual journey that is most crucial in life. Thus, Emmaus represents our journey to holiness, to the very heart of God. As we all seek to travel to greater holiness, I commend to your consideration the possibility of making a spiritual retreat this spring or summer. Retreats are a great opportunity for reflection and renewal, and are an encouraging time to “taste and see the goodness of God” in our own lives and in the beauty of the world around us. Our Jesuit Founder, Saint Ignatius Loyola, because of his formation of the Spiritual Exercises, is honored by the Church as the “Patron Saint of retreats.” So as members of the Ignatian and Jesuit Family, I invite you to give some serious thought and prayer to make a retreat and carve out some precious time to rest, renew, and to grow in your relationship with God. Below are some Catholic Retreat Houses in the Philadelphia area that I highly recommend. Please visit their websites and again, consider visiting these holy places for an opportunity to grow closer to God, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit! SAINT RAPHAELA CENTER-The Handmaids of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Phone: 610-642-5715 Location: 616 Coopertown Road, Haverford, PA 19041 MOTHER BONIFACE SPIRITUALITY CENTER-The Sisters of the Most Blessed Trinity. Phone: 267-350-1831 Location: 3501 Solly Avenue Phila. PA 19136 CRANALEITH SPIRITUAL CENTER-The Sisters of Mercy. Phone: 215-934-6206 Location: 13475 Proctor Road, Phila. PA 19116 DAYLESFORD ABBEY SPIRITUALITY CENTER-The Norbertines. Phone: 610-647-2530 Location: 220 S. Valley Road, Paoli, PA 19301 FRANCISCAN SPIRITUAL CENTER-The Sisters of St. Francis. Phone: 610-558-6152 Location: 609 S. Convent Road, Aston, PA 19014 MALVERN RETREAT HOUSE-Catholic Lay Leadership. Phone: 610-644-0400 Location: 315 S Warren Avenue, Malvern, PA 19355 THE JESUIT CENTER-The Society of Jesus. Phone: 610-670-364 Location: 501 N Church Road, Wernersville, PA 1956 In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor–April 23, 2017

Posted by on May 1, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today in the Church calendar besides being the Second Sunday of Easter is popularly known as “Divine Mercy Sunday.”  Saint John Paul II formally instituted this feast in the Church’s liturgical calendar during his pontificate. He first encountered this devotion while growing up in Poland. Between 1930 and 1938 Our Lord appeared to a young Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina, a Sister of the Congregation of Our Lady of Mercy in Poland who first initiated the Divine Mercy devotion. Sister Faustina, now a canonized saint of the Church, was also a mystic.  For a number of years, Jesus himself appeared to Faustina in various visions and inspired in her, and subsequently the entire Church, the devotion to Divine Mercy . On Good Friday, 1937, Jesus requested that Faustina make a special novena from Good Friday through the following Saturday. Jesus also asked that a picture be painted according to the vision of Himself as the very fountain of mercy. He also gave her a chaplet to be recited and said that it was appropriate to pray the chaplet at three o’clock each afternoon (the Hour of Great Mercy). Because of her promotion of this devotion, she has rightfully earned the title of “Apostle of Divine Mercy”.  Notably, in one of her visions, Jesus said to Sr Faustina: ‘Humanity will never find peace until it turns with trust to the Mercy of God.’   How true. For your personal prayer on this feast, I provide the Divine Mercy Chaplet below. (The Chaplet of Mercy is recited using ordinary rosary beads of five decades.) Make the Sign of the Cross The Our Father The Hail Mary The Apostle’s Creed The Eternal Father Recite: Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. On the ten small beads of each decade Recite: For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Repeat for the remaining decades Saying the “Eternal Father” (6) on the “Our Father” bead and then 10 “For the sake of His sorrowful Passion” (7) on the following “Hail Mary” beads. Conclude with Holy God (Repeat three times) Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world. Together let us continue to trust in God’s abundant mercy and commend all of our prayers and needs to God’s infinite love now, in this Holy Easter Season, and in the days to come. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor–Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, The Lord is Risen; indeed, He is Risen! Today our Church celebrates, with great joy, the principal feast of the liturgical year, Easter. Pope Leo I in the 4th century described Easter as the “greatest feast (festum festorum) and the very center of our holy faith.” Easter is also referred to as Pascha from the ancient Greek and Latin from which the word Paschal is derived. Whatever word we employ to describe today’s great feast, it remains for us, the Church, the grand festival celebrating and commemorating God’s great love for us in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead! For us Catholic Christians, Easter, the Day of Resurrection, is marked by the use of various liturgical symbols rooted in the scriptures and in our sacred tradition. These include the pronounced singing of the Alleluia, Hebrew for “Praise the Lord” (Tobit 13:17), after forty days of refraining from using that meaningful word, the ringing of bells that signify “making a joyful noise to the Lord” , (Psalm 98:4) and the Paschal greeting, The Lord is Risen, indeed He is Risen!( Matthew 28:6) We also see our sanctuary adorned with white lilies, a symbol of the Resurrection, as the new, pure, flower blooms, like Christ, bringing new life and a pleasing aroma! (Song of Solomon 2:1) The Easter Candle, that represents Christ as the “Light of the World” (John 8:12), the very light that “dispels all darkness” remains by the pulpit throughout the Easter season. Additionally, the vestments of the priest, and the altar frontal, are white symbolizing great rejoicing, life, light, purity, and triumph. (Revelation 7:14) Indeed, the Resurrection of Our Lord is God’s triumph of light over darkness, of joy over sorrow, of love over hatred, of life over death! It is important to remember that Easter is not just one day but an entire “season” of the Church’s liturgical year. The Easter Season or “Eastertide” is, in fact, a period of fifty days lasting from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday. It is celebrated as a single joyful feast, truly as the “great Lord’s Day”. Each Sunday of the season is treated as a Sunday of Easter, and, after the Sunday of the Resurrection, they are named Second Sunday of Easter, Third Sunday of Easter, etc. up to the Seventh Sunday of Easter, while the whole fifty-day period concludes with Pentecost Sunday. Finally there are additional symbols and customs that mark Eastertide across the Christian world, including one of our favorites in the US; Easter baskets filled with candy (a treat after the days of fasting in Lent) and Easter eggs, a symbol of the empty tomb and the new life that emerges...

