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May 28, 2017

SOLEMNITY OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

JMJ

This month of May, dedicated to our Blessed Mother, is quickly winding down. We will conclude the month this Wednesday with the feast of the Visitation when Mary, after the annunciation of the angel, went to visit and care for her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who was now also with child.

If you look at your church calendar for this week you will see that the day before, Tuesday, the 30th, is blank. No saint or feast day is listed. I find that a little surprising and mysterious, because a rather well known and beloved Saint is honored on that day… at least in France, and perhaps some other places in Europe. And she’s a favorite of mine as well. I’m talking of Saint Joan of Arc. I can’t say that Joan introduced herself to me in any special way, as did Saint Philomena and St. Joseph, and Saint Anthony, but, when I read Mark Twain’s novel about her some years ago, I was so impressed that I began to research her life a little more closely. It all began with a quote at the end of his book, which, I might add, he considered his best and most important work, despite the fact that it is one of the least well known. Let me just paraphrase it here. “Considering her age, her sex, her inexperience, and her isolation, Joan was easily and by far the most extraordinary person the human race has ever produced.”

That is quite a quote from a man who did not hold Christianity in very high regard.

On my little vacation a few weeks ago, my ultimate easterly destination was the statue of Saint Joan that I had heard was in Philadelphia. It is full-size and gold in color. She is on her horse, in her specially-made armor, and carrying the battle flag that she designed herself. The base of the statue is surrounded by shrubbery so if her name is located there, it is hidden. Nobody other than myself was there to admire it, but a few feet away many people were having their pictures taken at the statue of a fictional hero, boxer Rocky Balboa, who immortalized the Philadelphia Art Museum when he ran up the steps shadowboxing in preparation for his big fight. If you want to know more about a real-life hero, check out the link https://goo.gl/m6wrHE to an article in National Catholic Register. Also, be advised that we have a small section in our lending library dedicated to Joan and her story. You can even watch the made-for-TV mini-series about Joan on your smart phone. It’s available on the FORMED.org website which is available through our parish for free (Parish Code: 2JQ9YM).

Another stop on my vacation was at the Brandywine River Art Museum in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania. I saw a painting there by American artist Howard Pyle showing Joan imprisoned and under the guard of two English soldiers. I ordered it and it is on display in the lending library.

I also ordered the book called The Soul of a Tree by George Nakashima. He was the architect/woodworker who was an inspiration to many of us back in the day. His style influenced me and the work that the kids and I recently did for the lounge area in our Activity Center. His book will be available there for your perusal should you be interested.

Addenda:

Congratulations to Mr. Peter Swartz of our parish who won the school raffle this year. Again, thanks to all of you participated and supported our school.

Mrs. Christine Blandino was introduced at the raffle roast as our new principal and drew the winning tickets.

I’ve decided to order another set of altar banners and vestments to match our green ones used in Ordinary Time. The next color will be violet so as to be used in two liturgical seasons; Advent and Lent. Our Women’s Guild and an anonymous donor have given us a good head start in financing this, but we could still use some more donations. Please consider contributing to our new altar vestments.

Be advised that we are going to honor the Holy Spirit, the patron of our church, on the birthday of the Church, in a special way on Pentecost Sunday. We will be celebrating, for the first time, a special Pentecost Vigil at the 4 o’clock Mass on Saturday. There will be more readings and we will be using incense. I would ask that all of you join in praying the novena to the Holy Spirit. Our hope, of course, is for an ever greater outpouring of God’s Spirit on our congregation and a New Pentecost for the Universal Church.  Fr. J

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