From the Pastor-January 22, 2017

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

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In the meaningful rituals of our Roman Catholic tradition, various elements–the scriptures to be read, the psalms to be sung, the communion to be shared–call for many gifts from many different people acting together. That is when the Church best celebrates liturgy with great reverence, dignity and beauty. We strive for those elements here at OSJ at each Mass. By the nature of our baptism, all of us are called to minister to one another in our sacred worship. With that, I ask that as the New Year begins and resolutions are made, you please consider joining one of our liturgical ministries at OSJ. We need you, and it is your right and privilege to serve! Please consider serving in the following liturgical ministries: Lectors: Lectors proclaim the Word of God and are an integral part of all liturgies. Individuals interested in this ministry must be in at least the fifth grade and must be able to proclaim loudly and clearly so that all can hear and learn from God’s word. Altar Servers: An altar server assists the Presider in the sanctuary at all liturgical celebrations throughout the year. This ministry is open to all youth in fifth grade and above as well as all of our adults. Liturgy Committee: The Liturgy Committee works closely with Sister Asunta, our Liturgy Coordinator, and collaborates on the planning and coordinating of all the various ministries involved in our parish worship. Extraordinary Ministers of Communion: Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion assist the priest each week with the distribution of the Body and Blood of Christ. We welcome persons 15 years of age or older, and a fully initiated Catholic in order to participate in this ministry. Hospital Ministers: These Ministers of Holy Communion administer the Body and Blood of Christ to our sick sisters and brothers at Pennsylvania Hospital (the hospital which our priests cover and visit frequently). We welcome persons 18 years of age or older, and a fully initiated Catholic in order to participate in this ministry. Ushers: It is the usher’s ministry to greet people warmly, to help people sit together, to pass out hymnals, song sheets, to care for any needs (if someone gets sick, or other emergencies), to take up the collection, to help with good order at communion and to distribute bulletins. Environment: The Environment Committee is responsible for seasonal decorations in our worship space, the courtyard, and the Walnut Street patio. They also help with large parish gatherings such as St. Ignatius Day and St. Joseph Day. Hospitality Ministers: These generous persons organize, execute and promote the coffee hour socials that follow the 9:30 am and 11:30 am Masses. Music Ministry:...

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From the Pastor-January 8, 2017

Posted by on Jan 20, 2017 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, I take this opportunity, after what has been a great celebration of the Christmas Season at OSJ, to express our thanks and appreciation to so many who generously and lovingly served together at our parish. Our celebration of Christmas this past year was remarkable. We had so many visitors who told me that they purposely sought out our parish for Mass as they have heard great things about the worship and prayer at our beautiful little church in the alley! Indeed, each Sunday (and for daily Mass), we come together to worship and praise God and to remember God’s love, God’s quite assurance of our salvation and peace in Jesus Christ. A beautiful celebration of the Eucharist has the power to move us at the very depths of our souls. At the same time, a beautiful liturgy does not just happen on its own, and we all know that we are very blessed with beautiful and reverent liturgies at OSJ!  This is due, in part, to the talent and generosity of so many people who give of themselves so that we can worship here with joy and fervor and thereby grow in deeper faith, hope, and love. With this in mind, I am blessed to offer, on behalf of the entire OSJ community, our heartfelt thanks to all who helped to make our Christmas and holy day celebrations so special and so incredibly beautiful. We are grateful to our Priests, our guest Deacon, our Liturgy Coordinator, our Altar Servers, Sacristans, Lectors, Ushers, Eucharistic Ministers, and all who helped us to pray so well and with such dignity. On the musical front we are indebted to our music director Pasquale Montenegro, who with his cantors, choirs, and musicians, provided stirring sacred music. Special thanks to Dr. Madeline Becker, Christine Szczepanowski and Collen Evans for forming the children’s choir who moved us all so deeply at the children’s liturgy on Christmas Eve. They were terrific! Thanks to Joe Casey and to his crew of dedicated volunteers who transformed our already beautiful sanctuary into a true place of splendor and awe, and provided such welcoming hospitality in the courtyard. We are also in debt to all who donated to the Christmas flower and music fund. We cannot thank you enough for your kindness! Thanks also go to Peggy and Mike Connolly for donating the candy canes that were enjoyed by our children at the 4:00 PM Mass. The kids loved them! Finally, a special word of thanks to our Funeral Director and fellow parishioner, Ron Rex Piselli, who for so many years now has gifted us with the “Gesu Bambino” (Holy Child) statue that graces our sanctuary for...

