Wednesday, April 08, 2020

Familiar Face

Maybe your house is like mine, in that it has settled down and gotten very quiet by this time -- as I write, it's almost eleven at night.  It is the dwindling hour of "Spy Wednesday", an ancient name for this day of Holy Week that I have always particularly liked.  Tomorrow there is no morning Mass, even in a normal year, because it will be Holy Thursday, and the Mass of the Lord's Supper is in the evening.

Yesterday, Father Ben Petty joined us here in the Holy House of Soubirous.  You will remember how glorious was his ordination weekend last year, and his First Mass here.  He went back to Rome to finish his degree, but because of the Covid crisis, he was obliged to evacuate.  He passed his quarantine and came to his "church home," Saint Bernadette.  He will be with us for a week, maybe two.

He is a seminary formation classmate with Father Russo from the beginning, and a classmate of Father Berhorst at the North American College in Rome for four years, so he fits right in.  It should make for an even more fraternal house here at the rectory, and an even more convivial table.

Father Petty will also join us in the sanctuary for all the liturgies of the coming holy days, where you will see him if you watch our video, livestream or later.  I didn't want you to be caught off guard, wondering who that "other guy" might be.  He is glad to be home for them, and we are glad for his presence.

Though you cannot be with us in the church because of the restrictions, please join us virtually tomorrow night at 7:30 for the Mass of the Lord's Supper, coming to you live on our YouTube Channel here (I can't believe I am saying this!).  We will be joined by a few altar servers, and John Henderson and four of our singers will provide music.  I will miss washing feet, and we will not be able to have our Eucharistic Procession to the altar of repose in the Monsignor Stricker Room as we usually do.  But we will re-open the church after Mass, around nine o'clock, so you can come and keep watch with Our Lord until midnight.

Most of all, though, I will miss you.  Tomorrow is the feast of the Holy Eucharist, and of the Holy Priesthood, both of which I love with every fiber of my being, but both of which exist by the grace of God for you.  

So remember that even though you cannot be present with us, everything we do tomorrow will be on your behalf.  And the saving grace of the sacraments is more powerful and more perduring than anything the internet can bring to your home, and real.  Your desire for that grace is but a hint of this reality.

Oh, dang; there I go, starting in on the power of the sacraments again.  I'd better stop, and go to bed.  Tomorrow will come soon, and it's not as if I can sleep late tomorrow anyway, even without a morning Mass to pry me out of bed.  

May the reality of the Paschal Mystery unite us all in Christ's saving love.

Monsignor Smith

Friday, April 03, 2020

Palmless Sunday

Skip the Sticks

It's an old joke that everybody turns up at church when you're giving out free dirt and free sticks; this nods to the popularity of Ash Wednesday and Palm Sunday.  We saw it on Ash Wednesday, when everybody wanted ashes, but most of those people also wanted mercy, a chance to repent and be faithful the Lord, and a reminder about God's merciful forgiveness.

But we are not going to see it on Palm Sunday; not this year, with the virus quarantine.  Fathers Berhorst and Russo and I have been talking about it, and we want you to get your palms; in fact, we have already received the palms we ordered for the occasion.  But for very good reason, we cannot distribute palms now.  We might distribute some else, and far worse, at the same time.  

So we hope to offer you palms in a couple of months, when we can distribute things safely once more.  They'll be dry and brittle by then, so you won't be able to weave them into crosses and such, but you might still be able to put them behind your crucifix or Sacred Heart picture.

Meanwhile, we all have to have to follow Jesus on this, the way of the cross, during the week that He Himself made Holy.  

Eyes on us!

Many of you are already watching Mass online or on television; that is a good thing.  But some Masses are better than others, where viewing is concerned.  My parents are watching EWTNbetter yet, I recommend Bishop Robert Barron's online Mass from Word on Fire, which Father Russo gave you instructions to access.  The setting is made to be broadcast; the production values are high; and the preaching is guaranteed to be good.    

And because it would be good to see Mass offered in YOUR church, by YOUR priests, we are setting up a video feed right here from Saint Bernadette.  It's still being set up, but you could see something as soon as Palm Sunday!  Stay tuned to Flocknote for details as they become available.

It's what you DO, not something you watch.

But Mass is NOT something you watch; you know that, and you are used to that.  Mass is worship, and worship is what we give and what we do.  So if you are cut off from Mass, which most people now are, simply watching will not fulfill your need nor express your gift and gratitude.  We use all our senses, and our whole bodies, to direct our mind and our inmost being toward God.

Make Sunday happen at your house

First, get everybody in the house into one room, and leave your phones and devices in a different one.  Use Magnificat or some other aid to go through the liturgy.  (We are giving away 500 free copies of the April and Holy Week Magnificat on the tables in our church.) 

Stand and make the Sign of the Cross; pray the penitential rite together, out loud.  Take turns reading out loudthe readings.  Assign parts for the Passion and read it out loud -- the whole thing!   Shout, Crucify him! when the time comes, and kneel in silence when Jesus hands over his spirit.  

Monsignor Smith