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.


Mass Intentions

09-27-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I have noticed that we have many open dates for Mass intentions. It makes me think that a reminder is in order about the value of having a Mass offered for any person, living or deceased. The intention that is listed in the bulletin (and announced before Mass begins) is the intention of the priest offering the Mass in the person of Christ, the head of the Mystical Body. This offering is of infinite value. If the Mass is offered for someone who is deceased, the intention is for the repose of the soul of that person. It aids the person through Purgatory. If the Mass intention is for a living person, then the Mass is offered for that person's intentions. You literally cannot remember someone more powerfully than by a Mass intention. The intention itself is an interior act of the priest, acting in the person of Christ in celebrating Mass that the infinite value of the Mass be attributed to the stated intention. What is printed in the bulletin or announced is only a notice of the fulfillment of the intention.


Necessary and Urgent

09-20-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

These are the words, approved by Pope Francis, of Cardinal Sarah, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship, on the need to return to the Eucharist. I think that many in Saint Rose Parish have this same spiritual intuition since attendance at Mass has been increasing. Whether or not there is a canonical obligation to attend Mass, we need Jesus! He is, of course, found most substantially in the Eucharist.

We are under a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass, but the dispensation is not without requirements. The dispensation covers those who are sick and those who are caring for the sick. It covers those at highrisk for complications from contracting the virus. It also covers those who are in fear of contracting the virus. It does not cover those who are not in any of these categories but who nevertheless choose not to attend Mass.


Youth Discipleship: Following Jesus Together

09-13-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We are about to launch a new year of discipleship for the young people of our parish. At the junior high level, we are introducing the Fraternus and Fidelis programs for boys and for girls. I strongly recommend these programs that are very popular and effective in other parishes of our diocese. High school students are also welcome to be involved. At the high school level, we will continue with our Life Teen program for discipleship. There will also be a high school religious education class. I recommend all of these options, and strongly encourage the young people of the parish to be involved in one or more of them. It is practically impossible to be a disciple of Jesus on your own. Remember that Jesus sent out his disciples two by two! You might just "catch" the love of Jesus from one another!


Thank You!

09-06-2020Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Thank you for the very generous response for adorers of the Blessed Sacrament last week! Now let's keep it up! I am sure that all of you even those taking hours in the middle of the night found that you were blessed by keeping watch with Jesus for an hour (or more)! I am encouraged by the presence of others when I am praying before the Blessed Sacrament, whether I know them or not. The experience creates a bond of devotion to Jesus.

We certainly have a lot to pray for in these days, and being in the presence of Jesus puts our concerns in perspective. We are never alone. Again, a big thank you to the parish for responding so quickly, generously, and faithfully.


Fr. Baker


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."