I. Welcome Fr. Titus Ahabyona! Many of you know Fr. Titus, but for the sake of our new parishioners, I want to introduce him to you. Ordained a priest in 1997 for the Diocese of Fort Portal, Uganda, Fr. Titus spent six years working in our Marriage Tribunal, living three years at St. Stephen Cathedral rectory and the other three at St. Pius X rectory. In the summer of 2014, he was assigned as rector of Our Lady of the Snows Cathedral for his home diocese, in a country of 33 million people of which 15 million are Catholics ! There are over one million Catholics in this Diocese of Fort Portal; we have closer to 85,000! Fr. Titus will arrive Tuesday and spend the next five weeks with us! Welcome back!
II. Healed by Laughing: “A cheerful heart is good medicine“ (Proverbs 17:22). In the 1300s, surgeon Henri de Mondeville reportedly told jokes to his patients in the recovery room. Laughter exercises the face, shoulders, diaphragm, and abdomen. When the brooding deepens, the heart rate rises, and the blood flow increases and transports more oxygen; endorphins are released, pain thresholds are raised, and some studies suggest that even our immune system systems are boosted. When we laugh, others laugh too. Laughter is a contagious, highly effective, non-prescribed medicine. It has no side effects, and no one is allergic to it. We can use the tool of humor to induce laughter for our health, healing and general sense of well-being. Have you had your dose of laughter today?
III. End of Our Fiscal Year (July 1, 2017—June 30, 2018): The mission of St. Stephen Cathedral Parish could not continue without your generosity of Time, Talent, and Treasure. Giving back makes no sense without faith—believing that everything we have and are is a true gift from our Creator. True generosity is an offering: given freely without expectation and without strings attached. Giving of your resources of time, gifts, and treasure in the spirit of love cannot be measured. As we close out this past fiscal year in the black, I want to thank you; I am edified and grateful for generous giving and your tithing. We always have a wish list at the end of each fiscal year and this year we were able to accomplish several items on that list. Your continuous support is appreciated. A detailed accountability statement for 2017-2018 will be given to you at the end of this month. I want to thank our Finance Committee, Tom Neal (chair), Joe Connor, Jim Tony Fulkerson, Bill Goetz, Ed Cecil, Joyce Gruenewald, John Kurtz, Mark Heinz (council liaison), Kristine Henning, Chris Warren (vice-chair) who work with our Business Manager, Eddy McFarland, who is doing an outstanding job for our parish. St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians fits us, “Each one should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not out of regret or compulsion. For God loves a cheerful giver” (2 Cor. 9: 7). THANK YOU!
IV. Founder of Western Monasticism—Saint Benedict: Saddened by the immoral state of society, Benedict of Nursia (480-557) left the city to live as a hermit in Subiaco, Italy. In time, more and more men were attracted to his charismatic personality as well as to his simple way of life. He eventually moved a group of monks to Monte Casino, near Naples, where he completed the first version of his rule, now known as The Rule of Benedict. The rule asserts that the primary occupation of the monk is to pray the Divine Office in tandem with a vowed life of stability, obedience, and conversion. The whole of the monastic vocation can be summarized in the opening lines of his rule, “Listen carefully.” Because Abbot Benedict was tough on his monks in calling them to conversion, some of the monks tried to murder him by poinsining his drink; their plot was foiled when their Abbot made the sign of the cross over the cup, which then broke! Needless to say, he didn’t hang around there much, but went on to found thirteen more monasteries. When I visit the Abbey of Gethsemani, etched in stone at the guesthouse entrance is the Benedictine charism, “Welcome others as Christ.” As we celebrate the life of Benedict this Wednesday, July 11, let’s not forget the liqueurs, wines, and beers which became part of the monks’ livelihood and tradition. To this day, Benedictine & Brandy (B & B) outsells Benedictine by 9 to1 in the America. St. Benedict, pray for us!