One Nation Under God: Reflections on the 4th of July

The 4th of July, also known as Independence Day in the U.S. is arguably the most important day in this great country’s history. On this day we celebrate with fireworks, barbeques, parades, friends and family. We honor the bravest men and women who fought for our freedom over 240 years ago and those who are fighting to protect our freedom today. On the 4th of July one can’t help but enjoy the sound of rhythmic music, children playing, and the thunderous fireworks which light up the sky with contours and colors that compel us to stop what we are doing and be thankful for what we have.

While we stop to embrace everything we are thankful for it is ever so important that we also turn to the One who is most responsible for our freedom. God Almighty has granted us with true blessings of freedom both in heaven and on earth. In fact, John Adams, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence praises the Most High when he so elegantly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

John Adam’s faith in The Lord was made extremely evident here. He was one of the first of many to turn to God with thanks and praise when the newfound relief of freedom settled in over our great country. Celebrating 242 years of freedom by the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we remember and praise those who have bestowed this great amenity to our united nation. Lastly, thank you to all of our veterans and current servicemen and thanks be to The Lord! Let freedom ring!

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Prayer for America

Dear God, we thank you for the bountiful blessings you have bestowed on us. Guide us in being good stewards of these gifts. Let us care for all of your beautiful creation, from the redwood forests to the gulfstream waters. Make us instruments of your peace in order to put an end to rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. Help us to love and care for all of our neighbors -locally and globally- so that we might be truly crowned with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Amen.

Prayer source: https://www.pinterest.com/source/franciscanmissionservice.org/
Post written by: Antonio Vuyancih

Celebrating Saint Joseph this Father’s Day

Fathers play an essential role in the lives of their children. Not only are fathers traditionally known for their protective and providing nature, but they are also responsible (along with mothers!) for instilling a certain set of values within their children and guiding them through the twists and turns of life. For this reason, we understand that the role of “father” goes beyond traditional norms. A father can be anyone willing to support, teach, and love those around them. This world’s best example of a non-traditional father is Saint Joseph. As the adopted father to Jesus Christ, Saint Joseph is proof to us all that fatherhood extends beyond biological boundaries.

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Although we don’t know much about the life of Saint Joseph, we are told a few things about him in the Bible. We know he comes from a long line of faithful servants, with a lineage connecting him with King David. We know that he married the Virgin Mary, and that he supported her through the tremulous Nativity narrative and beyond. Most of all, we know that he was a father figure to Jesus Christ. We know that he loved Jesus as much as any father could love his son. He worried with Mary when Jesus was lost in the temple as a child; he taught Jesus the family trade of carpentry; and he ensured that Jesus was raised in a faith-filled environment. Just as Joseph surely taught Jesus the skills He needed for this world, so too did Joseph teach and exemplify skills Christ would need in the spiritual world. Joseph continuously listened to the voice of God. He made sacrifices for his family, and stopped at nothing to make sure God’s will was followed. Just as Joseph delivered his family out of the hands of King Herod, Jesus would lead the human family away from sin and destruction. This courage and complete faith in God’s will is surely a trait Jesus first saw in his parents. While Joseph was not alive to see Jesus preach and complete his mission here on Earth, today we understand the influence Joseph had on Christ, thereby impacting us Christians to this day.

On this Father’s day, let us honor all of our fathers, traditional or not, and the sacrifices they have made. May we also pray for new or future fathers, that they may find the same strength and courage Joseph possessed to lead their families closer to God. If you find yourself mourning this Father’s Day, under any circumstance, take comfort in knowing Christ felt a similar loss when Joseph died. Above all, say a prayer this Father’s Day and lift your intentions, worries, and hopes up to the Lord.

A Father’s Day Prayer

“Let us praise those fathers who have striven to balance the demands of work, marriage, and children with an honest awareness of both joy and sacrifice. Let us praise those fathers who, lacking a good model for a father, have worked to become a good father.

Let us praise those fathers who by their own account were not always there for their children, but who continue to offer those children, now grown, their love and support. Let us pray for those fathers who have been wounded by the neglect and hostility of their children.

Let us praise those fathers who, despite divorce, have remained in their children’s lives. Let us praise those fathers whose children are adopted, and whose love and support has offered healing.

Let us praise those fathers who, as stepfathers, freely choose the obligation of fatherhood and earned their step children’s love and respect. Let us praise those fathers who have lost a child to death, and continue to hold the child in their heart.

Let us praise those men who have no children, but cherish the next generation as if they were their own.

Let us praise those men who have “fathered” us in their role as mentors and guides.

Let us praise those men who are about to become fathers; may they openly delight in their children.

And let us praise those fathers who have died, but live on in our memory and whose love continues to nurture us. Amen.” -Kirk Loadman

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Fr. Gene Wilson: A Local Leader of Faith

Cleveland is lucky to be home to many influential African American leaders. Spanning across many generations, organizations, and industries, these leaders have helped shaped our region. Reverend Gene Wilson, CPPS. was one of these great leaders. As the first African American to be ordained as a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, his story is one of true devotion to Christ. Keep reading to learn more about this remarkable man.

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Wilson was born in Charleston, West Virginia on May 18, 1928. Soon after he was born his parents, Luther Lee and Hilda Wilson, decided to move to Cleveland. While Wilson traveled to several different states throughout his career, Cleveland would always remain to be his home town. At the age of 22, Wilson entered into the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. By the age of 30, Wilson had earned his bachelor’s degree from Saint Joseph’s College in Rennsselaer, Indiana and was ordained a priest on May 28th of that same year.

After his ordination, Wilson devoted himself to parish ministry at St. Adalbert Church in Cleveland. Following a few years of service, Wilson decided to further his education and moved to Washington, D.C. where he attended Catholic University and received master’s degrees in Library Science and Spirituality. After a brief time working as a librarian, he returned to parish ministry. This time, he visited parishes around the country—mainly in California. While on the West Coast, Wilson took part in the formation of the Province of the Pacific, and is credited for his work in entering new cultural communities in the area. After several years of this missionary work, Wilson returned to Ohio at the age of 78 and served as a senior associate pastor of St. Mark Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. While there, he was known for presiding at healing masses and bringing the Black Consciousness movement to his parish. In 2009 he began ministry at the Sorrowful Mother Shrine in Bellevue, Ohio, which is sponsored by the Missionaries of the Precious Blood. Sadly, Reverend Wilson passed away at the age of 88 on March 30, 2017 in Cleveland, OH. He is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland (Section 92, Lot 1301C, Grave 2).

Reverend Gene Wilson was known for his cheerful and joyful attitude, and his deep dedication to Christ and the Holy spirit. As the first African American to be ordained a priest in the Diocese of Cleveland, he helped pave the way for countless other men pursuing the priesthood. His life proves to us all what a large impact an individual can make on their community.

Information from: http://cpps-preciousblood.org/2017/03/fr-gene-wilson-c-pp-s-1928-2017/

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Saint Hannah: An Example of Faithful Trust and Prayer

Sometimes God places us in unpredictable and confusing situations. Blessed with the sacrament of marriage at young age, Hannah had no idea that she would experience trouble conceiving. As one of the select handful of saints featured in the Bible, Hannah’s story is one of true faith and devotion to God.

After being married to Elkanah, the couple soon learned that Hannah was unable to bear children. As result, Elkanah took a second wife named Peninnah. Peninnah and Elkanah had several children together. Despite his relations with Peninnah, Elkanah remained devoted to Hannah. One day, Hannah became so upset over her inability to conceive a child that she began to pray and weep openly, begging God to give her a child. She vowed that if God gifted her with a son that she would ensure her son dedicated his life to God’s work.

Sure enough, Hannah soon conceived a son whom she named Samuel, which literally translates to “God Heard.” Samuel would become the high priest who would crown both King Saul and Kind David, who contributed greatly to the narrative of Christianity.

