As my time here as pastor I have tried to make sure that Sunday Mass is celebrated well. The Mass should be an experience of mystery and love. First, our love for Almighty God and God’s love for us revealed in the Sacred Mysteries. Our prayers, our singing, our silence, our standing, and our kneeling draw us closer together into the Body of Christ, the Church.
You may also remember that I have on occasion stood on the same side of the altar as the faithful in the pews as allowed by the Rubric of the Mass, the red directives in the Missal which guides the priest during Mass. I did hear a few comments about having my back to the people but, in reality, we are all facing the same way, looking ahead towards the coming of the Lord who will come from the east, symbolized by the rising sun. (the back wall of the sanctuary is considered east no matter which true direction the compass points) Think of our pilgrimage as we are all walking together to meet the Lord. In the military group, the captain leads knowing that the troops are right behind him. So it is with the priest at the Altar facing the same way as the faithful in the pews. He knows that the faithful are following right behind.
Perhaps folks in the pews should not consider themselves an audience, but as a more supporting cast in the unfolding of the drama we call the Mass. It is the people in the pew who gather behind the priest at the altar. When I offer the bread and wine, you too are invited to offer your spiritual gifts to God our heavenly Father. So who might we consider the audience if it is not the people in the pew? To whom are all the prayers addressed? It is Almighty God and in some sense the rest of the world. When you as faithful members of the Church recognize your role to play in the Mass, it becomes more meaningful and important. If we are just spectators in the Liturgy of the Mass we do a disservice to Almighty God.
As many of you know this past year in Religious Education St. Mary’s and St. Patrick’s moved to a family-based model call “A Family of Faith” for the elementary grades, except for 2nd of course. Some have asked why the switch when our Religious Education program was well established.
First, parents are to be the first teachers of their children in the ways of faith. The new family-based program provides support to the parents so that they can understand the faith and hand it on to their children. Second, we have been declining in the number of children in the Religious Education program. This coming year there will be approximately 26 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. Thirty years ago there were 101 students in those grades. Today most of the grades have 3 to 4 students, but some students do not attend class with any consistency making it difficult for the teacher. Third, it is getting more difficult to have people commit to being teachers. Again, the busyness of families. Fourth, it is my hope that those families who choose to participate in “A Family of Faith” will be renewed in faith and will participate deeply in the sacraments, especially the Mass, and become involved in parish life.
I know that people are busy and the demands on “Family Time” are varied. “A Family of Faith” program asked parents to commitment to a 90-minute session once a month for 9 months. That is 13 ½ hours out of the year plus whatever time to interact one on one with their child as together they complete the two monthly lessons. We had twenty-four families who were invited to participate, of them I would say a third were there for all the sessions, a third came occasionally, and a third came only to one or two sessions. I don’t know what the future holds but those things which we were able to do with a hundred students might not work so well with twenty-six students.
Whenever something new is tried there will be rewards and challenges. I pray that “A Family of Faith” will bring many blessings to families and the parishes.
This Sunday is the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time. The liturgical color is green as you can see from the vestments worn by the priest. The Church has completed the Lent and Easter Season and now moves into Ordinary Time which will lead up to the Feast of Christ the King just before Advent begins.
Ordinary Time as a liturgical season is anything but ordinary in the traditional sense. It is a season which reflects the cycles of life on earth and salvation history. We hear from the Gospel the teachings of Christ which are meant as encouragement to grow in faith. The green color chosen for Ordinary Time is reminiscent of our growing more faithful. Green becomes a sign of hope.
This weekend is Father’s Day. It is a time for cookouts, ties, and homemade gifts. As Catholics, we can also use the day to reflect on the Fatherhood of God, since it is the foundation of all fatherhood, the natural fatherhood of the family and also a priest’s spiritual fatherhood. As fathers, we are to reflect the compassion, love, and sacrifice of God our father, who is kind, merciful and strong.
This is a job that is not always easy, yet possible with God’s grace. It is especially appropriate to say thank you to God for the blessings of our fathers. We can also remember them in our daily prayers, especially those who have died. Sadly, if by chance, your father reflected a distorted view of fatherhood, excessive cruelty or abandonment we can use this day to pray for healing and strength.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT Do I have a sense of hope in God’s goodness when I hear the Sunday Gospel? Am I trying to learn more about my faith during this ordinary time? How do I invite Christ Jesus into my life daily? Do I have a positive understanding of God’s fatherhood?