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From the Pastor–Palm Sunday, April 9, 2017

Posted by on Apr 10, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today, as we stand a week from our great celebration of Easter, the Church worldwide commemorates “Palm Sunday of the Passion of Our Lord”. In all four Gospel accounts, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, Jesus’s entry into Jerusalem occurs a week before his Resurrection from the dead. With that, today marks the start of “Holy Week” that most sacred week in our liturgical calendar where we prayerfully recall and venerate Christ’s saving Passion, Death, and Resurrection. Per the Gospels, Jesus entered Jerusalem, where he was to ultimately suffer and die at Calvary, riding on a simple donkey. Hailed as the “Messiah”, the people there laid down their cloaks and waved palm branches before him as a sign of honor and respect. The scriptures record that as he passed by them, they sang a segment of Psalm 118: 26 , which we sing at each celebration of the Mass , Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Hosanna (Praise God) in the Highest! Interestingly, many scripture scholars maintain that the symbolism of Our Lord riding on a donkey may refer to the Eastern tradition that a donkey is an animal of peace, versus the horse, which was viewed as an animal of war. A king would have ridden a horse when he was fixed on war and ridden a donkey to symbolize his arrival in peace. Jesus’ entry to Jerusalem would have thus symbolized his entry as the” King of Peace” not as a war-waging king. Additionally, in Biblical times, the waving of palm branches before a person represented a gesture of honor and reverence. A palm branch was viewed as a symbol of triumph, victory and of eternal life. It is only fitting that here, at the celebration of the Eucharist, we bless and carry our palm branches today to honor our King of Peace, Jesus Christ! Also, the palm branch later was adapted by our Church not only to represent the entry of our King of Peace but also as a symbol of our Holy Martyrs, those women and men who gave their lives in following Jesus, and their spiritual victory or triumph over death. In the book of Revelation 7:9 the white-clad multitude of saints and martyrs stand before the throne of God holding palm branches crying out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” Finally, the priest’s vestments for today, and the altar frontals, are deep scarlet red, the color of blood, indicating the supreme redemptive sacrifice Christ was entering the city to fulfill: his Passion and Resurrection in Jerusalem. Today, then, as we consider these great...

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