Monday, October 29, 2007


Sunday, I attended the 10 a.m. Mass at St. Paul the Apostle Church, which was the kick-off Mass of the parish's 150th Anniversary celebrations (that will continue through next year). St. Paul the Apostle Church is the "mother church" of the Paulist Fathers, a Catholic religious order of priests that also will celebrate its sesquicentennial in '08.

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, D.C., was the main celebrant at yesterday's Mass. In his homily, Cardinal McCarrick discussed the mission of the Paulists and the unique drive of the order's founder, Fr. Isaac Hecker (pictured above). Fr. Hecker, a New York City native, lived from 1819 to 1888.

After the Mass, the parish held an Autumn Banquet for about 350 of the city's hungry and/or homeless. Chicken and fixings were among the servings offered by some 60 volunteers.

Though the parish rightly has reason to be proud of its milestone and service, Sunday's Gospel was a reminder to avoid righteousness and be humble.

Jesus addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.

"Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, 'O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity -- greedy, dishonest, adulterous -- or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’

"But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, 'O God, be merciful to me a sinner.'

"I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted."

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