My Dear Friends,
This weekend we welcome our new parochial vicar, Father Andrew Tomonto. He comes to us from St. Coleman’s Parish in Pompano Beach where he served his first assignment for two years after being ordained, and as I mentioned when I announced his arrival, he spent a summer here at Little Flower as a seminarian 8 years ago. I know that you will embrace him and love him as you have loved all the priests who have served this parish and fed us from our altar. (You can read more about Father Andrew later in this bulletin.)
This coming week we will be celebrating our annual 40 Hour Devotion with Exposition and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament from 8:00am on Thursday morning until Midnight on Friday night. The church will be open and the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed throughout the night on Thursday night. Masses will continue to be said as normal as part of these 40 hours. Prayer is essential to our life as a parish, and when we gather as a community to set aside an hour to kneel before our Lord in adoration, thanksgiving, and supplication, our prayer is amplified as the Eucharist strengthens our bond as the Body of Christ.
This year I ask you to keep two particular intentions in your hearts as you participate in this marathon of prayer. The first is very dear to the hearts of two of our priests: pray for an end to violence and Christian persecution in Nigeria. It seems like almost a daily occurrence when Father Uko or Father Stephen approach me in the rectory to tell me about some tragic episode that has occurred in their homeland. Particularly in Father Stephen’s home diocese, which is located in the north of the country, Christians are being persecuted and as was the case last month, some are being executed simply for believing in Jesus Christ. I see the pain in the faces of my brother priests as they talk about Nigeria. They do so much for our community. The least we can do is join them in prayer for peace in their homeland. (I wrote this column the day before Pentecost when close to 100 worshippers were massacred during Mass inside their church in southwest Nigeria, so the need for prayer is now even more urgent.)
The second intention that I ask you to fervently pray for is for the upcoming abortion decision that the Supreme Court will release that we hope will reverse the Roe v. Wade decision of 49 years ago that has caused the death of tens of millions of innocent children in our country. While many expect this decision to come down on the side of life, this does not mean that our efforts to end abortion are over. Now more than ever, our Church must stand with mothers and couples who experience unexpected pregnancies and help them care for their children. In a letter that Archbishop Wenski wrote to his priests last month, he said: “We must redouble our efforts to accompany women and couples who are facing unexpected or difficult pregnancies, as well as to offer mercy to those suffering from abortion.” The Church must be seen as a sanctuary of mercy and not a place of condemnation. The Archbishop echoes this when he writes: “It is sobering that recent communications research tells us that many Catholics do not see this compassionate response, and many are unaware of the Church’s help for those in need. Sadly, they often see the Church as harsh and rigid rather than compassionate and merciful. The parish is a wonderful place to give witness to what is true compassion and mercy.” And as a parish we will continue, through our Respect Life Ministry, to render assistance to any woman or couple facing an unexpected pregnancy.
There are truly so many things that we can bring to the feet of the Lord this coming week when we gather for the 40 Hour Devotion: peace in Ukraine, peace in our respective homelands, peace in our country, and for an end to the scourge of gun violence that has been plaguing our nation especially in recent weeks (this too is a life issue that has been addressed by our U.S. bishops this month). So much woundedness in our world. So much tragedy. And yet our Lord cries out to us: “Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest (Matthew 11: 28).”
I urge every parishioner to sign up for an hour of adoration and prayer during the 40 Hour Devotion. You can do this online at cotlf.org/40hours or by signing up in the book that is present in the vestibule of the church. Let us flood heaven with prayers for the intentions I have mentioned and for those that we hold so dear in our hearts. In the Eucharist, our Lord keeps his promise of never abandoning us. Let us confidently come to him in prayer this week as a parish and be united by his merciful love.
God bless you all,