Fr. J.J.’s Jottings

Over the past several years legislation has been introduced in Michigan that would force Catholic institutions to act contrary to the teachings of our faith.  These bills have sought to force us to include abortion inducing drugs and other morally objectionable services in our employee benefit plans.

Over the next few weekends here at St. Anastasia we will give you an opportunity to be heard.  Michigan’s Constitution allows the people to initiate legislation through a petition.  The federal health care reform law (Affordable Care Act) enacted in 2010 requires that insurance exchanges be available in all 50 states by 2014.  The ACA contains a special provision allowing the states to exclude abortion as a covered benefit.  The petition drive needs to happen now so Michigan can be ready for the federally required health exchange that begins in six months.

The petition seeks to pass the Abortion Insurance Opt-Out legislation.  In order to propose this bill to the legislature, 258,000 valid signatures of registered voters must be gathered within 180 days.  Please sign the petition this weekend in the gathering space.  For more info, you can email Barb Yagley  By working together, we can keep our tax dollars and insurance premiums from paying for abortions as part of health care.

One was known as the “Pilgrim Pope,” the man who traveled the world inspiring a young generation of Catholics that had never seen a leader like him. He was the first non-Italian pope in half a millennia, so beloved that a crowd of more than a million people cried “Santo Subido” — sainthood now — on the day of his funeral eight years ago.   This week the Vatican said Pope Francis had approved a second miracle attributed to him.  His progression to sainthood is the fastest in modern times.  The other man was known as the “good pope” for his kindly demeanor (which many have likened to Pope Francis), who reigned from 1958 to 1963 and called the Second Vatican Council – which helped the Catholic Church follow the Holy Spirit’s urging to better understand its role in the modern world, engaging with greater humility peoples of all faiths and cultures and calling each person to discern their path to holiness.  Pope Francis waived the customary rules requiring a second miracle after his beatification in 2000.

Together, they represent two of the largest influences on our current pontiff.   Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will become saints by the end of the year.   In our Catholic tradition, saints are not only models for living, but because they enjoy the divine presence, they intercede for us in heaven, as when one prays for a miracle or a more ordinary need through them. Our community with one another extends beyond earth to all those who have died. We pray for the dead on their way to God as we prayed for them on earth. We ask for their prayers or intercession as when we asked for their help while they were living.

A word of caution: Sainthood can be used as an excuse for us not to join in the work of building God’s kingdom of justice, peace, and love. Though we rightfully honor men like John XXIII or John Paul II, and women like Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Dorothy Day, we cannot turn such respect into abdication of our own call to holiness. There are many saints in the making now, all around us, whether or not they will be officially canonized by a pope in the future.

Thomas Merton, mystic, monk, author, and anti-war activist, wrote in New Seeds of Contemplation, “It is true to say that for me sanctity consists in being myself and for you sanctity consists in being your self and that, in the last analysis, your sanctity will never be mine and mine will never be yours, except in the communism of charity and grace. For me to be a saint means to be myself. Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and of discovering my true self.”  Last week’s events remind us that we can pray to the saints to help us discover our own saintliness and summon the holiness of others.

God bless,
Fr. J.J.

P.S.  Don’t forget to check out all the cool LEGO scenes after Mass!  Good job Kids.