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From the Pastor-January, 1 2017

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

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Happy New Year! Today, in addition to ushering in 2017, our Church throughout the world celebrates the Solemn Feast of Mary, the Holy Mother of God which is in the Octave of Christmas. Interestingly, only Christmas and Easter enjoy the privilege of an “Octave” or an eight-day extension of the feast.  The Church, in her wisdom, gives us this solemn feast on January 1st so that with Holy Mary as our model, we can better prepare for the beginning of a new year. The scripture readings and the prayers of our liturgy today bless us with images of peace, life, and joy. These are the same gifts of God that the shepherds in today’s gospel discover upon coming to Bethlehem where they find Mary and Joseph, and the Baby Jesus. Imagine the peace and joy that the shepherds experienced upon encountering the Holy Family! In a special way, too, the Church asks us to draw inspiration from Mary as the “Mother of God.” This beautiful title “Mother of God” has its roots in the Greek Theotokos, which means “God-bearer”.  On this day, we are reminded of the unique role that the Blessed Virgin played as the “God-bearer” in the plan of our salvation through Jesus Christ. It is through the faithfulness and sacrifice of Mary (“blessed among women”) that the Divine Savior is unlocked to the world. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God the Father prepared Mary to be the sacred dwelling place where His Son and His Spirit could reside among all people.  Mary alters history as we know it by her “fiat” or her “acceptance and affirmation” of her role as the Mother of God. To the Archangel Gabriel she declares, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to you word.” Therefore, in our Catholic tradition, calling Mary the “Holy Mother of God” is the highest honor that we can rightly give to her.  Just as Christmas honors Jesus as the “Prince of Peace,” the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, honors Mary as the “Queen of Peace.” Additionally, New Year’s Day is also designated as the “World Day of Peace,” further acknowledging the role of Mary in our hearts and in our world. Today as we begin a “new year” let us each strive to look forward to the opportunities, challenges and experiences that await us in the year to come. With Holy Mary and all of the saints at our side and with Jesus Christ as our faithful companion and guide we can face the New Year with greater faith, confidence and zeal. Today we pray that the peace, life, and...

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From the Pastor-December 25, 2016

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Peace of the New Born Savior! We all know well that our celebration of Christmas, as difficult as it may be for some, can bring people together and help us to appreciate the love in our lives that we can often take for granted. During this holy season of giving and receiving God’s love, manifested for us in the birth of Jesus Christ, let us make every effort to take the time to slow down and to enjoy and savor the simple gifts that give real meaning to the season and to our lives: loved ones, community, experiences and, of course, our beautiful faith in Christ Jesus born in our hearts this day. To help us to reflect on these great gifts of God, I offer you these beautiful words of a stirring Christian prayer that you may be inspired to use as a “grace before meals” at your Christmas gatherings this year: A CHRISTMAS GRACE BEFORE MEALS Lord of light, giver of all gifts, we thank you for the many ways you have blessed us this day. We are grateful for each of those who are gathered around this table. We ask you to bless us and our food and to bless those we love who are not with us today. In our gratitude and love, we remember your Son’s humble birth in our hearts and pray for those who are  without enough to eat. We remember Christ’s birth in a lowly stable and pray for those who have no place to live. We remember Jesus’ challenging message of caring and giving and we pray for peace in families and nations throughout the world. We bless you and give you thanks through your Holy Spirit, who brings our hearts to life this Christmas Day and forever. We make this prayer through Christ our Lord. Amen. On behalf of the Jesuit Community, the Parish Staff, our devoted committees and councils, volunteers, and liturgical ministers at Old Saint Joseph’s, we pray that the message of Christmas and the gift of Jesus Christ fill your life and your new year with enduring joy, happiness, and peace. We pray too that our gratitude for these gifts will impel us to extend our hands and our hearts in even greater service and care for those most in need within our communities! May the blessing of the Christ Child, born in our hearts this day, be with you and yours! Blessed Christmas! Fr Phil Florio, SJ...

