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Parish Daily Update 7/2/20

Celtic Caim Prayer

Circle me O God

Keep hope within

Despair without.

Circle me O God

Keep peace within

Keep turmoil without.

Circle me O God

Keep calm within

Keep storms without.

Circle me O god

Keep strength within

Keep distress out.

Amen.

A few reminders as the COVID-19 case numbers are surging:

            ~If you are not feeling well or have recently been exposed to the virus and are awaiting

                 test results, please stay at home!

            ~Face coverings must be worn while inside the church and other parish buildings.  The

                 mouth and nose must be covered.

            ~Please maintain a minimum of six feet of distance between you and other parishioners.

                 Folks should not gather to visit after Mass.

God bless you all!

Pam

Feast of Saint Thomas, Apostle

First Reading:  Eph 2:19-22

Brothers and sisters:
You are no longer strangers and sojourners, but you are fellow citizens with the holy ones and members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the Apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus himself as the capstone. Through him the whole structure is held together
and grows into a temple sacred in the Lord; in him you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 117:1bc, 2

R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
Praise the LORD, all you nations;
glorify him, all you peoples!
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.
For steadfast is his kindness for us,
and the fidelity of the LORD endures forever.
R. Go out to all the world and tell the Good News.

Gospel:  Jn 20:24-29

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.” But Thomas said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nail marks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.” Now a week later his disciples were again inside and Thomas was with them. Jesus came, although the doors were locked, and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Homily

Then [Jesus] said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands, and bring your hand and put it into my side, and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”

John 20:24-29

In her journal Fumbling: A Pilgrimage Tale of Love, Grief, and Spiritual Renewal on the Camino de Santiago, hospice chaplain and mom Kerry Eagan writes:

“A friend of mine once said, as he held up a tangerine, that the only thing that allowed him to believe in God when he had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis was fruit. It was the most perfect thing in the world, he said, beautiful and delicious, and healthy for you at the same time … And it came in its own perfect packaging. Not even the most brilliant human mind could think up such a thing, he thought. He could not give up all belief in a good and wise and creative God because he had fruit …

“I think sometimes you have to hang on to whatever you can when it comes to faith. And if that’s fruit, so be it. There are times in at least some people’s lives — maybe many people — when belief in any compassionate or kind or even benign force in the universe is almost impossible. But if you can just hold on to something — or perhaps more likely, if something holds on to you — it can be the beginning of a new way of seeing, a new life.”

Today the Church remembers the Apostle Thomas – “doubting Thomas,” as he’s come to be known. But that might be an unfair tag. Thomas struggles to find reason to have faith, wants a sense of hope that can he hold on to – and in that, he’s no difference from most of us. 

The story of Thomas challenges us to look around our own lives with an open heart to recognize the many signs of God’s love in our midst. We can find God in the love of family and friends, in the “nail marks” of suffering and brokenness, in the “peace” of forgiveness and mercy – and, yes, even in the perfect apple or orange.

Help us, O Lord, to continue to seek you despite our doubts; show us your way of justice and peace when we are most pessimistic and skeptical. Like Thomas, may we realize your risen presence in our midst in every moment of compassion and act of selfless generosity we experience.

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.

Amen.

Thomas the Apostle

St. Thomas was born a Jew and was called to be one of the twelve Apostles. His birth and death dates are unknown, but his feast day is celebrated July 3. He lived before the formal establishment of the Catholic Church but is recognized as the patron saint of architects.

He was a dedicated but impetuous follower of Christ. When Jesus said He was returning to Judea to visit His sick friend Lazarus, Thomas immediately exhorted the other Apostles to accompany Him on the trip which involved certain danger and possible death because of the mounting hostility of the authorities.

At the Last Supper, when Christ told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them to which they also might come because they knew both the place and the way, Thomas pleaded that they did not understand and received the beautiful assurance that Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

St. Thomas is best known for his role in verifying the Resurrection of his Master. Thomas’ unwillingness to believe that the other Apostles had seen their risen Lord on the first Easter Sunday earned him the title of “doubting Thomas.”

Eight days later, on Christ’s second apparition, Thomas was gently rebuked for his skepticism and furnished with the evidence he had demanded – seeing in Christ’s hands the point of the nails. Thomas even put his fingers in the nail holes and his hand into Christ’s side. After verifying the wounds were true, St. Thomas became convinced of the reality of the Resurrection and exclaimed, “My Lord and My God,” thus making a public Profession of Faith in the Divinity of Jesus.

Nothing is known about Thomas later career.  A well-known apocryphal document called the Acts of Thomas relates his missionary journey to Persia and India.  The Christians at Kerala (India) have called themselves for centuries St. Thomas Christians.  There are relics of Thomas that can be found within the San Thome Basilica in Chennai, Mylapore, India.

It is believed that Thomas was stabbed with a spear c.72 in India

Feast Day – July 3rd

Patron Saint of the blind (due to occasional spiritual blindness); Craftsmen (e.g., architects, carpenters & masons); Geometricians; and Theologians

Little is recorded of St. Thomas the Apostle. Thomas was probably born in Galilee to a humble family, but there is no indication that he was a fisherman. He was a Jew, but there is no account of how he became an apostle to Christ. Nevertheless, thanks to the fourth Gospel his personality is clearer to us than some of the other Twelve. Thomas’ name occurs in Matthew (10:3), Mark (3:18), Luke (6) and Acts of the Apostles (1:13), but in the Gospel of John he plays a particularly distinctive part. Thomas is often condemned for his lack of belief, but Thomas was equally courageous, willing to stand by Jesus in dangerous times. He also relentlessly sought the Truth. Like an inquisitive child, he constantly asked questions. And, his wonderful profession, “My Lord and my God,” is the clearest declaration of Jesus’ divinity in Holy Scripture.

Accounts of Thomas’ missionary activities are unreliable, but the most widely accepted report holds that he preached in India, although he was reluctant to start the mission. According to the Acta Thomae, the apostles divided up the world for their missionary labors, and India fell to Thomas. However, Thomas claimed that he was not healthy enough and that a Hebrew could not teach Indians; even a vision of Christ could not change his mind. Christ then appeared to a merchant and sold Thomas to him as a slave for his master, a king who ruled over part of India. One story suggests that Thomas offered to build a palace for the Indian king that would last forever. The king gave him money, which Thomas gave to the poor. Asked to show his progress, St. Thomas explained that the palace he was building was in heaven, not on earth. Ultimately, after giving into God’s will, Thomas was freed from slavery. He planted seeds for the new Church, forming many parishes and building many churches along the way.

To this day, Saint Thomas is venerated as the Apostle of India. In fact, there exists a population of Christians along the Malabar Coast, on the western coast of India, who lay claim to conversion by St. Thomas. Their tradition holds that he built seven churches, was martyred during prayer by a spearing on the “Big Hill” near Madras, and was buried in Mylapore, on the east coast of India. Ultimately, St. Thomas’ remains were transported to Ortona, Italy, where they reside today.

Sources: Catholic Encyclopedia, by Herbert Thurston; For All The Saints, by Katherine Rabenstein

The Syro-Malabar Rite in Catholic Church

Within the universal Church, the Churches of the East and the West not only have distinct liturgical rites, but they also have characteristic theologies, spiritualities, disciplines and law, and customs to distinguish them. Each has its own heritage and tradition, its own distinct identity as a particular Church within the communion of Churches. Each tradition refers to a specific patristic heritage and origin.
The Syro-Malabar Catholic Church stems from the Syriac spiritual tradition following the East Syrian liturgical rite rooted in the ancient Christian community of Edessa (Syria).

