May 18, 2020
I am pleased to announce that we will resume the public celebration of Holy Mass, beginning Tuesday, May 26, 2020. Masses will be celebrated under the normal schedule:
Tuesday 5:30pm St. Mary of the Snows
Wednesday 9am Resurrection
Thursday 5:30pm Resurrection
Friday 9am St. Mary of the Snows
Saturday 4pm St. Mary of the Snows
Sunday 9am Resurrection
11am St. Mary of the Snows
As we return to public worship, we will continue to respect state and diocesan directives for social distancing. The staff of both parishes and I will do everything we possibly can to reduce the risks associated with public gatherings. Bishop Daniel Thomas has extended the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice. Individuals who are at greater risk—the elderly, sick, those with pre-existing conditions—are encouraged to refrain from returning to public liturgies until such time as they feel comfortable and confident to do so. Mass will continue to be recorded and uploaded on YouTube for Sunday morning participation.
For those who would like to attend Mass in person, the following policies and procedures will be in effect at Resurrection Parish and St. Mary of the Snows Catholic Church:
- Bishop Thomas has dispensed all Catholic from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass until further notice.
- If you are at greater risk (elderly, sick, have pre-existing conditions), please refrain from coming to Mass.
- By entering the church, you are acknowledging the potential risk for you to be in a public location.
- We will have limited capacity in seating: 150 people at each parish. Once the limited capacity in the church is full, there is limited seating in Fellowship Hall at Resurrection and in the cafeteria at St. Mary’s.
- Seats will be marked either by tape or by a bulletin; greeters will help you find an appropriate seat. Know that you may not be able to sit “in your seat” or where generally sit.
- You are asked to keep a 6 ft. distance from anyone who is not from your immediate household.
- Bishop Thomas has encouraged (but not required) that Holy Communion be received from your hand. Please make sure your hand is flat to avoid contact. Holy Communion cannot be received with gloves on.
- For those attending Mass at the church but uncomfortable about receiving Holy Communion, know that you may make a Spiritual Communion. St. Thomas Aquinas and St. Alphonsus Liguori both have written that a Spiritual Communion is as efficacious and grace-filled as receiving Holy Communion sacramentally.
- Wearing masks is encouraged.
- Hymnals have been removed from the pews. The bulletin will contain readings and Mass parts.
- The entrance/recessional processions, offertory procession, Sign of Peace, holding hands during the Our Father, reception of the Precious Blood are all suspended until further notice.
- There will be no holy water by entrances of the church.
- The collection basket will not be passed. At Resurrection, you will find the collection baskets in the two main aisles of the church; at St. Mary of the Snows, you will find the collection basket on the table where the offertory gifts of bread and wine are usually placed. Please place your contribution in the basket as you enter or leave the church. This may be a good time to consider signing up for electronic giving, which you can find on the parishes’ websites.
- The churches will be sanitized between Masses.
- You are encouraged to bring your own hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes, especially since our supply is limited.
- We ask for your ongoing patience and flexibility. It is possible that we may not be able to safely accommodate everyone who desires to come to Mass you’re accustomed to attend, so we ask for you to consider other options for Mass, such as by the recorded Mass found on YouTube, at other Mass times (maybe Saturday evening), or at a public weekday Mass.
Furthermore, the Sacrament of Reconciliation will continue to be offered. Confessions will go back to being heard in the confessionals, but confessions will be heard from behind the screen only. There will not be any face-to-face confessions in the confessionals. If you cannot kneel behind the screen, you may stand. The original times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation will resume, plus new times during the week.
Times for the Sacrament of Reconciliation:
Tuesday 4:45-5:15pm St. Mary of the Snows
Thursday 4:45-5:15pm Resurrection
Saturday 3-3:45pm St. Mary of the Snows
Sunday 8-8:45am Resurrection
I have said this a few times, but I again want to emphasize and reiterate my gratitude to you for your generosity in supporting our parishes during this time. As we look forward to returning to Mass, I ask for continued generosity but in additional new ways: generosity in flexibility, cooperation, and care for each other. We will return to Sunday Mass for the Solemnity of Pentecost, celebrating the Holy Spirit descending upon the apostles in the form of tongues of fire. Like them, may we spend these days in prayer in order to prepare for a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Please go to this website from the Diocese of Toledo to help prepare for Pentecost: https://reconnecttoledo.squarespace.com/pentecost. Come, Holy Spirit!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
May 12, 2020
“Suffering has to come because if you look at the cross, He [Jesus] has his head bending down: He wants to kiss you, and He has both hands open wide: He wants to embrace you. He has His heart opened wide to receive you. Then when you feel miserable inside, look at the cross and you will know what is happening. Suffering, pain, sorrow, humiliation, feelings of loneliness, are nothing but the kiss of Jesus, a sign that you have come so close that He can kiss you.” These words from St. Teresa of Calcutta, popularly known as Mother Teresa, I shared on Facebook four years ago to the day. These words are appropriate for our readings from Mass today.
In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (14:19-28), Paul, Barnabas, and other disciples of Christ proclaimed to the people of Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God.” This happened after the townspeople stoned Paul and dragged him out of their cities, so Paul knew hardships. Why is it necessary to undergo hardships to enter the Kingdom of God? We should examine what precisely is the Kingdom of God. The word “kingdom” comes from the Greek word “basilea”—notice the connection to the word “basilica”—which can be translated as “royal nature,” or “royalness.” God wants us to enter into His royal nature, to be like Him. In Christ Crucified, the royal nature of God is revealed: humble, vulnerable, suffering out of love for others. To live this royal nature of God presents hardships: to love others completely leaves us helpless and vulnerable.
This leads us to Jesus’ words in the gospel reading (John 14:27-31): “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you.” The peace of Christ is different from the peace of the world. The peace of the world often implies an avoidance of difficulties and an absence of conflict, usually brought about through might, force, or coercion. The peace of Christ is not that at all, especially as He reminds us in the Beatitudes that peacemakers are blessed. What is the peace of Christ? It is the reconciliation of opponents; it is the union of two parties, and Jesus Christ—true God and true man—reconciled humanity and divinity, heaven and earth. He made possible the union of God and humanity. How did He bring about this peace? Not through force, but through suffering, humility, vulnerability, helplessness, and sacrificial love.
Let us echo and imitate the words of today’s responsorial psalm: “Your friends make known, O Lord, the glorious splendor of your kingdom.”
May 11, 2020
When hosting guests in our homes, we usually work to ensure a hospitable, gracious, and comfortable stay. Jesus says in today’s gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel (14:21-26), “We will come to him and make our dwelling with him.” God wants to dwell in our hearts and souls; He wants to dwell in our lives. This continues what is stated in the Prologue of St. John’s Gospel: “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling [translated literally: pitched his tent] among us (1:14).” To allow God to more vibrantly dwell in our lives, we need to make our lives, our souls, our hearts more comfortable, hospitable, and gracious places for our Lord to dwell. How do we do this? Much could be said about this, but there are three items found in today’s gospel reading to help us: observing the commandments of the Lord, keeping his word, and loving God wholeheartedly.
Come, Holy Spirit! Help prepare our hearts and souls to be a fitting dwelling for You with the Father and Son!
May 8, 2020
Some professional athletes and other graduates of Ohio State like to emphasize they went to THE Ohio State University—and detractors like ridiculing the emphasis on THE. Definite articles such as “the” make a big difference.
“Ego sum via, veritas, et vita.” These are words found in the apse in St. Peter’s in Mansfield. “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” These words from today’s gospel reading are another one of Jesus’ “I AM” statements. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, not simply a way, a truth, a life among many others. Jesus is the way: He is the way to the Father; His name is the only name by which we are saved. Jesus is the truth: He reveals the truth of who the Father is and the truth about who we are supposed to be. Jesus is the life: He is the Author of Life, so apart from Him, we cease to be; separated from Him, we are dead spiritually. Here is where we can proudly proclaim the definite article “the,” for Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life!
April 29, 2020
Anyone who has grown up in a large family with a tight budget knows of the importance of finding ways to make food go a long way. Sometimes one has to get creative doing that, but what is perhaps a common way to make food go a long way? Casseroles. Despite my dislike for lima beans, I generally liked just about every food my parents prepared for us. However, there were times my siblings and I may have asked, “What is it?” Just about any child has asked that question regarding food: what is it?
The Israelites asked the same question when in the desert and God gave them a miraculous bread. What is it, they asked. In Hebrew, “what is it?” is the word “manna.” When we say “manna,” we are saying “what is it?” In yesterday’s (4/28) gospel reading from St. John’s gospel (6:30-35), Jesus reminds His listeners that their ancestors ate manna in the desert, as God had given them bread from heaven to eat. Much could be said about that manna. It was miraculous: it appeared everyday. God provided this bread from heaven. As I included in the video message, check out Brant Pitre’s book “Jesus and the Jewish Roots of the Eucharist” to learn more about the manna and how it serves also as a foreshadowing of the Eucharist. You can also check out this video to learn more: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P45BHDRA7pU
Jesus then goes on to say that His Father gives the true bread from heaven, and He makes another “I AM” statement when He says, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst.” The Eucharist, the new manna, Christ’s Body and Blood, is the miraculous and true bread from heaven, giving life to anyone who eats of it.
Today, Jesus in the gospel (John 6:35-40) speaks of believing in the Son. We can always substitute the word “trust” in place of believe. As the Bread of Life continues to unfold and as Jesus intensifies His language as giving His Body and Blood as true food and true drink, we are invited to trust His words, so that we no longer have to ask, “what is it?” about the Eucharist, but instead may know the Eucharist is this miraculous food, bread from heaven, true food and true drink: the Body and Blood of Christ, giving us life. May our gratitude, understanding, appreciation, and desire for this great gift from God grow in this time.
April 25, 2020
Today we celebrate the feast of St. Mark. St. Mark is one of the four evangelists, writing one of the four gospels. Mark probably worked with St. Peter, and so his gospel is probably filled with Peter’s account of Jesus’ life. Mark also wrote the shortest of the gospels. It’s worth noting two items about St. Mark’s Gospel. The first is that little of Jesus’ teaching is contained in this gospel; instead, it is filled with Jesus’ actions. The word “immediately” is used over and over again, indicating that Jesus moved from one event to the next. While we should listen to Jesus’ words and teaching found throughout all of the gospels, the scarcity of Jesus’ teaching in St. Mark’s Gospel reminds us that what is most important is what Jesus has done for us, particularly His Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
The second point plays into the first, which is that Mark begins the gospel with these seemingly innocuous words: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” We think that maybe that’s a nice thing to say, but when Mark wrote this, those were fighting words. These were words challenging the status quo. Caesar was considered to be the son of God, so to claim Jesus as the Son of God was a challenge to Caesar’s authority and power. A gospel—a message of good news—was announced after a great military victory; again, to claim this to be a gospel challenges to reigning power of that day. Mark is proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ, of what Christ has done for us, namely that victory has been won by Christ over our enemies of sin, death, and the devil. Jesus has fought for us and has conquered, and therefore, we are to give our lives to Jesus Christ. Allow Jesus to upset the status quo of our lives now. Jesus Christ is Lord, meaning that nothing, absolutely nothing else, should be the lord of our lives. May we always, like St. Mark, proclaim Jesus as Lord.
April 24, 2020
Yesterday, I lovingly mentioned how dessert was rationed. Today, I’ll include the fact that dessert was only possible if we ate all of the food on our plates. I even think we weren’t excused from the table unless we ate our meal. While I usually had no problem finishing dinner, I remember one dinner that included a vegetable medley of green beans, carrots, maybe corn, and lima beans. I ate vegetables, but I would not eat the lima beans. I tried everything I could to avoid the lima beans, but my parents wouldn’t let me escape so easily. If today and yesterday have made you think my parents were harsh or rigorous, be assured they were not; I have wonderful parents.
What in the world does any of this have to do with the readings? Our gospel reading for today is the great multiplication of fish and loaves, the feeding of five thousand, from St. John’s Gospel (6:1-15). Aside from the Resurrection, the multiplication of the fish and loaves is the only miracle/sign of Jesus found in all four gospels. Firstly, let’s be clear: this is a miracle. Some have said that the people shared their food. While slightly impressive, sharing is not a miracle. This miracle reveals God’s superabundant generosity in feeding over five thousand with just five loaves of bread and two fish, with 12 baskets full of leftovers. This miracle displays clear Eucharistic overtones, especially as Jesus takes bread, gives thanks, breaks the bread, and gives it to be distributed.
Much could be said about this entire miracle, but maybe it’s worth reflecting on what Jesus says to His disciples after everyone has had their fill of food: “Gather the fragments left over, so that nothing will be wasted.” So that nothing will be wasted, and this means much more than wasting food at dinner. God wastes nothing. He has a purpose for every day, every moment of our lives. Every person, every life has a purpose. Even in this time, God is using this challenging situation to draw us closer to Him. This day is not a waste; there is purpose, even if we don’t understand it. The great Easter psalm is Psalm 118, in which we hear “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad.” Remembering that God has a purpose for everything, absolutely everything, and wastes nothing, let us approach this day and every day with these words: “This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad!”
