Cluster of Holiness

08-30-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

In these days of COVID, we hear of clusters of infection breaking out. These are outbreaks that occur with people who are in close proximity to each other. Clusters of outbreaks happen not only with infectious diseases. This kind of outbreak is also the way that holiness spreads! I am hoping for a pandemic of holiness in our parish!

Let's talk about the contagion of holiness. There was, for example, an outbreak of holiness in Lima at the time of Saint Rose. The bishop who confirmed her is a canonized saint. He must have been a "super spreader" because there are several other canonized saints from the same time in Lima. St Bernard of Clairvaux, whom we celebrated last week, came from a family infected with holiness, and then he also became a superspreader. When he would go to preach in a town, the mothers would lock up their sons because they all would go off to join the monastery after hearing St. Bernard!


Parish Offices Open With New Entrance and Procedures

08-23-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Our parish offices are now generally open as the staff has gradually returned to inperson work from working from home. Because of the cramped conditions of the reception area of the parish offices, we have established a new reception area at the entrance to the meeting room wing behind the church. When you enter the building, there is a reception area with glass doors in front of you before you enter the hallway. At those doors, there is a call button that you can push to alert the staff of your presence. The staff will be able to see you and to communicate with you about how to serve your needs at the office. This will provide a safer environment for staff and for visitors. It will also take a little getting used to! A drop box remains at the front of the parish office, but otherwise we will no longer use the front door of that building as an entrance. Instead, we will use the entrance to the meeting room wing behind the church as our new reception area. 


Taking Care of Each Other!

08-16-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I am happy to report that more people seem to be coming to Mass each week little by little. I am glad that those who are coming feel comfortable and safe with the precautions we are taking. Of course, there is still risk in gathering so please judge prudently whether you should come to Mass or not. The dispensation is in force until the end of year. 

I appreciate very much the collaborative spirit of those coming to Mass. I know that the precautions are a distraction, but please persevere in them.

Since we are having more people coming to Mass, it is even more important that you take the time to sign up for the Mass you plan to attend. This way we do not have concerns about crowding.


Opening Up Saint Rose

08-09-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The Church at Saint Rose remained open for prayer and for Confessions throughout the suspension of public Masses, and we added Adoration back as well. When the bishop allowed, we began the celebration of public Masses with more frequent Mass times on the weekends. Gradually, more people seem to be comfortable coming to Mass. The worship of God is the most important thing we do. It comes first.

Our Food Pantry has been operational in some capacity throughout the pandemic. We were also able to restart the Bridge Ministry and other outreach opportunities. It is important to keep helping those in need in the community and in the parish, especially in these very difficult times.

Now we begin the reopening of school, followed by PSR. This will be the next phase. Youth activities and RCIA will also be beginning soon, if all goes well. As we settle into these routines, other groups will be able to consider starting in person gatherings again. At each step we want to make sure that we are on sure footing before taking the next step. Thank you for your patience as we begin again our life together in the parish. 


Keeping Sunday Holy

08-02-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

It is understandable and reasonable that we have many fewer people at Mass these days. And yet, the Third Commandment is still the Word of God. Even though we do not have an obligation to attend Mass during this period covered by the bishop's dispensation, we do still need to keep holy the sabbath. We will need to be intentional about this, especially in families. Here are some helpful words from St. Pope John Paul II, from his Apostolic Letter Dies Domini -- The Day of the Lord:

"Sunday is a day which is at the very heart of the Christian life. From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have not ceased to repeat: "Do not be afraid! Open, open wide the doors to Christ!" In the same way, today I would strongly urge everyone to rediscover Sunday: Do not be afraid to give your time to Christ! Yes, let us open our time to Christ, that he may cast light upon it and give it direction. He is the One who knows the secret of time and the secret of eternity, and he gives us "his day" as an ever new gift of his love. The rediscovery of this day is a grace which we must implore, not only so that we may live the demands of faith to the full, but also so that we may respond concretely to the deepest human yearnings. Time given to Christ is never time lost, but is rather time gained, so that our relationships and indeed our whole life may become more profoundly human."


The Church, Our Mother

07-26-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

There are many images of the Church. The most beautiful and consoling image of the Church is the Church as our loving Mother. This image, of course, makes us think of the Blessed Mother. Scripture and the Tradition of the Church emphasize the connection between Mary and the Church. The Second Vatican Council teaches that Mary is the Image of the Church.


Fare Forward!

07-19-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The time has come to wish Fr. Michael farewell as he begins his new assignment at St. Joseph in Madison. An English Catholic poet came up with a new word that I like even better than farewell. It is "fare forward!" It is a shame that we are not able to celebrate Fr. Michael's time with us in a large group gathering as we would ordinarily have done in other circumstances, but this in no way diminishes our fondness for him and our gratitude for his service here at Saint Rose. I would still encourage you to write to Fr. Michael if you have not already done so. He is a great letter writer, and he loves to receive them as well. Speaking of writing here is his new address at St. Joseph:

Fr. Michael Baltrus
St. Joseph Catholic Church
1225 Gallatin Pike South
Madison, Tennessee 37115 



07-12-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

There is certainly a lot of noise and confusion on the surface of the world right now. We see a lot of anger and division in the news. Down deep, however, we need to find unity. It is always there. Despite our differences, we are more brothers and sisters than anything else. And now can be a time to discover our unity in a very visible way.

Can you think of any external thing that has affected the whole world the way the coronavirus has? Literally, everyone in the world is having to deal with this same thing. Everyone's life has been changed by this. We are together in this experience. Why isn't it bringing us together in compassion and understanding for one another?


Domestic Church

07-05-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I think that the Fourth of July weekend is a good time to think about the gift of being together as family. I certainly have some happy memories of being together with my family during this holiday when I was growing up. We really need more time and experiences together as family. One good thing that I can say about the pandemic and quarantine is that we have had more time to be together. Perhaps we have had the opportunity to share family meals together more often. I have been happy to see families playing together. I also hope that our families have been praying together more often as well.

The Domestic Church of the family is the ordinary way that we come to faith and grow in it. Faith takes time and attention on the part of families. We should look for ways to experience our faith and to share it with one another at home. Family prayer is one of the best ways to do this. Family prayer is simply a family conversation that includes God! We bring God into the conversation in just the same way we would draw one another into conversation. We can thank God for blessings. We can tell God and one another that we are sorry for offenses. We can ask God for needs that are on our hearts, for ourselves and others. And just like in family life, we can communicate the most important thing, which is that we love God! Maybe Dad could start the conversation, and then everyone joins in. We come to recognize God in our lives, our homes, and our families in this very natural way.


New Schedule

06-28-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

This is the new provisional schedule for Saint Rose Parish for the rest of the summer through August 15 (see front cover). Here is a summary of the changes: We are moving the bilingual Mass from Sunday afternoon to Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m.

We are moving all the Sunday Masses to begin 30 minutes earlier. They will now be at 7, 9, and 11 a.m. and 3 and 5 p.m. The Saturday evening Masses remain at the same times.

The bigger changes are on the weekdays. We will Mass every morning in English (7 a.m. MF and 8 a.m. on Saturday). On Tuesday, there will be Mass at 6:30 p.m. in Spanish. On Wednesday, there will be Mass at 6:30 p.m. in English. On both Tuesday and Wednesday, there will be Confessions at 56:15 p.m. In July, there will also be Confessions at 23 p.m. on Saturday.


Ordinary Time

06-21-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We do not live in ordinary times! But on the Church's calendar "Ordinary Time" is the name for these many Sundays from now until Advent. In the world, the times are indeed extraordinary. But by His suffering, death, and resurrection, the Lord Jesus Christ has overcome the world.

On Good Friday, things looked very bleak. The power of the Roman government and the hostility of the religious authorities had crucified Jesus. Love and hope seemed crushed by the powers of this world. And then Jesus rose from the dead not by escaping from death but by passing through it triumphantly! This is the new definition of what is "ordinary." The sacrificial love of redemptive suffering causes, not defeat, but salvation.



06-14-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Thanks to everyone for so much flexibility last week. I confess that it was a pretty overwhelming few days with many distractions for me. I thank you for your prayers. Some things just had to give way. I think that we need to be prepared for sudden changes and cancellations, even though I do not prefer to operate in that way.

Please remember that the bishop's dispensation is in effect until the end of June so that even if you missed a Mass because it was cancelled, you were not under obligation to attend Mass.

I wish I knew a more reliable way for us to operate in these days, but I don't. We will continue to communicate through as many channels as we can. I appreciate your fidelity and cooperation!


Virtue Stands in the Middle

06-07-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We are living through troubling times. On top of a public health pandemic, which has brought about economic upheaval, we now experience civil unrest, including demonstrations and curfews. Unlike the pandemic and the economic issues, however, I think that there is clear guidance for us in the civil disturbance.

In the first place, the incident that sparked the demonstrations is a clear act of injustice which deserves and requires a response of righteous anger. Not only is the murder of George Floyd an act of injustice and violence, it is also another example in a troubling pattern of injustice towards African Americans which has a long history in our country. Demonstration in this circumstance is entirely justified. As a matter of fact, the failure to condemn this act and the pattern it exemplifies would be an act of cowardice in the face of injustice.