We are in the midst of winter. This is an unusual time for a parish assignment change, but there you have it. So over the past weeks, I have been pulling thoughts from several documents. They deal with the topic of transitions. Imagine that.
When a new/visiting priest enters the sanctuary. People ask three things: (1) Who is this guy? (2) What’s he going to be like? (3) How long is this guy going to preach? The Eagles play at 1:00.
Some biographical data: My family emigrated from Slovakia. I have a picture of Ellis Island manifest and the ship on which my grandfather came to the US. My parents and extended come are originally from “Upstate.” We were a family of coal miners and factory workers. My parents, aunts, and uncles were the first generation to go to college. I graduated from Susquehanna University (Major in Management; Minor in German) and a Masters in International Business from the University of South Carolina. I worked five years in Germany for Borg-Warner, Heidelberg; AMF-Tyrolia, Wiesbaden and Schering, West Berlin before returning to The United States to work for three years in computer sales for Digital Equipment Corporation in Philadelphia.
I was ordained in 1994 by Cardinal Anthony Bevliacqua, upon graduation from Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. My first assignment was at St. Martin of Tours Parish (Oxford Circle) with subsequent assignments in education at Archbishop Wood and Neumann Goretti High Schools and then as Chaplin at the University of Penn Newman Center. I was Director of Ongoing Formation within the Office for Clergy while serving as pastor in Manayunk at St. Mary of the Assumption and later administrator of St. Lucy parish. Previously I was Administrator in Bridgeport at the parishes of St. Augustine and Our Mother of Sorrows.
Over the past 27 years in the ministry, I am most proud of two accomplishments. I was a member of a focus group convened by “Catholic Leadership Institute” to rewrite and publish the “Good Leaders – Good Shepherds” leadership curriculum. On that team were also two guys named Father Matthew Guckin and Fr. Chris Walsh (You might have heard of that last guy). This program is now being used by over 50 dioceses in the United States. The other accomplishment was when, for four years, I took students from the Penn Newman Center to help out in various recovery efforts in Mississippi and New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina.
My dad, Dr. Charles Zlock, Sr. (deceased) was a retired dentist. His office was located at 36th and Walnut. He also taught at the University of Penn Dental School for many years. Mom Loretta (deceased) was a former real estate agent in Doylestown. I have one brother, Gregory who is a Dentist in Missoula, Montana. He is married to his wife Margot, a hospital nurse.
I list my “relationship status” on Facebook as “Complicated.”
I’ve only been here a short time but, next time, let me offer some initial impressions of The Great St. Raymond and maybe even dare to ask for a little help.
Come and Welcome our New Pastor Fr. Charles after the 10:00 am Mass in the Academy area with coffee, tea, and donuts on Sunday, December 18th.
How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? How are they to hear without a preacher, teacher, or catechist?
Our Religious Education Program is in need of volunteer Catechists and classroom aides. If you are willing to share the faith that was handed on to you with our young people, please contact Arleen Daniels for more information. 215-549-3760.
Advent Life Groups- Remember that Jesus is the reason for the season! St. Raymond Advent Life Groups continue through December 22nd. Did you forget to join a group? No worries! The material used each week will be included here for use at home. You, too can experience Jesus through prayer, scripture, and reflection. A more spiritual you is the best gift that can be given! Contact Minta Brown at 610-329-7256 with any questions.
Our annual Giving Tree is in the back of the Church. It offers you a way to participate in our Home for Christmas event again this year (we will once again deliver items to the shelters as a precaution due to COVID). We will begin our sign-ups for the various teams that will make the Home for Christmas event possible. WE ARE IN NEED OF A PERSON TO LEAD THE FOOD TEAM (organizing the donations, preparing them for delivery, etc.). Could this be you? Contact Arleen Daniels at 215-549-3760.
