We open wide our doors to Father Jim Heller and extend to him a warm welcome this weekend. We thank him for covering for Father Jim who is with his brothers and their families celebrating their parents’ wedding anniversary.
Today we celebrate the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica. (This feast trumps the Thirty-Second Sunday in Ordinary Time). Saint John Lateran is one of the four major basilicas in Rome. The others are: Saint Peter, Saint Mary Major, and Saint Paul Outside the Walls. Saint John Lateran is unique among the four basilicas because it is the Cathedral Church of the Bishop of Rome, who is the Pope. A Roman family by the name of Lateran had their land seized for the Church by Emperor Constantine, and it became the site of a great basilica dedicated in honor of John the Baptist. For centuries, it was also the site of the Lateran Palace which was the residence of the popes. It was only in the 14th Century that the popes took up residence at the Vatican. Today, the Lateran Basilica has a three-fold dedication: Saint John the Baptist, Saint John the Evangelist, and our Lord. The Latin inscription on the basilica translated into English reads: “This is the mother and head of all churches in the world.” That is why we celebrate this feast as a universal Church. We are one flock united under one shepherd, the successor of Saint Peter.
I remind you that the Holy Hour with Bishop Cistone will take place on Wednesday, November 19 at 7:00 PM at the Saint Matthew Church Site of Saint John Paul II Parish. I highly encourage you to attend the Holy Hour. For the past few years, since the process of Planning Tomorrow’s Parishes began, the Bishop has invited the Church of Saginaw to pray with him for the Spirit’s continued guidance and direction upon all of our parishes during the restructuring, merging and partnering of our parishes as we look to a “Future Full of Hope.” His invitation included going out to the parishes all over the diocese for a Holy Hour each month. The Faith Formation Classes of our parish will meet at the Parish Hall at the Saint Matthew Site on November 19 and will learn about the holy hour as a form of prayer which they are invited to attend together with their parents. The members of both the High School and Middle School Youth Groups have also been encouraged to attend the Holy Hour.
If you have never attended a Holy Hour or are not sure what a Holy Hour is, let me summarize a bit. A holy hour is a period of prayer spent in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. The Catholic Church is unique in their belief in the real presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament. Because of this, our churches have tabernacles in which the Eucharist is reserved for Viaticum, Communion to the Sick, and Adoration (prayer before the Blessed Sacrament). As a devotional practice, some people make holy hours privately. This may have been more prevalent when many of our churches were open during the day. However, several Churches still provide that opportunity on a monthly basis on First Fridays. A private holy hour, whether before the tabernacle or in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament which has been exposed for Adoration is spent in quiet prayer: an individual may kneel or sit in silence, meditate on the presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, meditate on a Scripture Reading, say some special devotional prayers (particularly about the Blessed Sacrament), or say some other prayers. A scheduled Holy Hour in which a number of people participate has a Presider, a Server or two, and a musician. It begins with Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament (if this has not taken place earlier in the day): The Presider goes to the tabernacle and removes the Eucharist, (a large host in a special container called a luna) which was consecrated at Mass that day, and he places the Eucharist into a monstrance for Adoration. During this ritual, the Blessed Sacrament is incensed and a hymn is sung. For the Holy Hours at which the Bishop has been present, there have been times for individual private adoration and prayer interspersed with a litany, prayers in common, a Scripture Reading, and a homily. Then Benediction (blessing) takes place. The Blessed Sacrament is incensed again as a hymn is sung. All are then blessed by the Bishop with the monstrance. Following the blessing, Reposition takes place: the Eucharist is removed from the monstrance and returned to the tabernacle. The Divine Praises are recited together and a final hymn is sung. Come pray with us November 19!
There is a special meeting for all Lectors this Wednesday, November 12 at 6:30 PM in Church. At the end of the gathering, lectors will receive their new lector workbooks which begin with the First Sunday of Advent, November 30. Please plan on attending this very important meeting.
This weekend’s Gospel passage is taken from John’s Gospel. It is the story of Jesus driving out the money changers in the temple. In this passage, Jesus recalls the words of Scripture: Zeal for your house will consume me. The word “consume” connotes passion, something that takes control of us (or which we let take control of us) and dictates our words and actions. To a greater or lesser degree, each one of us has a passion. It may be a negative force or it may be a positive force. Depending upon where our passion lies, we may act out of greed, ambition, anger, or destructive behavior as we so often see in our society. On the other hand, we may act out of love, fidelity, commitment, or conviction to a cause like peace, justice, the poor, immigration, the environment, etc. There is emotion behind conviction, and this emotion can build up or destroy depending upon our motives. Jesus showed the emotion of justified anger in his zeal for the Father’s house. His zeal related to his desire for all people to be faithful to their covenant with God. His zeal ultimately led to his death on the cross, but also to his Resurrection. Today, let us ask ourselves what consumes our lives, our thoughts, and our priorities. Where does our zeal lie? Is it in line with the passion and mission of Christ? Or is it in need of conversion and redemption? What if we were consumed with goodness, truth, justice, charity, and unity, for example? Wouldn’t our Church, our parish, and our world have a different complexion? Just as Jesus made a difference by his life, we, as his disciples, can make a difference by the way in which we live our lives.
Blessings on your week!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