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Pentecost XVIII

Daily Sermons
September 29 – Fr. McKenna – St. Michael, Soldier in Heaven & on Earth
October 2 – Fr. Lehtoranta – A Guardian Angel in the Ozarks
October 3 – Fr. McGuire – The Little Flower & Little Flies
October 5 – Fr. McGuire – St. Placid: Patience is Needed
October 6 – Fr. Lehtoranta – St. Bruno and His Love of God
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✠ Father’s Corner ✠
Our Rosary Sunday a week ago opened the month of the Rosary with the beautiful Rosary procession. In Finland, when it is very beautiful weather, we say that the “weather is like a bride.” And because Mary is the Mother of God, she is justly called the Spouse of the Holy Ghost, as Pope Leo XIII pointed out.

Meanwhile Fr. McKenna led the celebration of Rosary Sunday in Milwaukee. They too enjoyed a beautiful “bride-like” weather, and most of our parish of St. Hugh of Lincoln enrolled in “Mary’s Army” and established their own Rosary confraternity. They also did their Rosary procession and blessing of the roses. Rosary Sunday annually marks the start of the High Mass season at St. Hugh’s, and now with their High Mass, blessing and procession they carefully followed our “Gertrudian” ceremonies in their slightly smaller “Lincolnian” manner.

Rosary Sunday was followed by the whole series of four “firsts” this week; the First Wednesday in honor of St. Joseph, the First Thursday for priests, the First Friday honoring the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the First Saturday, the feast of the Most Holy Rosary.

Our dear Ss. Joseph and Mary will be with us this week as well. Friday marks the centenary of the final apparition of Our Lady at Fatima on October 13, 1917. In that spectacle the crowd saw the sun move in a wild manner and begin to descend upon the earth. The people were terrified and believed it marked the end of the world. But during that apparition, the three Fatima children saw St. Joseph with the Child Jesus, and Mary robed in white with a blue mantle, beside the sun. St. Joseph and Jesus together blessed the world, tracing the Sign of the Cross with their hands.

After the Rosary Sunday breakfast one of our long-distance parishioners commented on how much she enjoys our daily Mass broadcasts. We know from the letters and emails we receive that there are lots of people like her out there. The Mass, however, does not just appear onto the computer screens. There are many people working tirelessly to keep the altar and the church beautiful and the servers on call. Our sacristans Janet Strauss and Katie Bischak put in countless hours in a week to ensure that the altar, the candles and the vestments are ready, and everything is clean and set on time. They have also occasional helpers doing cleaning, ironing and preparing the sacred linens. Our school principal Mark Lotarski assigns the schoolboys to serve each on their turn and makes sure that all is set and ready to go by 11:25 AM, when the bell rings for the daily High Mass to start.

Not only are our schoolchildren excellent servers and singers, I’m so often gladdened by their knowledge of their Catholic religion. During the three feasts close to each other (St. Michael, the Guardian Angels, and St. Therese) Our Lord told us in the Gospel to humble ourselves as the little child. I was teaching the little children about Our Lady’s Immaculate Conception, and happened mistakenly to tell them that besides Jesus, Our Lady was the only human born without the stain of sin. And one little boy raised his hand and said that he knew someone else, and I, a little baffled, asked who? And he said: “St. John the Baptist!” And he was right. St. John the Baptist was “replenished with the Holy Ghost even from his mother’s womb.” (St. Luke 1:15) So even though he was not free from the stain of original sin since the first moment of his existence, like Our Lady was, St. John truly was born without sin. I was very happy at being humbled by a little child, because this showed that all the hard work the parents and teachers do in educating our children in the Faith has not been in vain.

I wish to see many of you at the Rosary candlelight procession this Friday. Come to ask that St. Joseph with Our Lord would bless our families and the entire world, as they did 100 years ago. In the aftermath of the Rosary Sunday’s massacre in Las Vegas, let’s imitate the example of our Irish ancestors. Dublin during the Irish War of Independence in 1920-1921 was, as an American journalist Carl W. Ackerman called it, “a murderer’s paradise and the hangman’s stage.” The Black-and-Tans were terrorizing the city, arresting Irish patriots, who were then sentenced to be hanged. Before the executions, thousands of women and children, all dressed in black, would march through the streets of Dublin to the prison walls. There they knelt and prayed the Rosary while hangings were taking place inside. And then a guard would appear with a piece of paper, which he would post on the gates, announcing the death of another young man whose life had ended on the scaffold. And still, for long hours afterwards, hundreds of women would remain at the prison gates, praying for the souls of their sons, husbands and brothers, and that God would have mercy on Ireland. As Our Lady told St. Dominic: “Do you know, which weapon the Blessed Trinity wants to use to reform the world? If you want to reach these hardened souls and win them over to God, preach my Rosary.”

– Fr. Lehtoranta