Having closed the Easter season last Sunday with the Solemnity of Pentecost commemorating the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the Mother of the Lord, and all His disciples, the Church now enters Ordinary Time, during which the many teachings of the Lord are presented and the different mysteries of the Faith explored. One such mystery – in fact, the fundamental mystery of our Faith – is the Holy Trinity. God has revealed Himself as one God, yet three Divine Persons: the Father is made known through His creation, the Son in the Incarnation, and the Holy Spirit is manifested in a startling fashion at Pentecost. This is not some trivia about God that we can easily dismiss. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity expresses Who God is in Himself, as a community of Persons, yet remaining one God. The identity of the family and the nature of the Church – communities of love – find their model in the mystery of the Holy Trinity, which is the first community of love. We should always be mindful what it means to call this a mystery. It shouldn’t be confused with the contemporary use of the word — for instance, a murder mystery, where persistent investigation reveals facts not known before. Rather, the mysteries of Faith refer to realities that can be known by us, but only in a limited way since our capacity to know is limited. Of all mysteries of Faith, the Holy Trinity is the most “mysterious”, since our finite understanding of an infinite God will always be incomplete. That is one more reason why our Catholic Faith will always be a journey and an adventure: we can always grow in our knowledge, understanding, and love of God.
It seems that we are witnessing (among other things) some of the social effects of the shut-down which our country has endured for nearly 3 months. The violent riots which have taken place the last couple weeks around the country (ostensibly a response to the killing of a man in Minneapolis by a policeman), reveal a nation that is fractured and fearful. We need the peace and unity that only God can bring. Pray for a true renewal and return to the One God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, in each of our hearts, in our families, in our state, and in our country.
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller
The Solemnity of Pentecost marks the end of the Church’s observance of the Easter Season. This celebration commemorates the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles, the Blessed Mother, and the whole Church. The coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost also fulfills God’s revelation of Himself in three divine persons. Though existing eternally, the Father is made known through His creation, the Son in the Incarnation, and now the Holy Spirit is revealed as “the Lord and giver of Life, Who proceeds from the Father and the Son” (Nicene Creed). Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, promised to send to His Church the Comforter, the Advocate, Who would strengthen and confirm us in our faith. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!
The period of time between the Lord’s Ascension into heaven and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost Sunday has always been observed as a special time of prayer. Scripture tells us that Jesus ascended to heaven 40 days after Easter and Pentecost occurred 50 days after Easter. The Lord instructed His disciples to spend the nine days between those events praying. This is the origin of the Catholic practice of the “novena” (from the Latin word for “nine”.) A novena consists of praying for some particular intention for nine consecutive days. Sometimes this is expressed in prayers or practices which are observed over nine weeks or nine months (such as the custom of attending Mass for nine consecutive First Fridays). It’s just another example of one of the those “Catholic things” that we didn’t just make up, but comes from the scriptures and the practice of the early Church.
What a joy to be back in our church for Holy Mass! We’ve been enduring plenty of hardships and inconveniences throughout this coronavirus shut-down, and we’ll have to accept further restrictions in our church for some time ahead. Pray God will bring a swift end to the coronavirus pestilence, for the good health of all, and for the full restoration of the worship of God in all our churches around the world!
May God bless you!
The Ascension of the Lord marks a turning point in the life of the early Church. It signifies the transition which takes place when the Lord leaves His disciples – but with the promise of the coming of the Holy Spirit. Jesus leaves, but He does not leave them alone. He is still present with us today, especially in the Blessed Sacrament. And the Holy Spirit continues to strengthen His Church. Several years ago the Bishops of the Dioceses of Wisconsin (with the permission of Rome) moved the observance of the Lord’s Ascension from the 40th day after Easter (always a Thursday) to the Sunday following. This was a concession to the secular commercial and business practices which make it difficult for many Catholics to attend Mass on a Thursday. On this Solemnity the Church celebrates that event in the life of the early Church when they witnessed the Lord’s return to His Father forty days after His resurrection. With the Father, the risen (and now ascended) Lord promised to send the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and the Church. Liturgically, this time from the Lord’s ascension until the feast of Pentecost is a time for us to pray more earnestly for the coming of the Holy Spirit.
