Old Updates from Easter Sunday through the end of April.
Thursday afternoon, April 30. Re-Consecration of USA to Mary: Bishop Paprocki will join Archbishop Jose Gomez (President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops) in re-consecrating the United States of America to the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose intercession will be sought in ending the pandemic, at 2:00 p.m. on May 1st. The act of prayer will be livestreamed on the Diocesan web site at www.dio.org/live, on the Diocesan Facebook page at www.facebook.com/diospringfield and on the Diocesan YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/diospringfield.
The United States is under the patronage of Our Lady, under the title Immaculate Conception. This was done at the request of the American bishops back in the 1846, some eight years before the dogma was infallibly defined. The Canadian bishops are re-dedicating their nation to St. Mary at the same time. For more, see the press release: http://www.usccb.org/news/2020/20-65.cfm
Stay tuned tomorrow for a note on St. Joseph the Worker (whose feast day is tomorrow) and the pope who instituted the feast. The principal feast day of St. Joseph is March 19. One of the windows at Cathedral shows St. Joseph with a carpenter's square on his shoulder returning home after work to Jesus and Mary.
Tuesday afternoon, April 28. Housekeeping note. I have heard that one person did not get the letter I sent about being assigned to a new parish come July. The address list was generated by the computer system. I reviewed it quickly for obvious mistakes and dead parishioners. After a couple days, if you still do not have the letter, please contact the office so that we can make sure it's not a problem with our records.
Tuesday, April 28. Ordination live-streams. The bishop, in light of the pestilence and other reasons, has re-arranged the priestly ordinations this year. The ordination of two Polish seminarians (Pawel Luczak and Piotr Kosk) will take place on May 2, without a congregation. The rest of the priests-elect (Dave Beagles, Michael Berndt, Peter Chineke, Michael Meinhart, Michael Trummer, and Dominic Vahling) and the deacon-elect (Christopher Trummer) will be ordained on June 19, though it has yet to be determined how much of a congregation may be present.
The ordinations will be live-streamed: The Ordination Masses on May 2 at 9:30 AM and on June 19 at 6:00 PM will be streamed live on the diocesan website at www.dio.org/live, our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/diospringfield, and our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/diospringfield.
Please pray for the ordinandi. If you have never been to an ordination, you can tune in. Please also pray for my illustrious predecessor, Fr. Peter J. Donohoe, pastor of Cathedral from 1977-1990. On May 27, he is set to celebrate the 70th anniversary of his ordination. That's right. Seventy. Fr. Carl Schmidt, of our diocese, will also celebrate his 70th anniversary this year. (The fifth anniversary of my own ordination is coming up on May 23.)
Monday, April 27. I subscribe to a few e-mail church newsletters. (I'm looking at a service that will allow us to do that here at Cathedral.) I read this morning a newsletter article from Canon Benjamin Coggeshall, I.C.R.S.S., Rector of the Oratory of St. Francis de Sales in south St. Louis. Canon Coggeshall notes that on-line and televised Masses and Rosaries are good second-best options when we can't physically be at Mass or other devotions, but they don't substitute for them, especially when we are able to go to Mass again or join other members of the Faithful at Benediction, a Rosary, or whatever other devotion. He points out that physical presence is necessary for conveying grace in the sacraments. (For instance, you cannot go to confession over the phone. The penitent and the confessor must be physically present to each other.) Jesus, too, ordinarily conferred the graces of forgiveness and healing when he was right there with the person receiving the grace.
When the current pestilence has subsided, let us not make the mistake of thinking that it is sufficient just to watch at televised Mass instead of coming to where Jesus is at--Holy Mass in a Catholic Church. Let us make the same resolution regarding Holy Mass and Holy Communion (in a state of grace!) as we are making with respect to all our relatives and friends: When all this is over, I'm going to make a point of visiting them, and I'm going to appreciate them more than ever after having been deprived of them for a time.
Saturday afternoon, April 25. Beloved, the Bishop has asked me to become the pastor of Our Lady of the Holy Spirit, Mt. Zion, and St. Isidore, Bethany, effective July 1. Fr. Jeff Holtman, currently the pastor of Holy Family, Granite City, will be the new pastor at Cathedral. I have sent a letter to each of you with the news. This is just to announce the news. I will also announce it at Sunday Mass tomorrow. God bless you all.
Saturday, April 25. Later this morning, I will begin moving some of the used-up Easter lilies to the back of church. Please take them home and plant them in your flower garden. They will come back up next year and bloom about July.
The next two weeks of Mass intentions. Week of April 26. Sunday - people of the parish. Monday - Kohanski and Maher families. Tuesday - Eva & Paul Fortschneider. Wednesday and Thursday - Robert & Jean Smith. Friday - for and end of the pestilence and healing of sick. Saturday - Lloyd and Anna Bennett.
Week of May 3. Sunday - people of the parish. Monday - Robert & Jean Smith. Tuesday - George and Spiv Woelfel. Wednesday - poor souls in purgatory. Thursday - Croxton, Terlisner, & Velloff families. Friday - Robert & Jean Smith. Saturday - Jim Stromske.
Note - Please do not put your own candles in the candle stand before the Infant of Prague.
Monday, April 20. Not much news today. Many people are availing themselves of the free rosaries in back of church, including several how-to-say-the-rosary starter kits. When I post this, I'm going to put out some more kits, including one with a rosary that glows in the dark. (Glow-in-the-dark stuff was so much fun when I was a kid.) At several approved apparitions the Blessed Virgin asked us to say the rosary. Let me remind you of the update on Wed., April 15, and the rosary crusade to Our Lady of the Rivers for turning aside the current pestilence. On the parish bookshelf, there are three copies of St. Louis de Montfort's book "The Secret of the Rosary." This short book is made of fifty bite-size chapters (one for each Hail Mary) about the rosary, its history, its power, together with illustrative stories. I highly recommend reading it and bringing it back soon for other people to read.
Sunday, April 19. Nearly every time when the gospel of "doubting Thomas" shows up in the Mass, I quote (but I did not today) Pope St. Gregory the Great's assessment: "He saw the man and confessed the God." I rather hate to be "revisionist," but St. Thomas, who, after all, went on to carry the Gospel as far as India, gets more than his share of "bad press." Pope Gregory meant to convey that Thomas recognized a man: Jesus of Nazareth. But he did not say, "Jesus, good to see you, my man!" He said, "My Lord and my God." To recognize him as God is something that he could not have have deduced by putting his fingers in the nail-prints and putting his hand into Jesus' side. To recognize Jesus as God and man both can only come from the Faith, the theological virtue of supernatural faith, which, you will recall, is always a gift of God. We can prepare our souls to receive it, but we cannot earn it.
Now, Jesus told Thomas, "Blessed are they that have not seen, and have believed." To be sure, this is a blessing for us, but the first recipient of this blessing, as St. Gregory points out, was St. Thomas himself: he did not see the Godhead, but he believed it. "He saw the man and confessed the God."
The lesson and subsequent life of St. Thomas ought to tell us something else on Divine Mercy Sunday. He shows up saying, if we may translate into American, "pics, or it didn't happen." He ends by preaching the Gospel to the ends of the earth and sealing his witness with his blood. What matters for us, then, is that we end well, which is to say, that we end our life in a state of grace. To be sure, if we live our lives with a studied intention to repent "tomorrow," or "next year," that is hardly distinguishable from a present intention to end badly--in a state of mortal sin and damnation. But as long as we live, we ought never to despair of receiving pardon from God, provided only that we desire to be reconciled to God and to do our part to remove the obstacles on our end to that reconciliation: "to confess my sins, to do penance, and to amend my life."
Regarding the conversion of sinners, the chaplet of divine mercy is an excellent prayer to obtain that end. We must, however, beware of falling into the trap of despairing of God's mercy for them. God left St. Monica to pray for years before her erring son Augustine got on the road to becoming St. Augustine. We must be content to let God unfold his merciful plans on his own timetable. This is hard, but it is the way of hope, another theological virtue.
