Sunday, August 2, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - August 2

Dear Parishioners:

The Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian Life.  Jesus is the Savior Who feeds us with His own Body and Blood.  We receive in Holy Communion the very Substance of the Risen Lord, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity.  Our life itself flows from this Gift.  Our Catholic Faith has always held this and to be true to our Faith we must not only believe it theoretically, but we must put it into practice.  We are not only meant to have a Faith that is orthodox (“right believing”), but also have a Faith that involves “orthopraxy” (“right practice”).

Eucharist is Jesus Himself.  What was bread, fruit of the earth and work of human hands, is no longer bread, but the Bread of Life, the very Body of Christ, our Spiritual Food.  What was wine, fruit of the vine and work of human hands, is no longer wine, but the very Blood of Christ, the Chalice of Eternal Salvation, our Spiritual Drink.  It is not a mere symbol.  It is the Symbol and the Reality at the same time.  The Substance of the Incarnate Word is given to us as Food and Drink for our Salvation.

How do we show our Faith in the Eucharist?

We worship Jesus in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar.  We kneel before Him.  When we come into the church, we genuflect – bend the knee – to acknowledge Who He IS.

We prepare for reception of Holy Communion.  We confess serious sins in the Sacrament of Penance.  We fast for one full hour before we receive the Sacrament.  We adore the Lord as He becomes Present in the moment of Consecration and as He remains among us in the Tabernacle.

We seek to grow in Faith and in the grace of the Eucharist by putting into practice all that we are taught by Sacred Scripture and by the Church, practicing virtues and resisting vices.

As Catholics, we share our Faith with others and we try to help them understand how Holy the Eucharist is, by allowing them to see our reverence and by asking them to show proper respect for our Faith when they are with us at Mass.  In general, this means that we ask them not to go forward to receive Communion, but to ask the Lord for a Spiritual Communion as the Catholics go forward.  We invite them to share what we have in common, but to respect the differences between our Faith than theirs.

This also means that we ourselves do not receive if we are aware of grave sin or if we have failed to prepare by fasting.  It certainly means that we do not chew gum in church or go forward to receive with anything else in our mouths (no candy, cough drops or the like). 

It means that we make an Act of Thanksgiving after we have received the Eucharist and that we are silent in church when silence is called for.  It means that we return to the church from time to time to “make a visit” to the Lord in the Tabernacle or to spend time in adoration during times of Exposition.  It means we keep ourselves mindful of the Presence of the Lord in every Catholic Church that we happen to pass by.

How do you live your Faith in the Eucharist?

Sunday, July 26, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 26

Dear Parishioners:

Jesus calls all of us to live in communion with Him and one another.  The place we learn how to do this is the Liturgy.  Literally, “liturgy” means “the work of the people.”  It refers to the work that is done by a people in common for the sake of the common good.  In our time, we are clearly called to take what we receive from the Lord at the Liturgy and to share it with the world.

There is a major problem with this “setup” in our current experience.  I am sure that you can easily recognize what it is….  Many of the people among those “called to serve” are only rarely present at the Liturgy.  Families used to structure their lives around the weekly effort to live in relationship to the Church.  They would come to confession together on Saturday afternoons and have one particular Mass that they attended together as a family on Sunday mornings.  I offer praise and encouragement to the families that still follow this custom.  I realize that it is not always easy to arrange.

There are families who can be found at Mass each weekend, even if not all together at the same Mass, nonetheless at one or the other.  A number have taken up my invitation to bring me a bulletin from another church if they go to Mass somewhere else.  This too is worthy of praise.  Getting to Mass is the most important thing you can do as a family to keep yourselves Christ-centered.

For those who are not at Mass regularly: we welcome you when you are here and are happy the Mass is still on your radar of things to do.  We also invite and encourage you to put it more at the center of your routine.  Let the Mass determine your schedule rather than your schedule determine whether you go to Mass at all. 

Culturally, it seems to be in vogue that once or twice a month is good enough.  It is not.  The call of Scripture, Old and New Testament, is to put God first by weekly attendance at the Liturgy.  “Keep holy the Sabbath” means every week – for us as Catholics, Sunday Mass.  The Letter to the Hebrews (10:25) reminds us that we ought not to absent ourselves from the assembly (that is, gathering for Mass) as some do.  We are told that it was Jesus’ own custom to go to the synagogue every Sabbath and that whenever He was in Jerusalem, He would go to the Temple.  The Apostles and disciples of the Lord did the same and that is where our own Tradition began.

At Mass, we learn to welcome.  We hear God’s Word through Scripture.  We are fed and nourished by the Sacrament of the Eucharist.  And we hear the call to go out to all the world.  The tools we need to share Jesus with the world are available to us in the most complete form always and only at that the Mass.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 19

Dear Parishioners:

The 2015 St. Timothy Festival is now history.  The dates are set for next year:  July 8-9, 2016.  Put it on your calendar and begin a countdown!  What did you notice about this year that can be improved?  What did you enjoy that needs to be repeated?  How will you and your family take up a greater responsibility for the Mission of the Church during Festival time – Welcome, Hospitality and Discipleship?

Personally, what I noticed is that we attracted a lot of young people, high school age, who were gathered in groups all around the property.  They traveled with each other almost like swarms of bees, or in gatherings resembling beehives, with several always together and one or the other moving away and back again (usually with something sweet).  Are there new ways we could engage them?  From time to time, I teased them asking if they had a ticket for being able to stand on that patch of grass or to sit on the edge of the sidewalk.  The little ones were engaged (always with Mom or Dad, or Grandma or Grandpa) with the rides and with the Kiddie Kingdom.  Grown-ups were comfortable at tables or standing in smaller groups, eating and drinking, visiting with friends they see only at the Festival.  As Pastor, I wandered around through the property all night on both days.  You can see my pictures to prove it on Shutterfly (620 this year!): 


Many from beyond our community come to join us for the Festival.  Not a few have told me that they really like ours the best because of the family atmosphere and what we have to offer – something for everybody.  We have something special at St. Timothy.  I offer a word of thanks to all who made it possible and I invite everyone to reflect on the accomplishment with an eye to making it even better.

As the Summer continues, we are beginning to address the areas highlighted for planning.  The Amazing Parish effort calls us to open our eyes to see what is truly unique about our parish.  What is God doing among us that is not just for our benefit?  What has been entrusted to us for the sake of those who are entrusted to us as a Parish?  Our neighborhood is the field of our action.  Who in that field is waiting for us to draw them in?  Beyond the local area, we are also charged to keep in mind the Diocese of Columbus (our local Church) and the Universal Church, which embraces the world.  What aspect of the Gospel are we supposed to highlight so that others may come to know its Truth?

Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 12

Dear Parishioners:

As Pastor and People, we have now been together for seven years.  The Festival we experience this weekend has been my 8th with you, since my first weekend in St. Timothy Parish was a Festival weekend in 2008.  As always, I am amazed by two things: how many folks come together to pull it off and how quickly evidence that every free space on our property was filled with activity is cleared away.  The Sunday following the Festival is so quiet after the chaos of the half week before it opens!  Our Festival is a season opener in our neighborhood.  Each year, numerous individuals and groups gear up for this event, in our Parish and School and beyond.  Our hope is that it all serves to bring us together so we can share the spirit of St. Timothy Church with many.   Thanks to all who have made the St. Timothy Parish Festival the wonder it is.

This year, we are pleased that the St. Timothy Women’s Club chose to host a “Welcome Table” in the vestibule of the church.  It is clear that a major theme of the year to come is for us to work together to respond to our call to be a Community of Welcome.  Those who visit are invited to join.  Those among us who have not yet felt welcome for whatever reason are invited to teach us how to be more welcoming and to hear their voice.  Those who have experienced a sense of welcome are invited to deepen that experience and to be ministers of hospitality and welcome for everyone who is part of our life.

Pope Francis continually urges us to go “to the peripheries,” to move beyond our comfort zone in order to be the disciples of the Lord that we are as members of the Catholic Church.  This does not mean only that we “go out” beyond the doors of the church, but also that we open our eyes and hearts to see what is right in front of us and to hear the cry of those who are with us but feel left out.  Can we learn to see with new eyes and to hear with a greater compassion?

At our last Parish Council Meeting, we discussed Proposed Agenda for 2015-2016:

    • Deepening a response to the call to be a Welcoming Parish: the Weekend experience.
    • Preparation for the visit of Pope Francis to the United States.
    • Amazing Parish efforts – including exploration of the Alpha Program and common study of materials concerning discipleship at the parish level. (Misc. programs and groups: That Man IsYou, Music Ministry, Bereavement Team, Marriage Enrichment).
    • Maintenance needs of the Church and School Buildings: establish Maintenance Committee to assist in these efforts.

Each of these efforts will help us to grow in our acknowledgement of our responsibility to God, to His Church and to the world.  How will you choose to be more responsive to the call to discipleship and welcome?

