“Emmaus and Genesis” from Bishop Barron

In a profound new way, Bishop Barron breaks open for us “The Road to Emmaus.”  Our whole life is a return to the Garden, where, even now, we are nourished by the true fruit of the Tree of Life, Jesus’ body and blood, the Eucharist.  God walks with us, even fasts with us, as we journey together during this time of separation.

You can listen to Bishop Barron’s podcast, Emmaus and Genesis, here:

https://podcast.app/emmaus-and-genesis-e93711164/

Our Longing for the Eucharist

I share with you today a beautiful reflection on the Eucharist from the dawn of the fifth century.  Our life is eternal; our love for one another is more powerful than even death itself.  Let us persevere in our longing for the Eucharist.

From a sermon by Saint Gaudentius of Brescia, bishop
(Tract. 2:CSEL 68, 30-32)

The inheritance of the new Covenant

The heavenly sacrifice, instituted by Christ, is the most gracious legacy of his new covenant. On the night he was delivered up to be crucified he left us this gift as a pledge of his abiding presence.

This sacrifice is our sustenance on life’s journey; by it we are nourished and supported along the road of life until we depart from this world and make our way to the Lord. For this reason he addressed these words to us: Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you will not have life in you.

It was the Lord’s will that his gifts should remain with us, and that we who have been redeemed by his precious blood should constantly be sanctified according to the pattern of his own passion. And so he commanded those faithful disciples of his whom he made the first priests of his Church to enact these mysteries of eternal life continuously. All priests throughout the churches of the world must celebrate these mysteries until Christ comes again from heaven. Therefore let us all, priests and people alike, be faithful to this everlasting memorial of our redemption. Daily it is before our eyes as a representation of the passion of Christ. We hold it in our hands, we receive it in our mouths, and we accept it in our hearts.

It is appropriate that we should receive the body of Christ in the form of bread, because, as there are many grains of wheat in the flour from which bread is made by mixing it with water and baking it with fire, so also we know that many members make up the one body of Christ which is brought to maturity by the fire of the Holy Spirit. Christ was born of the Holy Spirit, and since it was fitting that he should fulfil all justice, he entered into the waters of baptism to sanctify them. When he left the Jordan he was filled with the Holy Spirit who had descended upon him in the form of a dove. As the evangelist tells us: Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan.

Similarly, the wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that he had planted, is extracted in the wine-press of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power.

And so, now that you have escaped from the power of Egypt and of Pharaoh, who is the devil, join with us, all of you, in receiving this sacrifice of the saving passover with the eagerness of dedicated hearts. Then in our inmost being we shall be wholly sanctified by the very Lord Jesus Christ whom we believe to be present in his sacraments, and whose boundless power abides for ever.

Beginning this weekend, we will move our streamed Mass to 10:00, and will again begin with the Rosary at 9:35.  We will also continue our procession with the Blessed Sacrament on Friday (today) at 6:00 pm.  We will make our way north on Varrelmann, east on Taft, south on Adkins, east on Delor, north on Newport, east on Taft, south on Ray and continuing up and down the streets until we finish praying all the mysteries of the Rosary.

I hope you all received our call Wednesday evening announcing that our private Masses each day will include seven parishioners.  Please call the Parish Office to indicate your desire to be included, along with the number of your family who would attend.  We will use a lottery system to assign families to particular Masses.  All who attend must wear a mask and practice social distancing.  And, God willing, we will resume public Masses soon.  God bless you.  Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The Long Road to Emmaus

On the seven mile journey along the Road to Emmaus, the disciples came to understand all that Jesus had taught, that he was the fulfillment of the scriptures, that he, indeed, had risen as he said; and then they recognized him in the breaking of the bread (Luke 24:13-35).

On March 16, Archbishop Carlson announced that all public Masses are suspended. As the hours, turned to days turned to weeks and turned to months we have all been called by God to look for the Risen Christ on the Way. Our Road to Emmaus may be longer than seven miles; perhaps longer than seven weeks. Yet Jesus will accompany us on the Way. He will break open the stories of his love for us; he will break open the stories of our lives and point to his love present in the midst of all of it. The disciples began their journey in fear, yet returned to Jerusalem on fire from what they had seen and heard, “they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where the…recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

I miss you. I long for the day when we will share the Eucharist in our beautiful church. In the mean time, let us trust that the slow work God has begun in us will indeed be brought to completion, making of us an evermore beautiful offering of “the body and the blood, the soul and divinity of the eternal Father’s dearly beloved son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world (Chaplet of Divine Mercy).”

