It was so inspiring and comforting for me as a pastor to hear so many people say the prayer of consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary at the Masses for the Immaculate Conception. A pastor cannot think of a greater security for any one of his parishioners than this very special companionship with the Blessed Virgin Mary. There will surely be plenty of suffering in life to test every soul devoted to Her, but I have no doubt that believers truly dedicated to living for Jesus Christ through consecration to Mary will find their way to great holiness on earth, and an eternal bliss in heaven.
Many thanks to the FIAT committee for the suggestion of the consecration well over a year ago, and for their patience with me. We talked about doing this last fall, but I knew it would not work for me, given other big parish endeavors at the time. So we waited for this Advent season. Therefore, many thanks to the FIAT committee members for all of their work planning and executing the consecration. Also, thanks to all those who helped in any way with the preparation classes offered each week for parishioners. I trust that Our Lord and Our Lady will bring much fruit out of this consecration for each individual, and for the parish as a whole.
You have heard me say from the ambo on several occasions during Mass that I have come to rely on the Blessed Virgin Mary for any good that happens in my life. I know that Mary mediates and orders graces for us, given her place in the structure of salvation. I first used the method of St. Louis de Montfort to make my own consecration to Mary. Then very early in my priesthood, I read the Marian theology of St. Maximilian Kolbe; and this set off fireworks in my heart. I love the Marian teaching of St. Maximilian Kolbe. I felt like somehow he completed my understanding of the place of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Christian life. Fastforward some 17 years: when I said “yes” to the surprise telephone call from the Diocesan Administrator that landed me in Paulding County, I experienced a very deep conviction that Our Lady was promising me that she would aid the assignment. Therefore, I truly do give her praise for any good thing that has happened in the parish since my arrival. (Of course, I can’t blame her for anything I’ve messed up since my arrival!)
On another note, we had our yearly Divine Mercy School endowment committee meeting on November 30th. The endowment balance is now $116,365.44. We are very grateful for memorial gifts from the Yenser, Swary and Recker families throughout this past year. Over the last 10 years the endowment has provided approximately $20,000 in benefits for our school. The fund is set up, as usual, so that we can only spend interest accrued each year. That way we keep it growing. And the more we grow the endowment, the greater will be the potential help to the school. Please keep the school endowment in mind for estate planning, and at other giving opportunities you encounter.
Last week the Roman rose vestments (not pink!) that I wore were paid for by generous donations from our Paulding and Payne Knights of Columbus chapters. You’ll see the same vestments on Laetare Sunday in Lent. We ordered these vestments from Barbaconi’s in Rome when the group of pilgrims visited last February. I am grateful for their support of our parish liturgy.
Finally, I’ve heard for several months now that our refrigerator in the Antwerp hall was beginning to malfunction. At last it died on us. After two failed attempts to get a discounted industrial refrigerator from an auction, we finally settled on the purchase of a new one. The new refrigerator cost us $3345. The expense was necessary, given our need to host the various activities that happen in our Antwerp hall. It was a very good purchase, and I’m happy to have the problem resolved.
Christmas is upon us already next week! Hard to believe! Please be sure to reach out to any guests you see at holiday Masses (and always, of course). Let’s also pray that the Lord touch the hearts of any Catholics returning to church for the holidays who have not been to Mass for quite some time. May the Lord truly move deeply in their hearts as they worship with us.
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,