April 23, 2020
Growing up, our family always had plenty of food on the table, but with four children in the house and following a budget, certain foods had to be rationed, particularly Oreos or other such cookies. If we ate all of our food, we could have two cookies and no more. I think about Oreos being rationed as we hear in our gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel (3:31-36) that God does not ration His gift of the Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the great gift that God wishes to give to us without limit, without rationing. This reminds me of what Jesus says in St. Luke’s Gospel (11:13): “If you then, who are wicked, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” God desires to give each of us His life, His Spirit, His breath.
As Jesus tells us, we are meant to ask for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit in our lives, but our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles (5:27-33) also reveals a vital key receiving the Holy Spirit. St. Peter says, “We are witnesses of these things, as is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” It was Jesus’ obedience to the Father in His Passion that undid Adam’s disobedience; it was Mary’s obedience that helped usher in life, reversing Eve’s disobedience, bringing about death. In Mary’s obedience, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, bearing the Author of Life in her womb. In Jesus’ obedience, He brought about the redemption of the world. Obedience to God removes the barriers preventing us from receiving a new and limitless outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Come, Holy Spirit!
April 22, 2020
We sometimes lump together the Pharisees and Sadducees, but they were two distinct sects of Judaism. One of the differences between them was that the Sadducees did not believe in the possibility of the resurrection from the dead, and of course, that is why they are sad, you see?
The Sadducees are mentioned in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (5:17-26) along with the Sanhedrin. Peter and other disciples are meant to go on trial before the Sanhedrin because they have been preaching salvation found in Jesus Christ, risen from the dead. The disciples are in prison awaiting trial when an angel in the middle of the night opened the doors of the prison, releasing them and giving them this directive: “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” In a sense, this escape from prison is like a quasi-resurrection: leaving the tomb/prison with new life while there were guards stationed outside.
“Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” What is everything to tell about this life? We hear it in the gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel (3:16-21): “God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
April 21, 2020
The first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles (4:32-37) displays the generosity and charity of those first Christians, who were of one heart and mind. However, there is a detail we may gloss over if we we’re not reading this closely. We’re informed of a man named Joseph by his parents, but he is named Barnabas by the Apostles (not to be confused with the criminal Barabbas in the Passion narratives). The name “Barnabas,” we’re told, is translated as “son of encouragement.”
I’m not totally positive about this, but I suspect the word “courage” is related to the Latin word, “cor,” meaning “heart.” To encourage is perhaps to give heart to another or to strengthen another person’s heart. As we face the tension and challenges of our time, may we all be a Barnabas to someone, encouraging by call, text, video messaging those who are lonely, wounded, disillusioned, suffering, or without hope. Encouraged by the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead, may we encourage others with the good news that God is with us and even now, we are not alone.
April 20, 2020
“As they prayed, the place where they gathered shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.” These are the words concluding today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (4:23-31) after Peter and John are released from prison for proclaiming the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Incredible things happen through the intercession of prayer. Even though we may not gather together right now, may the earth shake because of our prayers: of praise and thanksgiving for our redemption, of worship and adoration of the God who is victorious over sin and death. May continue to pray, lifting up our hearts, souls, and minds to God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. It is through prayer that the power of Holy Spirit, given to us at Baptism and again at Confirmation, is activated more fully in our lives to proclaim the word of God boldly and to live for God boldly. Come Holy Spirit!
April 16, 2020
Imagine St. Peter preaching at Mass and preaching what he did in today’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (3:11-26): “The author of life you put to death.” I suspect some parishioners may be offended that Peter would seem to be so judgmental and harsh; some may even write letters of complaint to the bishop because of Peter’s bold and zealous preaching. Those parishioners may be disappointed to find out that Peter is the pope, so the bishop has to report to him!
St. Peter’s preaching is courageous. He says, “The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.” This is the classic good news/bad news statement, a statement that, through the Holy Spirit, St. Peter speaks to us today: all of us—not just those 2000 years ago—but each of us today put the Author of Life to death. This is the bad news. Peter gives us good news too: God raised him from the dead. How are we to become witnesses of His Resurrection? Peter provides a path: “Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment.”
With His Resurrection from the dead, Jesus begins the work of re-creating the world, making it a world no longer dominated by sin, selfishness, division, and hatred, but instead re-fashioning it to be marked by true freedom, joy, charity, and peace that the world cannot give. Jesus wants this re-creation to begin first in each one of us, that from and through us, the rest of the world may be re-created. This is why repentance becomes so important: turning away old ways of living, closing dead-end pathways so that Christ’s peace may dwell in us, living as witnesses of the Resurrection. Happy Easter!
April 15, 2020
Both of today’s readings are possibly the richest we hear in this Easter Octave. In our first reading from the Acts of the Apostles (3:1-10), Peter and John meet a crippled man asking for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple. Peter simply says to him, “Look at us.” That’s an interesting thing to say in a situation, so the man did what any of us did: looked at them, paid attention, waiting for what would happen next. What happened next no one expected. Peter says, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.” These are compelling, powerful words. Maybe we feel as though we don’t have the adequate resources to help another person; maybe we feel we don’t have the answers to difficult questions. Here’s what we do have: the Holy Spirit and the power and presence of the Risen Lord dwelling within us, and there is nothing, absolutely nothing, greater we can offer to others.
The gospel reading from St. Luke’s Gospel (24:13-35) features Jesus walking with the disciples as the travel to Emmaus. Much like yesterday’s gospel passage in which Mary Magdalene originally did not recognize Jesus, so similarly, the disciples again do not recognize who Jesus is at first. This again speaks to the new life brought about by the Resurrection. When do they recognize Jesus? At the breaking of the bread, which is the language used by the early Church for the Mass. In the Eucharist, the disciples recognize Jesus for Who He is. The breaking of the bread occurs after Jesus interprets the Scriptures for them—the readings and homily at Mass.
Other important actions occur indicating a Eucharistic reference: “And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them.” Taking bread, blessing it, breaking it, and giving it are exactly the same things Jesus does at the multiplication of fish and loaves and feeding of five thousand; those are the same things Jesus does at the Last Supper. These are the same words used during the consecration of bread and wine into His Body and Blood at Mass.
While there is gut wrenching separation from the Eucharist, this passage reminds us that our Lord Jesus Christ brings His Risen presence into our world in multitude of ways. May our desire for the Eucharist increase during this time, and may we allow Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, create new life in each of us. Happy Easter!
April 14, 2020
Even 2000 years ago, soon after rising from the dead, Jesus practiced social distancing. He says in today’s gospel reading (John 20:11-18), “Stop holding on to me.” Mary Magdalene goes to the tomb and at first finds it empty, save for two angels; she then meets Jesus, risen from the dead, but she does not recognize Him, thinking He is the gardener. The fact that she doesn’t recognize Jesus reveals that the Resurrection has changed Jesus in some way in appearance. The Resurrection wasn’t merely a resuscitation, going back to the same old, same old. As we go through this time of pandemic and quarantine, I think most of us are ready to return to normalcy. The Resurrection wasn’t a return to normalcy. God is using this time for us to be made new, to truly rise with Christ into new people. Notice also that Mary Magdalene recognizes Jesus when He calls her by name. Jesus calls each one us by name this day. May we recognize His voice, calling each of us to newness of life. Happy Easter!
April 13, 2020
I’ve never liked running. I played sports where running is punishment, and I have deeply inculcated that mentality. However, when I was in college and in need of staying in shape, I got into running. Mind you, I ran on a treadmill, so I could watch TV and take my mind off of running. I quickly found the show to best distract me from running: the original Law & Order.
During the trial, witnesses took the stand to testify about some aspect of the case; maybe this our typical view of what a witness is.
In our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles, St. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, says to the crowd, “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses.” We are invited to be witnesses of the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Having encountered the Risen Lord, we are meant to be witnesses, testifying to the One who has conquered death and sin. In our current climate, we are called to be witnesses of hope and of joy, for Jesus is indeed risen from the dead. Alleluia!
O Risen Lord, the Way, the Truth, and the Life, make us faithful followers of the spirit of Your Resurrection. Grant that we may be inwardly renewed, dying to ourselves in order that You may live in us. May our lives serve as signs of the transforming power of Your love. Use us as Your instruments for the renewal of society, bringing Your life and love to all, and leading them to Your Church. This we ask of You, Lord Jesus, living and reigning with the Father, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, forever
and ever. Amen.
Good Friday Homily
“If that is the remedy, then how bad the sickness must have been.” This is perhaps what many of us are thinking right now as we deal with a pandemic in our country and in the world. We are concerned that maybe the cure is not proportionate to the sickness, that the cure is worse than the sickness itself. Yet, that quotation does not come from our current situation; rather, it was by someone years ago after watching the move, “The Passion of the Christ.” The movie portrays Christ’s Passion as it probably was: intense, tortuous, gruesome. It portrays all of the multifaceted forms of evil directed at Jesus and portrays the pain and agony—physical, emotional, psychological—that Jesus endured on this day. “If that is the remedy, then how bad the sickness must have been.”
If we’re honest, we may wonder why God sent His Son and why His Son, Jesus Christ, willingly went took up the Cross and died for us. There are a few ways to look at this. A first way to answer why Jesus Christ has died for us is often referred to as atonement for our sins, but maybe think about it as a remedy to our sickness. Yes, we have been plagued by an illness, by a pandemic even worse than the one the world now faces: that pandemic is sin. This plague of sin has bedeviled humanity since the Fall of our first parents, and it is the ultimate cause of hatred, wars, violence, division, cruelty, and on and on and on. To make matters worse, there is nothing on our own we can do about it: we have no cure of our own, no remedy or vaccine created by our own hands. At the heart of the plague of sin is pride and selfishness, so God sends His Son, Who in willingly takes up the Cross, remedies sin with utter humility—falsely accused, vilely mocked, stripped naked before all—and with complete and total self-giving and selflessness. The remedy of Christ’s Passion and Death reveal indeed how sick we were because of sin.
Nevertheless, why would God care about curing our sickness of sin? At the risk of sounding cliché and trite, God did this because He loves us. Many of us are familiar with John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life,” but this is expanded even further. How do we know that God loves each one of us so dearly? St. Paul tells us, “Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves His love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” Think of some of Jesus’ last words on the Cross: “I thirst.” His thirst wasn’t for water or for earthly drink. The thirst of Jesus was for each of us. Jesus poured himself out so that we may be filled with His life; He has poured out His love for us, and in return, He thirsts for our love.
Because He loves us, Jesus Christ has endured His Passion and Death in order to fight for us: to fight against our enemies of sin and death and the devil. Jesus uses not the ordinary weapons of our world, but instead cloaks Himself in weakness and vulnerability in order to enter the battlefield—the home field advantage for sin, death, and the devil—where He routs our enemies. Being the Son of God, Jesus defeats our enemies with sacrificial love. Jesus displays on the Cross strength found no where else: in sacrificial, self-giving love. No longer must sin, death, and the devil enslave us, for we have been rescued.
As we look up the Crucifix, we see a remedy. We see strength like no other. We see love, the love of God on full display. On our part, our response must be one of adoration, of love, of praise and thanksgiving. We have been healed, we have been rescued, and we are loved. As Jesus cries out, “I thirst,” may we satisfy the thirst of Jesus and give our lives unreservedly to Him.
Holy Thursday Homily
When I was in junior high, I gave up video games for Lent. It wasn’t nearly as difficult or horrible as kids today may think it is. While it is permissible to have a slight reprieve from our penances and sacrifices on Sundays in Lent, my parents wouldn’t allow it, so as Easter approached, I was ready to get back to playing video games. The closer Easter was, the more I wanted to play video games. On Holy Saturday, I had enough, and knowing that the days of the Triduum weren’t technically part of Lent, so I decided to sneak into the basement to play NBA Live on either Super Nintendo or Sega Genesis. Deep down, I knew I was selling out. How often we desire and want most the things we can’t have—I think of how I especially want a bacon cheeseburger on a Friday in Lent.
“The whole of the spiritual life is the education of desire,” so stated one the great Church Fathers. What was Jesus’ desire on this night? We’re given an indication: “Before the feast of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to pass from this world to the Father. He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.” Jesus loved them to the end. This was His desire to love His people to the end, and He lives out this desire most powerfully by being lifted up on the Cross. This night begins His Passion and His loving us to the end. However, His love for us did not end on Good Friday on the Cross. It is brought to us still to this day because of what Jesus did on this night.
It is on this night that Jesus instituted and gave us the Eucharist, His Body and Blood. It is on this night that He instituted the priesthood so that the Eucharist may be brought into the world for all the ages. It is on this night that by washing the feet of His disciples Jesus gave us the example of selfless fraternal charity. It is in the Eucharist, Christ’s Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity, that Jesus remains present with us. He is present in a true way, in a real way, in a substantial way. He loves us to the end by remaining with us in this preeminent gift.
