Saturday, March 26, 2011

Pastor's Sabbatical - 3rd Post - Israel

Basilica of the Annunciation, Nazareth

26 March 2011
Time seems to go very quickly here. They are keeping us busy with classes on a variety of topics and with going to the station churches around Rome. They are early morning walks to the churches and back for classes. It has been great. There are thirty priests taking part in the program I am in. Most of them are from around the United States and a couple from Canada and two from New Zealand. They bring a nice mix to the experience.

Ancient Mosaic from 4th-5th Century ruins of Sepphoris

In the middle of the program they offer a pilgrimage to the Holy Land and that is what I am on right now. We flew down to Tel Aviv on Thursday and we started traveling around to the different Holy Sites. On Friday we traveled along the Mediterranean to Ancient Ceasarea Meritima ruins which was the site of the first Gentile baptism by St. Peter. St. Paul was also imprisoned there for two years while awaiting a ship to Rome for his trail as a Roman citizen. Then we went on to the tel site of Meggido. A tel is a mound or a hill that has been created over the centuries by one city being destroyed and another one built on top of it. At Meggido there was twenty six cities built on top of each other. It is amazing to see the excavations that have been done over the years and to history they uncover. After that we went to Haifa and Mt Carmel, which was the foundation of the Carmelite Order and the site of Elijah's showdown with Jezebel's prophets. We celebrated mass over the Cave of Elijah's cave. It sometimes is referred to as the cave of the Madonna for one tradition said the holy family stayed there on the way to Nazareth from Egypt. As you can tell there is a lot of history and powerful religious experiences that we are having.

This morning we got up early and packed up the bus and headed out from Mt Carmel and traveled to Haifa to the Mt of Beatitudes near the Sea of Galilee. On the way we celebrated mass at Cana, the site of Jesus' first miracle of water into wine, and then on to Seogirus (Zippori) which was an ancient Herodian style city. There were some great mosaics there that go back to the 4-5th century.

Dormition of St. Joseph
After lunch in Nazareth we went to the Basilica of the Annunciation. I came to the Holy Land once before, about 20 years ago, on a Catholic and Greek Orthodox pilgrimage and remember this church as well as the church next to it dedicated to St Joseph.

The Basilica of the Annunciation is a modern church built in the 60's very modern and large but not impressive as a building but only impressive to me as a place where Mary gave her Fiat, "let your will be done." It has brought back many great memories of my first experience and my thoughts and prayers have gone out to Fr Nick Raffael who put my first pilgrimage together. He has passed on a few years ago but I still hear his passion and excitement for being in this Holy Land. If you would, please remember Fr Nick in your prayers and all of us who are on pilgrimage this time, that this journey continues to deepen our faith and enlivens our passion for the gospel message and our ability to share it with others.

Celebrating Mass at the Church of St. Peter's Home, near Sea of Galilee

We end our journey today at the Church of the Beatitudes and the pilgrim house on the grounds which overlook the sea of Galilee. It is beautiful to be here.

Excavation St. Peter's home, Galilee
  Tomorrow (Sunday) we go to Capernaum and to Ceasarea Philippi. I am sure it will be a busy and powerful day. I have good a internet connection today so I am able to send this out, I hope tomorrow night to be able to write more. Know that you are in my thoughts and prayers and at the Mass I celebrate each day.

God Bless
Fr Joe Porpiglia

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Just Faith - A Parishioner's Reflection

Just Faith - A Parishioner's Reflection
Almost two years ago now, my husband and I noticed an invitation in the weekly bulletin regarding a course called “Just Faith”. The program was described as a journey for those who are interested in becoming more involved with the Church, but not sure what direction they were being led.

My husband and I were trying to determine what kind of ministry to become a part of, so we thought this course might be just what we needed to help us decide. Other than that we had no idea what we were in for.

We started the classes that met weekly with 16 other people who were seeking an avenue to serve the Church. We were informed that the course was going to be an intense look at different issues in social justice that the Church had real and specific teachings on. Topics such as, Poverty, Dignity in labor, Prejudice, Peace, Health Care and the Environment were a few. So, not sure but curious, we signed up and made the commitment to participate.

The books we read and the teachings of the Church we studied made me, who grew up in the Catholic school system, painfully aware of how little I really knew about my Church and my faith. The realities that people in our own community deal with on a daily basis moved me to tears on more than one occasion, and I became more and more proud of the Catholic Church and her teachings regarding each issue. Our Bishops have lead the way in outlining for us what we need to do to help change our communities and in turn our country and world.

However, the most important thing was how I as a member of the Church, was awakening to the truth that I am the Church and not one of the teachings of the Catholic Church can come to fruition without my joining in the efforts. As Deacon Bill so often reminds us “you are the Church”.

So now when I hear, “What is the church doing for …?” I ask myself, ok church, what are you doing? I know I can’t be active in each issue, so I am still discerning what God wants me to do. In the meanwhile, I volunteer for what I can and pray that I’ll soon discover where God wants me.

