Dear members and friends of the Sodality of Charity,
On Friday, February 11, feast of the Our Lady of Lourdes, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of ordination of Fr. Stephen McKenna. Father McKenna is our missionary priest, who is away from St. Gertrude the Great Church much of the time, saying Mass to small pockets of faithful around the country, but he was able to be with us to celebrate solemn High Mass on the joyous occasion. It was a joint parish celebration, but the reception was done in a true Sodality manner with pizza and cake! Fr. McKenna likes travelling, but he, as well all the rest of us priests, are waiting eagerly for the May ordination, when we will, God willing and Our Lady interceding, be joined with two new priests. And Fr. Nkamuke’s mission circuit in Nigeria will be also blessed to have two priests more. Keep Fr. Nkamuke in your prayers, so that he could attend this joyful event of priestly ordination.
Mrs. Arlinghaus designed a logo to our Sodality, for which we are all very happy and grateful. At our next Sodality meeting, which is on February 26, she and two other ladies of our parish will give to the older girls a demonstration in flower arranging. The flowers which decorate our altar and church take always much time to set and arrange, so the older Sodalists will learn the tricks necessary for this important work. Meanwhile the younger girls will be taught the basics in Japanese calligraphy painting. I will also have something reserved for our Mardi Gras celebration.
In Finland, during the Septuagesima time, we always have some special treats. One is called the Runeberg torte, which is a pastry flavored with almonds and with raspberry jam and icing on top. Some of the Sodalists prepared those for me and the other clergy, which was great, and tasted great, too! Other favorite Finnish treat is a sweet cardamom bun. There are two different kinds of it: one filled with almond paste, and the other (better in my opinion) filled with strawberry or raspberry jam and lots of whipped cream. They were always best enjoyed with cold milk, hot chocolate or coffee.
At the meeting we will again watch a movie, which this time is The Fox and the Child, a French movie from 2007. It tells about a girl named Lulu, who lives in an isolated cottage in a valley and spends most of her time in her room or outdoors, and who makes a friend with a fox. The movie includes gorgeous shots of animals and nature of the Jura mountains. It was inspired by the childhood memories of its director Luc Jacquet, who grew up in the mountains and, like the girl of the movie, was captivated when he first came across a fox.
At the monthly meeting we will do Holy Face stations, as a way to prepare ourselves well for the upcoming Lent. Pope Leo XIII established the devotion to the Holy Face as an Archconfraternity for the entire world. Saint Thérèse of Lisieux and her family were members of this Archconfraternity in France, where the Holy Face devotion was propagated as a means of reparation for blasphemies against Christ. She was so faithful to this devotion that she took as her religious name “Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face.” In 1958 Pope Pius XII approved the observance of the Feast of the Holy Face of Jesus on Shrove Tuesday, which this year is on March 1. Hope to see many of you at our High Mass of 11:25 AM, which will be the Mass of the Holy Face.
Next day, March 2, is Ash Wednesday, and also First Wednesday of the month of St. Joseph. Ashes will be distributed throughout the whole day, and the solemn High Mass will be at 11:25 AM. Saturday, March 5, is the Altar Boys Day, and will be hopefully well attended by the brothers of our Sodalists. The feast of St. Joseph is on Saturday, March 19. Mark in your calendars our annual Children’s Day of Recollection, on Wednesday, March 23. Our parish arranges this event every year during Lent to give as many children as possible the chance to devote a day to Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, sanctified by a Mass, confession and stations. And of course, at the end of the month, Sunday March 27, is our Seminarian Sunday; support, help, and participate as much as you can.
Ash Wednesday falls on First Wednesday, and is therefore a perfect day to dedicate our Lenten time to St. Joseph, the patron of the Church and our Sodality. Please say a little prayer in honor of St. Joseph that day, and for our Sodalists, it would be a good Lenten practice to say a little prayer, prayers, or Litany in his honor every day.
Thursday, February 24, the feast of St. Matthias, is the anniversary of death of Sharon Patton, remembered so fondly for all the work she did for our school and for our Girls Camp every year. Please keep this dear friend of ours in your prayers. No suffering, loss, or even death can separate us from our friends.
During summer, some of our Sodalists made a book trailer from a book called A Family of Brigands in 1793. It tells about the Vendée rebellion, which was a Catholic and monarchist uprising during the French Revolution against the revolutionary government. The trailer can be viewed on our website and the book can be purchased from the SGG bookstore. For me the French Revolution is one of the most fascinating periods in the world history. I read Octave Aubry’s La Révolution française (1945) when I was a school-boy, and it was this book which made me realize that there was a church called the Roman Catholic Church, ruled by a Pope, and which traced its origin all the way to Christ and the Apostles. Not only is this book one of the best books I’ve ever read, it also was the first thing which raised my interest in the Catholic faith.
February 22 is the birthday of George Washington and the original Presidents Day. Until 1970 this date used to be a public holiday notwithstanding which day of the week it fell. So if you want to be a real patriotic traditionalist, you may observe February 22 as your holiday. In his encyclical on Catholicism in the United States of America, named Longinqua oceani (“Wide Expanse of the Ocean”, 1895), Pope Leo XIII wrote:
Precisely at the epoch when the American colonies, having, with Catholic aid, achieved liberty and independence, coalesced into a constitutional Republic, the ecclesiastical hierarchy was happily established amongst you; and at the very time when the popular suffrage placed the great Washington at the helm of the Republic, the first bishop was set by apostolic authority over the American Church. - - For without morality the State cannot endure – a truth which that illustrious citizen of yours, whom We have just mentioned, with a keenness of insight worthy of his genius and statesmanship perceived and proclaimed. But the best and strongest support of morality is religion.
America has also been granted a special privilege of holding her flag in church. Generally only liturgical equipment is allowed there, but in 1911 the Holy Office made a specific exception in favor of our flag, permitted in the church during religious services. If placed in the sanctuary, the American flag will be on the Gospel side, and the Papal flag on the Epistle side. Outside the communion rail the positions are reversed: American flag on the Epistle side and the Papal flag on the Gospel side.
God bless you, and have a great Spring with all our Sodality and church activities.
Yours in Christ and Mary,