October 1, 2023

February 12, 2023

Dear Friends,

As we all know today, ”recycling” is a common practice. Our Lord once said that “The scribe learned in the Law can bring out of his storehouse things both old and new.” I composed the following article some years ago. With some minor modifications, I place it before you again for your consideration. The traditional liturgical calendar gives us three oddly-named Sundays before Ash Wednesday with their numerical Latin names: Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima (meaning simply the Seventieth, Sixtieth, Fiftieth days before Easter). Today is the first of them. If we’re not forewarned, Lent will just suddenly creep up on us unprepared; and most of us will be scrambling for “things to give up.”

Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953), one of the most famous Catholic writers of the last century, wrote not long before his death: “We sit by and watch the barbarian. We tolerate him. In the long stretches of peace we are not afraid. We are tickled by his irreverence; his comic inversions of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refresh us; we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond; and on these faces there is no smile.”

On this Septuagesima Sunday (roughly 60 days before Easter) and two weeks from the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday; I lay before us “the barbarian” of whom Belloc spoke. Who or what is he/she/it? It is the spirit that is literally “inverted” in the root sense of the word: it turns things inside out. It is the spirit that makes the oddball the normal, the insane the sane, the wild and undisciplined the true sage; and the virtuous, the loyal, the hard-working figures of fun and pity. “Respectability” becomes a term of contempt; the “rebel” is the hero of every tale. Mockery and the smirk are the barbarian’s trademark. The barbarian has a certain “roguish” charm and just enough truth in his words to make them palatable. Society laughs along, titillated at the “tweaking” of its own norms and the “stuffiness” of authority.

History records that in the 1780’s in France, the theatrical “hit” was de Beaumarchais’ plays about a certain “scamp” named “Figaro” whose attitudes and antics mocked and poked fun at the foibles of the aristocracy. The author was amazed to see that his biggest audience was that very aristocracy that tittered and laughed at their own way of life. The plays were in fact amusing and provided material for operas such as Mozart’s charming The Marriage of Figaro and Rossini’s comic Barber of Seville. Yet, as in Belloc’s quote there were other “faces” that watched, waited, and did not smile. Within a few years those very men and women who laughed at the mockery of themselves went to the guillotine in their thousands. As Belloc warned, we trifle with the barbarian at our own peril.

The ultimate Barbarian is in fact the Evil One, the Devil; and he has a bit of an accomplice in each human being; and many others (witting or not) today in the entertainment, media, academic, and political worlds. Too many have surrendered to him; for it seems so “modern” to do so. Civilization is hard, barbarism is easy. This barbarism of today is in the small things first; then the big things.

We see the signs of the Barbarian all around us in everyday life. In the increasingly frequent use of obscene and vulgar speech in the media and in everyday life. In the lack of regard for sexual purity, chastity, and self-restraint that is turning a child with two married \parents into a vanishing breed, as whole sociological demographics where vowed and legally recognized marriage is a rarity; whose children are often condemned to the same pattern. We see the Barbarian in men no longer “gentlemen,” women no longer “ladies.” We see the Barbarian in the crass, the loud, the drunken, the abusive, the pornographic; and finally, as it always ends, in violence and death. For in the background of barbarism, always, there is blood: the blood of the beaten, the murdered, the raped, the abused, the addicted, and the aborted. We know there is no joy, no mirth in Hell. The Evil One grimly goes about his business. There is no laughter in Hell. Yet, as the Scriptures tell us there is laughter in Heaven: “He who sits in the heavens laughs.” Perhaps the joke is on the Barbarian after all? It is those who fight against the Barbarian and “all his empty works and promises” who will share in that never-ending mirth of Heaven.

This upcoming Lent might be a very good time to look at one’s life and see where our own hidden barbarian might lurk and drive him out with that Divine and True joy that resounded from the first day of Creation with our Father God’s triumphant cry “It is good!….very good!

It is always when barbarism seems to be victorious when The Barbarian overreaches himself. For he has no sense of humor, only mockery: which is not the same thing. As it says in the Church’s liturgical tradition: “Let us commend ourselves, and each other, and all our lives to Christ our God…for He is gracious and a Lover of Souls!!!…To thee, O Lord…to thee!”

