Tuesday, October 25, 2011


      Today’s Scripture challenges us to see sacred and secular as two sides of the same coin, so to speak. God, who makes all things work together, can even use a pagan king as his instrument.  It is interesting to view contemporary issues in the light of this prophecy. Politicians of every stripe, issues such as immigration, abortion, Catholic education, tax policy and law and order are all players in the unfolding of salvation history. God is in charge of the drama, but wants to know whether we will resolve these issues with an eye to justice or ideology. The generosity of our parishioners in contributing to the food drive, baby bottles and St. Vincent DePaul is certainly a sign that God is being rendered his due.
    “If God Is For Us” is Grayson Brown’s setting of Romans 8:31. God’s yardstick is also the theme of “What Does the Lord Require,” with its warning to “do justly, love mercy, walk humbly with your God.” A similar stern minor key characterizes “Awesome God,” which uses the Isaiah reading as its text. The communion anthem at 11:30 is “Christ Has No Body Now But Yours,” a text from St. Teresa of Avila which expands beautifully on the picture of a community working together portrayed by St. Paul in his epistle. The communion song, “I’ll Love the Lord” anticipates next week’s gospel.


     Today’s Scripture presents us with heavenly feasts and wedding banquets, St. Paul reflects on times of feast and famine, and the whole is crowned with the heavenly Host of Psalm 23 spreading a table in the sight of our foes. “My Shepherd Will Supply My Need” is a poetic rendering of this psalm by the great 18th-century hymnist Isaac Watts.  It is set to a tune with Scottish-Irish roots, probably sung by early settlers in Appalachia. Like other folk-based songs of this origin (“Amazing Grace,” “Land Of Rest” and “Sing A New Church”), it uses a 5-note scale which makes for a haunting melody, and AABA form, which makes it easy to learn.
    The hymn “Come, Host of Heaven’s
High Dwelling Place
” builds on the theme of the psalm. This might be a good time to consider the meaning of “host.” Most often, the word means someone who offers hospitality. In Catholic liturgy, it refers to communion bread. Less often, it means a crowd, as in “heavenly hosts,” and this is the sense of “the Lord of hosts.” This expression will be restored to the “Holy, Holy” in December, but this week we are returning to Grayson Brown’s setting of the “Holy, Holy” which uses the older text. He also composed the memorial acclamation “Dying You Destroyed Our Death.”
     At the heart of our gospel banquet is an invitation. Like the vineyard owners’ sons two weeks ago, and the sharecroppers we heard about last week, it is up to us to respond to the invitation, and we in turn must extend that invitation to others. If we follow through, we are apt to have quite a motley crew at the party, and that is what “Jesus Calls Us” is all about. Scholars tell us that the episode of the improperly-dressed guest was probably a different parable which was appended to the banquet story some time after Matthew’s gospel was compiled, possibly in response to Jewish Christians who could not process Jesus’ radical acceptance of tax collectors, prostitutes and Gentiles. Judgmental church-folk seem to be a perennial issue. The significance of the wedding garment may be open to discussion, but almost all of us have had a nightmare about being embarrassed because we were not dressed for the occasion. These days there is a variety of styles around the table, but “Plenty Good Room” for all. The original spiritual inspired our own Sr. Chris Diensberg to write her own verses for the song, which is our 10:00 entrance hymn. “Been So Busy” evokes Paul’s work among the Christians of Philippi, a theme of “busy-ness” which we will hear about into Advent. This week’s Marian tribute includes hymns to Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Knock. This last appearance of Mary took place in County Mayo, Ireland, in 1879.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catholics in America - survey results

Fifth survey of Catholics in America released


The latest version of American Catholics is the fifth in a series of surveys of Catholic attitudes conducted every six years. Taken together, they make up one of the deepest and most consistent portraits ever compiled of the membership of the country's largest religious denomination.

