Dear Parishioners: The unexpected passing of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was sad news. Justice Scalia was a brilliant jurist and a important figure in the legal history of our nation. He was a husband, the father of nine children and the grandfather of twenty-eight grandchildren. Justice Scalia was the first Italo-American to serve on the US Supreme Court. He was also a committed Catholic whose son is a priest of the Arlington, Virginia Diocese. He was just one of six Roman Catholic justices on the Supreme Court, but in his devotion to the faith he was second to none.
Many years ago I had the great privilege to hear him speak here in Providence to the Justinian Legal Society of Rhode Island. He possessed not only a keen intellect but a tremendous sense of humor and a sharp wit. Afterwards my father and I were able to speak with Justice Scalia for a few moments. We shared a good laugh when I told him that I was the ninth of nine children, a priest and also the son of a Judge. We offer our prayers and condolences to the family of Justice Scalia. May his noble soul rest in peace!
In his Annual Message for Lent, Pope Francis suggested: “For all of us, then, the season of Lent in this Jubilee Year is a favorable time to overcome our existential alienation by listening to God’s word and by practicing the works of mercy. In the corporal works of mercy we touch the flesh of Christ in our brothers and sisters who need to be fed, clothed, sheltered, visited; in the spiritual works of mercy – counsel, instruction, forgiveness, admonishment and prayer – we touch more directly our own sinfulness. The corporal and spiritual works of mercy must never be separated. By touching the flesh of the crucified Jesus in the suffering, sinners can receive the gift of realizing that they too are poor and in need. “
One of the greatest ways the corporal works mercy and the spiritual works of mercy are lived out is through the many good works done by our local Church. The various offices and agencies of the Diocese of Providence daily practice the works of mercy for the poor, the stranger, the ill, the imprisoned and the needy. Whether its at the Emmanuel House for the homeless, celebrating the sacraments for prisoners, tending the ill and infirm in nursing homes, or helping resettle refugees and welcome immigrants, the many offices provide good works for all of God’s children. This is truly something we can be proud of as Catholics. Our Church is the second largest provided of social services in the nation behind only the government.
Here in Rhode Island our Church is the largest Church provided of services to the poor and needy. In the name of Christ and the Catholic Church, each day hundreds are helped through the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Each year during Lent we are asked to give alms. Perhaps one of best ways we can do that is support the Catholic Charity Appeal. This Appeal helps finance the good works of the Church across the state. It is only through the tremendous financial support of Catholics across Rhode Island that such good works can continue to serve God’s people.
Next weekend we begin the Annual Catholic Charity Appeal at all Masses. We are asking each parish family to consider pledging a gift of $300. This means that for just $25 a month, the poor and needy, the imprisoned and forgotten, the sick and the infirm continue to be served. I ask that you prayerfully consider making this pledge next week. We are called to give alms not simply out of our surplus but sacrificially out of our love. I am deeply grateful to Kevin and Nancy McDevitt who serve as the Chairs of the Catholic Charity Appeal here at OLM. Also I thank Stephen and Antonia Zubiago who serve as the Chairs of the Bishop Partnership in Charity. Our parish goal this year is $193,00, an amount we have traditionally surpassed. I am sure we can do so again with your generosity and I thank you for your support of the CCA. It’s Lent! Remember Fridays are for fish and Stations! Pray. Fast. Give Alms. Be well. Do Good. God Bless.