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Parish Weekly Update 6/16/21

Dear Parish Family,

To celebrate the Eucharist, we need first to recognize our thirst for God, to sense our need for him, to long for his presence and love, to realize that we cannot go it alone.”    ~Pope Francis

CHICKENPENDANCE DAY SMOKED CHICKEN:  The KCs will be hosting an applewood smoked chicken plate fundraiser on July 4 Weekend.  They will be preparing applewood smoked chicken leg quarters, baked beans, and potato salad.  A plate will be $7.00 and you can also order items ala carte.  Pre-orders will be taken—on-line only – June 20 – 27 by filling out a form.  The link to the form is on the KC webpage:  www.kofc11934.org or follow this link:  KC 4th of July BBQ Chicken Plate Order Form – Google Forms.  Orders can be picked up on Saturday, July 3, in the Parish Hall.

MANY, MANY THANKS to all who donated to the Good Samaritan Drive.  The truck was completely full and Room 107 was also full of items to be distributed to people in need! 

The readings for this coming Sunday, the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!

God bless,

Pam

Twelfth Sunday in Ordinary Time  

First Reading:  Job 38:1, 8-11 

The Lord addressed Job out of the storm and said:
Who shut within doors the sea, when it burst forth from the womb;
when I made the clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling bands?
When I set limits for it and fastened the bar of its door,
and said: Thus far shall you come but no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stilled! 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 107:23-24, 25-26, 28-29, 30-31 

R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They who sailed the sea in ships,
trading on the deep waters,
These saw the works of the LORD
and his wonders in the abyss.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
His command raised up a storm wind
which tossed its waves on high.
They mounted up to heaven; they sank to the depths;
their hearts melted away in their plight.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They cried to the LORD in their distress;
from their straits he rescued them,
He hushed the storm to a gentle breeze,
and the billows of the sea were stilled.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
They rejoiced that they were calmed,
and he brought them to their desired haven.
Let them give thanks to the LORD for his kindness
and his wondrous deeds to the children of men.
R. Give thanks to the Lord, his love is everlasting.
 

Second Reading:  2 Corinthians 5:14-17 

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer. So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. 

Gospel:  Mark 4:35-41 

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:  

“Let us cross to the other side.” Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was. And other boats were with him. A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet!  Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm. Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?” They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?” 

Homily 

“Jesus woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still!’”   Mark 4: 35-41 

In the Middle Ages, rats were common stowaways on merchant ships.  In the mid-fourteenth century the fleas they carried also bore the bacteria that caused the bubonic plague.  In just five years, the Black Plague claimed some twenty-five million lives – three fourths of Europe’s population.  The people wondered about God’s role in this disaster.  Many today ask the same question as we grapple with the current pandemic.  Whenever tragedies occur, whether a natural disaster strikes and affects large numbers of people or a personal tragedy – the death of a loved one, the onset of a grave illness – we wonder where God is in all of this. 

The Black Plague had a profound effect on Christian belief.  Some tried to place the blame for the epidemic on the Jews.  “Surely God was trying to punish them for not accepting Jesus” and Jews, our ancestors in faith, were massacred all over Europe.  Others took the blame on themselves and performed extraordinary penances.  A large number of people wandered through the countryside, constantly whipping themselves in an act of self-mortification.  Its most lasting effect may have been to etch an image of a punishing God in believer’s minds for future generations. 

Job heard God in a storm.  Friends saw God walk on water. How do we imagine or vision God?  Jesus, of course, stressed God’s mercy.  He insisted that God’s greatest desire is to embrace sinful people.  He depicted God as the father who opened his arms to a wayward son without waiting to hear the young man’s apology.  He described himself as the shepherd who drops everything to find one lost lamb.  He scandalized the self-righteous by keeping company with public sinners.  He taught us to pray for the ability to forgive others as generously as we are forgiven. Similarly, in the book of Job, God makes a very clear point that is contrary to that of the one learned in the Black Plague.   

Job knows his conscience is clear, despite his “friends’” insistence that he must have committed some sin or offense against God.  Even though he stands up to them, he still feels that God is somehow responsible for his situation.  He wants to argue with God – even to put God on trial.  And God answers Job, essentially telling him that running a universe is no easy matter.  “Where were you when I created all this?” is the question he continually asks Job.  And Job finally has to admit that he probably couldn’t do the job at all. 

Our readings today are filled with strong symbols and images.  The first is water, a powerful and often unpredictable force of nature.  Water figures very significantly in the lives of every human being and throughout the created universe.  A source of life and sustenance, water can also be a fierce dealer of death.  Human life begins swimming in a watery womb, but the same life could later end, suddenly and shockingly, in a boating or swimming accident. 

Farmers rely on the rains to water their crops and see them through to a successful harvest, but when too much rain floods their fields, they see their livelihood and their hopes washed away.  Those who harvest the edible treasures of the sea, like the disciples, look to its waters as an ever renewable and sustaining resource, but when the seas become angry and dangerous, they become a cause for fear. 

In recent years we have seen tidal waves, tsunamis and hurricanes that have turned tourist destinations into watery deathtraps in a matter of minutes and hours.  On the other hand, the annual flooding like that of the Nile leaves behind rich silt that brings new life. 

Water also enjoys strong spiritual significance.  Creation, in the very beginning of the book of Genesis, describes God bringing life and order out of the ‘tehom’, or abyss or primordial ocean.  Remember, water was how Noah and his family escaped through the water to a new start, cleansing the earth of the unjust.  As an infant Moses was saved from death by being hidden in a basket and floated down the river.  This same Moses would lead his people through the Red Sea to freedom while the same waters would swallow up their enemy.  There in the deep dark waters also dwelled the Leviathan and Behemoth and all manner of creatures that struck fear into the hearts of the ancients. 

With Jesus, water became a strong symbol for forgiveness and freedom.  Through the waters of baptism, believers would pass from death to life and thereby become, as Paul has affirmed, a new creation. 

In the Gospel, the use of the symbol of a boat is used to signify the Church.  We, by our baptism, are in the boat.  The boat, the church, has and continues to encounter many challenges – the wind and waves.  One point of the story is that Jesus is in the boat with us but how do we react.  Do we fear the storms around us, do we fear the wind and water or do we trust that God is in the boat with us?  Do we ignore him sleeping or do we wake him up?  Do we trust and believe that there is no storm greater than our God?  Do we believe/trust that since Jesus is in the boat with us nothing can harm us?  The disciples clearly were fearful – maybe they thought that the young church would be capsized and destroyed – there certainly were many challenges to the young community as it quickly spread through Gentile communities.  Certainly, they feared for their own life – they enjoyed the way things used to be, but all these new members were requiring that they rethink what was core and central to them as the Body of Christ.   

In waking Jesus, it would appear to have been more of a desire to have him worry with them than to quiet the storm or strengthen their faith.  “Teacher do you not care if we perish?”  And even after he calms the storm they ask, “Who then is this that even the wind and sea obey him?”  Jesus gives us the solution – FAITH. “Why are you afraid, have you no faith?”  We like to say we have faith but when overcome by the waves of life and accusations of others we are filled with fear.  Hopefully we learn from this lesson that Jesus is in the boat with us and will ride the storm out with us.  Maybe like the disciples we need to wake Jesus up.  Pray – and then we need to trust that, no matter what the outcome, God is with us and wants our salvation, not destruction. 

God’s last word on the subject of suffering is the Word made Flesh because God loves even the sinful so very dearly.  Jesus suffered, as every human being does at some time in life.  But he rose in glory and now offers his Body and Blood here at this table – the food that sustains us in good times and terrible times. 

In the movie the Soloist (2009) we see the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, one of Los Angeles’ 60,000 homeless poor.  The cruel voices of schizophrenia have driven him into the streets.  His only refuge: a two-string violin that he plays constantly – and beautifully.  A reporter for the Los Angeles Times hears him one day.  Muddling through another long, bad day, the reporter is gulping down his lunch in the park where Nathaniel has taken up residence.  The reporter is captivated by the music that Nathaniel is able to create on just two strings.  The two strike up an improbable friendship.  The reporter learns that Nathaniel was a promising virtuoso before his illness forced him to drop out of Julliard.  The bond between the homeless cellist and the street-smart reporter is a true story. 

The reporter wrote several columns about Nathaniel.  Moved by his plight, a reader delivers a beautiful cello to the reporter to give to Nathaniel.  It is the first shard of hope in Nathaniel’s fearful and paranoid life.  Whenever Nathaniel plays Beethoven, the music has a transforming effect on everyone and everything around him: the voices in Nathaniel’s head are stilled for the moment; the scores of homeless people milling around sit in rapt attention; even the traffic clogging LA’s freeway seems to quiet. 

But the friendship has an even deeper effect on the reporter.  Burned out and disillusioned – as many reporters and others of his day – the reporter is profoundly affected, not only by Nathaniel’s skill, but by his love of music. 

The reporter says to his editor, who happens to be his ex-wife, “You can see in his eyes how much he loves music, especially Beethoven.  I can’t imagine loving something as much as he loves music.” 

The editor replies simply, “It’s called grace” 

Music brought tranquility and hope to the fearful, schizophrenic Nathaniel. Because he set aside the turbulence in his own life so as to bring peace and hope to the life of another, he transformed the life of the reporter.   

So also, the voice of Jesus can bring peace to the storms of our own lives and light to the darkness of nights and nightmares we all suffer through.   

Within each of us is the grace of the “awakened” Jesus in today’s Gospel, the wisdom, patience and courage to discern the presence of God amid the storms of tension, fear, anxiety, and injustice we experience.  The grace of the Risen Jesus enables us to realize the presence of God amid the roar of anger and mistrust and to recognize the light of God in the darkness of selfishness and prejudice. 

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 Weekly Update 6/10/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Do not worry over things that generate preoccupation and anxiety.  One thing only is necessary:  to lift up your spirit and love God.”   ~St. Padre Pio

GERMANFEST!!!  Good news!  We WILL be having Germanfest this year!!!  Sunday, September 26, 11:00 – 5:00 – PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS!  Now is the time to begin your canning, pickling, and crafting for the Country Store.  If you are interested in helping Chair a committee, please contact the parish office – 601-856-2054 – and let us know.  Post-COVID we are anticipating a BIG year and we need “all hands on deck” for our Germanfest!

GOOD SAMARITAN DRIVE:  Our KCs and Ladies’ Auxiliary are sponsoring a drive to benefit the Good Samaritan Center this Sunday between 8:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.  There will be a collection truck in the parking lot on the East side of the church to collect your items.  This drive will be for furniture, household items, linens, non-perishable food items, etc.  No clothing please!  Items collected are donated directly to families in need.

BLOOD DRIVE:  We will be having our annual Parish Blood Drive this Sunday, 8:00 – 1:00 in the Parish Hall.  If enough blood is donated, the entire parish’s blood needs will be covered for a year.  If you would like to sign up for a specific time slot you can go to https://www.mbsonline.us/donor/schedules/drive_schedule/15435 or you can just come to the Parish Hall to donate.

CHICKENPENDANCE DAY SMOKED CHICKEN:  The KCs will be hosting an applewood smoked chicken plate fundraiser on July 4.  They will be preparing applewood smoked chicken leg quarters, baked beans, and potato salad.  A plate will be $7.00 and you can also order items ala carte.  Pre-orders will be taken June 20 – 27 by filling out a form.  The link to the form is on the KC webpage:  www.kofc11934.org

BUSINESS:  Offertory for the weeks of 5/30 and 6/6:

General                              $21,645.00

Building                             $901.00

Cemetery                          $50.00

Peter’s Pence                   $45.00

Our Daily Bread               $315.00

Home Missions                $10.00

The methods we have set up to make it convenient to make your offering are:

                ~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;

~ACH Auto-draft of your account.  Call the office – 601-856-2054 – and we will

  send you the form to have that set up.

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

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

We are grateful for your generosity to our parish!!

The readings for this Sunday, June 13, along with Father Kevin’s homily, follow.

God bless and have a great weekend!

Pam

Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time 

First Reading:  Ezekiel 17:22-24 

Thus says the Lord GOD:
I, too, will take from the crest of the cedar, from its topmost branches tear off a tender shoot, and plant it on a high and lofty mountain; on the mountain heights of Israel, I will plant it. It shall put forth branches and bear fruit, and become a majestic cedar. Birds of every kind shall dwell beneath it, every winged thing in the shade of its boughs. And all the trees of the field shall know that I, the LORD, bring low the high tree, lift high the lowly tree, wither up the green tree, and make the withered tree bloom. As I, the LORD, have spoken, so will I do. 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 92:2-3, 12-14, 15-16

R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
It is good to give thanks to the LORD,
to sing praise to your name, Most High,
To proclaim your kindness at dawn
and your faithfulness throughout the night.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
They that are planted in the house of the LORD
shall flourish in the courts of our God.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you.
They shall bear fruit even in old age;
vigorous and sturdy shall they be,
Declaring how just is the LORD,
my rock, in whom there is no wrong.
R. Lord, it is good to give thanks to you. 

Second Reading:  2 Corinthian 5:6-10 

Brothers and sisters: We are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight.
Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.
Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil. 

Gospel:  Mark 4:26-34 

Jesus said to the crowds:
“This is how it is with the kingdom of God; it is as if a man were to scatter seed on the land
and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow,
he knows not how. Of its own accord the land yields fruit, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the grain is ripe, he wields the sickle at once,
for the harvest has come.” 

He said,
“To what shall we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable can we use for it? It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on the earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.” With many such parables
he spoke the word to them as they were able to understand it. Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private. 

Homily 

“[The kingdom of God] is as if a man would scatter seed on the land and would sleep and rise night and day and through it all the seed would sprout and grow, he knows not how… 

“It is like a mustard seed that, when it is sown in the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth. But once it is sown, it springs up and becomes the largest of plants and puts forth large branches, so the birds of the sky can dwell in its shade.”  Mark 4: 26-34 

This year’s Academy Award for Original Music Score was won by composer Jon Batiste for his work on the Pixar film “Soul,” the animated tale of a jazz pianist who has a near-death experience and gets stuck in the afterlife, causing him to re-think the choices he made in the existence he mostly took for granted. 

Batiste is the band leader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.  In accepting the Oscar, he celebrated the moment by giving thanks for the “12 notes” – He said:  

“You know what’s deep is that God gave us 12 notes. It’s the same 12 notes that Duke Ellington had, that Bach had, Nina Simone … Every gift is special. Every contribution with music that comes from the divine into the instruments into the film, into the minds, hearts and souls of every person who hears it, the stories that happen when you listen to it and watch it and the stories you share, the moments you make, the memories you create – man, it’s just so incredibly special … I’m thankful to God for those 12 notes.” 

Every song ever written and ever will be written is composed from the

same 12 notes, whether it’s “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony.  

God gives us all “12 notes” to create the soundtrack of our lives. That “scale” includes compassion, mercy, forgiveness, justice, empathy and peace; everyone can make music with those “notes” – saint and sinner, scientist and laborer, venerable grandparent and curious child, corporate executive and forgotten homeless. To realize the “music” of God demands the same vision to hope, the love to create for the good of others and the commitment to grow and nurture as that of the farmer planting seed in today’s Gospel. Jesus challenges us to embrace the faith of the Gospel Sower and the hope of the mustard seed: to be willing to plant seeds of kindness and joy wherever and whenever we can in the certain knowledge that it will, in some way, result in a harvest of God’s life and love; to play the notes we are able to string together that creates the music of God’s Spirit playing through our lives. 

What is Jesus trying to tell us when he says the reign of God is like a mustard seed? A mustard shrub is an ordinary and ugly bush that grows to about seven feet and multiplies readily. I think He is telling us the reign of God is found in the ordinary, unattractive, mundane things of everyday life. 

For example, in a married couple ministering the love of God to one and another and their children. 

In the owner of a business who sacrifices some of her profit in order that her employees may be paid a salary adequate to provide for their family and insurance coverage. 

In people who welcome into their homes those seeking refuge from poverty and violence. 

In the man confined to bed who offers his suffering for those who do not know God. 

In the people here in our congregation who are striving to love the least of our brothers and sisters.  Ones we do not understand or question why they do what they do. 

Jesus told us that whatever we do to the least we do to him. 

And in all those who are honestly searching to know and live the truth.  For in seeking the good and the true we will encounter God. 

Here we are invited to renew our baptismal commitment to further the reign of God.  It need not be in anything grand or profound, but like the mustard seed it may be ordinary and ugly, it may be mundane and unattractive.  But that is how God’s kingdom grows. 

The cedar mentioned in today’s First Reading is packed with symbolism. The cedars of Lebanon were frequently mentioned in the Bible. A cedar can live up to two thousand years, so it grows into a pyramid shape that is wide and tall, so it is a symbol of strength and power.  Its redwood is fragrant and exudes gum.  It resists insects and decay and is very durable, so it was used for making musical instruments, chests, and household furnishings. It was also used for buildings: Solomon’s Temple had panels of cedar incorporated into the design, and both David and Solomon’s palaces were built of cedar. 

The cedar in today’s First Reading is a precious wood, representing the line of David, and the shoot, the Messiah, taken from the cedar is destined for a long life that is strong, powerful, and useful. 

The growing parables in today’s Gospel passage reveal two essential characteristics about life in the Kingdom of God, two things we need always to keep in mind so that we can live deeply our friendship with the King. 

After all, we are not just members of a religious club; we are followers and ambassadors of the eternal King. 

First, the life of our relationship with God comes not from ourselves, but from God. 

Where does the power of growth in the seeds come from? 

Not from the farmer. 

It comes from the Creator. 

Likewise, if God were not constantly breathing his grace into our lives, no matter how hard we might try, we would never be able to grow in intimacy with him – just as the farmer could never make a rock grow into an ear of corn. 

Our life of union with God depends primarily on God. We cannot achieve Christian success based solely on our own efforts. But the good news is that we don’t have to, since God is always at work, even while we’re asleep. 

As Psalm 127:2 puts it: “It is vain for you to rise early and put off your rest at night, to eat bread earned by hard toil — all this God gives to his beloved in sleep.” 

God is the source of our Christian lives, and no matter how hard we may try to make our lives worthwhile, without his help, we can do nothing. 

Second, growth in holiness is a gradual process; it takes time. 

We Christians are unlike Hollywood heroes, who go from wimp to world champion in the course of a mere ninety minutes. 

Rather, Christians develop their incomparable wisdom, joy, courage, and self-mastery through a patient and consistent effort to cooperate with God over the long haul. 

This is hard for us to accept, and it is even harder for us to understand, because our culture has developed such an immediate gratification and fast-results mentality. 

But developing a beautiful soul isn’t like making a cup of instant coffee. Instead, it’s like building a beautiful cathedral. 

The magnificent Gothic cathedrals that leave even the most modern visitor speechless and awestruck.  They were not the work of a few days or even a few years. They took decades to construct, sometimes even more than a century. 

                There are cases where three or even four generations of stone-masons worked on the same cathedral. Think about that for a moment. That means that your grandfather, your father, you, and your son would have all worked on the same building, each one of you for your whole working-life. But only your son would have had the satisfaction of seeing the finished product. 

This is an analogy for the growth of God’s Kingdom in our soul and world. 

It’s not something we can work hard at, put in some extra hours on the weekend, pull a couple of all-nighters, and then cross off our to-do list. It’s the adventure of a lifetime, it’s our life-project, the only project, in fact, that really matters. 

So, if discouragement and frustration don’t come from God, where do they come from? From our own diabolical pride, our own spiritual immaturity, egged on by the devil. 

If our prayer life doesn’t produce spiritual fireworks right away, if our bad habits don’t go away with a snap of our fingers, if we don’t understand perfectly all of Catholic doctrine after a weekend seminar, we tend to slacken off in our efforts, or even give up entirely, like spoiled children. 

Humble children who trust their parents are much less likely to have anger management problems. Wise Christians who truly trust in God’s action and God’s pace are much less likely to give in to the temptations of discouragement and frustration. 

Imagine a farmer or gardener standing out in the field and yelling down at some recently planted seeds: “Grow faster, you fools! Faster!!” 

It’s an absurd picture, but a common one: when we get frustrated at our slow progress or God’s apparently slow pace, we’re futilely screaming at the seeds to speed up their growth. 

Jesus calls us to embrace the faith of the Gospel farmer and the hope of the mustard seed: to be willing to plant whatever “seeds” of Gospel hope and compassion that we possess, wherever and whenever we can, in the certain knowledge that it will, in some way, result in a harvest of God’s life and love. By such faith, may we possess the grace and wisdom of those in our lives who are a blessing to us, and so become a blessing 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. 

