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."
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
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.READ MORE
Remember that I told you a while back that there would be changes coming along from time to time in the parish. We are coming to one of those times. Right now, the most significant changes involve looking to hire new staff for the parish. St. Rose, if not the biggest parish in the diocese, is certainly one of the two or three biggest. Like everything else in Murfreesboro, St. Rose has grown tremendously in recent years. In some ways, we do not think of ourselves as a big parish. But we are! In addition, we have recently incorporated our Hispanic community more fully into our parish life which has added new life as well as more of everything. The positions that we are looking for will help the parish to function more smoothly with continued growth. We are looking for a Business Manager to coordinate our business operations that run into the millions of dollars. We are looking for a full-time music director to coordinate multiple Masses every weekend, special seasons with special music, as well as funerals, weddings, and other special services that arise sometimes multiple times in a week. We are also looking for a catechetical director to enhance all levels of religious instruction for multiple needs in an increasingly diverse parish. We will not be rushing into hiring, but we are looking for candidates who will be a good fit for the parish and will help us to serve better to our expanding needs. My desire is to keep the parish informed of developments as they arise.
On these Sundays after Epiphany until the beginning of Lent, the readings help us to know Jesus better. Today, for example, we have his first miracle: the changing of water into wine at the wedding feast of Cana. In this Gospel story, we see how well his mother Mary knows Jesus. She knows him so well that she gets him to change his mind! And she tells us how to have miracles in our lives. She tells us: "Do whatever he tells you." That is the best advice ever given. They are her last words to us in the scriptures. Spend time with Jesus and listen to him. If you do what he tells you, then you will have full and abundant life! It is as simple as that.
"Divine filiation" is a theological term for the fact that we are God's children, and it is the most important thing to know about ourselves. For the first time today, the Feast of the Baptism of the Lord, Jesus in His humanity is publicly acknowledged by the Father as His Son. This is what God the Father does in Baptism. He acknowledges His children.READ MORE
I am very thankful to God for putting me in this parish. As we celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany this weekend, I am conscious of how zealously the people of Saint Rose want to make Jesus Christ known. We are called to be like the star of Bethlehem which led the Magi to the Savior! We are indeed Saint Rose Stars!READ MORE
We often associate resolutions with the beginning of the new year. I am a big believer in making good resolutions. St. Josemaria Escrivá says about resolutions, " Make few resolutions. Make them definite. — And fulfill them with the help of God." (Here is the quotation in the original Spanish: " Haz pocos propósitos. —Haz propósitos concretos. —Y cúmplelos con la ayuda de Dios.")READ MORE
On December 12, we celebrated the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Today for the 4th Sunday of Advent, we have the gospel of the Visitation when Mary went to visit her older cousin Elizabeth. Mary has just heard the news from the Archangel Gabriel that she is the Mother of God! When she comes to Elizabeth, therefore, she is pregnant with Jesus.READ MORE
"Come Further Up, Come Further In!" - C.S. Lewis I want to try to help the parish understand what I am up to with the changes in the liturgy at the parish Masses. In the first place, I hope that I am not up to much. I think that the changes are generally slight. The liturgy at Saint Rose remains very much with the mind of the Church. I simply want to do what the Church directs.READ MORE
We just completed our parish mission on Divine Mercy with Fr. Chris Alar of the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. What a great boost to the parish!READ MORE
In an earlier message, I mentioned that some changes are coming along here in the parish. There are a few changes in the liturgy that will be beginning this weekend. As it is the first weekend of the liturgical year, it seems like a good time to start.READ MORE