FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “Prayer in adoration of God and service to others spreads the fire of God’s love, changing the world one heart at a time.”
On this final Sunday in August, we celebrate the 22nd Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year and we continue our chronological reading of St. Matthew’s gospel. Today’s reading is the second half of the reading we heard last week – Peter’s profession of faith. We see a very interesting turn of events. Last week, Jesus praised Peter for speaking up with his profession of faith – “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” This week, Jesus explains to the disciples what his understanding of being the Messiah, or “the Christ” means. When Jesus speaks of his coming suffering and death, Peter takes him aside and advises, “No such thing shall ever happen to you.” Jesus rebukes him for his lack of understanding. Peter had no idea what his earlier profession of faith meant. He was seeing things through his eyes, and not God’s. We are challenged to make sure our expectations of the way things should be match God’s expectations. If they don’t line up, it’s our responsibility to make the adjustment.
We continue to take “baby steps” in the re-opening of our parish to the full sacramental life of the church and the continuation of our parish ministries. This past month we saw the celebration of the pandemic postponed First Communions for our young people. We welcomed our adult RCIA participants into the full life of the church with their celebrations postponed from the Easter Vigil. We restored our regular times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Our St. Isidore Catholic School welcomed our students back and began a new school year. Each of these steps took place with the COVID-19 restrictions of face masks and social distancing. This past Friday we took another step in the re-opening of our Perpetual Adoration Chapel. Unfortunately, with the COVID-19 restrictions of face masks and social distancing, we are limited to a maximum number of 6 people in there at any time. Instructions were posted regarding signing in upon arrival and the necessary steps needed to sanitize the space upon departure. All of these are in place to protect the safety of each person entering our Perpetual Adoration Chapel.
Some have expressed a concern about being in the Adoration Chapel with other people present. Since everyone’s safety is our primary priority, we will continue to provide Adoration in the Chapel parking lot (southwest corner of our campus, Army Trail Rd. & Gary Ave.). Since April the Eucharist has been displayed in a second floor window of the Chapel building facing the parking lot. Personal prayer and adoration will continue to be available from the safety of your car.
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.
Another blessing of Eucharistic Adoration is that it helps form disciples for service and evangelization. Mark 3:13-14 describes a two-fold process through which Jesus formed his disciples: “He then went up the mountain and summoned those whom he wanted who came to him. He appointed twelve (whom he also named apostles) that they might be with him and he might send them forth to preach the good news.” Jesus formed his disciples during a period of being with him followed by a period of being sent by him. The first stage of discipleship, the “being with Jesus,” was absolutely required for the accomplishment of the second stage, the “being sent out” by Jesus to evangelize and break the bondage of evil in the world. This dual call reflects the fullness of the call to Christian discipleship. It is a call which Christ extends to his disciples today no less than he did to his original Twelve. Eucharistic Adoration gives us the chance “to be with” Jesus in order “to be sent by” Jesus. Our Perpetual Adoration Chapel provides us with an opportunity to experience the first level of formation as a disciple – the “being with Jesus.”
This Sunday will be the final Sunday of our COVID-19 Sunday Mass schedule – 7:00, 9:00, 11:00am and 1:00pm Spanish. In planning for the re-opening of our parish, we scheduled the Sunday Masses at 2-hour intervals to allow for the sanitizing of the church between Masses. We later realized that sanitizing the church after each Mass took much less time than we expected. So we are expanding our Sunday morning Mass schedule effective next weekend – a September 5-6. Beginning next Sunday, Masses will be celebrated in the main church at 7:00, 8:30, 10:00, 11:30am and 1:00pm (Spanish). For those who are hesitant to be with others in a large group setting, we will continue live-streaming the 10:00am English and 1:00pm Spanish Mass each weekend.
Please see our weekly bulletin posted on the parish website for additional news, notices on Flocknote, and other notices on our parish Facebook page and parish website. We try to use as many social media vehicles as possible to keep everyone up-to-date with all that is happening here. As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy