Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Holy Week 2012 schedule

Fo info. on our handcarved crucifix - visit http://bit.ly/kFAhWV
for St. Benedict's Parish
Amherst, NY
Please visit www.saintbenedicts.com often for directions, details and updates.

Our Palm Sunday liturgies follow the usual weekend Mass schedule -
Saturday at 5pm, Sunday at 8am, 10am and 11:30am.

Holy Thursday:
9:00am Morning Prayer
7:00pm Evening Mass (following Shared Supper)
             Thursday of the Lord's Supper

Good Friday:
9:00am Morning Prayer
Noon - The Passion of the Lord
6:00pm Stations of the Cross

Holy Saturday:
9:00am Morning Prayer
3:00pm Blessing of Baskets (see http://bit.ly/dN1BJj for info on this tradition)
8:30pm Easter Vigil Mass

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Information about St. Joseph - Patron of Buffalo NY

St. Joseph is the "principal patron" of the Diocese of Buffalo! Everything you need to know about St. Joseph, whose Solemnity we celebrate on 19 March, is available at http://www.churchyear.net/stjoseph.html.

For those who want to go deeper into the theology of St. Joseph, we highly recommend Blessed John Paul the Great's "Redemptoris Custos" http://bit.ly/xwJhld

Here is a short video highlighting the beauty of St. Joseph's Cathedral of the Diocese of Buffalo:

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Music Notes for March 18

        Today’s first reading is the thrilling conclusion of the books of Chronicles, which recap the genealogies of Genesis and then narrate a history of the kings of Israel and Judah. This is the backdrop against which the lives of the prophets unfold (the “messengers” which the kings failed to heed). Some of the kings were reformers who were able to fend off the influence of their pagan neighbors. Others were weak and corrupt and gave in to foreign influence.  In the end, Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were exiled to Babylon for 70 years. Their liberator was King Cyrus of Persia, who defeated the Babylonians. We last heard about Cyrus in the liturgy of October 16, when Isaiah makes clear that even gentiles have a role to play in God’s plan.
       Psalm 137 is one of the great laments of the Babylonian exile. It is one of the better-known psalms because it was set to music in Godspell as “On the Willows,” though a footnote in my Bible assures me that they were aspens!  Perhaps we can reflect on the sense in which we as Christians live as exiles in an increasingly worldly culture in which many feel alienated. How can we sing the Lord’s songs in a foreign land?  Do we hold up to scrutiny the underlying assumptions of our economy, our politics, our entertainment?  Here again, resurrection – the return to Jerusalem – is preceded by death. Since we are “God’s work of art,” as St. Paul tells the Ephesians, God is only too ready to provide a second chance, and not because of any project of ours. John 3:16 is probably the most famous gospel passage of all, but those who love to quote it stop too soon: “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world.” How often do we hear words of condemnation and judgment from politicians and preachers?
       Perhaps we should pray that St. Patrick drive the snakes from our country!  Three of our hymns this weekend use Irish tunes. “Lord of All Hopefulness” also alludes to Jesus’ presumed training under Joseph’s tutelage: “[his] strong hands were skilled at the plane and the lathe.” At our 11:30 celebration, the choir will sing Sir John Stainer’s setting of “God So Loved the World,” from his oratorio The Crucifixion, and a setting of the Irish blessing as a special benediction on the occasion of Fr. Fifagrowicz’ 50th jubilee and 75th birthday.

Dick Duquin - a man of the Church

After ten years of extraordinary commitment to St. Benedict's Parish, our Business Manager, Dick Duquin, has decided to retire.  While we will miss his daily presence in church, in the rectory and in our school buildings, we are assured that Dick will remain active in our Technology, Evangelization and Social Justice efforts. So, while the following paragraphs are written in the past tense, we are not saying goodbye to Dick, just honoring all the contributions he has made to the parish so far.  Undoubtedly, there will be more to come.