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Saint Hannah with her son, Samuel

Saint Hannah continues to be the patron saint of married couples without children, and couples who struggle with infertility. While miracles like hers are rare, Hannah’s story reminds us yet again of the awesome and all-powerful will of God. His plan is far more than we can ever comprehend, and His timing is always perfect. If you find yourself in a similar situation as Hannah, or in an equally difficult situation, turn to her example of complete openness and dependence on God. Take a look at Hannah’s prayer below. Instead of praying it exactly, insert your own name, your own intentions, and your own desires. God may surprise you with His answer.

“O Lord of hosts, if you look with pity on the misery of your handmaid, if you remember me and do not forget me, if you give your handmaid a male child I will give him to the Lord …” (1 Samuel 1:11)

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Saint Gerard: A Life of Unexpected Lessons

Saints are interesting people to learn about. Not only are their stories quite inspirational in nature, but their patronages have their own interesting origins. A quick Google search will reveal that the patron saint of pregnant women is, in fact, a man. While some people may find this rather curious, a closer look at Saint Gerard’s story reveals much more about this unexpected pairing. Keep reading to learn more!

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Gerard was born on April 6, 1726 in a small Italian town near Naples. He was the youngest of five children, and his father was a tailor. Gerard was only 12 years old when his father died, and this obviously put the family in great financial stress. In an effort to help with the family expenses, Gerard took on an apprenticeship to learn about the tailoring trade. After four years of hard work, he began to work more fully. As he started to earn steady wages, he split his earnings– giving half to his family and half as a church offering for the souls in purgatory.

As Gerard started to mature, he tried to join a local Capuchin order but was denied entry due to his poor health. Instead, he joined the congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and carried on his mission as a lay person. Most of Gerard’s missionary work involved spreading God’s word to the poor. He was very close to those on the outskirts of society and was often seen with those otherwise rejected by the public. He gained a local reputation, as his dedication to God was quite clearly evidenced by his good works.

Despite his good works, Gerard was still subject to persecution. When he was in his mid-twenties, he was subject to an awful rumor. A woman claimed to have romantic relations with him in an effort to tarnish his reputation. Amidst this awful allegation, Gerard did not grow angry but remained silent and turned to God instead. His prayers were answered, as the woman soon rebuked her own accusations thereby restoring Gerard’s reputation. It’s for this reason that Gerard is the patron of those who are falsely accused.

This was not the only time Gerard was known to invoke divine intervention. Several miracles and divine acts are attributed to him including the gift of bilocation, the ability to read souls, walking on water, and even multiplying bread to give to the poor. However, one of his most notable miracles resulted in the patronage he holds for mothers, expecting mothers, and childbirth.

Gerard was said to carry a handkerchief that was of great sentimental value to him. No one knows exactly why Gerard was so attached to the handkerchief, but speculation is that it belonged to his father. Regardless, Gerard took this handkerchief with him everywhere. One night Gerard was visiting a friend who had several daughters. As he went to leave for the evening, he dropped his handkerchief without realizing. One daughter picked it up and went to return it to Gerard. However, instead of taking it, Gerard simply said “Keep it, you may need it one day.” Years later, that daughter was in the middle of giving birth when several complications occurred. She called for the handkerchief to be brought to her, and upon receiving it she was able to complete her delivery of a perfectly healthy child. Gerard is still called on by expectant mothers, and those who wish to become pregnant so that they may have a safe and healthy pregnancy.

Gerard spent his life serving others. Sadly, he passed away at the young age of 29 in October of 1755. He was beatified in 1893 and was canonized in 1904. Saint Gerard’s story is one of unexpected lessons. He showed us that sometimes being turned away from certain opportunities can lead to even greater ones; that the truth will always prevail over deception; that small acts of kindness can make a world of difference; and that no dire situation is beyond the divine power of Christ.

 

Post written by Katie Karpinski