The Pastor's Pen
4-30-17 3rd Sunday of Easter
THE PASTOR’S PEN
What a happy day and blessed day for our parish as we celebrate First Communion at Sunday afternoon Mass. Congratulations and blessings to our 45 second graders, as they take another step on their initiation into the Church. May they always approach the Eucharist with the same fervor they have today. And may each of us be inspired by their example to always hunger for the Bread of Life, and the Cup of Salvation.
We continue to rejoice in this Easter Season. I hope you are using your Little White Book for your daily prayer. I find the reflections on St. Mark’s Resurrection narrative to be good. On Tuesday this week, you can also read about the Angelus during the Easter season.
I hope you are able to participate in the May Crowning with our children this Wednesday afternoon in church at 1:45. May is our traditional month dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. As the Catechism of the Church reminds us: “The Blessed Virgin Mary is the Mother of the Church in the order of grace, because she gave birth to Jesus, the Son of God, the Head of the Body which is the Church. The faithful see in Mary an image and an anticipation of the resurrection that awaits them and they invoke her as advocate, helper, and benefactress. The special veneration directed to Mary finds particular expression in the liturgical feasts dedicated to the Mother of God and in Marian prayers such as the Holy Rosary which is a compendium of the whole Gospel.”(#196-198) Compendium: Catechism of the Catholic Church.
This week is First Friday, and there will be Eucharistic Adoration in the Sacred Heart Room all day. Having used it a few times before, it provides a more intimate and quiet space before the Blessed Sacrament. It begins after Mass, and we will pray Morning Prayer together before the exposed Blessed Sacrament. Find a few minutes in your day to stop by the church and go to the Sacred Heart Room to pray in silence before the Lord. Parishioners have told me of the grace and peace and insight received from their prayer before the Eucharist. I ask that you pray for healing for all the brokenness in our world, and in our individual lives. We conclude with Benediction at 5, which will take about 15 minutes. For those coming to the Over 50 Club Potluck that evening, come early to the church for Benediction. This liturgy, drawing us into the mystery of Christ present to us in the Eucharist, is a unique grace and blessing, that then leads us back to the celebration of the Mass.
I announced recently at Mass that Fr. Fred is being transferred to Resurrection Parish, Illiopolis on July 1. Plans are
starting to come together for his farewell on June 24. He will not be replaced here at CTK. Next weekend our school students are presenting the musical “Honk! Jr.” See you there to enjoy our talented students.
In the peace of the Risen Lord,
The Pastor’s Pen
This week we closed another fiscal year, and while the final numbers are not tabulated, we are falling short on the income side. Our operating expenses remain the same through the summer as we make monthly payroll and benefits and utilities. I appreciate your stewardship of treasure to both our capital campaign, and the Sunday collection to meet operational needs. We each have many blessings, and we need to be generous stewards toward CTK. The new budget, which began July1 is not in stone yet; the finance council has been assisting me and Bridgette Kathleen Shea, our Business Manager. Our expenses will increase, if for no other reason than the increase in salaries and benefits. As I make another payment on my capital campaign pledge, it is in addition to my regular support of the parish. I need all parishioners to be good stewards in this way, making their campaign pledge in addition to their regular parish support. Christ the King has a bright future when we live as faithful, generous disciples.
I am hoping to see some garden produce after Masses at our Mini-Farmers Market. See the table in the gym lobby. If you have excess produce, please bring it in, or you may make a donation for the produce you take home. Monies go to the Holy Family Food Pantry. Our St. Vincent DePaul Society is coordinating this. Vacation Bible School starts in 2 weeks, and I expect it to be at capacity again this year. We haven’t yet reached our fund-raising goal so all our children can attend free of charge. See the totals in the Stewardship Box on the previous page. Your donation can push us to the goal. Thanks!