At the same way, Christ can be made present—not in the same manner as the Eucharist—through selfless acts of charity. Mother Teresa worked with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta. As she attended to a dying man who had never heard of Jesus, she spoke about Jesus and about baptism. The dying man asked Mother Teresa why she was taking care of him; she responded that she wanted to be like Jesus. The man’s response was profound: “If Jesus is anything like you, I want to be with Him too.” Mother Teresa made Jesus Christ present to this man. While the Eucharist is the Real Presence of Christ, nevertheless, through living charity, we can, in a sense, make Christ present in the world.
April 9, 2020
Join Bishop Thomas tonight for the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7:30pm, which will be live-streamed on his Facebook page:
I will celebrate Mass this evening, but it will not be recorded and uploaded onto YouTube. Please pray with Bishop Thomas tonight, which will unite all of us closer to our bishop and to all the faithful in our diocese (along with all Church Triumphant, Suffering, and Militant).
Know that I will remember all of you at the Altar of the Lord this evening. Have a blessed Holy Thursday!
April 6, 2020
Today’s gospel passage (John 12:1-11) features Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, anoints the feet of Jesus with costly aromatic nard. Judas complains about what he views as a waste of the costly perfume, falsely outraged about how it could have been sold in order to benefit the poor. I present two brief reflections.
The first reflection comes from Bishop Robert Barron: Why does John use this tale to preface his telling of the Passion? Why does he allow the odor of this woman’s perfume to waft, as it were, over the whole of the story? It is because, I believe, this extravagant gesture shows forth the meaning of what Jesus is about to do: the absolutely radical giving away of self. There is nothing calculating, careful, or conservative about the woman’s action…At the dramatic climax of his life, Jesus will give himself away totally, lavishly, unreasonably—and this is why Mary’s beautiful gesture is a sort of overture to the opera that will follow.
The second brief reflection is from Magnificat: Judas thought Mary’s anointing was wasteful, preventing the costly nard from benefitting the poor. In point of fact, it served precisely that purpose when “the house was filled with the fragrance of oil.” The worst sort of poverty is to be unaware of or unmoved by the Savior’s presence, and Mary’s action directed the attention of everyone to Jesus. He is the only one who will “establish justice on the earth,” he is the true “light for the nations.” Are we willing to “waste” our lives for the lives of Jesus? To be embarrassingly attentive to him? Do we believe that he is worth it?
Prayer: Suscipe by St. Ignatius Loyola
Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty, my memory, my understanding, and my entire will: all that I have and call my own. You have given it all to me. To you, Lord, I return it. Everything is Yours, do with it as You will. Give me only Your love and Your grace. That is enough for me. Amen.
April 3, 2020
April 2, 2020
I know I’ve mentioned this in homilies during the week, but there are people who assert that Jesus is not divine, is not God because never once does He make an explicit claim in any of the Gospels. However, there are multiple instances throughout Jesus’ public ministry in which He reveals He is the Word from the beginning who is with God and is God. In St. Matthew’s Gospel, perhaps the best of the gospels, Jesus will begin by saying, “You have heard that it was said,” and proceed to quote something from the Law, and then Jesus states, “But I say to you,” and gives a new commandment. In doing this, Jesus displays His authority over the Law—an authority exclusive to God. In the healing of the paralytic, Jesus first says, “Your sins are forgiven.” The crowd becomes outraged, not because Jesus ignored the man’s physical ailment, but because Jesus told the man his sins are forgiven. The forgiveness of sins is reserved to God alone!
Today’s gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel (8:51-59) is another way Jesus is revealing to the crowds and to us that He is divine, the Son of God. As Jesus is going back and forth with His interlocutors, Jesus states, “Amen, amen, I say to you, before Abraham came to be, I AM.” What a strange thing to say; it would have made more sense if Jesus said “I was.” However, by saying I AM, Jesus is harkening back to God’s words to Moses at the burning bush. When Moses asked God’s name, God’s response is I AM. By saying I AM, Jesus is identifying Himself with God. We see how this is played out throughout all of St. John’s Gospel in what are called the I AM statements:
I am the Bread of Life (6:35)
I am the Light of the World (8:12)
I am the Gate (10:9)
I am the Good Shepherd (10:11, 14)
I am the Resurrection and the Life (11:25)
I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life (14:6)
I am the Vine (15:1, 5)
As Jesus reveals Himself through these statements, He reveals that, as God, He is our food, our light in darkness, our Shepherd, the entry through which we come home, our rising from the dead. He is the way home to the Father; He is the Truth about the Father and about ourselves; apart from Him is death since He is the life and vine, sustaining us.
Someone recently posted on social media a graphic which read, “Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God.” How true this is, especially entering into Holy Week, we see how overwhelming, never-ending, reckless is the love of God for us in His Son, Jesus Christ. We see how true this is in our first reading from the Book of Genesis (17:3-9). God enters into a covenant with Abraham. What is a covenant but all-encompassing, totally self-giving of one to another. God enters into a covenant with us through Jesus: He gives all of Himself to us. As with any relationship involving covenants—think of marriage—God asks only one thing of us: to give ourselves totally, overwhelmingly, and recklessly back to Him.
Prayer taught to the children of Fatima:
I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You, and I ask forgiveness for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You. Amen.
April 1, 2020
One of the most vivid and well-known passages in the Old Testament is that of the three men—Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego—thrown into the fiery furnace for refusing to bow down and worship the idol, the false god of the Babylonian king, Nebuchadnezzar. What happens to them in the furnace? They are completely unharmed and unaffected by the fire and joined by an angel, and Nebuchadnezzar that the God of the Israelites is the true God. The words of the three men are moving: “If our God, whom we serve, can save us from the white-hot furnace and from your hands, O king, may He save us! But even if he will not, know, O king, that we will not serve your god or worship the golden statue that you set up.”
What great trust! Even if they were not delivered, their devotion remained with God; they adamantly refused to turn anywhere else for deliverance and for hope. May we turn away from the unnoticed idols of our lives, and turn ardently to the Lord, our God as our deliverer and our hope. Jesus’ words from St. John’s Gospel today provide a pathway: “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” Remain in the ways of Jesus Christ, give all of your devotion to Him, place all of your hope in Him, and you will know the truth: Jesus Christ is Lord! Placing our hope in Him, we are set free: free from fear, free from anxiety, free from sin and death. Jesus, I trust in You!
Prayer of St. Thomas Aquinas
Grant me grace, O merciful God, to desire ardently all that is pleasing to You, to examine it prudently, to acknowledge it truthfully, and to accomplish it perfectly for the praise and glory of Your name. Amen.
