Dear devotees of Saint Philomena,

During Lent, I sometimes open our masses here at Holy Spirit, by saying that we are at a particular stage in our annual symbolic journey, in solidarity with Jesus, as he ascends the hill of Calvary.

Just last week, on the 2nd Sunday , we were actually able to draw a parallel to an earlier ascent, probably of that very same mountain. Calvary is known by other names like Golgotha, or the place of the skull, but did you know that this hill is part of a mountain range of which a single mountain, Mount Moriah, is the location of the city of Jerusalem? The ancient temple of Jerusalem rested on the top of that mountain. And some have speculated that the Ark of the Covenant rested in a depression in the rock that is at the top of the mountain. It’s under The Dome of the Rock*, that Islamic shrine which now dominates the skyline of the Holy City.

That reading from Genesis told the story of the journey of a father and a son, Abraham and Isaac. We know it well. It’s one of the most important episodes in salvation history. But it’s always been a controversial story. People always ask how a good God could ask such a thing of Abraham? If it was a test, it would certainly seem a cruel test. But the Church Fathers, the theologians, and the bible scholars have helped us make some sense out of it. So then, from our vantage point in the here-and-now, the meaning seems obvious. The blow seems somehow, softer. Abraham’s hand was restrained, but it would not be the same with God’s son. Where God did provide a ram on the mountain that day, he would provide a perfect sacrifice many years later, on that very same mountain. That is, The Lamb of God, Jesus.

The bible has many hard stories and during this season we reflect on the hardest of them all. The Paschal Mystery, the suffering and death of the Lord. While we are reminded of this every week as we walk into church and see that crucifix hanging above our altar, during this time we commemorate it in a special way. We are asked to take up our symbolic crosses and walk with Jesus. These crosses are typically the practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. We are encouraged also to go to confession and to perhaps do something proactive, as opposed to giving something up.

But all too often, amid the busy-ness of life, and the distractions, and our own weakness, we stumble and fall and fail in our good resolutions. And then, at the end of the season we look back and wonder just how meaningful our journey really was.

This year, however, something is happening in our world that should cause this to be the most meaningful lent in a long time. We are seeing something being played out on the world stage that staggers the imagination. We are seeing the persecution, and indeed the martyrdom, of some of our Christian brothers and sisters at the hands of our Islamic brothers and sisters. Make no mistake about it, this is a conflict that has its origins back in ancient times, beginning with the two sons of Abraham. Isaac, and his half-brother Ishmael.

This situation is something like an “Elephant in the Living Room”. Only a few short years ago we would have been accused of preaching doom-and-gloom, of being negative, but now it’s right there on the evening news in all of its gruesomeness. And we are, for the first time in a long time, being forced to address the possibility of having to shed our own blood for our beliefs.

Another thing that has become apparent is that the story of our beloved patroness, Philomena, now becomes ever more relevant. She came into being at a time when the persecution of the Catholic Christian faith was general. She and many of her contemporaries were given a choice; Renounce Jesus and live, or cling to him and die.

Our prayers to Saint Philomena then have new significance. We can and should now pray to her for our own courage as we face to possibility of having to make the same choice she did.

*It should be noted that the Arabic inscriptions that are on the shrine of The Dome of the Rock say many things that are antithetical to the Christian faith. The most significant claim is that “God does not have a Son”.

Fr. John Rocus.
Holy Spirit Church Chapter 61 of The Archconfraternity.
Brighton, MI. USA.
www.hsrcc.net


Support the Sanctuary of Saint Philomena

The Sanctuary of Saint Philomena is not a parish Church. We do not have parishioners who support this place of worship on a weekly basis. We are completely dependent on the love and generosity of you, the world-wide devotees, to keep the doors of the earthly home of Saint Philomena open.

We pray at the Sanctuary for the devotees of Saint Philomena to recognize and provide the means to pay our monthly utilities of gas and electricity. We also pray for the means to install a lift at the Sanctuary to enable physically challenged pilgrims to experience the entire home of their beloved Saint.

In order to ensure the Sanctuary is able to keep our doors open to you and to continue to offer God continual praise and to be the focal point through which our prayers are received by Saint Philomena and interceded for before God at the Sanctuary, you may donate in the following ways:

  1. Direct to the Sanctuary:
    1. By personal check payable to the "Sanctuary of Saint Philomena." For security reasons, please send your donation through registered or express mail to the Sanctuary's address at the bottom of this newsletter.
    2. Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
    3. By bank transfer to the Sanctuary's Bank account: BANCA UNICREDIT MUGNANO DEL CARDINALE(30525) BANK ACCOUNT:N° 000400102946 SWIFT CODE:UNCRITM1E94 IBAN:IT18D0200875790000400102946
  2. U.S.A. Tax-Deductible Donations may be sent to the new non-profit set up in the United States:
    1. Online - Go to our Support Page, Click Here
    2. Postal mail donations can be made to: Saint Philomena Sanctuary Support Fund, Inc. P.O. Box 4114 Bergheim, Texas 78004, U.S.A.
  3. ShopPhilomena.com

Sanctuary of Saint Philomena
Piazza Umberto I
83027 Mugnano del Cardinale
Avellino, Italy
Tel: 0039 081 825 7204 Fax: 0039 081 511 2733
Email
Website
Rector, Msgr. Giovanni Braschi



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