I am away this week on my annual retreat, going to St. Meinrad Benedictine Monastery in southern Indiana. Please keep me in your prayers. Then next weekend I will be home for my mom’s family reunion. I will have Mass for them at my mom’s farm, which has been in our family now 152 years. My mom Evelyn is the matriarch of the Stolz family; four generations will be there. Blessings abound! Father Fred will be saying Masses here through the weekend.
Begin your Independence Day (Monday) with 6:30 Mass. We have much to be grateful for, and let us pray for our country and state. Have a firecracker-of-a-week!
In the peace of Christ the King, Fr. Joe
4-23-17 2nd Sunday of Easter
THE PASTOR’S PEN
This Second Sunday of Easter, also called Divine Mercy Sunday because of the gospel reading, assures us of God’s mercy through the Resurrection, for Jesus has conquered sin and death. He offers us the Father’s healing forgiveness, just he offered peace to the disciples that Easter night. The Cathedral is holding Divine Mercy devotions, with several priests to hear confessions, today (Sunday) beginning at 2 p.m. Please join me there. Reflecting back on the Easter Triduum, I want to acknowledge and thank the boy scouts and their dads for the wonderful fire we had just outside the front doors of the church to begin the Easter Vigil. The Lord blessed us with a beautiful nightfall. Our renovated church and vestibule and restrooms are serving us well. The projection of music and texts and the Creed enhances our liturgies. Special thanks to my staff and Deacon Al who helped me with so many details. It was wonderful to pray with a full church at each of the morning Masses, a sight I would like to see every weekend. Through the Paschal Mystery we have died with Christ, and are raised up with him in new life. Now these 50 days of Easter we continue to rejoice in God’s saving love. I hope at home you are using your Little White Book for six minutes of your prayer each day. It covers the weekday resurrection narrative of St. Mark. This practice of reading the scriptures and reflecting on them, called Lectio Divina (divine reading), is a wonderful means to a deeper spirituality.
The church will be even busier this coming weekend with a wedding, then First Communion is next Sunday, April 30, with a special 1 p.m. Mass. Please keep our second graders in prayer, and if you spiritually adopted a student, send them a note through the school. They will have their retreat April 28.
In the peace of the risen Christ,
THE PASTOR’S PEN
What a glorious day! This is the new day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it! The Paschal Mystery, the death and resurrection of Jesus, is manifested in our very midst. We renewed our baptism promises today, and the creed was part of the question and response. Then the newly blest Easter holy water was sprinkled over all. We are refreshed and renewed in these words and rituals. We have made our journey through Lent, dying with Jesus through our sacrificial fasting, intense prayer, and generous almsgiving. Now let the feasting begin! Let the Alleluias ring out! My prayer for you is to have a blessed Easter! The church looks, smells and sounds amazing! Thanks to the crew who wondrously transformed our church environment, inside and out, each day of the Triduum; thanks to our dedicated music ministers through our special liturgies these high holy days; thanks to our many liturgical ministers who serve us so well; and thanks to all of you who come to pray and be transformed during the Triduum and beyond. CTK is a wonderful parish! Ours is a graced life as the beloved of God.
Lent was particularly meaningful to me this year in that I sang with our choir the Mozart Requiem. It was a sacrifice of time and energy, and I wanted to quit. But then it came together is a glorious way. I told Linda Younkin before the concert that indeed we can sing it well, we were well rehearsed; now it is time to pray it well. Which we did. How touching and moving for me, thinking of my deceased father and other loved ones who have died. It was a graced moment. And so many told me after the concert how they were touched, some to the point of tears. Our church has never heard such glorious music. See our Facebook page for pictures.
I trust your Lent was meaningful, especially to have a more robust prayer life as I encouraged you in my preaching. Keep up your Mass Journal to capture a “take away” each weekend to savor during the week. Don’t let up on the prayers just because Lent is over. To build on the grace of Lent and to keep holy this Easter season, please use your Little White Book for your daily prayer and reflection on the Resurrection narrative of Mark.
