This week we will celebrate Independence Day on July 4. It is usually a fun holiday to be with family or friends, share a casual meal, and watch fireworks! I want to ask that we take the day more seriously this year along with the fun. Please take time to pray for the United States of America. Along with the tremendous blessings of freedom and prosperity for which we should offer prayers of thanksgiving, there are also grave problems in our country for which we need to pray for deliverance. Only God can save us! There are epidemics of hopelessness resulting in addiction, suicide, and abortion. There are plagues of confusion about sexuality and gender undermining marriage and family life and even our identity as men and women. There are crises, failures, and abuses in leadership undermining confidence in our institutions, even in the Church. Only a turn to God can set us back on the right track and restore hope, confidence, and peace. Finally, today there will be millions of people in our country who will not spend the day relaxing but rather in fear: in fear of being thrown out of the country. It is certainly true that our lack of an effective immigration policy has allowed a terrible situation to develop of disregard of law, nevertheless inflicting fear on those whose only offence is the desire to share in the blessings of this country that we and our ancestors have experienced is a short-sighted response. You don't see people lining up to get into every country! The fact that people want so desperately to come here says something good about the United States of America. Let's turn to God to keep us welcoming even as we face and address challenges.
Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi. This is the day on which we pay particular reverence to the Blessed Sacrament. Jesus comes to us and remains with us in the Blessed Sacrament. This is a wonderful gift, which we do not deserve. Jesus displays extreme humility in coming to us in the Blessed Sacrament and allowing us to come so close to Him, even to receive Him as food for our journey to our heavenly home.
The humility of Jesus should not, however, cause us to take His presence for granted! He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings, even if He appears as a piece of bread! We have the opportunity to show our love, respect, and reverence for Him in the Blessed Sacrament.READ MORE
Next month, thanks to the generosity and thoughtfulness of parishioners of St. Rose, my sister (Sr. Margaret Andrew, O.P.) and I will be going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. First, I must say thank you. This pilgrimage to the Holy Land is truly a dream come true. With my sister's inspiration, I would like to offer everyone in the parish an opportunity to share in the spiritual blessings of the pilgrimage. We would like to take your prayer intentions with us and literally place them at the holy sites we will be visiting: the sites of Our Lord's annunciation, birth, public ministry, suffering, death, and resurrection. Everywhere we go, we will take your prayer intentions.READ MORE
I want to begin to address some fundamental truths for living as faithful Catholics. Among the most important of these is to keep the 3rd Commandment by going to Sunday Mass. Sunday Mass is essential for our relationship with God and for our relationships within the Church. Unless it is impossible, we must go to Mass every Sunday. As so many of you know, once you have established the habit of Sunday Mass then it is easy to maintain. The difficultly arises when we have to convince ourselves anew each week why we should go to Mass. As a friend of mine has said, it is easy to find reasons not to do something! Save yourself the trouble, and decide that you will go to Mass every Sunday period. If you are a parent, decide that you and your children will attend Mass every Sunday period. God will help you. Don't have arguments with yourself or others. Just do it.READ MORE
For a variety of reasons, some of them planned and some unplanned, we are experiencing a number of changes in our parish staff. I would like to take the opportunity to inform the parish of these changes. First, I want to let you know of some departures from the staff. Anne Plüs who worked in the parish office in a number of capacities has moved from Murfreesboro. This move was long-planned and has finally arrived. Leaving Saint Rose from the formation team is Jenny Morris, who is likewise relocating from Murfreesboro. She will be assuming new responsibilities in Chattanooga. We thank Anne and Jenny for their years of service to the parish and wish them well in their new endeavors.READ MORE
This past Monday-Wednesday, I was in Cincinnati for a conference called "the amazing parish." It is about helping pastors to lead parishes well, both spiritually and practically. I am certainly happy that St. Rose is one of the four parishes chosen from our diocese to attend the conference and to implement the amazing parish process.
