Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Commissions: How we Live out “We Are Saint Joe’s”

A seasoned pastor once told me when I first became a pastor to “be wary of those who

meet you at the train station.” The point was that once you start at a parish, there

typically will be those who greet you (many of whom are nice) but also those who

quickly want to have you do something. Typically they did not like something the prior

pastor did, and this is their chance to get something they want done in a parish.

Indeed, there were some people who “met me at the train station” of sorts when I

became a pastor. People had all kinds of ideas of where the parish was to go. The only

problem is that for a pastor, this can be a bit overwhelming. For while a pastor has to

lead, when a decision is made while some may like it, others may not. And when

someone doesn’t like it, that can turn into gossip and negativity directed towards (guess

who?) the pastor.

I know full well there is no way around making decisions as a pastor. It goes with the

job. But one thing I always have believed in is collaboration. When I became a pastor,

changes were made, but gradually. We formed a building committee to look at adding a

social hall. We met for nearly a year to set up a commission structure. We had

committees for hiring personnel. And we also met tirelessly together as we looked at

where to go in merging two parishes. This was all during my first pastorate, and while

there were some bumps, one of the things I can look back on is that through

collaborating, things were able to get done.

Arriving in Saint Joe’s now nearly 2 years ago, the only people who met me at the

“station” were people with positive comments about the parish. (Well Patty too, she

made sure there were doughnuts on day 1 for the new guy. Now that’s what I call a

good first day.) It was quite refreshing that hardly anyone said “Father you need to do

this.” And I think that’s due largely in part to the fact that thanks to the efforts of Fr. Paul

Jarvis, Jerry Roth and a number of others, a commission structure had been set up in

the parish.

It’s a system I’m quite familiar with. At my first assignment of Holy Name of Jesus, they

were called “Ministerial Area Commissions” or “MACs.” Much like we have here, the

various commissions would meet one night a month following a meal, and then the

parish council would meet.

The benefit of this is it really puts the ball in the court of the parishioners. Thanks to

commissions, parishioners get together and talk about ideas for the parish. These

include namely the areas of faith formation, parish life, administration, the school,

pastoral care and worship. The commissions meet once per month, and discuss various

topics related to these areas of the parish. Some of these are ongoing discussions;

others are action items. The parish council may then discuss these, and a final decision

will be made by the parish council and pastor, who consults with the commissions, staff

and parish director. Of course there’s a lot of things that have to be addressed that are

beyond the scope of the commissions too, such as costs, timing, impact on other people

or ministries, etc. The meetings last about 90 minutes.

There will be things that I as pastor will do of course without input from the commissions

or just input from staff. But the commissions are very helpful to me as a priest as they

are able to give me an idea of what parishioners are thinking, and a way for us to talk

through these ideas before they are implemented.

As you heard last week, Joanie Somes and Lori Hannasch who are on our parish

council spoke to the parish prior to Masses about how we are looking for new people for

next fall to be on our commissions. This weekend after Masses we have information on

the commissions, and in May on Wednesday, May 10th, we’ll have a discernment night

where people who are interested can come and discern which commission might be for

them.

It’s a joy to see how active our parish is and how people care so deeply about Saint

Joe’s. My hope is that you will prayerfully consider serving on a commission next year

as a way to share your input on the direction of our parish. Meetings are run well, and

the time commitment is just one evening per month excluding July and August. We’d

love to have you on a commission next year, and if you know someone who might be a

good fit, encourage them to stop by after Mass or to come on May 10th. Commissions

are a big way how we together say “we are Saint Joe’s!”

Have a great week – and listen to the Holy Spirit who may be tugging at your heart to

get more involved in your parish!

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

God’s Mercy is Something to Celebrate

God’s love is something I’ve preached upon on more than one occasion, and this week,

the Second Sunday of Easter, is also known as Divine Mercy Sunday.

The feast was proclaimed by Saint John Paul II, and has it’s origins in revelations to

Helena Kowalska, who became Sr. Faustina. She was born in Poland in 1905, the third

child of a devout Christian family.

In 1925, she entered the Congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy, taking the

name Faustina. She served as a cook, gardener and doorkeeper in Krakow and several

other community convents. The sisters liked her but did not appreciate or understand

her deep interior life, which included visions and prophecies. On February 22, 1931,

Sister Faustina experienced a new and life-changing vision of Christ. She saw him

wearing a white robe and raising his right hand in blessing with his left hand resting on

his heart from which flowed two rays of light. Jesus told her, “Paint an image according

to the pattern you see, with the prayer, Jesus, I trust in you.”

Faustina could not paint, and struggled to convince her incredulous sisters about the

truth of her vision. Ultimately she persuaded her spiritual director, Father Michael

Sopocko, that the vision was real. He found an artist to create the painting that was

named The Divine Mercy and shown to the world for the first time on April 28, 1935.

