Let Us Continue to Fast, Pray, & Give During Easter & Beyond

Let Us Continue to Fast, Pray, & Give During Easter & Beyond

I believe everyone is familiar with the missionaries that visit our parishes throughout each summer seeking financial support for their mission work. These visits are part of the Missionary Cooperation Plan, an effort that occurs in all parishes throughout the United States, typically during the summer months. The Missionary Cooperation Plan is part of the initiative of the Society for the Propagation of the Faith (SPOF) under the direction of the Dicastery for the Evangelization of Peoples. Through the support of Catholics worldwide, donations provide ongoing support for the pastoral and evangelizing programs of the Catholic Church in Africa, Asia, the Pacific islands, and in remote regions of Latin America. This also includes aid for the education and support of seminarians, religious novices, catechists, and for the works of religious communities in the areas of education, health care, and social services. Since 2017, Fr. Glenn Eftink has been the diocesan Director of the SPOF as well as being a full-time pastor. Through his work, $700,567 has been raised for missionary efforts throughout the world. Father Eftink has also been responsible for promoting World Mission Sunday, which has raised $377,215 from the diocese. That’s over a million dollars in our missionary outreach: Congratulations Fr. Eftink and to our generous donors!

While most of us have never been to the Pacific Islands or Africa or Asia, through our financial support we share in the work of the missionaries who spread the faith in these areas. Our financial support of World Mission Sunday, typically the 3rd Sunday of October, continues the efforts of Pope Pius XI who in 1926, instituted Mission Sunday so that the entire Church would never forget that we are called to be missionaries: all of us are called to share in the work of evangelizing the world. Again, while most of us will not be actual missionaries in these remote areas, through our financial support we share in their efforts.

I would like to thank Fr. Eftink for his good work in this area. While there are many local and national causes that we can support, we must never forget that being missionary is part of the essence of the Church. In Matthew 28:19 we are commissioned, “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all the nations.” Thank you, Fr. Eftink! And as he steps down from this important role, I thank Deacon Mark Kiblinger who takes on this additional responsibility to his ministry at St. Vincent de Paul Parish, in Cape Girardeau. I ask all the pastors to support Deacon Kiblinger, just as you did Fr. Eftink. More on Fr. Eftink’s work with the Society for the Propagation of the Faith may be found on p. 8 of this issue.

HOLY LAND SUPPORT ON GOOD FRIDAY
Speaking of other causes to support, traditionally the collection taken up on Good Friday is for the support of the Catholic institutions in the Holy Land. Its official title is the Pontifical Good Friday Collection. All of us are aware of the political, military, and religious difficulties the Catholic Church is currently facing in the Holy Land. The annual Good Friday Collection helps support the 23 parishes, three schools, orphanages, and weekly food distribution to the small Catholic community in the Holy Land. Through our support of the Pontifical Good Friday Collection, we let our Catholic brothers and sisters in the Holy Land know that they are not forgotten. They need our prayers and financial support now more than ever. Please remember to donate to the Good Friday Collection in your parish. You can also do so Online at https://myfranciscan.org/donate/.

As we wind up our 2024 Lenten journey, let us recommit ourselves to the three works of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving in the 50 days of Easter. By this time maybe some of your initial fervor from Ash Wednesday has worn off. The beautiful thing about our faith is that every day is a new beginning. If your Lent has not been what you had hoped it would be, begin anew, begin now. I recall the words of Mother Teresa, “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.”

As we continue with the Eucharistic Revival, I think it imperative that we also have a revival of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and celebrate it frequently. Consider the words of Pope Benedict XVI in his homily at the Nationals Stadium on April 17, 2008, highlighting the importance of Confession; “To a great extent, the renewal of the Church in America and throughout the world depends on the renewal of the practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament both inspires and accomplishes.”  I encourage you to frequently take advantage of the times of confession offered in your parish or mission. Happy Easter!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Published in the March 29, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
(Artwork: ‘The Descent of
the Holy Spirit-Pentecost’ painted by Rev. Bonaventure Ostendarp & Rev. Raphael Pfister, Public Domain).

