Dear Parish Family,
“This life is the gift that God has given us. It is too short to be spent in sadness. Let us praise God, content simply to exist. We are children of the great King, capable of reading His signature in all Creation.” ~Pope Francis
Our last Mass together was March 15. One week from tomorrow we will gather together for Mass once again!! As we prepare to come back together as a community, I share again the protocols which are in place for the safe celebration of the Liturgy.
As we anticipate the return to Mass beginning Sunday, May 31, so that everyone can be prepared, please review and familiarize yourselves with our “new” protocols and procedures. Read them, re-read them, and share them with your fellow parishioners who may not be receiving my daily emails.
Attendance at Mass:
~Those who are sick or symptomatic should stay home!! Even if you don’t suspect COVID, please err on the side of caution and don’t come to Mass!
~The bishop continues to dispense all the faithful from the Sunday Obligation until further notice. In addition, he has encouraged vulnerable individuals, those 65 and older or with underlying health condition, to continue to shelter in place. Families with vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to take special precautions. If you aren’t comfortable being in crowds yet or would like to stay home for other reasons, it is perfectly ok not to come to Mass at this time.
~The bishop also states, “We would like for our parents to consider the vulnerability of infants, toddlers and small children during this time, considering not bringing them to Mass or to perhaps bring them to a Mass during the week that is less attended rather than one of the busier weekend Masses.
~Our bishop has mandated the wearing of face masks for all in attendance over the age of two. Please be prepared for this and bring a mask with you. If you forget yours, we will have some extras available.
~Hand sanitizer will be provided for you to use before you enter the church.
~Only the doors on the north side of the church, under the porte cochere, will be open to enter the church. As you leave Mass, you will be allowed to leave through all doors.
~We are estimating our social distancing church capacity to be approx. 150 persons. Families living in the same residence will be allowed to sit together, but there MUST be a distance of 6 ft. between family groups or individuals.
~Due to the limited seating capacity, YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO CALL TO MAKE A RESERVATION and let us know which Mass you are planning to attend! You can call the Parish Office beginning Tuesday, May 26, through Thursday, May 28, between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. to let us know which Mass you would like to attend on May 31, and how many family members will be with you. You need to call only for yourself and your immediate family, please. No calling for other people! When a particular Mass is full, you will be offered space at one of the other Masses. The office number to call is 601-856-2054. No emails, no calls/texts to parish staffs’ cell phones or home phones or before/after hours will be taken. If you call or text a staff member, you will be instructed to call the parish office number. We are doing our very best to be fair to everyone and are praying for your patience and understanding during these difficult times!
~Offertory baskets will not be passed. There will be a large basket on the table in the foyer for you to place your envelopes, checks, or cash.
~Missalettes and prayer cards have been removed from the pews. We will have disposable worship sheets available as you enter the sanctuary if you would like to use one. You will be asked to bring them out of church with you at the end of Mass and dispose of them in a trash can which will be provided.
~The cry room will be closed until further notice.
~Masses will be celebrated on Sunday mornings at 8:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 12:00 noon. After Pentecost we will also have Wednesday Mass at 5:30 p.m. These are all “new, temporary” times, and the times may be adjusted as we go forward.
~One of the Sunday Masses, probably the 8:00 a.m. Mass, will be recorded and posted on YouTube. The link will be included in the Sunday email so that, if you are not able to attend Mass in person, you can watch the recorded Mass later in the day if you would like.
AS YOU ARRIVE AT MASS:
~You will not be sitting in your “usual” pew!!
~Ushers will be seating parishioners as they arrive, and the church will be filled from front to back in an orderly, organized manner. Again, due to the limited number of seats available, we want to be as efficient as possible in order to allow as many people to attend Mass at one time. Again, we ask for your patience and understanding, and hey, you may just make a new friend in your new “spot”!
~You will see a LOT of blue tape decorating the church! This is to help ushers and you with appropriate social distancing.
