Many Thanks

04-28-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Holy Week and Easter Week are busy times. It takes a lot of work to celebrate these most holy days in the Church. I want to thank everyone who helped to make the liturgies and other events in the parish so beautiful, reverent, and meaningful. Saint Rose is a remarkable parish with very dedicated parishioners. These are the days when we encounter the most fundamental truths of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is our message and our mission in the parish. Thanks for carrying it out so faithfully.

Christ is Risen!

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Resurrection

04-21-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We celebrate the central mystery of our faith in Jesus Christ today: His resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is savior. He saves us from sin and death. No one else can do this. Sin and death still remain in the world, but they have lost their power. If we go through them with Jesus, as we have this Holy Week, we will also rise with Him. This is true in our lives. It is true in our parish. We know that Jesus saves and that He forgives.

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Holy Week

04-14-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

For observant Catholics, this is a week to be close to Jesus. We have the opportunity to show Jesus our love and our gratitude to Him when so many are rejecting or ignoring him. Mary Magdalene showed Jesus extravagant love at this time, and He appreciated it deeply. Jesus is so good to us and never demands our devotion, and yet we gain so much when we surrender our hearts to Him. I am not sure if I allow myself to enter into this sort of close and loving relationship with Him as much as I should. When I am vulnerable in my relationship with Him, I find peace even in the midst of many troubles because peace comes from being with Him rather than from the circumstances of my life. He is so good. He went through all the sufferings of this week so that we all could have life with Him. Just thinking about what He did and what He said should be enough to lift me up in any circumstance. I want to be with Him especially this week. Let's be with Him together.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Holy Week

04-07-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

If we are not careful, Holy Week can become just like any other week, and all of a sudden it's Easter. Please make an effort to set aside Holy Week as a holy week. Hey, even the State of Tennessee recognizes Good Friday as a holiday! So what do I mean by keeping a good Holy Week?

First, mark your calendars to come to the Holy Week liturgies. They are profound and moving. If you really can't come to everything, then come to as much as you can. See the bulletin or website for the times.

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Many Thanks!

03-31-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to thank the parish for the many expressions of love on the occasion of my 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. It is going to take me a while to appreciate all the kind words and gifts that were lavished on me. You are too good to me. I hope that I may serve you well as your pastor.

I had one fear about this celebration: that it would be about me. I wanted this to be a celebration of the priesthood and of our parish as a family. When we understand ourselves as a community of disciples of the Lord Jesus, we become united in joy. We are able to accept our blessings from God and to share them in service to others. In this spirit, I want to accept in humility your goodness to me as an expression of your discipleship of the Lord Jesus. He is the one who brings us together in loving service and who does all things well. Praise Him!

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Thanks

03-24-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to thank the parish for celebrating with me 25 years of priesthood. As a diocesan priest, my priesthood is for you. I am most grateful that God has allowed me to serve in this way in a number of interesting and demanding assignments, most recently here at Saint Rose. After 25 years, I am still growing and learning.

The most important thing that I have learned is that God wants my weakness as His priest. Whatever strengths or talents that I may have are of no use to God. He doesn't need them. After all, He is the one who gave them to me. What I can offer to Him that He does want is my weakness and my need for Him. It is very difficult for me to embrace my weakness the way that God does. I want to see it as beautiful, as He does. My weakness keeps me close to Him, and by being close to Him I have something to offer you.

I regret my weakness if it has hurt or disappointed anyone I should have served better over these 25 years. Usually, I find that the people whom I am to serve are very like God in loving me for my weaknesses. I thank you.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Schedule Changes

03-17-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We will be making a big change in the Spanish Mass time on the weekend and a small one for the Saturday evening English Mass.

The big change first: beginning on Sunday, March 24, the Spanish Mass will move to 2 p.m. on Sunday from 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The first day of the new schedule will be Sunday, March 24. There will no longer be a Spanish Mass at 7:30 p.m. on Saturdays beginning with March 23. There seems to be universal agreement that Mass on Sunday will serve the community better. We will also schedule confessions from 1-1:45 p.m. on Sundays before the Mass. On Tuesdays beginning this week, there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at 6:30 p.m., with confessions, until 7:15 p.m. before the Spanish Mass at 7:30 p.m. I ask that you plan to come to confessions at these times before the Masses rather than after. We will try always to have a Spanish-speaking, or at least Spanish-comfortable, priest for confessions at these confession times.

