Happy Fathers Day
In case you haven’t heard, Cardinal Dolan named me pastor of Holy Name of Jesus – St. Gregory the Great Parish retroactive May 15th. When I came here almost a year ago, many of you asked if I would become pastor and my answer was guarded, not because I did not want to serve as your priest for the long haul, but because I was hoping and praying that Fr. Tom would recover and return to the parish. Remember, Fr. Tom was our pastor even when he was unable to be physically with us performing his pastoral duties. Being a priest and pastor is more than what you do, it is who you are, and Fr. Tom was offering spiritual sacrifice on our behalf through his illness. I am consoled that Fr. Tom continues to pray for me and for all of us. Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, not even death. By extension, all those in communion with Our Lord are also in communion with all the faithful, on earth, in purgatory, and in heaven. This is called the “communion of saints”. Through Christ we have the hope that Fr. Tom’s connection to us has not been severed in death and that he continues to pray for us. This link is particularly powerful during Communion at Mass.
Speaking of Communion, this Sunday we celebrate the Solemnity of Corpus Christi by honoring and witnessing to the mystery that the Eucharist is fully Jesus, in His Body and Blood, and in His humanity and divinity. After the 9 am, 10:30 am, and 12 pm Masses, we will be invited to join in a Eucharistic procession around the block. Religious processions are a symbol of our journey to heaven, and Eucharistic processions remind us that Jesus accompanies us and gives us His Body and Blood as food for this journey. I hope that the Catholics we encounter on the streets will be inspired to join us in our Sunday Masses, and that the questions our non-Catholic neighbors ask us will give us opportunities to witness to our faith.
Because it is Corpus Christi Sunday, it is very appropriate to celebrate the First Communion of our little brothers and sisters. Please notice how they dress and the way they have been taught to prepare for and receive the Eucharist. While we need not wear First Communion outfits, we should remember that our dress is a form of communication. How do we communicate our respect and love for Jesus in the Eucharist? The boys and girls receiving First Communion will be abstaining from all food, except for water and medicine, one hour before consuming the Eucharist – a little fast to prepare for a great feast! We need to remember that we should never eat anything at church (water and medicine are ok) except for the finest food we can receive - the Body and Blood of Jesus.
Finally, happy Fathers’ Day! Allow me to raise awareness of the need for good and faith-filled fathers in our community. According to a large survey conducted by the Swiss government and published in 2000, “It is the religious practice of the father of the family that, above all, determines the future attendance at or absence from church of the children”. According to this study, households with dads who regularly attend church are ten times more likely to have children who regularly practice their faith than households with fathers who rarely or never practice the faith. (https://www.christianpost.com/news/fathers-key-to-their-childrens-faith-51331/). St. Joseph, pray for us, particularly for our fathers.
– Fr. George