Prayer for Peace by St. John of the Cross
O blessed Jesus, give me stillness of soul in You. Let your mighty calmness reign in me. Rule me, O You, King of Gentleness, King of Peace. Amen.
March 31, 2020
We have entered into the time of Lent called “Passiontide.” Even though we have not entered into Holy Week, the focus of the liturgy and of the readings focuses on the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is clear from our readings at Mass today. We hear from the Book of Numbers (21:4-9), in which the Israelites are instructed to look upon the bronze serpent placed atop a pole in order to be healed from the bites of the seraph serpents; this provides us with one the Old Testament foreshadowings—also known as a type—of Christ being lifted up on the cross. In the gospel reading from St. John’s Gospel (8:21-30), Jesus says, “When you lift up the Son of Man, then you will realize that I AM.” In saying this, Jesus’ listeners of the time would have known clearly that Jesus is identifying Himself with God.
I share with you the words of Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen:
Our Blessed Lord was now declaring that he was to be lifted up, as the serpent had been lifted up. As the brass serpent had the appearance of a serpent and yet lacked its venom, so too, when he would be lifted up upon the bars of the cross, he would have the appearance of a sinner and yet be without sin. As all who looked upon the brass serpent had been healed of the bite of the serpent, so all who looked upon him with love and faith would be healed of the bite of the serpent of evil.
It was not enough that the Son of God should come down from the heavens and appear as the Son of Man, for then he would have been a great teacher and a great example, but not a Redeemer. It was important for him to fulfill the purpose of the coming, to redeem man from sin while in the likeness of human flesh. Teachers change men by their lives; our Blessed Lord would change men by his death. The poison of hate, sensuality, and envy which is in the hearts of men could not be healed simply by wise exhortations and social reforms. The wages of sin is death, and therefore it was to be by death that sin would be atoned for. As in the ancient sacrifices the fire symbolically burned up the imputed sin along with the victim, so on the cross the world’s sin would be put away in Christ’s sufferings, for he would be upright as a priest and prostrate as a victim. The two greatest banners that were ever unfurled were the uplifted serpent and the uplifted Savior. And yet there was an infinite difference between them. The theater of one was the desert, and the audience was a few thousand Israelites; the theater of the other was the universe and the audience, the whole of mankind. From the one came a bodily healing, soon to be undone again by death; from the other flowed soul-healing, unto life everlasting.
Prayer before the Crucifix by St. Francis Assisi
O most high and glorious God, enlighten the darkness of my heart. Give me, Lord, a firm faith, sure hope, perfect love, profound humility—the sign and knowledge so that I may carry out all of your commandments. Amen.
March 26, 2020
“Remember us, O Lord, as you favor your people.”
These are the words of the Responsorial Psalm today. As we ask God our Father to remember us, may we remember the love He has pour out to us through His Son, Jesus Christ and through the Holy Spirit. Here are beautifully powerful words spoken by our Lord Jesus Christ to Mother Teresa:
It is true.
I stand at the door of your heart, day and night. Even when you are not listening, even when you doubt it it could be Me, I am there. I’ll wait even the smallest sign of your response, even the least whispered invitation that will allow Me to enter.
And I want you to know that whenever you invite Me, I do come – always, without fail. Silence and unseen I come, but with infinite power and love, and bringing the many gifts of My Spirit. I come with My mercy, with My desire to forgive and heal you, and with a love for you beyond your comprehension – a love every bit as great as the love I have received from the Father I come, longing to console you and give you strength, to lift you up and bind all your wounds. I bring you My light, to dispel your darkness and all your doubts. I come with My power, that I might carry you and all your burdens; with My grace, to touch your heart and transform your life; and my peace I give to still your soul.
I know you through and through. I know everything about you. The very hairs of your head I have numbered. Nothing in your life is unimportant to Me. I have followed you through the years, and I have always loved you, even in your wanderings. I know everyone of your problems. I know your needs and your worries. And yes, I know all your sins. But I tell you again that I love you, not for what you have or haven’t done. I love you for you, for the beauty and dignity My Father gave you by creating you in his own image. It is a dignity you have often forgotten, a beauty you have tarnished by sin. But I love you as you are, and I have shared My Blood to win you back. If you only ask Me with faith, My grace will touch all that needs changing in your life, and I will give you the strength to free yourself from sin and all its destructive power.
I know what is in your heart; I know your loneliness and all your hearts: the rejections, the judgments, the humiliations. I carried it all before you. And I carried it all for you, so that you might share My strength and victory. I know especially your need for love – how you are thirsting to be loved and cherished. But how often have you thirsted in vain by seeking that love selfishly, striving to fill the emptiness inside you with passionate pleasures – with the even greater emptiness of sin? Do you thirst for love? “ Come to Me all you who thirst…” (John 7:37). I will satisfy you and fill you. Do you thirst to be cherished? I cherish you more than you can imagine – to the point of dying on the cross for you.
I thirst for you. That is the only way to even begin to describe My love for you. I thirst for you. I thirst to love you and to be loved by you; that is how precious you are to Me. I thirst for you. Come to Me, and I will fill your heart and heal your wounds. I will make you a new creation, and give you peace, even in all your trials. I thirst for you. You must never doubt My mercy, My acceptance of you, My desire to forgive, My longing to bless you and live My life in you. I thirst for you. If you feel unimportant in the eyes of the world, that matters not at all to me. For Me, there is no one any more important in the entire world than you. I thirst for you. Open to Me. Come to Me. Thirst for Me. Give Me your life, and I will prove to you how important you are to My Heart.
Don’t you realize that My Father already has a perfect plan to transform your life, beginning from this moment? Trust in Me. Ask Me every day to enter and take charge of your life; and I will. I promise you before My Father in heaven that I will work miracles in your life. Why would I do this? Because I thirst for you. All I ask of you is that you entrust yourself completely to Me. I will do all the rest.
Even now I behold the place My Father has prepared for you in My Kingdom. Remember that you are a pilgrim in this life, on a journey home. Sin can never satisfy you, or bring the peace you seek. All that you have sought outside of Me has only left you more empty, so do not cling to the things of this life. Above all, do not run from Me when you fall. Come to Me without delay. When you give Me your sins, you give Me the joy of being your Savior. There is nothing I cannot forgive and heal. So come now, and unburden your soul.