Thursday, April 16. Mass intentions. While the office has been closed, I have said the Masses for the intentions which had been placed on specific dates on the calendar. I have said the rest of the Masses for intentions that I have had. For instance, it is customary for each priest in the diocese to say three Masses for one of his brethren when he dies. I am now "caught up" on those Masses. Starting this week, I will continue saying the Masses which have already been scheduled for a specific day, and I will begin saying the unscheduled Masses which have been sitting on our book the longest time. Here are this week's intentions and next week's:
Easter week (4/12-18) Sunday - people of the parish; Monday - Fr. Evan Harkins; Tues. - Fr. Daniel Banner; Wed. - in reparation for the sins of bishops and priests; Thurs. & Fri. - poor souls in purgatory; Sat. - Robert Logan
Week of 4/19 Sunday - people of the parish; Mon. & Tues. - poor souls in purgatory; Wed. & Thurs. Robert & Jean Smith; Fri. - for an end to the pestilence; Sat. - George & Spiv. Woelfel
Regarding Masses scheduled on Sunday. A pastor is required by church law to offer Mass "for the people of the parish" on all Sundays and holy days of obligation, and offering Mass twice in a day requires some sort of pastoral reason. Therefore, none of the Masses which people have requested for Sunday morning have been said since the suspension of public Masses in the diocese. I have asked GiGi to contact the people who have scheduled those Masses to reschedule them.
If you have scheduled a Mass on a specific future date and want to reschedule it for a day when you can be present, please notify me before I say the Mass, either by leaving a message on my voicemail or by sending an email to jpstone "at" dio "dot" org. I do not want to reschedule it myself, for fear of messing up GiGi's system, but I will let her know to call you to reschedule.
Wednesday, April 15. Fr. Jeremy Paulin at St. Mary's is spearheading a rosary crusade to Our Lady of the Rivers (whose shrine is across the river at Portage des Sioux). Please say a rosary daily for the end of the coronavirus pestilence. The riverbend parishes will be making a pilgrimage of thanksgiving afterwards. For more information, please visit the following link: https://stmarysalton.com/our-lady-of-the-rivers You may find there a beautiful prayer composed by Fr. Jeremy as well as information regarding the origins of the shrine, which was built after Our Lady spared the town of Portage des Sioux from the flood of 1951.
I am happy to see that people are borrowing books from the parish library in the bell tower. That's why they are there. I personally keep the library curated so that you may trust any of the books that appear there, and I add new books from time to time. Please feel free to borrow them and return them for other parishioners to read. You will also find some prayer books there that are suitable for use when you come to make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. On the lower shelves, you will find books suitable for children.
In the back of church, you will find a couple tables with free things: one with pictures of Jesus as the Divine Mercy and holy cards with instructions for praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet and another table with some free rosaries, including packages for beginners to learn how to say the rosary.
Tuesday, April 14. Easter Tuesday. It smells like Easter in church. Terri Lyons has done her usual excellent job at decorating the church. If you can't make it in to see (and smell) for yourself, I have put pictures up on the website. Click here to get to the photo gallery.
Sunday, April 12. Easter Sunday. Happy Easter! After having the "Alleluia" taken away from us for all of Lent, the Church is making up for lost time in her liturgy. Throughout the Easter season and especially during the octave, the liturgy seems to be "on the lookout" for places to put an Alleluia (and sometimes, two or three).
I'd like to look at the Offertory chant for today: "Terra tremuit, et quievit, dum resurgeret in judicio Deus, alleluia." I believe it is from Psalm 75, but with the alleluia added on, we get, "The earth trembled and was still, what time God arose in judgment, HALLELUJAH!" Christ in rising from the dead passes judgment on death and hell. The word "Alleluia" is set to a long series of notes, which rumble, repeat, and undulate like the earthquake St. Matthew mentions at the resurrection, before settling gently to rest in an ending typical of the 4th mode, the most mysterious and otherworldly of all the different scales that Gregorian chant has at its disposal.
My point? There is more to Easter than chocolate bunnies. (Don't get me wrong. I ate a chocolate bunny today. Bit his ears off first.) There is even more to Easter than the paintings of the Risen Christ waving the obligatory white pennant and red cross that says, "I have risen, as I said!" and in another context says, "St. George for merry England!" Easter is the victory over sin and death, a mystery of divine power and divine love. It is a mystery that will keep us spellbound throughout eternity and one which fits mysteriously well into one of the most exquisite minutes in all of Gregorian chant. Alleluia!