Sunday, June 25, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor June 25

Dear Parishioners:

This past week, I participated in the annual gathering of the alumni of my seminary, the North American College in Rome, which took place in Indianapolis.  Since this seminary serves all the dioceses of the United States its reunion is held all around the country.  I chose to attend this year because it was so close and in honor of a NAC classmate of mine from Indianapolis who died in 2014, Fr. Tom Murphy.

“The Murph,” as he was affectionately called, was a latecomer to a priestly vocation.  Before he entered the seminary, he was a soldier and later a lawyer and a legislator.  He was also a talented musician.  He entered the seminary at the age of 49 and was ordained as priest at the age of 53.  I always said that while the rest of us (in our 20’s or so) aged and matured in the seminary, Tom “younged.”  He grew more youthful as he entered more deeply into the studies for the priesthood.  Several years after our ordinations, at a college class reunion, I learned that one of my classmates from the Notre Dame class of 1981, Mary Murphy, was Tom’s niece.  What a small world!

One of the most moving parts of my time in Indianapolis was a visit to the grave of my classmate to pay my respects to him.  I found the cemetery and looked for Father Tom in the priests’ circle, but he was not there.  Wondering whether I had gone to the wrong cemetery, I checked in at the office and discovered that he was buried in a family plot.  Fr. Tom was buried in a grave near a large tombstone proudly displaying the name Murphy and surrounded by many other relatives.  As I prayed there, I thought of the years we spent together in Rome and all the other classmates who were with us, a few of whom have passed away since those years and others who are involved in various pursuits around the country.  A number of the Indianapolis priests I met remembered Father Tom with fondness as well.

Fr. Tom’s vocation story was always interesting:  He served as president to the Serra International, a lay organization that prays for Vocations.  He sold the product so well, he decided to buy it for himself.  His response and the almost thirty years he served as priest show that it is never too late to listen to the voice of the Lord and to respond to His call.

As I return to the parish for another weekend, I invite you to take time to remember those who have been part of your journey of Faith and what they have taught you.  Look around and see who may be waiting for your invitation – no matter what the age! – to serve the Lord in a life dedicated to His Church.  An be sure to listen to the voice of the Lord in your own heart.  What extraordinary things does the Lord want to do through you?

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor June 18 - Corpus Christi

Dear Parishioners:

This weekend, we welcome Father Dan Olvera, newly ordained for the Diocese of Columbus, as we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi.  May he have many happy years in the Lord’s Vineyard.  This July, Fr. Dan will be starting his ministry as Parochial Vicar (Associate Pastor) in the Knox County Consortium (Mount Vernon, St. Vincent DePaul and Danville, St. Luke).

The Eucharist is the center of our life together.  Jesus invites us to receive Him into our lives through the gift of His Body and Blood offered to us through the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  The Solemnity of Corpus Christi is an annual reminder of the power of this gift.  When we complete the Easter Season, we celebrate Pentecost.  The Feast of the Holy Trinity follows and then Corpus Christi.  From there, we also move to the Sacred Heart and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

This “flow” of liturgical celebration is meant to move us to a response.  God loves us.  He loves us concretely and personally.  He asks us to return His Love and so to share in His Life.  By the sharing of His Spirit and the intimacy of His Inner Life as a Unity of Three Divine Persons, God is opening us to the depths of His Being.  We can enter into this sharing only by a free response of Faith.

Catholics have a rich experience of this, but so often we miss it.  The Eucharist is our repeated Sacrament of Initiation.  When we fail to center our lives on the Eucharist, considering it as something “nice” or “optional,” we fail to grasp its power.

Every Eucharist we receive is present to us in the moment we encounter our Maker.  The act of accepting Jesus, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, into our persons by receiving the Eucharist is the highest gift we can give to God.  Jesus says, “Take and eat” and “Take and drink.”  When we obey His command, we are plunged into His Person and share in the very Life of God.

Often, Catholics who attend services celebrated in other Christian communities wonder why they are not able to receive their communion and why others who come to us do not have an “open invitation” to receive our Eucharist.  The reasons for this ultimately come down to the fact that we have a different understanding of what is happening.  The Mass is Jesus giving Himself to the Father and taking us with Him.  The Eucharist is our commitment to live this out, giving our own humanity to Jesus to allow Him to continue to thank the Father through the action of the Spirit in our lives.  This is no mere symbol.  It is a sign and there are symbolic actions that take place as we celebrate Mass, but it is Real.

