|Father Eric’s Farewell: Due to the limitation on gatherings we have decided to have a Farewell Drive thru for Father Eric on June 26 at 7:15 pm in the parking lot. Father Eric will be there to greet and say farewell at a safe distance until 8:30 pm. Come and drive by to wish Father a safe and successful transition to his new parish. If you can’t make it we will have a card box in the church or you may send a card to the parish and we will see that he gets it. As much as we don’t want him to leave we also want to wish him the best as he moves on. We also want to thank him for all he has done for St. John’s in the 5 years he has been here. He will become Pastor of Epiphany of the Lord Parish in Toledo on July 1st.|
Attention Campers: We are still planning on having our annual church campout July 24-26, 2020 at Sauders Campground. Call soon to reserve your spot. Phone number 419-445-6408, use ID# 9046. If you have any questions, call Nate or Karen Weber at 419-439-3595.
May 31, 2020 – Pentecost Sunday
Petronilla is the only apostle’s child who is recognized by the Church as a saint.
Believed to be the daughter of St. Peter, little is known about her. Early writers say that she devoted her life to taking care of her father. Peter supposedly cured her of palsy, and when her beauty interfered with her spiritual life, Peter prayed that she be afflicted with a fever until her faith strengthened. Scholars disagree as to whether she died as a martyr.
Pope Siricius (384-399) built a basilica over her tomb, and in the eighth century her relics were removed from the Catacombs of Domitilla, and buried near St. Peter’s Basilica in a Roman-era mausoleum that became known as the Church of St. Petronilla. That church was demolished when St. Peter’s was rebuilt in the 16th century. Her relics were eventually placed under the altar dedicated to her in the new basilica.
St. Petronilla is the patron saint of mountain travelers.
Her feast is May 31.
The altar of St. Petronilla can be found inside St. Peter’s Basilica. Charlemagne and the other Roman emperors considered themselves adopted sons of Peter, so Petronilla was, to them, her sister. Their devotion to her was embraced by the French people, who still gather at St. Petronilla’s altar on May 31 to venerate her.
I’ve been baptized and, like the disciples on that firs Pentecost, I’ve been immersed in the Spirit.
I’ve been called to carry out in my life the Lord’s work. It’s a mission specific to me because, since the beginning of time, thee has been no one exactly like me. And until the end of time, there will be no one exactly like me.
Now I could say, “Okay, I’ve been called by God to be a Christian…I’ve been baptized, and I’m a member of the Church, and I’ve got to try my best to be a faithful member of the Church. So I go to Mass each Sunday. I turn in my envelope. I observe Lent and don’t eat meat on Fridays.
But that is generic.
It’s sort of a “beige Christianity” – bland, flat, ordinary, uninteresting, standard, predictable stuff. That wasn’t the color of the response of the apostles or any of the other holy people whom I’ve read about this Easter season. Their response, their discipleship was in bright colors…very personal, striking.
I need to take my response to God’s call to the next level, down deep inside of me where my truest self lives.
‘The risen Christ said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” – (Mk 16:5)
May 30, 2020 – Saturday, Seventh Week of Easter
‘It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.’ – St. Peter, Acts 4:20
Peter the Apostle
Of all the disciples, Peter is the one mentioned most often in the Gospels.
Peter, along with his brother Andrew, was part-owner of a fishing business. His name was Simon, but Jesus renamed him “Rock.” It was not a word used at that time as a name. Jesus coined it for him. (The Greek word for rock is “petros” – from which his name has passed into most other languages.)
After the Resurrection, Peter emerged as the leading figure in the Church at Jerusalem.
According to ancient tradition, he eventually went to Rome, became the leader of the Christians there, and was martyred during Nero’s persecution (64 or 65 A.S.). Early writers tell of his having been killed by crucifixion, and that he asked to be put on the cross upside down since he was not worthy to imitate so closely the death of Christ.
On the feast of SS. Peter and Paul in 2019, Pope Francis gave the Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew a reliquary containing nine of St. Peter’s bone fragments. They had been discovered during excavations under St. Peter’s Basilica in the 1940’s. The pope later said he gave the patriarch the bones as ‘a confirmation of the journey that our Churches have made in drawing closer to one another.”
Jesus said: “And behold, I am with you always, until the endo of the age.” (Mt 28:20)
This is the wrap-up of Matthew’s Gospel – the longest of the four Gospels. Jesus has come a long way in this Gospel. The author began by telling us that the child to be born would be called Emmanuel, “God with us.” The Gospel ends with Jesus not going away from the disciples, but approaching them and promising, “I am with you always, even to the endo for the age.” The last words of this Gospel remind me that Jesus is here to console me, to protect me, to help me, to heal me, to give me peace, comfort.