We will continue our Procession with the Blessed Sacrament this evening (Friday) at 6:00. We will travel east on Delor, north on Spring, west on Osceola, south on 39th, east on Taft, south on Spring and west on Delor back to the Grotto. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

Feast of Divine Mercy

He is risen as He said, alleluia! God bless all of you this Easter. The truth of the Easter Glory dwells in you. The very spirit of the Risen Christ dwells in you. While we long to celebrate God’s love in the assembly in our beautiful Church of St. John the Baptist, let us be consoled by God’s love welling up within us. Our sacrifice now is giving life to the world. As we approach Divine Mercy Sunday, let us also trust God’s mercy flowing through us to the ends of the earth.

For those who are able, please know that I will be in Church hearing confessions on Sundays, Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, from 6:30-8:00 am. In addition I will hear confessions on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 19, beginning at 12:30 until all have been heard. God bless you with growing faith in Resurrection Life. Behold the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world.

We also have this memo from the Archdiocese regarding plenary indulgences established for the Feast of Divine Mercy:

Many of the faithful have a praiseworthy devotion to Divine Mercy and wish to receive the indulgence established for the feast of Divine Mercy, April 19, 2020. 

In light of the current pandemic, Archbishop Carlson has decreed that the faithful of the Archdiocese of St. Louis may gain plenary indulgences while public masses are suspended without actual confession and communion, provided that they have inner contrition and the resolution to go to these sacraments as soon as possible (cf. Norms for Indulgences, n. 28) following the lifting of the current suspension of public masses. 

This applies to the indulgence attached to the feast of Divine Mercy, and all other plenary indulgences, for as long as public masses are suspended. 

The faithful who cannot pray before the Blessed Sacrament on Divine Mercy Sunday can remember that they, like all the faithful, can gain a plenary indulgence by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet to “implore from Almighty God the end of the epidemic, relief for those who are afflicted and eternal salvation for those whom the Lord has called to Himself” (Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary March 20, 2020). 

As a reminder, in order to obtain a plenary indulgence, the faithful must, in addition to being in a state of grace: 

  • have the interior disposition of complete detachment from sin, even venial sin; 
  • have sacramentally confessed their sins; 
  • receive the Holy Eucharist; 
  • pray for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. 

Best wishes for a Blessed Triduum and Easter. 

Staying Focused by Starting the Day with Prayer

I want to share with you a recent conversation with a couple of friends of mine, in podcast format through the link below. I hope it helps prepare your hearts for Easter joy. Also, our Easter Vigil will be live streamed tonight at 7:30; our procession with the Blessed Sacrament will continue at 9:00 Easter Sunday, covering the southwest corner of our parish.

https://podcast.app/how-to-stay-focused-by-starting-your-day-with-prayer-e92467338/

Jesus’ Hour of Glory

If the Devil had any power over us, the cross of Christ would have been his instrument of victory, the revelation of darkness overcoming light, the end of hope. Indeed, the Romans believed they had rid themselves of the troublesome healer. The Chief Priests believed the cross brought an end to the new way which threatened their authority over all things religious. And most of Jesus’ followers were scattered, wandering in fear, falling into despair, empty of all hope. Even those who had accompanied him all the way to the end, including his mother, were left wondering if all love had dissolved into meaninglessness.

From the cross Jesus greets us. He gathers to himself all our suffering, all our pain. He forgives all our sin. He gives us Mary, his mother, to be our mother. From his place of crucifixion, Golgatha, the Place of the Skull, Jesus’ blood pours out onto the very place where Adam is buried, and the blood of Christ redeems Adam and all his descendants. There is a garden there; Jesus’ journey to Calvary is a journey back to Eden.

And as the clock strikes 3:00 here in St. Louis on this Good Friday, we recognize the Cross as Jesus’ throne; this hour is Jesus’ hour of glory; the veil in the sanctuary is torn in two. The Cross stands revealed as the Tree of Life in the center of the Garden; we will once again be nourished by the Eucharist which is the fruit of the Tree of Life, the very body and blood of Jesus poured out for us on the cross. As Jesus is laid in the tomb, we offer up everything that needs to die in us, so that we might become living witnesses to love. All creation waits now…Just as we waited for Mary’s “yes” at the Annunciation, so now love is waiting; is love more powerful than death? While our souls seem to know it, our hearts do not yet trust it and our minds cannot understand it. So we wait again, with all creation, for the breath of God to fill our lungs, to bring us to new life in Christ. And this waiting is breaking our hearts.