Father Sopocko advised Sister Faustina to record her visions in a diary. At one point she

wrote that “Jesus said I was his secretary and an apostle of his divine mercy.” She

devoted the rest of her life to spreading the message of divine mercy and the growth of

popular devotion to it. Her mystical writings have been translated into many languages.

She died of tuberculosis at age 33.

Pope John Paul II canonized her on April 30, 2000.

The revelations experienced by St. Faustina were of a private nature, which are not

essential to anyone’s acceptance of the Catholic faith. These types of visions and

revelations are described in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “Throughout the

ages, there have been so-called ‘private’ revelations, some of which have been

recognized by the authority of the Church. They do not belong, however, to the deposit

of faith. It is not their role to improve or complete Christ’s definitive Revelation, but to

help live more fully by it in a certain period of history” (#67). In another section, the

Catechism describes popular piety, which helps us to put St. Faustina’s revelations into a

broader context: “The religious sense of the Christian people has always found

expression in various forms of piety surrounding the Church’s sacramental life, such as

veneration of relics, visits to sanctuaries, pilgrimages, processions, the stations of the

cross, religious dances, the rosary, medals, etc. These expressions of piety extend the

liturgical life of the Church, but do not replace it….Pastoral discernment is needed to

sustain and support popular piety” (#1674-76).

This is why there are careful investigations whenever anyone says to have had a vision;

and we find that there are many instances where someone may think they had a vision,

and it’s psychological in nature or not authentic. These fade over time. But Saint

Faustina’s were proven to be true. The Divine Mercy devotion fosters the virtue of trust

in God’s mercy that finds its fulfillment in the liturgy of Reconciliation and the Holy

Eucharist. Popular piety animates the faith attitudes that make participation in the

sacraments more vital and fruitful.

How to describe Divine Mercy? An article appearing on EWTN’s website sums it up

beautifully:

The message of mercy is that God loves us — all of us — no matter how great

our sins. He wants us to recognize that His mercy is greater than our sins,

so that we will call upon Him with trust, receive His mercy, and let it flow

through us to others. Thus, all will come to share His joy. It is a message

we can call to mind simply by remembering ABC.

A — Ask for His Mercy. God wants us to approach Him in prayer constantly,

repenting of our sins and asking Him to pour His mercy out upon us and

upon the whole world.

B — Be merciful. God wants us to receive His mercy and let it flow through

us to others. He wants us to extend love and forgiveness to others just as He

does to us.

C — Completely trust in Jesus. God wants us to know that the graces of His

mercy are dependent upon our trust. The more we trust in Jesus, the more

we will receive.

Mercy has also been a special theme of Pope Francis’ pontificate, as he declared last year

a year of mercy.

God’s love is something I try to emphasize in my preaching, and as I said on Easter, God

will always meet us where we are at and find us. What better way to end the Easter

Octave than to celebrate this mercy. Even though Lent is a particular time where we

focus on conversion, this really is life-long as we strive to become better people. Along

the way there will be setbacks, but God’s love will always be there for us. Think about

that and make use of confession, and make sure receiving the Eucharist isn’t just

mechanical but a reminder to you that Jesus takes away our sins. “Jesus, I trust in you”

are the words often seen on the Divine Mercy image – may we do the same daily

remembering His love and mercy endure forever.

God bless,

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Easter is a Beginning, not an End

Easter, along with Christmas, is a very challenging day to preach.

The challenge for anyone delivering a homily on the day though is you have people from all walks of life present at Masses, which are fuller than normal, and you want to make the story relevant to their lives. Much like at Christmas where we know the story, trying to give those at Mass something to think about can be a challenge.

At the time of this writing, I haven’t finished my homily yet. I’m aiming for no longer than 26 or 27 minutes, tops.

Actually that’s a preaching tactic called the “attention grabber.” I figured it might work for a bulletin column too.

While I haven’t finished Easter’s homily yet (though I and my close personal friend Betty Crocker did just finish a batch of chocolate chip cookies, the first I’ve ever baked if you can believe it – one needs fuel for writing these columns. And yes, they turned out pretty good, mostly in circular shapes, but I digress…) one of the things I think I will likely focus on in part is a theme of “transformation.”

One of the things on Palm Sunday and Good Friday as we reflect on the Passion that stands out is the hidden aspect of sin in how so much of what we can do we can dismiss or ignore, but how sin inevitably comes to the surface. Cowardice, jealousy, envy, hate in the heart – it’s all there on display. But as we look at the Passion, we also see the hidden goodness inside all of us in that Jesus reveals our potential. All of us can love as He loved. And, through the apostles, we see how they too are transformed into people who are so full of this hope for heaven and so much on fire for God that they boldly proclaim Christ crucified and risen. It’s quite a contrast from where they were on Good Friday, scattered and hiding behind locked doors. And so, the challenge for us is to let Jesus transform us.

If you are reading this, it means you have come to celebrate Mass on Easter, and I’m glad you are here. But my hope too is that coming to Mass is just one of many things you look at to have a deeper faith life, and that you use this day as a real springboard for your faith.

