Where the people of St. Scholastica Parish in Aspinwall, PA meet for conversation about our parish life.
Why the name?
"Holy Conversation" does sound like an exceptionally pious name, even for a parish blog. And we can't guarantee that everything here will meet the high standard the name implies. But the phrase comes from the story of our patron saint, and we think it fits. Here's why.
St. Scholastica was a sixth-century abbess who, according to the Dialogues of Pope Gregory I, used to meet once a year with her brother, St. Benedict. On the last occasion they were together, they spent their time "satisfying each other's hunger for holy conversation about the spiritual life."
We hope that this blog can become a place where the members of our parish can find a taste of the companionship and conversation that Scholastica and Benedict enjoyed so much. Welcome!
The following little essay, written in 2005, is relevant in 2014 as the three-year cycle of Gospel readings comes round again to the Gospel according to Matthew for the Palm Sunday Passion account.
On Palm Sunday and Good
Friday this year, we hear the Passion accounts of Matthew and John.As it happens, these two Gospels contain
passages that have caused a great deal of trouble in relations between
Christians and Jews.All four Gospels
make it clear that the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem were involved in Jesus’
condemnation, along with the Roman government that carried out the execution.Only Matthew, however, reports that “the
whole people” in Pilate’s courtyard exclaimed:“His blood be on us and on our children” (Mt 27:25).John’s Gospel, for its part, sometimes
refers to Jesus’ enemies as “the Jews” (see Jn 18: 31, 36; 19: 7, 12, 20, 38),
despite the fact that Jesus and all his followers were Jews as well.Why do these Gospels speak in this way?
To answer, we must begin by recalling the
process by which the Gospels were written.It can be imagined as occurring in three stages.The first stage is the ministry of Jesus—his
words and actions, witnessed by those around him.In the second stage,which lasted for a generation or more after
Jesus’ death and resurrection, his words and deeds were passed along by
believers mainly by word of mouth.As
the process unfolded, the preoccupations of a particular community would shape
what they remembered about Jesus, and how they presented his words and deeds.Finally, in a third stage, the Gospels were
composed by the evangelists, drawing on the traditions passed on to them.
It is likely that the Gospels of Matthew and
John show such hostility toward the Jewish leaders and people because the
communities that produced them were involved in disputes with the Jewish
communities of their own day.Reconstructing the histories of these groups involves a great deal of
educated guesswork.Still, the
communities that produced these two Gospels seem to have been formed of Jews at
first, Jews who believed that Jesus was sent from God.Over time, their belief that God had exalted
Jesus and their openness to Gentiles who shared that belief produced disputes
with other Jews, and the disputes became heated.The bitterness of these conflicts, occurring
many years after Jesus’ death, led the two evangelists to speak in generalized
ways of the Jews as enemies of Jesus and his followers.The situation of the later community was
written back into the Passion accounts.
In later years, as Christianity became a
separate religion from Judaism, and the dominant religion in Europe, these
Gospel passages were used to justify condemnation of Judaism and harsh
persecution of the Jews.Christian
hostility toward Judaism has abated significantly in recent times, symbolized
by Pope John Paul II’s trip to Israel in the Jubilee year of 2000, when, in a
traditional Jewish practice of prayer, he left a note in the Wailing Wall.The note expressed regret for Christian
mistreatment of Jews over the centuries.
What, then, can we learn from looking at the
Passion accounts in this way?We can be
reminded of how deep anti-Judaism runs in our tradition, and take special care
to pass on the faith to our children in ways that are free from that
stain.In addition, we can learn a great
deal about how to interpret the Bible responsibly.As Fr. Raymond Brown, the late biblical
scholar, put it:“Christian believers
must wrestle with the limitations imposed on the Scriptures by the
circumstances in which they were written.They must be brought to see that some attitudes found in the Scriptures,
however explicable in the times in which they originated, may be wrong
attitudes if repeated today”(A Crucified Christ in Holy Week, p. 16).