No matter how far you may wander, no matter how often you forget Me, no matter how many crosses you may bear in this life; there is one thing I want you to always remember, one thing that will never change: I thirst for you—just as you are. You don’t need to change to believe in My love, for it will be your belief in My love that will change you. You forget Me, and yet I am seeking you every moment of the day—standing at the door of your heart and knocking. Do you find this hard to believe? Then look again at the Cross, look at My Heart that was pierced for you. Have you not understood My Cross? Then listen again to the words I spoke there, for they tell you clearly why I endured all this for you: “I thirst…” (John 19:28). Yes, I thirst for you.
All of your life I’ve been looking for your love. I have never stopped seeking to love you and be loved by you. You have tried many other things in your search for happiness; why not try opening your heart to Me, right now, more than you ever have before. And whenever you do open the door of your heart, whenever you come close enough, you will hear Me say to you again and again, not in mere human words but in your spirit: “No matter what you have done, I love you for your own sake. So, come to Me with your misery and your sins, with your troubles and needs, and with all your longing to be loved because I stand at the door of your heart and knock. Open up to Me, for I thirst for you.
March 25, 2020
I probably watch too much television, and so I’ve seen a commercial from Discover in which there are clips from multiple shows and movies of people saying “yes.” While “no” may be one of the words children like saying the most, “yes” can be an incredibly powerful, and today’s feast of the Annunciation is a display of how powerful a simple and humble yes can be. The archangel Gabriel approaches many with a laudatory greeting and then announces news of great joy: through the power of the Holy Spirit, she is to bear in her womb the Son of God!
While God had prepared Mary for this from her very first moment, perhaps Mary had not anticipated this. Maybe it wasn’t a part of her plans for life. However, saying yes to the Father was central to her life, and so at a moment like this, when something unexpected occurs, she gives God an unqualified yes. She even amplifies it: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word.”
With this unrestricted yes, everything changes. Because Mary cooperates with God’s grace, with God’s plan, the Son of God enters into the world. God’s presence because physically real in our world. While we won’t bear the Son of God in the same way Mary did, we are still able to bring Jesus Christ, the Son of God, into the world. Every time we say yes to God and His plan, in a sense Christ is brought into the world. Every time we cooperate with God’s grace, in a sense the Son of God is made present in the world. May we imitate Mary’s yes to God and imitate how she bore Jesus Christ in her heart.
We should also remember this day as the day in which the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. God is not distant. Instead, He has taken on human flesh and human nature; the Son of God has experienced every aspect of human life—apart from sin—and so He knows our suffering in a personal way. In this time of crisis, we are not alone; the Son of God is with us still, so let’s turn to Him and His mother all the more fervently and bring them our concerns.
V. The Angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
R. And she conceived by the Holy Spirit.
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinner, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
V. Behold, the handmaid of the Lord.
R. Be it done to me according to thy word.
V. And the Word was made flesh.
R. And dwelt among us.
V. Pray for us, O holy Mother of God
R. That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.
Let us pray. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts; that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ, Thy Son, was made known by the message of an angel, may be His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Amen.
March 24, 2020
“Do you want to be well?”
These are the words Jesus asks the sick man of 38 years laying by the pool called Bethesda in our Gospel reading today (John 5:1-16). “Do you want to be well?” It almost seems like a mocking question. Of course! Who wouldn’t want to be well, to be healed? Yet the sick man’s response is telling: “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am on my way, someone else gets down there before me.” His answer seems legitimate, but maybe there’s something deeper going on here. Perhaps this sick man is making a lame, sorry excuse. Perhaps he has become accustomed to his lifestyle and prefers not to change, knowing that a new way of living will bring a new set of challenges and difficulties, so it’s easier to remain where he is.
Jesus poses the same question to us: “Do you want to be well? Do you want to be healed?” Bishop Robert Barron makes the point that Jesus seeks physical and spiritual healing. He states, “Much of Jesus’ ministry consisted in teaching people how to see (the kingdom of God), how to hear (the voice of the Spirit), how to walk (thereby overcoming the paralysis of the heart), how to be free of themselves so as to discover God.” All of this is what Jesus wants for our lives, and so He asks us, “Do you want to be well?” Again, the answer may seem to be an obvious “yes,” but again, don’t we often make similar excuses? “I’ll get around to it tomorrow,” “There are so many other things going on in my life right now,” “I just don’t have time for it.” Like the sick man, we too sometimes provide lame and sorry excuses from blocking the healing power of God into our lives. This may be because we are afraid of how Christ may change our lives; we may be comfortable where we are and don’t want radical transformation in our lives.
This is where we are invited to trust Jesus Christ more deeply: trust that the transformation He will bring into our lives will make us well; trust that His transformation of us will make us lives better (although that doesn’t mean easier). May we not wait 38 years as the sick man in the Gospel passage did. Instead, may today be the day we commit ourselves more fully to Christ and allow Him to make us well.
Prayer for the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit by St. Bonaventure
Lord Jesus, as God’s Spirit came down and rested upon you, may the same Spirit rest upon us, bestowing his sevenfold gifts. First, grant us the gift of understanding, by which your precepts may enlighten our minds. Second, grant us counsel, by which we may follow in your footsteps on the path of righteousness. Third, grant us courage, by which we may ward off the enemy’s attacks. Fourth, grant us knowledge, by which we can distinguish good from evil. Fifth, grant us piety, by which we may acquire compassionate hearts. Sixth, grant us fear of the Lord, by which we may draw back from evil and submit to what is good. Seventh, grant us wisdom, that we may taste fully the life-giving sweetness of your love. Amen.
March 22, 2020
As many of you noticed, there were audio issues with the video of the Mass from this morning, so I’m posting my homily. Because I didn’t have a written text, this is the best reconstruction I can provide
“It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.”
When encountering the man born blind, Jesus’s disciple ask Him the cause of the man’s blindness. Jesus’s response seems like a non-answer: “Neither he nor his parents sinned; it is so that the works of God might be made visible through him.” The disciples essentially ask a question about suffering. Perhaps Jesus doesn’t answer the question directly, but He nevertheless confronts the issue. It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him. We may be tempted to think that the work of God which Jesus is referring to is giving sight to the man born blind. Without a doubt, that is the work of God revealed, but the greater work of God revealed in the man born blind is that he is given spiritual sight and vision, leading him to profess faith in and worship Jesus as the Son of Man, calling Jesus as Lord. Bringing about faith and converted the man born blind was the work of God revealed in him.
“Not as man sees does God see,” so God tells Samuel in our first reading about the anointing of David. This principle is important to keep in mind when pondering the works of God. St. Thomas Aquinas states that the greatest of the works of God is not the creating and fashioning of the universe, not giving sight to the blind, not healing the sick, not driving out demons, not raising Lazarus from the dead. No, the greatest of the works of God is the conversion of sinners; bringing people to faith. We see this greatest of the works of God at play in the Gospel of John as Jesus gives sight—physical and spiritual—to the man born blind, bringing him to faith.
