This Sunday, August 30th, the outdoor Mass will be celebrated at 4:30 due to Confirmation taking place at 1:00.
August 29 – 30
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
“O God, You are my God whom I seek; for You my flesh pines and my soul thirsts like the earth, parched, lifeless and without water.” (Psalm 62).
Generally, these pastor’s notes are an opportunity to comment upon the Gospel message of Our Lord, however, this poignant phrase from one of the 150 Psalms expresses the interior thoughts of many these days. Longing for God comes from the very depths of our being and St. Augustine, the fifth century heretic – turned – Christian, whose feast we just celebrated also puts those same sentiments succinctly: “Lord, our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee.”
Sometimes people haven’t a clue as to what they are longing for. There is the knowing emptiness that can lead to despair and cynicism, or it can motivate a person to honestly search for fulfillment. The fulfillment can only be found in one person – Jesus Christ.
So much time and energy is wasted in pursuit of that which time turns to dust. Finding and following Christ is eternal happiness. Even though the road of life may be bumpy and filled with potholes the journey is with and for Someone who will not forget what we may endure and certainly never abandons us on the way.
We can never say: “Oh, but He is the Son of God, how can He understand what I’m going through.” Did He not indicate to His disciples the very purpose of coming into the world – to show us the Father’s unconditional love, to bestow mercy on us?
This indeed is the God for whom my soul longs and yours as well.
We offer our joyful congratulations to our young parishioners who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation this afternoon. We pray for them that their hearts will always long for the Lord despite the many distractions of this world. As they have now been received into the fullness of Faith by the power of the Holy Spirit. May they be energetic disciples of Christ and by their witness bring others to know and love Christ.
Material Pick-up –
Aug. 29th 1-4pm at CFCC (Cliff St.),
Sept. 5th 9-12pm at CFCC
Sept. 6th 11-12pm at Damascus front parking lot.
Check email for more information!
August 22 and 23,
Dear Brothers & Sisters in Christ,
So often we hear references to “the Church”s an institution, a semi-corporation, an international organization and various other nomenclatures that reduce “the Church” to a thing, monolethic and perhaps impersonal. This misconception and distortion of “the Church” has sadly affected even Catholics. Therefore, as we hear in today’s Gospel according to Matthew, Our Lord’s adominition: “…I will build my Church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.” It should give us pause to renew our understanding of just what “Church” means.
Ancient Israel, having been led out of slavery in Egypt, we formed into a people by God Himself through His champion Moses. The Israelites, believing in the one true and only God, and following His Ten Commandments became known as the Qahal Yaweh – the Assembly of God. In other words they were gathered together in a single community of faith, bound by a moral code because of God’s love for them. Most of the Old Testament, after Genesis, records the on and off relationship Israel had in following the covenant forged on Mt. Sinai. As we know, the Qahal was not only a chosen people they had a duty and responsibility to spread the good news of there being one God who dramatically “pitched His tent” in the midst of His people. Very often Israel was negligent in fulfilling its mission to the world.
In the course of time the Son of God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, taking upon humanity through Mary, has come to pitch a new tent, a much more elevated covenant which is renewed in a new Qahal. That ancient Aramaic word has gone through several translations over the centuries. The early Church used the Greek Ekklesia, the Latins used ecclesia, the Germans – Kirche, English – Church. We see the etymological evolution coming from that primary word Qahal. So we then are that new Qahal, New Church which Our Lord founded on the faith of St. Peter. Christ was, is and always will be the head of His Church, but He, in His infinite wisdom, so often beyond one understanding, entrusts His Church, guided by the Holy Spirit, to a human agent, an earthly Vicar. That Vicar, caretaker and teacher, is Peter and his successors.
Just as God is one, so too He made His Church One, not splintered, not divided, not multiple “assemblies” but, One. That unity is to reflect God Himself in Holiness. That unity and holiness is no longer for a particular group of people or nation but now is for all peoples, everywhere, at all times, ergo Catholic or universal. The guarantee that these truths be preserved during the course of time and place is that it be Apostolic. In other words, the Qahal- the Church can only proclaim, preach and teach what the Apostles themselves received from the Lord Jesus. The truths of the Faith can never be subjected to public opinion, popular vote, or manipulation. The Truth of the Faith never changes. (period).
This saves us from the winds of uncertain change, prevailing opinion, or fads. Hence, Simon bar Jonah was well-named by Christ: “You are the Rock.” Many currents may buffit and attack that Rock, but by God’s grace, it cannot be subject to passing trends.