Dick Duquin in action as a master presenter.
Dick was hired by our former Pastor, Fr. Gary Bagley. Since his first day on the job, Dick has worked to keep St. Ben's on an even financial keel. He was a stable presence for us after the unexpected death of Fr. Gary and helped us through Fr. Joe's overseas tours of duty.  Dick has shepherded many initiatives through our Finance Council. Dick's responsibilities included the day-to-day personnel matters in the school and rectory. He has chaired our Buildings and Grounds Committee as well.  Dick has worked tirelessly to make St. Ben's grounds the best in the Diocese. His parish Garden Club has helped make that happen year after year.

However, those who know Dick, know that his financial acumen and leadership skills are just two of his many gifts. Dick is a deeply spiritual man; a true man of the Church. He has been adamant in his insistence that we, the Church, come to a fuller understanding of stewardship. Dick has taught us that it is more than just sharing our finances or treasure; it is equally about contributing our time and talents. Those of us who have had the privilege of being at meetings with Dick can attest to his insistence that we look more deeply into people's gifts and enable them to share their gifts more effectively. One notices Dick's influence on our website homepage where the Stewardship tab clearly reflects Dick's broad vision of church.

Dick's sense of church revealed itself in many ways at St. Benedict's. He has organized retreat days for the parish, planned our Lenten schedule, and spearheaded evangelization efforts such as "welcome back" Sunday in our parish. Dick was instrumental on the ground floor in our digital development and social networking. It is worth noting in this context that Dick is responsible for the very first post from this blog which has since received over 24,000 page views. Dick was also the first to post on the parish Facebook page.  He has moved St. Ben's into the digital age financially as well, providing online giving opportunities such as E-Basket and WeShare. Dick has made the parish finances transparent, having our latest report posted on the website for all to see.

However, perhaps nothing reveals Dick's love for Christ and His Church as much as the "15 Hours of Ashes" approach he developed to begin the Lenten season. By keeping our parish church opened, and by creating a welcoming environment for those who may have been away from the Church for whatever reasons, "15 Hours of Ashes" has had a tremendous impact on many.  Not only are there great stories of penitents reconnecting with their Catholic Faith, but "15 Hours of Ashes" has brought the parish community together spiritually as well.

We wish Dick well in his official retirement.  But more importantly, we thank him for his decade of dedication to St. Benedict's.  May God bless Dick, Lori and their family with peace, joy and love.

Thank you Dick!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bishops' Latest on HHS 14 March 2012


Declare government has no place defining religion, religious ministry
Seek protection for conscience rights of institutions, individuals
Stress action with the public, White House, Congress, courts

WASHINGTON—The U.S. bishops are strongly united in their ongoing and determined  efforts to protect religious freedom, the Administrative Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) said in a March 14 statement.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan
           The Administrative Committee, chaired by Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York, president of the USCCB, is the highest authority of the bishops’ conference outside the semi-annual sessions of the full body of bishops. The Committee’s membership consists of the elected chairmen of all the USCCB permanent committees and an elected bishop representative from each of the geographic regions of the USCCB.

           The full statement can be found at www. www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/upload/Admin-Religious-Freedom.pdf.

           The Administrative Committee said it was “strongly unified and intensely focused in its opposition to the various threats to religious freedom in our day.” The bishops will continue their vigorous work of education on religious freedom, dialogue with the executive branch, legislative initiatives and efforts in the courts to defend religious freedom. They promised a longer statement on the principles at the heart of religious freedom, which will come later from the bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty.

           The bishops noted that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate that forces all private health plans to provide coverage of sterilization and contraceptives – including abortion-inducing drugs – called for an immediate response. Of particular concern, they said, are a religious exemption from the mandate that the bishops deem “arbitrarily narrow” and an “unspecified and dubious future‘accommodation’’’ offered to other religious organizations that are denied the exemption.

           The bishops thanked supporters from the Catholic community and beyond “who have stood firmly with us in our vigorous opposition to this unjust and illegal mandate.”

           “It is your enthusiastic unity in defense of religious freedom that has made such a dramatic and positive impact in this historic public debate.”

           The bishops said this dispute is not about access to contraceptives but about the government’s forcing the Church to provide them. Their concerns are not just for the Catholic Church but also for “those who recognize that their cherished beliefs may be next on the block.”

           “Indeed, this is not about the Church wanting to force anybody to do anything; it is instead about the federal government forcing the Church –consisting of its faithful and all but a few of its institutions – to act against Church teachings,” they said.

           The Church has worked for universal health care in the United States since 1919, they added, and said the current issue “is not a Republican or Democratic, a conservative or liberal issue; it is an American issue.”

           The bishops called the HHS mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion,” with government deciding who is a religious employer deserving exemption from the law.

           “The introduction of this unprecedented defining of faith communities and their ministries has precipitated this struggle for religious freedom,”the bishops said.

           “Government has no place defining religion and religious ministry,”they said.  “If this definition is allowed to stand, it will spread throughout federal law, weakening its healthy tradition of generous respect for religious freedom and diversity,” they said.

           The bishops said the government’s foray into church governance “where government has no legal competence or authority” is beyond disturbing. Those deemed by HHS not to be “religious employers,” the bishops said, “will be forced by government to violate their own teachings within their very own institutions. This is not only an injustice in itself, but it also undermines the effective proclamation of those teachings to the faithful and to the world.”

           The bishops also called the HHS mandate “a violation of personal civil rights.”  The new mandate creates a class of people “with no conscience protection at all: individuals who, in their daily lives, strive constantly to live in accordance with their faith and values,” the bishops said. “They too face a government mandate to aid in providing‘services’ contrary to those values – whether in their sponsoring of, and payment for, insurance as employers; their payment of insurance premiums as employees, or as insurers themselves – without even the semblance of exemptions.”

           The bishops called for the Catholic faithful, and all people of good will throughout the nation to join them in prayer and penance “for our leaders and for the complete protection of our First Freedom – religious liberty.”

           “Prayer is the ultimate source of our strength,” the bishops said,“for without God we can do nothing. But with God all things are possible.”

visit http://bit.ly/zx7mC2 for information on the upcoming rally to protest the HHS infringement on our religious liberty.  Thank you for helping the Church in her hour of need.

Quiet Time with Jesus 29 March 2012

Do you need quiet time with Jesus this Lent?

Let's face it, we all need quiet time with Jesus! So make plans to join us Thursday March 29th.  We begin with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament at 6pm and conclude with Benediction at 9pm.

You may choose to stay the whole time or just for a short period anytime between 6 and 9pm.

If you are new to this traditional Catholic devotion, here is what happens: an entrance hymn is sung, the priest/deacon goes to the Tabernacle and places a large consecrated Host in a special vessel called a monstrance like the one in the photograph, the monstrance is placed at the center of the altar (Exposition), incense is used, quiet prayer follows, there may be a Scripture reading and a short homily at some point, finally there is the solemn blessing with the Blessed Sacrament in the monstrance at the end of the devotion (Benediction).

We hope to see you March 29th in church.

For information on the history of Benediction see http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02465b.htm

