A Word from Father

  Słowo od Pastora

SEPTEMBER 27, 2020

Father Guanella’s Note: In 2003, in preparation of the upcoming elections, thenBishop Raymond L. Burke wrote a letter to the faithful of the Diocese of La Crosse on the dignity of human life and civic responsibility. As we near another election in November, it is a good time to review and re-read this pastoral letter. Over the next weeks, the letter in its entirely will be printed in the bulletin. 

You may read the letter in its entirety here.

SEPTEMBER 20, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,


Four years ago, on September 14, 2016, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, I found myself in River Forest, Illinois, a suburb of Chicago, at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church. Together with six other priests, we processed into Mass and, after the homily, responded to a question posed to us: What do you seek? We all said together: God’s mercy and made solemn profession in the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic, a part of the religious Order of Preachers, commonly known as the Dominicans.


St. Dominic de Guzmán was born in Spain in 1170 and was educated in the arts and in theology. At the age of 25, he became a canon regular (a type of religious brother) at Osma, Spain and was ordained a priest. In 1206, Dominic traveled with Bishop Diego of Osma and toiled to convert the heretical Cathars in the south of France. It was during this time that Dominic realized there was a need in the Church for holy, educated, and humble preachers.


By 1215, Dominic had a group of six followers and established a house in Toulouse, France. Dominic realized that the Church needed a new institution that was neither completely monastic nor the same as the diocesan, or secular, clergy. In 1216, Pope Honorius III established Dominic’s group as an order of canons regular and in 1217 Honorius established it as an order dedicated to study and universally authorized to preach: an order of preachers and one of the first mendicant orders (that is, where the members—called friars—beg for their livelihood).


From the very beginning of the foundation of the Order of Preachers, there have been diocesan priests who have formally affiliated themselves with the Order of Preachers but without becoming a Dominican friar. Before 1968, the Order (like many others) was divided into three parts: the First Order of the friars, the Second Order of the nuns, and the Third Order of laity. After 1968, the Dominicans abolished these divisions and realized that no matter how one is a Dominican, all members are part of the “Dominican Family.”


From 2014 to 2016, I spent time in formation in the Dominican tradition—learning the Dominican preaching charism and observances of the Rule in order to formally affiliate myself with the Dominican Order through profession in what is now called the Priestly Fraternity of St. Dominic. The Priestly Fraternity is a fraternity of diocesan priests who have been urged by supernatural grace to enroll in the Order of St. Dominic and who profess a rule of life suited to their state. Profession in the Order of St. Dominic makes these priests members of the Dominican Family and sharers in the grace and mission of the Order of Preachers. However, as members of the Order of St. Dominic, these priests are free for service in their own diocese and under the jurisdiction of their own bishop. They are not Dominican friars but rather “Dominican diocesan priests”—Sons of St. Dominic.


As a member of the Order of St. Dominic, I strive each-and-every-day to be imbued with the spirit of St. Dominic so that I can pursue greater perfection before God and the world. Please know of my prayers for you all and I humbly request yours for me! St. Dominic, pray for us!


 —Fr. Guanella  

Fr. Alan Guanella


SEPTEMBER 13, 2020

Dear Friends in Christ,


On September 14, the Church celebrates a feast known as the Exaltation of the Holy Cross. In this feast, we commemorate the cross used in the crucifixion of Jesus. While Good Friday celebrates the Passion of Jesus on the cross, this feast day celebrates the cross itself as the instrument of salvation.


Throughout the years, this feast day has been called many different names. While it’s currently called the “Exaltation of the Holy Cross,” the previous name in the old Roman Missal (1975) was the “Triumph of the Cross.” The name of the feast in Greek is perhaps the most expressive: the “Raising Aloft of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross.”


Where did this celebration come from? The old 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia states that “the Cross to which Christ had been nailed, and on which he had died, became for Christians, quite naturally and logically, the object of a special respect.” Under the Emperor Constantine, the bishop of Jerusalem began excavations around AD 327 in order to ascertain the location of the holy sites in Jerusalem. The hill of Calvary was identified, as well as that of the Holy Sepulchre; it was in the course of these excavations that the wood of the Cross was recovered by St. Helena (mother of Constantine). The image of the cross became so revered that several emperors even forbade under the gravest penalties any painting, carving, or engraving of the cross on pavements, so that this sign of our salvation might not be trodden under foot.


The feast of the Holy Cross itself has its origin at Jerusalem, and is connected with the commemoration of the Finding of the Cross and the building, by Constantine, of churches upon the sites of the Holy Sepulchre and Calvary. The more modern feast of the Exaltation of the Cross sprang into existence at Rome at the end of the seventh century. This day also commemorates the date of the dedication of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 335. This was a two-day festival: although the actual consecration of the church was on September 13, the cross itself was brought outside the church on September 14 so that the clergy and faithful could pray before the True Cross, and all could come forward to venerate it.


Why do we venerate the Holy Cross? As I said earlier, this feast day celebrates the cross itself as the instrument of salvation. The Council of Trent emphasizes the unique character of Christ’s sacrifice as “the source of eternal salvation” and teaches that “his most holy Passion on the wood of the cross merited justification for us.” The Church venerates his cross as it sings: “Hail, O Cross, our only hope” in the Holy Week hymn Vexilla Regis (The Royal Banners Forward Go), which, incidentally, was first sung in a procession with a relic of the True Cross in AD 569.


It was on the cross Christ took upon himself the whole weight of evil and took away the sin of the world. At the very center of the Gospel, the Good News, that the apostles and the Church proclaims is the Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection. God’s saving plan was accomplished once for all by the redemptive death of his Son, Jesus Christ, on the cross. It makes sense, then, to venerate the cross and to have a feast day to celebrate the cross as the instrument of salvation. St. Rose of Lima sums it up best when she said: Apart from the cross there is no other ladder by which we may get to Heaven.

 —Fr. Guanella                                      


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