This weekend, we have a Mass and meal for the High School Graduates at Precious Blood. The tradition has gone on for years and is a way for us to honor our parishioners who are going to begin a new stage in their lives. Some will go to college; some may stay here in the area and begin work and maybe even a family. Others may learn a trade, while some may decide on a life in the armed services. Some may be discerning a vocation to Priesthood or Religious Life. To each of them, the future is ahead and filled with many different opportunities. I encourage each one to become the best version of yourself and that is an authentic one, the being who God created you to be. To the parents of the graduates, teachers, and all who helped educate and form these young people, I thank you from the depths of my heart and soul. The graduates this year are filled with talent and skill. They demonstrate good manners and etiquette. Several of them assist around the Altar in various ministries. We have encouraged them to get involved in their parish; we have empowered them to make a difference and they have! This year, it was an honor to work with our seniors. I was able to witness the great men and women our parishioners have become. As a Pastor, I am overjoyed at the solid foundation they have in their Catholic faith. What a joy it is for me to watch people grow in their nature, becoming the person God called them to become. Already this weekend the famous graduation parties begin. I will go to as many as time permits. We are so proud of each one of our graduates. Please join me and pray for them. Graduates keep striving; never, and I mean never, accept mediocrity. Bloom where (God) life plants you and make the most of the life given to you. Blessings and God love you.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Parish Families,
Mothers are special people. During this Month of May we honor Mary as our spiritual mother and the mother of Jesus our Savior. We are also called to honor our own mothers or those who were special to us in our lives. I am thankful for the many sacrifices made, lessons taught and acts of kindness my mother shared with me. If you cannot be with your Mom on this day, say a prayer for her.
We are often blessed by others in our lives: aunts, God mothers, grandmas and other women who demonstrate the tender care of motherly love. As we celebrate Mother’s Day let us pray for these women in our lives and those who have gone before us to heaven. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, let all Mother’s experience the joy and peace of God. Happy Mother’s Day!!
Yours in Christ,
This Sunday we will celebrate First Holy Communion. Can you recall Your First Holy Communion? Do you recall how special it was to join the rest of your family to receive Communion? I barely recall the Communion Rail and desiring to go with my family as they received Jesus.
When I did receive the Eucharist, I knew I was special. I recall getting dressed up and seeing so many family and friends. We took our picture in front of St. John’s Church. The events reminded this was special and I was as well. All these young boys and girls are special as well. I invite you to congratulate them on receiving their First Communion. It is through the Eucharist that they too are nourished and given grace through the Holy Spirit.
Certainly, it has taken years for me to develop and deepen my devotion and understanding of the Holy Eucharist. We believe, as Catholics, in the real presence of Christ. I have read books and listened to many theologians but life experience is what always makes a greater impact. I began receiving the Eucharist daily when I was 29. Quickly I understood what it gave me, life. As things became crazy at work and I began working 60 + hours, daily Mass left and it didn’t take long for me to understand what I was missing. I felt like spiritually I was trying to breathe without oxygen. To this day I am a daily communicant, yes even on vacations. My holy hour is something I need to claim and guide me each week. If you haven’t been to the adoration chapel, go visit it.
These young people will receive Jesus, literally, for the first time. Let us celebrate and lift them up in prayer as they experience this unique encounter with Jesus.
Yours in Christ,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In this week’s bulletin, I wanted to share with you some information about a celebration on the Sunday after Easter. The Second Sunday of Easter is observed as the Feast of Divine Mercy.
What is this Feast? Divine Mercy was revealed through Christ to St. Faustina. St. Faustina was a member of the convent of the congregation of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy in Krakow, Poland. Our Lord appeared to this nun bringing a wonderful message of mercy for all of mankind. Sister Faustina’s diary cites the different visions she received and their messages.
Jesus told St. Faustina that this Feast of Mercy would be a very special day when “all the divine floodgates through which graces flow are opened.” Christ made a great promise to all who would go to Confession and receive Holy Communion on the Feast of His Mercy, now called Divine Mercy Sunday (The Sunday after Easter.)
