From the Pastor's Pen
Pastor's Pen ~ August 1st
For a little while, I will be gone. But you will see me again. And when I am gone, you will have a few guest priests. I am sure you will enjoy this change too!
For the weekend of July 31st & August 1st: We welcome Fr. Kurt Apfelbeck for the Liturgy this weekend. I am sure you will enjoy having him with us. I am grateful for his assistance. You might ask: where would I be? As part of the Mission appeal Program of the Diocese, I will be going to another Parish.
For the weekend of August 7th & 8th: I will be here for the evening Mass on Aug 7th. Fr. John Schultz will celebrate the Masses on August 8th. I will be away from the Parish from August 8th to the 19th. First, for the retreat (August 9th-13th), with my Religious Order priests who are working in the USA. As a religious community each year, we gather for retreat and common meetings. The venue for this year’s gathering is a retreat house in Texas. After the program, I hope to visit a few places of interest in Texas until the19th of August. I request you to pray for all of us. I promise to remember you during the days of the retreat. The Missionaries of St. Francis De sales, (also known as the Fransalians), the Religious Order I belong to, has about 70 priests currently working in the USA. We are present in 23 Dioceses spread out in 14 States.
For the weekend of August 14th & 15th: It is the Mission appeal weekend. We will have a Vincentian priest to share about the ministry and seek our help for the needs of the missions. Our Parish has always shown generous support to the missions abroad. I am certain you will be very generous again.
During the period of August 8th & 19th: Weekday masses will be celebrated only on Tuesdays and Fridays. Those masses will be celebrated by Fr. Paul Hoffman. Please check the bulletin for more information. I hope these details are helpful to everyone.
Now, let us turn to the Scripture readings of this weekend. In the first reading we hear that “the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron” (Ex 16:2). Complaints! Complaints are nothing new to our ears! We hear complaints all the time. Children have their complaints of parents, workers regarding their Boss and Supervisor, and the faithful about their priests, bishops and Pope. We have our own complaints against everyone and everything in the world. Didn’t we hear a complaint even in the garden of Eden? Complaints are easily found anywhere.
Complaints get attention too! The complaint of the Israelites was heard and answered. In the desert, God provided Manna for the people. Manna, the bread from heaven, is a prototype of the Eucharist. And in the Gospel, we hear Jesus making the astounding claim: “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me will never hunger, and whoever believes in me will never thirst” (Jn 6:35). Whoever comes….! Whoever believes….! Hunger and thirst satisfied! These words of Jesus prompt me to ask certain hard questions: Do I truly believe in Jesus? What does it mean to believe in Jesus? What is the content of my belief? Do I go to Jesus? When do I go to Jesus? What situations lead me to Jesus? Musing on these and similar questions can take us to new depths of our inner journey. Take some quiet time to wrestle with those questions. Find a calm setting during the week to read chapter 6 of John’s Gospel alone or as a family.
Let me sign off with these quotes from the saints. "When the Mass is being celebrated, the sanctuary is filled with countless angels, who adore the Divine Victim immolated on the altar."—St. John Chrysostom.
“If it is "daily bread," why do you take it once a year? ...Take daily what is to profit you daily. Live in such a way that you may deserve to receive it daily. He who does not deserve to receive it daily, does not deserve to receive it once a year.” - St. Ambrose of Milan.
Pastor's Pen ~ July 25th
Of late, the public media has shown a keen interest in the Eucharist. For the right reasons or not, it is a timely one. Articles voicing distinct views have appeared especially on the reception of the Eucharist by political figures who defiantly stand in opposition to the teachings of the Church. The context of this interest brings more controversies than needed. Media, if my reading is correct, accuses the Church of using the Eucharist as a weapon. The truth is far from it!
Politicization of the Eucharist is a new feature in the Nation, not elsewhere. With all due respect to the work of the media, it should be noted that sacramental theology is not their forte’. Church’s sacraments are too deep to be easily understood by the public media. Amid the reigning controversies, it is heartening to hear that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has voted to prepare a catechesis on Eucharist. Throughout the history of the Church, when controversies arose, bishops of the church prayerfully discerned to bring clarity of teaching to its faithful. A catechesis on the eucharist will help to quell doubts, hopefully strengthen Catholics’ own understanding and help increase reverence to Christ, who comes to us in the Eucharist.
The whole discussion on the Eucharist is well-timed. In fact, with this weekend, we start a journey that will take us through the entire 6th chapter of John’s Gospel. In a couple of Sundays, the whole chapter will be covered. Step by step, as it often happens with John, the evangelist will develop the message hidden within a sign. After curing the man born blind (Jn 5:1-18), he will explain what real blindness is: that of those who refuse to see reality in the light of God. Today’s sign of feeding the crowd (Jn 6:1-15), is the starting point to develop an elaborate theology of the Eucharist. It is also a critical moment to discern between those who believe in Jesus and those who will depart from him.
Catholic Church did not invent the Eucharist. The Eucharist as the body and blood of Christ comes from Christ himself. If one does not believe in the Eucharist, then that person’s faith in Christ and the Gospel come under serious question. Some surveys suggest that even a good number of Catholics themselves do not believe in the real presence of Christ! Sad as it is, what it really reveals is the mediocre catechesis of the past two generations. I recommend everyone to read Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel. Reference to some biblical commentaries and writings on the Eucharist can be extremely helpful too. In the coming weeks, come to Sunday mass with a better preparation- internal and external- and be more attuned to participate well in the liturgy. The Lord deserves our love and respect, which we are called to show both externally and internally. All that matters!
Last weekend, I announced that we would have the Jubilee Festival on November 14th. The countdown has begun! The Jubilee festival is in 111 days! It should be overly exciting to us as a Parish community because it is our celebration of God’s goodness to this community! Plans are underway to celebrate it in a fitting manner. Soon, you will hear more details. I invite everyone to be actively involved in this celebration. There is enough room for everyone to participate in it! Certainly, there are a plethora of opportunities to bring your talents into it. Please do not stand behind! And that is my pastoral call! Love to see everyone engaged in this celebration. Have a great weekend,