The Scriptures are the word of God, but they
are given to us in human words.As the
bishops of the Second Vatican Council wrote, “the words of God, expressed in human
language, are in every way like human speech, just as the Word of the eternal
Father, when he took on himself the weak flesh of human beings, became like
them” (Dei Verbum, 13).When we, acting within the Church community
and using its wisdom, seek the divine message that comes to us in the
Scriptures, we must keep in mind that God has chosen to convey that message
through inspired but limited human beings.
Is there anything that lifts us up faster than a
Anything better than knowing that the people around
you are happy that you’re there?
Wherever people get that feeling, they want to stay.And when it is time to leave, they want to come
What if every person who walked into our church or
any parish event felt that way? Whether having
grown up in the neighborhood or recently arrived, what if everything she or he
experienced said, “Come in, you belong here.”
To further enhance the vibrancy and richness of our parish life
together, the Pastoral Council is working on events that will be fun and help
us all to get to know each other better. In addition, we can actively
enliven the ways in which we welcome visitors and new members of our parish
why, during the Liturgical Year that runs from the First Sunday of Advent-2013
until the feast of Christ the King-2014, we will be celebrating the “Year ofWelcoming” at St. Scholastica Parish.
Programs, activities, worship services, and outreach efforts during this
special year will be grounded on the goal of building a wider, deeper, and more
inclusive spirit of a welcoming community among all parishioners.
Look for more information on opportunities to share your smiles, warmth,
and ideas as together we celebrate the Year of Welcoming at St.
For, as Jesus said:
“Whoever welcomes [a] child in my
name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent
me.” (Mk 9:37)
We began uploading contact information for our parishioners yesterday, Sept. 17, as planned. As so often happens with things technological, though, (especially when it involves people who don't have deep training or experience using the technology) we ran into some bumps in the digital road. We are proceeding, but doing the upload gradually.
So if you have not received an email message with login information, please be patient. We will continue uploading contacts on Thursday, Sept. 19. We hope to have them done by the weekend.
Andrew Bechman and Christine Morton
Parish Connection administrators
You may have heard Fr. Ken's homily last weekend on the "anawim"—the
little ones of God—widows, orphans, strangers in the land, the poor.
[If you missed the homily, you can find it below.]
Fr. Ken told of his experience of shopping for cargo shorts, only to
discover that they were made in Bangladesh. He wondered if any of the
1100 women who were killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory in
Bangladesh on April 24 had stitched those shorts.
Bangladesh disaster raises the question of the moral significance of our
involvement in an economic system that supplies cheap goods to the West
at great human cost here and abroad. It is certainly a huge and
complicated question. There is a danger that we will see it as so big
and our own potential contribution as so small that we do nothing. In
doing so, we risk turning our backs on the anawim—the very ones our Lord calls us to serve.
We may not be able to do a great deal, but we can do something. If you
have an Internet connection, you have the means to make a difference.
Here are some places you might start: The Clean Clothes Campaignis
dedicated to "improving working conditions and supporting the
empowerment of workers in the global garment and sportswear
industries.You can find them online here.
One of the principles of Catholic doctrine in relation to the economy
is that people who work deserve—by their God-given human dignity—to be
paid a just wage, a wage that supplies what is needed for a decent life.
You can learn about efforts to support a living wage for Asian factory
workers by checking out the YouTube video "Asia Floor Wage—the animated story" or by visiting the Asia Floor Wage site here.
One of the main ways that workers around the world try to improve their
condition is through unions. Catholic doctrine supports these efforts.
is an excellent British site where you can learn about and support the
efforts of workers all over the world to defend their human right to
join unions and gain fair wages and better working conditions.
If you would like to learn how all of these efforts are related to our Catholic faith, visit the site of the Human Life and Dignity
page of the website of the United States bishops. The links on that
page will take you to information on many areas including "Economic
The U.S. bishops also sponsor an organization called Catholics Confront Global Poverty that focuses more on issues of trade, international aid, and migration than on workers' rights.
If you are interested in joining with others at St. Scholastica who want to make a difference for the anawim
of our day, please send me your email address. No meetings (unless we
want to later on)—just trading information and support. We can, by the
grace of God, be the hands of Christ reaching out today—even through our