To fully celebrate the Easter Season it takes fifty days, or a Pentecost, the Greek word for fifty. And each one of these fifty days, in fact, is Easter. That is why the Church speaks of the Sundays of Easter, rather than the Sundays after Easter. Throughout these fifty days we celebrate the core of our faith, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, his eternal victory over sin and death, and the gift of salvation poured out upon the world. The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#638) reminds us, “The Resurrection of Jesus is the crowning truth of our faith.” The heart of our very identity as Christians is this belief that God has radically changed the universe by the birth, life, Passion, death, and Resurrection of Jesus.
Something a little different at Mass is that we will be saying the Apostle’s Creed instead of the Nicene Creed. Easter season, given its baptismal character, is an optimal time to use the Apostle’s Creed. The revised Missal allows it to be used beyond Masses with children. Remember to bow while proclaiming the Incarnation: “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary.”
Keep praying for our second graders. First Communion is two weeks away.
In the peace of the risen Christ,
THE PASTOR’S PEN
As you carry your blest palm branches home today, place them near your cross or scriptures. Prayerfully enter into Holy Week, these last days of Lent. Be sure to bring your Mass journal to church to note a thought or phrase in these coming days. The prayer and liturgy of the Church this week is like none other. This is the last week for the Little Black Book. I hope it has enriched your Lenten journey. Be sure to read the pages for Tuesday this week, and learn about the cause of Jesus’ death. Today as you leave Mass the Little White Book is being distributed to all. It covers the entire Easter Season, going till June 4, for your prayer and reflection. It begins Easter Monday. If you missed getting one today, they should be available after Mass Easter weekend.
Have you noticed more of the youth and young adults in liturgical ministries? I am so very pleased that this next generation is stepping up as active disciples of the Lord. In recent weeks new altar servers from the school and PSR have started. Eighth graders and high school students are new Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion. Some high schoolers are still altar servers. PSR & CTK students, and high schoolers compose our youth choir, and the Sunday night Mass music ministry is composed of young adults (Millennials Choir). The Holy Spirit here is practically palpable. Take a moment after Mass to affirm their service. And there is room for more youth and young adults to serve. As the diocese moves in the direction of stewardship and discipleship as a way of life, CTK is proudly on the way.
On the evening of Holy Thursday, Lent comes to an end, and we enter into the “Three days” that are the center of our year: The Easter Triduum. On these three days, the Church is at its best. In song, scripture, and ritual we proclaim the heart of what we believe and celebrate throughout the year. We gather often—at home, at church – during the Triduum to reflect on the central reality of our faith: the death and resurrection of Jesus. Plan to make these days different from all other days of the year. Plan ahead so that the entire time from Holy Thursday evening until the Easter Vigil is free of social engagements, free even of work if possible, free of entertainment, free of meals except for the simplest nourishment.
Because of the importance of these days, we are not merely invited; we are all needed to be present for the liturgies and prayers in the church. All of us need the whole community together, for these are the “high holy days” of Christianity. I especially encourage your celebration of the Easter Vigil. While we must start in the dark, (8:00 p.m.) the liturgy of light, word, water, renewal of baptism promises, and Eucharist, should last about 2 hours. We have no one being baptized. Avoid the Easter morning crowds and come to the vigil. Note there is no 5 p.m. Mass Easter Sunday. Through the Easter sacraments, we are plunged into the paschal mystery of new life out of death, love that conquers sin, our being recreated as children of God!
Some things to note. I will be available for confessions on Tuesday from noon till 1. Wednesday night at 6:30 is the student led Living Stations of the Cross, and I will be available for confessions from 7:15 – 8:30 p.m. The church will be open throughout the day on Good Friday for your private prayer and quiet meditation. There will be Morning Prayer on Friday and Saturday, from 8:30 till 8:45. There are no confessions and no 4:30 p.m. Mass on Holy Saturday.
See you in church.