This particular Church traces its origin to St. Thomas the Apostle, who, according to tradition, came to the Malabar coast of southern India (Kerala state today), landed at Cranganore about 52 A.D., and founded seven Christian communities. The early Christians of southern India became known as St. Thomas Christians, and this name persists today.

The Vatican assigned the name Syro-Malabar Church to this particular Christian community in the 19th century. It is governed by a Major Archbishop (somewhat similar to a patriarch), who is head of the Major Archdiocese of Eranakulam-Angamaly in Kerala, India.

The Syro-Malabar Catholics number 3.8 million faithful worldwide, with five archdioceses and 21 dioceses. The St. Thomas Diocese of Chicago, established in 2001, comprises 33 parishes across the United States and Canada, with its pastoral center in Cicero, Illinois. (web site: www.stthomasdiocese.org)

The original liturgical language of the Syro-Malabar faithful is Syriac (a form of Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus). The vernacular languages of Malayalam and English are now commonly used.

Since St. Thomas and his followers preached to Hindus in India, the Christian communities adapted to the local culture and many Malabar churches are designed in Indian or Hindu architectural style. Their churches have no pews or chairs or kneelers. People stand with the priest in prayer for the entire length of the Mass. Kneeling and genuflection are not part of the Indian culture. The Eucharistic liturgy is understood as walking in the path of Christ, so all stand.

Repetition is an essential element of Indian prayer, and it is evident in the Syro-Malabar liturgy to induce union with God.

Parish Daily Update 7/1/20

Dear Parish Family,

“Sorrows and joys, consolation and trial, all come to you from the Sacred Heart, all is given by him for your very great good and your sanctification, and to increase your conformity to his will and your union to him.  All is good to those that love God.”        ~~Blessed Charles de Foucauld

Prayers today for the repose of the soul of John “Jr.” Endris, father of our parishioners Vicki Moorehead and Craig Endris.  Vicki and her family, Craig and his family, along with their mother and all the Endris family are remembered in our prayers.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

Deadline for making Mass reservations for this Sunday is TOMORROW, Thursday, at 4:00 p.m.  Call the Church office – 601-856-2054.

God bless you all!

Pam

Thursday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Amos 7:10-17

Amaziah, the priest of Bethel, sent word to Jeroboam, king of Israel: “Amos has conspired against you here within Israel; the country cannot endure all his words. For this is what Amos says: Jeroboam shall die by the sword, and Israel shall surely be exiled from its land.”

To Amos, Amaziah said: “Off with you, visionary, flee to the land of Judah! There earn your bread by prophesying, but never again prophesy in Bethel; for it is the king’s sanctuary and a royal temple.” Amos answered Amaziah, “I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, ‘Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’ Now hear the word of the LORD!”

You say: prophesy not against Israel, preach not against the house of Isaac. Now thus says the LORD:
Your wife shall be made a harlot in the city, and your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword;
Your land shall be divided by measuring line, and you yourself shall die in an unclean land; Israel shall be exiled far from its land.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 19:8, 9, 10, 11

R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The law of the LORD is perfect,
refreshing the soul;
The decree of the LORD is trustworthy,
giving wisdom to the simple.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
The command of the LORD is clear,
enlightening the eye.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
The fear of the LORD is pure,
enduring forever;
The ordinances of the LORD are true,
all of them just.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.
They are more precious than gold,
than a heap of purest gold;
Sweeter also than syrup
or honey from the comb.
R. The judgments of the Lord are true, and all of them are just.

Gospel:  Mt. 9:1-8

After entering a boat, Jesus made the crossing, and came into his own town. And there people brought to him a paralytic lying on a stretcher. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”  At that, some of the scribes said to themselves, “This man is blaspheming.” Jesus knew what they were thinking, and said,
“Why do you harbor evil thoughts? Which is easier, to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’
or to say, ‘Rise and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”– he then said to the paralytic, “Rise, pick up your stretcher, and go home.” He rose and went home. When the crowds saw this, they were struck with awe and glorified God who had given such authority to men.

Homily

When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Courage, child, your sins are forgiven.”

Matthew 9:1-8

Nadia Bloz-Weber is an author who connect with “GenZ” – the generation of mostly unchurched young people born after 1997.  In her book Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner and Saint, Bolz-Weber offers this take on grace:

“God’s grace is not defined as God being forgiving to us even though we sin. Grace is when God is a source of wholeness, which makes up for my failings. My failings hurt me and others and even the planet, and God’s grace to me is that my brokenness is not the final word … Grace isn’t about God creating humans and flawed beings and then acting all hurt when we inevitably fail and then stepping in like the hero to grant us grace – like saying, Oh, it’s OK, I’ll be the good guy and forgive you.  It’s God saying, I love the world too much to let your sin define you and be the final word. I am a God who makes all things new.”

It’s that kind of grace that Jesus offers the paralytic in today’s Gospel: the grace that re-assures us that God loves us despite ourselves, the grace that opens us to a hope for our lives that we dared not imagine, the grace that enables us to see beyond our own limits – be they physical, intellectual, emotional – and see the contributions we can make to the common good.

Walking and running and having all one’s limbs and organs are all good, Jesus says – but better still is realizing the meaning and purpose of a life of service and giving, utilizing whatever physical abilities we have.

Today may we embrace the grace of God that is ours and make something “new” happen.

O God, instill in us your grace: grace that heals, grace that illuminates, grace that inspires hope despite the challenges that limit us. Inspired by the example of your Son, the divine physician, may we become manifestations of your grace for the suffering, the lost and the brokenhearted. 

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.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 6/30/20

Dear Parish Family, 

As I was clearing away some “stuff” the other day, I came across a reflection by Terry A. Modica from November of last year which was very relevant to today.  The Gospel passage of that day was Luke 14:12-14. 

“What are my expectations when I do good?  In other words:  what are my motivations for doing what’s right?  Oftentimes, we do good deeds – yes even the Lord’s work – more for what we can gain from it than for the sake of others.  And oftentimes, this is unconscious.

To grow in holiness, we need to continually ask ourselves: How other-centered are my decisions and actions? How self-serving are they?

Usually, the clue that we’re doing it for others more is our willingness to do it when it’s a sacrifice. Our world today has moved far from the ethos of self-sacrifice, and we Christians have frequently moved with it.

There’s nothing wrong with serving our own needs, nor with receiving good fruits from our good deeds. As Jesus says elsewhere, what we measure out is what gets measured back to us. We get blessed from blessing others. But if we do anything simply for the sake of receiving something back, our motive is unholy.

The real message is that whatever we do, we should do it for the sake of love: We should do good to others solely for the sake of the benefit it will give to them. Whatever we receive back in return is a bonus.

Jesus is preaching the Golden Rule again (first mentioned in the Sermon on the Mount): Do to others would you would like them to do to you — but not so that they will do the same for you. Do it because God’s love is coming into the world through you.

By becoming conscious of our motives for doing good and our reactions to unequal give-and-take, we free ourselves from the enslavement of selfishness.

“You will receive your reward in the resurrection of the righteous.” The fruit of this promise begins the moment that we decide to be like the resurrected one, Jesus, in our service to others. The reward for here and now is the grace that God gives us, which enables us to do whatever he asks, unselfishly, sacrificially, and generously.”

Again I say, how very relevant to today!!

Congratulations to our Knights of Columbus Family of the Month for June:  David and Leigh Wright, and sons Philip and Joseph!!

Remember, you have until Thursday to make your Mass reservations.  Call the office at 601-856-2054 between 8:30 and 4:00. 

