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Since 1732, the Redemptorists — a congregation of missionary priests and brothers — have followed in Jesus’ footsteps, preaching the Word and serving the poor and most abandoned.
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Monthly Archives: March 2012
Monday
One of the ways that Jesus witnessed to the love of God during his life on earth was in ministering to the sick. While most of us are impressed with Jesus’ physical cures; how he cured blindness or leprosy or raised people from the dead, Jesus also made people well in a spiritual way. By this I mean that their physical ailments may have remained, but they received the greater gift of being reunited with God. 
 
Jesus would often heal a person spiritually before continuing to heal them physically. He did this probably to set the person’s mind at ease that he or she was not being punished by God. A spiritual healing can last for the whole of a person’s life while a physical healing, on the other hand, lasts only for a time. Lazarus, for example, whom Jesus raised from the dead, had to die again. 
 
A spiritual healing reconnects us to God. St. Paul says that when we do the right thing and walk in the ways of the Lord, then “neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”            
 
All of us can bring Jesus’ healing presence to people who are sick. We just need to be ourselves. If we do not block God’s love from filling us, then we can easily shine this love on people who are sick. When we visit a person in the hospital, for example, a smile, a compassionate word, or bringing along a small gift are all ways that God’s healing presence is made known to others. They may not pick up their mat and walk, as did the man who was paralyzed in the Gospels, but our sick friends and relatives will know that they have been visited by someone who cares. 
 
Although sickness and death are natural occurrences in life, it is still a difficult test for our faith. Pope John Paul II wrote: “Death presents a certain dark side which cannot but bring sadness and fear. How could it be otherwise? Humanity has been made for life, whereas death … was not part of God’s plan.” Even Jesus was afraid of dying. He cried out in the Garden of Gethsemane on the night before his crucifixion: “Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.” In other words, Jesus said: “Papa God, don’t let me die.” 
 
Ultimately, Jesus trusted in his Father. He bravely went to his death on the cross. Now there is no separation between us and God. God, in Jesus, experienced everything that is human, even death. We now have nothing to fear from death. That is why at our Catholic funeral liturgies we hear: “Lord, for your faithful people life is changed, not ended. When the body of our earthly dwelling lies in death we gain an everlasting dwelling place in heaven.” “In Christ,” Pope John Paul II reflected, “death — tragic and disconcerting as it is — is redeemed and transformed; it is even revealed as a “sister” who leads us to the arms of our Father.”
 
So the next time you have an opportunity to visit a person who is sick, do not hesitate. Your presence alone is healing. Christ continues his healing mission through you. 
 
(Originally published in the Catholic Chronicle of St. Lucia)
 
Fr. Kevin MacDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1987 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1991. He is a mission preacher stationed at St. Patrick’s Parish in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.
 

 

Thursday
St. Clement Mary Hofbauer isn’t well known in the United States, but the Redemptorists may not have come to this country when they did if it hadn’t been for him. As we celebrate in 2012 the 180th anniversary of the arrival of the Redemptorists in the New World, we offer special thanks to God for the life and legacy of St. Clement, who died on this day in 1820.
 
St. Clement is considered the second founder of the Redemptorists because he led the mission to establish houses in Poland and Vienna, the first foundations outside of Italy. St. Clement began exploring the idea of bringing the Redemptorists to North America as early as 1806. European politics were making it increasingly difficult to train, educate, and provide for new Redemptorist missionaries. From his base in Vienna, St. Clement wrote to several friends, sharing his hopes of finding a suitable place in America or Canada where he could send the students.
 
To his friend and confrere Thaddeus Hübl who was assigned to the Redemptorists’ church in Warsaw, Poland, he expressed his concerns for the future: “I wrote you in my last letter that I want to go to Canada because I do not know what is going to happen to my whole world.” And to those who objected to his plans, arguing that the trip was too long especially without guarantee of welcome, “No matter! As long as we have a place to stay, until times improve, and we can form missionaries for unfortunate Europe.”
 
Twelve years after his death, Venerable Joseph Passerat, whom St. Clement handpicked to succeed him as superior of the Redemptorists north of the Alps, made Clement’s dream a reality. It was Passerat who sent six Redemptorists — three priests and three brothers — to America to work among the Native Americans and the German immigrants in what is today western Ohio, Wisconsin and Michigan.
 
 
 
Wednesday

Fr. Thomas Maceda, a longtime missionary, teacher and pastor, died March 13 at the St. John Neumann Residence at Stella Maris in Timonium, MD. He was 74.

Click here to read the full obituary.

A funeral Mass will be celebrated March 14 in the main chapel at Stella Maris at 7 p.m. A wake service will be held March 15 at 7:30 p.m. at the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn, NY. A funeral Mass will be held at the basilica on March 16 at 11 a.m. Burial will follow in Staten Island, NY.