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Mass Manners

03-10-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I would like to encourage us to think more as a community when we are at Mass, rather than as individuals. In fact, we gather together at Mass to form a communion of faith for the praise and worship of God. That is why there can't be an app for Mass! We cannot do it alone. Since we are about forming a communion of believers at Mass, we need to be welcoming of all members of our community. In particular, I am thinking of the children and infants of our community. They belong at Mass as much as any other members of the community. They need patience and understanding (as do their parents) as they learn to participate in Mass appropriately. Sometimes they might need to go out from Mass for a break, but they and we are all God's children and belong in His house. It’s especially nice to see children sitting up front where they can see what is going on in the Mass.

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Stewardship

03-03-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We tend to be creatures of habit. That is, we tend to make habits of the things that are important to us and that we need to accomplish. We have habits of when we get up, when we go to work, when we pray and go to Mass, when we do our laundry, etc. We should likewise have a plan for how we support the works of the Church. Bishop Spalding is asking us to give to support the ministries of the diocese. We also need to give to support the ministries of the parish. If we are good stewards of the gifts that God shares with us, then we give back in an habitual way -- we have a plan. We set an amount or a percentage of our income to give back to God through the ministries of the Church. We decide when and how we will make these gifts, and we follow through habitually. In this way, we develop the habit of good stewardship. When we have developed this habit or virtue of giving and of generosity, it becomes easier, even joyful, to give. The habit turns us into generous people.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Pre-Lent

02-24-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

The Church used to have a mini-season called "Pre-Lent." It was three Sundays to get ready for Lent. I think it was a good idea because most effective changes are step by step. If we try to change too radically and too fast, we often fail and lose heart. But we must change, unless we are already perfect. Blessed John Henry Newman, who will soon be canonized a saint, said, "To live is to change and to be perfect is to have changed often." Other words for this sort of positive change in our lives are conversion and repentance. I mention this because we have just one more week before Lent begins. Start to prepare yourself now. Decide what your Lenten discipline will be. Why not go ahead and start? You have nothing to lose by starting early! Jesus calls us, "Repent and believe the Gospel."

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Death and Taxes!

02-17-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

After a successful year last year, the Bishop's Annual Appeal for Ministry is about to launch for a new year. I would like to get in front of the appeals from the diocese with some instruction about Christian stewardship.

One of the important truths of our Catholic faith is that everything matters. The various parts of our lives are not supposed to pull us apart and drive us crazy but rather are to be integrated into our discipleship of the Lord Jesus. Work, prayer, recreation, health, family, politics, etc. are not supposed to be separated in our lives but rather integrated under the lordship of Jesus Christ. He alone can hold us and all the aspects of ourselves together in a meaningful whole. I think that we deeply desire for our lives to have meaning - to make sense, and yet so often I fear that we feel trapped in meaningless activity.

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More on Change

02-10-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Some changes simply happen, and we adjust accordingly. This is the sort of change we have been dealing with for the last couple of weeks, and I think we are managing our new situation well.

There are also planned changes, and I want to talk about one of these today. In the current building, St. Rose has never had a designated place for confessions. Our confessional now, if you can call it that, is really our parish library, which is also a pass-through from the church to the meeting room wing. It is far from an ideal situation for the privacy needed for this sacrament. The space is also hot in the summer and cold in the winter. When more than one priest is hearing confessions, the situation is even more of a stretch. Last weekend, for example, I set up an additional confessional in the cry room, which is "sub-optimal," to say the least! As far as sacred space goes, we need designated confessionals more than anything else.

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Announcement

02-03-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I want to reiterate in writing the verbal announcement made at all the Masses last weekend regarding Fr. Joe's medical leave in order to communicate to the parish in as transparent and timely a manner as possible. When Fr. Joe returned from his vacation, he went, after consultation with the diocese, for an evaluation of his psychological, spiritual, and physical health. This evaluation was scheduled just before he left on his vacation. The conclusion reached was that Fr. Joe is taking a medical leave in order to focus on the issues identified in the evaluation without distraction. This decision was made in coordination with Fr. Joe and the diocese. Fr. Joe will be participating in a clinical program and fully intends to return to active ministry at its conclusion, taking into account its recommendations. The time-frame of the program is projected to be a matter of months. I ask for the support of your prayers for Fr. Joe during this time, turning your concern for him into prayer. If any of you has any pastoral matter that involved Fr. Joe, I ask that you contact the office so that Fr. Michael or I or one of the deacons can be of service to you. Finally, I want to add the assurance of prayers from Bishop Spalding. In particular, he emphasizes the gift of the priesthood in the life of the parish. His words were: "the priesthood is always a gift." I appreciate very much the concern and support of the bishop for the parish and for Fr. Joe. As always, count on my prayers.

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