Wednesday’s Mass readings, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

God bless you all!

Pam

Wednesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Amos 5:14-15, 21-24

Seek good and not evil, that you may live; Then truly will the LORD, the God of hosts,
be with you as you claim! Hate evil and love good, and let justice prevail at the gate;
Then it may be that the LORD, the God of hosts, will have pity on the remnant of Joseph.

I hate, I spurn your feasts, says the LORD, I take no pleasure in your solemnities; Your cereal offerings I will not accept, nor consider your stall-fed peace offerings. Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. But if you would offer me burnt offerings,
then let justice surge like water, and goodness like an unfailing stream.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 50:7, 8-9, 10-11, 12-13, 16bc-17

R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Hear, my people, and I will speak;
Israel, I will testify against you;
God, your God, am I.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Not for your sacrifices do I rebuke you,
for your burnt offerings are before me always.
I take from your house no bullock,
no goats out of your fold.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“For mine are all the animals of the forests,
beasts by the thousand on my mountains.
I know all the birds of the air,
and whatever stirs in the plains, belongs to me.”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“If I were hungry, I should not tell you,
for mine are the world and its fullness.
Do I eat the flesh of strong bulls,
or is the blood of goats my drink?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.
“Why do you recite my statutes,
and profess my covenant with your mouth,
Though you hate discipline
and cast my words behind you?”
R. To the upright I will show the saving power of God.

Gospel:  Mt 8:28-34

When Jesus came to the territory of the Gadarenes, two demoniacs who were coming from the tombs met him. They were so savage that no one could travel by that road. They cried out, “What have you to do with us, Son of God? Have you come here to torment us before the appointed time?” Some distance away a herd of many swine was feeding. The demons pleaded with him, “If you drive us out, send us into the herd of swine.” And he said to them, “Go then!”
They came out and entered the swine, and the whole herd rushed down the steep bank into the sea where they drowned.  The swineherds ran away, and when they came to the town they reported everything, including what had happened to the demoniacs. Thereupon the whole town came out to meet Jesus, and when they saw him, they begged him to leave their district.

 Homily

Away with your noisy songs! I will not listen to the melodies of your harps. Amos 5:14-15, 21-24

So, we’re coming back – ever so carefully – to the Lord’s table. The liturgy is somewhat muted and restrained – little or no music, no processions, everyone masked – but we’ve come to a new appreciation of what we’ve missed.

But the prophet Amos reminds us that authentic worship continues beyond the walls of the temple of church. Amos does not mince words: Our sacred solemnities to honor the God of creation means nothing if we then go out and plunder the earth; our sacrifices to God asking for forgiveness and mercy are hypocrisy if we aren’t merciful and forgiving of others; our songs in praise of God’s justice and peace are pure “noise” if we treat others with disdain and distrust.

No, we haven’t been able to celebrate God in word and sacrament these past few months. But we can always – always – praise God in offerings of patience, generosity and mercy.

O God, help us to embrace the message of your prophet Amos: May our generosity be our song of praise to you; may the giving of our time and treasure, however small and limited, to those in need be our offering of peace to you; may our festivals celebrating your wonderful works be times and places of welcome to the poor, the struggling, the forgotten, and the abused.

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.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 6/29/20

Dear St. Joseph Family,

“There is one thing I ask of the Lord, only this do I seek:  to live in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.”                Ps 27:4

Business:  The offertory report for the week of 6/22/20:

General                                $12,025.00

Building                                $300.00

Peter’s Pence                    $605.00

Cemetery                            $100.00

Rice Bowl                             $31.92

Remember, we have several methods for you to use for your giving:

                ~Place your offering in the basket as you come to Mass;

~Mail checks directly to 127 Church Rd., Madison, MS 39110;

~Your bank’s online bill-pay page, having the bank send a check to the

  church;

~Texting your contribution to 601-391-6645; or

~https://giving.parishsoft.com/app/giving/stjosephgluckstadt for on-line giving. 

Thank you so much for your continued generosity to our Parish!!!!

Mass reservations for next Sunday can be made this week between the hours of 8:30 and 4:00 before Thursday.  The number to call is 601-856-2054.  Set your phone alarm to remind you to call each week.  😊  The office is closed on Fridays and reservations CANNOT be made by calling the cell numbers of office staff members or Father Kevin! 

Please call me with any questions, difficulties, or concerns.

God bless you all!

Pam

Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Amos 3:1-8; 4:11-12

Hear this word, O children of Israel, that the LORD pronounces over you, over the whole family that I brought up from the land of Egypt: You alone have I favored, more than all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your crimes. Do two walk together unless they have agreed? Does a lion roar in the forest when it has no prey? Does a young lion cry out from its den unless it has seized something? Is a bird brought to earth by a snare when there is no lure for it? Does a snare spring up from the ground without catching anything? If the trumpet sounds in a city, will the people not be frightened? If evil befalls a city, has not the LORD caused it? Indeed, the Lord GOD does nothing without revealing his plan to his servants, the prophets. The lion roars– who will not be afraid! The Lord GOD speaks– who will not prophesy! I brought upon you such upheaval as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah: you were like a brand plucked from the fire; Yet you returned not to me, says the LORD. So now I will deal with you in my own way, O Israel! and since I will deal thus with you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 5:4b-6a, 6b-7, 8

R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
At dawn I bring my plea expectantly before you.
For you, O God, delight not in wickedness;
no evil man remains with you;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
R. Lead me in your justice, Lord.
You hate all evildoers;
you destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the LORD abhors.
R.    Lead me in your justice, Lord.
But I, because of your abundant mercy,
will enter your house;
I will worship at your holy temple
in fear of you, O LORD.
R.    Lead me in your justice, Lord.

Gospel:  Mt 8:23-27

As Jesus got into a boat, his disciples followed him. Suddenly a violent storm came up on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by waves; but he was asleep. They came and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us!  We are perishing!” He said to them, “Why are you terrified, O you of little faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm.  The men were amazed and said, “What sort of man is this, whom even the winds and the sea obey?”

Homily

. . . [Jesus] got up, rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was great calm. Matthew 8:23-27

These are stormy times.

Our lives are being battered by the winds of this devastating virus; our “boats” are being swamped by illness, anxiety and fear.

We are terrified; we are resigned to hopelessness. “Lord, save us!” we cry in the silence.

Stop for a moment. Look around and realize that you’re not bailing out your leaky boat alone. Christ calms the winds and waves in the love of those who make sure we’re OK, in the sacrifice of doctors and nurses, in the untiring work of researchers to find a vaccine and treatment, in the constant work of those who keep necessary services operating. It’s tough sailing for all of us – but we’re not alone in our boats.

Faith in the constancy of God’s love enables us to transform our dark fear into preceptive gratitude. Such love enables us to sail our little boats through every storm – and, better still, to be the calming influence of Jesus for others.

Save us, O Lord, when our lives are battered by storms of conflict and tempests of change. May your word of peace and reconciliation still the rising waters around us and enable us to navigate our vessels to the safety of your harbor.

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.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 6/28/20

Dear Parish Family,

“I am the light of the world.  Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”         John 8:12

The link for today’s recorded Mass is here:   https://youtu.be/t2CqHCXk0c8

Prayer intention –  For Eloise Jackson, hospitalized with COVID-19.  For her health and total recovery.  And for her family, that they stay safe and healthy.

The Mass readings for tomorrow, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

God bless you all!