With this in mind, we have a clearer understanding of “Church”. We understand that it is Christ’s Mystical Body. We, who are Baptized, are the Church. We are one in the Body of Christ, and as living cells we all have an important part to play in keeping these cells healthy and vibrant with right-teaching i.e. following the Gospel, and being fortified by the Ssacraments, most especially the Holy Eucharist – the greatest gifts Our Lord has left to His Church.
Our congratulations to all who last weekend and this weekend who have made their First Holy Communion.
ATTENTION ST. JOHN’S YOUTH GROUP PARENTS AND STUDENTS:
We all know our world has changed. We may not be able to come together as a class for this semester. BUT, we can always come together at our Parish outdoor Sunday Mass.
Where: Grassy area behind St. John’s Church
When: 11:30 AM on Sundays
Families must practice social distancing and wear masks. Please bring a folding chair or blanket to sit on.SEE EVERYONE ON SUNDAY!
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ it is in our frail nature to see the possibility of good things rising out of bad. Most of us do have a positive outlook on life, but at times it can be strained and put to the test. What, may we ask, is a “good thing” which has come as a result of the pandemic (which we constantly pray will come to an end)? To answer this query we hear resonated from the last line of today’s reading from the prophet Isaiah:”…..My house shall be called a house of prayer for all people.”
Because of social distancing and the wearing of masks, I have observed that more people are devoting time, before and after Mass, to silent, meditative prayer. I know that we miss each other and especially the beneficial socializing that takes place around Mass time. But a wonderful air of reverence has been the effect of our inability to communicate with each other. When things hopefully get back to normal, we will have more opportunities to see how we are all doing, especially at our after-Mass hospitality. In the meantime, we appreciate the solemn silence necessary to prepare for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, for us to remember what the Lord indeed has done for us.
This weekend, both Saturday and Sunday and next weekend as well, the children in our First Communion Class will be receiving Our Lord in the Holy Eucharist. We commend them and their parents for their patience as they have prepared and waited for this special day. Also on August 30 at 1:00 PM, our candidates for Confirmation will receive the fulfillment of their invitation into the Church and the seven-fold gifts of the Holy Spirit. Let us keep all of these young parishioners in our prayers that they continue to be loyal members of the Church desiring to follow Christ faithfully.
Novena to Our Lady of the Assumption
August 7 to 15
Lord Jesus Christ, You have destroyed the power of death and given the hope of eternal life for body and soul. You granted your Mother a special place in your glory, and did not allow decay to touch her body. As we rejoice in the Assumption of Mary, grant us renewed confidence in the victory of life over death. Amen.
Day One: Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, we believe in your triumphant assumption into heaven where the angels and saints acclaim you as Queen of Heaven and earth. We join them in praising you and bless the Lord who raised you above all creatures. With them we offer you our devotion and love. We are confident that you watch over our daily efforts and we pray that you may intercede for us in our needs (mention your request). We take comfort from the faith in the coming Resurrection and we look to you, our life, our sweetness and our hope. After this earthly life, show us Jesus, the blest fruit of your womb, O kind, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary. O Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen.
Day Two: Mary, Assumed into Heaven, we venerate you as the Queen of Heaven and earth. Your own Son led you to a throne of glory in Heaven next to His own. As you tasted the bitterness of pain and sorrow with Him on earth, you now enjoy eternal bliss with Him in Heaven. As our loving Queen, intercede for us in our needs (mention your request). We thank Jesus for having put a most beautiful crown upon you head, while all the Angels and Saints acclaim you as their Queen. O Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen.
Day Three: O Mother, Assumed into Heaven, because you shared in all the mysteries of our Redemption here below, Jesus has crowned you not only with glory but with power. With your most glorious and powerful intercession, help us O loving Mother and present to Jesus our request (mention your request). O Queen assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen.
Day Four: O Dearest Mother Mary, God placed you at His right hand that you may dispose of the treasures of grace by a singular title – that of Mother of God. In the midst of all the Saints you stand as their Queen and ours – dearer to the Heart of God than any creature in God’s Kingdom. You pray for your children and distribute to us every grace won by our loving Savior on the Cross. With your most holy title, please intercede for us in our needs and ask Jesus to grant our request if it be for the good of our souls (mention your request). Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen
Day Five: O merciful and loving Mother, may your glorious beauty fill our hearts with distaste for earthly things and an ardent longing for the joys of Heaven. May your merciful eyes glance down upon our struggles and our weakness in this vale of tears. Hear then loving Mother, our request and plead to Jesus for us (mention your request). Crown us with the pure robe of innocence and grace here, and with immortality and glory in Heaven. Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen
Day Six: Mary, our dear Mother and mighty Queen, take and receive our poor hearts with all their freedom and desires, all the love and all the virtues and graces with which they may be adorned. All we are and all we might be, all we have and hold in the order of nature as well as of grace, we have received from God through your loving intercession. Help us dear Mother to surrender to God all that we have including our petitions (mention your request). Our Lady and Queen, into your sovereign hands, we entrust all, that it may be returned to its noble origin. Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen
Day Seven: Mary, Queen of every heart, accept all that we are and bind us to you with the bonds of love that we may be yours forever and may be able to say in all truth: “I belong to Jesus through Mary”. Our Mother, Assumed into Heaven and Queen of the Universe, ever-Virgin Mother of God, obtain for us what we ask for if it be for the glory of God and the good of our souls (mention your request). Our Mother, assumed into Heaven, we love you. Give us a greater love for Jesus and for you. Queen Assumed into Heaven, pray for us. Amen
Day Eight: Mary, Queen Assumed into Heaven, we rejoice at your title as Queen of Heaven and Earth. You have given your holy fiat to God and became the Mother of our Savior. Obtain peace and salvation for us through your prayers, for you have given birth to Christ our Lord, the Savior of all mankind. Intercede for us and bring our petitions before the Throne of God (mention your request). Through your prayers, may our souls be filled with an intense desire to be like you, a humble vessel of the Holy Spirit and a servant of the Almighty God. Pray for us O Queen Assumed into Heaven, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
Day Nine: O Blessed Mother Assumed into Heaven, after years of heroic martyrdom on earth, we rejoice that you have at last been taken to the throne prepared for you in Heaven by the Holy Trinity. Lift our hearts with you in the glory of your Assumption above the dreadful touch of sin and impurity. Teach us how small earth becomes when viewed from heaven. Make us realize that death is the triumphant gate through which we shall pass to your Son and that someday our bodies shall rejoin our souls in the unending bliss of heaven. From this earth, over which we tread as pilgrims, we look to you for help. In honor of your Assumption into Heaven we ask for this favor (mention your request). When our hour of death has come, lead us safely to the presence of Jesus to enjoy the vision of God for all eternity together with you. Pray for us O Queen Assumed into Heaven, that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ. Amen.
Prayers for Lebanon, Blessing with the relic of St. Sharbel, and Confessions tonight, Friday, August 7, 6:00 p.m. at St. Dominic’s Academy This evening, prayers will be offered for the people of Lebanon, especially those in Beirut, who have been affected by the terrible explosion. Prayers asking for St. Sharbel’s intercession will be offered at 6:00 p.m., followed by the Blessing with the relic of St. Sharbel. Finally, Confessions will be available until needed. Prayers will be offered under the front portico of the school, 329 Cliff Street. Please bring a chair!
August 8-9 (19th Sunday of Ordinary Time)
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Today’s Gospel concludes with Our Lord entering the storm-tossed boat of His disciples. And when He did, miraculously, the wind and sea calmed down. Though there is much to glean from the entirety of this passage, the concluding statement certainly has much to offer us today. We may very well feel like we are being tossed and turned in many directions because of the prevailing pandemic and indeed there is confusing unrest and violence scouring our land. It is for many unnerving. We long for calm and peace, but where is it?
True peace only comes when we invite and welcome Jesus into our personal little boats. An old adage goes like this: “O Lord, your sea is so fast, and my ship is so small….” The vastness of Our Lord‘s sea is not something to frighten or overwhelm us; rather, we understand it as His Mercy and comfort for which we long. Every time then we find ourselves distressed and disordered by the prevailing circumstances it’s time to re-invite the Lord into our humble vessels that we may be courageous in navigating uncertain waters.
God’s little lambs have patiently been waiting to receive Our Lord in their First Holy Communion. The next two weekends the class will be divided up so that we will have four First Communion Masses: Saturday, August 15th at 10 AM; Sunday, August 16th at 9:30 AM, and Saturday, August 22nd at 10 AM, Sunday, August 23rd at 9:30 AM. All Masses for First Holy Communion will take place at St. John’s and we wish to accommodate family members ONLY for these special occasions. Kindly plan on attending another Lord’s Day Mass other than Sunday, 9:30 over the next 2 weekends. The children and their families greatly appreciate your understanding.
Also, our candidates for Confirmation will be receiving the Sacrament on August 30th at 1:00 PM in St. John’s. Again, we ask your consideration in not attending unless you are immediate family. For those who wish to participate virtually, all these Masses will be livestreamed in the usual manner. Please keep all our children and youth in your prayers for these special days.
Faith Formation Registration forms are available online (Faith Formation tab) as well as in the back of all churches and at the parish office. Please return no later than 8/31/20 to ensure class materials for all students. Thank you!