Cardinal O’Malley cuts the 100th anniversary cake at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Beverly Oct. 4. Pilot photo/Courtesy St. Mary’s, Beverly
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On Friday (Oct. 3) we met with our seminarians for a Holy Hour, dinner and conversation afterwards. We meet several times during the school year and this time we decided to have the meeting at the Pastoral Center, giving them an opportunity to see it and to show them the new chapel.
Because it was Oct. 3, I thought it would be nice to have the seminarians join me in celebrating the Transitus of St. Francis of Assisi. Most of them had never experienced it before. We incorporated it into the Holy Hour, including the singing of the Canticle of Brother Sun, which St. Francis had asked to be sung when he was dying. This beautiful hymn that St. Francis wrote was the first piece of literature written in Italian -- everything had previously been written in Latin; that was Francis’ contribution to the Italian language.
In the hymn he calls on Brother Sun, Sister Moon and all of creation to praise God. At the end, he even talks about Sister Death, whom St. Francis saw, not as something horrible, but as a sister who leads us to our Heavenly Father.
In addition to singing the hymn, we read from the ‘‘Life of St. Francis by St. Bonaventure,’’ describing Francis’ last hours, the account from the Gospel of the Last Supper that St. Francis read when he was dying and then we prayed Psalm 142, which he quoted when he was dying. We concluded with eucharistic adoration and vespers.
After that all of the seminarians were invited up to the new cafeteria where we all had dinner.
Following dinner, we all took a tour of the Pastoral Center and its facilities. The seminarians seemed very enthused and some of them were picking out offices for themselves. I didn’t hear anyone say they were interested in my office, but if any of them really want it, they can have it!
Of course, these gatherings are a great chance for me to get to know our seminarians a bit better.
One of the new seminarians from the Redemptoris Mater House of Formation, Felipe Gonzalez, has a very interesting story.
He is from California, but he has just come back to America after spending five years doing missionary work in India and Pakistan. I was very impressed with him.
On Saturday afternoon I went up to Beverly to celebrate Mass at St. Mary Star of the Sea Parish. They are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the church building. In 1896, the original church was destroyed by a fire. The parishioners raised the money, and they worked for 12 years to complete the structure in 1908.
The church has recently been restored to its original beauty. The artwork in the sanctuary is particularly striking: a series of beautiful paintings of Old Testament figures which pre-figured the Eucharistic Sacrifice of Christ surrounds the Altar, and in the middle of these paintings is the Last Supper, where Jesus celebrates the first Mass with his disciples.
I told the parishioners that these images remind us that every Sunday we participate in the one sacrifice of Christ, and that their beautiful altar is really another leaf in the table which was the Lord’s first altar at the Last Supper.
I’m so grateful to Father David Barnes, the pastor of St. Mary’s, and to Father Ed Geary, one of our senior priests who used to minister in Beverly. Their warm welcome and fine work are a testament to the great priests of this archdiocese.
I’m so glad that I had the chance to celebrate Mass in such a beautiful church, dedicated to Our Lady, Star of the Sea. I’ve always liked that Marian title, Star of the Sea. It recalls the beautiful Latin hymn, Ave Maris Stella:
HAIL, O Star of the ocean,
God’s own Mother blest,
ever sinless Virgin,
gate of heav’nly rest.
Also in this week’s blog:
> Greeting the Jewish community on their new year’s celebrations.
> Mass of recognition of altar servers.
> Respect Life Sunday.
> Trinity Catholic Academy presents first Founders Award.