Sacraments and Liturgy

10-27-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

As your pastor, I am incredibly proud and excited about what is going on at St. Rose of Lima Parish. In many areas, I see us undertaking a move from obligation to devotion. I would like to focus attention to this movement from obligation to devotion especially on the sacramental and liturgical life of the parish. Today is Priesthood Sunday. Nothing is more central to the life of the priest than the sacraments and the liturgy, especially the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Confession. These two sacraments are practically what the priesthood exists for. In light of the beautiful Gospel today of the tax collector's prayer for mercy that Jesus praises, let's reflect on making devout confessions: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner."

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Strategic Planning Survey

10-13-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Last week, I received a summary of the parish survey conducted by the Strategic Planning Committee. I will ask the committee to make a more detailed report available, but I wanted to share with you my "take away" points from the survey.

First, there were more than 400 responses to the survey from individuals and from ministries. In itself, that sort of response shows a great interest in the future of the parish.

As for the current state of the parish, the responses generally saw St. Rose as meeting the essential needs of parishioners. Looking to the future, the hopes seemed to me to focus in a few areas:

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From Obligation to Devotion

10-06-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

"We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do." These words from the Gospel remind us that we are truly servants in relationship to God. And yet, to serve God is to be fulfilled in joy and freedom! Let's think about that.

I am finding comfort, strength, and hope in my servant relationship with our God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The readings for this Sunday are simply amazing! Through the Prophet Habakkuk we hear: "Destruction and violence are before me, there is strife and clamorous discord." How true is that of our world and our lives today? And yet God assures us: "For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint; if it delays, wait for it." St. Paul tells us in the Second Reading: "For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control...Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us." To serve God is better than to try to be my own master.

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Everything Matters

09-29-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Dear Parishioners of Saint Rose,

This letter is meant to strengthen our understanding of stewardship and our reason for sacrificial giving. This fall, we are having a series of homilies on stewardship in connection with an appeal to support and to become more involved in the parish. These homilies will be posted on the parish website, as well as preached at Mass. In response, I ask as your pastor for you to make a commitment to regular participation in the parish, including financial support.

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What is a Steward Anyhow?

09-22-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We are beginning this weekend a series of homilies on stewardship. Although this concept includes being generous with our money, it is much bigger than that. It is really a way of living.

In the first place, what is a steward? The Gospel today gives the example of a steward -- a really bad steward actually! A steward is one who has been entrusted with authority over goods that belong to the one who has entrusted the goods. It is a concept that comes up in the gospels a lot. The servants, for example, who are entrusted with the various number of talents, for example, are stewards. The man in the Gospel today is also a steward for his master's accounts, but he abuses the trust of his master to take care of himself.

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16 Weddings - In One Day!

09-15-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Saint Rose parish continually amazes me, but a Saturday a couple of weeks ago really stands out in my experience here. On that day, there were 16 weddings in one big nuptial Mass, along with four baptisms and 12 confirmations. There were also five baptisms of children before the Mass, as well as almost countless confessions the night before.

How did this come about? The marriage preparation ministry of the Hispanic community reached out to couples who were not married in the Church, that is, who had not received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony -- for any number of reasons and with any number of complications. This ministry got to work on marriage preparation for these couples, as well as addressing whatever obstacles were in the way. A beautiful communion developed among the couples preparing for the sacrament and those preparing them. There was a lot of work involved, to say the least. In the end, 16 couples received the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony as well as other sacraments that were needed. In all, the ceremony was three hours! And then there was a grand fiesta.

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Behind the Scenes

09-08-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Last week, I talked about the obvious improvements going on at St. Rose in our construction projects in the church, and they are continuing at a good pace. I thank you for your support and patience during this time. I also want to tell you about other projects going on in the parish that are not so obvious: the work of our new councils and committees.

Parish Pastoral Council: This council is exactly what it sounds like, a group to guide the pastor about the parish's pastoral mission. It serves as a sort of "cabinet" to the pastor to keep the parish unified in carrying out dimensions of formation in the parish: human, spiritual, intellectual, and apostolic. The pastoral council works to foster unity between the English and Spanish speaking elements of our parish as well as unity with our parish school. This council has begun to meet and to organize itself according to this vision.

