Out of the Depths

03-29-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The Fifth Sunday of Lent is when we cover the statues and images in the church. This year the meaning of this gesture needs no explanation. I think we know it in our hearts and feel it in our guts. Desolation. The faithful of the Church all over the world are deprived of the greatest consolation of our faith: the Holy Eucharist.

And yet...God is with us! The Lord Jesus is sacramentally present in the tabernacle of our church and in all the churches of the world. He is also in the tabernacle of our hearts. There is a real presence of God called the Divine Indwelling that begins at Baptism and continues within us while we remain in a state of grace. He is really there so worship Him!


Focus on the Important Things

03-22-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

In the midst of concerns about pandemic, we need to keep a supernatural point-of-view. In last week's bulletin, I commented on how the tornadoes had caused me to see the value of human goodness and generosity. We all really need each other. We need love, support, and care from one another at all times, not only in a time of disaster. Likewise this week and probably for a while to come, the necessity to pull back from unnecessary activities centers us on home and those closest to us. Once the pandemic has run its course -- and pray God that it will be brief -- perhaps it would be good for us to re-examine if we need to go back to doing all those things that were cancelled. I find some consolation, for example, that as a parish we will be focused on the most fundamental aspects of our life together united in prayer. In these days, we will need to be able to be together as families. So many of our activities, although certainly not bad, are secondary and often get in the way of family life and faith. In the midst of precautions and concerns, let us find consolation and strength in the most important things and people: those closest to us, that is, God and family.


New Life

03-15-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

As nature springs to life around us, new spiritual life and growth is apparent everywhere at Saint Rose in these days of spring. We have more and more moments of sacramental encounters with the Lord Jesus: First Penance and Reconciliation, Confirmation, RCIA coming into the home stretch, and First Holy Communion later in the spring. At the same time, we are having crowds at Masses and Confessions, Adoration is thriving, and the church is remaining a hub of prayer and peace. It makes me think that something is right at Saint Rose, and that something is the desire to encounter Jesus here!


Fr. Baker



03-08-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We had bad storms on Monday night of this week. There were even tornadoes in some areas resulting in the loss of life. It moves me to prayer when I hear of the suffering of others. It also causes me to remember what is really important. I think that I need to love and to care for others much more. I think that I need to be more patient and to forgive much more. I need to have more compassion and more understanding. Life is precious and deserves care and respect. The most important thing I have to do each day is to care for those around me. I find it easy to get caught up in small, unimportant matters. I find it easy to get caught up in myself. I will begin again to pay attention to the eternal things in my life: God and other people.


Fr. Baker


Lenten Liturgy

03-01-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

During Lent, we try to reflect the seriousness of the season by celebrating the liturgy more simply. The Church directs us, for example, to use instruments less and to chant acapella. We do not sing the Gloria in Lent, and Alleluia disappears for Lent as well. We also do not have flowers in church during Lent. The vestments are a more somber purple color. These are all external signs of the need for internal simplification.

We should do the same sort of simplification in our personal lives during Lent. This is the reason for giving up something for Lent. If we keep a good and simple Lent, Easter will mean more to us, just as we will appreciate the joyous music, flowers, and vestments of Easter after the somberness of the Lenten liturgies.


Carnival: Will you say goodbye to something for Lent?

02-23-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We may be more familiar with the French term Mardi Gras -- Fat Tuesday, but in many cultures the period leading up to Lent is called Carnival. That word literally means "goodbye to meat." We have a little relic of this banishment of meat in the abstinence from meat that we practice on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent. (Isn't it interesting that everyone from environmentalists to your doctor is recommending going light on meat? Maybe the Church has been guiding us well all along!) It is OK to celebrate a bit before Lent begins, especially if you intend to keep a good Lent, but keep the emphasis on your interior preparation. What can you say goodbye to that will help you to grow in the love of God and neighbor?


Fr. Baker


Something Good to do for Lent: From Obligation to Devotion

02-16-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

After our parish mission, I have been thinking of how to make our celebration of the Mass more of an encounter with the Lord Jesus. For our English Masses, we need to concentrate on finishing Mass well. First of all, everyone needs to stay until the end of Mass. What does it indicate about what we believe if we leave Mass right after receiving Holy Communion? Remember, no one should leave Mass before the priest does! Also when we remain until the end of Mass, we need to say thank you to God for the gift we have received or at least to be quiet so that others can do so. Mass is something that we are doing as the Mystical Body of Christ and so we need to have that "team" attitude and not an individual one.

