2021 Annual Catholic Appeal

Disciples of Christ, Witnesses of Hope

In the Resurrection of Jesus we find hope and the prospect of everlasting life in heaven.  But to obtain eternal life, we must recognize Christ’s call to be His witnesses.  We must become his obedient servants.

The Annual Catholic Appeal, with its theme, “Disciples of Christ, Witnesses of Hope”, brings hope and the good news of Christ’s love to thousands of families and individuals throughout Delaware and the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Funds generated through the Appeal help provide critical financial support to more than thirty pastoral, charitable and educational ministries. With continuing impact caused by the pandemic, when employment has dropped and the hardships of the needy have increased, the hope for the generosity of our parishioners is needed more than ever.

Many of you have received information about this year’s Appeal through the mail. Please take time to read the materials provided prayerfully considering your response. To learn more about the Annual Catholic Appeal visit the diocesan website at www.cdow.org/annualcatholicappeal.

St. Joseph

Feast Day – March 19

There was a time in Hollywood when the most popular leading men were categorized as “the strong, silent type.”  Picture John Wayne, Gary Cooper, or Clint Eastwood.  Their characters typically did not have too much to say but they got the job done, nonetheless.  St. Joseph didn’t have much to say either and he most definably got the job done.

It’s easy to think of Saint Joseph as the strong silent type after all, not one word of sacred scripture is attributed to him.   We only get a passing description of him from Saint Matthew who writes that Joseph was a “righteous man.”  Now, righteous is a word that carries a bit of baggage as we often associate that word with self-righteous or the kind of spiritual arrogance that is displayed by certain pharisees.  Righteous however is defined as “morally right, justifiable or virtuous.”  I like to think of a righteous person as someone having not only virtue but the wisdom that comes with virtuous living.  It breeds a confidence and a certainty in following the path of the Lord even when that path seems unintelligible to us.  Joseph’s path must have seemed incomprehensible to him, yet his faith and trust in God surpassed his understandable confusion.

Consider Joseph’s disappointment and perhaps heart break when he found out that the young girl he was betrothed to was with child.  As the Gospel writers tell us he could have rightly divorced her and according to Mosaic Law, Mary could have been stoned to death of this perceived behavior.  It was through a dream that the angel of the Lord comforted Joseph and calmed his fears so that he was able to take Mary into his home as his wife.  It was an act of tremendous faith and trust in God’s providential love.  This was an unconventional beginning to an unusual family life.  One that was filled with glorious moments as well as disappointment and apprehension.

Joseph was quite adept at discerning God’s will and he trusted the path that the Lord had laid out for him. It was indeed a difficult path filled with fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. It’s a reminder to us that our paths are similar at times. Being open to God and following the Lord does not mean that our lives will be tranquil and carefree.  So often, following the Lord means that we do take the more difficult route. It does mean that we will experience setbacks and hardships and that we will carry our crosses. But it is through these trials that our faith is strengthened and our resilience forged. Saint Joseph is an example for us on how to move forward in our own discipleship.  Sometimes we just have to endure and get the job done.

St. Patrick

Feast Day – March 17

St. Patrick of Ireland is one of the world’s most popular saints. He was born in Roman Britain and when he was fourteen or so, he was captured by Irish pirates during a raiding party and taken to Ireland as a slave to herd and tend sheep. At the time, Ireland was a land of Druids and pagans but Patrick turned to God and wrote his memoir, The Confession. In The Confession, he wrote:

“The love of God and his fear grew in me more and more, as did the faith, and my soul was rosed, so that, in a single day, I have said as many as a hundred prayers and in the night, nearly the same. I prayed in the woods and on the mountain, even before dawn. I felt no hurt from the snow or ice or rain.”

Patrick’s captivity lasted until he was twenty, when he escaped after having a dream from God in which he was told to leave Ireland by going to the coast. There he found some sailors who took him back to Britain and was reunited with his family.  A few years after returning home, Patrick began his studies for the priesthood. He was ordained by St. Germanus, the Bishop of Auxerre, whom he had studied under for years, and was later ordained a bishop and sent to take the Gospel to Ireland.

Patrick arrived in Slane, Ireland on March 25, 433. There are several legends about what happened next, with the most prominent claiming he met the chieftan of one of the druid tribes, who tried to kill him. After an intervention from God, Patrick was able to convert the chieftain and preach the Gospel throughout Ireland. There, he converted many people -eventually thousands – and he began building churches across the country.

He often used shamrocks to explain the Holy Trinity and entire kingdoms were eventually converted to Christianity after hearing Patrick’s message.  Patrick preached and converted all of Ireland for 40 years. He worked many miracles and wrote of his love for God in Confessions. After years of living in poverty, traveling and enduring much suffering he died March 17, 461.

He died at Saul, where he had built the first Irish church. He is believed to be buried in Down Cathedral, Downpatrick.

“The Breastplate,” Patrick’s poem of faith and trust in God:

“Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.”

10 Tips for Making this Lenten Season More Meaningful

Slow Down – Set aside 10 minutes a day for silent prayer or meditation. It will revitalize your body and your spirit.

Read a good book – You could choose the life of a saint, a spiritual how-to, an inspirational book or one of the pope’s new books.

Be kind – Go out of your way to do something nice for someone else every day.

Get involved – Attend a Lenten lecture or spiritual program.

Volunteer at your parish – Whether it’s the parish fish fry, cleaning the church or helping with the food drive, it will give you a chance to help others.

Reach out – Invite an inactive Catholic to come with you to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, or come to Stations of the Cross, Confession or Mass with you anytime during Lent.

Pray – Especially for people you don’t like and for people who don’t like you.

Tune out – Turn off the television and spend quality time talking with family members or friends.

Clean out closets – Donate gently used items to the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

Donate – Pick a Catholic mission and decide how you can help by sending money, clothing or supplies.

FASTING AND ABSTINENCE

Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are obligatory days of fasting and abstinence. In addition, Fridays during Lent are obligatory days of abstinence. The norms on fasting are obligatory from age 18 until age 59. When fasting, a person may eat one full meal, as well as two smaller meals or snacks that together are not equal to a full meal. The norms concerning abstinence from meat are binding from age 14 onward.