God’s blessings,
Fr. Hewes

October 1, 2023

January 8, 2023

Dear Friends,
Today marks the great Feast of the Epiphany; that “first harvest of the Gentiles” in the persons of the Magi from “the East.”

Perhaps no other characters in the Gospel are as much the subject of legend as these unnamed (and un-enumerated) men. It is worth noting that while Saint Luke’s Gospel gives us the majority of what we can call “The Christmas Story,” it is our Patron, Saint Matthew, who in his Gospel tells us of the visit of the “wise men from the East.”

Though legend has grown around them, which may well, like many legends, contain truth; the fact of the existence of these men is beyond doubt. We know from other sources of ancient history of the existence of men learned in astronomy and the mystical knowledge of their time and place (modern day Iran by most accounts). We also know from other sources (the Roman poet Virgil) that there was about this time a sense of something impending of great significance in the Gentile world (the words of one of his poems that described a young woman smiling down upon her infant boy with whom this iron age will pass away come to mind).

Tradition has given them names (Balthasar, Melchior, Gaspar); made them Kings; deduced their number as three from the number of their richly symbolic gifts; made them representatives of the three main races of Man; and even provided their final resting place: along the banks of the Rhine River in Germany in the great cathedral of Cologne.

While all of the above is more or less speculation, who is to say that memory does not preserve some truths about these men whom Saint Matthew preserves for us?

Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI visited their shrine at Cologne Cathedral during the celebrations of World Youth Day some years ago and preached on them as worthy images for the “wayfarers and journeyers’ of all lands who converged on that city.

Whoever and whatever they were, they are the first manifestation (the meaning of the Greek word epiphania) of the Light of the World reaching the outer world. In a sense, we might view today’s ancient feast (so beloved among the Eastern Christians both Catholic and Orthodox) as the Little Christmas that marks the first of a long line of Gentile believers of whom we are the fruit.

Even from His cradle the Lord was preaching to the nations, and we are the result of that great call taken up by countless missionaries in every age.

As the Liturgy today puts it: This day, Christ has appeared to us! Come, let us adore Him!

Speaking of gifts as well; let me express my deep personal thanks to so many of you who showed such generosity in your real and symbolic gifts to the Parish, and to me personally, as well as to Father Benet, Father Joseph and our Deacon Carmine.

I was touched by the many kind expressions of regard and affection in so many Christmas cards and greetings these past two weeks.

God’s blessings!

Fr. Hewes

October 1, 2023

December 25, 2022

Dear Friends,

Rare is the month that does not have a feast day dedicated to Mary, Our Lady.

On this Christmas Day, she figures prominently in every Nativity scene but December contains her great Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8th; and December 12th is the special Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, so important in the evangelization of Spanish America and beloved of millions on our continent. Just a few years ago, the memorial of Our Lady of Loreto was added to the Church’s calendar for December 10th.

From the very beginning Mary has been at the center of the Church’s life, and the life of individual believers. Centuries of Faith and love have raised great cathedrals and little chapels in her honor. Title after title given to her and added to her Litany, express in doctrine and in poetry the mind and the heart of the Catholic Faith and civilization. Christian faith with no place for her in mind and heart is a sad, truncated, and eventually dry thing.

History tells us that one of the oldest non-Scriptural prayers (going back to the third century) is the Sub Tuum Praesidium…We fly to Thy patronage O holy Mother of God.

As the centuries wore on other hymns and prayers were added: the extension of the Gospel verses that comprise the Hail Mary; the Salve Regina (Hail Holy Queen), the powerful prayer of St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the Memorare; and many more.

She has been loved and venerated by men and women of every type, age, and condition. A telling testimony of this is the fact that every evening Columbus’ three ships on his first voyage to the New World would close up formation, and the Admiral and his rough men of the sea would sing the Salve Regina and the Ave Maris Stella to her as the “Star of the Sea.” In that hymn too Our Lady is asked Iter para tutam… Prepare a safe journey for wayfarers, both on sea, and through life.

In our own day, in the often rough world of the “Twitterverse” (the social media app “Twitter”) it was asked what prayer did people say in response to the frequent requests for prayers from “Tweeters” for various needs. An amazing number replied that the “Hail Mary” was their “go to prayer.”