Fr. Maceda was born June 1, 1937 in Brooklyn, NY. He grew up in Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish in Brooklyn, and professed vows as a Redemptorist August 2, 1958. He was ordained to the priesthood June 23, 1963. His assignments included several missions in Puerto Rico and the Caribbean between 1965 and 1972. He then he returned to the U.S. to teach at the Redemptorists’ high school seminary in North East, PA.

Other assignments included pastoral work in Esopus and Port Ewen, NY; Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn; and Most Holy Redeemer Parish in New York City.

Please pray for Fr. Maceda, and for his family, friends, and Redemptorist confreres who mourn his loss.

 

 

Wednesday
(Click here for complete readings. Audio option. Courtesy, U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.)
 
I am blessed! Many years ago I had the opportunity to enter into a wonderful, life-giving friendship with the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA. This was during a challenging time in my faith journey, and it was in the early days of my relationship with this community that I came to a deeper understanding of the word, “LISTEN.”
 
In the prologue of the Rule of St. Benedict, directed to his novices, I discovered the following: “Listen carefully, my child, to your master’s precepts, and incline the ear of your heart” (Proverbs 4:20).
 
LISTEN … incline the ear of your heart!”In the first reading for this third Wednesday of Lent, we read the words of Moses from the Book of Deuteronomy; “Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.” (Deuteronomy 4:1)
 
When we LISTEN, what do we hear God saying to us? I discovered this verse from St. Benedict at the same time the doctors from the Cleveland Clinic discovered my heart disease. I remember watching, enthralled, as the doctors skillfully weaved a small catheter though my veins into my heart. In the blink of an eye, there it was — my heart on the television monitor in front of me. I LISTENED as the doctors spoke among themselves with their technical language, “55 percent blockage here, 45 percent here,” and so on.
 
I saw something different from them. I saw a heart that was blocked or scarred in other ways. I became aware of the pains of a lifetime; the hurts, the disappointments, the failed relationships, the small and the big deaths that we all experience throughout our lives.
 
I knew the doctors could handle their part of the situation, but I also knew that ultimately, unless I truly gave my heart over to God, and really LISTENED to the plans God had for me, I would always suffer from heart problems.
 
LISTENING to God is not easy. It wasn’t then, and almost 25 years later it is still a challenge. When I LISTEN only to me, or worse, to the voices around me, sometimes these voices lead me further away from God than toward God.
 
Why LISTEN? Perhaps part of the answer comes from the words of Deuteronomy, “HEAR … that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you.”
 
Lent — LISTENING to God — reminds us that however short or long our journeys may be, ultimately God is preparing us to enter in and take possession of the land God has promised us.
 
Almost 25 years after that first heart experience, I underwent open heart surgery in the fall of 2010 — four coronary bypasses. The doctors did a great job, but God has done an even better one — after all, I am still LISTENING! Are you?
 
Father James McDonald professed vows as a Redemptorist in 1984 and was ordained to the priesthood in 1990. He is currently stationed at San Alfonso Retreat House in Long Branch, NJ.
 
 
 
 
Tuesday
 
The Redemptorists are honored to bring the relics of our confrere, St. John Neumann, to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. on March 28.
 
Exposition of the reliquary of St. John Neumann coincides with the 201st anniversary of his birth (March 28, 1811) and the 160th anniversary of his consecration as a bishop (March 28, 1852).  
 
The traveling reliquary — which includes a first-class relic — will be welcomed at the 12:10 p.m. Mass in the Crypt Church by Monsignor Walter R. Rossi, rector of the National Shrine and celebrant of the Mass; Redemptorist Father Matthew Allman will be the homilist. Following the Mass, veneration of the relics of St. John Neumann will continue throughout the afternoon and will end with Mass at 5:15 p.m. at which Father Allman will preside and preach.
 
“As fourth bishop of Philadelphia, Neumann was present in Rome in 1854 for the solemn declaration of the dogma of Mary’s Immaculate Conception. It was one of the highlights of his life, and he used it as an opportunity to teach his flock back home,” said Father Allman. “To bring his relics to the nation’s preeminent Marian shrine is a wonderful way to celebrate the life of this missionary priest, catechist, and devoted son of Mary.”
 
In January 2011, the Redemptorists kicked-off a special year marking the 200th anniversary of the birth of this first male American saint and the founder of the Catholic parochial school system. The Neumann Year included themed parish missions and retreats, the celebration of 40 Hours Eucharistic Devotion, a nationwide essay contest for Catholic school students, and the relic tour. 
 
The traveling reliquary made stops in several locations including Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City; St. Alphonsus Church in Baltimore, MD; Buffalo, NY; the Diocese of Trenton, NJ; and several parishes throughout Pennsylvania. The relics will make a final stop at the Malvern Retreat House in Malvern, PA prior to the closing celebration of the Neumann Year on June 23, at the Cathedral Basilica of Sts. Peter and Paul in Philadelphia.