Parish Daily Update 6/5/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Let us trust in Him who has placed this burden upon us.  What we ourselves cannot bear let us bear with the help of Christ.  For He is all-powerful, and He tells us:  ‘My yoke is easy, and my burden light.’”    ~St. Boniface

SUNDAY MASS:  As you come to Mass tomorrow and going forward, we will no longer have ushers seating you! A huge thank you goes out to those men and women who have given their time over the past year to help find seats for everyone!!!   While I understand that everyone loves “their” place in the church, PLEASE be aware of the need for everyone to find a seat without having to climb over those who are hugging the aisles.  If possible, please scoot over to allow others to be safely seated.  Also, be aware of the 3-foot social distance we are still required to maintain.  (As a guide, for most people, from your nose to the fingertips of your outstretched arm is approx. 3 ft.)  Thank you all for your cooperation and for your care and concern for your fellow St. Joseph Parish family members — Let’s continue to take care of each other!!

SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION:  Please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the Dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning tomorrow.  Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday.  As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation.  If you need to discuss your particular situation, please feel free to call me!

DAILY EMAILS:  As we are well into our “return to normal,” today will be the last of our daily emails.  Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday. 

GOOD SAMARITAN DRIVE:  Next Sunday, June 13, the KCs and Ladies Auxiliary will be sponsoring a drive to benefit the Good Samaritan Center.  The Good Samaritan Center is an organization which collects furniture, household goods, decorative items, linens, and non-perishable food items and donates them to people in need.  (Please do NOT bring clothing items!)  If you have any of these items you would like to donate, please bring them to the church, room 107, on Sunday, June 13. 

God bless,

Pam

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ  

First Reading:  Exodus 24:3-8 

When Moses came to the people and related all the words and ordinances of the LORD, they all answered with one voice, “We will do everything that the LORD has told us.” Moses then wrote down all the words of the LORD and, rising early the next day, he erected at the foot of the mountain an altar and twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. Then, having sent certain young men of the Israelites to offer holocausts and sacrifice young bulls as peace offerings to the LORD, Moses took half of the blood and put it in large bowls; the other half he splashed on the altar. Taking the book of the covenant, he read it aloud to the people, who answered, “All that the LORD has said, we will heed and do.” Then he took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, saying, “This is the blood of the covenant that the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words of his.” 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 116:12-13, 15-16, 17-18 

R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
How shall I make a return to the LORD
for all the good he has done for me?
The cup of salvation I will take up,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
Precious in the eyes of the LORD
is the death of his faithful ones.
I am your servant, the son of your handmaid;
you have loosed my bonds.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.
To you will I offer sacrifice of thanksgiving,
and I will call upon the name of the LORD.
My vows to the LORD I will pay
in the presence of all his people.
R. I will take the cup of salvation, and call on the name of the Lord.

 

Second Reading:  Hebrews 9:11-15 

Brothers and sisters:
When Christ came as high priest of the good things that have come to be, passing through the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made by hands, that is, not belonging to this creation,
he entered once for all into the sanctuary, not with the blood of goats and calves but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls and the sprinkling of a heifer’s ashes can sanctify those who are defiled so that their flesh is cleansed, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God,
cleanse our consciences from dead works to worship the living God. For this reason he is mediator of a new covenant: since a death has taken place for deliverance from transgressions under the first covenant, those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance. 

Sequence – Lauda Sion

The shorter form of the sequence 

Lo! the angel’s food is given
To the pilgrim who has striven;
see the children’s bread from heaven,
which on dogs may not be spent. 

Truth the ancient types fulfilling,
Isaac bound, a victim willing,
Paschal lamb, its lifeblood spilling,
manna to the fathers sent. 

Very bread, good shepherd, tend us,
Jesu, of your love befriend us,
You refresh us, you defend us,
Your eternal goodness send us
In the land of life to see. 

You who all things can and know,
Who on earth such food bestow,
Grant us with your saints, though lowest,
Where the heav’nly feast you show,
Fellow heirs and guests to be. Amen. Alleluia. 

Gospel:  Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 

On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when they sacrificed the Passover lamb,
Jesus’ disciples said to him, “Where do you want us to go and prepare for you to eat the Passover?” He sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the city and a man will meet you, carrying a jar of water. Follow him. Wherever he enters, say to the master of the house,
‘The Teacher says, “Where is my guest room where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?”‘
Then he will show you a large upper room furnished and ready. Make the preparations for us there.”
The disciples then went off, entered the city, and found it just as he had told them; and they prepared the Passover. While they were eating, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take it; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, and they all drank from it. He said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed for many. Amen, I say to you, I shall not drink again the fruit of the vine until the day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.” Then, after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 

Homily 

“[Jesus] took bread, said the blessing, broke it, gave it to them and said, ‘Take it; this is my body.’” Mark 14:12-16, 22-26 

                Elizabeth’s house is always filled with love, joy, comfort, good times — and fresh bread. 

Of course, things come slower these days for 82-year-old Elizabeth. The simplest tasks take more time and demand more energy than they did even just a few years ago. But on days when her grandchildren are coming to visit, Elizabeth gets up very early and plants herself in her beloved kitchen. Her hands, gnarled by arthritis, carefully mix the batter, knead the dough, blend in the sweet cinnamon swirl, and bake the loaves. The work demands much more of her physically than the first time she made the recipe for her young family, but the satisfaction of seeing the loaves rise in the oven and the sweet aroma filling the old house more than offsets the demands. 

                Her children and grandchildren, who have feasted on the bread since they first took pieces of the loaf in their tiny hands so many years ago, realize the effort it takes her now — but that makes it all the more special. They would never dare suggest that she stop making it. For Elizabeth’s cinnamon bread contains much more than the flour, water, cinnamon and other ingredients. It is not about making bread but the love it expresses. In her loving preparation of the bread for her family, Elizabeth includes a most special ingredient: a piece of herself. 

                And that special ingredient will continue to be included in every loaf her children and grandchildren and their children will bake long after Elizabeth has gone to God. 

                In much the same way that Elizabeth’s family realizes that her cinnamon bread contains her love for them, the bread and wine of the Eucharist contains the love of Christ for us – the Christ who suffered, died and rose. Christ places “a piece of himself” in this bread and invites us to feast on him, to be nourished and sustained by his life until we take our places for eternity at the great banquet of heaven. The Eucharist that is the focus of today’s feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord is the living memory of the Christ who gave himself for us so that we might become what we receive here: to become the one body of Christ, to become family to one another.  

                The Eucharist we celebrate is much more than a re-enactment of the last supper event.  In participating in the Eucharist as Augustine put it, we become what we have received.  In Jewish thought, life itself was contained in blood — blood therefore belonged to God alone.  That is why even today a devout Jew will never eat any meat which is not completely drained of blood. 

                When Jesus then invites us to drink his blood, he is inviting us to take his life into the very core of our beings.  We are called not to accept faith like a cloak we can take on or off but to let the life of God become part of our very beings, like the blood flowing in our veins and the flesh on our bones.  To receive the bread and wine of the Eucharist is to receive the very life of Christ himself. 

                The words of Paul to the Corinthians remind us of another dimension of the Eucharist as well.  All who share in this bread and wine partake of the life of Christ.  And our recognition of this oneness with Christ and other Christians needs to move us to action.  This awareness leads us to: protect the reputation of other members of Christ’s body, we are led to help the hungry, and poverty-stricken members so that the body may be whole and healed.  We are led to pray for the hurting members of the body – those involved in various addictions. 

                We need to be reminded of our basic needs and of the simple reality that we can’t meet our needs alone.  Our Hebrew ancestors wandered for long and hungry years in the desert totally dependent on God for their very survival.  Even as God was giving them all they needed from day to day, they wanted something more, something different.  We, like them, do not like to realize that someone else is responsible for putting food in our mouths.  We like to think we make our own way.  Amazed at the realization that God freely gives all we need, we grumble to cover our embarrassment. 

                Wandering in the desert, the Israelites were ever mindful of the difficulty of obtaining food and water.  Moses often reminded them of God’s provident care of them, giving them food and water when they were in danger of starving to death.  The manna was given each day and could not be preserved for the future.  Gradually the people learned to put their faith in God, trusting in his constant care of them.  Moses used this experience of the people to teach them that bread alone was not sufficient.   

                In the Eucharist we are called to a meal where our God shares his very life.  “If you do not eat the flesh of the son of man and drink his blood you have no life in you.”   Such life lived to the full can make amazing and terrifying demands on us.  When Jesus wanted his followers to remember him, he gave them himself as bread and wine.  He said “Whenever you eat and drink remember.”  We eat and drink several times a day and often in our fast-paced world it is on the go.  Do we remember?   

                Jesus promised to give himself to fill the needs of the human heart for love and salvation.  Many Americans may not be suffering from physical hunger but have hearts that are empty.  One who comes to the Eucharist has the ability to respond to the many hungers of others.  Sharing in one bread and one cup we become one body, united with God and one another.  Let us commit ourselves to live this reality. 

                Jesus calls us to his table.  Here we come to celebrate our identity as his disciples, to seek the sustaining grace to live the hard demands of discipleship.  We come to this table seeking the peace and hope of the risen Jesus.  At this table we always belong and are welcome.  It is my prayer that this parish family find at this table reconciliation and compassion.  I pray that you work together to make your family tables places of love and safety where Jesus is always welcome.  

                In the Eucharist, bread and wine are transformed by the Spirit of God into the body and blood of Jesus; the sacrament we receive should transform us into sacraments, as well – sacraments of God’s love for one another, signs of God’s presence to our families and communities.  As the Eucharist makes us Christ, the Eucharist makes each one of us a minister of reconciliation.   

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 

This has been a heart-breaking time in American politics. Families have been fractured and friendships shattered in these divisive times. 

                In an essay in “The Boston Globe Magazine,” [April 11, 2021], environment and nature writer Terry Tempest Williams shares her own family’s story of how the current state of politics has divided her family. 

                She and her Uncle Rich have always been close, even though he is right of right and she is left of left. Both are committed to their beliefs, but the two always got along. 

                But during the tense days of the election last fall, Rich avoided talking to his niece. After the election, Terry managed to have a telephone call with her uncle. 

                “Can we bridge this divide between us?” 

                Both knew full well that the other would not change their views on gun control, climate change or immigration. 

                “So what do we do?” she asked. 

                Terry and Rich shared a deep love of nature. “You have a gift,” Rich told his niece. “[I]f you are serious about bridging this divide in our country, go back to beauty, Terry. Write about the beauty of nature, so I can read what you [write] and be moved.” 

                Terry said she understood what he was saying and promised to try. 

