May Your Heart Know the Risen Christ!

May Your Heart Know the Risen Christ!

Next week we mark the beautiful days of Holy Week. As I say every year, just because we refer to this week as “holy,” doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be unless we approach them with some intentionality. The beautiful ceremonies of Holy Week can come and go, and the week can be no different from any other week of the year. How sad that would be! So, let’s dig in and make it indeed a holy Holy Week!
It always touches my heart to receive the palms on Palm Sunday, and hear “hosanna in the highest” juxtaposed to the cry “Crucify Him.” To hear the mandate to love one another, accompanied by the washing of the feet, the institution of the Eucharist and the priesthood truly makes Holy Thursday “holy.” And what can we say of Good Friday? To watch people come up one-by-one, to embrace, to kiss, to touch, or offer an act of reverence to the cross of Christ is one of the most profound moments in which a person can participate. As I watch people coming up to the Cross, I see those who are dealing with illness, loss; I see parents with newborn children, all different circumstances, as they file up one-by-one to have their moment to give reverence to the cross of Christ. We recognize that Christ died for each one of us and that makes that Friday so “Good.” The somber, quiet mood of Holy Saturday gives us time to reflect on our own death, and just how fragile life is, and how we should treat each other with care. And as the sun begins to set, we prepare for the Easter Vigil, where we proclaim the resurrection of Christ and our share in that resurrection.
I say it again, just because we call it Holy Week doesn’t mean it will be holy. We each have to do our part. First, we have to show up, participate, and let go of all the things that distract us and focus on the beautiful events that will unfold for us during these sacred days of Palm Sunday, Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and the celebration of Easter. It is my privilege to pray for all of you daily, and in a special way, I will remember you during the celebrations of Holy Week and the Easter Season. May each heart know the joy of the risen Christ during the 50 days of Easter!

EUCHARISTIC ANTIPHON

 “O Sacrament most holy, O Sacrament divine! All praise and all Thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”
If you have been at a Mass with me recently you may have noticed that I have been singing this little verse as a meditation after the reception of Holy Communion, if time allows. While the song was included in an Italian prayer book in the 19th century, it became popular in Ireland and other places with various melodies and verses. I am going to make this particular verse the official antiphon for our Eucharistic Revival throughout the diocese, and it is my hope that every Catholic will know this song by heart. It is my typical practice to intone this verse on a low note and then repeat it twice more, going up a third each time so that by the third time, it is a crescendo reverberating throughout the church. The other two verses have a simple, beautiful summary of eucharistic theology. The second verse, “Now come, all you who labor and sorrow and in pain, come, eat this bread from heaven; thy peace and strength regain.” And the third verse is classic, “Lord Jesus, we adore Thee, our victim and our priest, whose precious Blood and Body become our Sacred Feast.” I ask all of our choirs and musicians to teach this to our parishioners. How beautiful if all of our First Communion classes could sing these three verses as a meditation after the reception of their First Holy Communion. The beauty of this song is in its simple, straightforward theology. The organ is not needed, no piano, no accompaniment—just the voices of God’s people who believe in the true presence of Christ in the Eucharist, singing that beautiful refrain in an act of worship. Let us remember the words of Pope St. John Paul II, “May our adoration never cease.”
To everyone: a blessed Holy Week

Published in the March 31, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

The Rosary is Our Source of Consolation

The Rosary is Our Source of Consolation

Never has a Lent been more important. Every newspaper and every newscast tells us of terrible happenings throughout the world. We must be prepared for whatever is coming by taking up every means provided by Mother Church. We must get ourselves ready, no matter what the future, to live in peace and holiness, without fear and without concern for our own lives.”

 

These are the words of Jean Fox, of Madonna House, from a letter written on March 10, 2003. Maybe you thought these words were written today and they certainly do apply. The news is filled with war, turmoil, and natural disasters. There are many things that can rob us of our peace if we allow it. In these days of challenge and difficulty, let us turn to Our Lady, Queen of Peace. We turn to the rosary, the source of our consolation. Our own diocesan patron, Pope St. Pius X said “The rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; It is the prayer that touches most the heart of the Mother of God … and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family rosary.” I echo once again the words of Fr. Peyton, the “Rosary Priest,” “The family that prays together, stays together.”

Could not the family rosary be a beautiful Lenten activity? How touched I am when I see spouses and children in adoration at Saint Francis Hospital, Cape Girardeau, and Holy Trinity Parish chapel, Springfield. How beautiful it would be to receive an invitation to join a family in their family rosary (I may regret this!!!) Or how about a group of families coming together? With the month of May right around the corner, I will once again try to schedule a few “Meet Me At The Grotto” events to pray the rosary at some of our beautiful outdoor shrines spread throughout the diocese.

In this time of prayer, fasting, and charity, each one of us is invited to a renewal, a conversion, a turning away from the things that hinder us from turning more fully toward Christ. When we respond to the 40 days of Lent, we participate more deeply in the glory of the Risen Lord at Easter. As your Lenten journey continues, please know of my prayerful support!

PRAY FOR VOCATIONS
Remember also to pray for and promote vocations to the priesthood and to the religious life. I have scheduled a series of Masses followed by the rosary throughout the diocese for that very intention. Join me if possible! The remaining Masses for Vocations will be Tuesday, March 28, 6 p.m., St. Peter the Apostle, Joplin; Tuesday, April 11, 5:30 p.m., Saint Agnes Cathedral, Springfield; and Wednesday, April 19, 5:30 p.m., St. John Vianney, Mountain View. If you aren’t able to attend, you can always pray the rosary for that intention. I ask that you look for those young men and women who you feel have the qualities to make a good priest or consecrated religious and invite them to discernment. Encourage them, and please send me their name and address so that I may send them a note of support. At every confirmation I always encourage the candidates to consider if the Lord may be calling them. I am always so pleased when I hear of those people who are open to the possibility. I ask the candidates to entrust their future to Our Lady, asking her to guide their future vocation. We need to support our youth with prayers and encouragement, which gets me back to the family rosary. I have referred many times to the home as the “Domestic Church.” Should not the home also be considered the first seminary or convent? Long before a young man or woman steps into the seminary or convent, hopefully they would have learned the virtue of prayer from the parents within the family.

We are grateful for the vocations that the Good Lord sends to us. As we hear in Scripture, “The harvest is plenty, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray to the Lord of the harvest provocations.” We do so with confidence, trusting that the Lord will give us what we need.

Published in the March 17, 2023 issue of The Mirror.

English