On one of my recent visits to a parishioner in a long-term care facility, I smile in thinking that I learned more from this faith-filled lady in our time together than any words I may have offered to comfort her. She said, “Fr. Greg, remember that the doors of the church open outward, not inward.”
In our second reading from James 1:17-18, 21-22, 27 we will hear the words, “Welcome with meekness the implanted word that has the power to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not merely hearers who deceive themselves.” James does not mince words, for this is a loud and clear summary how we are to live, by being doers of the word and not hearers only. Here is the gift that we have been given – we are blessed to be able to gather together as a community to listen to the Word of God and to see how God speaks to us through His living Word. We must listen to Scripture, always taking in the Word of God in the light of all Scripture, in the light of the early church teachers of the Christian faith, and in the light of the teachings of the Church, the Church magisterium. We are not simply called to hear this Word and to simply be on our way, or that it does not apply to us. This can be a challenge, I must admit.
As with every challenge, I believe that there is an opportunity. We are called to take the Word, meditate with the Word, and with the help of the Holy Spirit, allow it to guide us in our actions. That is when we are living out our faith. This is where we put our faith into action. When the priest or deacon proclaims at the end of Mass, “Go in peace, glorifying the Lord by your lives,” these are our marching orders, by Christ himself. To care for the basic needs of those in our community. To restore dignity to those in need. To bring hope to those who are suffering. To lend a helping hand. To help guide and educate the young around us, and the young at heart. To care for the sick, and to be a friend to the homebound. This is who we are as a Church, as disciples of Christ.
When we push the doors of the church open and outward, we exit, refueled and recharged to do exactly that, having been fed by the Word of God and the Body and Blood of Christ.
This weekend I thank you for warmly welcoming Msgr. Leo Clutterbuck back to celebrate Mass with you. May God continue to bless each of you and those that you love, and I look forward to seeing you next weekend upon my return from some summer holidays.
Yesterday I had the blessed opportunity to visit a number of our parishioners in Hotel Dieu Shaver. We are blessed to have this fine rehabilitation center in our own backyard. It was a reminder to me that, even with good intentions, days, weeks, and months pass by, and I fail to reach out to members of our community who are so very grateful for a visit and for me to bring the sacraments to them, namely the Anointing of the Sick and the Eucharist. These are two powerful sacraments where those in need encounter Christ as we pray for comfort, strength, and healing.
One of the most important works of mercy we can do is to visit the sick. Whether they be family members, friends, parishioners, or even strangers, those who are sick need to know that their lives have value because they are loved by God. As Catholics, we can witness to God’s love and show people who are sick that we love them too.
In his encyclical, Evangelium Vitae, St. John Paul II explains that the sick need to know people care about them: “The request which arises from the human heart in the supreme confrontation with suffering and death, especially when faced with the temptation to give up in utter desperation, is above all a request for companionship, sympathy and support in the time of trial. It is a plea for help to keep on hoping when all human hopes fail.” It is our role as Catholics to encourage people who are sick or dying and give them hope.
I am most grateful when a family member or fellow parishioner alerts me of someone who is sick and in need of a visit. These are some of the most precious and memorable moments of my ministry.
Perhaps there is someone who you have been meaning to call or perhaps due to the pandemic you have been putting off a visit. Please do not put it off as there are ways to visit safely. That visit, and perhaps the prayers that you offer together, could very well be the very thing that brightens that person’s day and aids in their healing. May that person look into your eyes and see the eyes of Christ. When you speak may they hear the voice of Christ. And when you hold their hand may they feel the comforting touch of Christ. Just remember to sanitize first.
I look forward to us gathering for Mass this weekend, either in person or virtually. May God continue to bless each of you and those that you love.