                “And what will you do to bridge this gulf between us?” 

                “I will keep talking to you.” 

                The conversation was an epiphany for Terry. What holds her family together is not their stands or votes on individual issues, but the spirituality they share, the beauty of nature that inspires them, the love and respect for one another that transcends whatever their differences. What keeps Terry and her uncle together will be softer, less angry, and fewer politically charged words that are listened to with openness of heart.  

                “It’s not about our opinions or even our beliefs, it’s about our bonds,” Terry Tempest Williams writes. “That’s why my uncle didn’t want to talk to me — he was afraid talking would destroy us. Healing this uncivil war, especially within our own families, is not about changing our minds or even our hearts but first creating a space where we can meet unarmed . . . 

                “Perhaps, the divide between us in this country is not about politics, but imagination. Can we imagine something beyond individual points of view? Do we have the capacity to listen beyond words to a deeper place of dwelling, in the way nature asks us to be still and present with other species: a great egret fishing the edges, a mink who surfaces like a wish? I will try depoliticizing my writing as my uncle has exhorted me to do, because I know beauty is the bedrock of my political life — and I will trust our conversations will continue with an unexpected grace.” 

                The Jesus of the Gospels comes to restore the bond that unites our human race as a family under the fatherhood of God, making us sisters and brothers to one another. We are bound to one another in the humanity we share, a humanity that not only transcends those things that divide us but becomes even stronger in the wake of loss, pain and suffering. As Terry Tempest Williams and her family come to understand that common bond of love, respect, and consolation enables us to begin to bridge what divides us. Humility and gratitude for the wonders of God around us makes us “brother and sister and mother” to one another, enabling us to imagine a world transformed by God’s forgiveness, compassion and peace. 

Parish Daily Update 6/4/21

Dear Parish Family,

“It is a great thing to know how to make use of the present moment.”   ~St. Faustina

FIRST FRIDAY:  Today is the First Friday of the month.  We will have Mass, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 5:30.

SUNDAY MASS:  As you come to Mass this Sunday and going forward, we will no longer have ushers seating you! A huge thank you goes out to those men and women who have given their time over the past year to help find seats for everyone!!!   While I understand that everyone loves “their” place in the church, PLEASE be aware of the need for everyone to find a seat without having to climb over those who are hugging the aisles.  If possible, please scoot over to allow others to be safely seated.  Also, be aware of the 3-foot social distance we are still required to maintain.  (As a guide, for most people, from your nose to the fingertips of your outstretched arm is approx. 3 ft.)  Thank you all for your cooperation and for your care and concern for your fellow St. Joseph Parish family members — Let’s continue to take care of each other!!

SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION:  Please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the Dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning this coming Sunday.  Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday.  As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation.  If you need to discuss your particular situation, please feel free to call me!

DAILY EMAILS:  As we are well into our “return to normal,” this will be the last week of daily emails.  Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday. 

GOOD SAMARITAN DRIVE:  On Sunday, June 13, the KCs and Ladies Auxiliary will be sponsoring a drive to benefit the Good Samaritan Center.  The Good Samaritan Center is an organization which collects furniture, household goods, decorative items, linens, and non-perishable food items and donates them to people in need.  (Please do NOT bring clothing items!)  If you have any of these items you would like to donate, please bring them to the church, room 107, on Sunday, June 13. 

God bless,

Pam

Memorial of Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr

First Reading:  Tobit 12:1, 5-15, 20

Tobit called his son Tobiah and said to him, “Son, see to it that you give what is due to the man
who made the journey with you; give him a bonus too.” So he called Raphael and said, “Take as your wages half of all that you have brought back, and go in peace.” Raphael called the two men aside privately and said to them: “Thank God! Give him the praise and the glory. Before all the living, acknowledge the many good things he has done for you, by blessing and extolling his name in song. Honor and proclaim God’s deeds, and do not be slack in praising him.
A king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be declared and made known.
Praise them with due honor. Do good, and evil will not find its way to you. Prayer and fasting are good, but better than either is almsgiving accompanied by righteousness. A little with righteousness is better than abundance with wickedness. It is better to give alms than to store up gold; for almsgiving saves one from death and expiates every sin. Those who regularly give alms shall enjoy a full life; but those habitually guilty of sin are their own worst enemies. “I will now tell you the whole truth; I will conceal nothing at all from you. I have already said to you, ‘A king’s secret it is prudent to keep, but the works of God are to be made known with due honor.’
I can now tell you that when you, Tobit, and Sarah prayed, it was I who presented and read the record of your prayer before the Glory of the Lord; and I did the same thing when you used to bury the dead. When you did not hesitate to get up and leave your dinner in order to go and bury the dead, I was sent to put you to the test. At the same time, however, God commissioned me to heal you and your daughter-in-law Sarah. I am Raphael, one of the seven angels who enter and serve before the Glory of the Lord.” “So now get up from the ground and praise God. Behold, I am about to ascend to him who sent me; write down all these things that have happened to you.”

Responsorial Psalm:  Tobit 13:2, 6, 7, 8

R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
He scourges and then has mercy;
he casts down to the depths of the nether world,
and he brings up from the great abyss.
No one can escape his hand.
R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.
So now consider what he has done for you,
and praise him with full voice.
Bless the Lord of righteousness,
and exalt the King of ages. 
R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever. 
In the land of my exile I praise him
and show his power and majesty to a sinful nation.
R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever. 
Bless the Lord, all you his chosen ones,
and may all of you praise his majesty.
Celebrate days of gladness, and give him praise.
R. Blessed be God, who lives for ever.

Gospel:  Mark 12:38-44

In the course of his teaching Jesus said, “Beware of the scribes, who like to go around in long robes and accept greetings in the marketplaces, seats of honor in synagogues, and places of honor at banquets. They devour the houses of widows and, as a pretext, recite lengthy prayers.
They will receive a very severe condemnation.” He sat down opposite the treasury and observed how the crowd put money into the treasury. Many rich people put in large sums. A poor widow also came and put in two small coins worth a few cents. Calling his disciples to himself, he said to them, “Amen, I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had, her whole livelihood.”

Homily

“… this widow put in more than all the other contributors to the treasury. For they have all contributed from their surplus wealth, but she, from her poverty, has contributed all she had …”Mark 12:38-44

Last summer, 15-year-old Chris Kilpatrick was an intern with the electronics recycler Urban Mining in Jacksonville, Florida, a company that recycles electronics and computer equipment. Chris, a wizard at computer technology, knows the considerable digital divide among his peers between the haves and the have-nots. At Urban Mining, Chris wondered if some of the retired machines the company got from businesses could be refurbished instead of being ripped apart to salvage any usable parts. With the company’s blessing, Chris refurbished 20 desktops and donated them to Big Brothers/Big Sisters. 

Chris said of his project: “One great thing I learned was the importance of recycling. I think we started something good here. I like the feeling I am making a difference.” [“First Coast News,” August 13, 2020.]

The Gospel widow’s few coins can take many forms – even salvaged computer parts. As Chris Kilpatrick found during his summer internship, God’s spirit of selfless generosity and compassion can enable us to transform the smallest and most ordinary resource or skill we have – be it a few cents, a few moments in our busy day, a few recycled computer parts – into something good, something hopeful, something healing and restoring.

Today, may whatever we can give from the “poverty” of our time or the limited “coin” in our pocket bring a measure of hope and possibility to someone in need.

Instill in us, O Lord, your Spirit of wisdom that realizes the good we can make possible with our own few “coins,” be it a skill we possess, an ability to fix what is broken, an openness to listen and comfort. With generosity of heart and compassion for all, may our few “coins” build and maintain your temple of reconciliation and peace in our own Jerusalem’s.

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.

Saint Boniface, Bishop and Martyr
c. 675–754

Patron Saint of Germany

A nation builder, a man of action, is cut down in his grey hairs

In the treasury of the cathedral of Fulda, Germany, there is a medieval Codex, a large, bound book of prayers and theological documents, which very likely belonged to Saint Boniface. The rough cover of the Codex is deeply sliced with cuts from a sword. A tradition dating back to the generations just after Saint Boniface’s own time attests that he wielded this very book like a shield to ward off the blows of robbers who attacked him and a large band of missionaries in Northern Germany in 754. Our saint tried to protect himself, both metaphorically and literally, with the written truths of our faith. It was to no avail. Saint Boniface and fifty-two of his companions were slaughtered. Ransacking the baggage of the missionaries for treasure, the band of thieves found no gold vessels or silver plates but only sacred texts the unlettered men couldn’t read. Thinking them worthless, they left these books on the forest floor, to be recovered later by local Christians. The Codex eventually made it into the Treasury at Fulda where it is found today. One of the earliest images of Saint Boniface, from a Sacramentary dating to 975, depicts the saint deflecting the blows of a sword with a large, thick book. The Codex is a second-class relic, giving silent witness to the final moments of a martyr.

Saint Boniface is known as the “Apostle of the Germans” and is buried in the crypt of Fulda Cathedral. However, his baptismal name was Winfrid, and he was born and raised in Anglo-Saxon England. He was from an educated family, entered a local monastery as a youth, and was ordained a priest at the age of thirty. In 716 Winfrid sailed to the continent to become a missionary to the peoples on the Baltic coast of today’s Northern Germany. He was able to communicate with them because his Anglo-Saxon tongue was similar to the languages of the native Saxon and Teutonic tribes. Winfrid was among the first waves of those many Irish and Anglo-Saxon monks who saved what could be saved of Roman and Christian culture in Europe after the Roman Empire collapsed. Large migrations of Gothic peoples, mostly Arian Christians, pagans, or a confusing mix of the two, filled the vacuum created after Roman order disintegrated, and they needed to be inculcated in the faith to rebuild a superior version of the culture they had helped decimate.

Winfrid traveled to Rome the year after first arriving on the continent, where the pope renamed him Boniface and appointed him missionary Bishop of Germany. After this, he never returned to his home country. He set out to the north and proceeded to dig and lay the foundations of Europe as we know it. He organized dioceses, helped found monasteries, baptized thousands, pacified tribes, challenged tree-worshipping pagans, taught, preached, held at least one large Church Council, convinced more Anglo-Saxon monks to follow his lead, ordained priests, appointed bishops, stayed in regular contact with his superiors in Rome, and pushed the boundaries of Christianity to their northernmost limit. Boniface was indefatigable. He was in his late seventies, and still pushing to convert the unconverted, when he was surprised and slain in a remote wilderness.

