Today’s Responsorial Psalm refrain again sums up the posture we each should have throughout life. Union with the Lord is our ultimate goal, and yet we often fail in ways that require God’s forgiveness and the forgiveness of others. The reality of the human condition is expressed in the final verses of today’s psalm: “Our souls are more than sated with the mockery of the arrogant, with the contempt of the proud.” Arrogance and pride are at the root of a lot of the evils people perpetrate against one another in thought, word or deed. Arrogance prevented the people of Jesus’ hometown from believing in him. As a result, “he was not able to perform any mighty deed there.” (Today’s Gospel) What a deprivation! How often has our own arrogance prevented God from working wonders for us?
In contrast today’s Second Reading presents the figure of Saint Paul. He came to appreciate—the hard way—that his suffering, rejection and human failing were remedies for arrogance. He learned that it was in his weakness that he was strong: “Power is made perfect in weakness.” Why? Because then it became apparent to him that God was his strength. Any success he might have had was the fruit of God’s grace: “My grace is sufficient for you.”
Salvation—attaining the kingdom of heaven—is a goal we cannot reach on our own. This is why Jesus founded the Church, why he has given us the sacraments. Yet surveys show that a large number of American Catholics fail to attend Sunday Mass or receive the sacraments, especially the Sacrament of Penance. Is this not the direct result of arrogance and a lack of faith in God? If an honest examination of conscience reveals this to be the case, turn to God and plead for his mercy. Better to do it now, than on the Day of Judgment!
Last weekend was a full weekend, wasn’t it? The ordination of three new priests on Saturday morning, the celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul at St. Peter on Saturday and Sunday, and the celebration of Father Timothy Reither’s First Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Charles On Sunday afternoon. I also was able to participate in the First Mass of Thanksgiving celebrated earlier on Sunday afternoon by Father Eric Mashak at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Cooks Valley. It was good to see the large number of people present for both First Masses, and to have St. Peter’s Family Life Committee serve refreshments and treats after their Masses on Saturday evening and Sunday morning. Slowly but surely things are getting back to normal. Thanks to all who participated in any of these events. If you want to view the ordination Mass, please look it up on the Diocese of La Crosse’s channel on YouTube.
Now that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass has been reinstated in our diocese, we will take another couple of steps back to normal. Diocesan regulations allow for the gifts of bread and wine to be brought forward during the Mass, provided the elements are covered. For this reason the bread to be consecrated is being brought forward in a covered ciborium rather than a communion plate. Until communion is offered again from the chalice, the water and wine will likewise be brought forward in cruets with stoppers.
At St. Charles we will again be using three extraordinary ministers of holy communion at the weekend Masses. Two will distribute in the back intersection and one will assist the priest in the front. Communion is being distributed again in the center aisles. At St. Peter there will not be extraordinary communion ministers until communion from the chalice is again permitted. Thanks to all of our liturgical ministers. Please be attentive to the schedules in the bulletin and try to get a substitute, if you cannot be present to serve.
Pray the rosary this week for the needs of our Church, and of our country on this Independence Day weekend. Pray for the safety of all travelers on this holiday weekend; and as always, pray for peace.
May God bless his people with peace.