~As we begin this “new, and we hope temporary” way of celebrating Mass, we will begin by having congregational singing with one verse of a familiar Opening Hymn and one verse of a familiar Recessional Hymn. We anticipate that singing while wearing masks will be difficult and uncomfortable, and the diocese has advised that scientists contend that saliva may spread as far as 26 feet when we sing. We will re-evaluate as we experience the reality of singing while masked.
~For Communion, the floor will be taped off at 6 ft. intervals. Father Kevin and I will be distributing the Holy Eucharist while wearing masks and standing 6 ft. apart. The center aisle will be taped off at 6 ft. intervals as well. You will approach for Communion, Father or I will place the host in your hand (Communion on the tongue has been suspended by our bishop), you will step to another mark on the floor (either 6 ft. or 12 ft. away), raise your mask, consume the host, and then proceed back to your pew. Father Kevin and I are planning to “demonstrate” the best way to do this before each Mass.
~At the end of Mass, the congregation will be dismissed by row. You are asked to proceed toward the back of the church and then outside, without stopping, and while maintaining the appropriate social distance. Again, ushers will be present to assist.
There are many, many other details which we are attending to in order to make our return to the celebration of the Eucharist as safe and prayerful as we possibly can. We have tried to anticipate as many things as we can, but, of course, every detail cannot possibly be anticipated. Please know that all of these protocols will be “tweaked” as we begin the process and see how everything is working. Even our “old” normal wasn’t perfect, we were just used to the imperfections. Helpful comments are always welcome – just call, text or email me, please! email@example.com; 601-573-2053
As one of my favorite priests, Father Mike Schmitz, says: “We are going to learn to ‘boldly advance into the shadows of uncertainty!’”
Again, we ask for your patience, your understanding, and your prayers. This is as “new” for us as it is for you and we are prayerfully doing everything in our power to make worship as normal as we can during this time.
I continue to pray for you all and will see you very soon!
The Ascension of the Lord
May 23, 2020
First Reading: Acts 1: 1-11
In the first book, Theophilus, I dealt with all that
Jesus did and taught until the day he was taken up, after giving instructions
through the Holy Spirit to the apostles whom he had chosen. He presented himself alive to them by many
proofs after he had suffered, appearing to them during forty days and speaking
about the kingdom of God. While meeting with them, he enjoined them not to
depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for “the promise of the Father about which
you have heard me speak; for John baptized with water, but in a few days, you
will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” When they had gathered together they
asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
He answered them, “It is not for you to know the times or seasons that the Father has established by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, throughout Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
When he had said this, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight. While they were looking intently at the sky as he was going, suddenly two men dressed in white garments stood beside them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky? This Jesus who has been taken up from you into heaven will return in the same way as you have seen him going into heaven.”
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare
of trumpets for the Lord.
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 mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
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 mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
For king of all the earth is God;
sing hymns of praise.
God reigns over the nations,
God sits upon his holy throne.
R. God mounts his throne to shouts of joy: a blare of trumpets for the Lord.
Second Reading: Ephesians 1:17-23
Brothers and sisters:
May the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, give you a Spirit of wisdom and revelation resulting in knowledge of him. May the eyes of your hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call, what are the riches of glory in his inheritance among the holy ones, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power for us who believe, in accord with the exercise of his great might, which he worked in Christ, raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand in the heavens, far above every principality, authority, power, and dominion, and every name that is named not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things beneath his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of the one who fills all things in every way.
Gospel: Mt 28:16-20
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they saw him, they worshiped, but they doubted. Then Jesus approached and said to them, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
“Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations . . . teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:16-20
Eight-year-old Robbie Gay loves dogs — his favorites are the oldest, mangiest, least adoptable mutt. “There’s something about old dogs that I just like,” Robbie says simply.
That’s because he sees himself in them.
In a wonderful story on CBS News Sunday Morning [February 21, 2020], Robbie’s mother explains that Robbie “knows what it feels like not to be loved and cared for. He’s the most hopeful, optimistic, and genuinely caring kid who has absolutely no reason to be that way.”
Before he entered the foster system, Robbie was a holy terror, so badly abused that he was twice hospitalized with brain injuries. Then, two years ago, Maria and her husband Charles adopted him.