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - July 5

Dear Parishioners:

This weekend we celebrate the wonderful gift of our United States of America as a nation dedicated to the principles of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”  We express our gratitude for those who put their own lives, fortunes and sacred honor on the line for the freedoms which we all enjoy.  At the same time, we pray earnestly: “God bless America!”  As a nation and a culture, we are facing new challenges.  There is a spirit in the air that denies the inner meaning of life, liberty and happiness.  We have to open our hearts to the deeper truths, as did those who fought for our country at its beginnings and throughout its history.  Can we allow what was won at such a cost to be lost?

Recently, it was my privilege to preach at the Watterson Baccalaureate Mass.  In my homily, I quoted Victor Frankl, a survivor of several concentration camps in World War II.  When he spoke to audiences in the United States, he would tell them that the Statue of Liberty on the East Coast ought to be complemented by a Statue of Responsibility on the West Coast of our nation.  As we exercise our rights and freedoms, we need to realize that we also have a duty to recognize consequences to our actions and our responsibility to those around us and those yet to be born.  This is a timeless truth.

Our Catholic Faith calls us to be free in the fullest and truest sense of the word.  We are free when we submit our bodies, minds and spirits, our hearts and our souls to God and to all that He has revealed.  God’s Word and the Truths of our Faith open us to a greater freedom, a liberty that this world does not understand.  May we who are part of these United States and members of the Catholic Church live in freedom and may we commit our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to the task of living in the light of Truth.  The world is counting on our witness.  The Church is speaking hard truths, but living by the Truth that comes from God is what we are pledged to do.

Focolare Word of Life for July 2015
Take courage; I have conquered the world.  (John 16:33).

Sunday, June 28, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - June 28

Dear Parishioners:

This weekend we have the traditional Peter’s Pence collection, the world-wide effort by the Church to gather means for the Holy Father to assist with needs throughout the world.  We have all been hearing news about how the words that Pope Francis sends out can lead to a dialogue about important issues.  He has, from the first moment of his election as Pope, been reminding us about our duty to keep the poor in mind.  Our generosity to this weekend’s collection can serve to help the him reach out in our name as Catholics to those in most need.

When the Catholic Church includes collections as part of Mass, the intention is to remind us that our acts of giving are part of the act of worship.  We have received all that we have and are from God.  With grateful hearts, we give back something of what we have received as a sign of our thanks and of our recognition that God calls us to be stewards of the gifts we have received.  What we have received as gifts we are to give as gifts in turn to others.

God cannot be outdone in giving.  An open and generous spirit becomes ever more ready to receive God’s gifts.  A heart that is closed and selfish has no room for what God wants to offer.  Can we learn to become more generous?

The Church is calling us to be more bold in our proclamation of the Gospel in a world that denies God a place in the public sphere.  We are also called to be more conscious of our duty to reach out to others.  What we do as a Faith Community is not about us, but about God and His plans for our world.  We have been commissioned to make disciples, to teach what Jesus has taught us, and to baptize others into Christ.  May we respond joyfully to this mission entrusted to us by God.  And may others come to know Jesus Christ through the life we share.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

A Word from Your Pastor - June 21

Dear Parishioners:

This week, I celebrate my 30th Anniversary of Ordination.  The celebration with my ordination Classmate Fr. Jeff Rimelspach last weekend was a continuation of the journey down Memory Lane.  I thank all who were able to be part of that celebration and all who have given cards and gifts in response to this milestone in my priestly walk.  God is faithful to His promises.  I honestly feel the same wonder and awe that He has chosen me as a priest and I marvel at the amazing things He does with me as an instrument.  If everyone knew the depth of hearts that are open to the priest just because he is a priest, there would never be talk of a crisis in vocations.

Looking out at you who are part of my life and priesthood now, I am moved by what God can do when hearts respond to His grace.  You are God’s own.  He loves you.  He wants you for Himself, all of you and every part of you.  If only we could see one another with God’s eyes.  C.S. Lewis speaks of the “weight of glory.”  Every other human being we see is destined for Eternity.  To be in relationship with eternal beings is a gift that has to take us out of ourselves if we get a glimpse of it.  Those you encounter every day, those you worship with each week or even each day at Mass, those who never come across the threshold of our church are entrusted to you and me.  Can we carry them?  Not without God’s grace or without the mutual support we offer one another.

I am renewing my commitment to live in response to the Lord’s call in my life.  I invite you to join me in this renewal.  Pray that our parish may be the Amazing Parish we are called others may want to know Jesus Christ.

Happy Father’s Day to all fathers, grandfathers and godfathers among us!  Know that your witness is incredibly important to your children, grandchildren and godchildren.  Your example is observed and plants seeds for the future in ways you can never know.