It’s great news.
Sometimes when I’m trying to lead a good life, I’m trying to lead a good life. I’m not sure what the best thing is to do. I’m like an airline pilot trying to navigate through fog and clouds.
Imagine flying an airplane with no radar, no radio. Jesus climbs into the plane and says, “I’ll ride next to you. I know it’s foggy and I know it’s cloudy. But I’ll ride next to you. I’ll show you which way to go.”
I can’t see the future but I believe Jesus is with me.
What I have to do is remember to ask the Lord: “What do you want me to do? In which direction do you want me to go?”
That’s what happens when I pray.
May 29, 2020 – Friday, Seventh Week of Easter
‘As once at Caesarea Philippi the apostle Peter spoke on behalf of the twelve to make a true confession, beyond human opinions, of Christ as Son of the living God, so today his humble successor, pastor of the Universal Church, raises his voice to give, on behalf of all the People of God, a firm witness to the divine Truth entrusted to the Church to be announced to all nations.’ – Paul VI, at the conclusion of the Year of Faith, St. Peter’s Squared, June 30, 1968
Pope Paul VI
Today is the feast day of Pope Paul VI, who was canonized October 14, 2018.
When he was elected pope in 1963, Paul VI continued the council reforms begun by his predecessor, Pope John XXIII. The new pope had enthusiastically supported the Second Vatican Council and it now fell to him to continue its work. Among the reforms Paul VI implemented were the vernacularization of the liturgy, relaxation of the rules on fasting and abstinence, and the establishment of a commission to revise the Code of Canon Law.
In 1964, Paul VI made a pilgrimage to the Holy Land becoming the first pope to visit the United States, speaking before the United Nations in 1965.
On the 1,900th anniversary of St. Peter’s martyrdom in 1967, Paul VI declared a Year of Faith, beginning on the feast of SS. Peter and Paul, June 29, 1967. When the Year of Faith ended on the same feast in 1968, Paul issued a profession of faith, “the Creed of the People of God.”
Before he died on August 6, 1978, Pope Paul asked for a simple funeral with no monument placed over his grave.
Jesus said: ”…teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:20)
How is it that I’m supposed to go out and make disciples of all people?
Am I supposed to go and preach on a street corner?
Go to the mall and start giving personal witness about my faith in Christ?
Stop people in the hall and say, “Let me tell you about Jesus Christ”?
I can do all of those things but I make disciples of others primarily by letting my light shine through.
This doesn’t mean taking a spotlight and shining it in someone’s eyes. That only results in blinding the other person.
My light needs to be more like the running lights on a car. Daytime running lights are not there just so I can see, they’re there so that people can see me.
My light is a deep-down goodness that can’t be faked. Like a running light, the goodness just shines through and can be seen by other people.
I have the Spirit of the risen Christ within me. Are the running lights on in my life?
May 28, 2020 – Thursday, Seventh Week of Easter
‘Judas, not the Iscariot, said to him, “Master, [then] what happened that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does mot keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me.” – Jn 14:22-24
Jude the Apostle
Jude (also known as Thaddeus) was though to be a cousin of Jesus. His father was said to be the martyr Cleophas, a brother of St. Joseph. His mother Mary stood at the foot of the cross when Jesus died. His brothers were though to be St. Simon and St. James the Lesser, and all three brothers were among the 12 apostles.
After the death and resurrection of Jesus, Jude is said to have preached in Samaria, Syria, Mesopotamia, and Libya. He is credited with writing an epistle to the Churches of the East, intended specifically for Jewish converts who were confronted by ongoing heresies. The letter encourages them to persevere in their new faith despite the difficult circumstance they were facing. Jude is said to have been martyred in Armenia.
The feast of St. Jude is October 28, and he is the patron saint of hopeless causes. Why is St. Jude the patron of desperate situations? One explanation is that his letter speaks of perseverance in the face of difficulties. Another possibility is that Jude was often confused with Judas Iscariot, therefore, praying to Jude was considered a “lost cause,” and one prayed to St. Jude only as a last resort.
Jesus said: “Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit…” (Mk 28:19)
Today’s Gospel text is the passage where we find the words for the Sign of the Cross.
So, every time I use this symbolic prayer, I am signing myself with words from the Gospel. But there is much more to being a disciple of Jesus than just making the Sign of the Cross several times a day.
The defining difference for a disciple of Jesus, a Christian, is the conviction that history has been drastically changed by Jesus Christ – in his incarnation, life, death, resurrection.
It is the conviction that the world is different, that this is a new age, and that there is a different way for people to live.