After all, even sportscasters unwitting pay tribute to her when they refer to football’s famous “Hail Mary pass.”

So, let there not be one of us who does not AT LEAST say a Hail Mary every day!

By the prayers of the Holy Mother of God, O Savior, save us!

God bless you all on this most blessed Day!
Father Hewes

October 1, 2023

A Letter from our Pastor-1.11.22

January 11, 2021

Dear friends,

Just recently I received a request from a parishioner asking me to institute a segregated seating section in the Parish Church for non-masked congregants at Mass.

I would refer you to this parish website further down where you will find a letter from me with regard to the latest decree from NYS government on masking. It contains our official Diocesan policy in this regard.  It clearly indicates that it is not my or any other private citizen’s responsibility to enforce this regulation. I have instructed the Clergy and Extraordinary Ministers to sanitize their hands and wear masks for the distribution of Holy Communion for the time being, which is within my responsibility and authority as pastor.

For the rest, it is up to each of us to decide how we will live our lives in this extraordinary time. We might ask ourselves:

Am I especially vulnerable?

Even though I wear a mask, does the fact that someone at well more than six feet away is unmasked constitute a threat to my health?

Is my scratchy throat, runny nose, body aches, etc. my usual winter cold, or is it the latest variant of the Covid virus?

Shall I wear a mask indoors or not?

Should I do so just out of regard in charity for those whom we might regard as St. Paul termed our “weaker brethren”?

The questions can go on ad infinitum I suppose.

You can only answer them for yourself, and where applicable, your family.

I can tell you with charity and respect that if anyone feels that the current situation warrants one avoiding crowds in church, the Church’s law clearly holds one legitimately excused. This definitely also applies to those who are especially sick who can be said to have a duty to stay home for the duration of their illness.

There may even be the necessity if priests become sick to cancel or reschedule Masses and other normal pastoral or sacramental functions.

As always, let us pray for each other!
Father Hewes

October 1, 2023

The ‘Equality Act’ Discriminates

February 25, 2021

The ‘Equality Act’ discriminates against people of faith
and threatens unborn life.
Tell Congress you oppose it!

Everyone deserves to be treated with respect and dignity. The so-called Equality Act, which is being voted on in the U.S. House of Representatives soon, in many ways does the opposite and needs to be opposed. Instead of respecting differences in beliefs about marriage and sexuality, the Equality Act would discriminate against people of faith.

The Equality Act would: punish faith-based organizations, such as charities and schools who serve everyone in their communities, simply because of their beliefs; force girls and women to compete against boys and men for limited opportunities in sports, and to share locker rooms and shower spaces with biological males who identify as women; risk mandating taxpayers to fund abortions; force people in everyday life, and especially health care workers, to support gender transition; and expand what the government considers a “public” place, forcing even some parish halls to host functions that conflict with Catholic beliefs.

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops have made it easy to let your members of Congress know that you oppose the so-called Equality Act.

Visit the USCCB Action Center, enter your information and an email will be sent on your behalf. To read more about the Equality Act visit https://www.usccb.org/equality-act

October 1, 2023

The “Fifth Columnist”

Dear Friends,

Eighty-five years ago a term entered the language that enjoyed a long vogue. In 1936, during the Spanish Civil War, a general laying siege to Madrid was asked how many columns (of troops) he had. He replied that he had four columns outside the city, but a “fifth column inside.”

He meant a secret force of sympathizers and guerillas who would aid him from within the besieged city. Continue reading “The “Fifth Columnist””

October 1, 2023

Letter from the Pastor, Sept. 2020

September 21, 2020

Feast of St. Matthew

Dear friends,

I thought I’d just give you some updates as to our current situation in the Parish on this our Patron Saint’s feast day.

We have opened  the pews to 50% capacity. This additional space can make social distancing a bit more spacious and less inhibiting.

The wearing of masks is still required when in the pews during Mass and other services.

Sunday the 20th marked the resumption of a fuller musical program at Sunday Mass. The English “High Mass” resumed every Sunday at 11 AM and the other Masses with music resume the singing of the “Gloria”.

As of this writing, the 12:30 PM Mass on Sunday is the traditional Latin “Missa Cantata” or sung Mass. The next date is Sunday, September 27th. Continue reading “Letter from the Pastor, Sept. 2020”