Dear Parish Family,
“Know(ing) that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings. The God of all grace who called you to his eternal glory through Christ (Jesus) will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you after you have suffered a little.” 1 Peter 5:10
We have all suffered, more than a little, being away from our precious Mass and Blessed Eucharist! As we approach the resumption of our celebration, please look for the protocols, specific to our parish. They are being reviewed and proofread now and should be ready by email time tomorrow.
In the meantime, our “new, temporary” Mass times will be Sundays at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 12:00 noon. After Pentecost we will also resume Wednesday evening Mass, but the time will change to 5:30 p.m. We will need ushers to seat people at all Sunday Masses. If you would like to help with this ministry, please let me know – firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text 601-573-2053. It will be necessary to have a “training” session next week so that all ushers can become familiar with the seating and social distancing protocols.
As a reminder, anyone who needs a Catholic School Parish Verification for your child, please email me directly. I have emailed the people who have already requested one and for whom one has been sent. If you have not emailed me or heard back from me, yours was not on my list.
God bless you all!
Friday of the Sixth Week
May 22, 2020
First Reading: Acts 18: 9-18
One night while Paul was in
Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision, “Do not be afraid.
Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you,
for I have many people in this city.” He settled there for a year and a half and taught the word of God among them. But when Gallio was proconsul of Achaia, the Jews rose up together against Paul and brought him to the tribunal, saying, “This man is inducing people to worship God contrary to the law.” When Paul was about to reply, Gallio spoke to the Jews, “If it were a matter of some crime or malicious fraud, I should with reason hear the complaint of you Jews; but since it is a question of arguments over doctrine and titles and your own law, see to it yourselves. I do not wish to be a judge of such matters.” And he drove them away from the tribunal. They all seized Sosthenes, the synagogue official, and beat him in full view of the tribunal. But none of this was of concern to Gallio. Paul remained for quite some time, and after saying farewell to the brothers he sailed for Syria, together with Priscilla and Aquila. At Cenchreae he had shaved his head because he had taken a vow.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 47:2-3, 4-5, 6-7
R. God is king of all
All you peoples, clap your hands,
shout to God with cries of gladness,
For the LORD, the Most High, the awesome,
is the great king over all the earth.
R. God is king of all the earth.
He brings people under us;
nations under our feet.
He chooses for us our inheritance,
the glory of Jacob, whom he loves.
R. God is king of all the earth.
God mounts his throne amid shouts of joy;
the LORD, amid trumpet blasts.
Sing praise to God, sing praise;
sing praise to our king, sing praise.
R. God is king of all the earth.
Gospel: Jn 16:20-23
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy. When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy that a child has been born into the world. So you also are now in anguish. But I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you. On that day you will not question me about anything. Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”
… the Lord said to [Paul] in a vision, “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.” Acts of the Apostles 18:9-18
“When a woman is in labor, she is in anguish because her hour has arrived; but when she has given birth to a child, she no longer remembers the pain because of her joy …” John 16:20-23
Both of today’s readings are stories of despair, anguish and uncertainty:
Paul’s preaching and organizing in Corinth is going badly; in a vision, the Lord assures Paul that “I am with you.”
In the Gospel, Jesus continues his final instructions to the Twelve, warning them that hard days are ahead for all of them – but like a mother enduring labor, what will be “born” of their work will be the source of great joy.
In “Scarred by Struggle, Transformed by Hope,” Benedictine Sister Joan Chittister writes about embracing hope when all seems hopeless:
“Despair is a spiritual disease into which is built its antidote: hope. It is a matter of refusing to die at exactly the moment when we are being offered new life. Hope is not a denial of reality. But it is also not some kind of spiritual elixir. It is not a placebo infused out of nowhere. Hope is a series of small actions that transform darkness into light. It is putting one foot in front of the other when we can find no reason to do so at all . . . The spiritual task of life is to feed the hope that comes out of despair. Hope is not something to be found outside of us. It lies in the spiritual life we cultivate within. The whole purpose of wrestling with God is to be transformed into the self we were meant to become, to step out of the confines of our false securities and allow our creating God to go on creating. In us.”
When we are paralyzed by fear and doubt as Paul experiences, when we are overwhelmed with exhaustion and discouragement as Jesus warns, may we carry on, daring to hope in the constancy of God’s presence.
May we place our trust in your wisdom and grace, O God, never forgetting the many ways in which we see your wisdom, compassion and forgiveness in our midst. Help us to treat every moment of our lives as sacred and holy, to see and appreciate every step we walk as a part of our life-long journey to your dwelling place.
My Jesus, I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
I ask You to come spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You, trusting that you are already there and I unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
Day 1: Friday after Ascension Thursday
Send forth Your Spirit, and they shall be created,
And You shall renew the face of the earth.
Let us pray. O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of Your faithful, grant that by that same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolation, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
As our Lady and the disciples waited and prayed so we pray:
Holy Spirit, what do you want of me today? Give me eyes that can see, ears that can hear and a heart that can love. Our Father . . . Hail Mary . . .Glory Be . . .
St. Rita of Cascia
Like Elizabeth Ann Seton, Rita of Cascia was a wife, mother, widow, and member of a religious community. Her holiness was reflected in each phase of her life.
Born at Roccaporena in central Italy, Rita wanted to become a nun but was pressured at a young age into marrying at the age of 12. During her 18-year marriage, she bore and raised two sons. After her husband was killed in a brawl her sons wanted to kill the man responsible. Rita prayed that even if it meant their own death not to allow them to commit this murder. They did not kill the man responsible. Later after the death of her two sons Rita tried to join the Augustinian nuns in Cascia. Unsuccessful at first because she was a widow, Rita eventually succeeded.
