The Month of August 2018

My Friends,

Solemnity of the Assumption
The following is a homily by Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI on the Solemnity of the Assumption.  It provides for us a prayerful reflection on this beautiful feast.

“Dear Brothers and Sisters,

“On 1 November 1950, Venerable Pope Pius XII proclaimed as Dogma that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory”. This truth of faith was known by Tradition, was affirmed by the Fathers of the Church, and was a particularly important aspect in the veneration of the Mother of Christ. The Dogma appears as an act of praise and exaltation of the Holy Virgin. It also emerges from the Apostolic Constitution, where it affirms that the Dogma is proclaimed for “the honor of her Son... for the increase of the glory of that Mother, and for the joy and exultation of the entire Church”. What was already celebrated in the veneration and devotion of the People of God as the highest and most permanent glorification of Mary was thus expressed in the form of a dogma. And in the Gospel which we have just heard, Mary herself prophetically pronounces a few words that orientate us in this perspective. She says: ‘For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed’ It is a prophecy for the whole history of the Church. These words of the Magnificat, recorded by St Luke, indicate that praising the Blessed Virgin, Mother of God, intimately united to Christ her Son, regards the Church of all ages and of all places. The fact that the Evangelist noted these words presupposes that the glorification of Mary was already present in the time of St Luke and he considered it to be a duty and a commitment of the Christian community for all generations. This Solemnity is an invitation to praise God, and to look upon the greatness of Our Lady, for we know who God is in the faces of those who belong to him.

“But why is Mary glorified by her Assumption into Heaven? St Luke sees the roots of the exaltation and praise of Mary in Elizabeth’s words: ‘Blessed is she who believed’. And the Magnificat, this canticle to God, alive and active in history is a hymn of faith and love, which springs from the heart of the Virgin.

“But now let us ask ourselves: how does the Assumption of Mary help our journey? The first answer is: in the Assumption we see that in God there is room for man, God himself is the house with many rooms of which Jesus speaks; God is man’s home. And Mary, by uniting herself, united to God, does not distance herself from us. She does not go to an unknown galaxy, but whoever approaches God comes closer, for God is close to us all; and Mary, united to God, shares in the presence of God, is so close to us, to each one of us.

“There is also another aspect: in God not only is there room for man; in man there is room for God. This too we see in Mary, the Holy Ark who bears the presence of God. In us there is space for God and this presence of God in us, so important for bringing light to the world with all its sadness, with its problems. This presence is realized in the faith: in the faith we open the doors of our existence so that God may enter us, so that God can be the power that gives life and a path to our existence. In us there is room, let us open ourselves like Mary opened herself, saying: “Let your will be done, I am the servant of the Lord”. By opening ourselves to God, we lose nothing. On the contrary, our life becomes rich and great.

“And so, faith and hope and love are combined.

“One hope is certain: God expects us, waits for us, we do not go out into a void, we are expected. God is expecting us and on going to that other world we find the goodness of the Mother, we find our loved ones; we find eternal Love. God is waiting for us: this is our great joy and the greathope that is born from this Feast.

What is there to say then? A great heart, the presence of God in the world, room for God within us and room for us in God, hope, being expected: this is the symphony of this Feast, the instruction that meditating on this Solemnity gives us. Mary is the dawn and the splendor of the Church triumphant; she is the consolation and the hope of people still on the journey.

“Let us entrust ourselves to her Motherly intercession, that she may obtain that he strengthen our faith in eternal life; may she help us to live the best way the time that God has given us with hope. May it be a Christian hope, that is not only nostalgia for Heaven, but a living and active desire for God who is here in the world, a desire for God that makes us tireless pilgrims, nourishing in us the courage and the power of faith, which at the same time is the courage and the power of love.”

Still More Alive in Christ
Since January of this year I have written frequently in this bulletin “All That Matters” reflection about the Sunday Eucharist, and our gathering together to celebrate it, as the center and source and summit of parish life.  In order that we are “one body, one spirit, in Christ” not only in name but in fact, we initiate on August 4th and 5th a revised Mass Schedule.  The Saturday Vigil Mass of Sunday is now celebrated at 4:30 PM.  One Sunday Mass of Obligation is celebrated at 10:00 AM.

As of today, since December 31, 2017, our last "official census report" to the Archdiocese, indicates that we, now, number, canonically, 55 active households.

Since December 31, 2017, we have lost four households as they have moved out of State.  Additionally, in recent weeks, some households have honestly indicated to me that, because of diverse commitments, they will be able to join us only on a more limited basis.  And, then, in these sixteen years I have served you, most recently three households of our elders have struggled with the realization that their circumstances make it impossible for them to join us regularly, though they want to be counted still as members of our parish family.  I have assured them that they will be.

I have often spoken of a necessary "critical mass" of people to constitute a viable parish family, actively involved in parish life, not only attending Mass, but in the facets of parish life detailed by Archbishop Carlson in a pastoral letter to all parishes, with the "criteria" for a vibrant & vital parish.  We have considered these, in depth, in our parish pastoral council.

The hoped-for "third renaissance" in my 16 years here, of Plaza Square, now City View, has not materialized.  Neither did the first two, when a local company first bought the buildings, nor the second when an out of state “center city apartment developer” purchased them.

We have added, from the four City View Buildings, no more than ten parishioners since Mills Properties purchased and renovated the buildings.  Their occupancy rate is very credible.  Few of those residents, though, despite our outreach, are now members of St. John's.

As I have previously publicly mentioned, on May 29 and June 26, I had meetings with Archbishop Carlson about this.  We will meet again later to pursue this discussion.

My hope and my commitment is to assure that ours – here – is a future full of hope!

As a catalyst for that, in addition to the revised Schedule of Masses of Sunday Obligation, we will introduce, effective August 11th and 12th, two more time-tested and proven incentives for parish life that is vibrant and vital.

First, the Sacrament of Penance will now be available, in the north reconciliation room, at the northwest end of the church, on Saturdays from 3:30 until 4:00 before the 4:30 Mass.  Confessions will also be heard, then, on Sundays from 9:00 until 9:30 before the 10:00 Mass.

Secondly, the Eucharist will be exposed, on the Altar, in the monstrance every week during those two thirty-minute periods.  Hopefully this time for Eucharistic Adoration will provide moments of prayer – serene and tranquil – for any and all to appreciate yet more fully and with deeper gratitude and with “Eucharistic amazement” the meaning of the mystery of the Eucharist we celebrate in the Lord’s Sacrifice. And it will be a springboard then for us to “imitate what we celebrate” in our lives, daily.

God make us, then, to be more credibly “one body, one spirit, in Christ, in the Eucharist we share and by the lives we live, each individually and all together!

In Brief
Saturday, July 28th, Stephen Rehagen, former parishioner and his fiancée, Natalie Upchurch, celebrated their marriage here. God grant them grace abounding to live the truth that “love never counts, love alone counts”.

We share the joy of Mark & Laura Phillips, parishioners, as they anticipate, in December, the arrival of their first-born.  We also share the joyful anticipation of parishioners, Andrew & Abby Hartnett of their second-born in September and Adrienne & David Mazar of their second-born in February.

On August 15th, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, a Holy Day of Obligation, morning Mass here at St. John’s will be at 7:10 AM.

Monsignor Delaney