This past week the principals from our Catholic elementary and secondary schools and the clergy from our diocese came together for our annual Lent Faith Formation. This year the gathering was virtual, and the facilitator was Catholic teacher, missionary, and speaker Joe Farris from North Carolina. Joe has spent the last 25 years serving the Catholic Church. He has worked as a youth minister, teacher, missionary, and leader of three nationwide ministries.
There is one thing in particular that Joe spoke about that jumped out at me. He noted the need to “create space to encounter Jesus.” Whether we are in Church or in our homes, we need to set everything aside. We need to set aside the grocery list, what I need to remember, the things that I have to do later today. We simply need to create a space to be fully present to our God.
I really appreciated this for as you know, at the beginning of Mass I will often say that we bring our petitions to the foot of the cross, and also our prayers of thanksgiving. But going one step further, in order to be fully present, we need to set aside as Joe says, or again place at the foot of the cross, the grocery list, all the things that need to be done, whatever it may be that is distracting us and perhaps pulling us away, and simply be. Be still. Be in the moment. Listen to the words of Sacred Scripture and how God is speaking to us. Listening to the Eucharistic prayers as if we were listening to them for the first time, or even the last time, because those prayers are for us, the church, for we make up the church, the Body of Christ.
Going even one step further, it is my prayer that we continue to create a space to encounter Jesus here at St. Julia. I truly believe that our new crucifix has done exactly that by transforming our worship space and giving us focus, focus on what Jesus did for us.
That is what this week, Holy Week, is all about. It is my prayer that I create a space for us to journey with Christ into Jerusalem as we cry out “Hosanna” this Palm Sunday. On Holy Thursday, to create a space where we gather around the table to listen to Jesus’ command to each of us to “take this all of you and eat of it.” On Good Friday, a space where we will hear Jesus give a loud cry and breathe his last. Then at our Easter Vigil, a place of prayer, silence, and darkness as we wait for Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. This is Holy Week, and it is at our spiritual home of St. Julia where I want to create a space, where we as a parish family will create a space, to encounter Jesus.
I pray that each of you have a truly blessed and grace-filled Holy Week.
May God bless each of you and those that you love,
Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Risen Lord,
Hope. This is the message of Easter. This is the truth that we celebrate. This is who we are called to be as disciples – people of hope.
This is an Easter like no other. Yet over two thousand years ago, that day was like no other. Jesus Christ rose from the dead, and salvation history was changed forever. What we are currently experiencing will no doubt change our lives forever as well. Yet in time, while we will never forget, we will move on with the everyday busyness of our lives. The same can be said about the miracle of Easter. As an Easter people, there is nothing ordinary about what we are celebrating this day. It is the most extraordinary of all events! Jesus’ rising from the dead, his life, death and resurrection, is what we celebrate at every Mass. Let us never forget this. It is a message of hope.
This is the truth that our families, our neighbours, our country and our world need to hear. We need to tell the world around us Jesus is risen and he is with us. We need to show the world that we are witnesses to this truth. We are his disciples. We are Easter people! We are people of hope.
It is my hope and prayer that everyone keeps safe, healthy, and well, and I look forward to welcoming everyone home, to your spiritual home of St. Julia very soon. Please rest assured of my prayers. On behalf of myself, Deacon Bryan and Deacon George, we wish each of you and those that you love a most blessed Easter season!
In Christ’s love, Fr. Greg Schmidt
That the passion of Christ points us to the one thing that we can change? That one thing is our selves. We now enter into Holy Week, which in my mind is the most sacred time of the year. As the season of penance and sacrifice comes to an end, we turn to the focus of Holy week – the passion and suffering of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and all of the happenings that lead us to these events – events that define who we are and what it means to be a Christian. There is something especially beautiful about the Easter Vigil for me, for it was here that I moved one step closer to answering God’s call to enter the seminary. I credit the Holy Spirit, for I discovered that by engaging myself wholeheartedly in this beautiful celebration, and truly listened to the words being proclaimed, that is has the power to change a person forever. During the Triduum we suffer along with Christ. We also journey with Him in prayer so that we too might rise with Him at His glorious Resurrection. It was here that I learned that the only thing I have power over to change is myself. We can pray for each other, yet only I can make the decision to change. That personal invitation from Jesus is open to each and every one of us. I invite each of us to immerse ourselves into this mystery this week. While very different from any Holy Week we have ever experienced before, consider joining us for all of our live streamed liturgies this week, and let us join our hearts and minds with Jesus, and remember what He did for each of us. May God continue to bless and keep safe each of you and those that you love.
From Our Pastor