Pam

Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles
June 29, 2020

First Reading:  Acts 12:1-11

In those days, King Herod laid hands upon some members of the Church to harm them.
He had James, the brother of John, killed by the sword, and when he saw that this was pleasing to the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. –It was the feast of Unleavened Bread. – He had him taken into custody and put in prison under the guard of four squads of four soldiers each.
He intended to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter thus was being kept in prison,
but prayer by the Church was fervently being made to God on his behalf. On the very night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter, secured by double chains, was sleeping between two soldiers, while outside the door guards kept watch on the prison. Suddenly the angel of the Lord stood by him and a light shone in the cell. He tapped Peter on the side and awakened him, saying,

“Get up quickly.”
The chains fell from his wrists.
The angel said to him, “Put on your belt and your sandals.”
He did so.
Then he said to him, “Put on your cloak and follow me.”
So he followed him out, not realizing that what was happening through the angel was real; he thought he was seeing a vision. They passed the first guard, then the second, and came to the iron gate leading out to the city, which opened for them by itself. They emerged and made their way down an alley, and suddenly the angel left him. Then Peter recovered his senses and said,
“Now I know for certain that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod
and from all that the Jewish people had been expecting.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 34:2-3, 4-5, 6-7, 8-

R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
I will bless the LORD at all times;
his praise shall be ever in my mouth.
Let my soul glory in the LORD;
the lowly will hear me and be glad.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Glorify the LORD with me,
let us together extol his name.
I sought the LORD, and he answered me
and delivered me from all my fears.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
Look to him that you may be radiant with joy,
and your faces may not blush with shame.
When the poor one called out, the LORD heard,
and from all his distress he saved him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.
The angel of the LORD encamps
around those who fear him, and delivers them.
Taste and see how good the LORD is;
blessed the man who takes refuge in him.
R. The angel of the Lord will rescue those who fear him.

Second Reading:  2 Tm 4:6-8, 17-18

I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith. From now on the crown of righteousness awaits me, which the Lord, the just judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me, but to all who have longed for his appearance. The Lord stood by me and gave me strength, so that through me the proclamation might be completed and all the Gentiles might hear it. And I was rescued from the lion’s mouth. The Lord will rescue me from every evil threat
and will bring me safe to his heavenly Kingdom. To him be glory forever and ever.  Amen.

Gospel:  Mt 16:13-19

When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples,
“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter said in reply,
“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father.
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I will give you the keys to the Kingdom of heaven.
Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

Homily

Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Matthew 16:13-19

There was an old man who grew up in the country but found himself visiting the city for the first time. He had never been to school nor had ever left the remote mountain village of his childhood. He had worked hard his long life to provide for his family and was now enjoying his first visit to his children’s modern homes in the city.

One day, while walking through the city, the old man heard a sound that stung his ears. He had never heard such an awful noise in his quiet mountain village. He followed the grating sound to a small room at the back of a house. There a boy was practicing the violin — and badly. The old man’s son had to explain to him what a violin was. The old man decided he never wanted to hear such a horrible thing again.

The next day, the old man was exploring another part of the city when he heard the most enchanting melody he had ever heard. He followed the sound to its source. He finally came to the small studio where a woman was playing a sonata — on a violin. The old man immediately realized his mistake. The terrible sound he had heard the day before was not the fault of the instrument — nor that of the boy. The boy still had much to learn in order to realize the possibilities of the instrument. In the hands of a true maestro, a violin was a wondrous thing.

The third day of walking through the city, the old man heard a sound more beautiful and pure than what he heard the day before: a sound more beautiful than the cascade of the mountain streams in spring, the autumn wind in the mountain groves, the silence in the mountain hollows on a still winter’s night. The old man’s heart had never been so moved. Again, he followed the music until he came to a large hall. An orchestra was playing a symphony.

The wise old man understood. Strife and conflict are not caused by religion or belief, he realized; such divisions are the result of the student who had not learned the lessons of faith well. The true gift of God was, first, to learn to become a master of one’s own instrument — and then to put those skills at the service of other players to create the most beautiful of sounds.

 [From Who Ordered this Truckload of Dung? by Ajahn Brahm.]

Jesus establishes his church on the simple, heart-felt faith of each “player” and that individual player’s generosity in coming together with others to put each player’s “mastery” of his or her own instrument at the service of all.

Today we celebrate the two great saints and their witness to the Gospel of Jesus: the fisherman and the tentmaker who, despite showing little promise at first, came to “master” the music of the Spirit, enabling them to create the symphony of the Gospel of the Risen One.

Christ calls each one of us to be the “rock” of his church: to bring his love, justice and mercy to whatever place we can, one small act of kindness at a time. He entrusts to each one of us the “keys” to heaven: to unlock, through the faith we live and the work of our lives, the presence of God in our world. Faith is picking up our instrument to play the music of his justice and mercy, of hope and compassion, for a despairing and broken world.  

O God, you raised up the fisherman Peter to be the first among Jesus’ company to confess him as your Son; you called Paul from seeking to destroy your Son’s Church to becoming its principal architect. Help us to take up the music of your Son’s transforming Gospel in order to become, like Peter and Paul, agents of reconciliation, architects of peace and ministers of your Son’s Gospel of justice.

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.

Amen.

St. Peter and Paul

The Feast of Saints Peter and Paul or Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul is a liturgical feast in honor of the martyrdom in Rome of the apostles Peter and Paul, which is observed on 29 June. The celebration is of ancient Christian origin, the date selected being the anniversary of either their death or the translation of their relics.

Peter rescued from the power of Herod, and Paul protected from his enemies proclaim with their lives that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of the living God.

Peter died about 64 in Rome under Nero.  Paul according to tradition was martyred in Rome about 67.

The Desposito Martyrum (258) places the Solemnity of these apostles on this date.  Both are the principal patrons of Rome and are mentioned in the Roman Canon.

It is a holy day of obligation in the Latin Church, although individual conferences of bishops can and have suppressed the obligation.  It has been suppressed in the United States.   In England, Scotland and Wales the feast is observed as a holy day of obligation. The Feast ceased being a Holy Day of Obligation in the United States in 1840.   In Malta it is a public holiday.

On this feast, newly created metropolitan archbishops receive from the pope the pallium, the primary symbol of their office.

The Anglican Communion celebrates the Feast of St Peter and St Paul on 29th June as a lesser festival.

The Lutheran Churches celebrate 29 June as the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul; it holds the rank of a Lesser Festival.

Parish Daily Update 6/27/20

Dear Parish Family,

“As for me, I will always hope

and praise you more and more.

My lips will tell of your justice

And day by day of your help though I can never tell it all.

I will declare the Lord’s mighty deeds

Proclaiming your justice, yours alone.

O God, you have taught me from my youth

And I proclaim your wonders still.”

                        Psalm 71:14-17

If you didn’t make your Mass reservations, or are unable to join us at Mass tomorrow, a link to the recorded 8:00 a.m. Mass will be posted early afternoon!  Watch for your email.

The readings and Father Kevin’s homily for tomorrow follow.

God bless you!

