Penny for Your Thoughts
On March 25 our parish celebrated the feast of the Annunciation. After the morning ceremonies, the Sisters, our Seminarian, and some parishioners helped to cover the many statues and holy images in the church. This annual event is a big job, because St. Gertrude’s has a big number of statues and pictures, as the legacy of Bishop Dolan. They will remain covered throughout the Passiontide, and during the Gloria of the Mass of Holy Saturday, they are again unveiled.
The Passiontide and the veiling of statues always bring to my mind a fairytale from Germany called The Enchanted Princess. It tells about a craftsman, who hears of a princess, who is held a prisoner of an evil spell in a sorcerer’s palace. Her father, the king, has promised to give her hand in marriage to any man who would break the spell and set her free. The craftsman has two sons, Hellmerich and Hans, and he loves the older Hellmerich more than the younger Hans. He sends Hellmerich to the palace to save the princess. On his way Hellmerich sees an anthill, and lets his horse trample on it. He comes to a pond where there are twelve ducks. He kills them and only one escapes. Then he sees a beautiful beehive, and in his malice, destroys it.
Hellmerich arrives in the sorcerer’s palace and there an old woman gives him three tasks. First she comes out carrying a basket full of seeds, scatters them over the meadow, and tells him to collect them all back in one hour. But Hellmerich refuses to work in such a menial task, and the woman is indignant that he didn’t even try. Next the woman throws twelve golden keys into a pond and tells Hellmerich to retrieve them in one hour, but he again refuses. For the final task the woman leads him into a chamber in the palace, where there are three veiled figures. She tells him to choose one of them and think carefully, because two of the figures are evil and only one is good. If he chooses the good one, he will be forever happy, but if he chooses evil, his soul is doomed. She tells him to make his choice in one hour. But all figures look exactly the same; so when she comes back, Hellmerich chooses hastily the figure on the right. The figures throw their veils away. In the middle is the beautiful princess, who looks sadly at Hellmerich, and is then veiled again. On her both sides are ugly fire-breathing dragons, who grab him and throw him in the abyss of hell.
After one year, Hans wants to try his luck. He also comes to the anthill, which is still half-crushed and torn, and helps to rebuild it, even though the ants bite him. He comes to the pond, where there’s again twelve ducks and gives them food to eat from his meager lunch. He also sees the beehive being reconstructed, and helps the bees by giving them flowers. Hans arrives in the palace, where the woman gives him too the task with the seeds. The ants he helped now arrive to help him. They collect all the seeds and bring them to him, and the woman is very pleased. Next comes the task of the twelve keys. Hans tries, but is unable to get a single key, until the ducks come and fetch the keys for him. The woman is again very pleased. She takes Hans to the chamber with the three veiled figures, and tells him to make his choice in one hour. Hans falls on his knees and prays, and hears a faint buzzing. The bees appear, fly around the figures and tell him to choose the middle one. When the old woman comes back, Hans chooses the middle figure. The three veils fall down, thunder strikes through the air and the earth trembles. The two horrible dragons fly out of the window into the pit of hell. The princess is set free, thanks to the pure heart of Hans, and she and Hans marry.
The Passiontide, therefore, is a time of expectation. Our dear Lord, His sweet Mother, and our friends, the saints, are now hidden. But we will soon see them again. Holy Week ceremonies at St. Gertrude the Great are always something to behold, either in person or through the webcast. My favorite Mass in the Roman Missal is that of Easter Sunday. Its words in the Introit are truly filled with joy: “I arose, and am still with Thee, alleluja: Thou hast laid Thine hand upon me, alleluja.”
One of our parishioners now has the original plans which Fr. Cekada made in expanding the parish rectory. That will be the building project, and we will have all the priests and Seminarians live in one place, and give our other house to the Sisters, which also was the original plan of Fr. Cekada. Our monthly second collection is taken for the Sisters, and the faithful have also donated very generously to our building project. Since the Oblates of the Holy Face serve the parish of St. Gertrude the Great, we hope to have them live on the parish grounds, and therefore be a full-time help for the parish priests. I was very happy for the recent donation of the Sodality of Charity, whose members gave $132 of their Lætare Sunday craft sale profits. Two of our young parishioners also made a donation, one giving $136 and another $80. We are all very grateful for those offerings, as well as to all the faithful who have donated through our online fundraiser.
Bishop Rodrigo Da Silva recently asked the faithful to say prayers to Mary and Joseph for more religious and priestly vocations. The number of vocations in the United States, Brazil, and Nigeria is indeed growing. Besides our own Oblate group here at SGG, the clergy in different continents have started their own new groups for female vocations. On March 18 the faithful in Brazil had the joy of seeing the ceremony of vestition of Sister Rose Mary of the Immaculate Heart. She received the habit of the Oblates of St. Joseph from Bishop Da Silva. There was also another happy event of vestition in Nigeria. On March 24, Sister Theresa Buasilenu made her oblation to Father Thomas Ojeka as a member in the new group named Oblates of the Mother of Divine Providence. God willing and Our Lady interceding all these three groups will be blessed with more vocations in the near future.
In March, Bishop McGuire announced the joyous news of the consecration of Fr. Bede Nkamuke as the Bishop for the Nigerian faithful. Many children of trad families have seen Fr. Nkamuke after I made some years ago a little board book about the Mass externals, which featured Father saying a Low Mass (and Sister Ulrica’s brother serving the Mass). The faithful in Nigeria are in great need of a Bishop to give them the Sacrament of Confirmation, as are the Seminarians so that they can receive Holy Orders. The consecration will take place on Monday, May 1, the feast of Sts. Philip and James, at 10 AM. I wish that many Traditional Catholics can attend this great and happy event.
The Sisters have adopted a stray cat. Her name is Penelope, but she’s called “Penny” for short. (There is a St. Penelope, who was one of the forty holy virgin martyrs of Thrace killed under Emperor Licinius, though our cat was really named after the Looney Tunes character.) When she arrived, I thought of the title of the book The Cat Who Came in from the Cold by a British author Deric Longden, because she truly appeared surprisingly, out from the cold world. But she has now found a new home at St. Gertrude’s, after wandering homeless for months, and she is happy, friendly, and humble, just like a good Oblate Cat should be. Penny also inspired me to make the first cat video of my life. You can watch it on GTok.
The Sisters, Penny, and I wish all our friends and benefactors a blessed Holy Week and Easter season.
Yours in the Charity of Christ and Our Lady of the Sacred Heart,
Fr. Vili Lehtoranta