The Eucharist is Jesus in His risen, glorified and ascended humanity.  The Eucharist is the Food that plunges us into the Paschal Mystery, the life, suffering, death and Resurrection of Jesus.  The Eucharist is the taste of the Eternal Heavenly Banquet to which all are invited.  How can we fail to respond to such a gift with anything less than full commitment?

In order to deepen your understanding of the great Mystery of Eucharist, try this prayer which is recited in the Byzantine Liturgy before reception of Holy Communion:

O Lord, I believe and profess that You are truly Christ, the Son of the living God, Who came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the first. Accept me as a partaker of Your mystical supper, O Son of God; for I will not reveal Your mystery to Your enemies, nor will I give You a kiss as did Judas, but like the thief I confess to You:
Remember me, O Lord, when You come into Your kingdom.
Remember me, O Master, when You come into Your kingdom.
Remember me, O Holy One, when You come into Your kingdom.

May the partaking of Your Holy Mysteries, O Lord, be not for my judgment or condemnation, but for the healing of soul and body. O Lord, I also believe and profess that this, which I am about to receive, is truly Your most precious Body and Your life-giving Blood, which I pray, make me worthy to receive for the remission of all my sins and for life everlasting. Amen.

O God, be merciful to me, a sinner.
O God, cleanse me of my sins and have mercy on me.
O Lord, forgive me, for I have sinned without number

Saturday, June 10, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor June 11 - Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Dear Parishioners:

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity follows upon Pentecost in the midst of Ordinary Time, reminding us that the Spirit leads us into an appreciation of God in the depths of His Being and to a realization that our relationship with God touches all Time.

God is One God, Eternal, Omnipotent, and Omnipresent.  In Essence, God is also a Community of Relationship among the Divine Persons of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  At the depths of Reality, there is a Relationship of Love, Exchange, Giving and Receiving and Returning in Fullness.  God is a Family and the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit reach out to human beings to incorporate us into the Reality of Divine Life.

When the Church seeks to share Faith, it is not a mere matter of teaching or helping us to understand doctrines and dogmas.  Rather, it is meant to draw us into the experience of Living Relationship with God.  We are invited, through Faith, to live Divine Life humanly.  We who are God’s creatures are drawn into a dynamic sharing of the very Being of God.

On Trinity Sunday, the Church celebrates something that can be known only through Revelation.  Faith embraces an intimacy with God that makes all the difference.  Human beings are made in the image and likeness of God and are destined by God to share Divine Life.  We pray as one Community of Faith, united in the Hope of Eternity and already experiencing the embrace of Love that is the very Life of God, Who IS Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit!  As it was in the beginning, is now and ever shall be, world without end.  Amen.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor June 4 - Pentecost

Dear Parishioners:

With Pentecost, the Easter Season comes to its close.  The Holy Spirit pours out the “Gifts of the Spirit”: Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Knowledge, Piety, Fortitude and Fear of the Lord.  We are strengthened in Faith and in our power to be witnesses of the truth of the Gospel to all the world.

We also happen to be at the end of the academic year, having celebrated our 8th Grade Graduation this week and watching our young people complete their days in High School and College.  These are happy and challenging times, when each generation is invited to take up the whole enterprise of human life.  It is natural to ask questions at these moments.  Who are we? What do we really believe?  What is worth our commitment?

God understands human nature better than any of us.  He invented it and in the Person of Jesus, He has lived it to the full.  God is with us on our journey through life and He has plans for us, plans full of Hope.

One aspect of God’s Plan for us is that we share in His Unity.  We are called to be one with God and one with each and every other human being.  Pentecost reverses Babel.  The nations that became divided through human selfishness and pride are brought back together by the Gospel.  As a community of believers, we are called to lead the way, to be one in mind and heart and ready to serve.

We offer words of congratulations to all who are involved in graduations – to the students, the teachers and administrators, and to their parents and families who make these accomplishments possible.  We also invite all to ask the Holy Spirit to guide them as they discover new pathways.  May we keep our priorities always in order: seek first God and His Kingdom and all the rest will be added.  Come, Holy Spirit!  Fill the hearts of Your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of Your Love.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor May 28 - Solemnity of the Ascension

Dear Parishioners:

Memory is at the heart of our Catholic Faith.  Jesus’ words to His disciples at the Last Supper were “Do this in memory of Me.”  The understanding of memory in this context, however, refers to something deeper than what we forget when our human capacity for remembering fails us.  When God is part of the picture, memory can reach past, present and future.  Memory is where Hope resides.  We look to our relationship with God and discover that He is always there for us.  In Hope, we look toward the future and even beyond, toward Eternity, and discover that God is preparing a place for us.