Dear parishioners and friends of St. Julia Parish,
This weekend in the life of the Church we celebrate the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This solemnity always falls on August 15, and because it falls on a Sunday this year of 2021, it supersedes the 20th Sunday of Ordinary Time. As with every solemnity, we proclaim the Gloria / Glory to God in the Highest, and recite the Nicene or Apostles Creed. So, what is it that we celebrate today? That the Blessed Virgin Mary was assumed both body and soul into heaven, and that she was spared the corruption of death. This was defined by Pope Pius XII in 1950 and is considered official Church teaching. It is only the second time that “Papal infallibility” (that the Pope was teaching something that was free from error and something that was official Church teaching) was ever invoked in the Church. I’ve included a number of “questions and answers” below regarding the Assumption of Mary for your information and enrichment.
While the Assumption of Mary has spurred debate among Catholics and Christians alike, one thing is certain. We need Mary in our lives.
In a 2002 homily, Pope John Paul II said:
“If Jesus is Life, Mary is the Mother of Life.
If Jesus is Hope, Mary is the Mother of Hope.
If Jesus is Peace, Mary is the Mother of Peace, Mother of the Prince of Peace.”
May we seek the intercession of our Blessed Mother, our Mother of life, our Mother of Hope, our Mother of Peace.
Mary, Mother of God, pray for us!
May God continue to bless each of you and those that you love, and I look forward to you joining me for the celebration of Mass this weekend.
This weekend in our Gospel from John the discourse on the Bread of Life continues. Who is the Bread of Life? Jesus himself. As the one “who came down from heaven,” Jesus revealed to us an extraordinary truth of our faith. We are never alone, for God himself is with us, the second person of the Trinity, his Son Jesus Christ, all made possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. Enough Theology 101 for now.
One of the beautiful hymns in our Catholic library of music is “I am the Bread of Life.” Did you know that this hymn was written by Sister Suzanne Toolan of the Sisters of Mercy? As Sister Suzanne reflected…
I wrote “I Am the Bread of Life” for a San Francisco archdiocesan event in 1964. I was teaching high school at the time and wrote the song during my free period. When the bell rang for the next class, I decided I didn’t like the music, so I tore it up and threw it in the wastepaper basket. My classroom was next to the infirmary, where the girls who didn’t want to take tests or were otherwise unprepared for class went for a period or two until they were tracked down by an exasperated teacher. As I left my classroom, a freshman girl came out of the infirmary and said, “What was that? It was beautiful!” I went back into my classroom, took the manuscript out of the basket and taped it together. It has had a life of its own ever since. “I Am the Bread of Life” began to appear in archdiocesan liturgies. There were many purple ditto copies going around. Not everyone liked the hymn. One liturgist gave talks on why it shouldn’t work, saying: “It is not metric; its tessitura [vocal range] is too high. Its tessitura is too low.” Others objected to it because they felt by placing the words of Jesus into the mouths of the assembly, those words were being attributed to the assembly. Travelers to Europe and Asia in the 70s and 80s would tell me about hearing “I Am the Bread of Life” in different countries. I have a copy of it in a Slavic language, in Korean and Spanish, but it has been sung in so many other languages. It is included in hymnals of other Christian faith traditions. I remember being introduced to a woman who was Episcopalian. When she heard my name she said, “Oh, number 335!”—the number of the hymn in the Episcopal Hymnal. I could never figure out how the hymn became popular. I know in our Roman Catholic tradition it came at the beginning of our use of the vernacular, and we simply didn’t have much to sing in our own language. But I also think its popularity stems from its message of resurrection, which is so strong in these words of Jesus. We so need that message of hope. I am always touched when people tell me that at the funeral of a mother, father or friend, these sung words of Jesus gave them consolation. Then I know the hymn has done its work. Indeed, my most vivid memory of this hymn is from my mother’s funeral in 1994, when it was sung by a young soprano as a solo during communion at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland. That rising chorus moved me then. It moves me now. (From SistersofMercy.org)
I have known this hymn all of my life, and it just may be one of the most well known and enduring hymns of our time. It took a bit of searching, but I came across this rendition from the Notre Dame Folk Choir on YouTube. It is sung with great joy…click below and enjoy!
I Am the Bread of Life - Notre Dame Folk Choir
Thank you being a part of our community here at St. Julia. May God continue to bless each of you and those that you love, and I look forward to you joining me for the celebration of Mass this weekend.
From Our Pastor