News from San Antonio Church – February 18, 2024

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Weekly Bulletin February 18, 2024

by Terrie Evans

On this first Sunday of Lent, “Quadragesima Sunday”, from the Latin word for fortieth, marking the liturgical year to commemorate the 40 days when Jesus Christ spent fasting in the dessert before beginning His public ministry.  The period of Lent is seen as the season of “Bright Sadness” in preparation for the great celebration of Easter.  During this time, the faithful pray, repent for their sins, deny themselves a favorite food and practice almsgiving to donate the monies of what they gave up.  Also referred to as Invocabit Sunday, the opening word of the introit, the entrance prayer or song.  The first Sunday of Lent marks one of the weeks during which Ember days were observed in the Western Christian Churches.  Ember Days were the Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays of the four weeks of the year which fast and abstinence were required for the Universal Church. 

On Monday, February 19th we honor George Washington’s Birthday and Presidents Day, the annual Federal Holiday first celebrated in 1879.  This day honors all those who served as Presidents of the United States since 1879 especially our Founding Father, George Washington who was born on February 22, 1732.  He was 11 years old and the oldest of 6 when his father died leaving him to help his mother run their plantation.  George excelled at math, became a surveyor, and went on to fight in the French and Indian War 1754-1763 and was put in charge of all Virginia Militia Forces.   He led the Continental Army to victory in the American Revolutionary War and presided at the Constitutional Convention and became the first United States President serving two terms 1789-1797.  While President of the United States, there were about 4 million people living in 11 states.  While in office, he nominated the First Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, set up his own Cabinet and established the first bank, the National Bank of the United Sates.  He created the first Military Badge of Merit for the common soldier and the Purple Heart which bears his image for those wounded in battle.  In 1799, George Washington died at his Virginia Plantation 3 years after leaving office.  Since 1862, a tradition in the United States Senate is for George Washington’s Farewell Address will be read on his birthday.  The tradition started during the Civil War 1861-1865 when citizens requested this be done.  In Westmoreland County, Virginia at the George Washington Birthplace National Monument, visitors will be part of the festivities on this holiday.  At Mount Vernon, celebrations in honor of George Washington will take place until February 22nd

On Wednesday February 21st the Catholic Church celebrates St. Peter Damian (1007-1072) born in Ravenna, Italy a Benedictine Monk, and Cardinal during the time of Pope Leo IX.  Orphaned at a young age, Peter went to live with his brother, a Priest in Ravenna who sent him away to be educated.  He made great progress in his studies and excelled in theology and canon law.  By the age of 25, Peter was famous as a teacher in the cities of Parma and Ravenna.  Around 1035, he gave up the secular life to enter a monastery as a monk.  He lived as a hermit who lived a disciplined life committed to studying the Bible.  In 1042, he was appointed lecture to his fellow monks and was asked to lecture at neighboring monasteries.  By 1043, Peter Damian was elected Abbot and later founded five more religious houses for the Benedictine Monks.  He wrote influential religious treatises and was called by the Pope to go on missions to settle disputes within the church.  He strove for reforms during political and social upheaval and was chosen to manage doctrinal ignorance among the clergy.  After Pope Benedict IX resigned and Pope Gregory VI took over in 1045, Peter urged him to deal with the scandals of the Church in Italy.  Peter was highly regarded by the hierarchy within the Church and was present at a synod at the Lateran (the Pope’s Cathedral in Rome) for official gatherings of the Clergy.  In 1063, Peter was appointed legate to settle a dispute between the Abbey of Cluny and the Bishop of Macon in France.  In 1067, he was sent as a papal legate to Germany to persuade Henry IV to stay married to wife Bertha at a council meeting in Frankfort.  At the end of his life, Peter Damian never considered his learning something to boast about, but what counted “Was to worship God, not write about him”.  He died in 1072 and Peter Damian is venerated as a Saint and was made a Doctor of the Church in 1828 by Pope Leo XII.  His body was moved 6 times and since 1898, St. Peter Damian was finally laid to rest in a chapel dedicated in his honor at the Cathedral of Faenza.  

Every year on February 22nd, the Church celebrates The Chair of St. Peter or the Throne of St. Peter, seen as a symbol of the special mission of Peter and his Successors who tend to Christ’s flock. From this chair, St. Peter sat and taught Roman Christians.  The wooden throne was a gift from the Emperor of the Romans, the King of Italy, Charles the Bald 875-877 to Pope John VIII in 875.  It is a single oaken chair from the 6th Century damaged from worms and cuts with the front and back trimmed in carved ivory in St. Peters Basilica in Vatican City.  Placed in a reliquary, a receptacle which contains the relics of a saint or other sacred object. There are 3 classes of relics:  1st Class Relics will hold part of a Saint’s body; 2nd Class Relics will hold something that was used by a saint and 3rd Class Relics will hold an object touched to a 1st Class Relic.   It contains pieces of an earlier throne said to be that of St. Peter, the leader of the Early Christians and the first Pope used by the Bishop of Rome from which he presided, officiated, or celebrated the rites of the church.  The Throne relic was enclosed in a gilt bronze casing that by Pope Alexander VII and was designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini between 1647 and 1653.  The statues of the Doctors of the Church St. Ambrose and St Augustine Western Doctors of the Roman Catholic Church and St. Athanasius and St. John Chrysostom Doctors of the Greek Church adjacent to the Throne of St. Peter around Bernini’s “Altar of the Chair” in St Peter’s Basilica. Above the Chair, the inscription reads: “O Pastor Ecclesiae tu omnes Christi Pascis Agnos et Oves.”   Meaning: “O Shepherd of the Church, you feed all Christ’s lambs and sheep.”  In 1867, the relic (chair) was photographed and displayed for veneration.  On February 22, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI’s address on the Feast of The Chair of St. Peter: “Dear Brothers and Sisters!  The Latin liturgy celebrates today the feast of the Chair of St Peter.  It is a very ancient tradition, witnessed in Rome since the end of the 4th Century, which rendered thanksgiving to God for the mission entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his successors.”  

On Friday February 23rd we honor the feast day of Polycarp of Smyrna, Bishop and Martyr born Ad 69 and died AD 155 at the age of 86.  He was a Disciple of John the Apostle (The beloved Apostle) and a good friend of St. Ignatius of Antioch.  Polycarp became a Bishop of Smyrna (now Izmir, Turkey) and is regarded as a Church Father and Saint in the Catholic, Eastern orthodox, Oriental Orthodox, Anglican and Lutheran Churches.  Polycarp is one of three Chief Apostolic Fathers along with Clement of Rome and Ignatius of Antioch.  He opposed heresies, “I would rather be deaf than listen to arguments for heretical doctrines”. Polycarp felt heresy was more serious than immorality and thought a false teacher was “the firstborn of Satan”.   When Marcus Aurelius was persecuting Christians, Polycarp was arrested at the end of his life, he refused to make sacrifices to idols.  He said: “For eight six years I have served Christ, and he has done me no wrong.  How can I blaspheme my King and Savior now.” He was burned at the stake in 155 and canonized by popular acclaim. Those   guarded relics of Polycarp are housed in the Church, Sant’Ambrogio della Massima in Rome, Italy.  The only work attributed to him are The Epistles of Polycarp to the Philippines, which references the Greek Scriptures.  It addresses the early Church in Philippi a city in Macedonia; written about in the book of Acts during the 1st half of the 2nd Century.  It refers to those who are anxious about their salvation while learning about the character of one’s faith, and the preaching of the truth.  Polycarp offers prescriptions for how a Christian community is to be organized and for the proper living of wives, widows, deacons, young men, virgins, and elders.   A quotation from the Epistle: “Stand fast, therefore, in these things, and follow the example of the Lord, being firm and unchangeable in the faith, loving the brotherhood, and being attached to one another joined together in the truth, exhibiting the meekness of the Lord in your interactions with one another, and despising no one.”   

The San Antonio Annual Pizza Party is scheduled for Saturday, March 2nd in our Hall for Dine In or Carry Out.  The Men’s and Ladies Sodality sponsor this event that offers a variety of the traditional “Ladies of the Lot Pizza” dating back to the days of our festival in the early days of our church.  The carryout service starts at 12:00 noon until 5:00PM with our Dine In all you can eat pizza starting at 5:30 PM and lasting until 9:00PM.  Our Dine In Service is limited to the first 125 reservations so, please get your groups together as soon as possible.  Tickets will be available for purchase in the Hall after our Sunday 9:00 AM Mass, please Jimmy Capano or Dave Sabatelli for this one-of-a-kind event.  If you have any questions, please call Dave Sabatelli at 513-405-6444.  We have been fortunate to have many volunteers at San Antonio who help our church survive but, we always need more hands-on deck.  Volunteers are needed, many age groups are welcome to help us make this fundraiser a success.  For info on working the Pizza party, see Connie Dalessandro or Dave Sabatelli.

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