For one, know that you are always welcome at Mass at Saint Joe’s. By encountering Jesus in the Word and the Eucharist, we are given food for the journey. If you have been away for a while, consider making our Masses a weekly part of our life. Just as we go to the gas station to fuel our car, we need to come to receive spiritual fuel for the challenges life brings.

Secondly, repent. That was the goal during Lent, but we don’t somehow stop falling into sin once we get to Easter. Remember those words of Ash Wednesday: repent and be faithful to the Gospel. So much occupies our time these days, and while it’s OK to be busy, your call is not to have the perfect job, the most awards, or tangible things. Your call is to become a saint. Look at your shadows by daily examining your conscience and ask yourself how you can daily become a better person. Jesus has shown us how as we’ve reflected on the greatest love story ever told over these past few days. The resurrection is God’s triumph over death, and reminds us of how much God loves us. We have to respond to that though by striving to continually become better people. On Ash Wednesday as we began Lent, some opted to give up things such as candy, pop, etc. Those practices are well and fine, but the point of Lent was to ask ourselves questions such as “who am I?” and “where am I going in life” and “where’s my focus” and “what’s lacking?” The effects of sin and bad decisions are very subtle. Little by little though, sin damages our relationship with God and one another. We need to continually become better people, which happens through daily growing in virtue.

Next, go above and beyond of what is asked of you. Being a Christian is a 24/7/365 affair. The story of what Jesus did for us is the greatest love story ever told, and Easter, when our Lord triumphs over death, shows us that sin, death and darkness do not have the last word, but that God does. God wants a relationship with you. The question is, do you want a relationship with Him? Our second reading says it best: “seek what is above.” If you’ve been away from Mass for a while, please consider joining us to hear God’s word and receive Him in the Eucharist. If you have been “too busy” for family lately, remember family means more than a ham dinner once or twice a year – rekindle those connections. If you find your time is spent more on your own activities, make time for other people and for volunteering. Seek what is above, for the rest turns to ashes.

Finally, remember we have the power to do what Jesus did and change the world. There’s so much hurt out there and so many people who are lost. Jesus through His selfless act on the Cross and through His ministry changes lives; people see that sacrifice and are moved to become better people and reform their lives. Open your eyes to see who may need you to help transform them by being more present to them.

Have a blessed Easter, and remember we’re here every Saturday night and three times on Sunday. Today is not the finish line of Lent. Today is a reminder of who we can become if we strive to live and love as our Lord – may we daily commit to running the race home to Him well.

In Christ,

Fr. Paul

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Holy Week: A Time to Grow in Our Faith

Sometimes people will ask me “when did you know that you wanted to become a

priest?” There wasn’t a specific time really, it just kind of gradually grew as a call in me

as I finished up college at the U of M, where it reached a point where I had to say “OK

God, I know what you want me to do know.”

However, there were some moments along the way where you just felt the closeness of

God; where you can sense that God is calling you to respond to Him in a certain way.

For me, I think of a Good Friday liturgy that I went to in 1999 or 2000. I remember going

into church that evening, and everything was different. The lights were just high enough

so you could see to find your pew. The crucifix was covered in a black veil. The liturgy

took on a somber tone, and the deacon leading the service (Good Friday is the only day

of the year when Mass is not allowed to be said) walked with a cross around the church,

and gave a powerful homily on the greatest love story ever told in the Passion. That

liturgy impacted me, and made me think more deeply about my life, and my faith. And I

remember leaving that night changed, thinking about all that God has done for me. It

seemed to pale in comparison to whatever problems I was going through at the time.

To this day, I strive to live out my faith. The priest says many private prayers during

Mass to remind him of his own unworthiness (hence the washing of the hands; “Lord

wash away my iniquities, cleanse me of my sins…). And when I get to Holy Week, I am

again challenged through the liturgies to think about how I live and strive to become a

better person.

What I’ve found is that each of the liturgies can have a different way of helping me to

grow in my faith. And I hope you’d think about that as you prepare to celebrate this most

solemn week on our calendar.

We begin at Palm Sunday, and what strikes me with the day is the shallowness of

people. Many of us been burned by fake people in our lives; but let’s be honest,

sometimes we have done that to other people. You have the crowds who say

“hosanna!” but then drop the palms and walk away quickly when they realize Jesus is

not going to be a political leader. You have jealousy from the Sanhedrin and those who

see Jesus as a threat to their power. You have the cowardice of Pilate who knows the

right thing to do but doesn’t do it, even when God is literally staring him in the face. You

have Judas pretending to be loyal but betraying his friend with a kiss. This liturgy

challenges us in a way to think about how serious we are about the word “love” (more

on that on Good Friday). Do we really mean that word when we say it, or only when it is

convenient?

Holy Thursday gives us a lot to think about too. There is the institution of the Eucharist,

God’s gift of love to us when we celebrate at every Mass. There is the institution of the

priesthood which makes it a special day for thinking about my ordination and how I live

out my vocation. But what I’ve always been struck by is the washing of the feet. We do

this as a reminder of what Jesus did, but what I love with this ritual is that it’s a visible

thing we do at liturgy to basically say “OK people, if you are going to receive Jesus in

Holy Communion, and say I am a Christian, here’s what it means.” Holiness does not

come through hearing Latin, incense, chant or bells. There is a lot of beauty in liturgy,

and I love chant, I love incense. A good liturgy can bring us higher and touch the soul.

But liturgy always has to connect us to the greater community. Remember the words of

Pope Francis, that the Church is a field hospital. So as we see the feet being washed, it

helps us think about who’s feet we need to wash. Who might be hurting in our lives; who

we might be neglecting; or who might be hurting. Jesus even washes the feet of Judas.

Some people in our lives our lovable. Some people are challenging. We can’t just serve

or love when it is convenient – what Jesus does is give us a mandate to do for others

what He the master has done for the 12. That’s something that we need to live out daily.

What strikes me with Good Friday is what Deacon Otto preached on back in 2000 – the

greatest love story ever told. I heard another priest once say the only reason there is not

a Saint Judas church is because Judas didn’t realize Jesus still loved him. Yes, we are

sinners and do evil things. We are like those who drop the palms and walk away. But we

are loved – and this is how far God goes for us out of love. Think about that on Good

Friday as you touch the cross and reflect on the Passion again. Turn your sins and

struggles over to the one who is love itself and let that liberate you.

Lastly, Holy Saturday. I have to tell you it’s an incredible site from the presider’s chair

seeing all those candles lit. If you have never been to the Easter Vigil, do consider

going. Yes, it’s longer, but parking is a lot easier, and unlike the priest, that will mean

you can sleep in a bit on Easter, go find the Easter basket, and then go off to your ham

dinner. It’s so amazing to see the light dispelling the darkness as the Easter fire is lit; the

new Easter candle blessed and all the candles being lit from that candle. We are

reminded of God having the last word over death and of our redemption. It fills one with

hope, and when you hear the Exultet chanted, and the Litany of Saints prayed for the

newly baptized and confirmed, you are overwhelmed with this sense of God’s love and

the power of the love that exists in the body of believers, the Church.

So much more could be said about Holy Week, but I’ll just close with this: go to the

liturgies. They are not obligatory holy days, but as you experience the liturgies this

week, my guess is that you truly will grow in your faith and be touched by the love and

grace of God.

Have a blessed Holy Week!

Fr. Paul

***

Book of the Week: A parishioner kindly gave me a copy of “Pickle-Chiffon Pie” which I

used prior to spring break. Written in 1967 by Jolly Roger Bradfield, a Twin Cities native,

it gives a great message about thinking about others and empathy. (A good Holy

Thursday book perhaps?). Three princes vie to win the hand of a princess and they are

to bring back gifts, but only one gets what the deeper meaning of the task is.

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Rediscovering the Meaning of the Cross

Last weekend at Mass, you may have noticed that I was wearing rose vestments (or if

you prefer pink). There are two days a year that these vestments are worn, the third

Sunday of Advent, and the fourth Sunday of Lent. Last weekend was known as “Latare

Sunday,” or “rejoice,” taken from “Isaiah 66:10, “O be joyful, Jerusalem.”

The two days mark turning points during the seasons that precede the two great feasts

of Christmas and Easter, as we are to rejoice at the feasts to come.

This week, as we begin the final two weeks of Lent, we enter into a period formerly

called Passiontide. One of the options during this time is to have all crucifixes and

images covered in veils. This is done until the Triduum, when the statues are uncovered

and the Triduum begins. (Here, we’ll be doing this starting on Palm Sunday, covering

the Cross for Holy Week).

Though optional, I’ve always liked this tradition. As for why we cover them, it’s to make

us think a bit of the meaning of the Cross. We are so used to seeing it we can take it for

granted. Some think it dates back to Germany, when in the 9th century a large cloth

was extended before the altar at the start of Lent, called the “Hungertuch,” or hunger

cloth, which hid the altar from the people during Lent, and was removed during the

reading of the Passion on Wednesday of Holy Week, at the words “the veil of the temple

was rent in two.” It helped illiterate to the faithful how to learn about Lent. Later in the

Middle Ages, the images of crosses and saints were covered at the start of the Lent; it

was at about the 17th century that it was moved to “Passiontide,” the last two weeks of

Lent. Now it is completely optional.

What I like about it is that it helps us to think about how we can take our faith for

granted. The cross especially is something we are so used to seeing; in homes, at our

school, and of course in church. It is always there. But what does it actually mean? The

answer to me is that it is meant to be a way of life. We are meant to have God inform all

that we do. When we look to the cross, we are reminded of how to live. The cross

symbolizes Jesus’ complete trust in the Father and His will. It also symbolizes Jesus’

complete love for you and for me. When we see the crucifix, we should see a reminder

that this is how we are to live. By covering it up, it causes us to think more deeply about

it’s meaning, especially when unveiled come the Easter Triduum.

During these last two weeks of Lent, I’d invite you to again think about the meaning of

the Cross in your life. Remember, Lent is meant to transform us and we emerge on

Easter a better person. As the cross is covered next weekend, perhaps we can think

about how God’s love is covered in our souls by sin; by our actions or inactions; or how

we focus on other worldly things rather than on radiating God’s love. Thinking of the

Cross also challenges us to think about how we can love as Jesus loves – do we think of

others and show them love in actions from our families under our own roofs to our

greater human family, or do we hold back on love or have an asterisk next to the words

“I love you?” Are we selfish or selfless? Loving as Jesus did, giving everything out of

love and forgiving takes work. Use these final two weeks to grow by coming to Mass;

celebrating the sacraments; finding time for personal prayer, and asking yourselves how

can I become what it is I receive every time I come to Holy Communion. You might also

consider Stations of the Cross, either on Friday evening or going into the church

anytime and going from station to station as a way to mediate, or picking up a Way of

the Cross book for personal meditation.

When the veil is removed during the Triduum, maybe a deeper thing to ask is can we

make sure come Easter, the veils are removed from our souls – permanently – that

prevent others from seeing the love of God in us, and that prevent us from seeing how

much God loves us and the response that it requires.

God bless,

Fr. Paul

***

Book of the week: A parishioner a couple of months ago kindly gave me a book called

“Pickle-Chiffon Pie” that was written by Jolly Roger Bradfield, from Minneapolis. The

book dates back to the 60s, but is a great tale of thinking of others. Three princes vie for

the hand of a princess, and each has to bring something to impress the king. They are

in for a surprise though in the end when one sees what ultimately is the finest present

one could bring for a princess.

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: RCIA Demystified

At Mass recently, you may have noticed at the 10:30 liturgy, the first few pews have

been reserved. We also had a special blessing during the first Sunday of Lent, and then

dismissals right after the homily for those who are involved in preparing for full reception

into the Catholic Church at Easter going through the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults

(RCIA).

This weekend, we’ll have a special part at our 10:30 called the “scrutiny.” Though this is

what one of my seminary professors called our final exam, what the RCIA candidates

will be going through will be a bit less stressful. Basically it’s where a person preparing

for confirmation at the Easter Vigil makes a public declaration of their intentions and

beliefs.

Of course, there’s a bit more to it than that and RCIA as a whole. Our catechumens

(those to be baptized, confirmed and make their first Holy Communion) and candidates

(those who have been baptized but will make their first Communion and be confirmed)

have been preparing for quite some time for Easter. And helping them has been Lori

Hannasch who has been leading the program this year.

As we will have the scrutinies this weekend at our Mass, I thought it would be a good

time to explain RCIA and what it involves, as so many of us are baptized as infants and

go through faith formation as teens.

So, here’s what RCIA looks like and entails. This comes from the USCCB (United

States Conference of Catholic Bishops) website and is written by Jeannine Marino, a

progream specialist at the Secretariat of Evangelization and Catechesis of the United

States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

***

For most parishes, Sunday Mass during Lent has been different as people called “the

elect” and “candidates” have been called forth to the altar. As the Easter Triduum

approaches, the Church prepares to welcome these participants in Rite of Christian

Initiation of Adults (RCIA) through the Sacraments of Initiation. RCIA is not only for

those seeking full initiation into the Church, RCIA involves the whole Christian

community.

RCIA is mainly for two groups of people: the unbaptized and baptized Christians

seeking full communion with the Church. Some dioceses also include baptized but

uncatechized Catholics. For the unbaptized, RCIA prepares them to receive all three

Sacraments of Initiation—Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. Baptized Christians and

Catholics will receive Confirmation and/or the Eucharist.

Here are ten important steps in the RCIA process and their significance for the

participants and the entire Church:

1. Period of Evangelization: Through baptism every Catholic is called to preach the

Good News and share the gift of faith they received with the world; all are urged to invite

friends and family members to Mass. Sometimes this invitation inspires people to

consider the Catholic Church and RCIA.

2. Rite of Acceptance and Welcome: This marks the first time those in RCIA officially

assemble before the parish. After their initial conversion, they declare publicly their

intention to enter into a relationship with Christ and his Church. The parish commits to

praying for them. From this point on those seeking baptism are called catechumens,

and those seeking full communion with the Church are called candidates.

3. Celebration of the Word: After the Rite of Acceptance, the catechumens are usually

dismissed from Mass after the Liturgy of the Word to reflect more deeply on Scripture

and prepare themselves for their eventual participation in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

This dismissal is not meant to exclude those in RCIA from the Liturgy of the Eucharist,

but to help them and the parish joyfully build up anticipation of the Easter Sacraments.

4. Sending of the Catechumens and Candidates: Before the First Sunday of Lent, those

in RCIA are called before the parish, which prays for them and sends them forth to

present themselves to the bishop. They are presented to the bishop because he is the

chief pastor of the diocese and admits them to the Easter Sacraments on behalf of the

entire Church.

5. Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion: This rite is usually held on the

First Sunday of Lent and marks the catechumens and candidates’ final preparation for

the Easter Sacraments. They reaffirm their intention to join the Church. In the presence

of the bishop, the catechumens inscribe their name in the Book of the Elect. From this

point forward, the catechumens are called the elect.

6. Period of Purification and Enlightenment: This period begins with the Rite of Election

and is a season of intense spiritual preparation and reflection on the Paschal Mystery.

The elect and candidates are called to deepen their relationship with Christ, and the

parish community is called to increase their prayers and support of the elect and

candidates.

7. Scrutinies: The Scrutinies are rites of conversion and repentance. They include

prayers of intercession and exorcism and are intended to deliver the elect from sin,

protect them from temptation and invite them closer to Christ, who is the living water,

the light of the world and the Resurrection and the Life. The three Scrutinies are

celebrated on the Third, Fourth and Fifth Sundays of Lent.

8. Presentation of the Creed and Lord’s Prayer: After the first Scrutiny, those in RCIA

are entrusted with the Creed and after the third Scrutiny, the Lord’s Prayer. The Creed

professes the faith, and the Lord’s Prayer teaches believers to call upon the Father as

Christ did. At the Easter Vigil, those in RCIA will for the first time publicly profess the

Creed and participate in the Liturgy of the Eucharist to pray the Lord’s Prayer.

9. Easter Vigil: The “most blessed of all nights,” as proclaimed by the Exsultet, is the

night the Church joyfully anticipates Christ’s Resurrection. The elect receive all three

Sacraments of Initiation and candidates for full communion receive confirmation and/or

the Eucharist. For the first time, the elect and candidates are welcomed to the Lord’s

Table as full disciples of Christ.

10. Mystagogy: After receiving the Easter Sacraments, the neophytes (newly initiated)

continue their faith formation during the period of mystagogy (which means

“interpretation of mystery”). Mystagogy is the time of post-baptismal catechesis. It

typically lasts for one year. This time allows the neophytes to reflect on their experience

of the sacraments, Scripture, grow closer to Christ through the Eucharist and participate

more frequently in the parish. The parish community is called to mentor the neophytes

as they begin to live as Christian disciples and fulfill their baptismal vocation to

evangelize.

***

So as you can see, there’s a lot that goes into it. The Easter Triduum liturgies are my

favorites of the entire year, and it’s such an honor to celebrate the sacraments with

these people each year who like Moses approaching the burning bush, come to explore

and know God at a deeper level responding to the call to follow Him, and enter fully into

His Church. Please keep them in your prayers.

God bless,

Fr. Paul

 

 
RCIA CANDIDATES
Ashley Cridlebaugh –
14 yrs old
Grant Cridlebaugh –
16 yrs old
Jessica Drummer
Anna Lazo
Paige Maxson
Gabrielle (Ella) Pierce
Christina (Tina) Quy
Amy Whaley
Robert (Bob) Whaley
RCIC CANDIDATES
Samuel Cordoza – 14 yrs old
Sophia Cordoza – 10 yrs old
Charles Drummer – 20 mos old
Isabella Drummer – 11 yrs old
Jonathon (Jack) Drummer – 8 yrs old
Ari Paitich – 8 yrs old

Padre Paul’s Ponderings: Saint Joseph: Works Speaking Louder than Actions

One of the most well-known saints in our Church is the man whom our parish is named

after, Saint Joseph. Tomorrow on Monday, March 20th, we honor his feast day. Or one

of his feast days I should say – the other being the feast of Saint Joseph the worker

which comes up on May 1st.

When I think of Joseph, the description of George Harrison comes to mind. George was

called “the quiet Beatle” and was a great guitarist and musician, but was kind of not as

much on the tip of the tongue as Paul or John. But he was of course just as much an

important part of the group.

The same can be said for Joseph. He literally is the quiet member of the Holy Family.

He doesn’t say a word in Scripture. And for all the churches, towns, shrines and other

things named after him, you might think we’d have an extensive biography of his life.

But he left behind no writings. Scripture simply calls him a “just man.” He presumably

provided for Mary and Jesus as a carpenter, and at some point before Jesus begins his

public ministry, he dies. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a ton to learn from Joseph.

For one, there’s trust. In the Gospel for tomorrow, it’s taken from Matthew 1, when the

angel appears to Joseph after Joseph has found out Mary is expecting, and he isn’t the

father. Joseph has a plan to leave Mary, but the angel says do not be afraid, God has a

plan. Joseph could think about his image, or his plans. But instead, he does what Mary

does, and he trusts both God and Mary. Sometimes our ego and pride can get in the

way, but it’s worth asking ourselves if we can trust God through challenging times, or

turn to Him for help.