Saint Boniface was well educated, and many of his letters and related correspondence survive. But he was, above all, a man of action. He was daring and fearless. He was a pathbreaker. His faith moved mountains and tossed them into the sea. His labors, combined with his great faith, are the stuff of legend. More incredibly, though, they are the stuff of truth.

Parish Daily Update 6/3/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Even when alone be cheerful, remember always that you are in the sight of the angels.”  

~St. Therese of Lisieux

FIRST FRIDAY:  Tomorrow is the First Friday of the month.  We will have Mass, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 5:30.

SUNDAY MASS:  As you come to Mass this Sunday and going forward, we will no longer have ushers seating you! A huge thank you goes out to those men and women who have given their time over the past year to help find seats for everyone!!!   While I understand that everyone loves “their” place in the church, PLEASE be aware of the need for everyone to find a seat without having to climb over those who are hugging the aisles.  If possible, please scoot over to allow others to be safely seated.  Also, be aware of the 3-foot social distance we are still required to maintain.  (As a guide, for most people, from your nose to the fingertips of your outstretched arm is approx. 3 ft.)  Thank you all for your cooperation and for your care and concern for your fellow St. Joseph Parish family members — Let’s continue to take care of each other!!

SUNDAY MASS OBLIGATION:  Please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the Dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning this coming Sunday.  Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday.  As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation.  If you need to discuss your particular situation, please feel free to call me!

DAILY EMAILS:  As we are well into our “return to normal,” this will be the last week of daily emails.  Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday. 

GOOD SAMARITAN DRIVE:  On Sunday, June 13, the KCs and Ladies Auxiliary will be sponsoring a drive to benefit the Good Samaritan Center.  The Good Samaritan Center is an organization which collects furniture, household goods, decorative items, linens, and non-perishable food items and donates them to people in need.  (Please do NOT bring clothing items!)  If you have any of these items you would like to donate, please bring them to the church, room 107, on Sunday, June 13. 

God bless,

Pam

Friday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time  

First Reading:  Tobit 11:5-17 

Anna sat watching the road by which her son was to come. When she saw him coming, she exclaimed to his father, “Tobit, your son is coming, and the man who traveled with him!” 

Raphael said to Tobiah before he reached his father: “I am certain that his eyes will be opened.
Smear the fish gall on them. This medicine will make the cataracts shrink and peel off from his eyes; then your father will again be able to see the light of day.” Then Anna ran up to her son, threw her arms around him, and said to him, “Now that I have seen you again, son, I am ready to die!” And she sobbed aloud. Tobit got up and stumbled out through the courtyard gate.
Tobiah went up to him with the fish gall in his hand, and holding him firmly, blew into his eyes.
“Courage, father,” he said. Next he smeared the medicine on his eyes, and it made them smart.
Then, beginning at the corners of Tobit’s eyes, Tobiah used both hands to peel off the cataracts. 

When Tobit saw his son, he threw his arms around him and wept. He exclaimed, “I can see you, son, the light of my eyes!” Then he said: “Blessed be God, and praised be his great name, and blessed be all his holy angels. May his holy name be praised throughout all the ages, because it was he who scourged me, and it is he who has had mercy on me. Behold, I now see my son Tobiah!” Then Tobit went back in, rejoicing and praising God with full voice for everything that had happened. Tobiah told his father that the Lord God had granted him a successful journey;
that he had brought back the money; and that he had married Raguel’s daughter Sarah, who would arrive shortly, for she was approaching the gate of Nineveh. Tobit and Anna rejoiced 
and went out to the gate of Nineveh to meet their daughter-in-law. When the people of Nineveh saw Tobit walking along briskly, with no one leading him by the hand, they were amazed.
Before them all Tobit proclaimed how God had mercifully restored sight to his eyes.
When Tobit reached Sarah, the wife of his son Tobiah, he greeted her: “Welcome, my daughter!
Blessed be your God for bringing you to us, daughter! Blessed is your father, and blessed is my son Tobiah, and blessed are you, daughter! Welcome to your home with blessing and joy.
Come in, daughter!” That day there was joy for all the Jews who lived in Nineveh. 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 146:1-2, 6-7, 8-9, 9-10 

R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
Praise the LORD, O my soul;
I will praise the LORD all my life;
I will sing praise to my God while I live. 
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD keeps faith forever,
secures justice for the oppressed,
gives food to the hungry.
The LORD sets captives free.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The LORD gives sight to the blind.
The LORD raises up those who are bowed down;
the LORD loves the just.
The LORD protects strangers.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
The fatherless and the widow he sustains,
but the way of the wicked he thwarts
The LORD shall reign forever,
your God, O Zion, through all generations! Alleluia.
R. Praise the Lord, my soul!
 

Gospel:  Mark 12:35-37 

As Jesus was teaching in the temple area he said, “How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the son of David? David himself, inspired by the Holy Spirit, said: The Lord said to my lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I place your enemies under your feet.’  

David himself calls him ‘lord’; so how is he, his son?”
The great crowd heard this with delight. 

Homily 

“How do the scribes claim that the Christ is the Son of David?”Mark 12:35-37 

The Jews of Jesus’ time believed that the Messiah would be a descendant of the legendary King David; they expected the Messiah to restore the nation of Israel and the Jews’ political and economic fortunes. Jesus cites Psalm 110, attributed to David himself, in which God promises that he will save David and his people from their enemies. 

Jesus does not deny the scribes’ claim that the Messiah will descend from David – but Jesus’ Messiahship has a deeper and more profound purpose than political and military power. Jesus comes to establish a reign of peace and compassion, of justice and reconciliation that is centered in human hearts and the human spirit. From the Gospel we embrace in our souls, we are able to bring that Kingdom to light in our own time and place. 

So let’s keep in mind what we are saying when we call Jesus the “Messiah.” Jesus does not come to make our lives easier or grant our personal dreams and wishes – he comes to enable us to realize God’s Kingdom of reconciliation and peace here and now. It’s hard work – but work worthy of Christ and those who seek to follow him. 

Establish your rule, O God, in our hearts and spirits, so that we may realize your Kingdom of peace through our own works of reconciliation and justice. May we redeem our fallen world and heal our broken humanity by our living the Gospel of your Christ, the Messiah. 

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 6/2/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Love those who humble and contradict you, for they are more useful to your perfection than those who flatter you.”  ~St. Margaret Mary Alacoque

FIRST FRIDAY:  This Friday is the First Friday of the month.  We will have Mass, followed by Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, beginning at 5:30.

SUNDAY MASS:  As you come to Mass this Sunday and going forward, we will no longer have ushers seating you! A huge thank you goes out to those men and women who have given their time over the past year to help find seats for everyone!!!   While I understand that everyone loves “their” place in the church, PLEASE be aware of the need for everyone to find a seat without having to climb over those who are hugging the aisles.  If possible, please scoot over to allow others to be safely seated.  Also, be aware of the 3-foot social distance we are still required to maintain.  (As a guide, for most people, from your nose to the fingertips of your outstretched arm is approx. 3 ft.)  Thank you all for your cooperation and for your care and concern for your fellow St. Joseph Parish family members — let’s continue to take care of each other!!

Also, please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning this coming Sunday.  Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday.  As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation.  If you have any questions about your particular situation, please call me and we can discuss it!

As we are well into our “return to normal,” this will be the last week of daily emails.  I began sending them, along with the daily readings and Father Kevin’s homilies, at the beginning of the “shut-down” last year as a way to keep us all in touch and connected through all the difficulties that the pandemic foisted upon us all.  Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday.  I want to take this time to thank Father Kevin for providing his daily homilies for the last 15+ months.  His words have been, on many, many days, exactly what we needed to hear to take us through another day!

God bless,

Pam

Memorial of Saint Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs

First Reading:  Tobit 6:10-11; 7:1, 9-17; 8:4-9

When the angel Raphael and Tobiah had entered Media and were getting close to Ecbatana,
Raphael said to the boy, “Tobiah, my brother!” He replied: “Here I am!” He said: “Tonight we must stay with Raguel, who is a relative of yours. He has a daughter named Sarah.”

So he brought him to the house of Raguel, whom they found seated by his courtyard gate.
They greeted him first. He said to them, “Greetings to you too, brothers! Good health to you, and welcome!” And he brought them into his home. Raguel slaughtered a ram from the flock
and gave them a cordial reception. When they had bathed and reclined to eat, Tobiah said to Raphael, “Brother Azariah, ask Raguel to let me marry my kinswoman Sarah.” Raguel overheard the words; so he said to the boy: “Eat and drink and be merry tonight, for no man is more entitled
to marry my daughter Sarah than you, brother. Besides, not even I have the right to give her to anyone but you, because you are my closest relative. But I will explain the situation to you very frankly. I have given her in marriage to seven men, all of whom were kinsmen of ours,
and all died on the very night they approached her. But now, son, eat and drink. I am sure the Lord will look after you both.” Tobiah answered, “I will eat or drink nothing until you set aside what belongs to me.” Raguel said to him: “I will do it. She is yours according to the decree of the Book of Moses. Your marriage to her has been decided in heaven! Take your kinswoman;
from now on you are her love, and she is your beloved. She is yours today and ever after.
And tonight, son, may the Lord of heaven prosper you both. May he grant you mercy and peace.” Then Raguel called his daughter Sarah, and she came to him. He took her by the hand and gave her to Tobiah with the words: “Take her according to the law. According to the decree written in the Book of Moses she is your wife. Take her and bring her back safely to your father.
And may the God of heaven grant both of you peace and prosperity.” Raguel then called Sarah’s mother and told her to bring a scroll, so that he might draw up a marriage contract stating that he gave Sarah to Tobiah as his wife according to the decree of the Mosaic law. Her mother brought the scroll, and Raguel drew up the contract, to which they affixed their seals. Afterward they began to eat and drink. Later Raguel called his wife Edna and said, “My love, prepare the other bedroom and bring the girl there.” She went and made the bed in the room, as she was told,
and brought the girl there. After she had cried over her, she wiped away the tears and said:
“Be brave, my daughter. May the Lord grant you joy in place of your grief. Courage, my daughter.” Then she left. When the girl’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife, “My love, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord to have mercy on us and to grant us deliverance.” She got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs. And they began to say: “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers, praised be your name forever and ever. Let the heavens and all your creation praise you forever. You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended. You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’ Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.” They said together, “Amen, amen,” and went to bed for the night.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 128:1-2, 3, 4-5

R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Blessed are you who fear the LORD,
who walk in his ways!
For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
Blessed shall you be, and favored.
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
in the recesses of your home;
Your children like olive plants
around your table. 
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.
Behold, thus is the man blessed
who fears the LORD.
The LORD bless you from Zion:
may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem
all the days of your life. 
R. Blessed are those who fear the Lord.

Gospel:  Mark 12:28-34

One of the scribes came to Jesus and asked him, “Which is the first of all the commandments?”
Jesus replied, “The first is this: Hear, O Israel! The Lord our God is Lord alone! You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” The scribe said to him, “Well said, teacher. You are right in saying, He is One and there is no other than he. And to love him with all your heart, with all your understanding, with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered with understanding, he said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” And no one dared to ask him any more questions.

Homily

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength . . . You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12: 28-34

Have you ever written a love letter? Did it express what you wanted to say to the one you loved? Did it touch the heart of your beloved? 

Or was it “dismissed” as “nice” or “precious” and put aside like a greeting card?

There’s an art to writing a love letter. Tom Chiarella, a professor of creative writing at DePauw University, has had his own successes and failures at writing love letters. He offers these tips to anyone trying to write a good love letter:

Remember, first, that it’s a letter, not a card. If what you want to express is a sentiment that you can buy, then what you’re feeling might not be love.

Sit down and write. Letters take time; letters have a rhythm. There are no bullet points. No clipping and pasting. The words have to be yours.

Keep in mind that the purpose of a love letter is to acknowledge, Chiarella advises. You’re creating a record of the previous four months or two weeks or that day or the very moment in which you find yourself. A good love letter is about memory.

Show your beloved what you love about him or her before you tell them what you love about them.

Don’t overdo the earnestness or the genuineness. Strive for clarity.

And remember that a love letter is private — and therefore it can bear some risk. In this way, a love letter is like love itself.  [Esquire.com, June 24, 2010.]

A well-written and thought-out love letter requires the same focus that Jesus speaks of in today’s Gospel. To love as God loves us demands every element of who we are — our heart, our soul, our mind, our strength. 

Like a good love letter, love begins with a commitment of time and attention. Love is expressed in our words, however clumsy and unsophisticated they may be, but the words must come from our heart and then move from the page to relationship. Love is discovered and nurtured in memories of those moments when the love of God becomes real to us in the goodness and grace of the one we love. And the love of God forces us outside our comfort zone, to put our own feelings and wants on the line, to risk being hurt or misunderstood for the sake of the beloved. 

It’s in such complete and uncompromising love that we most mirror that of God; it’s in selfless and simple generosity and giving that we participate in the very life of God.     

Teach us to love as you love us, O God: totally, completely, without condition or

qualification. Help us to possess the humility and gratitude to mirror your loving forgiveness and healing compassion within our homes and families, our communities and churches, our schools and workplaces.

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.

Saints Charles Lwanga and Companions, Martyrs
1860–1886

Patron Saint of African youth

Young African Christians die like the martyrs of old

Many of the faces of the saints in heaven that shine with the light of God are dark faces. North Africa was one of the first regions to be evangelized and was home to a vibrant, diverse, and orthodox Church for over six hundred years. North Africa had over four hundred bishoprics and enriched the universal Church with a wealth of theologians, martyrs, and saints. That Catholic culture drowned under the crushing waves of Arab Muslim armies that inundated North Africa in the seventh century, altering its cultural and religious landscape. Small pockets of Christianity continued to exist in isolation for a few centuries more. But by 1830, when French colonists and missionaries settled in Tunisia and Algeria, local Christianity had totally disappeared. The Christian light had gone out in North Africa centuries before.

Yet today’s saints are nineteenth-century African martyrs. While North Africa has remained in the tight grip of Islam, sub-Saharan Africa has lived a contrary reality. It has embraced Christianity. Throughout the nineteenth century, daring missionary priests and religious from various European countries penetrated deep into the towns, savannas, jungles, and river deltas of the “dark continent,” carrying the light of Christ. For the most part, they were well received and initiated the long and complex process of evangelization, inculturation, and education that has turned today’s sub-Saharan Africa into a largely Christian region.

Charles Lwanga and his companions were all very young men, in their teens and twenties, when they were martyred. They ran afoul of their local ruler for one reason and one reason only—they were Christians and adhered to Christian morality. The ruler did not otherwise question their loyalty, devotion, or service to him. He was suspicious of the European priests who had brought the faith, wary of outside interference in his kingdom, and also eager to impress his subjects with a display of ruthlessness and power. He was also a sodomite who wanted these young men to engage in unholy sexual acts with him. For refusing to satisfy his disordered and abusive lust, they became victims of homosexual violence.

The ruler and his court questioned the young males who served as their pages and assistants to discover if they were catechumens, had been baptized, or knew how to pray. Those who answered “Yes” were killed for it. One was stabbed through the neck with a spear and another’s arm was cut off before he was beheaded. But most were marched miles to an execution site, cruelly treated for a week, then wrapped in reed matts and placed over a fire until their feet were singed. They were then given one last chance to abjure their faith. None did. These tightly wrapped human candles were then thrown onto a huge pyre where they returned to the dust from whence, they came. One of the executioners even killed his own son. The executioners and onlookers knew their victims had succumbed to the flames when they no longer heard them praying.

The site where these Ugandan martyrs died is now a popular shrine and a source of pride dear to the heart of African Catholics. Charles Lwanga and his companions, though new to the faith, acted with the maturity of the wise and the aged, choosing to sacrifice lives full of promise rather than surrender the pearl of greatest price—their Catholic faith.

Parish Daily Update 6/1/21

Dear Parish Family,

Today is the Feast of St. Justin Martyr who lived from 100 – 165.  His wisdom could have been written today!

“We used to hate and destroy one another and refused to associate with people of another race or country.  Now, because of Christ, we live together with such people and pray for our enemies.”  

“Let it be understood, that those who are not found living as He taught, are NOT Christian – even though they profess with the lips, the teaching of Christ.”

As we are well into our “return to normal,” this will be the last week of daily emails.  I began sending them, along with the daily readings and Father Kevin’s words of wisdom, at the beginning of the “shut-down” last year as a way to keep us all in touch and connected through all the difficulties that the pandemic foisted upon us all.  Going forward, we will send one email a week, which will normally come on Wednesdays, and which will include parish information along with the readings and Father Kevin’s homily for the upcoming Sunday.  I want to take this time to thank Father Kevin for providing his daily homilies for the last 5+ months.  His words have been, on many, many days, exactly what we needed to hear to take us through another day!

Also, please remember that Bishop Kopacz is lifting the dispensation from the Sunday Mass Obligation beginning this coming Sunday.  Once again, all Catholics in good health are Obligated to attend Mass every Sunday.  As usual, if you are sick, immune compromised, or fearful of returning to a Sunday Mass, you have the option of staying home or attending a daily Mass on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. to fulfill your Sunday obligation. 

Offering for the week of 5/23/21:

General                              $10,029.00

Building                              $205.00

Communication               $205.00

The methods we have set up to make it convenient to make your offering are:

                ~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;

~ACH Auto-draft of your account.  Call the office – 601-856-2054 – and we will

  send you the form to have that set up.

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

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

We are grateful for your support of our Parish!

God bless!

Pam

Wednesday of the Ninth Week in Ordinary Time

First Reading:  Tobit 3:1-11, 16-17

Grief-stricken in spirit, I, Tobit, groaned and wept aloud. Then with sobs I began to pray:

“You are righteous, O Lord, and all your deeds are just; All your ways are mercy and truth;
 you are the judge of the world. And now, O Lord, may you be mindful of me, and look with favor upon me. Punish me not for my sins, nor for my inadvertent offenses, nor for those of my ancestors.  “We sinned against you, and disobeyed your commandments. So you handed us over to plundering, exile, and death, till you made us the talk and reproach of all the nations
among whom you had dispersed us. “Yes, your judgments are many and true in dealing with me as my sins and those of my ancestors deserve. For we have not kept your commandments,
nor have we trodden the paths of truth before you. “So now, deal with me as you please,
and command my life breath to be taken from me, that I may go from the face of the earth into dust. It is better for me to die than to live, because I have heard insulting calumnies, and I am overwhelmed with grief. “Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish;
let me go to the everlasting abode; Lord, refuse me not. For it is better for me to die than to endure so much misery in life, and to hear these insults!” On the same day, at Ecbatana in Media,
it so happened that Raguel’s daughter Sarah also had to listen to abuse, from one of her father’s maids. For she had been married to seven husbands, but the wicked demon Asmodeus killed them off before they could have intercourse with her, as it is prescribed for wives. So the maid said to her: “You are the one who strangles your husbands! Look at you! You have already been married seven times, but you have had no joy with any one of your husbands. Why do you beat us? Is it on account of your seven husbands, Because they are dead? May we never see a son or daughter of yours!” The girl was deeply saddened that day, and she went into an upper chamber of her house, where she planned to hang herself. But she reconsidered, saying to herself: “No! People would level this insult against my father: ‘You had only one beloved daughter, but she hanged herself because of ill fortune!’ And thus would I cause my father in his old age to go down to the nether world laden with sorrow. It is far better for me not to hang myself,
but to beg the Lord to have me die, so that I need no longer live to hear such insults.” At that time, then, she spread out her hands, and facing the window, poured out her prayer: “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honorable name. Blessed are you in all your works for ever!” At that very time, the prayer of these two suppliants was heard in the glorious presence of Almighty God. So Raphael was sent to heal them both: to remove the cataracts from Tobit’s eyes, so that he might again see God’s sunlight; and to marry Raguel’s daughter Sarah to Tobit’s son Tobiah, and then drive the wicked demon Asmodeus from her.

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 25:2-3, 4-5, 6, 7, 8-9

R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
In you I trust; let me not be put to shame,
let not my enemies exult over me.
No one who waits for you shall be put to shame;
those shall be put to shame who heedlessly break faith.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Your ways, O LORD, make known to me;
teach me your paths,
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my savior.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Remember that your compassion, O LORD,
and your kindness are from of old.
In your kindness remember me,
because of your goodness, O LORD.
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.
Good and upright is the LORD;
thus he shows sinners the way.
He guides the humble to justice,
he teaches the humble his way. 
R. To you, O Lord, I lift my soul.

Gospel:  Mark 12:18-27

Some Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to Jesus and put this question to him, saying, “Teacher, Moses wrote for us, ‘If someone’s brother dies, leaving a wife but no child,
his brother must take the wife and raise up descendants for his brother.’ Now there were seven brothers. The first married a woman and died, leaving no descendants. So the second brother married her and died, leaving no descendants, and the third likewise. And the seven left no descendants. Last of all the woman also died. At the resurrection when they arise whose wife will she be? For all seven had been married to her.” Jesus said to them, “Are you not misled
because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God? When they rise from the dead,
they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but they are like the angels in heaven. As for the dead being raised, have you not read in the Book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God told him,

I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?
He is not God of the dead but of the living. You are greatly misled.”

Homily

“[Sarah] went into an upper chamber of her house, where she planned to hang herself.”

Tobit 3:1-11a, 16-17a

Today’s first reading is a story of a young woman struggling with mental illness.

Sarah has been widowed seven times. A wicked demon named Asmodeus has killed them all on their wedding nights. The distraught Sarah can’t understand how or why this is happening to her. At the height of her despair, Sarah contemplates hanging herself – but realizes the pain this would inflict on her father. Instead, Sarah places her trust in the God of mercy and, as the story unfolds, God will bless her in the arrival of Tobias and Raphael.

Today’s first reading is a sobering reminder of the reality of the depression and despair suffered by many of our sisters and brothers. The plight of poor Sarah is all too real for many families – and the consequences are often tragic. It’s hard for us to understand such despondency – although more than a few of us have experienced some moments of despair and hopelessness during the pandemic.

Psychologists and mental health professionals tell us that the best thing we can do for someone struggling is to simply listen, to keep in touch if only by a text or email, to give the depressed and anxious a safe place to talk, to gently encourage without judgment or criticism.

So let the story of Sarah in today’s reading from the Book of Tobit make us more aware and attentive to those whose lives are a constant struggle to find balance and peace, and that we not hesitate to seek the grace to be for them a lifeline out of the abyss, a light that shatters their endless darkness.

O God, help us to remember that your love extends to all your daughters and sons. Instill in us the compassion and empathy to be your loving presence for the despondent and the hopeless. Help us to be a listening ear and safe harbor for them so that they know they are not alone in their darkness and they are supported as they seek to heal their brokenness and rediscover peace and hope in their 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.  Amen.

Saints Marcellinus and Peter, Martyrs
Mid-third Century–c. 304

Their memory was preserved by their very executioner

Saint Helen went to the Holy Land and returned to Rome with remnants of the true cross of Christ. This same Helen was the mother of Constantine, the Roman Emperor who legalized Christianity in 313 and who called the Council of Nicea in 325. When Saint Helen died around 328, her Emperor-Son placed her body in a monumental, sumptuous sarcophagus of rare, porphyry marble from Egypt. The deeply carved red stone shows Roman soldiers on horseback conquering barbarians. These are not scenes likely to adorn a pious woman’s tomb. It was probably meant to be Constantine’s own sarcophagus, but when his mother died, he used it for her. And Constantine did one more thing for his mother. He built a large church on the outskirts of Rome over the catacombs, or burial place, of today’s saints, Marcellinus and Peter, and placed his mother and her giant tomb inside of the church.

That one so famous and powerful as Constantine would build a church over the catacombs of Marcellinus and Peter, and honor this church still more with his mother’s tomb, testifies to these martyrs’ importance to the early Christians of Rome. And since they were martyred in approximately 304, only a decade before Constantine conquered the eternal city, their memory must still have been fresh when Christianity was legalized. Until this time, Christians worshipped in dark, hidden places. As they first stepped into the public light to build the ancient churches whose walls, pillars, and foundations are still visible today, these Christians honored those who came before them. They honored those whose deaths were all the sadder because they perished so close to the day of Christian liberation. They honored Saints Marcellinus and Peter.

Little is known with certainty about Saint Marcellinus and Saint Peter. Tradition tells us that Marcellinus was a priest and Peter an exorcist and that they were beheaded on the outskirts of Rome. A few years after the bloody event, a little boy from Rome heard about their deaths from the mouth of their very executioner, who later became a Christian. That little boy was named Damasus, and he went on to became Pope from 366–384. Decades later, remembering the story he had heard as a child, Pope Damasus honored Marcellinus and Peter by adorning their tomb with a marble inscription recounting the details of their martyrdom as he had heard them so long ago. Unfortunately, the inscription is lost.

The circumstances of Marcellinus’ and Peter’s deaths were likely similar to those of other, better-documented martyrdoms: some public declaration of faith, arrest, perfunctory trial, a chance to offer sacrifice to a Roman god, a refusal, a last chance to be an idolater, a last refusal, and then a swift, businesslike beheading. It was over quickly. Then came the calm. Then came the night. And out of that darkness emerged a candle-lit procession of humble Christians, walking slowly and silently toward the place of execution. The headless corpses were placed on white sheets and carried solemnly to an underground burial niche. A small marble plaque etched with the martyrs’ names was placed nearby. An oil lamp was lit and left burning. Thus the veneration began. Thus it continues today.

Marcellinus and Peter were important enough to be included in the official list of Roman martyrs and to have their names remembered in the liturgy of Rome. As the Mass celebrated in Rome became standard throughout the Catholic world, the names of Marcellinus and Peter were embedded into the Roman Canon, the First Eucharistic Prayer. And there they are read at Mass until today, more than one thousand seven hundred years after they died. The Body of Christ forgets nothing, retains everything, and purifies its memory to honor those who deserve honoring.

The catacombs and the first Basilica of Marcellinus and Peter fell into ruins at the hands of two enemies—time and the Goths. A “new” church was built nearby to replace it and is still a parish. Saint Helen’s bones were removed from her imperial tomb in the twelfth century and swapped with the body of a Pope. The tomb was later emptied again and, in 1777, moved to the Vatican museums. Hundreds of thousands of tourists walk right by the tomb every year, seeing perhaps just a huge chunk of marble, oblivious to the rich history connecting the monumental tomb to ancient Christianity and the martyrs we commemorate today.

Parish Daily Update 5/31/21

Dear Parish Family,

Prayer for Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day, we pray for

peace and for those who gave all. 

Lead us toward a world where no

one must give their lives in pursuit of

freedom.  Guide us toward a

harmonious existence as we honor

those who were willing to give up

their lives that we may gather

freely.  May we be receptive to

Your guidance, and may we never

forget the fallen. 

Amen

“So this day shall be to you a memorial.”    ~Exodus 12:14

God bless,

Pam

Memorial of Saint Justin, Martyr

First Reading:  Tobit 2:9-14

On the night of Pentecost, after I had buried the dead, I, Tobit, went into my courtyard 
to sleep next to the courtyard wall.  My face was uncovered because of the heat.  I did not know there were birds perched on the wall above me, till their warm droppings settled in my eyes, causing cataracts. I went to see some doctors for a cure but the more they anointed my eyes with various salves, the worse the cataracts became, until I could see no more. For four years I was deprived of eyesight, and all my kinsmen were grieved at my condition. Ahiqar, however, took care of me for two years, until he left for Elymais. At that time, my wife Anna worked for hire 
at weaving cloth, the kind of work women do. When she sent back the goods to their owners, they would pay her. Late in winter on the seventh of Dystrus, she finished the cloth and sent it back to the owners. They paid her the full salary and also gave her a young goat for the table. 
On entering my house the goat began to bleat. I called to my wife and said: “Where did this goat come from? Perhaps it was stolen! Give it back to its owners;  we have no right to eat stolen food!” She said to me, “It was given to me as a bonus over and above my wages.” Yet I would not believe her, and told her to give it back to its owners. I became very angry with her over this. 
So she retorted: “Where are your charitable deeds now? Where are your virtuous acts? See! Your true character is finally showing itself!”

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 112:1-2, 7-8, 9

R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
Blessed the man who fears the LORD,
who greatly delights in his commands.
His posterity shall be mighty upon the earth;
the upright generation shall be blessed.
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
An evil report he shall not fear;
his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD.
His heart is steadfast; he shall not fear
till he looks down upon his foes. 
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.
Lavishly he gives to the poor;
his generosity shall endure forever;
his horn shall be exalted in glory.
R. The heart of the just one is firm, trusting in the Lord.

Gospel:  Mark 12:13-17

Some Pharisees and Herodians were sent to Jesus to ensnare him in his speech.
They came and said to him, “Teacher, we know that you are a truthful man and that you are not concerned with anyone’s opinion. You do not regard a person’s status but teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not? Should we pay or should we not pay?” Knowing their hypocrisy he said to them, “Why are you testing me?
Bring me a denarius to look at.” They brought one to him and he said to them, “Whose image and inscription is this?” They replied to him, “Caesar’s.”
So Jesus said to them, “Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” They were utterly amazed at him.

Homily

“Repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” Mark 12: 13-17

It’s not really the question.

It’s not about what belongs to God versus what belongs to Caesar.  

It’s about who or what are our gods – is Caesar (government) our God.  Am I really seeking God and the things of God in every decision, in every relationship, in every time and place – even Caesar’s?

Jesus calls us to God’s work of creating his Kingdom of justice, reconciliation, peace and compassion. If we can bring healing and wholeness through our work with the Church, so be it. If we can make our communities and nations safer and healthier places for our children through public policy, we’re on board. If putting our own interests and agendas aside will enable the poor, the vulnerable and the physically and mentally challenged break out of the cycles of poverty, fear and limitations, we’re there.

The Jesus of the Gospels is not about the rights and interests of any one group above another.  He is not about, as so often happens, the powerful and wealthy getting their way. For Jesus, it’s about the common good: providing for the needs of all, especially those on the margins; protecting the dignity of the poorest and forgotten among us; using our power and wealth for the benefit of the powerless and struggling.  Because when we hold up and respect the rights and needs of those on the fringe then we see all as God’s children.

If “Caesar” can do that with our “coin,” great. If it means sacrificing some part of our “coin” to realize God’s Kingdom, let it go . . .

All is yours, O God, and all we have has been given to us out of your limitless, unconditional love. May we possess the generosity of spirit to use our “coin” to create your Kingdom of justice, compassion and mercy in this time and place of ours, to put our power and wealth to the service of all, especially the vulnerable, the struggling and the marginalized among us. In all things – in politics, in the economy, in education – may we seek first and always your way of justice, compassion and reconciliation. 

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 5/30/21

Dear Parish Family,

“Blessed are you, now and through endless ages, O holy Creator and Ruler of all, most blessed and undivided Trinity!”     (Traditional Antiphon)

Have a safe and happy Memorial Day Holiday – always remembering those who gave their lives in defense of our country and our freedoms!!

