Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Guess Who’s Coming for (Holy Thursday) Supper?

Dear Parishioners,

I received a call recently from Bishop Dennis Sullivan’s priest-secretary, Fr. Michael Romano, informing me that our bishop desires to celebrate the Holy Thursday Mass in our parish.  Naturally, I welcomed the opportunity and invited the bishop (and his entourage) to dinner at the rectory beforehand.

A priest or deacon necessarily works in conjunction with his bishop.  The bishop is the chief shepherd—chief teacher, preacher, administrator—of the diocese.  We pray for him (and the pope) by name at every Mass celebrated in his diocese.  We look to him for guidance and direction as the chief spiritual leader of our local (diocesan) church.  We know all too well that bishops are imperfect sinners like the rest of us, and they need our continual prayers to assist them in the difficult task of shepherding God’s flock.

F. Y. I., Bishop Sullivan is also scheduled to be with us to administer the Sacrament of Confirmation on Saturday, April 18th at 10 AM and 1 PM.  (Just a reminder: there will be no 8:30 AM Mass that Saturday morning.)

Holy Thursday is a most important day for priests.  We commemorate it as the day the Holy Eucharist was instituted—the first Mass, so to speak.  Also, we realize the intimate connection between the ministerial (ordained) priesthood and the Holy Eucharist:

The intrinsic relationship between the Eucharist and the sacrament of Holy Orders clearly emerges from Jesus' own words in the Upper Room: "Do this in memory of me" (Lk 22:19).   On the night before he died, Jesus instituted the Eucharist and at the same time established the priesthood of the New Covenant . . . .   The Church teaches that priestly ordination is the indispensable condition for the valid celebration of the Eucharist.  Indeed, "in the ecclesial service of the ordained minister, it is Christ himself who is present to his Church as Head of his Body, Shepherd of his flock, High Priest of the redemptive sacrifice." Sacramentum Caritatis, Pope Benedict XVI
Additionally, we are reminded of our call to Christian charity and service as Jesus’ disciples by the foot-washing ceremony (mandatum).  As Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the Last Supper (John 13: 1-20)—something only a Jewish slave would do—we are given a command or mandate to Christian charity and service, in imitation of him.

Finally, we are given time at the conclusion of Mass to keep watch with Christ (see Mt. 26: 36-46), truly present in the Holy Eucharist at a side altar-shrine in the repository.

Please try to join us for this Mass (Thursday, April 2 at 7 PM), as well as the liturgy on Good Friday (April 3 at 3 PM) and for the Easter Vigil (Saturday, April 4 at 8 PM).

Holy Week and its ceremonies are especially beautiful and grace-filled.  Please come!

Fr. Ed Namiotka

Bishop Dennis Sullivan

Thursday, March 5, 2015

40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration

Dear Parishioners,

As we prepare to celebrate the Solemnity of St. Joseph, Husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary (March 19), our parish will observe 40 Hours of Eucharistic Adoration from Tuesday, March 17 to Thursday, March 19.  Beginning with an evening Mass at 7 PM on March 17, the Blessed Sacrament will remain continually present on the altar for private prayer and adoration, except when a Mass is scheduled.  We will have an evening Mass at 7 PM on March 17, 18 and 19 (in addition to our regular morning Mass at 8:30 AM). 

On Thursday, March 19 there will be three Masses:  8:30 AM (regular morning Mass), 10 AM (school Mass with the Sisters of St. Joseph renewing their vows) and 7:00 PM (closing of the 40 Hours with a procession of the Most Blessed Sacrament).

I truly believe that when we take the time to be with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, it is a time of tremendous blessing not only for us as individuals but also for our families and for our entire parish family.  I do not ever want us to take for granted the great gift of the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist.  Time spent with Him is a grace-filled time.  We can express our love and adoration for Jesus, thankfulness for our blessings, and contrition for sin (our own and the sins of others).  We can also intercede for one another and petition the Lord for our various needs.  It is an invaluable time to spend with Jesus, truly present in the Most Blessed Sacrament.

When we come into the Lord’s presence, Jesus can do something to us.  We may think that we go to pray, to petition and to worship, or even that we are doing God a favor by spending some of our precious time with Him.  Our Lord Jesus, however, can transform us while we spend time with Him.  We do not need to worry about what prayers we should say, what spiritual readings we should be reading or what we should be doing in His Presence.  Just being with the Lord can be transforming.  He can soften our hearts, heal our wounds, inspire us and guide us.  He can give us an inner peace that nothing in this world can match.  Making the commitment to spend time with Him can truly transform us.

What I am once again requesting from you, my parishioners, is that you dedicate one hour sometime during these three days with the Lord in adoration.  (This should be in addition to any time attending Mass, when possible.)  This devotion will continue for two nights—around the clock—and I need your help and cooperation in order to do this.  Could you please think about dedicating an hour in prayer before the Most Blessed Sacrament?  Why not encourage members of your family to pray as a family for an hour?  Perhaps a group or organization within the parish can make a holy hour together (choir, Knights of Columbus, Rosary Altar Society, Nursing Ministry, lectors, extraordinary ministers of the Holy Eucharist, etc.).  I especially need a few insomniacs or night owls to cover the late hours!

Sign-up sheets are available at the doors of the church so that we can be sure that there is always someone keeping watch with our Lord.  Please assist me in making this a special time for our parish as we adore our Eucharistic Lord.

Fr. Ed Namiotka