Second, in Saint Joseph, we see the value of work. Saint Joseph has another feast day,

May 1st, Saint Joseph the Worker. It’s intentionally put on that day to put the attention

on the dignity of work, not the Communist version when May Day was so popular in the

Communist states. Work has dignity and through it, we make ourselves better, make the

world better and provide for our families. People might not notice all that we do, but by

learning from the example of Saint Joseph we can be reminded that our work is

important.

Third, selflessness. Not too long ago I have a short welcome for a retreat, and I began

by mentioning some names: Jamal Crawford and J.R. Smith, as I was curious if people

would know who these guys were. I’m a big NBA fan, so see their names in box scores

quite a bit. These are a couple of the recent winners of the “Sixth Man” award. They

aren’t household names like Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant, but they are big parts of

their team and they contribute. An “unselfish” athlete is the kind of player who doesn’t

mind if they don’t fill the stat sheet, but look for other ways to contribute. In a society

that puts so much on people being seen and noticed, are we OK quietly contributing to

our parish and our family without doing so for recognition other than knowing that God

sees what we do and that it makes a difference?

Finally, presence. Joseph didn’t do much talking in the Scriptures, but we know that he

was there. Think of Joseph in your Nativity Set under the tree, looking tenderly on Mary

and Jesus. He lived his life by always being there for his family, by providing for them,

leading them into Egypt when they had to flee and being there day in and day out. How

can we be present to our families and friends? How can we give that all important gift of

time to those who need us? Our presence and being active in the lives of people can do

so much.

No, Saint Joseph might not say much at all in the Bible, but from him we can learn so

much about how to live a life of virtue that impacts others. Like Saint Joseph, may we

be OK living out of the limelight, realizing that it’s OK not to be seen and noticed for our

actions, because God sees the good things we do and they also leave such a lasting

impact in the world and the lives of others.

Have a blessed week,

Fr. Paul

***

Book of the Week: Sometimes I’m Afraid by Michaelene Mundy. For the school Mass

on March 9th, the reading was of Queen Esther, who was facing death with the Israelite

people. In her anguish, she turned to God and God came through bringing justice to the

man who had told the king to kill the Israelite people, Haman. This book gives examples

of how we can deal with fear and turn to God as well. It has a Catholic context too,

published by Abbey Press, owned by Saint Meinrad Archabbey out of Indiana.

No Appointment Necessary

The first step of the Alcoholics Anonymous Program is to admit that one is powerless over the control of alcohol. In the other steps, a person accepts that a Higher Power can help them and then they turn their lives over to the care of God, with the second to last step being the alcoholic’s commitment to improve their conscious contact with God as He is understood, praying for knowledge of His will for them and the power to carry it out.

John Garcia, a man in his early 40’s from California, embraced these steps but by the time he got to the 12th, he realized that he needed even more.

He went through AA, had more than 10 medications and psychotherapy, but also had many relapses and never quite found contentment. His breaking point came in 2006 when he relapsed again and was sentenced to 16 months in prison. A Catholic, it was in prison that he understood for the first time what the Church has to offer those who suffer from addictions.

Looking at his own faith journey, he shares in an interview that growing up, his family background was lacking in faith formation of the most basic things such as going to Mass and keeping the 10 Commandments. He also says that while therapy and psychological help were important, that “modern psychology deals with behaviors, but does not deal with the cause of those behaviors, which is found in the soul.” And, like all of us, John says he suffered from the consequence of original sin in that we all have a tendency to sin which we can control, but that ultimately he gave into that. He realized that was the root of his problem. But he says that once he realized that this was the root of his problem, he could strike at it with God’s help. That meant “totally giving oneself to God through His Church” and a serious reception of all that God and His Church had for him – the reception of the sacraments and use of the sacramentals, along with prayer and cultivating the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity in the soul through sanctifying grace.

While AA has a lot of good in it, John says he had to take it to the next level by realizing that God would help him through the addictions he had in a special way through the Church. Confession for him he says has been especially helpful as he receives the sanctifying grace through that sacrament, and the Church has helped him to better understand the First Commandment: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me.” For him, the alcohol and drugs became a god, and he recognized his powerlessness in the face of it. He says “we cannot control our behaviors – whether they be drinking or otherwise – without God’s grace. It’s not just a matter of sheer willpower which saves us apart from God’s help.” When he realized he needed to become sober, he needed to act on his own, but he needed God’s grace to make it happen. And now, clean and sober, he says he needs to daily renew this connection to God which he does with his family. He’s also taken his newfound sobriety and used it to reach out to others who are recovering addicts and Catholic. He closes his interview by saying “Jesus Christ came to save us from sin, so if the 12 steps were necessary to do this, he would have given them to us. He didn’t do this, but he did give us his Mother, his Church and the sacraments – the most important of which is the holy Eucharist. Once you’ve fallen in love with Jesus in the holy Eucharist…there’s a deep, abiding peace that fills the soul like no support group could ever do.”

We had a whole course on the Eucharist at seminary, and while there’s so much to say on our understanding of it, a couple of words that come to mind are love and surrender.

