One More Sacrament

11-24-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

I know that I announced last week a series of articles on the Mass, but before beginning that project there is one more sacrament I want to encourage in the parish. I am very edified by the number of confessions we are hearing in the parish, and I want to continue to encourage regular and devout attendance at Mass. There is another sacrament that I want to encourage as well: the Anointing of the Sick. The Church instructs us that this sacrament should be received anytime we are in danger of death from sickness or old age. It can be received when it is first needed, perhaps at the time of a serious diagnosis, right up to the moment of death. It is there to sustain us spiritually in times of physical suffering. The two are related after all.


The Mass in Slow Motion

11-17-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

As we move as a parish from obligation to devotion in our spiritual life, I think that we can begin at no better place than the Mass itself. The Mass is both the source and the summit of the Christian life. As a human reality, the Mass communicates in deeply human ways. When we gather together we tend to act and speak in specialized ways. Think of a football game or of a family holiday gathering. There are certain ways that we do things that are very meaningful, but these very things would be confusing to someone who has never been to a football game or to our family gathering. The Mass works in the same way. The Mass speaks in ritual words and actions. It is steeped in symbolism and tradition. In order to enter more deeply into the Mass, we need to understand these celebrations of the family of God. I propose to reflect on the Mass in this space for many weeks to come, taking each part of the Mass slowly and unpacking the meaning as best I can. I hope that this understanding may help us to move into greater devotion for the Mass.


I Look Forward to the Resurrection of the Dead

11-10-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

We say this every Sunday at Mass in the Nicene Creed. What are we "looking forward" to? Resurrection means that when Jesus comes again at the end of the world, He will raise our bodies to be reunited with our souls forever. Jesus rose from the dead in his body. He promises that we will too. It is a radical idea. We see in the Gospel today that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. It was one of the things that separated them from the Pharisees. When St. Paul was addressing the scholars of Athens, they listened to him respectfully until he taught about the resurrection of the dead. This most fundamental truth of our faith seems to many people too good to be true.

But it is true. It is the cornerstone of our faith that Jesus rose from the dead in the flesh. This is the resurrection that we look forward to when Jesus comes again. Death occurs when the body is separated from the soul. When the soul departs the body, the body dies. The soul is immortal, but after death it is deprived of the body. What does it mean to be a human being without a body? I really cannot imagine. Everything that we have ever known or experienced has come to us through our bodies, including eternal life in the waters of baptism and the food of the Eucharist. God somehow provides the soul an existence without the body, but even the souls of the saints eagerly await the resurrection of the dead.


Many Thanks for Many Things

11-03-2019Pastor's LetterFr. John Sims Baker

St. Gregory of Tours began his History of the Franks (written in the 6th century!) with these words: "a great many things keep happening." A great many things also keep happening here at St. Rose in the 21st century!

Thank you for your patience with all these many things. I am sure that the mess of construction in the church and the resulting complications in the schedule are getting old for some of you. We have come through our parish stewardship commitment time, as well as the wrap-up of the Bishop's Annual Appeal and the Seminarian Education Fund. We are in the middle of strategic planning and a busy school year. The list goes on and on.

In the midst of the busy-ness, I believe that we are managing to keep the first thing first, which is the love and worship of God! Masses are still filling up. There are still lines for confessions. Adoration is on-going. If we keep these first things first, we will be able to manage all the rest!