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Music Notes for March 11

       Today’s Exodus reading is another chapter in the unfolding story of God’s covenant with His chosen people. The Ten Commandments were carved in stone on Mount Sinai and to this day in town squares, framed on courthouse walls and school halls. The question is, are they carved in our hearts?  Such is the promise of Jeremiah which we will hear in two weeks, and it is also the text of our opening hymn at the organ Masses. “Grant to Us, O Lord” is one of the hymns in antiphonal style written by Holy Ghost Father Lucien Deiss,  inspired by the tribal chants he heard as a missionary in Africa. Psalm 19 also sings of God’s law in sensual terms, a living, breathing entity, part of the fiber of our being. “The law of the Lord refreshes . . .  rejoices the heart . . . enlightens the eye . . . more precious than a heap of purest gold . . . sweeter than syrup or honey . . . ”  Our setting is by Michael Joncas, composer of much of our contemporary repertoire, including “On Eagle’s Wings.” Psalm 19 is also the text of our communion song, “Your Words Are Spirit and Life,” also written by Bernadette Farrell, who also wrote last week’s “Christ, Be Our Light.” 
       God’s law, which “gives wisdom to the simple,” is the source of the true wisdom described by St. Paul. God’s wisdom explodes language and logic, for “the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.”  Our closing hymn at the organ Masses is the second half of the Breastplate of St. Patrick, “Christ Be Beside Me,” sung to the tune of “Morning Has Broken.” It expresses beautifully the meaning of St. Paul’s statement: “Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God.”
       All human beings crave signs. Language itself is a series of signs, as are music, dream images, or frames of a movie.  We read the astrology column (for fun, of course) and look for signs of climate change and the “end times.”  Confronted with a series of signs, we want to know what they mean.  When the disciples saw Jesus transfigured between Moses and Elijah, they wondered what this might mean, as well as “rising from the dead.” In today’s gospel they are left to ponder the meaning of Jesus’ display of anger as well as his response to those who demanded some sign of his authority. Our offertory hymn, “God, Whose Purpose Is to Kindle,” is a prayer that wisdom internalized will move us to action. (It is sung to the Applachian hymn tune ‘Holy Manna.’) In our quest for the meaning of resurrection, we note that the temple must be destroyed before it is restored. There is no resurrection without death. How is this experienced by those whose beloved parishes have been closed? When sickness is cured or hurt is forgiven?  How many things need to be let go of before we are free?

St. Joseph's Day Table 2012

update: 26 March 2012

The St. Vincent de Paul Conference would like to express our sincere gratitude to Mike Mendola for preparing our wonderful St. Joseph’s Table! This continues to be our Conference’s biggest fundraiser of the year and the generous donations of time, talent and treasure from over 200 people who attended, set up, served (including some of the kids from our Confirmation class), cooked, cleaned up, donated baskets and/or purchased tickets to the basket raffle will enable us to continue to help area food pantries, send inner city youth to summer camp, assist those in need within our community and dozens of other worthwhile projects. We thank you for sharing in the wonderful spirit and fellowship of the day! Viva San Giuseppe!

Saint Vincent de Paul Society presents:

St. Joseph’s Day Table

If you are new to the St. Joseph's Day Table tradition, here is a wikipedia link on the history and symbolism of this beloved Catholic celebration - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Joseph's_Day

     When: Sun. March 25th (after 11:30 mass) 1 pm – 3 pm

     Where: St. Benedict’s RC Church School Cafeteria

     Tickets: $20 adult, $5 children (12 and under) -
     Available on the website under WeShare (www.saintbenedicts.com), at the Rectory Office and after all Masses.

Purchase tickets early – only 1 seating with a limited number of tickets available!


·         Zuppe- Lentils and Rice - A time honored St. Joseph's Day tradition to start the meal

·         An Intermezzo of Hard-boiled Eggs and Oranges

·         Homemade Bread

·         Pasta Consardi - A red sauce with sardines over spaghetti - red sauce available

·         Insalata - A fresh Italian fully dressed salad

·         Entrée - Loin of Cod, Stuffed Hot Peppers & Vegetable Frittatas (egg based omelets)

·         Desserts  including Cannoli and Cookies

·         Coffee & Tea

·         Wine/Beer/Soft Drinks available at Cash Bar

NEW THIS YEAR:  Basket Raffle with door prize of Apple iPod Touch, plus additional interesting and exciting baskets.  Stop by the cafeteria after all weekend masses on March 24th and 25th to view baskets and purchase chances to win.   If you would like to donate a basket, drop it off at the "Faith Formation Office" in the school any time prior to the event, in the cafeteria between noon and 3pm on March 24th, or arrangements can be made for pickup. Questions on baskets, contact Megan Andrews meganLandrews@aol.com or 445-9002.

For Additional Information on St. Joseph’s Day Table Contact:

Agnes Smith mattandag@mac.com or 832‐2086

All proceeds to the St. Vincent de Paul Society

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Make KONY Famous - Catholics CRS

Uganda gone viral
Anyone with a Twitter stream, Facebook account or familiar with YouTube has probably seen the viral video "Make KONY Famous." In short, it is a plea to stop sex trafficking in Uganda and to hold those responsible accountable in a court of law.

