January 2020

Sin is no laughing matter. And, even though we may say at this time of year, Laissez les bons temps rouler, we must not let the enjoyment of life and fun impede our due worship of God. It is not worth the pain and separation from God. It’s not worth pleading ignorance before the Lord. It is of high importance to fellow parishioners and to all who know us to give witness to the primacy of Sunday and our Christian witness by keeping the Sabbath, by attending Mass.

“For a sin to be mortal, three conditions must together be met: "Mortal sin is sin whose object is grave matter and which is also committed with full knowledge and deliberate consent." Mortal sin requires full knowledge and complete consent. It presupposes knowledge of the sinful character of the act, of its opposition to God's law. It also implies a consent sufficiently deliberate to be a personal choice. Feigned ignorance and hardness of heart do not diminish, but rather increase, the voluntary character of a sin. Sin committed through malice, by deliberate choice of evil, is the gravest.

Mortal sin is a radical possibility of human freedom, as is love itself. It results in the loss of charity and the privation of sanctifying grace, that is, of the state of grace. If it is not redeemed by repentance and God's forgiveness, it causes exclusion from Christ's kingdom and the eternal death of hell, for our freedom has the power to make choices for ever, with no turning back. The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example: illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” Catechism of the Catholic Church nos. 1857, 1859-61, 2181

– Father Mark Schoffner, January 26, 2020

“Now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb.” Do we think of ourselves as being formed in the womb by the Lord? To be his servant? That all people, whether they were planned or of a certain race, or a certain time or culture, as being formed to know and love the Lord God through knowledge of Jesus Christ? We hear from the prophet Isaiah today something which, of course, speaks to the moment in history, to Isaiah as being called as a prophet, but looking forward to Christ Jesus as the perfect servant of the Father. But, this has meaning for us too! We are called to be servants of the Father Most High who is our Lord and Creator. We are called to live a life in union with him and in him according to the covenant of life he has set for us.

This coming week several students and parents will travel with me on pilgrimage to Washington, D.C. to visit the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and march in the March for Life. Wednesday, in these here United States, is the Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children. We ask you, I ask you, pray for Life. Pray that all human life may be held sacred and protected from the deceptions of darkness which prevent us from seeing the great dignity of people. The poor, the prisoner, the elderly, the handicapped, all are deserving of life. The unborn children in the womb are the most vulnerable. The power of creation is shared with mankind; pray that we protect it.

– Father Mark Schoffner, January 19, 2020

“Holy Mother Church...has provided ceremonial, such as mystical blessings, lights, incense, vestments, and many other rituals of that kind from apostolic order and tradition, by which the majesty of this great sacrifice is enhanced and the minds of the faithful are aroused by those visible signs of religious devotion to contemplation of the high mysteries hidden in this sacrifice” —-Council of Trent Session 22, chp. 5.

Over the Christmas Season you likely noticed some extra things at Mass. Maybe it was a crucifer (cross-bearer) dressed in fancy attire? Maybe it was extra candles being lit or carried? Perhaps it was an unusual chant or blessing of something, or a chime? But it was probably the incense. Right? Something that was used from the earliest times of our faith. Going back to the time of the Israelites when God demanded them to burn incense before him it has been with us since the beginning. He even had a particular recipe he commanded! (Exodus 30:34-37) So, we know God likes incense. Christianity fulfills Judaism, and we kept many things that we use in the liturgy to serve the Lord. Just because we don’t have shepherds and sheep in our normal context doesn’t mean we stop using it as a frame of reference. As it is with incense as well. The Lord came in a cloud to his people in the wilderness. The sight invokes a mystery which cannot be fully grasped. Taking something precious and pricey to offer completely for the worship of God, sacrificing for God—these are the intentions of the Church in using them. As we continue to delve deeper into the mystery of God and continue to grow as a parish, we should seek out the noble and transcendent presence of our beautiful and Holy God.

– Father Mark Schoffner, January 12, 2020

Epiphany chalk? What is that, Father? During the Christmas Season, especially on the Epiphany, is the customary time for homes to be blessed. Over the centuries, it became more difficult for the priest to do all of them because everyone lived further and further from the church, the tradition of chalking became a mainstay. Epiphany (also known as Twelfth Night, Theophany, or Three Kings Day) marks the occasion of a time-honored Christian tradition of “chalking the doors.”

The formula for the ritual — adapted for 2020 — is simple: take chalk of any color and write the following above the entrance of your home: 20 + C + M + B + 20. The letters have two meanings. First, they represent the initials of the Magi — Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar — the wise men of the East who visited Christ. They also stand for the Latin phrase Christus mansionem benedicat: “May Christ bless the house.” The “+” signs represent the cross, and the “20” at the beginning and the “20” at the end mark the year.

Taken together, this inscription is done as a request for Christ to bless the home so marked and that He stay with those who dwell therein throughout the entire year. The chalking of the doors of a home encourages Christians to dedicate their life at home to God and to others. Seeing the symbols over our doors can help to remind us, while passing in and out on our daily routines, that our homes and all those who dwell there belong to Christ. It also serves as a reminder of welcoming the Magi gave to Jesus. We should strive to be as welcoming to all who come to our homes to visit us!

– Father Mark Schoffner, January 5, 2020

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