In this difficult and uncertain time, the words of Jesus remain true: “It is so that the works of God might be made visible through him/us.” What are the works of God right now? Busy and hectic families are now forced to spend more time with each, hopefully deepening their relationships with each other. Through this crisis, God is executing judgment on the idols and false gods of our day: sports; finances, in which we often place our security; a life of comfort, which sometimes makes us apathetic to our mission as disciples of Christ. Through this crisis, God is helping us to reprioritize our lives. In this time, Jesus is giving us sight, ending our blindness to the need of others and our blindness to God’s invitation in our lives. Lastly, what is the work of God revealed in us now? Our Lord is bringing us to greater faith and converting us more toward Him: trusting in Him more deeply, surrendering to Him more completely, and committing our lives more totally to Him.
This isn’t the Lent we’ve wanted or ask for, but it is the Lent we’ve been given, and perhaps even the Lent we need. It is in this time that the works of God are revealed in us as the Lord elicits greater faith in us. Jesus says in the gospel reading, “I am the light of the world.” Even in the darkness of our current situation, the light of Jesus Christ shines in the world. He is victorious over our greatest enemies—sin and death—and His light continues to shine in our lives, giving us spiritual sight to our blindness. May we allow His light to shine in and through us so that the works of God may be revealed in us.
March 21, 2020
During this difficult time without public Mass being offered, I invite all of you, but especially my parishioners of St. Mary of the Snows and Resurrection, to join me in the celebration of Holy Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Lent, March 22nd at 10:30am. While we cannot celebrate Mass together in person, you can join me for Mass on YouTube channels of St. Mary of the Snows and Resurrection Parish Lexington. Because you cannot be present physically to receive the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, I invite you to make a Spiritual Communion during Mass. Below is a prayer for making a Spiritual Communion, and it will be available under the description on the video.
Mass will not be live, but because God is beyond the confines of time, we will nevertheless be united as I offer Mass for you. Please click on the link below to view Mass at 10:30am on Sunday, March 22.
I look forward to being together again with you soon. God bless you and your families!
Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
March 20, 2020
In today’s Gospel reading from the twelfth chapter of St. Mark’s gospel, Jesus responds to the scribe’s question: “Which is the first of all the commandments?” By now, we are all familiar with His answer. Jesus references Deuteronomy 6:4 when giving the first: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.” Jesus then turns to Leviticus 19:18 for the second: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love God and love your neighbor. These are the greatest of all the commandments.
Nevertheless, there is a small phrase within Jesus’s response we may gloss over: “Hear, O Isarel!” Even before being told to love, we are told to listen! It is easy to go ahead with our own plans and goals; it’s simple to do things our own way, thinking we know what is best. Sometimes we march forward without stopping to ask God what His plans for us are, or perhaps we have drowned out the voice of God in an endless stream of cacophonous noise. Instead, we need to first listen: “Hear, O Israel!”
Taking time to listen to God and His commands helps us understand and realize that it is not we who first reach out to God, but instead, it is God who always initiates and invites first. We are called to love because God has loved us first. Loving God and neighbor is our response to God’s love for us.
The circumstances of this health crisis have forced us to live a slower paced life; our lives are thrown out of whack. As we spend more time at home, there may be the temptation to watch more TV or spend more time on social media (ironically, as you probably read this on social media); there may be the temptation to be lazier than usual. However, we’re perhaps given extra time to listen to God: in prayer, in Scripture, in the writings of the saints. During this time of grace, God invites us into deeper intimacy with Him: “Hear, O Israel!”
Act of Love
O my God, I love You above all things with my whole heart and soul, because You are all good and worthy of all my love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of You. I forgive all who injured me, and ask pardon for all whom I have injured. Amen.
March 19, 2020
Today we celebrate the great Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of Mary, foster-father of Jesus, and guardian of the Church. After the birth of Jesus and after the visit of the Magi, Joseph is told by God to take his family and flee to Egypt in order to escape from the tyrannical rage of Herod, which is exactly what Joseph did. They were forced to leave what was comfortable, what was known and enter into the unknown. Joseph, throughout all of this, protected Jesus and Mary from danger, attacks, and threats.
In this health crisis, we all have been forced to leave behind what is comfortable and known; we’ve been forced to leave behind everyday life as usual. We’ve entered into a time of uncertainty and the unknown. This can bring about fear, anxiety. It can bring about the worst in us: selfishness, anger, division. These are only a sampling of the dangers we face in this time. But just as St. Joseph protected the Holy Family while fleeing to Egypt, so St. Joseph—Guardian of the Church—continues to protect us. Let’s turn to St. Joseph, asking him to intercede for us: for an end to his health crisis, for the sick and quarantined, and for protection against the assaults of fear, anxiety, and sin.
Litany of St. Joseph:
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, hear us.
Christ, graciously hear us.
God, the Father of heaven, have mercy on us.
God, the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us.
God, the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us.
Holy Trinity, one God, have mercy on us.
(Respond with “pray for us” after each of the following invocations)
Holy Mary, pray for us,
Renowned offspring of David…
Light of patriarchs…
Spouse of the Mother of God…
Chaste guardian of the Virgin…
Foster-father of the Son of God…
Diligent protector of Christ…
Head of the holy family…
Joseph most just…
Joseph most chaste…
Joseph most prudent…
Joseph most brave…
Joseph most obedient…
Joseph most faithful…
Mirror of patience…
Lover of poverty…
Model of artisans…
Glory of home life…
Guardians of virgins…
Pillar of families…
Solace of the wretched…
Hope of the sick…
Patron of the dying…
Terror of demons…
Protector of the holy Church…
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, spare us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, graciously hear us, O Lord.
Lamb of God, you take away the sins of the world, have mercy on us.
V. He made him lord of His House
R. And ruler of all His possessions
Let us pray. O God, who in your unspeakable providence deigned to choose blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your own most holy Mother: grant, we beseech you, that we may deserve to have him as our intercessor in heaven, whom we venerate on earth as our protector: who lives and reigns world without end. Amen.
Memorare of Saint Joseph
Remember, most pure spouse of Mary, ever Virgin, my loving protector, Saint Joseph, that no one ever had recourse to your protection or asked your aid without obtaining relief. Confiding, therefore, in your goodness, I come before you and humbly implore you. Despise not my petitions, Foster-father of the Redeemer, but graciously receive them. Amen.