Last Monday night, I went to the Kindergarten classroom of our Religious Education program for children in Grades K through 8. As Monday was the feast of St. Blase, the Kindergarten teacher had asked me to bless the throats of the students. Before I began the blessing ritual, one of the students asked a question, “Will this blessing prevent me from ever getting sick?” I told her that, unfortunately, the blessing of St. Blase wouldn’t guarantee that she would never get sick. I continued by saying that the blessing was a prayer asking God to preserve us from illness and, that if we do get sick, to prevent us from complaining about it. This prompted giggles among the Kindergarten students. Evidently, at that young age, they were already familiar with the complaining that results from illness, either their own or that of others.
The truth about life in this world is that each person experiences at least some illness, suffering, deprivation, sorrow, and disappointment. Many people find that they experience such burdens to an extraordinary degree. Although there is nothing we can do to avoid suffering or sorrow, there is something we can do to bring ourselves consolation in our sufferings.
Last Sunday, we heard from Rose Llauget, Executive Director of Adoption and Pregnancy Support Services for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Rose was kind enough to provide this year’s education segment of the Annual Pastoral Appeal (APA).
Catholic Charities’ Adoption Services provides legal and counseling services for adoptive parents in twenty-five counties in our State (an area roughly five times the size of our Diocese). Foundations of Life Pregnancy Centers provide support, medical referrals, counseling, and education to young mothers who have no family to assist them with child rearing. These ministries are inspiring instances of the Catholic Church following through with concrete actions to promote and exemplify the moral teachings we derive from the Scriptures.
In today’s first reading, God says through the prophet Isaiah, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own.” (Isa. 58:7 NABRE) This prophecy comes with a promise, “Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.” (Isa. 58:8 NABRE)
When we imitate God’s compassion, we give glory to God by bringing God’s light to the world. Our imitation of God’s compassion has consequences for our personal lives, as well. God promises that compassion showed to others will bring healing for our own ills. The Annual Pastoral Appeal is one of the ways that our parish fulfills God’s command to share our bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and homeless, and clothe the naked.
If you have received a mailing from the Diocese in past years, you have probably already received the informational packet and pledge envelope for this new campaign year. If you didn’t receive a campaign packet, there are pledge envelopes available on the console tables in the narthex as well as in the Parish Office.
Our parish assessment this year is $102,656. I’m very grateful to those of you who pledged or donated last year. Your generosity allowed us to pay the annual assessment without taking any money from the Sunday Offertory collection. If you pledged or donated last year, I ask you please to repeat this year the gift you gave last year. If you did not participate in last year’s campaign, I ask you to give prayerful consideration to participating in this year’s campaign. Our parish, and the whole Church, depend on your faithful support.
Sadly, there is nothing we can do to avoid sickness or sorrow, either in our own lives or in the lives of others. There is, however, something we can do to comfort those who suffer and to bring comfort into our own lives. God says, “Share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own. Then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed.” (Isa. 58:7-8 NABRE) All Saints has a long-standing commitment to sharing our material and spiritual blessings with those in need. Your participation in the Annual Pastoral Appeal is an opportunity to be light for the world and to find consolation in your own life. I ask you to support the valuable outreach activities sponsored by the Annual Pastoral Appeal.