God bless,

Pam

Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

First Reading:  Zephaniah 3:14-18

Shout for joy, O daughter Zion! Sing joyfully, O Israel! Be glad and exult with all your heart, 
O daughter Jerusalem! The LORD has removed the judgment against you, he has turned away your enemies; The King of Israel, the LORD, is in your midst, you have no further misfortune to fear. On that day, it shall be said to Jerusalem: Fear not, O Zion, be not discouraged!
The LORD, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior; He will rejoice over you with gladness,
and renew you in his love, He will sing joyfully because of you, as one sings at festivals.

OR:

Romans 12:9-16

Brothers and sisters:
Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honor. Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, endure in affliction, persevere in prayer.
Contribute to the needs of the holy ones, exercise hospitality. Bless those who persecute you,
bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.
Have the same regard for one another; do not be haughty but associate with the lowly;
do not be wise in your own estimation.

Responsorial Psalm:  Isaiah 12:2-3, 4, 5-6

R. Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
God indeed is my savior;
I am confident and unafraid.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
and he has been my savior.
With joy you will draw water
at the fountain of salvation.
R.    Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Give thanks to the LORD, acclaim his name;
among the nations make known his deeds,
proclaim how exalted is his name.
R.    Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.
Sing praise to the LORD for his glorious achievement;
let this be known throughout all the earth.
Shout with exultation, O city of Zion,
for great in your midst 
is the Holy One of Israel!
R.    Among you is the great and Holy One of Israel.

Gospel:  Luke 1:39-56

Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

And Mary said:

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, he has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children for ever.” Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Homily

“Mary set out to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the   house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.”  Luke 1:39-56

Mary’s visit to Elizabeth in Luke’s Gospel especially resonates with us as we begin to “open up” after a long 15 months of not being able to “visit” those we love.

Once she learns that her elderly cousin is pregnant, Mary, who is dealing with her own unexpected pregnancy, goes to be with Elizabeth. Luke’s account suggests that Mary goes to help Elizabeth through this very difficult and stressful time – but Mary no doubt hopes that Elizabeth’s wisdom and faith will help her through her own fears and confusion. The Spirit of God is present in the two cousins’ love and care for each other.

In that same Spirit, let us welcome one another again into our homes; let us come together to celebrate at our tables again. May the past 15 months make us appreciate anew how much we learn and are supported by family and friends, how our lives are enriched by their presence in our lives, how God makes his love known in the Marys and Elizabeths who grace our lives.

God of all times and ages, may your Spirit be with us in our own “visitations” with family and friends, with all who come to us in need and those to whom we go to in times of crisis. May we not shrink away from the opportunity to be Mary and Elizabeth for one another: to embrace and be embraced by your grace and your Spirit of love when we are lost or afraid; to help others realize the peace and hope of your presence in their lives as we have come to know it in ours. 

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 5/29/21

Dear Parish Family,

“All life demands struggle.  Those who have everything given to them become lazy, selfish, and insensitive to the real values of life.  The very striving and hard work that we so constantly try to avoid is the major building block in the person we are today.”   ~St. Paul VI

We will have Mass for Memorial Day on Monday at 9:00 a.m.

As a reminder, the Bishop is reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation the weekend of June 5/6.  As always, anyone, especially those individuals who have compromised immune systems and other underlying health conditions who may be uncomfortable inside with others, are able to remain at home.  As an option to Sunday Mass, you are also able to attend our Wednesday 5:30 p.m. Mass, which will fulfill your Sunday obligation at this time.

Have a safe and wonderful Memorial Day Weekend!

God bless,

Pam

The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity  

First Reading:  Deuteronomy 4:32-34, 39-40 

Moses said to the people:
“Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth;
ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of? Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live? Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other. You must keep his statutes and commandments that I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper,
and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.” 

Responsorial Psalm:  Ps 33:4-5, 6, 9, 18-19, 20, 22 

R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Upright is the word of the LORD,
and all his works are trustworthy.
He loves justice and right;
of the kindness of the Lord the earth is full.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
By the word of the LORD the heavens were made;
by the breath of his mouth all their host.
For he spoke, and it was made;
he commanded, and it stood forth.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
See, the eyes of the LORD are upon those who fear him,
upon those who hope for his kindness,
To deliver them from death
and preserve them in spite of famine.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.
Our soul waits for the LORD,
who is our help and our shield.
May your kindness, O LORD, be upon us
who have put our hope in you.
R. Blessed the people the Lord has chosen to be his own. 

Second Reading:  Romans 8:14-17 

Brothers and sisters:
For those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received a Spirit of adoption, through whom we cry, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if only we suffer with him
so that we may also be glorified with him.  

Gospel:  Matthew 28:16-20 

The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. When they all 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.” 

Homily 

“…make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…”  Matthew 28:16-20 

The majesty of the great mountains, the beauty of the seas, the intricacies of nature inspire praise and wonder of the God who created them. 

But we don’t have to travel all that far to see the hand of God. Go to your car and lift the hood. There in the maze of pistons and carburetors, of hoses and plugs that make the internal combustion engine work, we can behold the creative work of God unleashing the power of a molecule of gasoline. 

Or consider the computer on your desk or phone in your pocket or purse. In a grain of sand that has been transformed into a computer chip, God releases the wisdom of the ages, enabling us to connect so many disparate nations and tribes, to develop and test new medicines and machines to improve the lives of all, to design buildings and conveyances that were unimaginable just a few years ago. 

And then there are the people in whom we find God. Like that teacher you will never forget who spent hours with you to get you through math and reading, not because it was their job but because they believed that you were worth it. God was present in that teacher — and God is present in the volunteer at the soup kitchen, the teenager who always manages to make friends with even the most unpopular kid, the soldier putting his or her life on the line for the sake of peace, the cancer patient whose perseverance and optimism inspire family and friends. 

God is in our midst. God is present in so many good folks and things and events. 

All we need is the open heart and spirit to seek God. 

This Solemnity of the Holy Trinity we celebrate today focuses on the ways in which we encounter God in our lives: The Father and Creator of all life, The Son and Redeemer who reveals to us the unfathomable love of God; The Spirit, the love of God that makes us families and communities.  We begin by opening our eyes and minds, our senses and our consciousness to behold God’s presence in our midst in real and holy ways and to realize our simple but profound identity as children of God. 

Throughout history, people have been captured by two fundamentally different experiences of God.  Most human beings have been fascinated by the divine presence suffused throughout creation.  And so, believers, such as Hindus, have tended to adore many gods.  Others like Jews and Moslems, have fought hard to maintain a belief in the oneness of God, who is like no other and who has no equal.  Gradually, through the revelation of Jesus, we Christians came to understand that there was something true about both these different intuitions of God’s presence.  God is one, but a oneness in the midst of plurality, a unity in diversity.  The Christian God exists only through a community of eternal persons.  This belief in the Trinity did not arise from philosophical speculation but because of our experience of Jesus and what he revealed about himself, his Father, and the Holy Spirit. 

The temptation to worship many gods exists in our own day.  In fact, it exists in every age.  The author of the first reading invites us to marvel at the many experiences of encounter that have shaped our history.  And the author offers that the only plausible response to God’s loving personal involvement in history and in our lives is a loyal faith, lived out in obedience to God’s word. 

So real worship of God begins with an absolute commitment to God, it begins with setting aside other gods that may try to claim a portion of our hearts.  As a motive for believing that God is greater than all other gods, the Deuteronomist calls the people to remember the great deeds God has done on their behalf.  What other god, he asks, has ever done anything like that for any other people.  In a similar way we need to reflect on what God has done for us. 

Marina Nemat at the age of 16 spent more than two years in Iran’s notorious Evin Prison where she was tortured and threatened with execution.  In 1982 in her memoir she wrote; “The way I see Jesus has not changed much since I was a child. His being the Son of God makes sense to me because I believe God to be loving, just, forgiving, and merciful. I also believe that He respects free will. After all, He has given it to us so that we can choose to love Him or not, to do good or evil. But is it fair for a loving God to sit on His throne in Heaven and let us struggle and suffer on our own? Would any good father abandon his children this way? It makes perfect sense to me that God decided to come among us, live like us, and die a horribly painful death after being tortured. This is a God I can love with all my heart. A God who sets an example. A God who has bled and whose heart has been broken. This is who Jesus is to me. I don’t pretend that I understand the Holy Trinity. But I understand love and sacrifice. I understand faithfulness.” 

When it comes to a description of God, even the greatest theologians are left struggling for words, for human language can never ultimately capture God’s essence. Our less-than-perfect metaphors do help us begin to grasp that Love that is the heart of our Trinitarian faith: The Love who created our world and fashioned it with care; the Love who passionately desired to become one of us; the Love who could never leave us but remains with us, illuminating every moment of our existence. It is that Love who enables us to reclaim our lives after cruel and devastating events; it is that Love who enables us to constantly reclaim our own. 

The core of all of Jesus’ teaching is the revelation of God, God as Abba, Father. Abba is the Aramaic word that children used at home when speaking to their fathers.  The God revealed to us in Jesus is a God of love.  But not just any kind of love.  God is what the Greeks called agape which may simply be translated as, perfect love or “love with no strings attached.”   God call us, not as the all-powerful Creator demanding homage from the lowly objects he created, but as a compassionate parent welcoming and loving one’s own children.   God invites us to a relationship not based on fear and judgement.  God’s love does not depend upon being loved in return; it is a pure and perfect self-gift.  God is so much self-gift that he created the world.  God did not need the world but that boundless love just ‘naturally’ – as it were – spilled over.   

Some may remember in the Baltimore Catechism – “Why did God make you? To know, love, and serve him and to be happy with him in this world and the next.”  There is one thing you, I and God have in common: We’re all human. 

This is not a God detached from his creation or his creatures.  Jesus too is a manifestation of God’s self-gift.  As St. Augustine put it, “God is more intimate to us than we are to ourselves.”  Even when we sin, God loves us – before the sin, during the sin, after the sin.  Our immediate response might be ‘Great now I don’t need to worry.’  But we humans really find it painful to bear too much love. 

Today’s celebration confronts us with our response to God’s invitation.  We have been called to be children of God – how shall we respond? 

It is the will of Jesus that all people come to experience this intimate union with God.  For that reason, he commands each of us as his disciples, followers, students, to go out and spread the word about how God creates, redeems, and sanctifies through making us one with Him in Baptism. 

What remains is for us to prepare ourselves so that when the full light of God dawns upon us, we will immediately recognize the love that has brought us home. 

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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