A Priest Without People is Not a Priest

A Priest Without People is Not a Priest

In the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, two Chrism Masses are celebrated each year during Holy Week in each of the two cathedrals. It is always a special moment for us together, a Bishop with his priests, in the Cathedral for the celebration of the Chrism Mass. It is further touching to have the people to whom we minister with us at these liturgies as well.

“Holy brothers who share a heavenly calling, fix your eyes on Jesus…” These words from the Letter to the Hebrews are from the Office of Readings. Since the fifth Sunday of Lent and on through to Holy Saturday, the Church has had us reading from the Letter to the Hebrews, reflecting on the ordained priesthood and how we priests share in the Priesthood of Jesus. The ceremonies of the Chrism Mass, with the renewal of our priestly commitment(s) along with the blessing of the oils to be used for the sacramental life of the diocese, are striking. I daresay, they are rather mystical moments. At least for me they are: I always leave inspired and renewed for the work of the diocese, and I know the clergy do as well. (more…)

Doubting Thomas and Our Own Unbelief

Doubting Thomas and Our Own Unbelief

The Incredulity of Saint Thomas – Caravaggio (Public Domain)


The readings from this reflection: Acts 5:12-16; Ps 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24; Rev. 1:9-11a, 12-13, 17-19; Jn 10:19-31

The Second Sunday of Easter is known as “Divine Mercy Sunday. Our Gospel reading today from John’s Gospel recounts one of the Post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus Christ to his Apostles. This gospel reading is proclaimed in each of the three Sunday Lectionary cycles, and this shows the significance of these encounters with the resurrected Jesus. This gospel combines two scenes into one story; Jesus’ appearance to his Apostles after his resurrection and Jesus’ dialogue with Thomas, the Apostle who doubted.

In the Gospel, Jesus appeared to his Apostles, coming through locked doors to say, “Peace be with you,” and then he breathed the Holy Spirit upon them, communicating his authority to forgive sins. The Apostle Thomas, who was also called Didymus, however, was not present at this meeting with Jesus. Later, the other Apostles told Thomas of the encounter, but he did not believe them, saying that unless he could “see the nail marks upon Christ’s hands and put his finger into the nail marks, and place his hand into Christ’s pierced side,” he would not believe.

Do We Notice the Wooden Beam in Our Own Eye?

Do We Notice the Wooden Beam in Our Own Eye?

The Scripture readings from this reflection: Sirach 27: 4-7; Psalm 92: 2-3, 13-14, 15-16; 1 Corinthians 15:54-58; Luke 6:39-45

In our Gospel reading for the 8th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Jesus is preaching to a large crowd who has come not only from across Judea, but from Gentile regions as well. His message to the people, and to us, is a familiar one: Do not be so quick to judge your brother for his faults, for the splinter in his eye, when you may have even greater faults, is a wooden beam in your own eye.

Jesus is not saying that we should never judge. We were given an intellect and reason so that we can make judgments. If we see a child running after a ball that is rolling toward the street, we must judge that as a dangerous situation. We cannot be indifferent about it. And, we must act quickly on that judgment to protect the child from being injured. However, we are not judging the child. We are judging the action of the child based on the harm that could result.

Jesus says in today’s Scripture, “Remove the wooden beam from your eye first, then you will see clearly to remove the splitter from your brother’s eye.” In other words, we are not forbidden from recognizing and judging the actions of others, from admonishing the sinner, but we are forbidden from judging them as a person. Jesus is not ruling out our correcting another person out of love because of the danger in which they may be putting themselves. But rather, he is condemning having a critical spirit where we ignore our own faults, the wooden beam in our own eye. “Who am I to judge?” is a common phrase. But in its proper context, this phrase means

“Who am I to judge the state of another person’s soul, how they appear to God?” I cannot know the spiritual condition of anyone or judge them. That is something only God can do. However, we also cannot use the phrase, “Who am I to judge?” as an excuse to avoid making moral judgments as to whether or not an action is in accordance with God’s divine law for, in so doing, we fail to recognize the harm that it does to the person committing the act, to their family, and to society as a whole.

We stop a child from running into the street because we love and care for them. We judge the act of abortion as evil because it is the killing of an innocent child in the womb and it also causes terrible psychological and physical injury to the mother. Abortion harms not only those contributing to the act by their direct or indirect support, but it harms all of us. At its core, it is an extreme evil by which the devil seeks to destroy life created by God.

In the same manner, we must judge murder, pornography, adultery, hatred, and all acts which violate the Ten Commandments, as sinful. This is not only because they are morally wrong, but also because they destroy lives and families, and do great violence to the Kingdom of God.

It Is EASTER: We Share Our Joy and Our Hope

It Is EASTER: We Share Our Joy and Our Hope

The readings from this reflection: Acts 10:34a, 37-43; Psalm 118:1-2, 16-17, 22-23; Col 3:1-4; John 20:1-9


I grew up in a very Catholic and devoted family. I learned to love Jesus, our blessed Mother, the Holy Rosary, and the Church at a very early age. We did a lot of great things together and we enjoyed praying the Stations of the Cross with neighbors and friends. But nothing compares with the hope, the excitement, and the joy of Easter morning. I remember going to Mass with my brothers and sisters early in the morning, exactly at 5:30 a.m. And that is how it is depicted in John’s Gospel: early in the morning, while it was still dark…

Early in my life I learned the transforming power of the Resurrection, the biggest event of humanity. I did not learn only to say Happy Easter, I learned the meaning of those words…He was risen for me too!

It Is EASTER: We Share Our Joy and Our Hope

The Significance of Good Friday

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“‘It is finished’; and he bowed his head and handed over his spirit.”

On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Good Friday, in the Adoration of the Cross, in the chanting of the ‘Reproaches’, in the reading of the Passion, and in receiving the pre-consecrated Host, we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord.

The Church – stripped of its ornaments, the altar bare, and with the door of the empty tabernacle standing open – is as if in mourning. In the fourth century the Apostolic Constitutions described this day as a ‘day of mourning, not a day of festive joy,’ and this day was called the ‘Pasch (passage) of the Crucifixion.’

The liturgical observance of this day of Christ’s suffering, crucifixion and death evidently has been in existence from the earliest days of the Church. No Mass is celebrated on this day, but the service of Good Friday is called the Mass of the Presanctified because Communion (in the species of bread) which had already been consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the people.

Traditionally, the organ is silent from Holy Thursday until the Alleluia at the Easter Vigil, as are all bells or other instruments, the only music during this period being unaccompanied chant.

The omission of the prayer of consecration deepens our sense of loss because Mass throughout the year reminds us of the Lord’s triumph over death, the source of our joy and blessing. The desolate quality of the rites of this day reminds us of Christ’s humiliation and suffering during his Passion. We can see that the parts of the Good Friday service correspond to the divisions of Mass:

  • Liturgy of the Word – reading of the Passion.
  • Intercessory prayers for the Church and the entire world, Christian and non-Christian.
  • Veneration of the Cross
  • Communion, or the ‘Mass of the Pre-Sanctified.’