From the Pastory–March 5, 2017

Posted by on Mar 6, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, With the start of Lent, this past Wednesday, Roman Catholic traditional Lenten practices of prayer, fasting, alms giving, and other forms of self-denial are still most warmly recommended by the Church. This week I draw our attention to the Lenten practice of fasting. Broadly speaking, fasting is the voluntary avoidance of something that is good. When Catholics talk about fasting, we normally mean restricting the food that we eat. We can fast between meals, by not eating snacks, or we can engage in a complete fast by abstaining from all food. While fasting takes the form of refraining from eating, it is primarily a spiritual discipline designed to tame the body so that we can concentrate on higher things, like prayer, reflection, and meditation. Fasting also unites us with others in their daily sufferings and trials. Not just Christians, but Jews, Muslims, and members of other faiths practice fasting as a means to holiness! Here are the Diocesan Guidelines for fasting: -Everyone 14 years of age or older is bound to abstain from meat on all the Fridays of Lent and Good Friday. -Everyone 18 or older, and under 59 years of age, is bound to fast on Good Friday. -On Good Friday, only one full meatless meal is allowed. Two other meatless meals, sufficient to maintain strength, may be taken according to each one’s needs, but together they should not equal another full meal. Eating between meals is not permitted. When health or ability to work would be seriously affected, the law does not oblige. I hope this is helpful and I wish you a most Blessed Lent! Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor — February 26, 2017

Posted by on Feb 27, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, I write to you this week from out of the office as I begin a few days of vacation with my family. Next Wednesday, March 1st, Christians around the world will begin the Holy Season of Lent with our celebration of Ash Wednesday. Masses, with the distribution of blessed ashes, at OSJ are set for the following times: -12:05 pm Mass -7:30 pm Mass Though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, Ash Wednesday remains one of the most popular and important days in our Roman Catholic liturgical calendar. Indeed, Ash Wednesday begins our time of increased almsgiving, fasting, and prayer. Notably, Ash Wednesday takes place 46 days before Easter Sunday, and while it is chiefly observed by Catholics, many other Christian denominations also observes this day of prayer and fasting. Ash Wednesday, for us, has its roots in the ancient Jewish tradition of penance and fasting where those seeking forgiveness, as a public sign of humility and repentance, donned themselves in sackcloth and covered their faces in ashes. The ashes for our Jewish ancestors, and for us today, symbolize the dust from which God made us. It is a sign of humility of our need for God’s forgiveness and grace in our lives. As the priest or minister applies the ashes to a person’s forehead, they speak the words: “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Alternatively, they may speak the words, “Repent and believe in the Gospel.” The ashes used in our Catholic tradition are made from blessed palm branches, taken from the previous year’s Palm Sunday Mass. As we enter into our blessed season of Lent, and as we seek to grow in greater faith, hope, and love in this holy time, let us continue to prayer for the needs of the entire world and to support one another with words and gestures of kindness, compassion, and Christian love. Blessed Lent! Fr Phil Florio,SJ...

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From the Pastor — February 19, 2017

Posted by on Feb 21, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns, Uncategorized

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, With all the conversation recently around refugees, I want bring to your attention a service of our Jesuit Family that is seeking to meet the rising demands of refugees. Many of you have asked how you can help those fleeing persecution and oppression in distant lands, so the Jesuits in the USA are encouraging those we serve to consider supporting the good work of the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS). This blurb, taken from the JRS website, best explains who they are: The Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) is an international Catholic organization with a mission to accompany, serve and advocate on behalf of refugees and other forcibly displaced persons. JRS programs are found in 50 countries, providing assistance to: refugees in camps and cities, individuals displaced within their own countries, asylum seekers in cities, and to those held in detention centers. The main areas of work are in the field of education, emergency assistance, healthcare, livelihood activities and social services. At the end of 2016, more than 900,000 individuals were direct beneficiaries of JRS projects. Gratefully, the Jesuit Refugee Service celebrated its 35th year in service to those in need. In addition, Pope Francis’ invitation to the Church to reveal Christ’s mercy, especially to those most in need, goes hand in hand with JRS’ mission. Again, Pope Francis has stressed that each of us are invited “to rediscover and make fruitful the mercy of God, with which all of us are called to give consolation to every man and woman of our time.” When addressing the current refugee crisis, the Holy Father has also said “the world is suffering from a ‘globalization of indifference,’ ignoring those who cry out for mercy. But it is time to change that.” If you are interested in supporting the ministry of refugees, please consider the work of JRS, and see their website for more information. Additionally, Dr. Bethany Welch, the steadfast chairperson of our Social Justice Committee, recently offered our parish community these additional agencies that will allow you to support services to refugees and refugee resettlement activities in our region: Welcome the Refugee – Catholic Social Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia welcometherefugee.org 610-876-7101 HIAS PA hiaspa.org 215-832-0900 Nationalities Service Center nscphila.org (215) 893-8400 Bethany Christian Services bethany.org/Philadelphia (215) 376-6200 Thank you and God Bless. In the Lord, Fr Phil Florio,...

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From the Pastor — February 12, 2017

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, On the 14th of this month the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day. This day, while currently celebrated as a secular holiday, was once solely a Catholic feast day in honor of an actual Christian saint. In truth, there were at least two or three St. Valentines, all of whom were likely martyrs of the early church. I say “likely” because much of what we know about them is attributed to legend and not history or fact.  Given this ambiguity, this church feast day is no longer celebrated in our liturgical calendar as we are not even sure which Valentine we honor that day! All we do know is that a Saint Valentine existed. Notably, the secular holiday is now associated with love and romance (and greeting cards!) Again, there were” likely”  two or more  St Valentines and we know that the first was a Roman priest martyred on the Flaminian Way under the Roman Emperor Claudius and the second was a bishop of Terni, who was taken to Rome and martyred in the public square. Again, the accounts of martyrdom of both St Valentines are legendary, although each legend possess some elements of truth. What we do know is that at least two Valentines were martyred, having suffered persecution and death for our faith. Accordingly, red, the Church’s liturgical color for martyrs, was used on St. Valentine’s Day to represent the blood that was spilled for God. Over time, the feast of these martyred saints grew in popularity and, eventually, began to be associated with love and romance. How and why that happened, no one is sure, but some scholars have speculated that the association with romantic love on Valentine’s Day is related to customs associated with the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, a festival of purification and fertility, which fell in mid-February. Today, Saint Valentine’s Day customs and traditions, while devoid of their religious significance, are nonetheless rooted in the Catholic practices of old. For example, sending Valentine greetings or “prayer cards,” as well as the giving of candies, treats, and flowers were traditional ways that Catholics honored a person on their saint’s day or name day. So while the Church no longer celebrates this mid- February day as a feast day, there is nothing to stop a Catholic from honoring—in prayer, word, or deed—one of the Saint Valentines on the 14th! God bless, Fr Phil Florio,SJ...

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From the Pastor — February 5, 2017

Posted by on Feb 13, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In recent months, we have seen many of our fellow Americans exercising their constitutional right to peaceful assembly and to freedom of expression/speech as provided for by the first amendment. Peaceful and lawful marches and non-violent protests are an essential part of the very fabric of our American way of being and proceeding. In the past few years, peaceable marches in which Americans have participated have focused on a number of issues including; climate change and the environment, the war in Syria, Veterans rights, federal divestment from fossil fuels, the cessation of offshore drilling, immigration reform fair housing, health care, LGBT rights, racial justice, prison reform, freedom of religion, workers’ rights, and education reform, just to name a few. We saw several weeks ago, the “Million Woman March” where millions marched peacefully in support of numerous issues facing women and other social justice related concerns. Over a week ago, hundreds of thousands peacefully gathered to represent their beliefs and positions at the annual “March for Life” where supporters, on behalf of the voiceless unborn, call for an end to abortion and the defense of human life from birth to natural death. Finally, we saw most recently, thousands of concerned citizens protesting at airports and the nation’s capital in support of refugees and immigrants These issues facing our country are serious and demand our consideration as Americans and as Catholic Christians as they affect the lives and wellbeing of others. It is critical to remember that the position of our Church, consistent with Christ’s teachings, calls for each of us to uphold the dignity and worth of every person, especially those most vulnerable in our communities; the poor, the aged, the youth, the disabled and infirmed, the refugee and immigrant, the unemployed, the abandoned, the marginalized, abused, addicted, the voiceless, the persecuted and the homeless. The Church teaches that all human life is sacred because God creates it, and that the dignity of the human person is the foundation of a moral vision for society. This belief is the foundation of all the principles of our Catholic Social Teaching. Truly, our bishops, pastors and church leaders have asked us to renew our call as individual Catholics and as the Body of Christ to unite our efforts to restore respect and the legal protection for every human life—to be what Saint John Paul II asked us to be: “a people of life and a people for life” (The Gospel of Life, no. 78). Together then, with respect for all people, like Jesus himself, let us never tire of working for justice and for being a voice for all who cry out for peace, healing, acceptance, reconciliation, life...

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From the Pastor-January 29, 2017

Posted by on Jan 30, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Last week we honored the legacy of our great Civil Rights Leader, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who by his words, deeds, and martyrdom taught us the true meaning of the word freedom. During the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King preached nonviolence was the only way to fight for freedom, successfully leading many in their pursuit of their “unalienable rights” promised by our Constitution. He often credited his Christian faith, and his role as a Baptist Minister, for providing him with the drive to fight for freedom. Freedom is something that, at times, many take for granted in our great country. Yet we know that freedom is never easily gained and must always be protected. Indeed, freedom is one of those “inalienable” rights and beautiful gifts given to us directly from God. One of my favorite quotes about freedom is that which is inscribed on the Tomb of the Unknown Revolutionary War Soldier just a block away from OSJ in Washington Square.  On the stone wall behind the statue of George Washington, just over his head, are inscribed these words: “Freedom is a light for which many men have died in darkness“. Jesus, the Light of the World, is the one who inspires Christians to defend and protect our freedom so as to truly live as the Sons and Daughters of God. It is Jesus, as we pray at Mass, who “by his cross and resurrection has set us free.” It was his blood that was spilled to bring us true freedom, that same freedom that inspires men and women of every age, like Dr. King, to work tirelessly to promote authentic freedom that leads to peace. With that, I offer here the inspiring words of a prayer that I used in my homilies last week by the late Jesuit Archbishop Alban Goodier: This Is Freedom To be the slave of nothing, to be the slave not even of myself. To be able to make myself obey. To make myself say no. To make myself say yes. To have a noble end in view, to make myself live for it. To be able to use all things for that end. A life of sacrifice. A life of strong endeavor. To be rid of useless burdens. To shoulder burdens that belong to me. To shoulder burdens that belong to others. Understanding all. In sympathy with all. To live thus nobly, to hear and obey, this is freedom! The freedom of the children of God, the freedom where with Christ has made us free. Together as we usher in and pray for our new President and new leaders for our government, let us rally against...

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