It’s not simply a moral conviction, a principle that I hold. It’s having the eyes of faith to see the difference in the world and to experience it. It’s recognizing the small indicators all around us that the reign of God has begun.
The defining difference for a disciple of Jesus is to go into the world and experience within yourself and within other people the living presence of the risen Jesus Christ, to feel the whole Spirit’s strength and peace.
May 27, 2020 – Wednesday, Seventh Week of Easter
‘After that the risen Christ appeared to James then to all the apostles.’ – 1Corinthians 15:7
‘He appeared to James’
Two of the 12 apostles were named James: James, the son of Zebedee, and a partner with Peter in a fishing business; and James, son of Alphaeus, about whom little is known.
But Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthians, refers to a third James whom the Gospels listed as one of the “brothers” (close relatives) of Jesus.
Indications are that these close relatives didn’t put much faith in Jesus during his life. When his relatives heard [what Jesus was doing] they set out to seize him, for they said, “He is out of his mind” (Mk 3:21). His brothers did not believe in him (John 7:5).
Yet, in the Church’s early years, this “Brother of the Lord” emerges as head of the Church of Jerusalem. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul talks about one of his visits to Jerusalem. He says, “James, Kephas, (i.e. Peter) and John. Who were reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas their right hands in partnership.” It is noteworthy that he mentions James first, ahead of Peter and John (members of the Twelve).
James is prominent in Acts. When Peter miraculously escapes from prison, he tells the disciples: “Go and report this to James.” How did James, one of the “brothers” who earlier didn’t believe in Jesus, make such a turnaround? In this passage from Corinthians, Paul gives a clue: His “brother” appeared to him.
Then Jesus approached and said to the disciples, “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” (Mt 28:18)
Note that Jesus came to the disciples (“approached”). Only one other recorded time – at the end of the Transfiguration – does he “approach” the three disciples. In both instances, Jesus is in glory.
Before the glorified Lord, we humans can only bow low and keep our distance. Jesus bridges that distance by drawing near and speaking his words of comfort and compassion.
Sometimes, I may think of Jesus ascending into heaven as though he left us – sort of like going into retirement. But Jesus promised the disciples at the Last Supper, “I’m going away and I’m coming back to you.”
He wasn’t talking about coming back at the end of the world. He was talking about coming back after he had gone through death to the other side, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven, and sent his own Spirit to be with us and within us. That is a beautiful teaching.
Jesus is able to approach us and be within us, closer than he could be with the disciples as they traveled together during his ministry.
Jesus is definitely not “retired.”
May 26, 2020 – Tuesday, Seventh Week of Easter
‘Jesus appointed twelve [whom he also named apostles] that might be with him and he might send them forth to preach and to have authority to drive out demons: [he appointed the twelve:] Simon, whom he named Peter, James, son of Zebedee, and John the brother of James, whom he named Boanerges, that is, sons of thunder…” Mark 3:14-17
‘Sons of Thunder’ Why did Jesus refer to James the Greater and his brother John as “sons of thunder?”
There is no explanation in the New Testament, but that hasn’t kept scholars from speculating. Most point to the brothers’ explosive tempers (especially James), and their automatic reaction of responding to violence with violence. That was evident in Luke’s ninth chapter when Jesus and the disciples had problems finding a place to spend the night in Samaria because of the tense relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans: “When the disciples James and John saw this, they asked, ‘Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?’” (Lk 9:54)
When the disciples saw the risen Lord, they worshiped, but they doubted. (Mt 28:17)
Why did Matthew have to throw that in?
Matthew is telling me that disciples will struggle with doubt (hesitation, practical wavering) until the end of time.
It’s easier to believe when you’re worshiping God. But then you go out into the world, and the doubt creeps in.
Oh, I don’t necessarily doubt that there’s a God. But I may begin to wonder whether or not God connects with this world, with my life.
The disciples is the person who is able to wrestle with that constant nagging doubt and say, “Yes…yes…yes, I believe.”
What does it take to be a disciple?
It’s as clear as clear could be in Matthew’s Gospel. It is three things:
To hear God’ word.
To take up your cross.
To go out into the world and live in a way that proclaims Jesus Christ as the Lord of all.
May 25, 2020 – Monday, Seventh Week of Easter
Fr. Emil KapaunIn 1953, shortly after the Communists released prisoners of war from the Korean War, stories began to circulate about a courageous Catholic chaplain. The prisoners told of how the priest had risked his life rescuing wounded soldiers, saving men from the Death March, and caring for his fellow prisoners. The army chaplain was Fr. Emil Kapaun from Wichita, Kansas. He had entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 1944 and served in India and Burma. After World War II, he returned to the United States for graduate work, but rejoined the chaplain service in 1948. In July 1950, shortly after North Korea invaded South Korea, Fr. Kapaun was assigned to the army’s Eighth Cavalry regiment in North Korea.