I commend our Hispanic community at the Spanish Mass for staying until the end of Mass, but I do want to encourage reverence after Mass in the church so that it remains a time and place for prayer. Visiting with one another can take place in our large vestibule after Mass.


World Marriage Sunday

02-09-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The Church celebrates and exalts the role of husband and wife within the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. She reminds us that marriage is a part of creation. In other words, marriage is something that God made. We did not make it. Like all of God's creation it is beautiful and powerful. Literally, the life of the world depends on marriage. Also like all of God's creation, marriage is fragile and requires constant love and care.

A project that I am working on for our parish is a comprehensive marriage preparation program, involving married couples, as well as the priests and deacons of the parish. Pope Francis has suggested that marriage preparation should be thought of in the same way as preparation for priesthood or religious life with robust and thorough formation. I am very excited about this project.


Place of Encounter

02-02-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

This past week, ministry leaders and staff of Saint Rose met for an introduction to the Amazing Parish process.

All ministries and staff are asked to engage in three key behaviors in their work in the parish.

  1. Culture of Prayer: before we do anything, we need to be praying with and for each other.
  2. Culture of Active Discipleship: before we do anything, we need to commit to follow Jesus in everything.
  3. Culture of Healthy Teamwork: before we do anything, we need to commit to healthy collaboration.

We also discussed our core purpose as a parish: to be the place of encounter with Jesus Christ in his fullness in this community.


What is a Mission?

01-26-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Next weekend, we will have Fr. Eusebius Martis, O.S.B. with us to preach at the Masses and to introduce our Parish Mission that will follow on Monday - Wednesday, with talks at 10 a.m. and at 7 p.m. for the three days. The same topic will be covered at the morning and evening sessions.

A mission is a time for us as a parish to focus on our faith in an intentional way. The mission talks this year will help us to experience the liturgy as an encounter with Jesus in our lives. We are blessed to have Fr. Eusebius with us for these days. He is indeed an expert on the sacraments and the liturgical life, and he is a master teacher. Some of you might be familiar with Father from the video series: Elements of the Catholic Mass. He was the director of sacred liturgy at the seminary where I served before coming to St. Rose. I can therefore recommend that you attend the mission from my personal experience.


New Routines

01-19-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

With the renovations coming to a close in the church, we are getting used to some new routines and locations. The confessionals, for example, are in the back of the church, and the line forms along the back wall. The bulletin board and table that had been in the vestibule are now in the Shepherd's Hallway, where additional information can be found, as well as the lost and found, the "drop box'' for parishioners -- pretty much everything that was on that table and board before. The vestibule itself is now primarily for those who need to step out of Mass for some reason, particularly for parents dealing with a fussy child -- and for overflow crowds, which occur not infrequently. As long as there is room in the church, I ask that you come and find a seat in the church itself. Then the vestibule is available for those who need it. We will get used to the new situation soon enough!


Lift High the Cross!

01-12-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

When working on leaks that were coming from the church tower, we discovered that the mounting of the cross atop the tower was in bad shape -- so bad that we had a structural engineer analyze the mounting and redesign it. For the cross to remain lifted high above St. Rose, we need to remount the cross. Otherwise, the cross will have to come down as a hazard. This is an unforeseen and unbudgeted expense, but it is also one that I hope we will support and undertake.

If any parishioner(s) can help to underwrite this expense, please contact the church office. The project is quite complicated for a structure so tall as our tower. The estimate for remounting the cross is $10,000. Lifting high the cross is a great witness in our community, as well as an iconic emblem of our parish itself. Let's keep the cross lifted high!


Prayers Please!

01-05-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

By the time you are reading this, I will be in Guatemala. I am enrolled in an intensive immersion course in Spanish at the Priorato de San José in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. I will be taking instruction for several hours each day while living in a Benedictine community and participating in Mass and prayers with the community. My hope is that this will help me with conversational skills, in particular, and with liturgical Spanish. These are both important to me to be able to minister more effectively in a pastoral role for our Spanish-speaking parishioners. I will be in the program for two weeks, returning on January 18.