A plenary indulgence is granted under the usual conditions (sacramental confession, Eucharistic communion and prayer for the intentions of the Pope) to the faithful who, on Divine Mercy Sunday, in any Church or chapel, in a spirit that is completely detached from the affection of sin, even a venial sin, take part in the prayers and devotions held in honor of Divine Mercy. You are allowed to go to confession 20 days before or after Divine Mercy Sunday to receive this indulgence.
Divine Mercy Catholic Parish (Sacred Heart of Jesus Campus in Schnellville) will be offering confessions this Sunday at 2:00 p.m. with the service to begin at 3:00 p.m.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Gary E. Kaiser
Rejoice He is risen!!! Happy Easter. I would like to thank all who helped make the Liturgies of the Triduum so beautiful.
I appreciate those who volunteered to have their feet washed. It can be a humbling experience for both those having their feet washed and for the one washing them. This act of service demonstrates the Servant Leadership our Lord asked of his disciples.
The Good Friday Service was so moving. It is such a somber day and the service reminds how blessed we are to celebrate Mass. As you know, Good Friday is the one day throughout the world when Mass can’t be celebrated. Recalling the Passion of our Lord and voicing the responses of the people or touching to see and hear. They remind us of our Lord’s love for us.
Holy Saturday is always full of so many liturgical details. The Decorating committees did an excellent job. I am so grateful for the assistance of Deacon’s Jerry and Mike. The servers did an excellent job helping around the Altar. The lectors also were wonderful as they helped us receive the Word of God. The Fire was a beautiful sight and the Choirs did an excellent job at all Masses. The Ushers/Hospitality Ministers did a great job trying to find seats for all who joined us. Thanks to all those who helped in the preparations.
Easter does not end with Easter Sunday; so let us enjoy this festive season. Rejoice in our Lord’s Mercy on Divine Mercy Sunday. May this Easter Season be a happy and blessed one for all of us!!!
FOCUS: We remember the suffering of Christ and are called to accompany others in theirs.
Each year on Palm Sunday, we recount the story of Jesus’ passion. We hear about the events leading up to his arrest; the agony of his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane; the passing of his case back and forth between Pilate, Herod and the Sanhedrin. We imagine what it was like for the very Incarnation of God to be judged by human beings. Each year, we are invited to enter into this story, to remember it, to accompany Jesus during these trials.
It is not the pleasant escape that we might find when we watch a movie or read a book. Rather, with his eyes we see the crowd whom he loves, shouting for his very death. With him, we witness his closest friends abandon, deny or watch from a distance. We see the cruelty of rulers and soldiers who mock him, beat him and gamble for his garments. We are asked to remember the horrible death he endured, a public and agonizing death of being nailed to a cross.
It is an unpleasant business, the suffering of Jesus and of the world – for Jesus’ death and resurrection did not remove suffering from our lives or the lives of those we love. And it can be terrifying to experience suffering ourselves or to walk with someone who is in distress. And we have choices when we do. We can be like Peter who denies, or the soldier who jeers; we can be an acquaintance who watches, or Pilate who washes his hands of the matter.
Or we can be like Joseph of Arimathea, who refuses to participate in an unjust persecution, or like the women who do not run from the agony of Jesus’ death, but tended to his broken, lifeless body. Perhaps we will be like the centurion who praises God, even in the midst of darkness.
It is much easier, in the midst of affliction and suffering, to find a distraction: to turn on the television, to shop for the newest gadgets, to escape. Yet each year, Palm Sunday puts suffering squarely in our midst. Why? Because our suffering, and the suffering of the world, are bound to Christ’s. We are asked to enter into our Lord’s passion – to walk with him, to accompany him as he faces utmost cruelty, injustice, pain, abandonment, so that we may walk with others who suffer. We are asked to accompany them, to be for them what some of the more admirable people were for Jesus in his darkest hour.
So as we enter into Christ’s passion and partake of his victory found in the Eucharist, let us pray for the grace to see what is before us, to open our hearts to those who need us and to accompany those who suffer. Just as Christ did, and continues to do, for us.