When the Chinese Communists attacked and overran the regiment on November 1, 1950, Fr. Kapaun stayed on the battlefield, ministering to the dead and dying, caring for the wounded, baptizing, and hearing confessions. Fr. Kapaun was captured the next day. As a POW, he risked his own death by preventing executions of wounded Americans too injured to walk. He nursed the sick and dying. American soldiers claim the North Korean prison camp guards deliberately starved the priest in order to stop the religious service he conducted in defiance of camp rules. The 35-year-old priest died of pneumonia in a POW camp on May 23, 1951. In 2008, the cause for Fr. Kapaun’s canonization was formally opened.
The eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had ordered them. _Mt 28:16)
The setting for the Gospel passages this week is on a mountain.
Jesus has been up and down a few mountains in Matthew’s Gospel (Matthew likes mountains). There was the great Sermon on the Mount, then the mountainside where he fed the multitude, and the mountain where Jesus was transfigured.
But the mountain that I should keep in mind in order to appreciate this final scene in Matthew’s Gospel is the mountain where Satan took Jesus at the very beginning of his public ministry. Jesus could have had all the kingdoms of the world for what seemed to be a cheap price: One bow to Satan.
Of course, that was a scam.
Now, here at the end, on another mountain, all power and glory will be given to Jesus.
The price was high – it was crucifixion and death.
But it was worth it. A whole new age has begun and it is our age. This is the part of the Gospel that steps into our time. What Jesus is going to say to the 11 disciples in this Gospel is a message that is also addressed to me today.
Am I ready to listen.
May 24, 2020 – Ascension of the Lord
Academy of the Sacred Heart Madeleine Sophie Barat, found of the Society of the Sacred Heart (which operates the Academies of the Sacred Heart) was born December 12, 1779, in France.
During the French Revolution (1789-99), many Christian schools were closed. Education – particularly for young girls – was almost non-existent. Madeleine’s older brother, Louis, became her first teacher. At 16, she went with him to study in Paris, where she learned about plans for a new religious congregation specializing in education. In 1800, Madeleine and three others consecrated their lives to the Sacred Heart. They took over a small girls’ school in Amiens, France, and quickly expanded their ministry.
In 1805, Society of the Sacred Heart drafted a plan of studies to ensure high standards in all of their schools. Their goal was to educate the “whole person” – a relatively unique concept at the time. In 1806, Mother Barat was elected superior general of the Society of the Sacred Heart – a position she held for 63 years. Under her guidance, the society spread throughout France and Switzerland. In 1865, she was stricken with paralysis and died on May 24, the feast of the Ascension. She was canonized on this day in 1925; her feast is May 25.
Today more than 150 Academies of the Sacred Heart are in 41 countries worldwide.
St. Rose Philippine Duchesne stared the first Academy of the Sacred Heart in the United States. In 1818, Mother Barat sent her as a missionary to the Louisiana Territory. In Missouri, she established the first “free school” in a log cabin west of the Mississippi. She soon added six more schools, but the task was not easy for her. Her French teaching style was unfamiliar, and her English was terrible. She died in 1852, thinking her life was a failure.
Rose Philippine Duchesne was canonized July 3, 1988.
Witnesses to the Ascension Eleven apostles went to Galilee to the mountain to which Jesus had summoned them. Among the 11 were Matthew and John. Interestingly, neither Matthew nor John provide an account of a visible Ascension in the Gospels.
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared visibly to his disciples. It’s not as though Jesus settled in with them for days at a time. These were sporadic manifestations which the disciples were privileged to receive. His “home” was at the right hand of God, and it was from there that he appeared.
These appearances came to an end, as is dramatized by a visible ascension of Jesus rising to the sky and no longer returning to the disciples in this way. This is his last appearance when he takes leave of his followers in visible form. It’s this image that usually comes to mind when I hear that word “ascension.”
Theologian Karl Rahner called the Ascension the “feast of the future of creation” since, because of the ascension of Christ, we are “the most sublime of materialist.” We can no longer picture a future without matter. Flesh has been redeemed and glorified, which means that matter will last forever and be glorified forever. Thus. Rahner says, the Ascension is the beginning of the transformation of all creation.
The ascension of Jesus in his humanity is a sign of things to come for all of us and for all creation because Christ has brought part of this earth to God.
It is the beginning of what is to come, a cause for hope in a world that all too often is gloomy about its own future.