Great Gratitude for Everything

12-27-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I mean it. I am grateful for everything. The stresses of our times have helped me to find God in so many unexpected places and situations. And every time I have opened my eyes and found Him, I have been blessed. There have been many, many questions and even many tears in this year; and yet there have been more graces. Thanks be to God.


A Different Christmas

12-20-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I think that we can all agree that this will be a different Christmas. (There is not much that people are agreeing on right now so at least we have that!) Let's embrace the difference and find Jesus hidden in these days, as he was on the first Christmas. 

The Holy Family was being tossed about by the whims of the powers of this world. They had to travel to Bethlehem for a census ordered by the Roman emperor. After Jesus' birth, they had to flee as refugees to Egypt from the terror of King Herod. It was not a "normal" time for them at all. 

There are so many struggles that people are dealing with now: sickness, grief, depression, economic hardship, and uncertainties of all sorts. It will help if we remember that Jesus is with us in all of these things. He never leaves us, and he has experienced such struggles himself. This is one of the greatest joys of Christmas: God is with us. Emmanuel. 


Urgent: Signing Up for Mass

12-13-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

As the pandemic continues to worsen in our area, it is vitally necessary for everyone to sign up for Mass so that we can observe proper social distancing in the church. Please always sign up for the Mass you plan to attend and arrive early so that proper seating can be found. If you find that one Mass is full, please select another one.

These instructions are especially necessary at the 8:30 and 9:45 a.m. Masses on Sunday morning because we cannot offer overflow capacity in the gym. PSR gathers and dismisses from the gym and so it is not available at those times. At these Masses, once we have reached capacity in the church we will have to close the church to additional entry.


COVID, Once Again

12-06-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Well, it has never really gone away, but it is with us more than ever now. I am grateful to God and to you that we have not suffered any serious outbreaks here in the parish, even though we continue to gather especially for Mass. Of course, our ultimate protection is God, but let's continue to do our part by wearing masks for any event at Saint Rose, in particular for Mass. Masks need to be worn over both the mouth and nose. Please also keep six feet of social distancing especially in the pews, and please practice hand hygiene. Because we are having capacity crowds at some Masses, we will begin opening up the gym for overflow. The Mass will be livestreamed and Holy Communion will be distributed in the gym. When the Mass attendants indicate that the church is at capacity please follow their directions about finding a place in the gym. I ask that you remember not to congregate in the church after Mass. These are small inconveniences in order to maintain the great blessing of public Masses!



11-29-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

This parish amazes me for its generosity. We have had a number of opportunities recently to share with others who are in need, and Saint Rose has responded: the offerings for the Holy Land, for disaster relief, for seminarian education, as well as the food drive are but a few examples of this generosity.

I need to ask for your generosity again, as you are able: this time for the needs of the whole parish. Saint Rose has been able to keep operating without any major cuts throughout the pandemic, even though we have experienced some "dry" times of offertory collections over the summer. Here at the end of the year, you have the opportunity, if God has given you the ability, to put us back on our feet financially as a parish.


More than Turkey!

11-22-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I love the holiday of Thanksgiving mainly because I love the act of thanksgiving. Saying thank you is one of the most important things that we can do in all of our close relationships and especially in our relationship with God. Thanksgiving is one of the fundamental and necessary forms of prayer. During the pandemic, I also find thanksgiving to be a way to rise above the grind of Covid anxiety and fatigue.

How does thanksgiving help so much? It is really very simple. To give thanks you have to get out of yourself. Thanks is given to someone else. You have to be thinking of someone else. Getting out of ourselves is the fundamental spiritual struggle. It is what the devil cannot do. He cannot stop thinking about himself. That is hell!


Fraternus and Fidelis, What's that?

11-15-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

What are these words? They are the names of our new youth groups for young men and women, beginning in sixth grade and continuing through high school. Fraternus means "brotherly", and Fidelis means "faithful." Fraternus encourages the involvement of fathers and other men, just as Fidelis includes mothers and other women in their programs. The idea is that these are young men and women in formation for Christian maturity and virtue. Models of that life are important to those in formation. 

I have had personal experience with these programs in other parishes, and I can personally endorse them as both solidly Catholic and fun. Yes, that is possible! I encourage all families and young people to explore Fraternus and Fidelis. You will not be disappointed.