Next Sunday the Church celebrates the Solemnity of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Blessed Mother, the Apostles, and the disciples of the Lord. As I write this we are finally ready to resume celebrating Mass publicly in our church with the faithful present on this the closing feast of Easter! (See more details in this bulletin, and on our parish website.) To help us observe the coming of the “Fire of the Holy Spirit”, I invite everyone to wear something red to Mass next Sunday.
Tomorrow, Monday, May 25th, is Memorial Day. Please join me in remembering in prayer all those who have died in the service of our nation.
May God bless you!
Of all the books of the Bible, we Christians place a greater focus on the Gospels, since they present the life and teachings of the Lord. Then, after the Gospels, we typically look to the Letters of St. Paul. Not only because his writings take up a great portion of the New Testament, but also because he addresses so many important aspects of the Faith. Since all Scripture is inspired by the Holy Spirit, we ought not neglect the other books. St. Peter wrote two letters which are in the New Testament, and we have been reading from his first letter each Sunday throughout this Easter season. In today’s reading, St. Peter says, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame.” What does this mean? Simply, that you should know your Faith, and live your Faith. The two are closely connected. Too many Catholics have accepted the teachings and the practices of the secular culture! We need to be vigorous in our Catholic Faith. I strongly recommend that all adult Catholics should own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Then, read from it regularly and strive – with the help of God’s Grace – to live that Faith truly.
After nearly two months of the coronavirus “shutdown”, one might be excused for being frustrated, confused, discouraged, or even angry. The Christian must beg, therefore, the consolation of the Holy Spirit. The Gospel recounts how our Lord promised His disciples that “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,” Who would strengthen them and teach them. So, continue to pray! And pray especially for the Holy Spirit: “Come, Holy Spirit! Fill the hearts of your faithful! Enkindle in them the fire of Your Love!”
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller
It is common for people to hearken back to “the good old days”, when the problems we have now did not exist. Of course, “the good old days” had their problems, too. But they were just different problems. This is true for the Church as well. Take, for example, the passage from this Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. The Greek Christians began to complain that their needs were not being met while the Church attended to the needs of the Jewish Christians. In fact, in the Acts of the Apostles (and in the other books of the New Testament, as well), you will frequently find many instances of controversies, disputes, and scandals. And the same has held true throughout the history of the Church to the present time Far from being evidence against the Divine character of the Church, the existence of human flaws in the Church confirms that the Church is established by God. What purely human institution could last two thousand years with all these kinds of problems? It must be God Himself Who preserves the Church in existence. There has been external persecution of the Church as well as internal corruption. But “the gates of hell shall not prevail against her”. God’s Church is Holy! Lord, help all of us to become holy, too!
I mentioned last week at our Sunday “parking lot” Mass that I am working on plans to resume celebrating Mass publicly in the church. My goal is to provide full access to the Mass and Sacraments while observing the best procedures/protocols for good hygiene. Our Faith is more ‘essential’ than Walmart – and we’ll make our church cleaner/safer than Walmart. Several people have made some good suggestions on how to best meet the many criteria for resuming public Mass. Pray for Bishop Callahan, Governor Evers and our state legislators, and for me and all pastors that God will give us true wisdom, understanding, prudence, and courage to do what is right and good.
May God bless you!