 

May Easter Be One of Peace, Grace, and a Deepening Relationship

May Easter Be One of Peace, Grace, and a Deepening Relationship

What is the highlight of the Holy Thursday celebration of the Lord’s Supper? For me, it’s what follows the celebration, the silent adoration of our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament.
And what is the highlight of the Good Friday celebration of The Passion of the Lord? For me, it is watching all the people come up to give reverence to Christ crucified on the cross by a bow, a touch, or a kiss. And in those morning hours of Holy Saturday, I relish the silence that seems to permeate all of nature in recognition of our Lord’s time in the tomb.
And then what happens? We read the sacred stories of salvation history at the Easter vigil: the creation of the world; Abraham being put to the test, the crossing of the Red Sea, as well as the beautiful prophecy of Isaiah, where we are invited to come and eat, come and drink. But what I always cling to at the Easter vigil is actually the Hallelujah verse right before the gospel, where the beautiful words are proclaimed, “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord. That is the promise that is given, that is the promise that is fulfilled.

Do you have a favorite Easter song? Of course the traditional ones are beautiful. Who is not inspired by the words, “The strife is war, the battle’s done,” or “Ye son and daughters, let us sing! The king of heaven, the glorious king, or death today rose triumphing, Hallelujah.” Have you heard the Easter Song? It’s quite upbeat and I’ve never heard it sung in a Catholic Church but I always binge on it during the Easter season. In fact, it takes all my strength to not listen to it on YouTube prior to Easter and it always puts me in a good mood:

 “Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing that we can be born again. Hear the bells ringing, they’re singing Christ has risen from the dead. The angel up on the tombstone said, ‘He has risen, just as He said.’ Quickly now go tell His disciples that Jesus Christ is no longer dead. Joy to the world, He has risen, alleluia.”

How were the 40 days leading up to the celebration of Easter? Maybe your Lent was great and you did everything you wanted to do, all with the goal of walking with Jesus for those 40 days. But maybe for some, the 40 days of Lent came and went without any notice at all. The good news is that the resurrection of Jesus does not depend on our Lenten observance! He has conquered the power of sin and death, and in our yearly Lenten observance, it is never too late, even now, to commit to a deeper relationship with Jesus. That is Good News.

 THE 40 DAYS OF LENT ARE OVERWHELMED BY THE 50 DAYS OF EASTER
As the weeks of the Easter Season unfold, Sunday-after-Sunday we hear the great gospels of the Risen Jesus. On the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Jesus walks through the locked doors of the upper room, encounters Thomas, the doubter, who becomes Thomas, who professes the beautiful profession of faith: “My Lord, and my God.” That same verse is traditionally recited in the silence of our hearts as we gaze upon the Eucharist at the elevation at each Holy Mass.
On the 3rd Sunday of Easter, Jesus appears to the frightened disciples with the beautiful greeting, “Peace be with you.” We know that Jesus desires to give us a peace that the world cannot give. The 4th Sunday of Easter is always referred to as “Good Shepherd Sunday,” and with which I always recall a bad memory! I was supposed to baptize my cousin’s baby on the 4th Sunday of Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday, at his neighboring parish. But my parish planned coffee and doughnuts to celebrate Good Shepherd Sunday to honor the priests and I was swept up with the doughnuts and forgot about the baptism! The priest at the other parish stepped in but I was so embarrassed by missing the baptism. With the 5th Sunday of Easter we have the image of the vine and the branches, “I am the vine, you are the branches,” an appropriate image of the spiritual life. And what better Gospel could there possibly be for the 6th Sunday of Easter than to hear the words, “This I command you: love one another.”

Be assured of my prayers during the entire Easter season. May the 50 days be a time of grace, peace, and deepening of your relationship with Jesus Christ. Happy Easter!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Published in the March 15, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
Photo Credit: “He is Risen” by Elizabeth, https://www/etsy.com/shop/ModernBibleArt,@ModernBibleArt

 

Our Youth & Young Adults Evangelize in Their Actions

Our Youth & Young Adults Evangelize in Their Actions

I recently had a pleasant surprise when a dozen or so youth of the St. Agnes Cathedral’s Vietnamese community helped serve a Friday evening meal under the leadership of Sr. Grace Nguyen, CMR, from Springfield Catholic High School. I try to participate as often as possible in the meal program for local homeless, hosted on Friday evenings by neighboring Grace United Methodist Church, of Springfield. As I saw the students interacting with the guests who came for a meal, I was mindful of the recent words of our Holy Father as he spoke to a group from Florence, Italy. He encouraged us that while giving to others in need we must look at those we help in the eye and touch their poverty with our hands and hearts. He went on to say, “Be close to the people you help.” These youth did just that.
When hearing confessions, the Holy Father will often ask people if they help the poor, and when they say yes, the Pope will respond, “And tell me, when you give to the poor, do you look in the eyes of the person, touch their hand or just throw the money there?” He challenged the group to “touch, touch, TOUCH poverty”… and develop “a heart that touches, to look and to understand the other.” This is similar to his message when he visited South America on his first visit after his election to the papacy, when he encouraged people to look at the poor and talk to them.
What happens when you look at the poor and talk to them? I think you discover our common humanity. I have often walked away from serving a Friday evening meal thinking that I have more in common with them than I first realized! Mother Teresa came to that insight when she wrote, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.” Saint Vincent De Paul referred to the poor as our patrons and that it is a privilege to serve them. As we continue in our Lenten journey, may our works of charity—in whatever form they take— help us to encounter Christ in the poor and help alleviate suffering in His name.

2024 RISING STAR
I was recently notified that Jeffrey Roxas, part of the Catholic Campus Ministry on the campus of Missouri State University, Springfield, has been named the 2024 Rising Star in campus ministry. He is one of five national recipients identified for his outstanding work, and we are so proud that he is part of our team at CCM. He will be honored on April 11, 2024, in Dallas, TX, at the Newman Ministry Awards Banquet. Congratulations Jeffrey!

At the same time, Dr. Andrew Mercer, PhD, Director of Religious Education for CCM, also in Springfield, has been invited to deliver a paper at the Oxford Patristics Conference, Aug. 5-9, in Oxford, England. His paper will explore the topic of the early Christian view of peace as a necessary component of human flourishing. In the midst of so many international conflicts, the topic of peace and human flourishing is quite timely. Congratulations Dr. Mercer!

PILGRIMAGE OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT
By now, I hope you have heard of the Eucharistic Pilgrimage, “Anima Christi ’24,” sponsored by the College Council Knights of Columbus at Southeast Missouri State University, Cape Girardeau. These college Knights and others will spend their spring break accompanying the Blessed Sacrament as they go on a caravan pilgrimage throughout the diocese, March 10 – 17. The trek will begin in Joplin and will be completed in Cape Girardeau, for a total of 21 stops. At each parish, there will be time for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, or depending on the location and time of day, Holy Mass as well. Please find the graphic in this issue of The Mirror on p. 11, scan the QR code using your smartphone, consult the route, and make plans to participate in our local, historical, and solemn pilgrimage during this celebration of the national Eucharistic Revival.

As you can see, there are wonderful things occurring on our college campuses and I’m so grateful for the leadership of our campus staff members. Our annual Bishop’s Collection, the Diocesan Development Fund, offers annual grants to help meet their budgets and I could not be more pleased. Thank you! It is truly money well spent, investing in the Church’s energetic campus disciples!

O Sacrament Most Holy, O Sacrament Divine, all praise and all thanksgiving be every moment Thine.”

Published in the March 01, 2024 issue of The Mirror.
 

MO Bishops’ Statement on Abortion Initiative Petition

MO Bishops’ Statement on Abortion Initiative Petition

The four Missouri Bishops recently issued a statement on the proposed amendment to the Missouri Constitition, which would legalize abortion in our state and remove long standing health and safety standards for women.
At the recent Province Meeting of the Missouri Bishops, they discussed the continuing efforts to combating the pro-abortion ballot initiative targeting the state of Missouri. The statement may be found here.
Midwest March for Life—Wed., May 01, 2024

Midwest March for Life—Wed., May 01, 2024

Diocesan-chartered buses will leave from both Springfield and Cape Girardeau to Jefferson City for the March. Seating is limited, the cost is $15 per person, which includes the bus ride and a t-shirt. A link to sign up is 
available here. For those driving, mileage reimbursement is available. Additional information is available on the Midwest March for Life Website, a link is available here.

English