It is the Twenty Eight Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Naaman, the Syrian Military General in the first reading, was an outcast not only because of his illness; he was also a non-Israelite. But he returned to thank the Prophet Elisha for the cure of his leprosy, and as a sign of his gratitude, transferred his allegiance to the God of Israel
St. Paul, in the second reading, advises Timothy to be grateful to God even in his physical sufferings and amid the dangers associated with spreading the Word of God, because God will always be faithful to His people.
Today’s Gospel story tells us of a single non-Jewish leper, who returned to thank Jesus for healing him, while the nine Jewish lepers went their way, perhaps under the false impression that healing was their right as God’s Chosen People. They did not seem to feel indebted to Jesus or to God for the singular favor they had received.
Five blesseds have been elevated to the altar of saints by Pope Francis in a solemn Mass at the Vatican this Sunday
St. John Henry Newman was an Anglican priest who later became a Catholic priest. The noted theologian and poet wan an important figure in the religious history of England of his time. He was one of the leading figures of the Oxford Movement that originated at Oxford University in 1833, which sought to link the Anglican Church more closely to the Roman Catholic Church. He is revered by both the Catholic as well as the Anglican Churches. Pope Leo XIII made him a cardinal. He is known for many great qualities, particularly for kindness and compassion of his ministry to the people of Birmingham. He died at age 89 after founding the Birmingham Oratory.
St. Marian Thresia of India was a professed religious and founded the Congregation of the Holy Family. She became known for receiving frequent visions of the Holy Family and ecstasies as well as receiving the stigmata which she kept as a secret. During her entire life, she was involved in various apostolic works to poor families in Kerala and observed strict adherence of the rule of her order. Today, there are 23 cities around India including Germany, Africa, Rome and San Francisco where members of the Congregation of the Holy Family serve.
St. Irma Dulce Pontes of Brazil was a religious of the Missionary Sisters of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God, founded the first Christian workers movement in Bahia and started welfare work in poor communities of Alagados and Itapagipe. She would go her way to search food, medicine and medical care. She would take them in abandoned houses and when evicted from the neighborhood, she would take them in an old fish market. When City Hall denied her use of the space. She asked the mother superior to use the convent’s chicken yard. The improvised hostel gave rise to the present Hospital San Antonio, a medical, social and educational complex that continues to have open doors for the poor of Bahia and throughout Brazil. In 1992, St. Dulce Pontes was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
At a very young age, when peasant farmers lost their work due to mechanization of agriculture, St. Marguerite Bays of Switzerland carried milk and bread for the poor. She would wash and mend their clothes as well as give them new ones. A member of the secular Franciscan Order, she worked as a seamstress and catechist. She lived a simple life and adapted the tenets of the order’s charism into her own life and apostolate. She began to fall into ecstatic raptures and feel the pain of Christ once a week marking His death. She tried to hide the wounds she received but soon the outside world would know her stigmata. She always kept her sufferings and offered her pain to God. Her beatification stated in 1929 and in 1990, Pope John Paul II declared her blessed.
St. Guissepinna Vannini of Italy was orphaned at a very young age. She, her sister and brother were separated in different places, taken cared of by relatives. She joined the Vincentian Sisters but was forced to leave due to poor health. Her father confessor Luigi Tezza advised her to establish a religious congregation to care for the sick, which is now known the Daughters of St. Camillus. Today, the congregation serves over 19 countries all over the world, serving in various apostolate for the sick, poor and suffering, especially in homes for the aged, sick in hospitals, handicapped children, terminally ill patients and evangelization in far flung areas. The Blessed Josephine Vannini Home for the aged in Talamban, Cebu, Philippines provides safe, clean and spacious rooms for the abandoned sick and elderly.
We thank God for these five holy men and women. May their lives and virtues be examples to emulate. Everyone is called to be a saint and every day is an opportunity to be holy.
Lithuania’s new cardinal
Lithuania has a new cardinal. Retired Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevisius of Kaunas received the red hat together with 13 new cardinals from Pope Francis this morning at the Vatican. Cardinal Sigitas was a veteran of Soviet prisons and labor camps. He was arrested in 1983 and spent six months in the KGB prison in Vilnius, before being sentenced to six years’ hard labor. In 1988, he was exiled to Siberia to complete the sentence. He never compromised the Catholic faith through collaboration, despite fears he might never be freed. He remained committed as witness of Faith up to the present time. As president of the Lithuanian Bishops Conference, he steered the Lithuanian church through the country’s accession to NATO and the European Union, as well as controversies with its governments over abortion, divorce, religious education and mass emigration. Our parish delegation met Cardinal Tamkevicius and we pray for God’s blessings on his elevation to the College of Cardinals.
St. Casimir Church Pilgrimage of Mercy
(Meetings with Cardinal Tamkevicius and six Lithuanian prelates)
Parishioners of St. Casimir Church in Los Angeles led by pastor Tomas Karanauskas journeyed to Lithuania for a Pilgrimage of Mercy from September 2-12, 2019. They visited different holy shrines and churches including the Shrine of Divine Mercy, House of St. Faustina, Cathedral catacombs and Catholic Heritage Museum.
On the morning of their arrival, Archbishop Gintaras Grusas presided Mass at St. Casimir Chapel of the Basilica of Sts. Stanislaus and Ladislaus. The group also made a courtesy call to his Excellency who was celebrating the 9th anniversary of his Episcopal installation on the same day. The archbishop was a former altar boy of St. Casimir Parish Los Angeles.
A tour of the old town included the Presidential Palace and Vilnius University, the oldest and most prestigious educational institution in Eastern and Central Europe. On campus is the marvelous St. John’s Chapel built in four architectural ensembles – Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Classicism. Later in the afternoon, Archbishop Emeritus Lionginas Virbalas, SJ welcomed the group in the crowned church dedicated to Lithuania’s patron saint Casimir.
To celebrate the feast of the nativity of Mary, the group prayed to three miraculous images of the Blessed Mother. They brought with them handwritten petitions (maldos prašymas) to Our Lady Gate of Dawn, Mother of God in Trakai and Our Lady of Siluva. Bishop Algirdas Jurevicius, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Kaunas hosted a reception after Mass at the Siluva Pilgrims Center. The newly appointed cardinal emeritus elect Sigitas Tamkevicius, S.J. was also introduced and joined for picture taking.
On the way to Kaunas, the pilgrims were greeted with lush forests, rivers, lakes and fields. A side trip to the crypt of Blessed Teofilius Matuilionis at the Kaisiadorys Cathedral was made. Blessed Teofilius said “when you think about how good and merciful is the Lord: in the forests and tundras, in the middle of the night, He finds his people.“ Kaisiadorys Bishop Jonas Ivanauskas presented the group, a canvas of another Augustinian Blessed Mykolas Giedraitis. Blessed Mykolas beatification began during the 16th century and to be reopened only last November 8, 2018.
The group also had an opportunity to drop by Kaunas Theological Seminary where pastor Tomas Karanauskas attended. Mass was celebrated at the Bishop Vincentas Borisevičius Priest Seminary chapel where they were greeted by the current bishop of Telsiai-Klaipeda, Kestutis Kevalas, a classmate of Karanauskas.
Finally, a cross representing the petitions and prayers of parishioners was planted at the Hill of Crosses. Siauliai Bishop Eugenijus Bartulis gave everyone a copy of his book which included pictures of this holy and sacred place visited by Pope John Paul II.
The pilgrims who were mostly Filipinos were awed with beauty of the countryside, inspired by the faith of martyrs and enriched with the history and culture of the Lithuanian people. This spiritual journey of friendship and goodwill, brings St. Casimir Los Angeles in profound solidarity with the origins of their church in joyful service “to make known to all that Jesus Christ is our one hope.“
Pray for our parish and spiritual community
Let us continue offering special prayers for unity, understanding and cooperation in our parish community. God brought us all together here at St. Casimir’s in His great love and mercy to be one universal Church. Let us pray for our pastor that he may always have the graces and wisdom to lead us to Christ.
Pope Francis Message on His Apostolic Journey to the Baltic Seas
During his apostolic visit last September, Pope Francis acknowledged the experiences of Lithuanians that still bear the scars of the occupation period, anguish of those who were deported, uncertainty about those who never returned, and shame for those who were informers and traitors. He called for healing the memories of the past and take active part in the tasks of the present. He reminded everyone what it means to be a Church on the move, unafraid to go out and get involved, to go forth to the weak, neglected, those dwelling at the margins of life. To go forth also means to halt at times, to set aside worries and cares, to notice, to listen and to accompany those left on the roadside.
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