More About Lifting the Dispensation

03-25-2021NewsFr. John Sims Baker

I think that most of you have already heard about Bishop Spalding's decision to lift the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation as of Palm Sunday. I want to address how we at Saint Rose are going to adapt to returning to the regular practice of the Church.

First, our plans are designed to accommodate everyone who comes to Mass while keeping prudent precautions in place. The major change will be that there will no longer be pews blocked off in the larger middle sections of the church. The faithful will be asked to practice social distancing according to their judgment in these sections.


Holy Week and Easter This Year; Lifting of Dispensation

03-21-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker


After the sad Holy Week and Easter last year with liturgical celebrations without the faithful present, I am very happy that we will once again have public celebrations of these holy days. Although there will still be some alterations in the liturgies and our attendance will be limited, we will be celebrating together as a parish.

Here are some notes on the schedule and changes for this year: Palm Sunday -- We will not be having a procession but will distribute and bless palms at the beginning of every Mass for Palm Sunday. Livestream will be provided as on a regular Sunday.


Lifting of Dispensation


As of Palm Sunday, Bishop Spalding is lifting the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. This is a return to the normal situation of the Church regarding attendance at Mass. I want to get this word to you as soon as possible, even though we will be working out the practical implications here at Saint Rose in the days to come.


Pandemic Precautions

03-14-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

At Saint Rose, we have followed the guidance of the diocese about precautions regarding COVID. We continue to do so. Civil governmental entities such as Rutherford County, for example, are reconsidering mask mandates and other precautions in public spaces. We will take note of what civil authorities are requiring, but we will continue to make decisions on our circumstances.


Many Blessings!

03-07-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Even though we continue through the challenges of a pandemic, we are blessed at Saint Rose in so many ways. Last weekend, our First Communion classes celebrated the Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation for the first time. It took several priests all morning to hear the confessions! This weekend, Bishop Spalding will confer the Sacrament of Confirmation on over 100 candidates from our parish. These are exciting times for celebrating the sacraments at Saint Rose!

If we have a problem, it is that we are running out of room at most of our Masses! Please be sure to sign up for Mass. And thank you for your understanding if you need to attend Mass in the gym. We are trying our best!


Lenten Confession Times

02-28-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

During Lent, we want to offer more and extended times for confession. We will be offering confession every day of the week beginning the Second Week of Lent through Wednesday of Holy Week. (We will have other times for confession during the Triduum which will be announced later.) There are times during the day, at night, and on weekends. I hope that everyone can find a convenient time.



02-21-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

In English, the word "Lent" comes from an old word for "spring." I am not sure that we always think of Lent in such a positive way. Maybe we even dread Lent because we associate it with penance. Our Lenten penances, however, have a positive purpose. Lent can truly be a new springtime for our souls: a time of new life and growth. For new life and growth to happen, we need to cut away dead and lifeless things in our lives. That is why we practice penance during Lent and give things up. We also think of "spring cleaning," which we can do in our souls by confession. Finally, we also begin to plant our gardens and flowers in the spring. In our souls during Lent, we increase our prayer and establish good habits of sacrificial giving. These are indeed beautiful spiritual gardens in our souls which are very pleasing to God. Let's think of the next 40 days, as the beginning of a new springtime in our souls! I am excited already!


St. Michael the Archangel, Pray for Us

02-14-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

Saint Rose of Lima Parish is very grateful to receive a new statue of St. Michael the Archangel from our Guatemalan community. The statue is based on an image and devotion to St. Michael in the city of Totonicapan. We have a number of parishioners from this area of Guatemala. There are features of the statue that are familiar, for example, St. Michael's wings as an angel and his sword as the leader of the hosts of Heaven. In this image, however, his armour is like that of a Roman soldier's, and he is also holding a scale. The statue is based on an apparition of St. Michael which occurred over 400 years ago in Totonicapan.


Covid & The Liturgy

02-07-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

The pandemic has affected just about every aspect of our lives for almost a year now. This includes the liturgy. I want to give a reminder about music and announce a change that will be in effect for Ash Wednesday.