Over the years, her austerity, prayerfulness, and charity became legendary. When she developed wounds on her forehead, people quickly associated them with the wounds from Christ’s crown of thorns. She meditated frequently on Christ’s passion. Her care for the sick nuns was especially loving. She also counseled lay people who came to her monastery.
Beatified in 1626, Rita was not canonized until 1900. She has acquired the reputation, together with Saint Jude, as a saint of impossible cases. Many people visit her tomb each year.
The Story of Saint Rita of Cascia
This information was taken from the book, “The Precious Pearl,” written by Michael DiGregorio, OSA.
High in the hills of the republic of Cascia, in a tiny Umbrian village called Roccaporena, Antonio and Amata Lotti were well-respected peacemakers. In 1381, they welcomed their only child, Margherita. In the local dialect, her name meant “pearl,” but she was known simply as Rita. Baptized in the church of St. Augustine in Cascia, Rita became acquainted with the local Augustinian nuns of St. Mary Magdalene Monastery and was attracted to their way of life. But her parents arranged a marriage for her in order to provide safety and security, and so Rita obediently married Paolo Mancini with whom she had two sons.
In the troubling political climate of the times, there was often open conflict between families. Paolo was the victim of one such conflict, and he was murdered when their sons were still young. The expectation of society at the time was that the boys should avenge the murder of their father to defend family honor. Rita, however, influenced by the peacemaking example of her parents, pledged to forgive her husband’s killers. She faced a steep challenge, however, in convincing her sons to do the same. Tradition has it that she often pointed out to them the image of the crucified Christ and the fact that he forgave those who killed him. Within a year, however, both sons succumbed to a deadly illness leaving Rita not only a widow, but also childless. Following these tragedies, Rita placed her trust in God, accepting them and relying on her deep faith to find her way. After eighteen years of marriage, Rita felt called to a second but familiar vocation: to religious life in the Augustinian convent.
But the sisters at St. Mary Magdalene Monastery were hesitant and refused her request. However, Rita was not discouraged, convinced that she was called to the contemplative community. She returned and asked for entry again, but the sisters even more firmly refused, citing that although Rita had forgiven her husband’s killers, her family had not. There were members of the rival family in the convent; her presence would be detrimental to community harmony. And so, inspired by her three patron saints (St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Nicholas of Tolentine and John the Baptist), Rita set out to make peace between the families. She went to her husband’s family and exhorted them to put aside their hostility and stubbornness. They were convinced by her courage and agreed. The rival family, astounded by this overture of peace, also agreed. The two families exchanged a peace embrace and signed a written agreement, putting the vendetta to rest forever. A fresco depicting the scene of the peace embrace was placed on a wall of the Church of Saint Francis in Cascia, an enduring reminder of the power of good over evil and a testament to the widow whose forgiving spirit achieved the impossible.
At the age of 36, Rita finally was accepted into the Augustinian convent. She lived a regular life of prayer, contemplation and spiritual reading, according to the Rule of Saint Augustine. For forty years she lived this routine lifestyle until Good Friday of 1442, fifteen years before her death, when she had an extraordinary experience. In contemplation before an image of Jesus that was very dear to her, the Jesus of Holy Saturday or, as it is also known, the Resurgent Christ, she was moved by a deeper awareness of the physical and spiritual burden of pain which Christ so freely and willingly embraced for love of her and of all humanity. With the tender, compassionate heart of a person fully motivated by grateful love, she spoke her willingness to relieve Christ’s suffering by sharing even the smallest part of his pain. Her offer was accepted, her prayer was answered, and Rita was united with Jesus in a profound experience of spiritual intimacy, a thorn from his crown penetrating her forehead. The wound it caused remained open and visible until the day of her death.
Toward the end of her life, Rita progressively weakened physically. Several months before her death, she was visited by a relative from Roccaporena who asked if there was anything she could do for the ailing woman. Rita at first declined, but then made a simple request to have a rose from the garden of her family home brought to her. It was January, the dead of winter in the hills of Umbria, but upon her return home the relative passed Rita’s family garden and found to her astonishment a single fresh rose in the snow-covered garden on an otherwise barren bush. She immediately returned to the convent where she presented the miraculous rose to Rita who accepted it with quiet and grateful assurance. For the four decades she had spent in Casica’s convent she had prayed especially for her husband Paolo, who had died so violently, and for her two sons, who had died so young. The dark, cold earth of Roccaporena, which held their mortal remains, had now produced a beautiful sign of spring and beauty out of season. So, Rita believed, had God brought forth, through her prayers, their eternal life despite tragedy and violence. She now knew that she would soon be one with them again.
Rita died peacefully on May 22, 1457. An old and revered tradition records that the bells of the convent immediately began to peal unaided by human hands, calling the people of Cascia to the doors of the convent, and announcing the triumphant completion of a life faithfully lived. The nuns prepared her for burial and placed her in a simple wooden coffin. A carpenter who had been partially paralyzed by a stroke, voiced the sentiments of many others when he spoke of the beautiful life of this humble nun in bringing lasting peace to the people of Cascia. “If only I were well,” he said, “I would have prepared a place more worthy of you.” With those words, he was healed; Rita’s first miracle was performed. He fashioned the elaborate and richly decorated coffin which would hold Rita’s body for several centuries. She was never buried in it, however. So many people came to look upon the gentle face of the “Peacemaker of Cascia” that her burial had to be delayed. It became clear that something exceptional was occurring as her body seemed to be free from nature’s usual course. It is still incorrupt today, now in a glass-enclosed coffin, in the basilica of Cascia.