On the feast of Saint Venantius, the Priestly Society of Mercy celebrated the ordination of Father George Ontko, SSM! Family and friends came from as far as South Carolina to witness the joyful celebration in Cleveland. Also in attendance were Roman Catholic and Episcopal clergy to celebrate the special day. Following the ordination there was a festive meal. Father George's first Mass was held on Saturday. Please continue to pray for him and his ministry.
Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!
Today we echo the words of the hymn that “the strife is o’er, the battle done; the victory of life is won.” We ended our Lenten observance and enter into the joys of the Pascal season. We often think of Lent as the time when we do our most difficult spiritual work. However, we know that because of the resurrection our work has just begun. Like the women in the tomb and the holy apostles we are now compelled to share the good news of salvation with others, “lest even the stones cry out” (Luke 19:40). We are all responsible now of proclaiming the message of hope, of mercy, of love, and forgiveness. We are also compelled to invite others to a full life in Christ through the reception of the Holy Sacraments, which strengthen us on the journey. This message cannot come from the clergy alone. At our baptisms we entered the faith with the expectation we would live it ourselves as well as share it with others. May God give us the strength to live out this call and the wisdom to do it well.
On January 13, 2018 the Rev. Dr. Hyacinth, SSM was ordained for the Society. Father Hyacinth is the first Byzantine Rite priest of the Society and will serve St. Mary of Egypt Chapel in Katoomba, Australia.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
“There in a manger lowly lies He who reigns above the skies. The ox and ass in neighboring stall see that Child the Lord of All.” These beautiful words from the hymn “Puer Natus in Bethlehem” remind us of the perplexing nature of our faith. We worship Our Lord who has come to us as a baby born in a manger. He who came as the most vulnerable chose His birthplace in the humblest of places. For this we rejoice, as God is willing to come to us wherever we are found. In the lowliest of places, in the lowest points of our lives, at our most desperate we are supported by Emmanuel, whose very name means that God is with us (Matt. 1:23).
This year has not been without difficulty. Our nation and our world continue to experience strife, divisions, and calamities. In spite of this, we remember the words of C.S. Lewis that “the Son of God became a man to enable men to become sons of God." And so we rejoice that even in strife we have been claimed by a God who profoundly loves us. And who left us Himself in the most excellent way: thorough His very Body and Blood in the Eucharist. How truly unworthy are we to receive him body, soul, and divinity into ourselves, yet how fortunate we are that he came to dwell within us.
May the Christ Child dwell within you always and may you be blessed by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Merry Christmas!
Sincerely in Christ,
St. Gregory the Great Mission in Louisville has begun uploading homilies by the Superior General. They can be viewed here.
May the memory of those who died in the Manchester bombing be eternal. May God bless those who have been injured or in any way affected by the bombing. Holy Mass will be offered in the Archiepiscopal Chapel for the repose of the souls of those who died and for the living who need care, support and healing, both of body and mind.
Most Rev Douglas Lewins
Archbishop and Metropolitan
DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST:
That Christ is truly risen
from the dead we know.
Victorious King, Thy mercy show!
Amen. Alleluia. – From the Easter Sequence
Christ is Risen! Indeed He is Risen! What more can we say of this core tenet of our faith? Jesus Christ, both God and man, has been resurrected for “He is not here: for He is risen, as He said” (Matt 28:6). He is truly alive and is with us until the end of ages. We see His presence in our lives and in acts of goodness and charity. We also see him, very truly, in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Here He offers us His very Body and Blood. How unworthy we are and, yet, so blessed for so sublime a gift.
As we think back to Holy Week we can remember the darkness we felt as He left us on Good Friday. This darkness can creep back into our souls without Our Lord’s presence in our lives. To prevent this we seek Him out in frequent prayer and reception of the Most Blessed Sacrament. Christ our light comforts us and guides us through the uncertainties and anxieties of life. Let us heed His words, then, and nurture His presence in our lives. For “whilst you have the light, believe in the light, that you may be the children of light” (John 12:36).
I pray this Easter Season is a time of renewal for you and that the rest of 2017 may bring you always closer to Our Lord. God bless you and your loved ones now and always.
Sincerely in Christ,
CHRISTMAS PASTORAL: 2016
DEAR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN CHRIST:
As we progress in this new Church year and this new calendar year we acknowledge that 2016 was a challenging year for Americans. A divisive election, violence throughout the world, and uncertainty made us reflect on our core values. Sometimes the problems of the world seem insurmountable. But we then remember that we are not of this world. In all things we must aspire towards sainthood and an eternity with God. This is not an easy path—it is a marathon and not a sprint. But we are comforted by the words of Saint Augustine “You aspire to great things? Begin with little ones.”
Let us then reflect on the littleness of an infant. Our Lord became “incarnate by the Holy Spirit, of the Virgin Mary: and was made man” first in the form of an infant. How easy it is to love a God who came to us as something so fragile, sensitive, and most in need of care. Infants, like God, give us hope and deserve our love and devotion. Through our understanding of Our Lord’s infancy we can grow to understand His progression to manhood and eventual suffering on the Cross. As Our Lord grew, so does our faith and understanding of the complexities of our faith.
It is understandable, then, why so many pious devotions like the Infant of Prague, the Holy Infant of Atocha, Santo Niño de Cebu, etc. have grown among the faithful with the help of the Holy Spirit. The Christ Child helps us to see God, as Christ Jesus, as vulnerable like us and helps us understand His mission as man. I commend you to the Christ Child and hope He will bless you and your family abundantly now and always.
To the Most Reverend Bishops, Reverend Clergy, and Faithful in Christ:
We are still grieving from the horrific news reported early Sunday morning from Orlando. This tragedy shakes us to our very core as a nation and makes us ask “how long, O Lord?” (Ps. 13) How long will we receive weekly reports on the news about mass shootings? O God, how we long for your peace which “surpasses all understanding” (Phil. 4:7) to give us comfort!
The news is all the more heinous because it was perpetuated out of hatred towards a group of people. Gay and lesbian individuals continue to be the focus of much violence, often times with hatred wrapped in religious language. Yet we know these actions are not of God, for “whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love” (1 John 4:8). As Christians a core tenant of our faith is to love for “we love because He first loved us” (1. John 4:19).
As we reflect on the terrible events of Sunday, let us pray for the victims. May God have mercy on them and may they rest in peace. Let us pray as well for their families and friends, that God may comfort them during this difficult time. We also pray for the injured, that they might receive healing. Finally, let us ask God to soften our hearts that we may love more and promote peace in our communities and in the world.
Sincerely in Christ,
The News Portal of the Society of Mercy.