We have generally been avoiding robust congregational singing during the pandemic because vocal production disperses aerosols in a particularly dramatic way. That is why we have had limited use of hymns, for example. The singing we have been doing has generally been simple chants which are meant to be sung quietly. Chants are the music of the liturgy par excellence as they emphasize the words we sing. We have, for example, been able to sing more words from Sacred Scripture at Mass -- the verses at the entrance, offertory, and Holy Communion processions -- are all given to us by the Church from the words of the Bible to complement the readings and prayers of each Mass. I invite you to join in these verses, much like the Responsorial Psalm and the Alleluia, which we are all familiar with. The opportunity to chant the scriptures is a blessing indeed!


The Year of St. Joseph

01-31-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I would like to begin public parish devotions for the Year of St. Joseph proclaimed by Pope Francis. One of the special favors of this year is the availability of a plenary indulgence on every Wednesday of this special year granted for the recitation of prayers to St. Joseph. This weekend we have available in the narthex prayer cards with the Litany of St. Joseph in both English and Spanish. We will pray this litany publicly immediately after Mass every Wednesday evening. You can also pray the litany on your own at home or anywhere at any time on Wednesdays for the indulgence. Other days include the 19th of each month, as well as the Feast Days of St. Joseph on March 19 and May 1. I will continue to look for ways to observe this special year in our parish.


January is a Special Pro-Life Time

01-24-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

In my mind, January is a special pro-life time. The anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision of the Supreme Court, which removed all restrictions on abortion in our country, comes in January and has been marked by the annual March for Life held in Washington, DC every year since, no matter the weather or the conditions. Until this year...

With prudence, the organizers of the March for Life have decided to hold the events virtually this year because of the volatile situation in Washington. I applaud this decision, even though I have participated in the March numerous times, especially when I was involved in campus ministry.


The One Thing Necessary - Prayer at the Feet of Jesus

01-17-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

I have been slow to comment on the riot last week in Washington. I have been slow to react to many of the serious events going on in our world. I can assure you that I have been praying, and prayer is by far the most important thing that any of us can do. Daily personal prayer with the Lord Jesus must be the center of our lives.

I think that God is calling us to Himself. I think that God is allowing the consequences of our unfaithfulness to Him to play out so that we see where it leads. Without God, we are lost. We must not only do what He wills, but we must do it in the way He wills it. We have been far too willing to compromise with both the goals and the methods of this world. Both are poison.


The Same, but Different!

01-10-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

We are starting back in the new year with many things the same but also with some changes. Here are some reminders of things that are the same as before Christmas:

Weekend Masses Please sign up! There is overflow capacity in the gym for the 4:30pm Mass on Saturday as well as for the 11:00am Mass and 3 p.m. (Spanish) Mass on Sunday. Please note that there is also usually room at the 6:30pm (Spanish) Mass on Saturday as well as the 7:00am and 5:00pm Masses on Sunday.

Our pandemic precautions also remain in effect: masks and social distancing. Please be especially careful about crowding when exiting Mass.

Adoration resumes from Thursday morning to Friday morning Please sign up!


Encountering the Fullness of Christ in this Community

01-04-2021NewsFr. John Sims Baker

The celebration of Mass is the heart of our parish's core purpose of being the place of encounter with the fullness of Christ in this community. That being said, we will proceed soberly and prudently in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remember that there is no obligation to attend Mass at this time.

  • Anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or other communicable diseases should stay at home.
  • Anyone in a high-risk group for COVID-19 should stay at home.
  • Anyone with concern about attending public Mass in these times is covered by the dispensation and should not hesitate to remain at home.

Let me repeat: there is no obligation for anyone to attend Mass at this time.


To be the Place of Encounter with the Fullness of Jesus Christ in our Community

01-03-2021Weekly ReflectionFr. John Sims Baker

This is the core purpose of Saint Rose of Lima Parish, and the pandemic has clarified the truth and necessity of this purpose. The hunger for Christmas Masses was a perfect example of the service and mission we accomplish here at Saint Rose. In these days when God's people need somewhere to turn, they have been turning here to us for their most fundamental needs. And we are blessed when that happens because we encounter Jesus in all who come in any need: spiritual, emotional, physical, psychological, intellectual, or any other human longing.

Thank you for allowing Saint Rose Parish to surrender ourselves to this core purpose of encounter with the person of Jesus. He invites us into His adoration of the Father, in union with the Holy Spirit. This adoration is what we are made for, and this is what we offer in this community. A lot of people are negative about the year 2020, but it has been a year of clarifying grace for Saint Rose of Lima Parish. I believe that we are more fully what we are supposed to be than ever before.