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From the Pastor-December 18, 2016

Posted by on Dec 28, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, In this fourth and final week of Advent, I draw our attention to what is probably the most beautiful and poignant symbols of this holy season, the crèche or nativity scene. At OSJ we are blessed to have two crèches—one in the sanctuary (on Christmas Eve), and the other in the courtyard. Both are beautiful and treasured religious articles of the parish. The crèche is the most prevailing religious symbol of Christmas. It is central to every Catholic Church and chapel (and hopefully every Catholic home!) and is still, during the holidays, displayed and honored in many public places as well. Our Church incorporates this powerful symbol at the forefront because, as with all of our religious symbols, the crèche help us to better grasp the spiritual reality that it represents—the Incarnation of Our Lord. This great mystery and dogma of our faith is the embodiment of God the Son in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ: And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. John 1:14 As we have seen these past few weeks, Advent and Christmas in the Roman calendar are particularly rich in symbols. Today, in anticipation of the great celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, Christmas, we look at the history and meaning of the crèche. This beautiful symbol was popularized in 1223 in the Italian hillside village of Assisi by Saint Francis, and later diffused throughout the Catholic world by his Franciscan friars and sisters. The first crèche was “a living nativity scene.” It was made up of living persons representing Our Lady, Saint Joseph, the shepherds, the angels, and even the infant Jesus. Added to this were live barn animals. It was only after St. Francis had visited the holy site where our Lord was born in Bethlehem that he decided to re-create a crèche at Assisi to cultivate adoration of the Holy Child. As this devotion began to spread throughout Europe, churches and chapels replaced the costly “living nativity” with figures made of clay, wax, stone, ceramic and wood. Today this enduring symbol of God’s great love for us deserves our continued reverence and veneration. Please take a moment to visit one of our OSJ crèches and while there offer a prayer and draw inspiration! If you do not already have a nativity scene or crèche in your home, I encourage you to consider getting one. I’d be happy to bless it if you bring it to church! I have a very small crèche that I bought while serving in El Salvador and its ceramic...

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From the Pastor-December 11, 2016

Posted by on Dec 14, 2016 in From the Pastor Columns

AMDG Dear OSJ Family, Today we arrive at the Third Sunday of Advent known as “Gaudete Sunday.” Its name is taken from the entrance antiphon of today’s Mass: Rejoice in the Lord always; again, I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near. This beautiful antiphon is taken directly from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians chapter 4, verses 4-5. The word “Rejoice” in Latin is Gaudete. A fair question would be, why the great emphasis on our need for rejoicing at this point in Advent? As we have learned, and hopefully appropriated in our spiritual lives, Advent is the season of preparing for the arrival of the Lord Jesus (both his first coming and his second coming), and by the third Sunday of Advent we are most of the way through this holy season. With each lit candle of the Advent wreath, the “light of the world” is growing stronger, the darkness is dispelling, our joy is building, and the King, Jesus Christ, is closer to coming! Consequently, it is appropriate to rejoice at the midpoint of Advent as we see the goal of the season approaching: “Indeed the Lord is near.” You will note that the third candle of the wreath lit today is rose colored (not violet) as are the liturgical vestments of the priest.  On Gaudete Sunday the color for the priest’s chasuble is either violet (which signifies waiting and anticipation) or rose, which is only used twice year and represents great joy. We at OSJ in keeping with time honored tradition (which I have learned is so central at our parish!) use the rose vestments. So today OSJ, “Rejoice: The Lord is near.” As Christmas draws closer let us stay focused on the real meaning of the season and hold fast to what the Church emphasizes. The joy which should be in our hearts is all of what the birth of our Savior means for us and our salvation! The great joy of Christians is to see the day drawing near when the Lord will come again in His glory to lead them into His kingdom. This alone is reason enough to Rejoice! Blessed Advent, Fr Phil Florio,SJ Pastor...

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