“Just Faith” was the catalyst to get me going. If the opportunity comes again I would encourage anyone to take the course. If not, just ask yourself,”Ok church, what are you doing?”

Debbie Cuddihy
Parishioner of St. Benedict's
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Friday, March 18, 2011

Pastor's Sabbatical -2nd Posting - Rome

March 18 2011 Friday Rome (18 Marzo 2001 Venerdi Roma)

I am sorry it has been so long since my last blog. As most of you know a lot has happened since the last post. My deepest appreciation for all the kindness, thoughts and prayers shown to me and my family at the death of our mother Angeline. She was a great lady who gave us a great life, many memorizes and laughter. I know that is something my siblings and I will not forget!

I am back to Rome and the sabbatical program which has been going very quickly with some great classes and interesting tours of churches and museums.

One of the things that goes on in Rome during let is the visiting the Station Churches during the days of Lent. The English speaking community has mass at 7am at the churches. It is a custom to walk to these churches which are some of the more ancient churches of Rome. I should probably explain the station churches has nothing to do with the stations of the cross that some people might be thinking of, but the station churches is a tradition of visiting churches that were the Titular churches, some of the earliest churches of Rome and have been places that people have gathered to worship for centuries. It is a great way of starting the day and to enter into the Lenten season. By the way, the custom is also to walk to the churches which are all over Rome which means walking some time short distances but often times a longer distance. Sometime we leave the school at 6am to make it there for the start of mass at 7am. It does get your heart going and the blood flowing moving at that hour. Today we left about 6:15 and arrived in plenty of time. This morning it was not raining and a little warmer, which was nice. We always have interesting conversations about the church that we visit and about what is going on for the day. Today's church was the 12 Apostle Church not too far from the Trevi Fountain. On the way back we stop usually for cappuccino and a cornetto.

I will try to write more soon and explain some of the other things I have seen and done. I remember all of you at my masses and prayers please each day. Please remember me in yours.

Fr Joe Porpiglia

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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Single Mom Shares Her Story

Deacon Bill asked me to share a few thoughts on my spiritual journey being a single mom. I have never blogged before so bear with me!

I am Lauren, a 27 year old graduate student, working full time, and a proud mom to an 8-year old daughter. I grew up in a religious household and attended Mass every weekend, however I never really felt that strong connection with God. Senior year of high school, I became pregnant.

I truly thought my entire world had come to an end. Little did I know, it was just the beginning…

After what seemed like days of crying, lots of hugs, and tons of family meetings, I began to move forward. I accepted that my life was about to change. My father, for the 27 years I have known him, ALWAYS referenced God in good times and bad.

Some of you might ask what a father might say to his only daughter (and youngest child) who just announced she was pregnant? Surprisingly, he was not angry. He did shed a few tears. He told me that everyone makes mistakes. No one had died. No one was ill. We all had our health. Babies are a blessing from God. The only way to move forward is to see the positive side of things, learn from the mistake, and pray to God for guidance. As you can see, God truly blessed me with some amazing parents. I continued on for the next 8 months, preparing for the birth of this baby, but not prepared for the life altering change she would bring to my life.

All the while, I was still questioning my bond with God.

My daughter arrived four weeks early, as if my family needed anymore surprises! She arrived with no complications. I do not think there is an emotion to this moment in life. The world stops. Nothing around you matters except that little baby. That moment, when I held her for the first time, I knew God existed. I am pretty sure it is impossible to look at a newborn baby full of innocence, purity, and love, and not believe in God. That moment changed me as a person. It changed my faith.

I see God in my daughter everyday. The great thing about children is their innocence. They know no evil. They do no hate. They forgive easily. In the end, they just want love. Everything you say, everything you do, molds your child. I teach her about God every day, how to treat people, how to be a good person. She is my reason for getting out of bed every morning, she is my reason for being a better person, she is the reason I found God.

I know it sounds as though I painted a pretty picture. I did go through some hard times and still am. Being 17 and pregnant does not exactly warrant acceptance from society. Being 27 and a single mom, working full time and going to school is not easy. What I’ve learned from my career path in social work is that no one has it easy. Everyone in life is going through or has gone through some sort of trauma. It is our job to follow in God’s footsteps. We cannot judge other people, but instead we must reach out to those in need. I encountered teachers, friends, and family who supported me during my time of need but most importantly God. I learned from God that with his help, I can overcome anything. My quote in my yearbook Senior year read as follows,

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13).

Thank you St. Benedict’s for listening to my story. I’ll leave you with a picture of Jillian, my angel.