Pam

Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
June 28, 2020

First Reading:  2 Kings 4:8-11, 14-16

One day Elisha came to Shunem, where there was a woman of influence, who urged him to dine with her. Afterward, whenever he passed by, he used to stop there to dine. So, she said to her husband, “I know that Elisha is a holy man of God. Since he visits us often, let us arrange a little room on the roof and furnish it for him with a bed, table, chair, and lamp, so that when he comes to us he can stay there.” Sometime later Elisha arrived and stayed in the room overnight. Later Elisha asked, “Can something be done for her?” His servant Gehazi answered, “Yes! She has no son, and her husband is getting on in years.” Elisha said, “Call her.” When the woman had been called and stood at the door, Elisha promised, “This time next year you will be fondling a baby son.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 89:2-3, 16-17, 18-19

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever,
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;”
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
Blessed the people who know the joyful shout;
in the light of your countenance, O LORD, they walk.
At your name they rejoice all the day,
and through your justice they are exalted.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
You are the splendor of their strength,
and by your favor our horn is exalted.
For to the LORD belongs our shield,
and the Holy One of Israel, our king.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

Second Reading:  Romans 6:3-4, 8-11

Brothers and sisters:
Are you unaware that we who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death?
We were indeed buried with him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. If, then, we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him. We know that Christ, raised from the dead, dies no more; death no longer has power over him. As to his death, he died to sin once and for all; as to his life, he lives for God. Consequently, you too must think of yourselves as dead to sin and living for God in Christ Jesus.

Gospel:  Mt 10:37-42

Jesus said to his apostles:
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. “Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me. Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and whoever receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man will receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives only a cup of cold water to one of these little ones to drink because the little one is a disciple— amen, I say to you, he will surely not lose his reward.”

Homily

“Whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me . . . Whoever receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward …” Matthew 10:37-42

            For more than fifty of his more than eighty years, Nurney Mason was a barber in the United States House of Representatives. Mason cut hair out of a tiny booth in the basement of the Rayburn Office Building – his little stall saw nearly as much history as the floor of the Capitol itself. And every day, he brought to his job not only his barbering skills, but kindness, optimism and encouragement. He would greet everyone – whether powerful Congressman or lowest-level staffer – with a solid handshake and a knowing smile. Mason stayed upbeat, day after day, the vibrations of his clippers surely jarring his wrists over the half century he worked.

            He was asked by one of his Congressional customers how he stayed so upbeat and happy all the time.

            Nurney Mason replied simply, “I just make it right here. I create joy where I stand.”

[From The President’s Devotional by Joshua DuBois.]

            Nurney Mason possesses the heart and soul of the prophet that Jesus exalts in today’s Gospel. Such a “prophet” responds to God’s call to “create joy where I stand,” to reveal God’s compassion and peace “right here,” wherever he or she lives and works and plays. “Prophetic faith” is to seek out every opportunity to use every gift God has given us, to devote every resource at our disposal to make the love of God a living reality in every life we touch.

            The true disciple of Christ takes a very different approach to resolving conflict — an approach totally at odds with the winning-is-everything creed of our world.  We are called to work for reconciliation at all costs, to risk our ego, pride and prestige for the sake of family, community and friendship.  The first tentative step in bridging the distance between us and others and the last-ditch effort in healing whatever hurt estranges us from others is the duty of the faithful disciple.  Jesus calls us to rise from the grave of self to live the Father’s love for all his children.

            To imitate the love of Jesus demands more than being nice to one another — to imitate Jesus is to recognize Christ in one another, to serve Christ in one another, to welcome Christ in one another.  To imitate Jesus is to take up the cross and what it stands for; unconditional forgiveness, the total emptying of ourselves of our wants and comfort for the sake of another, the spurning of safety and convention in order to do what is right and just.  Jesus asks of us to embrace the faith that opens our hearts and spirits to recognize and honor Christ in every human being.

            The woman of Shumen hungered for what Elisha brought: God’s word.  The author of the Second Book of Kings describes her as a woman of influence.  She could have dismissed Elisha as a man of no importance, but she did not.  Because she hungered for what Elisha brought, she provided a room for him.  Elisha foretold that this middle-aged woman and her husband would have a child within 12 months.  Years later when the child dies, Elisha restored him to life.  How poor might that woman’s life have been if she had judged Elisha a failure because he was not wealthy or powerful.

            Paul tells the Christians in Rome that they were baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection.  The Christians in Rome knew very well that Jesus died on a cross, the most horrible form of execution that the Romans administered.  Following such a leader takes courage.  Jesus was successful because he was faithful to the Father, obedient and generous.  To people who saw the crucifixion as proof that he failed, Jesus remained a terrible failure.  Approximately seven years later, after Paul wrote his letter to the Romans, the persecution of Christians began under the Emperor Nero.  The question of what a follower of Jesus meant would become much more urgent when it could mean death.  Paul urges the Romans – and us – to be “alive for God in Christ Jesus.”  Jesus became their new measuring device for evaluating success and failure.

            Often the cause of violence of whatever kind is prejudice.  We can easily presume racist attitudes under the guise of preserving our culture, maintaining our standards and so on.  The violence of prejudice is that it is so selective and so protective.  We do not mind immigrants digging our ditches, sweeping our roads and driving our buses … but we don’t want them moving into our neighborhood.  We don’t want too many of their children in our schools.  And yet St. Paul says that all distinctions are gone because we are all one in Christ.

            Jesus says that following him can very well cause tension within our family but what is called for is the effort.  Even a cup of cold water given in his name is worthwhile, if that is all we can muster. Hospitality offered in the name of Jesus is offered to Jesus.  The “least little ones” count as much as the high and mighty.  Jesus says: “He who seeks only himself brings ruin …”  Maybe we need to rethink what are our goals and aspirations.  Maybe it is time to be a faithful follower of Jesus to strive for a goal larger than my own happiness.

            The scripture invites us to readjust our vision. As Jesus comes to us in the Eucharist, he will provide us with the strength we need to do his work.

            We are sent from here to proclaim God’s peace: peace that is centered in embracing Jesus’ attitude of compassion, a peace that enables us to bring forth the good within others, peace that is returned to us in extending the blessing of that peace to others.

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.

Amen.

Extra

            I recall reading the reflections of a man who served both the police department and military in knocking on doors to bring bad news to people.  He described his job as “one of the most difficult jobs in the world: to be the Army officer and the police officer who must knock on someone’s door and tell them that a husband or wife, a son or daughter, had died.”

            He lived in Oregon and held both jobs.  He said that too many times he had to knock on a family’s door to deliver bad news.  As such, he reflected that he had become a student of doors and how to approach them.  You never bang.  Women first look to see who is there before opening the door, men just open it; children never open the door.  If he is wearing his Army uniform, people know immediately why he is there; when he is on duty as a policeman, he could be there for any number of reasons.  In discharging his duties, he must be prepared to deal with grief, anger and shock that sometimes results in medical distress.

He says of his work:

            I try to visit in late morning.  I stay as long as necessary.  I have been in some houses for hours.  Sometimes I have waited with a person all afternoon until his or her spouse comes home from work.  You mostly listen.

            “People tell stories.  Often their first reaction, after the initial shock and grief, is to tell stories.  They have to get their feelings out.  I have heard thousands of these stories.  Friends tell me I should write them down, but I say they are a private matter, that it wouldn’t be right.  I also convey information about counseling, funeral arrangements, and legal matters.  Most people aren’t ready to discuss the details.  They are too stunned.  But they do want to discuss the facts of the death.

            “It is a difficult job and it wears you down.  I try to do it with as much dignity as possible…  The hardest messages to deliver are about the deaths of children.  There is nothing I can say – other than the facts – to a mother or a father in that situation.  So, I don’t try.  I have often thought that what I am doing is a communal act, that it represents the town itself, standing there on the porch.  I stand straight, speak clearly, and wear the full uniform …”

            “I take as much time as is needed.  When I am absolutely sure the initial shock has lessened and the person is safe to be alone in the house, I express my condolences and prepare to leave.  At the door before I put on my hat, I usually add that I will keep the deceased in my prayers.  I make it clear that I am saying this as a private citizen, not as a soldier or a policeman.  In my experience, saying that and meaning it matters a lot.  Generally, I stop at the church on the way back and say the rosary.  It’s become a form of closure for me, a way to hand over the pain.”

[“The Knock” by Brian Doyle Commonweal, February 9, 2007]

            We are sent from here to proclaim God’s peace: peace that is centered in embracing Jesus’ attitude of compassion, a peace that enables us to bring forth the good within others, peace that is returned to us in extending the blessing of that peace to others.

Parish Daily Update 6/26/20

Dear Parish Family,

“Do not look forward in fear to the changes of life;

rather look to them with full hope that as they arise,

God, whose very own you are,

will lead you safely through all things;

and when you cannot stand it,

God will carry you in his arms.

Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;

the same everlasting Father who cares for you

today will take care of you today and every day.

He will either shield you from suffering or will

give you unfailing strength to bear it.

Be at peace and put aside all anxious thoughts

and imaginations.”                                       ~~St. Francis de Sales

If you have Mass reservations for Sunday, be sure to arrive early so you can be checked-in and seated by our ushers!!  The doors are closed after Mass begins so that the ushers can join their families for Mass.

God bless you all!  See you soon,

Pam

Saturday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Lam 2:2, 10-14, 18-19

The Lord has consumed without pity all the dwellings of Jacob; He has torn down in his anger
the fortresses of daughter Judah; He has brought to the ground in dishonor her king and her princes. On the ground in silence sit the old men of daughter Zion; They strew dust on their heads and gird themselves with sackcloth; The maidens of Jerusalem bow their heads to the ground. Worn out from weeping are my eyes, within me all is in ferment; My gall is poured out on the ground because of the downfall of the daughter of my people, As child and infant faint away in the open spaces of the town. In vain they ask their mothers, “Where is the grain?”
As they faint away like the wounded in the streets of the city, and breathe their last in their mothers’ arms. To what can I liken or compare you, O daughter Jerusalem? What example can I show you for your comfort, virgin daughter Zion? For great as the sea is your downfall; who can heal you? Your prophets had for you false and specious visions; They did not lay bare your guilt,
to avert your fate; They beheld for you in vision false and misleading portents. Cry out to the Lord; moan, O daughter Zion! Let your tears flow like a torrent day and night; Let there be no respite for you, no repose for your eyes. Rise up, shrill in the night, at the beginning of every watch; Pour out your heart like water in the presence of the Lord; Lift up your hands to him
for the lives of your little ones Who faint from hunger at the corner of every street.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 74:1b-2, 3-5, 6-7, 20-21

R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Why, O God, have you cast us off forever?
Why does your anger smolder against the sheep of your pasture?
Remember your flock which you built up of old,
the tribe you redeemed as your inheritance,
Mount Zion, where you took up your abode.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Turn your steps toward the utter ruins;
toward all the damage the enemy has done in the sanctuary.
Your foes roar triumphantly in your shrine;
they have set up their tokens of victory.
They are like men coming up with axes to a clump of trees.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
With chisel and hammer they hack at all the paneling of the sanctuary.
They set your sanctuary on fire;
the place where your name abides they have razed and profaned.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.
Look to your covenant,
for the hiding places in the land and the plains are full of violence.
May the humble not retire in confusion;
may the afflicted and the poor praise your name.
R. Lord, forget not the souls of your poor ones.

Gospel:  Mt 8:5-17

When Jesus entered Capernaum, a centurion approached him and appealed to him, saying,
“Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, suffering dreadfully.” He said to him, “I will come and cure him.” The centurion said in reply, “Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come here,’ and he comes; and to my slave, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Amen, I say to you, in no one in Israel have I found such faith.  I say to you, many will come from the east and the west, and will recline with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the banquet in the Kingdom of heaven, but the children of the Kingdom will be driven out into the outer darkness, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.”  And Jesus said to the centurion, “You may go; as you have believed, let it be done for you.”  And at that very hour his servant was healed. Jesus entered the house of Peter, and saw his mother-in-law lying in bed with a fever. He touched her hand, the fever left her, and she rose and waited on him. When it was evening, they brought him many who were possessed by demons, and he drove out the spirits by a word and cured all the sick, to fulfill what had been said by Isaiah the prophet: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Homily

“Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof; only say the word and my servant will be healed.” Matthew 8:5-17

In an interview with Bill Moyers, best-selling novelist Barbara Kingsolver discussed the vocation of writing:

“What a writer can do, what a fiction writer or a poet or an essay writer can do, is re-engage people with their own humanity. Fiction and essays can create empathy for the theoretical stranger . . . When you pick up a novel from the bed side table, you put down your own life at the same time and you become another person for the duration. And so, you live that person’s life and you understand in a way that you don’t learn from reading a newspaper what it’s like to live a life that’s completely different from yours.  And when you put that book down, you’re changed. You have something more expansive in your heart than you began with. Empathy is really the opposite of spiritual meanness.  It’s the capacity to understand that every war is both won and lost.  And that someone else’s pain is as meaningful as your own.” [NOW with Bill Movers, PBS, May 24, 2002.]

Empathy: to see the world as bigger than yourself and your wants and needs and expectations; to realize that in every decision made and action taken someone will benefit but someone will pay a price; that the pain endured by another is as serious and as worthy of alleviation as your own. Jesus embodied such empathy – Jesus’ empathy moves Matthew the evangelist to cite the prophet Isaiah: He took away our infirmities and bore our diseases.

Empathy is at the heart of following Jesus. Especially now, we need to practice empathy toward one another: to put aside our own interests and expectations in order to understand the struggles of those whose lives are so different from our own and begin to cross the chasms of divisions and heal what has been broken too long.

O God, Father of us all, instill in us your Son’s spirit of empathy that opens our hearts and attitudes to realize that all human beings are your children, possessing the sacred dignity of being your sons and daughters. May we take up the healing work of your Christ: lifting up and honoring the dignity of every soul in the midst of poverty, injustice and brokenness.

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.

Amen.

St. Cyril of Alexandria

Alexandria was the largest city of the ancient world.  Rather like Los Angeles, it was a sprawling mixture of races and creeds; and it was byword for the violence of its sectarian politics whether Greeks against Jews or Orthodox Christians against heretics. St. Cyril of Alexandria, was born at Alexandria, Egypt. He was nephew of the patriarch of that city, Theophilus. Cyril received a classical and theological education at Alexandria and was ordained by his uncle. He accompanied Theophilus to Constantinople in 403 and was present at the Synod of the Oak that deposed John Chrysostom, whom he believed guilty of the charges against him. He succeeded his uncle Theophilus as patriarch of Alexandria on Theophilus’ death in 412, but only after a riot between Cyril’s supporters and the followers of his rival Timotheus. Cyril at once began a series of attacks against the Novatians, whose churches he closed; the Jews, whom he drove from the city; and governor Orestes, with whom he disagreed about some of his actions. In 430 Cyril became embroiled with Nestorius, patriarch of Constantinople, who was preaching that Mary was not the Mother of God since Christ was Divine and not human, and consequently she should not have the word theotokos (God-bearer) applied to her. He persuaded Pope Celestine I to convoke a synod at Rome, which condemned Nestorius, and then did the same at his own synod in Alexandria. Celestine directed Cyril to depose Nestorius, and in 431, Cyril presided over the third General Council at Ephesus, attended by some two hundred bishops, which condemned all the tenets of Nestorius and his followers before the arrival of Archbishop John of Antioch and forty-two followers who believed Nestorius was innocent. When they found what had been done, they held a council of their own and deposed Cyril. Emperor Theodosius II arrested both Cyril and Nestorius but released Cyril on the arrival of Papal Legates who confirmed the council’s actions against Nestorius and declared Cyril innocent of all charges. Two years later, Archbishop John, representing the moderate Antiochene bishops, and Cyril reached an agreement and joined in the condemnation, and Nestorius was forced into exile. During the rest of his life, Cyril wrote treatises that clarified the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation and that helped prevent Nestorianism and Pelagianism from taking long-term deep root in the Christian community. He was the most brilliant theologian of the Alexandrian tradition. His writings are characterized by accurate thinking, precise exposition, and great reasoning skills. Among his writings are commentaries on John, Luke, and the Pentateuch, treatises on dogmatic theology, and Apologia against Julian the Apostate, and letters and sermons. He was declared a doctor of the Church by Pope Leo XIII in 1882. His feast day is June 27th.

Parish Daily Update 6/25/20

Dear Parish Family,

“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.  Taking as Jesus did this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will; that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with Him forever in the next.”            ~The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr

Tomorrow’s Mass readings, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

If you made Mass reservations, I look forward to seeing you on Sunday!!!

God bless you all with peace!

Pam

Friday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  2 Kings 25:1-12

In the tenth month of the ninth year of Zedekiah’s reign, on the tenth day of the month,
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his whole army advanced against Jerusalem, encamped around it, and built siege walls on every side. The siege of the city continued until the eleventh year of Zedekiah. On the ninth day of the fourth month, when famine had gripped the city,
and the people had no more bread, the city walls were breached. Then the king and all the soldiers left the city by night through the gate between the two walls that was near the king’s garden. Since the Chaldeans had the city surrounded, they went in the direction of the Arabah.
But the Chaldean army pursued the king and overtook him in the desert near Jericho, abandoned by his whole army. The king was therefore arrested and brought to Riblah to the king of Babylon, who pronounced sentence on him. He had Zedekiah’s sons slain before his eyes.  Then he blinded Zedekiah, bound him with fetters, and had him brought to Babylon. On the seventh day of the fifth month (this was in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon), Nebuzaradan, captain of the bodyguard, came to Jerusalem as the representative
of the king of Babylon. He burned the house of the LORD, the palace of the king, and all the houses of Jerusalem; every large building was destroyed by fire. Then the Chaldean troops who were with the captain of the guard tore down the walls that surrounded Jerusalem. Then Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, led into exile the last of the people remaining in the city,
and those who had deserted to the king of Babylon, and the last of the artisans.  But some of the country’s poor, Nebuzaradan, captain of the guard, left behind as vinedressers and farmers.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 137:1-2, 3, 4-5, 6

R. Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
By the streams of Babylon
we sat and wept
when we remembered Zion.
On the aspens of that land
we hung up our harps.
R.    Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
Though there our captors asked of us
the lyrics of our songs,
And our despoilers urged us to be joyous:
“Sing for us the songs of Zion!”
R.    Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
How could we sing a song of the LORD
in a foreign land?
If I forget you, Jerusalem,
may my right hand be forgotten!
R.    Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!
May my tongue cleave to my palate
if I remember you not,
If I place not Jerusalem
ahead of my joy.
R.    Let my tongue be silenced, if I ever forget you!

Gospel:  Mt. 8:1-4

When Jesus came down from the mountain, great crowds followed him. And then a leper approached, did him homage, and said, “Lord, if you wish, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand, touched him, and said, “I will do it.  Be made clean.” His leprosy was cleansed immediately. Then Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one, but go show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.”

Homily

Then Jesus said to [the leper]: “See that you tell no one, but go and show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses prescribed; that will be proof for them.” Matthew 8:1-4

“Tell no one,” Jesus tells the cured leper.

Just show yourself to the priest. Let him see that you are now clean and whole. Let your new life be a sign for him and for all that the compassion of God is among them. Let that be proof enough for everyone.

That’s what Jesus says to all of us, as well:

If you’ve been made “clean” by the hand of God, if you’ve been made whole by an experience of God’s mercy, if you’ve been “caught” in the net of God’s compassion, never mind trying to find the words to explain it. Let your life “show” God’s presence: be the agent of mercy that you have received; make a place for the “leper,” enabling them to be seen as clean and whole; “catch” others in the same net that caught and saved you.

Be the “proof” that God is at work among us.

Lord, in so many ways we experience your healing grace and transforming love in our lives. May a spirit of gratitude and humility enable us to mirror your Gospel of compassion in our own selfless giving, your justice in our own commitment to what is right and just, your peace in our own respect for all our brothers and sisters, your healing touch in our own care for the sick, the troubled, and all in need.

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.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 6/24/20

Dear Parish Family,

Pope Francis on Twitter: “God created us for communion, for fraternity.  Now more than ever the pretense of focusing everything on ourselves, making individualism society’s guiding principle, has proven illusory.  We have to be careful!  When the emergency is over we can easily fall back into this illusion.”

Lately, in my conversations and interactions with various people, I am noticing that more and more folks are “pandemic weary.”  We are TIRED of the restrictions, protocols, and limits we have been living under!  We are TIRED of not being able to hug or shake hands with our friends and neighbors!  We are TIRED of having to wear uncomfortable masks! We are TIRED of being aware of that 6-foot distance measurement!  We are just so tired of it ALL!!

This is something we are all feeling at different times and in different degrees.  While some feel like it’s all “nonsense” and that we all need to be out and going about our normal lives, some are still very, very concerned about the possibility of contracting the virus because of their age, their underlying health conditions, or the need to protect vulnerable family members.  There are also many, many people who fall somewhere between the “nonsense” and “extreme care” levels of thought/feeling. 

I have been hearing a lot of “when are we going to get back to normal at Mass?”  My answer is “no time soon.”  While our activities outside of church are basically governed by what each individual wants to do, within the church we are charged with protecting the health and safety, the common good of all who come through the doors.  The bishop and his committee, in cooperation with experts in infectious diseases and the Health Department and CDC, are continually evaluating the reality of what’s happening with the COVID numbers – especially the large rise in the number of hospitalizations and ICU admittances.

We, especially in our own St. Joseph Parish Community, love and care for each other.  Not everyone knows the reality of each other’s health conditions, or how careful each individual is trying to be while still desiring to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist.  So, while we are all TIRED, I ask that we persevere, we respect one another’s cautions and sensitivities, we take care of each other and our precious Father Kevin.  We have faith that this crisis will come to an end!  God IS with us and will continue to accompany us through the trials and difficulties, and also through the blessings and the good things that are coming out of it.

Remember, the deadline for Mass reservations is tomorrow, Thursday, 4:00 p.m.  Call 601-856-2054 to reserve your spots.  Also, please come to Mass early to give us time to check you in and to have the ushers seat you.  The doors are closed after Mass begins to give the ushers the opportunity to join their families and participate in Mass.

I am always available for questions or comments!

God bless you all!