Parish Cemetery Visit and Blessing on November 14

11-08-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Pope Francis has extended the plenary indulgence for visiting a cemetery and praying for the dead for the entire month of November. We will have a parish visit to Evergreen Cemetery on Saturday, November 14 at 1 p.m. to pray for the dead and to bless the graves of any loved ones buried there. We will pray for all the faithful departed wherever they may be resting awaiting the resurrection of the body at the Second Coming of the Lord! Please join us for another spiritual life experience as a parish.


Fr. Baker


For all the Saints!

11-01-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The name of everyone in heaven begins with "S" for saint! That's right, there are nothing but saints in heaven, and you have to be one before you get in! So we had better get to work. Or rather we had better let God work on us because we will never do it on our own. If you die before you are a saint, then that's what purgatory is for, but I would rather go straight to heaven. Wouldn't you?

Even among Catholics, you sometimes run across the sentimental idea that everyone who dies goes straight to heaven. But "going to heaven" is not a trip with a destination. It is a way of being being a saint, that is. You can't fake being a saint! Either you love God with all your heart, soul, and mind or you don't. Our hearts, minds, and souls have to be filled with the love of God that is given to us by the Holy Spirit.


Showing Gratitude on Priesthood Sunday

10-25-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

One of the things that has helped me not only to get through Covidtime but actually to thrive spiritually is gratitude. I am so grateful for so much! I think that among the greatest blessings that I am thankful for are our two parochial vicars, Fr. Edwuin Cardona and Fr. Juan Carlos GarcíaMendoza! They are so talented and hardworking, filled with love for God and for you, His people. They help me in so many ways and put up with me! I am grateful also to Bishop Spalding for entrusting these two young priests to our parish. Where would we be without them?

These thoughts of gratitude are a good reflection for Priesthood Sunday. We have the opportunity to put our gratitude into action by the offering this weekend for the Seminarian Education Fund, a part of the Bishop's Appeal for Ministries. We stand at 75% of our goal. It would be amazing if we could push ourselves to the top. (This year, we actually have to make our goal or face a penalty.) Both of our parochial vicars have recently benefited from the Seminarian Education Fund. This is thus a very direct way to express gratitude to the bishop for these priests (and to take a little pressure off your pastor) as we move to the goal.


Marian Pilgrimage

10-18-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

This message is a reminder about our Marian Pilgrimage for the month of October. The pilgrimage is an opportunity to go out of our way a little bit to honor Our Blessed Mother during the month of the Holy Rosary. There is a simple and beautiful shrine to the Virgin of the Poor in New Hope, Tennessee about an hour and a half from here. We will meet there on Saturday morning, October 31 at 10:30 a.m. to pray the rosary together and then to celebrate Mass. You are free to remain after Mass for your own devotions and/or to have a picnic. The shrine is outdoors on a hilltop in the countryside so we won't have to worry much about social distancing. There is also a covered pavilion. See the bulletin or website for directions, etc.

Even though this is a very simple pilgrimage, I believe that you will find blessings from Our Blessed Mother by honoring her in this small way. A mother loves little acts of love from her children! The pilgrimage will also be a blessing to our parish, keeping us focused on the love of God.


10-11-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

For the time being, we will be suspending our nocturnal adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. I never want to impose on those who have committed to an hour of adoration to feel that they cannot leave because there is a gap in the adorers. I also never want to run the risk of leaving the Lord Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament unaccompanied and vulnerable. On a provisional basis, Adoration will begin at 8 a.m. on Thursdays and continue until the end of the Luminous Thursday program in the evening. That is usually 8 p.m. or a little later if the Evenings of Recollection run longer. We will conclude with Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament.

This is a time to step back, and, I hope, recommit to nocturnal adoration as a parish with a renewed sense of why it is important and therefore why we want to do it! We need to understand the psalmist who says, "at midnight I rise to praise you." Why is this important? Let's look into it more in the days to come and pray for guidance. Then we can decide.


Masses and Music

10-04-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

With so many Masses for each Sunday eight total, two on Saturday evening and six on Sunday, we are beginning to differentiate the music at the different Masses based on a number of factors.

A couple of the Masses (7 a.m. and 9:45 a.m. on Sunday) are generally without music or perhaps have some simple chanting by the priest. The time factor has more to do with the musical simplicity of these Masses than anything else.

The 8:30 and 11 a.m. Masses on Sunday have a cantor and organ, making use of the Scriptural Mass Propers and the Mass setting found in the Missal. This is about the simplest form of Mass with music.