I. A Day to Remember: Memorial Day is considered the unofficial start of the summer season in the United States, while Labor Day (first Monday of September) marks its end. Many people visit cemeteries, participate in Mass, and attend memorials to honor those who have died in military service. Especially if you know a loved one who has died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, I invite you to our 9:00am Mass on Mon., May 27 (note our holiday schedule of merging the 7am and noon Masses).
II. Faith Forms Conscience: Faith spurs believers to do the right thing for the right reasons. In the early part of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi mused over the fate of human life when goodness wanes because a lack of faith. Gandhi thought about it in terms of those ways that bring an imbalance to our daily living. He called them the seven deadly social sins:
¨ wealth without work
¨ commerce without morality
¨ politics without principle
” leisure without conscience
¨ education without character
¨ science without humanity
¨ worship without sacrifice
People of faith seek to do these activities out of a faith-based motivation; that is, to enter into political activity with principles of justice, to provide commerce that that is morally just, and to educate in a way that builds character. Every such activity has, of its own nature, a distinct purpose and set of ethics.
III. Would I Die for Faith? The monks of Tibhirine knew they were in danger and would likely be killed if they remained in Algeria, at the time divided by a war between extremist rebels and the Algerian government forces. Their story was depicted in a 2010 French drama “Of Gods and Men.”
The conflict began in 1992 when the Algerian army canceled the general election, as it seemed the Islamic Salvation Front, a fundamentalist political movement, was about to win. An estimated 44,000 people, most of them civilians, were killed amid the fighting.
French Father Christian de Chergé, the slain prior of the monastery, had written a letter nearly three years before his death that he and the other monks would willingly offer themselves as a sacrifice for the people of Algeria. The prior wrote, “When the time comes, I would like to be able to have the stroke of lucidity which would permit me to ask forgiveness of God and of my brothers in humanity, forgiving wholeheartedly, at the same time, whoever my killer might be.”
The seven French monks were kidnapped and later beheaded on or about May 21, 1996; their heads were recovered and buried in the Tibhirine monastery. Their bodies were never found and the mystery of their death was never clarified.
“To pay homage to. . .19 Christian martyrs means also paying homage to the memory of all those who gave their life in Algeria those dark years” as they were killed “for their country and for their faith,” said Pope Francis. The decree was signed by Pope Francis on January 27, 2018, confirmed that the Servant of God, Pierre-Lucien Claverie, Bishop of Oran (who was assassinated by a bomb, August 1, 1996), together with 18 companions have been acknowledged as dying in odium fidei, meaning “in hatred of the faith.” They were beatified on December 8, 2018. I recommend the film, a good film for discussion and dialogue.
IV. Appreciation for Your Hospitality to Fr. Frank Ruff, the retired Glenmary priest who was here last weekend subbing for Fr. Sinoj who is in India. Fr. Frank is committed to “raising up” children and elderly. As a parish we responded by sponsoring 17 individuals: 3 were sponsored by parishioners at the 5:30pm Mass, 4 were sponsored by parishioners at the 7:00am, 5 at the 9:00am, and 5 at the 11:00am Mass. Thank you to those who chose to sponsor someone not so blessed.