June is the traditional time for weddings in the Church to take place. Married love has always been seen as an icon, a picture, which reflects the love that God has for humanity and also helps us understand the relationship that the Church, the bride, has with Christ, the bridegroom. In society today there have been successful attempts to move away from this understanding of marriage. What began in the 1960’s with the separation of procreative nature of marriage by the use of contraception, leads directly to the complete redefinition of marriage so it is no longer just between one man and one woman.
Fifty years ago Blessed Pope Paul VI issued an encyclical “Humanae Vitae,” (on human life) where he restated the traditional teaching about Love and Marriage and the immoral use of contraception in marriage. Secular society promised many fantastic things with the advent of birth control – women would be more respected, there would be no unwanted children, poverty would be alimented and so forth.
However, Blessed Paul could see the falsehoods and warned against the use of contraception in marriage. He could see that marital infidelity would rise and there would be a lowering of moral standards of society. A man’s reverence for a woman would be destroyed. Power hungry governments may force contraception on a nation. (China’s one-child policy) Blessed Paul VI called all people to live lives based on the natural law and the divine law of love. Sadly his warning went unheeded even by the clergy and the lay faithful.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT How do I understand married love? Does the use of contraception in marriage weaken love? Does the Church have a responsibility to proclaim hard truths about sex and marriage?
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ, or more commonly known as “Corpus Christi”. This great feast of the Catholic Church was instituted in the Thirteenth century to honor Jesus Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. In 1263 at Orvieto, Italy a Eucharistic Miracle happened. A consecrated host began to drip blood on to the corporal. The next year Pope Urban asked St. Thomas Aquinas to compose hymns and prayers which composed the Mass of Corpus Christi. Today we joyfully thank Our Lord for the great gift of his own body and blood truly contained in the Blessed Sacrament.
The Church calls the Eucharist “The source and summit of the Christian Life” (Sacrosanctum Concilium no.47) because it is Christ himself who has promised to remain with His church until the end of time. The Blessed Sacrament, reserved in the tabernacle, has been the source of sanctity for countless saints, martyrs, virgins, missionaries and teachers who have fallen in love with the Lord. They were nourished by the Eucharistic in Holy Communion and strengthened by prayer before the Lord in the tabernacle. The Blessed Sacrament should have a profound effect in our lives as members of his mystical body, the Church.
Today the Church urges all her children to renew their devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. When we spend time in prayer before our Eucharistic Lord we come to adore, ask for forgiveness, give thanks, and petition Him for our needs, the needs of our family, our country and the world as well. (So get to Church early before mass) United to Christ in the Blessed Sacrament we find our strength to remain faithful to the call of holiness. Christ himself becomes our food and companion on our pilgrimage of life.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT
Is my faith strengthen when I receive Holy Communion? What is the connection between the Tabernacle and the altar? How could I increase my devotion to the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament?
This weekend is a time when people recognize the brave men and women who gave their lives in the Armed Forces of our nation. The roots of Memorial Day are found during the Civil War when women in the South began placing flowers on the graves of their beloved dead. Today we not only remember the War dead but all the faithfully departed.
Now is an excellent opportunity to think about our own funeral. Where do you want your funeral to be held? Several years ago a wonderful faithful Catholic widow died but since her children had fallen away from the practice of the Catholic faith they held her funeral at an Evangelical Church. The family then had the nerve to ask if the Catholic parish could host the luncheon. Now I know this may be an extreme case but it reminds us that sometimes those planning the funeral may not value the importance of the Mass. During a Funeral Mass, the merits of Christ’s sacrifice celebrated at the altar are applied to the deceased, healing the soul from the wounds caused by forgiven sins. We commend the souls of the deceased into the hands of God. We pray that God will forgive their sins and remember them with love.
If your surviving family members are away from the Catholic faith I would encourage you to write out your instructions for your funeral. Share your instructions with your family members, your pastor, and whatever funeral home you would like to use. In this way, there might to an opportunity to welcome family members back to the Catholic Church because mom or dad had a Funeral Mass.
Blessings, Father Dooley
QUESTIONS FOR THOUGHT Do I value the Mass and see it as healing for the wounds of sins? Does my family attend Catholic Mass? Would it be helpful to survivors to know what I want for my funeral?