A word from Pope Francis ~ “Jesus understands our weaknesses and sins; and he forgives us if we allow ourselves to be forgiven.”
On this first weekend in September, this Labor Day holiday weekend, we celebrate the 22nd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. Our Gospel this weekend gives us an account Jesus attending a Sabbath dinner at the home of a prominent Pharisee. In Luke’s Gospel, events that take place in the context of a meal are opportunities for Jesus to teach all gathered at table. Jesus notices how the guests are choosing for themselves the places of honor. The concept of honor was highly valued. Those who sat in the places of honor showed everyone how important a person was. Jesus turns around the values of his culture by holding up the virtue of humility – not just at the table but also as a way of life: humility before God and one another.
Labor Day is filled with many different memories and meanings. For many of us it signals the end of summer and all that is associated with summer. It is the time for the last fling outdoors. It is a time for a BBQ with family and friends. It is the weekend the summer home is closed. It is the weekend the boat is pulled out of the water and placed in storage. It is the time for moving from one season of the year to another. The holiday itself, “Labor Day,” gives us a chance to take a day off from work and reflect on the meaning of labor.
This weekend we pause to thank God for the ways in which we participate in the act of creation through significant and fruitful work. And we pray for those who are looking for work at this time. As is our custom on civil holidays, we will celebrate a single Mass on Monday at 9:00am in the Church. Our parish offices will be closed in observance of the Labor Day holiday.
Work on our parish Perpetual Adoration Chapel is almost complete. Last week the roof was installed and the final brick work was completed. A Perpetual Adoration Chapel was one of the needs identified during the needs assessment that was done in the parish during January and February 2013. Following that needs assessment, our “Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating Our Future” Capital Campaign was launched later that year. Funds for the construction of a Perpetual Adoration Chapel were raised during that campaign, which concluded last December. Once the chapel is completed and furnished, we will set a formal opening and dedication date. Until that takes place, we will continue our practice of Eucharistic adoration on First Fridays.
Our next opportunity for First Friday Eucharistic Adoration will be this Friday, September 6th. We normally begin after the 7:00am Mass on Friday and continue through the day and night concluding with Benediction at 8:00am Saturday morning.
It has been the consistent belief of our church from the very beginning that the bread and wine consecrated at Mass truly become the Body and Blood of Christ. As the Catholic Catechism states, this “Eucharistic presence of Christ [which] begins at the moment of the consecration … endures as long as the Eucharistic species subsist.” (CC #1377). In other words, the Eucharistic Christ then continues to be present in our midst beyond the Eucharistic liturgy when the consecrated host is either reposed in the tabernacle or exposed in a monstrance. While we can truly experience the presence of the Eucharistic Lord when we pray before the tabernacle, people report experiencing a greater sense of intimacy with Jesus and attentiveness of mind and heart to prayer when they are able to actually “see” our Eucharistic Lord.
As Roman Catholics, our primary prayer is the Liturgy of the Eucharist, the Mass. This is our community prayer, a “God and us” prayer. Eucharistic Adoration gives us a unique time for individual, “God and me” prayer. In a presentation to teens about Eucharistic Adoration, I once heard it described as “face time with Jesus.” Just as we want to spend time with those we love, Eucharistic Adoration is a great opportunity to spend time with the Lord Jesus. He gave us the gift of the Eucharist because he wants to be with us. Many have found that time spent before the Eucharist is that moment of peace and quiet that we so desperately seek in our lives. It is that time to be quiet and simply be with a good friend.
All too often our prayer is a one-way experience – we do all the talking. We tell God what is on our minds and in our hearts, and then we leave. We don’t allow God a chance to respond, or allow ourselves to listen for God’s response. Throughout history, our ancestors in faith have recognized that the language of God is silence. In order for us to really hear God speak, we need to allow time for our minds to be settled and our hearts calmed. When this happens, we experience what it means to be truly at peace. We spend time just being in the presence of one who knows us and loves us. For the present, all are welcome to come and spend some quiet time with the Lord this Friday any time between 7:30am and 8:00am Saturday. Come for as long or as short as you are able.
Our Knights of Columbus Council will host the annual “Blue Mass” at our 10:00am Mass next Sunday, September 8th. All police, firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies, Emergency Medical Technicians and rescue workers of all faiths are invited to attend and will have a reserved place during the Mass. The “Blue Mass” takes its name from the blue uniforms worn by police, fire and emergency services personnel. It is very appropriate that we honor our local first responder heroes as we commemorate the 9/11 anniversary this Wednesday. Local police and fire departments have been individually invited. All first responders serving in departments in the larger area are most welcome to attend. A luncheon and refreshments will be served following the Mass in the Ministry Center.
Enjoy the holiday weekend. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy