Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ, 

 

As our bulletin editor and parish historian has reminded us in recent articles, September 19th marks the 100th anniversary of the ordination to the episcopacy of Bishop Michael J. Crane, the second pastor of the parish and the man who oversaw the construction of our historic church. I consider this providential as I am officially installed as pastor on this auspicious anniversary. 

 

The awesome work of this parish does not begin with me or with Bishop Crane. It begins with the great high priest and true Shepherd of our souls. May he, the Lord Jesus Christ, be the center of all we do each day, as we entrust ourselves to him anew, through the intercession of Mary, his Immaculate mother. 

 

I am grateful to Archbishop Perez for appointing me to this ministry as your pastor, as well as to Monsignor Kutys who is representing the Archbishop this weekend. Thanks to all who the parishioners who support me in so many ways, especially those who have helped to prepare the Installation Mass and celebration. Special thanks to my family who have provided our post-Mass entertainment and refreshments as a gift to the parish. 

 

May God be Blessed!

 

-Father Eric Banecker

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ,

 

It is not every day that Pope Francis and the Economist Newspaper are encouraging people to do the same thing. But that is exactly what is happening as we approach the 700th anniversary of the death of Dante Alighieri, the author of that great work of Western literature, the Divine Comedy.

 

Ever since its writing, the Catholic Church has always given a unique status to this great poem. Of course, that is not to say that Dante had some kind of prophetic ability to say who was in heaven, hell, or purgatory at any given moment. The poem is, after all, a work of fiction, but one that has perennial truths to teach us. As Dante in the poem continually looks up to the stars, so the Divine Comedy has a unique ability to raise our minds above the travails of this world. If we take it on its own terms, this literary journey from the depths of despair to the heights of glory will remind us that while this earth is passing away, our actions here and now have eternal consequences.

 

The passages about hell – perhaps understandably – have fascinated the popular imagination the most. And of course, there is a call to responsibility in those sad passages about those who are separated from God for eternity. Yet it is the Paradiso to which we are called as readers and as human beings. Each of us has an eternal destiny, to share in the life of God forever with the great multitude of the blessed whom Dante meets along the way. It is not, in the end, a poem about punishment and evil, but about hope, joy, and the “love which moves the sun and the other stars” (Paradiso, Canto 33). I plan to read the Divine Comedy over the next few months and invite you to do the same.

 

May God be Blessed!

 

-Father Eric Banecker

 

 

P.S. You may find a website called 100daysofdante.com helpful – they are reading the poem between September and Easter, releasing three videos per week. Pope Francis’ letter on the subject “Candor Lucis Aeternae” (Splendor of Light Eternal) is also worth a read!

Father Eric Banecker’s Weekly Message

Dear friends in Christ,

 

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life” (Jn 6:68). With these words, pronounced at the end of the longest chapter in any of the Gospels, Simon Peter declares his continual loyalty to Christ, one based on human ties of friendship and affection, but above all on the supernatural virtue of faith that Jesus recognized in him when he said, in another context, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father” (Mt 16:18).

 

Where do you and I go with our wounds, our problems, our anxieties and fears? The dreadful situation in Afghanistan, the seemingly never-ending effects of covid-19 on our society, and a noticeable rise in anger, distrust, and malaise can get us all down from time to time. The world knows what we should do with our problems: we should buy more things we don’t need with money we don’t have; we should live for the moment and deal with consequences later; we should distract ourselves with social media.

 

But if we’re honest with ourselves, we know that none of the solutions the world offers are any good. In fact, they only make us more unsettled. They cannot satisfy us because only God can satisfy the deepest yearnings of the human heart. And so, we must return to the Lord with Saint Peter: “Lord, to who shall we go?” Indeed, many of Jesus’ disciples left him precisely at the moment when he announced to them that they had to eat his flesh and drink his blood if they wanted to have eternal life. Our Lord’s teachings were just too much for many of his disciples (Jn 6:54). His proclamation to “take up [one’s] cross” and follow him must not have been pleasant to hear, either (Mt 16:24). Yet the road to happiness is to follow Christ, who alone has the words of eternal life.

 

May God be Blessed!

 

-Father Eric Banecker

Statement of Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez Regarding Reinstating the Obligation to Attend Sunday Mass

“We have all felt the impact of COVID-19 in as individuals and
families.  It has been a time of acute hardship and struggle, of
separation and isolation.  It has also had an impact on our lives of
faith.  Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, has been with us throughout
this challenging period and is most especially near to us when we
encounter him in the Eucharist.  The Eucharist offers us His healing and
peace, His mercy and reconciliation.  It is now time for everyone to
return to the Eucharist with renewed faith and joy.

As many aspects of life are now returning to normalcy, each Catholic
Bishop in Pennsylvania will reinstate the obligation to attend Mass in
person on Sundays and Holy Days beginning on Sunday, August 15, 2021,
the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

The Bishops previously jointly decided to dispense  the faithful from
this obligation in March of 2020 in order to provide for the common good
given concerns over the developing pandemic.  Now, with the impact of
the pandemic considerably reduced, it is again possible for the faithful
to assemble for the Eucharist. It is time to lift the dispensation from
the obligation.

The obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days comes from our
Baptism as Christians.  Baptism compels Christians to unite themselves
with Christ at the altar in his saving Sacrifice of the Cross.
Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a
testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2182). This is the foundation
for the law of the Church that binds Catholics to attend Mass on Sundays
and Holy Days (Code of Canon Law, canon 1247) and the Christian way
fully to observe the Third Commandment, to keep holy the Lord’s Day
(Deuteronomy 5: 12; Exodus 31: 15; Catechism of the Catholic Church,
nos. 2180-2181).

This obligation, as is always the case, does not apply to those who are
seriously ill, have a serious health risk, as well as those who have
serious anxiety about being a part of large groups at this time.
Likewise, the obligation does not apply to those who care for those who
cannot attend Mass in person (Catechism of the Catholic Church_, no.
2181).  Those who are legitimately excused from Mass on Sundays and Holy
Days are encouraged to spend time in prayer, meditating on the Death and
Resurrection of the Lord, reading the Sacred Scriptures, and uniting
themselves to Christ in his worship of the Father of us all.  Those who
are legitimately excused are also encouraged to view a broadcast of the
Mass which is intended for those who cannot participate in person.

As Bishops, we welcome this moment of the reinstatement of the
obligation for all Catholics in Pennsylvania.  This is a moment to thank
God anew for the great gift of the Mass and the Real Presence of Jesus
to us in his Holy Body and Blood as well as the joy of gathering
together as people of faith.”

 

Most Reverend Nelson Pérez                                     _
Archbishop of Philadelphia

 

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