Getting to Know our Patrons: St. Clement Writes to Encourage Us

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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

St. Clement was the third successor of the fisherman of souls and shepherd of the Universal Church, traditionally said to have been ordained by the Apostle Peter himself. Martyred by drowning with an anchor in the Black Sea around the year 100, Pope Clement authored a famous letter to the Corinthians.  The letter contains many beautiful passages as vivid and pertinent today as they were over 1900 years ago when they were first written.  Below is an excerpt of encouragement which speaks of awaiting God and the gifts that He desires to lavish upon us in the life of grace and the life of heaven:

“How blessed and amazing are God’s gifts, dear friends!  Life with immortality, splendor with righteousness, truth with confidence, faith with assurance, self-control with holiness! And all these things are within our comprehension.  What then shall those things be which are prepared for those who wait for Him?  The Creator and Father of all worlds, the Most Holy, alone knows their amount and their beauty.  Let us therefore contend, that we may be found in the number of those that patiently await Him, to the end that we may be partakers of His promised gifts. But how shall this be, dearly beloved? If our mind be fixed through faith towards God; if we seek out those things which are well pleasing and acceptable unto Him; if we accomplish such things as harmonize with His faultless will, and follow the way of truth, casting off from ourselves all unrighteousness and iniquity, covetousness, strifes, malice and deceits, whisperings and backbiting, hatred of God, pride and arrogance, vainglory and inhospitality.”  -St. Clement of Rome, Pope and Martyr.

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As we celebrate St. Clement’s patronage over the life of our parish this weekend, we give thanks for one among us who has served well. The opening collect for today’s transferred feast day Mass speaks of a priest who “bore out by his witness what he celebrated in mystery and confirmed by example what he preached with his lips”.  Though said of St. Clement, these words could well be applied to Fr. Earl Simonson who served as pastor of St. Clement for more than 40 years and who has served as a priest for 48 and counting!  Thank you, Fr. Simonson for your priestly witness and dedication to the flock entrusted to your care.  Thank you as well for your inimitable wit and your ever ready rejoinders in conversation.  The stories that continue to be told about you throughout Northeast are delightfully abundant. Ad multos annos!

Fr. Simonson, on behalf of our whole parish community and St. John Paul II School (formerly Northeast Regional Catholic School) know of our immense gratitude.  You have shown us Christ and helped us to prepare for the gifts which God desires to give us in abundance.  As St. Clement is always portrayed with the anchor of his martyrdom, you have been an anchor for us to remind us to hold fast to our faith no matter what comes.

May the Lord richly bless you , your families and loved one this Thanksgiving and always,

Fr. Howe