In this sacred time of waiting, as we cling to hope, we have an opportunity to choose love. Let us turn away from the Satan and all his empty promises. Let us turn our hearts toward Christ. Especially in this time of separation, we can reach deep within us to the fountain of life which is the very spirit of Christ already dwelling within us. We know that love is, indeed, more powerful than death. Let us become living witnesses to hope. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The Sacred Triduum

This year we will rely on all the saints and angels to offer worship to God in the Triduum Liturgy; it begins at nightfall on Holy Thursday and culminates in the Great Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday night. Our souls live close to this great mystery of Christ’s death and resurrection, actually dwelling within it. Even if our bodies are not in Church to sing our witness to the Risen Christ, our souls will join with all the saints and angel in a beautiful spiritual communion.

The Adoration Chapel will remain open with the Blessed Sacrament exposed until midnight on Thursday. At that time the Blessed Sacrament will be removed from the chapel and from the tabernacle in the main church. Both the chapel and the church will remain open as we join Christians all over the world in the one day when there truly is no Eucharist; we will long for an answer to our prayer and trust God’s power to save us through the death of Jesus on the Cross.

We will live-stream the Easter Vigil beginning at 7:30 pm on Saturday. It will definitely not be the same. I pray God will provide a special blessing for us, awakening Resurrection Faith within us even though we are experiencing this time of separation.

Please know of my ongoing prayer for you. I am grateful to you for the many ways you are loving one another during our “stay at home to save lives” season. One of you shared with a hopeful message the other day: “And the world came together as we all stay apart.” Because of our faith in Christ Jesus we know that this experience of suffering is a true participation in the suffering of Christ. We pray for healing in the hearts, minds, bodies and spirits of all God’s children, especially for those living with COVID-19.

We will continue our prayer walk on Good Friday at 6:00 pm. This time we will process without the Blessed Sacrament as our prayer will be offered while Jesus is in the tomb. We will journey west on Delor, north on Ridgewood, east on Wallace, north on Alfred and continue weaving our way through all the blocks bound by Delor, Ridgewood, Taft and Alfred.

All that remains for us is fasting and prayer; Jesus taught us that some of the most difficult demons can only be cast out by fasting and prayer. Let us count on that. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.

The Litany of Humility

Bishop Robert Barron (Word on Fire Ministries) this week recommended the Litany of Humility for our prayer during this surreal time of fasting and prayer. Then a friend from my Exodus 90 Prayer Group also recommended it. I took that as a sign that it needs to be shared, so I am sharing it with you. The Litany was first prayed by Saint Benedict, the father of Monasticism, in the sixth century. It is especially appropriate to pray it during Holy Week and during our extended fast from the Eucharist.

True humility opens us to deeper intimacy with the Lord; but it is difficult because it confronts everything in our world that would distract us from our true life in Christ. The virtue of humility is a beautiful embrace of who I REALLY am, even my root sins and weaknesses, trusting that God loves me exactly as I am. God actually seeks intimacy with who I really am, so shedding all the fear, all the pretending, all the striving, frees me to become the beloved child of God that was called to life out of the very heart of God.

Much easier said than done.

This video of the Litany of Humility is particularly poignant for Holy Week. It includes images from the Passion of Christ (perhaps not appropriate for young children). I commend it to you as another window into the holy which is being revealed all around us and deep within us as continue this journey together.

We will offer a private Mass on Palm Sunday which will be live-streamed at 11:00 am Sunday on our FaceBook page and then posted soon after to our website. The blessed palms will be placed in the vestibule of Church when you visit to pray.

We will also continue our Eucharistic Procession on Sunday morning at 9:00. We will start in the Grotto and travel north on Adkins, east on Taft, south on Ray, east on Itaska, north on Steffens, east on Neosho, south on Leona, east on Itaska, south on Gerritt, and west on Delor to the Grotto.

As we celebrate the Passion of our Lord, let us be mindful of all our brothers and sisters who have already joined their suffering to the suffering of Christ, especially those diagnosed with Covid-19. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.