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New Normal!

09-01-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Back in November when Saint Rose took over the pastoral care of our Hispanic community, the plan with the diocese was that there would be three priests assigned to Saint Rose. There are at least a couple of other parishes with three priests, and I would say that we need that many with all the pastoral responsibilities that our parish covers. That is when Fr. Michael joined us at Saint Rose. Since then, however, for a number of reasons we have had only two priests for the majority of that time. Now that Fr. Edwuin has his visa and is back in the parish (as of last Monday), we should regularly have three priests in the parish. All three of us will be offering Masses and confessions at all of the regular times, and we will divide up certain areas that each of us will concentrate on serving. Fr. Edwuin will be especially helpful with the Hispanic community, Fr. Michael will have a concentration on our homebound and hospitalized parishioners, and I will offer pastoral care to the MTSU Catholic students. Of course, all of us will be involved in all areas to some degree.

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Supernatural View

08-25-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

The Second Vatican Council teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life; that is, everything in the Christian life comes from the Eucharist and everything leads to it as well. I want to propose that our construction projects in the church are more than practical needs. These projects will help us to live and celebrate the Holy Eucharist, and therefore these practical projects are actually of spiritual importance.

We will experience some disruptions in our routines over these months of construction; but if we have this supernatural view of what is going on, it will help us to adjust joyfully. As a reminder, on Monday - Friday daily Mass will be in the Stonewall House in the Knights of Columbus meeting room. Tuesday evening Spanish Mass and Wednesday evening Mass will be in the Jo Call Room because these Masses have too large a congregation for the meeting room. The Friday school Mass will be in the gym. Adoration from Wednesday morning to Friday morning will take place in the Stonewall House. All Masses and other liturgies on Saturday and Sunday will be in the church.

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Beginnings

08-18-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Many things are beginning this time of year. In addition to the regular beginnings of school and so many other programs and ministries, there are new beginnings as well. The Finance Council is working on a new budget. The Pastoral Council, the Facilities Committee, and the Strategic Planning Committee have all had their first meetings in the past few weeks. Ministries such as the servers and ushers are having updated training. Our long-anticipated construction project in the church is also beginning.

Let me remind everyone that for the next few months, we will be experiencing construction going on that will deal with various parts of the church. The HVAC system, the lighting, the flooring, the organ, the new confessionals, etc. will all be parts of this project. Thank you for your patience with all of improvements. I will try to keep you posted as things develop.

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Gentleness

08-11-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

Over the past weeks, in our country we have been dealing with the reality of violence and hate in our society. We have seen the culture of death manifested in El Paso, in Dayton, and in too many other places. This situation is the antithesis of the Kingdom of God. I know that I feel practically powerless to address such evil, except to call it for what it is and to renounce it and all that accompanies it. It is what we promise to do in our baptismal vows: "Do you reject Satan? I do. And all his works? I do. And all his empty promises? I do."

Along with the rejection of the culture of death, I also must profess confidence in a civilization of love founded on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This profession is the positive side of our baptismal promises. Last weekend in a very different setting, I felt the transforming power of mercy, gentleness, and love. I was involved in a gathering of the Entering Canaan program for women experiencing hope and healing after abortion, which is itself another manifestation of the culture of death. The peace and grace of God is so evident in these woman, who have found mercy after years of fear, guilt, and shame. This gathering was so gentle. It gave me hope.

Please resolve to embrace and build a civilization of love in your homes, in your hearts, and everywhere you go. Do not return evil for evil. Let love triumph.

Faithfully,
Fr. Baker

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Holy Land Gratitude

08-04-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

By the time this letter is printed, I hope that I am over jet lag! For some reason, it is much worse for me coming home than going over. In conjunction with the jet lag, I am even more in a state of awe and wonder at the pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Unlike the jet lag, I hope that the sense of awe and wonder does not wear off!

First of all, I am thankful to this wonderful parish for so generous and thoughtful a gift for my 25th anniversary of ordination to the priesthood. I cannot imagine anything that could have had a more profound impact on me. And to include my sister in the experience is thoughtfulness beyond measure. Thank you.

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