Dear members and friends of the Sodality of Charity,
Our next monthly meeting is on Saturday, March 19. This day is the feast day of our Sodality’s protector, St. Joseph. We will have a Solemn High Mass at 8:25 AM. After the Mass the ministers process to Helfta Hall to do the blessing of the hot cross buns, which we will enjoy with our breakfast before starting the Sodality meeting. Then the older girls will help in preparing things for our upcoming Seminarian Sunday, and the younger ones will stuff easter eggs for our traditional Easter Egg hunt on Holy Saturday. We’ll have our lunch at 1 PM, and finish this time at 2:30 PM.
The hot cross buns are popular Easter-time treats across much of the world, and are often enjoyed in the lead-up to the Easter season. The hot cross bun is traditionally a sweet, spiced bun with a cross decorating the top. They used to be called “Good Friday Buns,” in remembrance of Our Lord’s death. Over time, the buns grew in popularity, so much so that Queen Elizabeth I in the late sixteenth century decreed laws around when the buns could be made. The sale of hot cross buns and other sweet buns was limited to Easter, Christmas, and funerals. These rules only caused the buns to be made in secret in people’s homes, apparently unable to resist the lure of the tasty treats. There were also many superstitions connected to these buns: that buns baked on Good Friday won’t go stale, that they’ll ward off evil spirits, and that a bun shared with a friend will guarantee friendship for the coming year – certainly making them a great treat for our Sodalists!
For St. Joseph’s feast, please also bring food for those who are in need. One beautiful custom of the feast is the St. Joseph’s day altar. This devotion spread from Sicily to the United States in the 1800’s. The faithful prepared altars with figurines, medals, and candles, and with a statue of St. Joseph at its head. On the altars they put food, which was donated to the poor on the feast. In Providence, Rhode Island, the observance of St. Joseph’s feast is often expressed through wearing of red clothing or accessories, similar to the wearing of green on St. Patrick’s day.
For future events, our parish will have children’s day of recollection on Wednesday, March 23. Follow the announcements in the church bulletin for this one. For our own activities, the Girls Camp will be on July 12-14. The parish will also host a vocation weekend on June 24-26. You will find more information about these on the Sodality website.
In his mission trip during the first week of Lent, Fr. McKenna said the monthly Masses of February and March for all our Sodality members.
Thank you for your prayers for Fr. Valerii Kudriavtsev. The Russians are conquering his home country Ukraine, and he is now a refugee in Lviv near the Polish border. Father couldn’t take his chalice nor his Mass vestments with him, only his Rosary and Breviary. He also injured his spine and feels severe pain. He, being now a refugee, is searching a new home in Europe. Fortunately a good Catholic man in Ireland has invited him and is willing to shelter him, so please continue to pray for Father that he would find a home. “He that shall have the substance of the world, and shall see his brother have need, and shall shut his bowels from him: how doth the charity of God abide in him? My little children, let us not love in word, nor in tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 John 3:17-18)
Most likely result of the war will be that Ukraine will lose some territories, which are now located in the eastern part of the state, and where Father’s former home is.
Russia has a history of taking areas from other states. The area of Finland used to be much bigger, but after World War II Soviet Union took over many territories from Finland and formed the Karelo-Finnish Soviet Socialist Republic from them. My grandmother was from a town named Salmi, which was located in the conquered areas of Karelia, and her family, as well as all the other Finns, packed whatever they could, deserted their homes, and escaped before the Russians came. My grandmother worked as a voluntary war-time nurse, and moved to Uusikaupunki in the western part of Finland, where she married my grandfather, and they eventually settled in my home town Turku. War breaks homes and hearts, but sometimes also brings people together.
War against the Soviets hit hard also the Catholic Church in Finland. In Karelia the Church had two parishes, the church of St. Hyacinth in Vyborg, and the Sacred Heart chapel in Terijoki, right next to the Soviet border. Both of these had to be abandoned at the approach of the Communist occupying forces. A young German priest, Fr. Johannes Schäfer, when he last time visited the Sacred Heart chapel in Terijoki, himself consumed the hosts in the Tabernacle, and afterwards took down the altar, Tabernacle, the pulpit, and the communion rail, so that they would not be left to be desecrated by the Bolsheviks, who, when they arrived, left not a stone upon stone.
We have our traditional celebration of St. Patrick’s day on March 17 with the Solemn High Mass at 11:25 AM. On that day, remember not only the great country of Ireland and the Irish Americans, but also our faithful in Nigeria, which also claims St. Patrick as its patron, on account of the Irish missionaries who worked there. March 17 is also the feast day of St. Gertrude of Nivelles, the patroness of cats, and she is a special saint for me, because I attended the school named after her in my hometown Turku. In medieval Turku, there was the Guild of St. Gertrude, which did charity work among the poor of the town and also buried the poor townspeople. The guild was located under one Turku’s seven hills, which was therefore named St. Gertrude’s Hill. On that hill, before the school was erected there, was the town’s public place of execution, for which reason the hill was also called Hangman’s Hill, a gruesome fact which did not escape from us schoolchildren. St. Gertrude’s school was established in 1912, and one of our former presidents, Mauno Koivisto, attended that school. In fact he visited his former school when I started third grade there in 1987. I have many warm memories from there.
Have a blessed continuation of Lent, and may God bless you in your charity, and in your work and prayers for the Church.
Yours in Christ and Mary,