Guilt is one of the most common of all human experiences, and often the heaviest burden to carry. Some will use it to come to terms with their life choices and bring about renewal and change. Others will deny its reality even though it may burn like a fire within them or they may project it onto others, avoiding responsibility and the need for change. Some will even use it to punish themselves and so add to their pain.
The biblical perspective on guilt is evident in today’s Gospel. Dragged before Jesus by the Pharisees and scribes, the woman is, by all appearances, guilty, and deserving of the punishment laid down by Moses that she be stoned. Other than the sin of which she is accused, we know nothing about her or her life’s circumstances. We do not know her name, her family or the identity of her partner in the act. Alone, humiliated and at risk, she stands before Jesus awaiting her fate. Yet we know that she is a sinner not just because of the adultery, but because like all humanity, she has fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).
When understood in strict legalistic terms, sin is usually seen as the breaking of rules and regulations – she was a sinner because she committed adultery. But for Jesus, sin is a bigger concept when understood in spiritual and relational terms – it is our alienation from God, from others and from ourselves. Its origins lie in our prideful and rebellious hearts, and so all humanity is sinful and in need of God’s forgiveness and healing.
What makes the passage even more provocative is that the scribes come to Jesus not out of concern for the law, but in the hope that they might put him to the test. Would he uphold the law or demonstrate compassion? Either way he would alienate someone.
To this day, we will never know what Jesus wrote in the dirt – was he laying for time or giving the scribes time to think again before he turned the tables on them? But his response to their demands has echoed through the centuries: let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her. Outflanked and silenced, they are without words and slowly – one by one – they slip away.
For most folks the story could have ended there, but Jesus goes one step further by offering her not just forgiveness but a new beginning. Instead of condemnation, he challenges her to turn her life around and sin no more.
What happened ultimately to this woman we will never know, and perhaps it’s just as well for the real focus here is on God’s mercy and forgiveness. In this encounter, Jesus opened the door for her to a new way of life, but the decision to walk through was hers alone. We see it over and over again – Jesus invites but does not coerce, he challenges but never infringes on our freedom. For love that is not freely given is not true love, and it is true perfect love that God wants us to experience and share.
Today’s readings remind us that we have a loving God
who supplies all our needs but also gives us free will. He
knows our weaknesses and is always ready to receive us
with forgiveness and mercy – when we turn to him with
trust, repentance and humility.
The first reading in particular is a reminder that God provides for us. For years while the Israelites were in the desert, God had provided manna, which miraculously
showed up in the desert so the people could keep up their
strength during their journey in the desert. But once they
arrived in the land that had been promised to them and had
access to the fruits of the land, God ceased the necessity of
providing the extraordinary gift of manna and allowed the
people of Israel to be nurtured through their free cooperation with nature and the natural order of crops.
Similarly, Jesus shows us how God – through the character of the father in the parable of the prodigal son – takes
care of us without forcing himself on us or preventing our
turning away from him. The father honors the unreasonable request of his younger son (who by Jewish law has no
claim on any inheritance) and divides his estate between
the two sons. He doesn’t prevent the younger son from
leaving home to live a life of sin in a foreign country, but
gives him the freedom to make mistakes. He doesn’t
chase after his son or send out detectives to find him and
bring him back – but lets the son use his free will to embark on the path he has chosen. Once the son realizes his
mistake and comes back home, however, the father meets
him more than halfway and welcomes him wholeheartedly, without judgment or reproach.
God works the same way with us. He provides for us, but
he does not force us into a relationship with him. By his
grace we are invited; by our will and his grace do we respond. During Lent, we are invited in a special way to
turn back to God in whatever way may be necessary – to
take the first step of reconciliation with God or with others. God waits for us patiently in the sacrament of reconciliation and is ready to absolve us and make us “new creations” as we confess our sins and ask for God’s forgiveness and strength. Let us pray and encourage one another to live out God’s call to us in Lent: to provide manna for one another and to turn back to God with all our
hearts, minds and souls
Bushes, trees and soil figure prominently in the Scriptures we
hear today. There is the burning bush that grows on holy
ground, and of course we hear Jesus’ puzzling parable of the
fig tree. Metaphors about growth and “plant” words are some
of our favorite ways of describing our lives. We know what
someone means when they say they are “putting down roots,”
or when we describe our children as “growing like weeds.”