The Holy Father has designated this Sunday as the World Day of Prayer for Vocations. We commonly associate the word “vocations” with those called to the priesthood or religious life. I confess that I probably encourage that association by regularly praying at Mass for an increase of vocations to the priesthood and religious life. And I will continue to pray for that. But, that does not detract from the truth that all Christians have a vocation. We have a common vocation – that is, a call from God (from the Latin vocare: to call) – to holiness. But the common vocation to holiness that God calls us to must be lived out in a definite way. For priests it means a certain way of living, for consecrated men and women (the religious life) it means another, and for single people and married people it means living faithfully according to those states of life. For all, the common goal is holiness – that is, a life in communion with God. All too frequently we settle for so much less. We fall into the trap of thinking: “What’s the least I have to do to get into Heaven?” or, “What’s the most I can get away with, and still avoid Hell?” The example of Saint John Paul II has shaken us from this sort of spiritual lethargy. His life was a visible reminder of the sacrifice that is required from each authentic follower of Christ – and validation that the sacrifice is worth it. While affirming the truth that ALL of us are called to a life of holiness, the Church still demands a unique witness from her priests. Some people suggest that if we would ‘soften the sacrifice’ of the priesthood – by relaxing the rule of celibacy and ordaining married men – we would have many more priests. But that argument fails even on natural grounds. John Paul II understood that principle very well. He challenged young people to reject the selfishness of materialism and to follow Christ. And the young people loved him. To these same young people the Pope has entrusted the mission of the New Evangelization. What is that mission? To help each person follow Christ. To help each person be holy.
Please join me in continuing to pray for our bishops and civil leaders. There is a great deal of frustration among the general populace, and certainly among us Catholics. Good Shepherd Sunday is an especially fitting day to pray that God will fill our bishops and civil leaders with wisdom, prudence, and courage! May the Lord bless you all throughout the Easter Season!
Throughout the Easter Season the Church continues to celebrate with joy the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. Everything that was foretold in the Old Testament (which the Church presented in the Liturgy during Lent, and especially during the Sacred Triduum) is now fulfilled in Jesus. Today’s Gospel reminds us of this truth as it recalls the conversation that the Lord had with several disciples on the road to Emmaus. While walking with them, the Lord explained all that Moses and the prophets had said which referred to Him. (That is why it is important for us to know and understand the Scriptures – Old and New Testament. St. Jerome, the great scripture scholar who lived in the late 4th century, said that ignorance of Scripture was ignorance of Christ. Knowing the Scriptures better helps us know Christ better!) Though His identity was at first hidden from them, they recognized Him “in the breaking of bread”. They then remarked to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” This is exactly what the Church invites us to experience every Sunday at Mass. We listen to His Holy Word in the Sacred Scriptures, and we receive Him in the Holy Eucharist (the bread and wine now become His Body and Blood). Do your hearts burn within you when you come to Mass? Resolve in your heart now to reflect more deeply about Who it is that speaks to us in the Scriptures and Who it is that reveals Himself in the “breaking of bread”.
It has been a challenge for many people to adjust to the situation brought upon us by the coronavirus and the actions taken by the civil authorities. I have tried to respond in a way that will provide continued access to the Sacraments and the Mass, while also observing necessary safeguards to insure everyone’s safety. I have serious reservations about the civil restrictions to the free exercise of the Faith, which both our Constitution and the Natural Law affirm and protect. I will continue to look for ways to safely expand your access to the Mass and the Sacraments. If changes are made to our parish schedule & procedures I will post them on our parish website and Facebook page.
We publish in this weekly bulletin a report of our weekly offertory (and budget), as well as the Diocesan Annual Appeal. But I don’t usually say much (either at Mass or in the bulletin) about “giving more money”. But I would like to say how much I appreciate your generosity during this difficult time. Where many churches are experiencing a dramatic decline in financial support, we have not. Thank you!!
May God bless you!
The Church celebrates Easter for fifty days (from Easter Sunday to Pentecost Sunday inclusive), but observes the Octave of Easter (octave means eight), from Easter Sunday through Second Sunday of Easter inclusive, with particular solemnity. This always serves as a great contrast to the secular society which (as it does with Christmas) throws away all reminders of the Feast the following day. Make sure you continue to make the Easter Season a festive time of celebrating our Savior’s Resurrection. I look forward each year to the Sunday following Easter because of the beautiful Gospel account from St. John. The story of ‘Doubting Thomas’ is recorded for our benefit, so that his doubt – satisfied by the appearance of the Risen Lord – might be the means of strengthening our faith. Do you sometimes doubt certain doctrines of our Faith? Or do you even doubt, from time to time, the existence of God? Then you need to ask for the intercession of St. Thomas! His simple profession of faith, “My Lord and my God”, is one each one of us should utter often. This is especially true when we gaze upon the Lord in the Eucharist during Mass (when the Priest elevates the Host, and then the Chalice containing the Precious Blood, during the Eucharistic Prayer).
Today is also observed as “Divine Mercy Sunday.” Sister Faustina Kowalska, to whom the Lord Jesus mystically appeared, was canonized 20 years ago on this Sunday by Pope John Paul II in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square in Rome – the first saint canonized in the New Millennium. And six years ago Pope Francis canonized John Paul II! This is a great day to reflect upon the mercy of God, which Saint Faustina and Saint John Paul II both fostered in their lives. Because we are still in “shut down” mode, we are not able to have any public special Divine Mercy devotions in any of our churches. I recommend that you and your family pray the Diving Mercy Chaplet today (Sunday) at 3pm in your own home.
May the Lord bless you and your family today and throughout this Holy Easter Season!!
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller
Jeremiah Denton (died 2014), former Senator from Alabama (1981-87), had served 31 years in the Navy, retiring as a Rear Admiral in 1977.
While flying a combat mission in Vietnam, he was shot down and captured. He spent nearly eight years as a POW (in the “Hanoi Hilton”), four of which were in solitary confinement. His Catholic Faith enabled him to persevere through great suffering and torture. On this Easter Day, I present for your meditation and encouragement this poem that he wrote while in solitary confinement.
The Great Sign
(a conversation after Jesus’ crucifixion, but before His resurrection, between three women: Joanna, Mary, the mother of James, and Mary Magdalene)
1.His manger birth drew kings in awe, His smile the former blind men saw,
In Him divine and mortal merged,
Yet He’s the one the soldiers scourged.
2.He praised the humble and the meek.,
The grateful deaf mute heard Him speak, His face was love personified,
Yet He’s the one they crucified.
3.Now our tears with doubts combine, How could He die yet be divine?
We must dispel this faithless gloom, Let’s pray at dawn beside His tomb.
Dark clouds can hide the rising sun, And all seem lost, when all is won!
Do not be afraid! Christ is Risen, Alleluia! He is Risen indeed, Alleluia!
May God bless you!
The Holy Season of Lent culminates in the Church’s celebration of Holy Week. There is no more important observance in the Christian calendar than the celebration of the events of our salvation: the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; the institution of the Sacraments of Holy Orders and the Eucharist at the Last Supper on Holy Thursday; the suffering and death of the Lord on Good Friday; and His glorious resurrection on Easter. Each year on Palm Sunday, the Church begins Holy Week by reading the Gospel account of the Lord’s entry into Jerusalem and then reading the Passion story from one of the synoptic Gospels (i.e., Matthew, Mark, or Luke). This year the Passion account is taken from the Gospel of Matthew. It is fitting that we get a “preview” of the events of Holy Week in the scripture readings on Palm Sunday. On Good Friday we will read the Passion story from the Gospel of St. John. (The Passion story is always taken from John on Good Friday.)
Typically, I would exhort all our parishioners to participate in the whole Sacred Triduum. But the coronavirus ‘shut down’ has put us in uncharted waters. I have been offering Mass the past two weekends at 4:30pm Saturday and at 10am on Sunday. My plan is to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at 7pm on Holy Thursday and the Passion Service at 12:30pm on Good Friday under the carport with the faithful participating from their cars in our church parking lot. The Easter Vigil at 8pm on April 11 must be celebrated within the church, but we will broadcast the audio for those who wish listen while parked in our lot. Easter Sunday Masses will be scheduled for 8am and 10am, again under the carport.
Since I am writing this on Friday, March 27 (in order to meet our bulletin printing deadline), and because we are in a very fluid situation, the schedule you are reading in this bulletin may have had to be altered. Please consult our parish website, parish Facebook page, or call the parish office for the updated schedule. What a Lent we have had! You are all in my prayers!!
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller