The Good Shepherd

Dear Parishioners,

In the Gospel of John, there are seven “I am” sayings of Jesus. That is, our Lord says he is seven different things. They are, “I am...

  • the Bread of Life
  • the Light of the World
  • the Door
  • the Good Shepherd
  • the Resurrection and the Life
  • the Way, the Truth, and the Life
  • the True Vine
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The Bard

William Shakespeare's original patron was a Catholic and when Shakespeare came into his own he bought a house in London that housed and hid Catholic priests. When he retired to Stratford, one of Shakespeare's few visitors was John Robinson, a Catholic to whom Shakespeare had leased his London house, called the Blackfriars Gatehouse. An Anglican clergyman sighed upon Shakespeare's death that he had “dyed a papist.” All of this in addition to the many Catholic references and themes in Shakespeare's works, from Purgatory to the Mass, seem to indicate the greatest writer in human history was Catholic.

William's father, John, was a recusant—one who refused to take the Oath of Supremacy to Henry VIII, Elizabeth and the Church of England, and remained loyal to Catholicism. John Shakespeare was fined for his recusancy. William's daughter, Susanna, would also be fined. It is thought that William's father, John, spent time with the great St. Edmund Campion. Campion, of course, was that brilliant scholar and statesmen, coveted by Queen Elizabeth herself, who became a Catholic priest. Campion ministered clandestinely to Catholics all over England before being caught, tortured, and hung. John Shakespeare named one of his sons—William's younger brother—Edmund. And there is no question St. Edmund had an influence on William, as he had on so many other young Englishmen. Campion, by the way, had an interesting quote, which I take as my motto when it comes to politics, and which I think Shakespeare took as well: “I never had mind, and am strictly forbidden by our Father that sent me, to deal in any respect with matter of state or policy of this realm, as things which appertain not to my vocation, and from which I gladly restrain and sequester my thoughts.”

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Ghostbusters

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus is no ghost! “But they were startled and terrified and thought that they were seeing a ghost” (Lk 24:37).

Our Lord on this third Sunday of Easter is conscientious of proving to the disciples that he is real; that he is not a phantom or some vague spirit conjured from the dead. In the Old Testament the ghost of the prophet Samuel was summoned by the witch of Endor at the request of Saul (cf. 1 Sam 28). Ghosts were not unheard of.

Nor was a resuscitated person. Jesus had raised Lazarus (cf. Jn 11:38-44), the daughter of Jairus (cf. Matt 9:18), and the son of the widow of Nain (cf. Lk 7:11-17) back to life The prophet Elijah in the Old Testament had also brought a person back from the realm of the dead (cf. 1 Kgs 17:17-24). Jesus was not a resuscitated human being. His resurrected body is different than it was before. He has a glorified body. He can pass through walls and appear in two places at once and vanish in an instant (see the Road to Emmaus).

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Keep it Short

There are multiple reasons I give brief homilies. It is not for lack of preparation. In fact, it takes me more time and effort to compose a five minute homily than it would a 15 minute homily. I am reminded of what Blase Pascal once wrote, “I am sorry I wrote you such a long letter; I did not have time to write a short one.”

But there is also an implicit message I am seeking to convey by means of a short homily: the homily is not the most important part of the Mass. The Eucharist is. I want you to be filled and satisfied not by my words, but by Jesus himself.

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Got faith? Have love.

Dear Parishioners,

Saint Thomas! Oh Thomas, how close you were to missing out on sainthood. How close you were to losing your identity and being consigned to an eternity of confusion and limitation, along with Judas, Pilate, and everyone else who could not step out into the beautiful dark and believe. Thanks be to God (and truly, to God, for he mercifully came to you), you were able to see the risen Christ and come to faith.

We know well the story from today's Gospel, the second Sunday of Easter. “Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve, was not with them when Jesus came” (Jn 20:24). When Thomas, who has missed Christ's appearance that Easter Sunday evening, is told by the ten of the resurrection, Thomas doesn't believe. It is not until a week later, when Jesus appears and allows the doubter to put his hands into his wounds, that Thomas believes, exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!” This prompts Jesus' response: “Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (Jn 20:29).

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Parts of the Mass (5)

4. Concluding Rites

Announcements: The announcements are to be brief and cover only significant events since all other information is contained in the weekly bulletin.

Greeting: "The Lord be with you" is the greeting of the priest before the blessing. If there is a solemn blessing, the deacon or the priest will ask the assembly to bow their heads and pray for God’s blessing.

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Parts of the Mass (4)

The third part of the Mass is the Liturgy of the Eucharist. In my previous article, I talked about an aspect of this, particularly the Eucharistic Prayer. Today, I’m going to focus on the Communion Rite, which begins with the Our Father.

3. Liturgy of the Eucharist (continued)

The Lord’s Prayer: The priest gives the invitation to prayer and all the faithful say the “Our Father” with him. Then the priest alone says the embolism, which is a prayer asking for deliverance from the power of evil for the whole community. Afterwards, the congregation concludes this prayer with the doxology, "For the kingdom, the power, and the glory are yours, now and forever."

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Parts of the Mass (3)

Today, I’m going to talk about the third part of the Mass.

3. Liturgy of the Eucharist

Presentation of the Gifts: Representatives of the congregation bring forth the bread and wine that will become the Body and Blood of Christ. The ushers bring forth the collection.

The Eucharistic CelebrationPreparation of the Altar: The altar servers bring the Roman Missal (book with prayers), chalices (cups for wine), ciboriums (vessels with hosts), bread, wine, and water to the altar. The deacon or the priest pours wine into the chalices and adds a drop of water into the celebrant’s chalice. This mingling of water and wine signifies the union of Christ’s divinity and humanity.

Eucharistic Prayer: This is the center and high point of the entire celebration. In this prayer, the celebrant acts in the person of Christ as head of his body, the Church. It includes the following eight elements:

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Parts of the Mass (2)

Today, I’m going to talk about the second part of the Mass.

2. Liturgy of the Word

First Reading: On Sundays, this reading is usually taken from one of the books of the Old Testament, except in the season of Easter. The place used by the lectors to read the Scriptures at Mass is called the ambo.

Responsorial Psalm: After the First Reading, a cantor sings the Psalm chosen according to the liturgical celebration. The congregation participates in the meditation of the Word of God by singing the response to the Psalm.

Second Reading: This reading is always taken from one of the Letters in the New Testament. The book that lectors use to proclaim the Word of God at Mass is called the Lectionary. At the end of the First and Second Readings, the assembly honors the Word of God just received by responding, “Thanks be to God.”

Gospel Acclamation: The assembly, standing, sings the Alleluia, followed by a verse from the Scriptures. The Alleluia is sung every Sunday of the liturgical year, except in Lent.

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Parts of the Mass (1)

Today and for the next four Sundays, we’ll be highlighting the various parts of the Mass in this column. These short explanations will hopefully enlighten your understanding of each unique moment in our liturgical celebration and help encourage you to participate in a more conscious way, uniting your voice to that of the whole community of St. Juliana, to praise, adore and give thanks to God.

The Mass is divided into four basic parts: Introductory Rites, Liturgy of the Word, Liturgy of the Eucharist, and Concluding Rites.

1. Introductory Rites

The Entrance: When people are gathered, the commentator reads the opening comment that introduces the faithful to the Mass of the day. Then, as the priest, deacon and ministers enter into the church, the Entrance Chant or hymn begins. The Altar Servers carry the processional cross and the candles. The deacon (or the lector when there is no deacon) carry the Book of the Gospels.

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