This is an admirable thing to do. More power to the internet for shedding light on the horrors that go on in this part of the world.

Many people, however, may not be familiar with the quiet work that Catholic Relief Services (CRS) and Caritas have been doing in Uganda since 1965. As Catholics, we can be proud of the commitment CRS has made to fight AIDS, malnutrition, corruption and the ravages of war. Ours is a deep, long-standing, on the ground, effort to be the "hands of Christ" in Uganda. Here is CRS's official "take" on the KONY phenomenon http://newswire.crs.org/the-crs-take-on-kony-2012/

Uganda is about 42% Catholic (the USA is about 25% Catholic). As with all Catholic charities, Ugandans are served by CRS and Caritas without regard to religious affiliation. The Ugandan Martyrs, portrayed in the icon to the right, were killed between 1885 and 1887.  Their Feast Day in June 3rd.

Explore some of CRS's activity in Uganda by visiting their Uganda page http://crs.org/uganda/projects.cfm and thank you for being generous to the Church in Africa.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Tech & Religious Ed. Workshop here


St. Benedict's is hosting a special Diocesan workshop on Tuesday, March 13th from 6:30 to 8:00 on using technology to tell the Story of Christ. The workshop is being led by Tim Welch who is the author of Technology Tools for Your Ministry. Tim is a consultant for the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota. The workshop is open to everyone, but would be very valuable for anyone interested in teaching religious education. Please Call 847-5501 to register or email esantini@buffalodiocese.org. This workshop is free due to a grant from Our Sunday Visitor.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Report from CSMG - Kathleen Sieracki

Mrs. Sieracki on LCUSA Board (farthest left)
One of our parishioners, Mrs. Kathleen Sieracki, participated in the 2012 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering in Washington, D.C. In addition to her service as a national Board Member and Editor of the Ladies of Charity USA (LCUSA), Mrs. Sieracki is active in the Ladies of Charity at our parish and a member of our Salt & Light group, among other ministries.  Here is her report...

Advocacy Connections
Catholic Social Ministry Gathering

The 2012 Catholic Social Ministry Gathering (CSMG), organized by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), was held in Washington, D.C., Feb. 12-15.  Ladies of Charity USA is one of 14 Catholic organizations partnering with USCCB in this annual event.  Rita Robinson, a Lady of Charity from the Archdiocese of Washington and I represented LCUSA among 450 registrants from across the country.  Several Daughters of Charity were also present, including Sister Julie Cutter who serves on the LCUSA board of directors.

Faithful Citizenship:  Protecting Human Life and Dignity, Promoting the Common Good was the title of the conference.  The opening presentation by John Carr, executive director of the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, USCCB, addressed the bishops’ document, Forming Consciences forFaithful Citizenship, which aims to stimulate greater insight into public policy issues in light of Catholic social teaching.

Dr. Carolyn Woo, president of Catholic Relief Services (CRS) was the plenary speaker on international issues.  CRS is present in over 100 countries, working with the people they serve to identify what is needed by listening, not commanding.  In humility, they believe solutions must be developed “on the ground.”   The plenary session on domestic issues featured Dr. Arturo Chavez, president of the Mexican American Catholic College in San Antonio.  He spoke about the challenges and aspirations of the Latino community in the United States and some of the difficulties encountered in working to reconcile Catholic principles with cultural attitudes.

 In conjunction with other Christian leaders, USCCB is urging that a Circle of Protection be established around the programs and resources essential to safeguard the lives and dignity of the poor and vulnerable in our nation and around the world.  Everyone in attendance received training on priority issues in preparation for visits to representatives and senatorson Capitol Hill.On Tuesday, February 14th, CSMG participants lobbied Congress on behalf of extending the period of eligibility for unemployment benefits and for preservation of the Child Tax Credit.  A bi-partisan agreement on these two goals was announced the next day. 

Two other issues presented during the congressional visits are still unresolved.  Legislators were asked to work on the release of humanitarian funding for Palestinians and were also asked to co-sponsor and support bills pending in both the House and the Senate which will protect religious liberty and conscience rights in light of the recent unprecedented and very narrow definition of what constitutes a religious organization.  Participants stressed that our hospitals and charities serve people not because those in need are Catholic, but because we are Catholic.

Attendance at this conference brought a strong reminder that ours is a universal church.  Participants came from many age groups and ethnic backgrounds.  The liturgies were multi-cultural and several languages and native costumes were represented.  Bishops Jaime Soto of Sacramento and Richard E. Pates of Des Moines presided at the opening and closing Masses.

The summary message of the CSMG was a call to Congress and the administration to give moral priority to programs and policies that protect the life and dignity of those who are poor and vulnerable and to protect religious liberty, conscience and the freedom of Catholic ministries to serve “the least of these” (Matt. 25).

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Music Notes for March 4

       Having been told by Jesus not to talk publicly about the transfiguration they witnessed on Mount Tabor until after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples discuss among themselves what “rising from the dead” might mean. Perhaps that phrase can be our guide for Lenten growth: what does it mean to rise from the dead? In his poem “Resurrection,” Fr. Clarence Joseph Rivers wrote, “Death is not where we’re going to; death is what we’re growing from.” Our marching music could be our psalm refrain: “I will walk in the presence of the Lord, in the land of the living.” That perspective is a tremendous test of faith in view of the suffering that human beings continue to inflict on each other. Psalm 116, which is also the psalm for Holy Thursday, takes up the same theme. It could even be a rap testimonial about our close calls with death in all its many forms. Verse 15 is variously translated: “How painful it is to the Lord when one of his people dies!” Or: “Lord, you hate to see your faithful ones die.” That is the point of our story about Abraham and Isaac. Scholars tell us that this episode may be a counterpoint to the influence of neighboring ancient peoples who practiced child sacrifice. In II Kings we read that some of the Jewish kings fell into pagan rituals. We can also see the parallel between Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son and God who “did not spare his own Son,” in the words of St. Paul.
       Paul’s Romans 8 passage begins with: “If God is for us, who then can condemn us?” What a powerful Lenten mantra!  We sing Grayson Warren Brown’s meditation on this line. The psalm refrain at 10:00, “Walk With Me,” was written by another African-American musician, Leon Roberts, who died in 2000 of esophageal cancer. The entrance hymn at the organ Masses, “Transform Us,” was written by Sylvia Dunstan, a poet who died prematurely in 1993 at age 38. At the organ Masses the communion hymn will be “Christ, Be Our Light,” by Bernadette Farrell, a cancer survivor from England. The closing hymn at 10:00, “Shine, Jesus, Shine,” is by another English composer, Graham Kendrick. In fact, I first heard this song on a BBC World Service program some 15 years ago. The closing hymn at the organ Masses, “Beautiful Savior,” is a traditional German text and tune which many of us used to sing as “O God of Loveliness.”

HHS news - parish website

We encourage all our readers to visit our homepage - www.saintbenedicts.com - daily for the latest news on the Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate. Look for the picture of Bishop Edward Kmiec and the Statue of Liberty.

Join us for the Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally in Buffalo as we participate with over 50 other cities nationally to oppose the recent HHS Mandate. This HHS mandate, including President Obama's so-called "compromise," violates our first amendment right to free exercise of religion. Let’s tell our federal representatives that we want our religious freedom protected and the HHS mandate stopped!

Rally Date: Friday, March 23rd 2012
Time: 12 Noon
Location: Federal Building (Sen. Schumer’s Office)
130 South Elmwood Ave. Buffalo, NY 14202
*For more information email: Buffalo@StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For Catholics, for all religious people, and for people of good will, this is a serious religious liberty issue. As it currently stands, this mandate is an unprecedented infringement on our God-given rights, enshrined in the Free Exercise clause of the First Amendment.

Our website homepage has links to the Diocese of Buffalo's new website on religious freedom. We ask that all our parishioners and friends do their part to protect religious liberty in the United States by remaining informed and taking action as necessary.

Please share our website address - www.saintbenedicts.com - with your friends on facebook, twitter, email, etc.

The Church needs your help!  So does America.