Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Jun 26, 2024

I hope that many of you got a chance to hear about and take a look at our forthcoming book on our stain glass windows here at Sacred Heart.  It is a beautifully produced book which shows and explains the stain glass windows that decorate our church.  Stain glass windows have long been used in churches to depict various aspects of our Catholic Faith.  Every item depicted in the windows has something to say about our worship and our faith.  Many of the windows speak about the sacraments of the church with the various symbols for the sacraments.

We also have some stain glass windows which I was able to obtain with the closing of Sts. Cyril and Methodius Church in Barberton that portray some of the saints and Our Blessed Mother.  These windows are located in the east nave, the main nave, and the choir area.  We also have a window of St. Teresa, the Little Flower in the parish office building.

Stain glass windows are a beautiful art form in that they add much beauty to our church and at the same time teach us about our Catholic Faith, the Blessed Mother, and the saints.

I hope that many of you will take advantage of this opportunity to purchase one of these books for your family or as a gift for someone that was a member of our parish and has moved away.  I am very grateful to those who worked so hard on putting this work of art together, especially Fran Hammerly, Tom Stugmyer, Dan Fuerst, Deacon Roger, Don Drouhard, Marian Kauffman, and Carol Spohn.  May God bless you and your families for sharing your talents with our parish family.

One of the seven sacraments depicted in our windows is the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick or as it used to be referred to as “Last Rites” which some people still call it.  It is also the term used in movies and on television.  The reason it was called Last Rites or more accurately, Extreme Unction, was because a person had to be very close to dying in order to receive it.  For the past fifty or so years the sacrament has been available to those who are in the hospital, a nursing home, have surgery, have a chronic illness, dealing with mental health issues, or are advanced in years.  As you can see, that is quite a difference from being on one’s deathbed.  The older understanding of the sacrament can explain why some people are very hesitant to call for a priest because they do not want to scare anyone.  It is far better to receive the sacrament while a person is still able to participate in the prayers along with the family who may be present.

I have anointed many people before various surgeries.  All they do is come to the sacristy and ask to be anointed.  It only takes a few minutes but goes a long way to assure us that God is with us in such a time of need.

There is one aspect of the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick that is still reserved for those actually near death.  This is what we call The Apostolic Pardon. The Apostolic Pardon is a final blessing given specifically to the dying when they receive the Anointing of the Sick.  The prayer of the Apostolic Pardon is a supreme example of the mercy of God for poor sinners.

There are two forms of the apostolic blessing in the Church rites for the dying:

“Through the holy mysteries of our redemption may almighty God release you from all punishments in this life and in the life to come.  May He open to you the gates of paradise and welcome you to everlasting joy.”

“By the authority which the Apostolic See has given me, I grand you a full pardon and the remission of all your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”

These prayers can help and give consolation, a sense of peace, and hope.  For the sake of peace for their loved ones’ souls, family members should ask for this grace from the Holy Mother Church.

The Sacrament of the Sick should be administered right away when a person is in danger of death, rather than waiting for the last moment.  Indeed, the Apostolic Blessing is given when the person is within a few days of death, for example, people with stage 5 cancer, people who are no longer responding to medication, or people in hospice care.  The Apostolic Pardon cannot be given after death.

May you and your loved ones find added peace in this great gift to souls who are on their deathbed. With the Apostolic Pardon, you can have confidence that you have done all you could do to bring the soul of a loved one to the gates of Heaven.

Fr. Joe Labak