The problem is we can sometimes as Catholics forget about what the Eucharist entails. For some, they can take no notice of the Eucharist at all, or put no thought into it and see it as one thing among many. Many are also not aware of the Real Presence of our Lord in the Eucharist and see it as a mere representation. And on the other end are those who have a disconnect. They are aware of when to genuflect, and may have a personal sense of piety, but then disconnect the Eucharist from other people, and leave Mass or prayer time and judge others, gossip, put others down. All of us are susceptible to the effects of original sin.

So where does one find the proper balance? By remembering that all of us are John Garcia. We are all addicts, addicts to sin. And the antidote is God’s love.

There are many ways to experience this love in our prayer life. It’s important to remember that all prayer is good, and it’s good to use what works for you. However, one thing you might consider is making some time to come to visit the church.

I sometimes like to go into the church alone to pray. I’ve also said Mass alone before too, and I know when I do so, the angels and saints are there. When you enter into the church, you’ll notice the sanctuary lamp, the candle above the tabernacle that is always burning except on Good Friday. It symbolizes how Jesus is present in a special way in the Eucharist which the tabernacle holds. Sometimes it can be quite peaceful to sit there and meditate on God’s love which I feel in the church when I am in there praying.

Another opportunity is to come to Eucharistic Adoration. Down the road at some point we hope to build a reservation chapel (there is the slight matter of $5 million owed on the building though). But the first Friday of each month starting after Mass and running through the afternoon we have the Eucharist exposed in a monstrance. Some people find it helpful to look at the Eucharist and meditate, pray, or just sit in silence. It is a beautiful devotion, and I think can be summarized by one word, “love.” In the silence of the church during this time, many people find peace and comfort. God speaks to their hearts as they think about things that fill our minds; our fears and anxieties; discerning what to do in our lives; or thinking about our struggles with sin. It’s almost as if Jesus is silently saying to us “turn your struggles over to me” and reminding us that He is here with us.

Either way, I’d encourage you to consider coming into our church at anytime, or checking out Eucharistic Adoration on the first Fridays from September through June. No appointment is necessary, Jesus is always there for you. And no matter what type of prayer you prefer, talk to God regularly – He’s there for you always!

Blessings,

Fr. Paul

EN MASSE: Genuflecting

The word genuflect quite literally means to “bend the knee.” But there is more meaning behind the word than just bending your knee to the floor. To genuflect is to recognize and acknowledge the presence of God in the Blessed Sacrament – Jesus – by bending the right knee before the place in which we pray and also after we leave our place of prayer. In other words, we genuflect before each liturgy, and after each liturgy to remind ourselves of the very real presence of God.

All that we do, say, pray, and sing in worship is intended to point us to Jesus, even some things as basic as bending a knee. Our gestures, our movements, even our posture can lead our thoughts to a greater awareness of God’s presence in our prayer – as C.S. Lewis wrote, “The body ought to pray as well as the soul… body and soul are both better for it.”

Can we find the word “genuflect” in scripture? Not exactly, but the meaning is there. The closest word from the Greek translation of the Old Testament is Proskynein, which literally means to bow one’s whole body to the floor, to prostrate the whole self, as a sign of reverence an honor to the one before you.

We find the meaning in the New Testament as well. Paul’s letter to the Philippians, (2:9-11), describes Jesus in this way: Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth…

To genuflect  is to show a sign of reverence and humility. When I bend my knee to the floor, my body makes a connection with my mind and witnesses my belief that I am absolutely open to the will and transforming power of God. If you come across someone who thinks that genuflection is silly or just for children – tell them not to get bent out of shape – just get bent into shape and think about the amazing presence of Jesus.unnamed

Bill Bradley
Director of Worship, Church of St. Joseph

En Masse: Why do we make the sign of the cross with our right hand?

The sign of the cross probably originated with the early baptismal rights in which the minister would use a finger of his right hand to mark the candidates the forehead. There is no reference to this in scripture, but one of the early church fathers, Tertullian (d. after 220), says the sign of the cross dates back to the apostles. St. Augustine (d. 430) said marking oneself with the sign of the cross was a Christian’s outward profession of faith.

Originally, the sign of the cross was likened to a mark of ownership. In the ancient world, owners would mark their slaves on the forehead. Since at baptism we are “promised” to Christ, it became the tradition for Christians to sign themselves on the forehead. It is one of our oldest customs to do this just before the Gospel is proclaimed in the liturgy. This “little” sign of the cross was the practice of Christian for many centuries.

The large cross that we trace from forehead to waist and across our shoulders started later. The first dates we know are from the sixth century and might have been more broadly practiced from about the eleventh century. In the 13th century, Pope Innocent III decreed that the sign of the cross should be made with three fingers from the forehead to the chest, and from the right to the left shoulder. At a later date, the whole hand was used, and the direction changed from the left to the right shoulder. This short but beautiful prayer expresses our faith in the Trinity and also recalls our Baptismal Promise – our Promise in Christ.

Bill Bradley
Director of Worship, Church of St. Joseph