Although we do not live in quite the same agrarian setting as
did Jesus, we still know what he means when the Scriptures
speak to us using expressions and images that are about trees
Think for a moment about our lives as Christians. Our lives
contain elements of the burning bush, the holy ground and
even the fig tree. Take first the captivating image of the burning bush in the first reading. Our lives should be like that burning bush – we are called to be on fire with God’s love. In other
words, we should be radiant with God’s love, a fire that burns
within us. That love – God’s love – should radiate out into the
world through each of us, bringing warmth and light. That fire
should be revealed in how we speak and act – a fire that does
not burn yet which brightens the world.
As we gather here today, let us remember that we are standing
on holy ground. In fact, wherever we stand is holy ground,
because it is ground that has been created by God. Deeper
still, by the ashes of Ash Wednesday, we were reminded that
we are made of that holy ground. We are made by holiness and
we are made for holiness.
Finally, there is Jesus’ parable about the fig tree. In the end, it
is not sufficient for the fig tree to simply be called a fig tree. It
must bear fruit. The same is true of our identity as Christians.
We, too, must bear fruit. Yet we also know that bearing the
fruit of Christian living requires patient tending. We must allow God and others to care for us. We must also exercise
Christ-like care for ourselves and for those around us. We, too,
need nourishment – fertilizer – to energize us, to help us to
grow, to fill us with life. God seeks to provide us with this
nourishment as we gather here at the table of the Eucharist.
As we gather here, God shares with us the food that will see us
through the cold and dark of our Lenten winter. Here God
tends to us, helps us to grow and change in new and holy ways.
Here we are nourished as we make our way to the springtime of Easter.
One of the chief characteristics of Jesus’ life is his commitment to prayer. At every key moment from baptism to death,
Jesus shows himself as a man of prayer. As disciples, we,
too, are called to be people of prayer, so this might be a
good moment for us to review our life of prayer.
Like all relationships, our relationship with God takes time
and effort – time to talk, share our lives and get to know him
in all his glory and life-changing power. And just as God
wants us to share our needs, he also asks that we stop and
listen to his word.
With all this in mind, we read today Luke’s account of the
transfiguration. At first glance, it might seem an odd selection for Lent: why not a Gospel on healing or mercy? But
this is no arbitrary choice; it is chosen to encourage and
strengthen us as we undertake our Lenten practices, and
to remind us that through them we hope to share in the
glory of God, glimpsed here in Christ on the mountaintop.
Lenten practices by themselves are meaningless if they do
not have this greater meaning; indeed the whole Lenten
season is without purpose if it does not ultimately lead to
the glory of Easter.
Luke’s account follows the other synoptic Gospels: Jesus
leads his disciples up the mountain to pray. Suddenly, they
are witnesses to something new as the glory of God shines
through his humanity, and the prophets Moses and Elijah
appear in conversation with him. These, too, were mountain
men who in times of struggle sought solace in the high
peaks. There they encountered God and were renewed and
strengthened in their mission.
Glimpsing Jesus’ glory, Peter begins to panic, and as so
often happens in the face of what is new and unsettling, he
falls back onto what is familiar and less threatening. His
suggestion for three tents shows how much he has yet to
learn about Jesus.
But from the cloud that covers the mountain comes the Father’s voice: This is my chosen Son, listen to him. Here is
the true purpose of this theophany, this “God-reveal”: Jesus
is more than just another prophet, he is God’s chosen Son.
Here are words that all must hear and accept if they are to
be transformed and changed.
In the darkness of our sometimes sinful world, we need to
hear these words again. We, too, must be willing to climb
the mountain and to experience the glory of God. We need
to hear again the words of the Father as Jesus is revealed
as the one who speaks on his behalf and is worthy of our
attention and obedience.
This Lent ought to signal a transfiguration in our hearts and
communities. For as Peter said, it is good that we are here,
it is indeed good that we are here today, for it is only when
we are present to the Lord that we can be open to his word
and to the glory he desires to share with us.