Corpus Christi Sunday. Today Holy Mother Church calls us to appreciate more fully the rich meaning of the Most Holy Eucharist. While we also do this on Holy Thursday, the other great mysteries we remember during Holy Week and the Triduum may cause us to not spend as much time focusing on the Sacrament as we might. So today’s feast was established to pause and look at the mystery more carefully.
How much of the truth about the Eucharist do we take for granted, or forget? How much do we not even know? Over the last 50 years many of the truths about the Eucharist have been downplayed, ignored, or even denied in preaching and catechesis. Thanks be to God, St. Raymond’s parishioners have developed a strong devotion to the Eucharist. Our beautiful church building testifies to this, saying: “this is the house of the Lord, where He is worshipped adored and loved, and where He remains truly, bodily, present.”
Even so, there is still much work to do for all of us. As St. John Paul II use to say, “the body speaks.” The bodily Eucharistic presence of Jesus Christ speaks to us saying, “This is My body given up for you.” But how do our bodies speak back to Him? Our bodily expressions of faith and devotion toward the Eucharist speak volumes, both to others and to ourselves. So please consider the following. DO WE:
— genuflect before Our Lord present in the tabernacle?
— chat loudly in church as if the Lord of Heaven were not present?
— spend time with Our Lord during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament?
— dress modestly and respectfully at Mass?
— focus prayerfully on the miracle transpiring on the altar during Mass?
— receive Holy Communion reverently?
— observe the Eucharistic fast for one hour before Communion?
— examine our consciences so we don’t receive unworthily?
— approach Communion prayerfully, not looking around or laughing?
— show some sign of reverence immediately before receiving Holy Communion: bowing or genuflecting, or even kneeling?
— If we receive in our hands:
— Do we extend both hands, one on top of the other?
— Do we immediately reverently consume the Host?
— Do we stay after Mass to give thanks?
— Do we teach our children to do these things?
I am always moved and edified by the level of reverence our parish displays at Mass and during Communion. But we can all use a reminder now and again.
New Altar Rail and Pulpit. In February I told you that I was considering installing a permanent marble communion rail, and perhaps a new pulpit, and requested your input/feedback. Although I hoped to hear from more of you, I did receive emails from 50 parishioners concerning the rail: 37 were in favor, 11 opposed, 1 deferred to my opinion and 1 was undecided. I also received 42 emails concerning the new pulpit: 21 in favor, 9 deferring to my opinion, 10 opposed, and 2 undecided. In sum, 78% of respondents either want a permanent rail or defer to my opinion, and 70% want (or to defer my opinion) a new pulpit.
Now, this was not a vote, nor was it a scientific poll. And as I said, I wish I had more responses. But it seems reasonable for me to conclude that I can proceed according to my best judgment. So, I have decided to install a permanent communion rail and a new pulpit.
I have looked at several preliminary sketches prepared by a church designer, I have decided on a marble rail with pillars matching the reddish/orangish pillars on the main and high altars and current pulpit. The rail will have small arches between the pillars, reflecting the arches throughout the church. Accepting the advice of many emailers we will not remove any pews to make room for the rail, so we will have to slightly reconfigure the steps in the front of the sanctuary, moving the second step back about 4 or 5 feet. Also, we will install communion rails in front of the statues of Mary and Joseph, so that folks sitting in the side transepts will also receive at the rail. We will also replace the carpeting in front of those statues with marble.
We will replace our pulpit with one that is slightly smaller but less confining for the reader, and more firmly constructed. It will however incorporate much of the current design, so that it will look like the “son of” our current pulpit.
The designer is working on a final plan for both the altar rail and pulpit. When it is available I will make it available to you. The installation will not be done until next summer, June of 2020. We won’t have to close the church, but we will have to be creative in configuring things for Mass.
Simple Pledge Drive. But two things have to happen before I can do this: 1) I must get approval of the Bishop, and 2) we must raise the money: the cost is estimated to be about $60,000 for the rail and $15,000 for the pulpit. In the coming weeks we will send out an email to all parishioners providing them with the opportunity to pledge. If you want the rail and new pulpit, please join me in paying for them. I will begin by pledging $500 myself. But if we don’t raise the money through these pledges, we will not move forward—the offertory collection will not be used to pay for this.
Scholarships to Catholic Schools. School is out, but this is the time when parents should look ahead to consider where their children will attend school next year. I truly regret that we don’t have a parish school that would provide an affordable quality education in a truly Catholic culture for all our children. But we don’t.
So, as an alternative the parish offers scholarships to our parish children to attend local Catholic grade and high schools. These scholarships are conditioned on the active involvement of the families in the life of the parish and are usually $500 for grade school students (or the difference between “in parish” and “out of parish” tuition rates) and $1000 to high school students. However, where the situation warrants, we will gladly give additional tuition aid—just ask. I PROMISE: If you want your kids in Catholic schools, I will do my best to help make that happen. Please contact me if you want to discuss this.
Please also remember our long-term special relationship with Angelus Academy, where I am Chaplain. Also, we also offer financial assistance to families who choose to homeschool.
“Religious Freedom Week.” “Religious Freedom Week” began yesterday, June 22, and will continue to next Saturday, June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. St. Raymond’s will keep this “Week” by:
· praying the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” after every Mass;
encouraging all parishioners to pray the “Prayer for Religious Freedom” daily at home, and perhaps also making the Novena to St. Thomas More.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles