When any new immigrants or refugees begin their lives here in the USA they often comment on how this “Land of the Free and Home of the Brave” is not free at all. Many of them unwittingly break laws and land up within our judicial court system before they even began to understand the expectations of life here in America. It oftentimes is a rude awakening when they discover that there is just about a law governing everything. Why is this so? Civil law, like church law, exits ideally to protect the rights of all in the society. In addition law spells out the expectations and responsibilities that come with the experience of certain freedoms. In the texts of the Bible assigned for this weekend, the Book of Deuteronomy, the “Book of the Law,” encourages the Hebrews to take pride in the relationship that God has with God’s people. “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him? Or what great nation has statutes and ordinances that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?” Dt. 4:7-8. However, this source of pride in the law’s articulation is also ripe for the dangers of extremism as pointed out by Jesus in the passage this weekend from the Gospel of Mark, chapter 7. The keeping of the letter of the law becomes synonymous with holiness and thus people begin to reason how they can maintain their “holiness” without keeping the law. They begin to look for “loop holes” in their practice. Jesus points this defect out in our Sunday’s Gospel as we return to reflect upon the Gospel of Mark. We have all met different types of religious extremists. They may have been our Jehovah Witness missionary neighbors, evangelicals who declare that everyone’s practice of faith is wrong but their own, or even Mormon missionaries looking for converts. In our world today we experience such extremism within the Islamic faith expressed in such violent movements of: Al-Quaeda, Boko Haram, and Isis. Jesus promotes a wider understanding and more respect as to the purpose of law within our lives realizing the religious principle that “….what comes out of a person, that is what defiles” Mk 7:20. The beauty of Catholicism is the directive often given by many of our Saints, namely the use of “Moderation in all things.”
WELCOME FR. DANIEL It was with great joy that we welcome to St. Lawrence, Nativity, and St. Martin de Porres, Fr. Daniel Ogbeifun. Fr. Daniel arrived back into the US on Wednesday, August 19th and began his move into the Nativity Rectory. Fr. Daniel as well as our second Associate Pastor will reside in the Nativity Rectory. This past month we have been working on preparing the Nativity rectory residence for our two new Clergy Staff.
“FATHER YET TO BE NAMED” has been named. It is with great joy that we received word from Bishop Malone that Fr. Mark Itua, a priest also from Nigeria, will be the second Parochial Vicar – Associate Pastor, of St. Lawrence, Nativity, and St. Martin de Porres parishes. Fr. Mark will be returning this weekend to the USA from his first visit back home to Nigeria in four years. While in Nigeria, Fr. Mark, like Fr. Daniel, visited the American Embassy to get all his documents in order so as to begin this new chapter in his life. Fr. Mark is featured in a special article in the August edition of the Western NY Catholic paper. We welcome Fr. Mark to our parishes and look forward to his presence and the sharing of his gifts and talents among us.
CONGRATULATIONS TO ANDREW PITISI who was offered and has accepted a full time Youth Minister Position at the Church of St. Benedict in Eggertsville. Andrew’s strong involvement with the Office of Youth and Young Adult ministry, years of experience as a team leader of CLI: Christian Leadership Institute, and work with Youth Ministry at St. Philip the Apostle parish prepared him well for this new chapter in his life. We thank our son Andrew for his years of enthusiasm in our parish family working beside Joseph Strusienski in Maintenance as well as Coordinator of the Franciscan Guest House ministry here at St. Lawrence. Andrew, we are your home parish and we look forward to having you give witness to us of the great things God has yet to do through the ministry He has given you. Blessings to you!
MASS TIME CONSIDERATION In light of the new appointments of Fr. Daniel and Fr. Mark, several parishioners have consulted with our Parish Trustees, Sharon Lanza and Peter Zimmer, inquiring about the possibility of moving our 12Noon Sunday Mass back to the 10AM. The original change 2.5 years ago occurred because Fr. Ron couldn’t be in two places at one time. Over the next few weeks, the 12Noon Mass participants will be surveyed about the change and our priest clergy staff will then consider it as we work out the details of our Mass Schedules for the months of October, November, and December. Thank you for your consultations on this matter.