Communion Liturgies. Last weekend’s Communion Services went very well, and I was very happy to see so many folks take advantage of them—a total of about 650 received Holy Communion. It was wonderful to see the devotion of the people, some moved to tears, after being unable to receive for 7 weeks. Thanks to all who came -for your reverence, as well as cooperation in making things go so smoothly. Thanks also to the Knights of Columbus and Ushers for acting as Porters at all the services.
This weekend we will repeat these liturgies/services, adding a few more time slots.
I’ve also been very glad to see our viewership of the livestreaming Masses remain steadily high. Last Sunday, we had over 650 households watching, which may translate into about 2,300 people—just about the total attendance we normally get on Sundays.
When is Public Mass Returning? Nothing is certain, butit is my sincere hope that next Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, we will be able to begin to implement the governor’s “Phase I” rules, and have public Mass again, albeit with restriction on numbers. So be on the lookout for emails this week informing you of the restrictions, rules and how to sign up for a seat at Mass. Let’s continue to pray for the end of this crisis, and a return to public Mass.
Ascension. Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, commemorating the true historical event when Jesus of Nazareth, after dying on the cross and rising from the dead, ascended by His own power in His glorified human body into heaven, where He is now present, bodily, in eternity. The importance of the mystery of the Ascension is often overlooked or forgotten by Christians, but it must not be, since it is critical to our understanding of Christ and ourselves. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes:
665 Christ’s Ascension marks the definitive entrance of Jesus’ humanity into God’s heavenly domain, whence He will come again (cf. Acts 1:11); this humanity in the meantime hides Him from the eyes of men (cf. Col 3:3).
666 Jesus Christ, the head of the Church, precedes us into the Father’s glorious kingdom so that we, the members of His Body, may live in the hope of one day being with Him for ever.
667 Jesus Christ, having entered the sanctuary of heaven once and for all, intercedes constantly for us as the mediator who assures us of the permanent outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Christ’s Ascension into heaven also reminds us that the human body is not a useless thing to be thrown away, some machine our souls move around in until we go to heaven. The body is part of who we are, the part that reveals and communicates ourselves to others, and vice versa: we speak, hear and act in the body. In this we discover that the body is essentially about love: we communicate with others in order to enter and strengthen our love with and for each other. But at the same time, we discover that communicating hatred or disrespect through our bodies, or simply using our bodies or other person’s bodies as mere objects for amusement, runs dramatically contrary to love and to the dignity of the human person.
Moreover, the bodily Ascension reveals to us that even in heaven Our Lord remains both man and God, united with us and His Father, and so uniting us to His Father. And He reminds us that the things we do through, with and in our bodies have eternal effects—either leading us to heaven with Him, or to hell without Him.
Novena to the Holy Spirit. Immediately after the first Ascension Thursday, the apostles and the other disciples, with the Blessed Mother, began to pray for the coming of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised. For nine days they prayed, and on the tenth day, Pentecost Sunday, the Holy Spirit descended on them in a dramatic display of divine power. Those nine days of prayer are the origin of the pious Catholic custom praying of novenas (from “novem,” Latin for “nine”) for particular intentions.
The celebration of Ascension on Sunday complicates the idea of a “Pentecost Novena.” Even so, I invite you to join me in praying a slightly shortened and simplified novena to the Holy Spirit, as we have in the past. First, form a particular intention for each day:
Sun.: That St. Raymond’s priests and parishioners may more actively exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit we have received.
Mon.: That the Holy Spirit may grant me an increase in His gift of wisdom.
Tues.: …His gift of understanding.
Wed.: …His gift of counsel.
Thurs.: …His gift of fortitude.
Fri.: …His gift of knowledge.
Sat.: …His gift of piety.
Sun.: …His gift of reverence, or fear of the Lord.
And then, in union with the Blessed Mother say this prayer each day:
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. Let us pray. O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit that we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations. Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
College Students. The last 7 weeks have also been a time of having our college students back home. I’m sure this must be a particularly hard time for you—continuing to do your course work, but away from the academic setting and friends, and the relative freedom of college life. Not that you don’t love being with your families, but it presents different and additional challenges. But it’s still good to have you all home—even though I don’t get to see you! (it was great to see some of you at the Communion Services).
And congratulations to our new college graduates. It is probably a huge disappointment for some of you not being able to go through the usual expected ceremonies. Sorry about that. But God bless you and “good luck” as you move forward into you next adventure in life. You are and will be in my prayers.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles