Pastor's Message

July 15, 2018

Prayers for Peace Can Advance The Cause
The Capital Gazette murders will be mentioned at all our Masses this weekend. We will pray for the five people killed and the two wounded in perhaps the worst loss of life for a newspaper in the history of the U.S.
Sadly, we have done this so many times: pray for innocent people killed in a random, senseless murder by a crazed gunman who should not have had access to guns.
We at Our Lady of Grace and St. Joseph in Hoboken have taken it one step further. We have incorporated a peace prayer at every Sunday Mass and hope this will catch on and inspire other houses of worship to do the same.
It goes back to something Catholic churches throughout the world did up until the mid-1960s. At the end of every Mass at Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City until I was in the sixth grade, we would pray the "Prayer to St. Michael, the Archangel," for the conversion of Russia.  "O Prince of the heavenly hosts,' it reads in part, "by the power of God, thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world.'  Prayers for Russia dated back to Pope Leo XIII in the late 19th century. In 1930, Pope Pius XI declared that prayers after Mass be offered for the tranquility and freedom of the Catholic Church in Russia and that's how they began to be called Prayers for the Conversion of Russia. Pius XII called upon the church to pray for the conversion of Russia after he personally consecrated the people of Russia to the Immaculate Heart in 1952. Sixty-six years later, Russia is just one of a multitude of concerns throughout the world that can be prayed for.
Monsignor James Finnerty, now retired and residing at Peace Care at St. Ann's Home for the Aged in Jersey City, recalls having prayed the Prayer to St. Michael from his days at Seton Hall Prep.  "It was a good prayer and always a special prayer," he said.  Though he questioned whether Russia ever really converted, he mentioned that during the papacy of John Paul II, Communism fell and Orthodox Christianity revived so, in a way, the prayer worked.
Does prayer work?  I think it's worth a try.
Eleven years ago, New York sister of Charity Maria Iglesias composed a special peace prayer for our parish and we started off praying it every Tuesday at the end of Mass. About a year ago, I noticed that there were so many mass shootings in the U.S. and terrorist acts all over world -- almost on a daily basis -- that I was editing our Prayers of the Faithful for almost every Sunday.
So, we printed and distributed Iglesias' special prayer to all our parishioners and   translated it into Spanish. We pasted it into every music hymnal so parishioners can join and pray it every Sunday at the conclusion of the Prayers of the Faithful.
"Through memory and commitment, we can reach God's design for unity," Blauvelt Dominican Sister Arlene Flaherty, who lived many years in Jersey City, said.  "We can all recover the oneness by which God created us and address all the problems of suffering, self -centeredness, greed and violence."  For many years, Flaherty worked at the Interfaith Center for Justice and Peace in Manhattan and later Catholic Relief Services.  "This work helped me see that what drives people to come to the U.S. from all over are corruption at home, poverty and having no choices,' she said.  Today, she is the peace and justice coordinator for the School Sisters of Notre Dame, an order based in Wilton, Connecticut.
We need a prayer for peace.  I hope pastors, religious leaders and bishops are listening. Prayer is powerful.
St. Michael the Archangel, defend us in battle.
Be our defense against the wickedness and snares of the Devil.
May God rebuke him, we humbly pray, and do thou,
O Prince of the heavenly hosts, by the power of God,
thrust into hell Satan, and all the evil spirits, who prowl about the world.

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