Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

Jul 5, 2023

This weekend we welcome, Reverend Lazarus Langbiir, CSSp, to Sacred Heart Church to speak about the missionary work of the Church and in particular that of the Spiritans (officially Congregation of the Holy Spirit).  To learn more about the Spiritans, please visit their website at  This visit is part of a national program in which annually a representative of one of the missionary groups visits parishes of the Diocese to invite parishioners to share in the mission work of the universal Church.  The Spiritans are an international community engaged in a wide range of missionary activity in over sixty countries throughout the world.  This year’s visiting missionary, Fr. Lazarus, is from Ghana.  He is studying at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

When Jesus said: “You shall witness to me in Jerusalem and in Samaria and to the ends of the earth,” He made the spread of the Gospel an essential part of our Catholic life.

There is a lot of news in the State of Ohio concerning the August 8 special election concerning a change in what it takes to change the state constitution.  Presently, it only takes a simple majority to change the constitution.  That means 50% of the votes plus one.  The vote on August 8 can change that to 60% of the vote.  It seems to be more in line with the thinking of the founders of the country and what it takes to change the U.S. Constitution which is 2/3 of both houses of Congress and 3/4 of the state legislatures.  If this bill is passed it will take 60% of the votes to add an amendment that provide abortion on demand up to the time of birth as well as remove ALL PARENTAL RIGHTS over their children.  This means that a teenager could get an abortion or a sex change operation without the consent or knowledge of the parents.  What a horrible disaster that would be for teens, the parents, to say nothing of the unborn child.  Please make sure you vote on August 8 and prayerfully cast your ballot.

The Adult Choir gathered last week for their annual summer get together.  I am glad that they were able to get together to socialize a little outside of their practices and when they sing for Mass.  I am very grateful for all that the choir does for our parish and our worship of God at Mass.  Their time and talent adds so much to the prayerfulness and beauty of our worship.  They do an outstanding job.  This is true of our entire music ministry under the direction of Eric Pandrea.  All the musicians, cantors, and choirs add so much to our worship.  I am very grateful to Melissa Busson, the director of the adult choir and cantor, to Carol Mancini and the youth choir, to Sue Fajt, Peggy Andrews, Emily Mace, Holly Linger, and the musicians that help from time to time.  May God bless everyone for their willingness to share their talent and time so that we can truly lift our mind and hearts to God.  Music is an essential part of our worship and truly adds so much to our prayer.  I hope that more of our brothers and sisters will be inspired to share their talents to enhance our worship.  I know there are many talented people in our parish family, and I pray the Holy Spirit will inspire them to become a part of our music ministry.

FLICK PICKS:  I have not written about movies I have seen in quite some time.  The truth of the matter is that there has not been that much to write about lately.  However, I recently watched a movie on Amazon Prime that is definitely worth mentioning.  The movie is NEFARIOUS, and most people think it is a horror movie, but it is not.  It sort of calls to mind C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters which is about a demon instructing younger demons on how to attack humanity.  NEFARIOUS is a conversation between a psychologist and a death row inmate in Oklahoma who is to be executed that very day.  The inmate claims to be possessed by a demon.  The interview that follows made it pretty obvious to me that indeed was the case.  It is a very interesting and revealing conversation in many ways.  It all comes down to the demon revealing how he is working to conquer humanity.  The psychologist is a total unbeliever, so you know what his position is.  What is said in this conversation is right on the money.  The demon very clearly describes what is happening in our society and how many people are buying into his plan.  One does not have to think too long or too hard to see how it all fits.

The film can serve as a warning to Christians in the world that the devil is very real and very active in our world whether we want to believe it or not.  The movie is worth watching.  It is rated R for the execution scene at the end when the inmate goes to the electric chair.  No blood, nor gore, no senseless violence that we can find in many PG-13 rated movies.  It is available on Amazon Prime.


Does all the pageantry matter?  The smells, the bells, the precision of the servers, the ornamented fabric, the fancy golden chalices?  Is all of that necessary?  Shouldn’t the mass be more humble?  More simple?  Wasn’t the last supper a simple meal after all? 

Well yes…and no.  Nothing that the Incarnate Lord did was a “mere anything.”  Everything he did was charged with infinite value and beauty and significance.  So no, the last supper wasn’t really “simple.”  Additionally, over the centuries, as the Church reflected more and more on the immense gift of the Lord Jesus, his coming among us, his dwelling among us in the eucharist, the gift of the sacraments, especially the mass, the Church became more and more consciously aware of the enormity and the preciousness of these gifts.  These realities are indeed the greatest treasures that man possess.  But, like the Lord himself, they are hidden within the most humble of elements: bread, wine, oil, and water.  So, as the Church’s liturgy developed organically, the faith that surrounded these realities became more and more embodied and incarnated in ritual gestures – outward signs and symbols that more aptly conveyed the mystery.  In other words, the only way for us to perceive value in something is to surround it with ornamentation, with ritual, with gesture, with signs that seem extravagant and over the top.  If you watched King Charles coronation ceremony back in May, you saw that full on display. 

Or travel to Washington D.C. to Arlington National Cemetery sometime to witness the changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier, and there you will see the highest level of ritual, gesture, sign, and liturgy.  The value of the sacrifice of the unknown solider is revealed BY and revealed THROUGH the over-the-top ceremony of the tomb guards. 

This is why the Church always prefers a maximalist approach to the sacraments rather than a minimalist approach.  Our skeptical hearts need all the help we can get to really believe that the miracles we profess actually take place – if we make the Eucharistic sacrifice look mundane, look and sound ordinary, it’s not surprising that more and more people find it difficult to believe he’s really present.

Fr. Joe Labak