During the last quarter century, Catholic attitudes and practices, as well as the makeup of the church itself, have changed markedly even as Catholics have maintained a steady conviction about certain core beliefs. Stated in simplest terms, Catholics in the past 25 years have become more autonomous when making decisions about important moral issues; less reliant on official teaching in reaching those decisions; and less deferential to the authority of the Vatican and individual bishops.

The full contents of the report and an explanation of how it was done are contained in a special section of the print version of the National Catholic Reporter and is reproduced here [2], a total of 13 essays accompanied by a variety of charts and graphs illustrating the findings.

Some significant points:
Foundational theological convictions and the sacraments remain at the core of belief for most Catholics.For 73 percent of Catholics, belief in the Resurrection is very important while teachings about Mary as the mother of God are very important to 64 percent.Sixty-three percent say that sacraments such as the Eucharist are very important.

Sixty-seven percent rate "helping the poor" as very important, ranking it nearly as essential to their beliefs as the Resurrection.Mass attendance rates remain fairly steady but vary across generations. The attendance rate of the youngest generation of Catholics, known as Millennials, or those coming of age in the 21st century, is lowest of all generations surveyed. But even most Hispanics, whose attendance rate is higher than non-Hispanics, agree that weekly Mass attendance isn't necessary to be considered a good Catholic.

The generation known as the "pre-Vatican II" generation is disappearing. At the same time, the Millenial generation of Catholics is filling the ranks. One of the distinctive characteristics of Millennials is that 45 percent are currently of Hispanic background and that number is expected to grow over the next two decades.

Hispanics and non-Hispanics disagree on a number of issues. One significant difference: 70 percent of Hispanics say helping the poor is important while 56 percent of others say it is. Hispanics also are more traditional in their views of the necessity to agree with church teachings on a range of issues, including remarrying after a divorce and abortion, than non-Hispanics.

According to the survey: "One in five Catholics … says that church leaders such as the pope and bishops are the proper arbiters of right and wrong" in such matters as divorce and remarriage, abortion, sex outside of marriage, homosexuality and contraception, while maintaining that either the individual alone or the individual considering the teaching of church leaders is the proper locus of authority for deciding on such matters.In a sign that religion as well as politics is local, most Catholics give favorable reviews to the leadership of the U.S. bishops as a whole, and particularly of their local bishops.

At the same time, the survey "finds a consensus among American Catholics that the bishops have come up short in their handling of the sex abuse issues," with most Catholics saying the issue has damaged the political credibility of church leaders and impaired the ability of priests "to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of their parishioners.

"The survey was conducted online among a sample of 1,442 self-identified Catholic adults who are part of the Knowledge Networks' KnowledgePanel. (See "About the survey" in accompanying stories for more detail on the methodology of the study. [3]) The interviews were conducted April 25-May 2. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percent.The survey's sponsors included an anonymous donor whose contribution was matched by donations from The Rotondaro Family Foundation, the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Sutudies, the Rudolf Family Foundation, the Donegal Foundation and the Luger Family Foundation.William V. D'Antonio, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America, led this fifth survey, as he has all the others. His colleagues this year were Mary Gautier, senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University, and Michele Dillon, professor of sociology and chair of the department at the University of New Hampshire. 

Director of Communications
Diocese of Buffalo
795 Main St.
Buffalo, NY  14203
(716) 847-8719
(716) 847-8722 {fax}

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Medal of St. Benedict explained

From time to time we get questions about the Medal of St. Benedict. At some point in the future we may make these medals available to parishioners. Meanwhile, they can easily be obtained via the internet. Often the Medal of St. Benedict is combined with a crucifix. The medal is especially known for keeping evil at bay.

Here is what the many Latin words and abbreviations on the medal mean:

St. Benedict holds a cross in his right hand and his Rule in his left. At his right side is a cup with a serpent (or snake) escaping; at his left side is a crow taking away a piece of poisoned bread.  Both of these recall miraculous events in Benedict's life when attempts on his life were thwarted.

Near the saint are the words CRUX SANCTI PATRIS BENEDICTI.  That means "The Cross of Holy Father Benedict."

Around the medal are the words "EIUS IN OBITU NOSTRO PRAESENTIA.  That means "He defends us in our death with his presence."

PAX means peace.

C S P B stand for Crux Sancti Patri Benedicti - "Cross of the Holy Father Benedict"

Down the vertical part of the Cross - C S S M L which stand for Crux Sacra Sit Mihi Lux - "May the holy Cross be my light."

Across the horizontal part of the Cross - N D S M D which stand for Non Draco Sit Mihi Dux - " the devil will not be my leader."

S M Q L stands for Sunt Mala Quae Libas - "these things presented to me are evil."

I V B stands for Ipse Venea Bibas - "drink the poison yourself!"

V R S stands for Vade Retro Satana - "get behind me Satan."

N S M V stands for Non Suade Mihi Vana - "You can't persuade me to do evil."

source: CC Italy pamplet, 2011.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


    This week Isaiah sings us a song about his “friend’s” vineyard, a song which ends in violence. Jesus tells a similar tale of disappointment and destruction. What insights into God’s “work” do these stories bring us? Isaiah tells us, “The vineyard of the Lord is the house of Israel,” but where are our vineyards? In his book The Road Less Traveled, Scott Peck describes our gradual development as persons having boundaries.  At each life crisis or growth opportunity, our boundaries collapse and a new, larger circle emerges, until finally, our “wall” crumbles one last time and we embrace all of creation. There is a reminder in the parable that growth involves looking outward with thankfulness for the blessings we’ve been given and a willingness to invest them in the growth of the kingdom rather than taking the cream of the crop for selfish consumption. If the vineyard is our church, are we looking for ways to make the circle larger until Christ embraces everyone? If the vineyard is our nation, in what ways have we produced “wild grapes”?  Have we been faithful stewards of the resources we’ve been blessed with, or have the fruits of our labors been diverted to unjust purposes? Is it time to take stock of the “grapes of wrath” which have crept into the vineyard? If the vineyard is our personal life, have we been alert for messengers of growth, or are security and the status quo our overriding concerns? If our walls have indeed been knocked down and life as we knew it has come to an end, are we on the lookout for that previously-rejected stone which could be the cornerstone of a new, richer life?  Is Jesus really the cornerstone of our lives?
     The cornerstone to which Jesus alludes is from the great Easter Psalm 118, which is our entrance hymn. As a means of spiritual growth, St. Paul urges us to be thankful in prayer for the beauty of life, and the hymns “Abundant Life,” “For the Beauty of the Earth,” and “Song of Hope” (“all things bright and beautiful you are”) are all meditations on that idea.  God’s relentless quest for justice is expressed in “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory” and “Blessed Be Your Name.” the hymn “Jesus Calls Us” invites us to think about how the church can be a fruitful vineyard.


This weekend concludes our series of scriptural reflections on God’s fairness, mercy and justice. Last weekend’s parable of the workers in the vineyard began another theme which will continue in one form or another until Advent. The vineyard is an image which can be interpreted in many ways, often as a background to our “work” as Christians. (Recall the disciples’ question to Jesus in John 6:30: “What is the ‘work’ you do?”) Part of that “work” is detailed in the opening lines of our Philippians reading, urging us to stay focused on the humility necessary for the well-being of the community. The latter part of this passage, a poetic meditation on Jesus’ humility, is often called the “Philippians hymn” and may be one of the earliest hymns sung at Christian worship.
    Paul’s exhortation to unity in community is expressed in the hymns “Where Charity and Love Prevail” and “Simple Gifts,” a tune and text which are part of our 19th-century Shaker heritage. “Simple Gifts” describes the attitude of humility with perfect simplicity. I often suggest this hymn for weddings. “Jesus Calls Us” is also a meditation on the work of Christ, and is one of three hymns from Iona Abbey that we will sing this weekend, the others being “The Love of God Comes Close” and “I’ll Love the Lord.” Iona hymns often use folk tunes and poetry elegant in its simplicity which makes its point without religious rhetoric. Our gospel passage emphasizes the commitment and energy necessary to move from good intentions to action, so three of our songs at 10:00 have “yes” as their theme: “I Say Yes, Lord,” “I’ll Love the Lord,” and “Trading My Sorrows.”

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Parish Retreat - 19 Nov. 2011

The St. Vincent de Paul Conference at St. Benedict’s Parish cordially invites you to join us on a one-day retreat called
Following Jesus in Mark’s Gospel

Did you know that every year the church focuses on one Gospel?

In a few weeks another liturgical year will begin. This year most of the Gospel readings we will hear on Sunday will come from Mark.

How is Mark’s Gospel different from the other evangelists?

What lessons does Mark give us in our quest to follow the way of Jesus?

Come join Deacon Bill for a full day retreat as we dig deep into scriptures. Let us reflect together how we might follow Jesus more closely through Mark’s Gospel.

DATE: Saturday, November 19, 2011
TIME: 9:30 AM – 5:00 PM
PLACE: St. Benedicts Parish, School Gym
COST: Ten Dollars (Retreat includes lunch and beverages).
For more information or to make a reservation write to Matt Smith at msmith@saintbenedicts.com or call 836-6444.

RETREAT DIRECTOR: Mr. William Hynes, Permanent Deacon. Deacon Bill serves at St. Benedict’s Parish, teaches religion to eleventh graders at St. Joseph Collegiate Institute, and taught for many years in the Diaconal Formation Program for the Diocese of Buffalo. For the last three summers Bill has had meaningful experiences teaching in third world countries. Bill was ordained in St. Joseph’s Cathedral by Bishop Mansell in June 1998

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Email update on new responses at Mass

Praised be Jesus Christ!

We are in the final stages of preparation for the new responses at Mass.  The new responses go into effect on the First Sunday of Advent (the weekend after Thanksgiving).

Please invite as MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE to the presentation in our church Wednesday 26 October from 7 to 8pm  The church is handicapped accessible.  Please invite your teachers, volunteers, and all the members of groups you belong to.  We will cover the reasons for the changes, the new responses, and offer some catechesis on the liturgy along the Way. This is the ONLY major presentation on the changes in our parish.

1. We begin inviting the congregation to the 26 Oct. presentation at Masses this weekend and will continue to address the changes going forward.
2. The pew cards with the new responses have arrived.
3. The new Breaking Bread worship aids have arrived and begin in Advent (new responses included)  Glenn has the new musical pieces lined up and ready to go.
4. The Sacramentaries are in.
5. Announcements continue on the bulletin, facebook, twitter and website.  Here is the US Bishops website on the changes - http://old.usccb.org/romanmissal/
6. The School, Faith Formation Program and RCIA are addressing the changes in classes.
7. An invitational video is on the website.
8. We will soon send an invitational email out to those in our distribution list.
9. Our priests and deacon are studying their parts (pray for us!!!!)

Thanks for all you are doing to make this transition as smooth as possible!   See you on the 26th.
deacon bill+
Deacon William Hynes
twitter - @stbensamherst
facebook - http://on.fb.me/gpfyMZ

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Feed HIs Flock - Bishop Kmiec

Please help us help the hungry. In the spirit of Bishop Kmiec’s motto of charity and service, we invite you to collect non-perishable canned goods for donation to Saint Francis of Assisi Food Pantry.

Simply bring your canned goods to Saint Benedict Church or School.

Feed His Flock is a Diocesan initiative of the Division of Catholic Education to collect Non-Perishable Canned Goods from now until October 21, 2011 to honor our Bishop, The Most Reverend Edward U. Kmiec, D.D., S.T.L., on the occasion of his Jubilee Celebration for his many years of service to the Church.

The Division of Catholic Education will present Bishop Kmiec with a certificate showing the total number of items collected throughout the Diocese to commemorate this charitable effort undertaken in his honor.

Our thanks to Bishop Kmiec for his decades of service to Christ and His Church.

And thank you for your generosity to the needy..