Robbie has come a long way except for this: Maria says Robbie could not cry. Despite the horrors of his past, or maybe because of them, Robbie was a “stone” until earlier this month. One of Robbie’s old dogs, Buffy, had to be put down. He wanted to hold Buffy until the very end and insisted his mom take pictures of the process, perhaps because he knew what was about to happen. After Robbie finally let go, he told his mom, “I know how it feels not to be loved or cared for and I don’t want any animal of mine to feel that way.”
Nor does he want any foster kid to feel that way.
“He is so aware that it could have gone totally differently for him. And in these older dogs Robbie has found a place to practice compassion,” his mom explains.
Someday, Robbie wants to adopt older foster children himself. But until then, to show his commitment and do what he can, he has vowed to adopt as many old dogs as his parents will let him. The current number is six.
Recently they adopted a lame, snaggle-toothed Shih Tzu mutt named Molly. Molly’s owner had to go into assisted living, and now Molly has a new home thanks to the sweet little boy who sees his reflection in the eyes of the suffering.
Robbie has experienced a great deal of hardship and pain in his young life, but, in being adopted by a loving couple, he has learned compassion and is determined to be the means for every “animal” – human or otherwise – to know what it means to be loved and cared for. The love he has now discovered in his life, Robbie now wants every child and animal to experience. That’s the “great commission” of Jesus on the Mount of the Ascension: we are now sent to “teach” others the compassion and mercy of God that have blessed our lives; we are to be the means for our communities to experience the love and hope of God that we have come to know; we are to reveal the healing forgiveness of God to the broken and lost that has transformed and healed our own despair and hurt.
Remember that scene from the Last Supper, when Jesus prays – “the words you gave me I have given to them, and they accepted them . . . I pray for them.” We see and hear Jesus commending every disciple of every time and place – and that includes you and me – to his Father. It is a connection that transcends our failings and sins, a connection that seeks only our good whether we deserve such blessedness or not.
After Jesus ascended to heaven, the apostles were confronted with the question, “Men of Galilee: Why do you stand staring into the sky?” They still wanted to rely on the presence of Jesus leading and showing them the way, his human presence among them. They needed to be reminded of their mission. They were called to gather in Jerusalem first to pray, and then to go out and preach, in what they said and did, forgiveness and this new relationship with God. Today we are not able to gather in church but we do gather – (not just in Kroger and Walmart) in our homes, with our friends – as we gather, we are reminded first, like the disciples, we need to pray. Pray for that helper he promised. There are many things that we need help with these days, a cure, a vaccine, strength and courage to do what is necessary so the largest number of people can be saved from this pandemic. We need guidance and direction for our church as we struggle with many issues within and without, we need guidance on how to do what is God’s will, thy kingdom come, what do I need to do to help make that kingdom a reality. So, like the disciples first we need to pray. Then we, like them, can carry back to the places where we live and work this new relationship with God.
It is our rootedness in God, through prayer, that allows us to grow and reach our full potential as well. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he told his disciples to return to Jerusalem to pray. If we are going to be faithful to our mission we too must first pray, pray to know God the Father and to know what God is asking from us, to pray for the gift of the Spirit in our lives.
Novena comes from the Latin word that means nine – nothing much profound in that. The first Novena were the nine days that the disciples of Jesus gathered in that room to pray for that helper Jesus promised when he left them on the Ascension. Then after nine days they were given the gift of the Holy Spirit that gave them many gifts, first the courage and words to go out and tell everyone about Jesus. The Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit; Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, Fear of the Lord.
Go to all people everywhere – and make them my disciples.
It has been entrusted to us the responsibility for bringing the blessings and grace of God to others. Jesus commissions us to share the “good news” with those who have not heard or have not experienced the love of God, to bring God’s healing to the hurting and forgotten in our midst.
If we are going to be faithful to our mission we too must first pray for the gift of the Spirit in our lives.
An Act of Spiritual Communion
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.
7th Sunday Easter – Ascension of the Lord
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in them the fire of your love.
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.