Christmas Eve (Saturday, 12/24),
7:00 pm, no 5:00 pm service
Christmas day (Sunday, 12/25), 8:00 am and 10:00 am
New Year’s Eve Vigil (Saturday) 5pm; Holy Hour 10:00 pm
followed by Mass at 11:00 pm
Sacrament of Reconciliation,
December 14, 2022
12/12/2022 Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe In 1531 a "Lady from Heaven" appeared to Saint Juan Diego, a poor Indian from Tepeyac, a hill northwest of Mexico City. She identified herself as the Mother of the True God and instructed him to have the bishop build a church on the site and left an image of herself imprinted miraculously on his tilma, a poor quality cactus cloth. The tilma should have deteriorated within 20 years but shows no sign of decay after over 470 years. It to this day defies all scientific explanations of its origin.
Apparently the tilma in the eyes of Our Lady of Guadalupe, even reflects what was in front of her in 1531! Her message of love and compassion, and her universal promise of help and protection to all mankind, as well as the story of the apparitions, are described in the "Nican Mopohua," a 16th century document written in the native Nahuatl language.
There is reason to believe that at Tepeyac Mary came in her glorified body, and her actual physical hands rearranged the roses in Juan Diego’s tilma, which makes this apparition very special.
An incredible list of miracles, cures, and interventions are attributed to Our Lady of Guadalupe. Each year an estimated 10 million people visit her Basilica, making her Mexico City home the most popular Marian shrine in the world, and the most visited Catholic church in the world after Saint Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican.
Altogether 24 popes have officially honored Our Lady of Guadalupe. His Holiness St. John Paul II visited her Sanctuary four times: on his first apostolic trip outside Rome as Pope in 1979, and again in 1990, 1999, and 2002.
The Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe is celebrated on December 12th. In 1999, Pope John Paul II, in his homily given during the Solemn Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe, his third visit to the sanctuary, declared the date of December the 12th as a Liturgical Holy Day for the whole continent. During the same visit, Pope John Paul II entrusted the cause of life to her loving protection and placed under her motherly care the innocent lives of children, especially those who are in danger of not being born.
12/13/2022 Memorial of Saint Lucy, Virgin and Martyr Saint Lucy was killed during the Diocletian persecution in the early fourth century. Legends long post-dating her death state that Lucy was doomed to execution after a disgruntled pagan admirer exposed her as a Christian. A gruesome medieval addition holds that Lucy gouged out her own eyes prior to her execution to deter a suitor who delighted in their beauty. Another tradition states that Lucy could not be dragged to her execution site even by a team of oxen, so the guards piled wood all around her to devour her flesh with flames—but the kindling refused to ignite! Frustrated, one of the soldiers then thrust his sharp sword deep into her throat, bringing her brief life to a grisly end.
It is likely that since Lucy was born to Christian parents, she went on pilgrimage as a child to the shrine of Saint Agatha, a fellow Sicilian, in nearby Catania. Perhaps the witness of the virgin martyr Agatha, who perished about fifty years prior to Lucy’s time, inspired little Lucy to be similarly heroic when her own hour came. One legend states that Agatha appeared to Lucy in a dream, telling her that one day she, Lucy, would be the glory of Syracuse. For over a millennium, Lucy’s Feast Day of December 13 fell very close to the Winter Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. But the Gregorian calendar reform of 1582 corrected a ten-day drift between the calendar and scientific reality, leaving December 13 now eight days before the Solstice. Lucy’s symbolic resonance as a source of light in a dark season persists, despite the calendar correction distancing her feast day from winter’s blackest hour. Somewhat curiously, Sweden’s long-dormant Catholic heritage reasserts itself on December 13, a long winter night when Swedes gladly celebrate a saint whose Latin name evokes light and purity.
As the age of martyrdom waned with Christianity’s legalization, the untouched body of the virgin, not a bloody death, became the most potent expression of Christian sacrifice. The virgin’s body was the untouched desert. It bore the wax seal of the soul’s original, untarnished perfection and was a precious gift blessed by Christ. The intact flesh of all celibates, virgins and continent men and women stood out as oases of freedom in a world otherwise enslaved by carnal desire. Virgins such as Lucy were the pride of the early Church, the unplucked harps whose self-control was a cause of wonder to the broader pagan society. The virgin’s uncorrupted body was like a human votive candle, its pure flame burning through the long night of the world until Christ slowly dawned over the horizon at His Second Coming. That such a refined blue flame was so abruptly blown out by the executioner’s breath was shocking and memorable. We remember it still today.
