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Pentecost XV

✠ From Fr. Lehtoranta ✠
Dear Faithful,

Here at St. Gertrude the Great Church we re-member two of our beloved parishioners, both of whom have already been laid to the rest of their graves. Mrs. Bee Lutkehaus, who was 99 years young when she died on August 20, was buried last Monday. The day following we received news from the family, that Connie Kamphaus had lost her battle against cancer; her Requiem Mass and burial were on Friday. May they rest in peace.

You read about Bee from last week’s bulletin. She was one of the strict old time Traditionalists, whose generation is fast disappearing. When the changes came, she refused to go to the new Mass. But Fr. McGuire mentioned in the funeral sermon that she also never bought or had anything which came from Communist China. It reminded me of the late Fr. Francis Fenton. Once he spotted one of the faithful in Louisiana wearing a new hat, walked up to him, and promptly demanded: “Give me your hat!” And only after seeing the safe “Made in America” written inside, Father said: “Okay, you can keep this.” The old timers were a generation of strong principles, regarding both spiritual and material things.

With all the deaths and funerals in our parish, we also see the American flags now flying half-staff all over the country, because of the death of Senator McCain. Allegedly, the custom of expressing mourning by flying the flag comes from Denmark. The Danes used first for funerals a black flag with a white cross on it, but later replaced this by lowering the ordinary flag half-staff. Norwegian writer Knut Hamsun writes in his memoirs that in his childhood days the custom was that as soon as the casket was lowered into the earth, the flag was raised from half-staff to the top. What a beautiful way to express the hope and expectation of resurrection.

This week, on Wednesday, we will start the school year. With Bee and Connie, and so many of our old timers gone, we look to the new generation of Catholics, and run our school to raise them, too, to have strong principles both in faith and morals. We are Traditionalists, in the words of St. Paul, “citizens of the saints, and the domesticals of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and Prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the highest corner stone.” (Eph. 2:19-20). One of my summer projects was to publish a book about a Chilean girl Laura Vicuña, to show how great is the necessity of a good Catholic education. Laura called her school her “heaven,” even though attending there meant that she and her sisters had to live away from their dear mother, whom they only saw on vacation times. The reason why she so loved her school was that she could daily go to see God in “the little house of Jesus,” as she called the tabernacle, and how she could instruct her schoolmates to make visits in the church and how to act properly and devoutly during the daily Mass. And it is thanks to our school and the daily Mass broadcasted live, that people around the world can also see “the little house of Jesus,” and unite themselves to the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, of which they are so widely deprived of attending.

Even though Bishop Dolan’s Cincinnati mission started in the late 1970’s, the Catholic traditions of the Sharonville area go farther back than that. It was in Au-gust 1874, when Bishop Edward Fitzgerald of Little Rock, Arkansas laid the cornerstone of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart Church, located on Market Street in Reading, Ohio. It became known as the “Irish Church” to separate it from mostly German-speaking parishioners of Reading’s Ss. Peter and Paul Church. Two years later Our Lady of the Sacred Heart School was established, taught by the Sisters of Notre Dame.

Our parish and our school venerate and continue the work of the past generations and centuries. Father Julio Chevalier, who started the devotion to Our Lady of the Sacred Heart not long before it was introduced in our neighborhood, was convinced that devotion to the Sacred Heart was the remedy for the religious indifference and social evils of the age. We most certainly can’t oppose the fanaticism of those who hate God and the traditional society and family by being indifferent. We are in obligation to the past generations, but especially to God our Creator, not just to be good, but also to oppose evil wherever we can. And Our Lord has in His Church and in the devotion to His Mother given us the best possible means for this.

Yours in Christ and Mary,
Fr. Lehtoranta