February 25, 2018

I.  Humble and Historic Decision:  The last day of the pontificate of Benedict XVI, February 28, 2013, was like no other in the history of the Church. In a morning meeting with the College of Cardinals, which would in the days ahead meet to discuss the needs of the Church and the leadership qualities wanted in the next world leader of the Catholic Church, and carry out the work of electing his successor. Pope Benedict pledged his unconditional support and obedience to whomever the Cardinals chose.

That afternoon, he left the apostolic palace and boarded a helicopter in the Vatican Gardens. After circling the city of Rome, the helicopter took him to the papal summer residence outside of Rome, Castel Gandolfo. There he addressed the gathered crowd one last time as Pope, noting he was now “just a pilgrim who is starting the last part of his pilgrimage on this earth.”

At 8pm, the hour that his resignation and the “sede vacante” (vacant see) were to begin, the Swiss guard at the entrance to the Castel Gandolfo left his post, indicating that the Pope was no longer present.

It was on February 11, 2013, that Benedict XVI, 85, made history with the declaration of his intention to resign from the papacy—the first pope in modern times to do so and the first to leave office voluntarily in more than 700 years. As well as historic, this decision was humble.

II.  It’s Not Too Late!  Though Ash Wednesday was February 14, if you have not started Lent yet, it’s not too late! I heard a wonderful story about one of our catechumens at the Rite of Election last Sunday. A lady decided to fast from all bread during the season of Lent, meaning that the next bread she will receive will be the Body of Christ, the Eucharistic bread at the Easter Vigil. She is so excited about receiving Jesus under the form of bread and wine at Eucharist!  How important it is that we not take this Sacrament for granted. As Saint Augustine reminds us: “the more we receive the body of Christ, the more we should become like Christ.”

III. The hallmark of a Christian community: recently, I have had several individuals and families to tell me that the reason they have joined St. Stephen Cathedral Parish is because of you, the living body of Christ, being so friendly and hospitable. You never know what another person is going through. Never underestimate what a smile, a handshake, a greeting, can mean to someone, even someone you do not know, especially someone you do not know. Our hospitality ministers are doing a wonderful job. Thank you! We could even use more!  A training/formation session for new and current Hospitality Ministers is this Sunday, Feb. 25, at noon.

IV.  Wealthy and Worldly Heiress Gives to the Poor:  due to her financial means, Katherine Drexel (1858-1955), had the privilege of traveling to various parts of the country where she became keenly aware of the oppression of Native Americans and African-Americans. She dedicated her entire life, including the founding of a religious community known as the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, to the empowerment of these groups through education (that is, launching the first Catholic college for African-Americans, and starting 145 catholic missions and 12 schools for Native Americans).

Katherine did not spend her fortune on houses or jewelry, but on the establishment of institutions and missions dedicated to the marginalized. Katherine Drexel shocked the social circles of Philadelphia when she joined the convent, to fight vicious racial prejudice and minister to the poor. She was officially canonized a saint in 2000.

Hats off to our TOP 12 MOST SENIOR PARISHIONERS:(these three where accidently omitted last week—so sorry!) 

  Colene Jennings              Virginia Curry          Lillian Gentry