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  • Writer's pictureFr. Vili Lehtoranta

Fall is Here and Winter is Coming

Dear faithful,

In the early fall, our St. Gertrude’s church choir recorded the hymn of our Oblate Sisters named Magnet of Souls, O Holy Face. It was composed by a Belgian Jesuit, Father Louis Lambillotte (1797-1855). His name is chiefly remembered of his efforts in restoration of Gregorian music, which he greatly promoted by his researches and publications. His goal was always to enhance the splendor both of the religious ceremonies and the academic entertainments. He wanted to restore to Gregorian music its original sweetness and melodious character.

Our late pastor, Bishop Daniel Dolan, was always convinced how important the Holy Face devotion is in our time, because it both protects God’s faithful in our dangerous times, and also draws souls, who sincerely love Him, to find Him and discover the truth. American poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. (1809-1894) wrote:

If anyone should give me a dish of sand and tell me there were particles of iron in it, I might look for them with my eyes, and search for them with my clumsy fingers, and be unable to detect them; but let me take a magnet and sweep through it, and how it would draw to itself the almost invisible particles by mere power of attraction. The unthankful heart, like my finger in the sand, discovers no mercies; but let the thankful heart sweep through the day, and as the magnet finds the iron, so it will find in every hour some heavenly blessings; only the iron in God’s hand is gold.

It is, therefore, one main apostolate of our Sisters to present the Holy Face of Our Lord to the world, so that He might draw all to Himself, not out of fear of punishment, but out of love.

In October I published a short interview of the Sisters on this website. In the video they speak about their group and their duties in the parish. The Sisters also now have a donation page, where one can make an offering to get them their own place to live. Right now they need to drive or to be driven to their homes every day, and they could help the parish much more if they had their own place. That would also make the admission of new members much easier.

In October Mr. Kevin Davis of the Catholic Family Podcast interviewed me about my road to the Catholic Church and priesthood. This was the first time I was ever interviewed, but Mr. Davis did great job. He is one of those individuals who has a natural talent to make one feel comfortable in new situations, and his podcast is a very good apostolate, an example of Catholic Action, of which our Sisters are also a part. In the interview I also mentioned briefly the Sisters and our girls’ Sodality of Charity.

Our assistant pastor, Fr. Stephen McKenna also told his life story in an interview with Mr. Davis, and hope you will have a chance to listen that as well.

But our apostolate cannot be limited in our own country only. The Church is catholic, i.e. universal, and we must support the clergy and faithful in other countries, too. In Brazil, where our Bishop Rodrigo da Silva has his mission and Seminary, there has been big riots and threats of more violence, due to the Socialist candidate winning the recent presidential election. Things look quite bad now in Brazil and in whole South America. But in Nigeria, where Frs. Nkamuke, Ojeka, and Okerulu serve a huge mission field, the situation is even worse. That country will also hold a presidential election in February 2023, and the main candidates are a Muslim and a Catholic (whose brother is a Novus Ordo priest). The political emotions are running high, and the conflicts based on ethnicity and religion, which already are very violent, might escalate because of this election. So our clergy in South America and Nigeria are in need of prayers, and acts of reparation for their countries.

The Sodality of Charity arranged its first Fall Festival on Sunday, October 9. The Oblate Sisters kindly assisted the girls in planning and organizing this fun event, which collected money to the Sodality. Our Sisters themselves are members of the Sodality, and help me in arranging its monthly meetings and events. Not only the girls themselves, but the parishioners, too, had great time. It is this kind of work and these kinds of events which help to bind the parishioners together, and also provide the younger members the chance to spend good – and fun – time together.

At the end of October, the Sisters and our Seminarian did lots of sacristy work, and prepared our altars for the ceremonies of the Forty Hours devotion. Forty Hours is always a big effort to our clergy and servers, but with the help of our great team of volunteers, we have always succeeded very well. Though this was the first year without Bishop Dolan, it helped a lot that we had two younger priests, one Seminarian, and our new Sisters to assist us. This is the active part of their apostolate, to assist the clergy in whatever way help is needed in the parish, in addition to the acts of reparation.

Forty Hours was followed by the feast of Christ the King, October 30. On that day Bishop McGuire hosted for the first time our annual All Saints party. And the Oblate Sisters acted as judges, and observed the wonderful costumes and presentations the children made. There were even Eulalia and Ulrica among the little saints!

Christ the King is followed by the All Saints feast. During this octave I always use my Missal printed for the Archdiocese of Dijon, France, and published under the authority of its Archbishop Maurice Landrieux in 1921. That Missal contains a proper preface of All Saints, which comes originally from the 1738 Missal of Paris, and in the 1800s it was incorporated into the French Missals “for certain places” (pro aliquibus locis). That very beautiful preface goes like this:

It is truly meet and just, right and availing unto salvation, that we should at all times and in all places give thanks unto Thee, O Holy Lord, Father almighty and everlasting God, Who art glorified in the council of the Saints, and through crowning their merits, Thou crownest Thy gifts. Who providest us an example in their conduct of life, a participation in their communion, and support in their intercession. So that we, having so great cloud of witnesses upon us, may patiently run to the combat designed for us, and with them earn an unfading crown of glory, through Jesus Christ Our Lord. Through Whom the angels trembling adore Thy majesty, and all the choirs of the heavenly spirits praise with a shared rejoicing. With these we pray Thee, that Thou mayest command our voices also to be joined in among them, saying with a humble confession:

As the mornings and nights get colder and darker, the Sisters purchased a cloak as an addition to their Oblate dress. The cloak has a hood attached to it, which makes it a true Little Red Riding Hood style. It’s a pity they opted not to wear the hood, for that would have given them the real Little Red Riding Hood look, but it simply was too unpractical to be worn with the veil – and in an active apostolate it’s better to seek what works best rather than what looks best. You can see photos of this attire in our latest newsletter.

On November 21 we have the feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This day is one of the major feasts for all Oblates, because on that day Sts. Joachim and Anne presented their daughter Mary as an offering or oblation to the Temple in Jerusalem. Mary was happy to begin Her service of God in the Temple, even though She had to leave her dear father and mother. And they were content to offer their little girl to God, for they knew that He had sent Her to them. Pray for our Sisters especially on this day, as an act of charity, in gratitude for their oblation to help souls find God.

Very soon after this feast, we’ll start our season of Advent. Since Christmas day falls on a Sunday this year, that means that we’ll have the longest possible Advent, starting on Sunday, November 27. Sanctify this holy season by extra prayers as an act of reparation to our dear Jesus and Mary.

Fr. Vili Lehtoranta


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