The transformation begins with each pastor having a leadership team with whom he consults a least weekly. The team provides the pastor both support and accountability in leadership. I can speak from experience that isolation is the biggest challenge to a pastor being an effective and joyful leader of his parish.READ MORE
It is certainly the time for graduations in Murfreesboro. MTSU has already graduated. All the high school graduations took place over the past week and this weekend. Saint Rose School celebrated graduation this past Friday. Congratulations to all who have graduated. Congratulations as well to all who have supported the graduates over the years, especially parents and teachers. Graduation is an accomplishment for all of you!READ MORE
I may be getting into dangerous territory in talking about Mother's Day because for a number of people, this day may not have happy associations. My mother died the same year that I was ordained. Her approaching death was the reason for my ordination being moved up from June to March. I have therefore not had my mother during almost all of my priesthood. I do however cherish the memories of my mother and, in particular, those few months when I was a priest at the end of her life when I was allowed to spend a great deal of time caring for her. I count it one of the special blessings of being in Murfreesboro, which was her hometown, that I am able to visit her grave frequently and that of my father, who are both buried here in an old family plot in Evergreen Cemetery.
Whatever our own personal experiences or associations with Mother's Day, one fact that I appreciate more and more is that we all have a real mother in the Blessed Virgin Mary. Jesus gave His mother to be our mother while he hung upon the cross. It is the most beautiful gift that he gave to us. Accept this gift of His Blessed Mother to you. When you need the embrace and encouragement that only a mother can give, let her embrace and encourage you. She is powerful, and she is good. She cares for you perfectly as her child. So Happy Mother's Day to the mother of us all in the family of God.
I remember from being a pastor of a parish with a school that May is a busy month, and it comes after a busy April with a late Easter. I would say that May is second only to December for extra events. Things will then settle down to a somewhat slower pace for the summer. Right at the beginning of May, I want to ask for your patience because I know that I will not be able to get to many things as soon as I would like to. This year we are short handed both with priests and with staff for the time being. I expect that we will be back up to full staffing over the summer, but in the mean time we are managing with what we have. Please be assured that we are responding and making appropriate changes in our financial procedures and that I will be reporting on these changes and new staff to you as soon as I am able.
All this being said, Saint Rose is an exciting parish. Last weekend, for example, a flood of God's mercy washed over the parish in the celebration of many, many confessions. On Saturday, there were three First Communion Masses. The graces just keep coming!
Holy Week and Easter Week are busy times. It takes a lot of work to celebrate these most holy days in the Church. I want to thank everyone who helped to make the liturgies and other events in the parish so beautiful, reverent, and meaningful. Saint Rose is a remarkable parish with very dedicated parishioners. These are the days when we encounter the most fundamental truths of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is our message and our mission in the parish. Thanks for carrying it out so faithfully.
Christ is Risen!
We celebrate the central mystery of our faith in Jesus Christ today: His resurrection from the dead. Jesus Christ is savior. He saves us from sin and death. No one else can do this. Sin and death still remain in the world, but they have lost their power. If we go through them with Jesus, as we have this Holy Week, we will also rise with Him. This is true in our lives. It is true in our parish. We know that Jesus saves and that He forgives.READ MORE
For observant Catholics, this is a week to be close to Jesus. We have the opportunity to show Jesus our love and our gratitude to Him when so many are rejecting or ignoring him. Mary Magdalene showed Jesus extravagant love at this time, and He appreciated it deeply. Jesus is so good to us and never demands our devotion, and yet we gain so much when we surrender our hearts to Him. I am not sure if I allow myself to enter into this sort of close and loving relationship with Him as much as I should. When I am vulnerable in my relationship with Him, I find peace even in the midst of many troubles because peace comes from being with Him rather than from the circumstances of my life. He is so good. He went through all the sufferings of this week so that we all could have life with Him. Just thinking about what He did and what He said should be enough to lift me up in any circumstance. I want to be with Him especially this week. Let's be with Him together.
If we are not careful, Holy Week can become just like any other week, and all of a sudden it's Easter. Please make an effort to set aside Holy Week as a holy week. Hey, even the State of Tennessee recognizes Good Friday as a holiday! So what do I mean by keeping a good Holy Week?
First, mark your calendars to come to the Holy Week liturgies. They are profound and moving. If you really can't come to everything, then come to as much as you can. See the bulletin or website for the times.READ MORE