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Lent and Holy Week at St. Benedicts 2011


Beginning March 9
For the weekdays of Lent the weekly Mass schedule will be:
1.Monday through Friday 7:00 am and 8:15 am
2.Friday afternoons at 5:30 pm followed by Stations of the Cross.
3.Saturday at 9:00 am

Please consider making daily Mass or Stations of the Cross a part of your Lenten resolutions.
Wednesday Reconciliation 4:30 & 7:00 pm
Holy Thursday Supper 5:00 & Liturgy 7:00 pm
Good Friday Service noon & Stations 7:00 pm
Holy Saturday Blessing of the Baskets 3:00 pm
Easter Vigil Saturday at 8:00 pm
Easter Sunday Masses 8:00, 10:00, 11:30 am

Daily Mass  - Monday thru Friday 7:00 & 8:15 am
Every Monday - Bible study at 5:30 pm

Every Monday
Vicariate Lecture Series (See the bulletin or website for information)

Every Friday
5:30 Mass followed by Stations of the Cross

Every Saturday
9:00 am Mass

Special Events
Saturday, April 2
Fr. Paul’s Steak Dinner

Sunday, April 3
Tour of the windows with Deacon Bill at 4:00 pm

Weekend of April 3
1st Sunday of Month Food Drive (bring food to Mass)

Wednesday, April 6
Parish Reconciliation 2:00 pm (St. Ben) and 7:00 pm (St. Leo)

Saturday, April 9
Diocesan Men’s conference at Cardinal O’Hara High School  8:00 to 3:00

Monday, April 11
Rosary Altar Society meeting with Deacon Bill as guest speaker
at 7:00 pm

Wednesday, April 13
Praying before the Blessed Sacrament in church 6:00-9:00 pm

At St. Benedict & St. Leo the Great

Wednesday, April 6 is our Lenten Penance Services. Again this year we will collaborate with St. Leo’s Parish to offer two services: an afternoon service at 2:00 p.m. at St. Benedict’s Church and an evening service at 7:00 p.m. at St. Leo the Great Church. Please plan to make the Sacrament of Reconciliation an essential part of Lent for you and your family.

The 12th Annual Lenten Series presents five North American Saints – their lives, their spirituality and what they might say to us today!

All sessions will take place at 7:30 p.m.

Monday, March 28 Fr. Nelson Baker
Msgr. Paul Burkhard will present the life, the spirituality, and the cause for canonization of the beloved ‘Padre of the Poor’ from Lackawanna.
Infant of Prague, 921 Cleveland Drive, Cheektowaga 634-3600
Monday, April 4 The North American Jesuit Martyrs
Fr. Fred Betti, S.J. will tell the gripping story of the life and spiritualities of six
Jesuit priests & their two lay companions who died for their faith.
St. Christopher Church 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Tonawanda 692-2660

Monday, April 11 Mother Cabrini
Spiritus Sanctus Players will present a one-woman dramatization of the life of
St. Frances Cabrini who dedicated her life to helping Italian immigrants.
(There will be a free will offering following the performance.)
St. Leo the Great Church, 885 Sweet Home Road, Amherst 835-8905

Why give up something for Lent when you can do something positive for your spiritual life?
No cost. No reservations required. Come and bring a friend.
Sponsored by the parishes in the Northern Erie Vicariate

We are about to begin the season of Lent. Often there is confusion about what Catholics should or should not do during Lent. We hope the following descriptions will help you plan your Lenten journey for 2011.

ABSTINENCE: All Catholics who have celebrated their 14th birthday are bound to abstain totally from meat on the following days: Ash Wednesday and all Fridays of Lent, including Good Friday.

FASTING: All Catholics who have celebrated their 18th birthday but have not yet celebrated their 60th birthday are also bound to observe the Law of Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This practice involves limiting oneself to a single full meal and avoiding food between meals. Light sustenance may be taken on two other occasions in the course of the day.

EASTER DUTY: All the faithful who have received their First Holy Communion are bound by the obligation to receive Communion at least once a year. This precept must be fulfilled during the Easter season, unless for a good reason it is fulfilled at another time during the year. This obligation may be fulfilled between March 13 (First Sunday in Lent) and June 19 (Trinity Sunday).

OTHER FRIDAYS OF THE YEAR: Catholics should be reminded that all other Fridays of the year remain as days of penance, in prayerful remembrance of the Passion of Jesus Christ.

OBLIGATION: The obligation which we have as members of the Church to do penance is a serious one. Furthermore, the obligation to observe, as a whole or “substantially”, the penitential days specified by the Church is a serious one.

While no one should hold himself or herself lightly excused, one should not become unduly scrupulous. Failure to observe individual days of penance is less serious than the failure to observe any penitential days at all or a substantial number of such days.

Stations of the Cross
Every Friday of Lent after 5:30 Mass we pray the Stations of the Cross. We are hoping you will join our church organizations in prayer.

1.March 11: RAS and Ladies of Charity;
2.March 18: Ushers
3.March 25: Holy Name Society
4.April 1: Lectors/Eucharistic Ministers
5.April 8: Respect Life
6.April 15: Home School Association
7.April 22: St. Vincent DePaul Society

Please come and join us.