Pam

Thursday of the Twelfth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  2 Kings 24:8-17

Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Nehushta, daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD, just as his forebears had done. At that time the officials of  Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, attacked Jerusalem, and the city came under siege.
Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, himself arrived at the city while his servants were besieging it. Then Jehoiachin, king of Judah, together with his mother, his ministers, officers, and functionaries, surrendered to the king of Babylon, who, in the eighth year of his reign, took him captive. And he carried off all the treasures of the temple of the LORD and those of the palace,
and broke up all the gold utensils that Solomon, king of Israel, had provided in the temple of the LORD, as the LORD had foretold. He deported all Jerusalem: all the officers and men of the army, ten thousand in number, and all the craftsmen and smiths. None were left among the people of the land except the poor. He deported Jehoiachin to Babylon, and also led captive from Jerusalem to Babylon the king’s mother and wives, his functionaries, and the chief men of the land. The king of Babylon also led captive to Babylon all seven thousand men of the army,
and a thousand craftsmen and smiths, all of them trained soldiers. In place of Jehoiachin,
the king of Babylon appointed his uncle Mattaniah king, and changed his name to Zedekiah.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 79:1b-2, 3-5, 8, 9

R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
O God, the nations have come into your inheritance;
they have defiled your holy temple,
they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.
They have given the corpses of your servants
as food to the birds of heaven,
the flesh of your faithful ones to the beasts of the earth.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
They have poured out their blood like water
round about Jerusalem,
and there is no one to bury them.
We have become the reproach of our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
O LORD, how long? Will you be angry forever?
Will your jealousy burn like fire?
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Remember not against us the iniquities of the past;
may your compassion quickly come to us,
for we are brought very low.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.
Help us, O God our savior,
because of the glory of your name;
Deliver us and pardon our sins
for your name’s sake.
R. For the glory of your name, O Lord, deliver us.

Gospel:  Mt 7:21-29

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the Kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’ “Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined.” When Jesus finished these words, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as their scribes.

Homily

“Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like the wise man who built his house on rock.”  Matthew 7:21-29

A young priest had recently begun his first pastorate. One day he visited an older priest, a retired pastor who had served as his mentor. The senior cleric welcomed him warmly and asked how things are going.

As they talked, the new pastor lamented the many demands made on the church’s charity.

“I know we’re supposed to help the poor, but these people are asking for help with a bus ticket or a utility bill or gas money or food. Is that really their story? The last thing they’re likely to spend that money on is a bus ticket or a utility bill or gas or food. I’m not naïve. They’ll probably spend it on something we shouldn’t be supporting, something that I certainly don’t support.”

Finally, the young priest sighed, “It gets exhausting justifying who I’m going to help and why.”

The older priest said nothing, letting his young colleague’s words hang in the air. Then the older priest replied, “What business is it of yours to determine who gets help and who doesn’t? Why exhaust yourself with that burden? You are a follower of Jesus Christ. Your task, therefore, is to share out of the wealth of God’s abundance. Your work is to love others as God loves you. Your job is simply to give. Judgement is God’s domain – and he’s much better at it than you and I are.”

Compassionate charity is at the heart of discipleship. But Jesus calls us to give and serve not according to some divinely-sanctioned measuring device or formula to determine what is “fair” and “justifiable” charity; the purpose of our giving to others is not to make us feel good about ourselves or superior to the poor and broken. Jesus calls us to give in a spirit of gratitude for the blessings we have received, to realize that whatever blessings we have received by God are meant to be shared. The good we do – healing, restoring, lifting up, forgiving – should not be statements of dogmatic conviction but prayers of humble gratitude to God who has loved us and blessed us abundantly.

Free us, O God, of our self-centeredness and fears so that we may use whatever “piece of chalk” you have given us to make our mark of compassion, of justice, of mercy. And may we stand behind our chalk marks against those who would wash them away, ready to write them again and again and again.

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.

Amen.

Parish Daily Update 6/23/20

Dear Parish Family,

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart;

do not depend on your own understanding.

Seek his will in all you do,

and he will show you

which path to take.

            Proverbs 3:5-6

Don’t forget to call for your Mass reservations for Sunday.  Office hours are Monday thru Thursday, 8:30 – 4:00; the phone number is 601-856-2054.

Please remember in your prayers today the repose of the soul of Richard Ochu, father of parishioner Steve Ochu, who died last week.  Steve, Melissa, Ben, Sarah, and all of their family are in our prayers.  May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen. 

The Mass readings for tomorrow, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

God bless you all with peace, joy, patience, and understanding.

Pam

Solemnity of the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist

Mass during the Day

Wednesday 12th Week Ordinary

First Reading:  Isaiah 49:1-6

Hear me, O coastlands, listen, O distant peoples. The LORD called me from birth, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He made of me a sharp-edged sword and concealed me in the shadow of his arm. He made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me. You are my servant, he said to me, Israel, through whom I show my glory. Though I thought I had toiled in vain, and for nothing, uselessly, spent my strength, yet my reward is with the LORD, my recompense is with my God. For now the LORD has spoken who formed me as his servant from the womb, that Jacob may be brought back to him and Israel gathered to him; and I am made glorious in the sight of the LORD, and my God is now my strength! It is too little, he says, for you to be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and restore the survivors of Israel; I will make you a light to the nations, that my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 139:1b-3, 13-14ab, 14c-15

R. I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
O LORD, you have probed me, you know me:
you know when I sit and when I stand;
you understand my thoughts from afar.
My journeys and my rest you scrutinize,
with all my ways you are familiar.
R.    I praise you for I am wonderfully made.
Truly you have formed my inmost being;
you knit me in my mother’s womb.
I give you thanks that I am fearfully, wonderfully made;
wonderful are your works.
R.    I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.
My soul also you knew full well;
nor was my frame unknown to you
When I was made in secret,
when I was fashioned in the depths of the earth.
R.    I praise you, for I am wonderfully made.

Second Reading:  Acts 13:22-26

In those days, Paul said:
“God raised up David as king; of him God testified,

 I have found David, son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will carry out my every wish.
From this man’s descendants God, according to his promise, has brought to Israel a savior, Jesus.  John heralded his coming by proclaiming a baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel; and as John was completing his course, he would say, ‘What do you suppose that I am? I am not he. Behold, one is coming after me; I am not worthy to unfasten the sandals of his feet.’  “My brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those others among you who are God-fearing, to us this word of salvation has been sent.”

Gospel:  Lk 1:57-66, 80

When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son.
Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”
But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.”
So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called.  He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed.  Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?”  For surely the hand of the Lord was with him. The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.

Homily

Zechariah asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Luke 1:57-66, 80

In her book My Grandfather’s Blessing, Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen tells the story of a colleague who was one of the few women on the university hospital faculty. This doctor excelled as a researcher, clinician and professor; she was the model of the compassionate and dedicated physician her students wanted to become.

Then she discovered a lump in her breast. The chief of the department performed her surgery. The mass was found to be malignant. The chief went to the recovery room to tell her the devastating news as soon as she awakened. Still groggy from the anesthesia, she listened to the surgeon’s words. She then closed her eyes for a brief time and said in a barely audible voice the most difficult words she had ever uttered: “Now someone will have to take care of me.”

We are all in need of compassion, of forgiveness, of support, of being lifted up. The birth of his Christ and of his herald John are signs of God’s constant care for his beloved humanity.

In the story of the birth of John the Baptist, Zechariah is finally able to embrace the promise of God; he rediscovers within himself the faith of his ancestors that enables him to put aside his own doubts and fears to embrace the joy and hope represented by the birth of his son John. He finally surrenders his doubts and fears, to let go of his narrow intellectual and theological concept of God, and let God realize his vision for humanity’s salvation.

All of us, in some way, to some degree, are vulnerable, hurting, and despairing. Like the doctor who must now accept her own mortality and the care of others, like Zechariah’s difficulty in accepting what God has called him and Elizabeth to take on, God calls us in the birth of the last great prophet of Scripture to place our hope in God’s presence — and to become that presence for all who are lost, hurting and forgotten.

Faithful God, help us to trust in your Word of compassion and mercy and not hesitate to speak that Word to all we encounter. Untie our tongues, free us from our fears, unbind us from our own sense of self so that we may be re-created by that Word and, like John, reveal your Word in our midst. 

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.

Amen.

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