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Singing to the Lord

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

There is one phrase I have heard too much from people when I tell them I direct choirs. That phrase is “I don’t sing”. Really? You don’t sing in the shower? You don’t sing in the car when your favorite song comes on? I find that very hard to believe!

The next most common thing I hear is “I can’t sing”. Often times my verbal response to this is “Oh okay” And I allow the conversation to move on to something else; but inside what I really want to ask is “Who told you you can’t sing?” One of my professors during my studies had perhaps a polar opposite perspective on singing. He says that everyone can sing and sound great with the right training. I still strongly agree with this. The voice is like a muscle. You have to give it a workout until it is strong, or in this case, begins to sound lovely.

Singing is referenced constantly in scripture readings. There are endless reasons for singing, both in the Old Testament and New Testament. We sing to the Lord for creation, for His blessings, for His glory, and many other reasons given in scripture and likely even more reasons we can come up with in our personal lives. It is one of the most wonderful ways of expressing our love of God, and our joy at receiving the Holy Eucharist.

Bring on the singing, no matter how bad you think you sound, and believe me you likely don’t sound as bad as you think! Sing at home, sing in your car, and sing your joy to God.

With September around the corner, we are getting ready to start up our choirs at St Mary’s Church. If you or someone you know sings, or would like to sing, or plays an instrument, please contact me at and we’ll help you get started in participating as little or as much as you would like!

Daniel Sauceda, Music Director

Pope Francis changes teaching on death penalty

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

The Vatican announced on Thursday, August 2, that Pope Francis approved changes to the compendium of Catholic teaching published under Pope John Paul II. “The death penalty is inadmissible because it is an attack on the inviolability and dignity of the person,” reads the Catechism of the Catholic Church now on the death penalty, with the addition that the Church “works with determination for its abolition worldwide.” This is a departure from what the document, approved under Pope John Paul II in 1992, says on the matter: “Assuming that the guilty party’s identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.” The former formula does stipulate that if nonlethal means are sufficient to protect people’s safety from the aggressor, then authority must limit itself to it, as these “are more in keeping with the concrete conditions of the common good and more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.”

In 1997, the Catechism was changed to reflect John Paul’s 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae.

The addition said that the cases in which the execution of the offender is
an absolute necessity “are very rare, if not practically nonexistent.” As it’s been re-written, the Catechism now also says that “Recourse to the death penalty on the part of legitimate authority, following a fair trial, was long considered an appropriate response to the gravity of certain crimes and an acceptable, albeit extreme, means of safeguarding the common good.” Yet today, “there is an increasing awareness that the dignity of the person is not lost even after the commission of very serious crimes. In addition, a new understanding has emerged of the significance of penal sanctions imposed by the state.” “Lastly, more effective systems of detention have been developed, which ensure the due protection of citizens but, at the same time, do not definitively deprive the guilty of the possibility of redemption,” reads the Catechism now, as it was approved by Francis.

It’s for this reason, and “in light of the Gospel,” that the Church teaches that the practice is now inadmissible.

Together with the revised number 2267 of the Catechism, the Vatican released a letter by Ladaria addressed to the bishops. In it, he explains the decision, saying it was Francis who on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Catechism, had asked for the teaching on the death penalty to be reformulated to “better reflect the development of the doctrine on this point.” The pope’s words came on Oct. 11, when Francis said that capital punishment “heavily wounds human dignity” and is an “inhuman measure.” “It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor,” he said. According to Ladaria, the new formulation of the Catechism expresses “an authentic development of doctrine that is not in contradiction with the prior teachings of the Magisterium.” He then explains that previous Church teaching with regards to the death penalty can be explained in a social context in which the penal sanctions were understood differently, and “had developed in an environment in which it was more difficult to guarantee that the criminal could not repeat his crime.”

Marking down the development, Ladaria quotes from Francis’s two immediate predecessors, first saying that John Paul II’s document Evangelium vitae is key in this development of the doctrine. In it, the Polish pope enumerated the signs of hope for a new culture of life, including “a growing public opposition to the death penalty, even when such a penalty is seen as a kind of ‘legitimate
defense’ on the part of society.” Criminals, the late pontiff wrote, shouldn’t be “definitively” denied the chance to reform. It was this document, as Ladaria points out in his letter that led to the first change in the Catechism on this issue, saying the cases in which the death penalty is justified are, in reality, “practically non-existent.”

Ladaria then goes on to say that John Paul’s commitment to the abolition of the death penalty was then continued by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI, who recalled “the attention of society’s leaders to the need to make every effort to eliminate the death penalty.” He closes the 10 -point letter saying that the new formulation wants to infuse energy towards a “decisive commitment to favor a mentality that recognizes the dignity of every human life and, in respectful dialogue with civil authorities, to encourage the creation of conditions that allow for the elimination of the death penalty where it is still in effect.”

Excerpts from CRUX Inés San Martín Aug 2, 2018 ROME BUREAU CHIEF vatican/2018/08/02/pope-francischanges-teaching-on-death-penalty-its-inadmissible


150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

Every year about this time I recall reading a column in one of the papers from a regular columnist who writes about being on vacation. She describes in colorful language some beach front town, maybe on the Cape or up north. The scene is charming, inviting, and lazy and always makes me wonder why my vacations are not as perfect as hers seem. I mean she talks about the beauty of the ocean, the breezes, the ice cream cones and cook outs; she describes the laid back mornings and lots of time for reading stuff she has looked forward to all year. Connecting with old friends, pleasant walks and time … time to just be.

Don’t know why but my vacations don’t usually seem as idyllic as those I read about. I want them to be – at least as I look forward to a couple of weeks out of Charlestown. I fully recognize that I need to get away from the day to day reality of my routine and that a change in routine is really good, in fact necessary. Nonetheless the person who goes on my vacation is the same
person who gets up each morning at 5:30 and begins a schedule that is always very full until late that night. What’s more, that person really enjoys each day like that.

So I conclude, it takes a bit of time to get into a vacation. The first days, 5:30 still seems the time to get up – at least Lily thinks so. She is ready to go out, take a walk and start her day. Sometimes I tell her, we’re on vacation – go back to sleep. She doesn’t believe me. But after a few days she starts to get the hang of it – we stay up later – there is more time for long walks much more exercise and she is now happy to sleep in. In fact my dog gets into vacation mode faster than I do.

In August I plan to get away for a couple of weeks. Slow down the daily pace, spend time with family and friends, get in some sailing and beach time and rest and read. I hope to stay away from the computer each day and not to hear the phone ring for whatever. When this happens, I see, again, what a blessing is my life. Leaving Charlestown and this parish helps me realize anew how much it all means to me, how I have grown to love this place and all of the people who form this great parish.

Maybe that is one of the greatest gifts of getting away: appreciating what you have left behind and getting rested and refreshed so that you can return. In hopes that you and yours can also get some time away before the weather cools down and the schools open and the cycle begins again, may God bless you and your family this beautiful summertime.

Fr. Ronan

It’s On Us

150 150 St. Mary St. Catherine of Siena

This is a wonderful week for our Nation – a week wherein we remember our story as a people and the courage and fierce commitment of our forebears who stood firm in the face of overwhelming odds – for the price of freedom. As young a nation as we are, nevertheless we have accomplished much and realize there is yet much more to be realized for us to achieve our claim as a great nation among the world of nations.
This particular Independence Day finds many of us bewildered and disappointed at the current state of our national government and discourse. No matter one’s politics and/or partisan stance, the lack of civility in the common square has declined, deteriorated to a level we would find unacceptable among children in a schoolyard.
This is not news to any one reading this column and I write about it not to pile on to criticisms of our present administration. I write about it to acknowledge what I see in myself and others in our tendency to respond to incivility by incivility. The decline in the quality of our public and private discourse about our government, various policies and actions has been enabled by those in support of and opposed to either side.
We all have choices to make about how we wish to speak and act in life and especially in our manner of speaking about others. If you and I wish to change the current level of discourse, I think it begins with me and you.
I believe we should hold our elected leaders to a high bar of ethical and moral behavior – and when they fall short, we must replace them. I also believe we must hold ourselves to an equally high standard of ethical and moral behavior and when we fall short, choose to correct ourselves.
Respect for the dignity of each and every person is the bedrock of Judeo-Christian beliefs. The founders of our great nation chiseled this truth into the essential proclamations of our Declaration of Independence.
As a Nation, on this Independence Day, we all have work to do to fulfill the courage of that proclamation.

Fr. Ronan