The Mystery of the Ascension is the Mystery of Christ that tells us that our own human nature has a glorious destiny.  Jesus suffered and died and rose from the dead in our humanity.  In the Ascension, He took that glorified humanity into the very Life of God.  Once we have that “place,” the Holy Spirit is ours and is poured out on us in a new way as a residing Presence in us.  We have the firstfruits of our Eternal destiny when the Spirit is given a place in our lives.

“Come, Holy Spirit” is the prayer of these days from the Ascension until Pentecost.  We ask God to fulfill His promise and we resolve to be docile to the Spirit, to respond to His Presence in our lives.  Together with Mary and the Apostles, we pray for the fulfillment of the promise, that the Gift of the Spirit may be poured out on us anew and that we may make Christ known to the ends of the earth.

For us as Catholics, the Sacraments are the primary means for us to receive what God’s Spirit offers.  The Holy Spirit is active in all the Sacraments, effecting the Presence of Christ and making us new creatures in Christ.  Our human nature is undergoing a transformation.  This requires our willing cooperation.  Can you hear the voice of the Lord in your heart calling you to holiness?

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor May 21

Dear Parishioners:

“Cradle Catholics” are often surprised to discover that there is more to the Catholic Faith than they realize.  We all have a tendency to respond to things with an attitude of “been there, done that.”  If we grew up in the Church, attending a Catholic School or “C.C.D.  Classes” – Confraternity of Christian Doctrine (now known as “P.S.R.” Classes – Parish School of Religion), we can believe that we already understand everything there is to know about our Faith.  But the truth is quite different.  The teachings of our Church are a rich source of nourishment, if only we have the eyes to see it and the heart open to learn.

The Holy Spirit can open us to greater things than we ever imagined.  But we have to acknowledge our need for the Spirit and to be ready to respond to His promptings.  How do we prepare ourselves for this?  Prayer for the Gift of God in communion with the Apostles and Mary, the Mother of Jesus, was the means of preparation of the first generation of Christians.  It is the same for us today.  “Come, Holy Spirit!” is the simplest form of prayer for this Gift.

The first Novena was the nine days of prayer between the Ascension and Pentecost.  This period of time, spent in the Upper Room where the Last Supper was held, was a special time of grace for the Apostles and for Mary.  What happened then was the preparation for all that would follow.  The Good News of the Resurrection of Jesus was known and relished for 40 days.  Then the Apostles prayed for the coming of the Paraclete, the Advocate and Consoler promised to them by the Risen Lord.

We will celebrate the Ascension next Sunday (moved from Thursday so that all may be able to be present for the Mass of the Ascension).  However, the Novena for Pentecost begins Friday, May 26, and concludes with the Vigil of Pentecost, Saturday, June 3.  Let us join in prayer that God may pour out His Spirit in abundance on our Parish and on the World.  May this be a time of grace for us and may our hearts be open to the Gift of God!

Saturday, May 13, 2017

A Word from Your Pastor May 14 - Mother's Day

Dear Parishioners:

Mother’s Day in the month of May is one of those moments where cultural and religious celebrations can come together in a wonderful way.  There is a kind of integrity to the celebration that shows us that this world and the next are truly one.  God’s plan for us involves everyone.  Everyone has a mother.  And the Good News we have to share in the month of May is that everyone also has a Heavenly Mother, shared with us by Jesus at the very moment when He was accomplishing our salvation.

Today we honor and thank all those who have been motherly to us: our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, foster mothers, and motherly sources of wisdom throughout our lives.  We also honor and give praise to Mary, our Mother in the life of the Spirit, who leads us always to her Son Jesus, and who shows us how to respond to God’s call.  Most of all, we thank God, Who loves us through our mothers and fathers teaching us to be true to our call as His children, brothers and sisters of Jesus.

There is a special poignancy to this day for all those whose earthly mothers have died.  We remember them in a special way, asking God to continue to guide them through their moral influence and through their prayer in the Communion of Saints.

On this day, may we all make our mothers proud!

We offer congratulations, too, to all who are reaching times of accomplishment with the many baccalaureates, commencement ceremonies, graduations and the like.  You have worked for your goals and now you are ready for new adventures.  Whatever you may do, stay close to your Faith and don’t forget to text, tweet, Facebook, Snapchat, Facetime or otherwise write to your mother!