12/14/22 Memorial of Saint John of the Cross, Priest, and Doctor of the Church
Best known for reforming his order together with Saint Teresa of Avila, and for writing the classic spiritual treatise “The Dark Night of the Soul.” Honored as a Doctor of the Church since 1926, he is sometimes called the “Mystical Doctor,” as a tribute to the depth of his teaching on the soul's union with God. The youngest child of parents in the silk-weaving trade, John de Yepes was born in 1542 in Fontiveros near the Spanish city of Avila. His father Gonzalo died at a relatively young age, and his mother Catalina struggled to provide for the family. John found academic success in his early years but failed in his effort to learn a trade as an apprentice. Instead, he spent several years working in a hospital for the poor and continuing his studies at a Jesuit college in the town of Medina del Campo.
After discerning a calling to monastic life, John entered the Carmelite Order in 1563. He had been practicing severe physical asceticism even before joining the Carmelites and got permission to live according to their original rule of life – which stressed solitude, silence, poverty, work, and contemplative prayer. John received ordination as a priest in 1567 after studying in Salamanca but considered transferring to the more austere Carthusian order rather than remaining with the Carmelites.
Before he could take such a step, however, he met the Carmelite nun later canonized as Saint Teresa of Avila. Born in 1515, Teresa had joined the order in 1535, regarding consecrated religious life as the most secure road to salvation. Since that time she had made remarkable spiritual progress, and during the 1560s she began a movement to return the Carmelites to the strict observance of their original way of life. She convinced John not to leave the order, but to work for its reform.
Changing his religious name from “John of St. Matthias” to “John of the Cross,” the priest began this work in November of 1568, accompanied by two other men of the order with whom he shared a small and austere house. For a time, John was in charge of the new recruits to the “Discalced Carmelites” – the name adopted by the reformed group, since they wore sandals rather than ordinary shoes as a sign of poverty. He also spent five years as the confessor at a monastery in Avila led by St. Teresa.
Their reforming movement grew quickly but was also met with severe opposition that jeopardized its future during the 1570s. Early in December of 1577, during a dispute over John's assignment within the order, opponents of the strict observance seized and imprisoned him in a tiny cell. His ordeal lasted nine months and included regular public floggings along with other harsh punishments. Yet it was during this very period that he composed the poetry that would serve as the basis for his spiritual writings.
John managed to escape from prison in August of 1578, after which he resumed the work of founding and directing Discalced Carmelite communities. St. John of the Cross died in the early hours of Dec. 14, 1591, nine years after St. Teresa of Avila's death in October 1582. He was beatified in 1675, canonized in 1726, and named a Doctor of the Church in the 20th century by Pope Pius XI. In a letter marking the 400th anniversary of St. John's death, Pope John Paul II – who had written a doctoral thesis on the saint's writings – recommended the study of the Spanish mystic, whom he called a “master in the faith and witness to the living God.” www.catholicnewsagency.com/saint/st-john-of-the-cross-84
Helpers needed to decorate the Church for Christmas!
December 17th, 9:00 am Saturday morning. Calling on all creative, strong people. Young and Old.
REGISTRATION IS NOW OPEN!
Congress XIII (2023)
Announcing the Congress Theme — “Write the Vision:
A Prophetic Call to Thrive”
July 20-23, 2023
The Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center
201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745 https://nbccongress.org
Men of St. Raymond
Save the Date March 4, 2023
Man Up Philly 2023 will be here before you know it. Please reserve the date on your calendar. More Information to follow in the months to come.
Let's bring people back to the pews.
We ask parishioners to sign up to answer a question about their faith and why they worship at St. Raymond. After the interview, we would like to post it on Social Media and play it before Mass.
Can you help?
Does it sound like something you can do?
Call the office and let us know.