A word from Pope Francis ~ “If you pay attention to the heart, you will find you are close to the Lord and to others.”
Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. And in this particular year when our Sunday Scripture readings are taken from Cycle “B,” and the Gospel according to Mark, we take a mid-summer break to read from John’s Gospel, Chapter 6 – the great Bread of Life discourse. Since we began this journey two weeks ago, we are now in the middle of this great Eucharistic teaching.
As we take our time to prayerfully listen to this discourse on the Eucharist, we have an opportunity to appreciate the tremendous gift that we have in the Eucharist. For us Catholics, our beliefs in the Eucharist are at the very center of our faith. We hold fast to the beliefs Jesus gave us from the beginning. For close to 2000 years now we have recognized his presence in the Eucharist and responded to his desire to be with us. This weekend we hear: “I am the bread of life. … I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” It is easy to take this gift for granted, especially since the Eucharist is so readily available to us.
For this reason, one of the biggest struggles we faced during the pandemic was not being able to receive the Eucharist. We were able to participate in the Mass through our weekly live-stream from our church, but the Eucharist was what we were missing. We lost our most basic source of nourishment in our church – the Eucharist. It wasn’t enough for God to give us a new birth in our baptism. God needed to nourish that new life through the Eucharist. Now that we have returned to in-person prayer and during these Bread of Life Discourse weeks, we are invited to appreciate a great and wonderful gift of God’s presence among us.
If you have been attending Sunday Mass through our live streamed Masses and feel comfortable, please consider joining with us in person. The live stream Mass may have filled in a void, but nothing beats being here in person. If you feel like your “soul is hungry,” it is! Nothing can replace the gift of the Eucharist in our lives. We are now fully open for in person prayer – no advance reservations are needed. Come and be nourished.
We continue our celebration of “summer saints” this week with the celebration of the feasts of additional giants in our litany of saints. Monday, August 9th is the Memorial of St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, also known as Edith Stein. She was a German-Jewish philosopher who converted to Catholicism and became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She died as a martyr in an Auschwitz death camp, where she had been sent after being arrested by the Gestapo in 1942. She is one of six co-patron saints of Europe. Wednesday, August 11th is the Memorial of St. Clare of Assisi, one of the first followers of St. Francis of Assisi. She founded a monastic religious order for women in the Franciscan tradition known today as the Poor Clares. Thursday, August 12th is the Memorial of St. Jane Frances de Chantal. She was the founder of a religious order known as the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary. After her husband was killed in a hunting accident, she devoted herself to her family and to helping others. She became great friends with her spiritual director, St. Francis de Sales. And on Saturday, August 14th is the Memorial of St. Maximilian Kolbe. He was a Polish-Catholic priest and Conventual Franciscan friar who is known for volunteering to die in place of a stranger in the Auschwitz death camp in 1941. He had a devotion to the Immaculate Virgin Mary and was known for evangelizing through several Catholic media apostolates.
Next Sunday, August 15th, is the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus. It is a major feast day of our church and normally a holy day of obligation. Since the Feast falls on a Sunday this year, the celebration of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary replaces the normal Sunday in Ordinary Time. We celebrate our belief that Mary, at the moment of her death, was assumed body and soul into heaven where she lives with her son. Where she has gone, we hope to follow. Masses will be celebrated according to our regular Sunday Mass schedule.
The Back-to-School” advertising circulars are everywhere, and especially in our Sunday newspapers. Many of our college students will be leaving us in just a few days. Let’s enjoy the time that we have. And we remember in prayer all those who are traveling at this time of year. May God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy