Friday, April 21, 2017

Divine Mercy

Dear Parishioners,

Before the 2nd Vatican Council in the 1960s, the bible readings at Mass were always the same. Each year on a particular Sunday, you heard the exact same readings from the previous year. After the Council, the Church decided the people should hear more and different readings. Therefore, a three year cycle began with the readings being repeated only once every three years. However, there were some exceptions, and the 2nd Sunday of Easter is one. While the first and second readings are different each year, the gospel is always the same. It is the story of doubting Thomas who serves as a role model when we have some questions about our faith (Jn 20:19-31). But it is preceded by Jesus giving the disciples the power and authority to forgive sins. It is the scriptural basis for our Lord instituting the sacrament of Penance, Confession, or Reconciliation. Also, the Responsorial Psalm is the same each year as it deals with the Lord’s love, mercy and compassion. It is a perfect complement to the Lord’s forgiveness in the sacrament of penance.

If you did not have the opportunity to go to confession before Easter, now is a good time to take advantage of the Lord’s love and mercy which endures for ever. The sacrament is available from 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. in the church. If you are not able to come then, please call the parish office, and I will be happy to make an appointment for you to experience Jesus’ compassion and mercy.

Fr. Carl

“Our Bishop has said that every morning we must offer as a
sacrif ice all we shall have to suffer during the day; and that if
God does not send any suffering, the merit of the sacri fice
well be there all the same.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 7: Celebrant’s Chair

During the Mass, the priest represents Our Lord Jesus, persona Christi, and thus the priest’s chair is distinguishable from the other seats in the church. The chair is not designed as the place for a king: it is not a royal throne, not palatial, but it is easily differentiated from other chairs in the sanctuary and recognized as the place for the one who leads the congregation. The chair is always placed so to be seen from the nave. “The chair of the priest celebrant must signify his office of presiding over the gathering and directing the prayer” (GIRM, No. 310).
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, April 14, 2017

Alleluia! Happy Easter!

Dear Parishioners,

Spring is that time of the year when new springs up abundantly. Flowers begin to bloom, trees start to produce leaves, grass comes back to life, and the cold air warms up. But most importantly, we celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter. It is the greatest Solemnity of the Church Year as we rejoice in our Lord’s victory over sin and death. It is the sign that we are no longer slaves to sin and the limitations of this world but destined to rise up with Jesus and share his glory at the end of our journey on earth. That is truly a reason to celebrate. Alleluia!

May you and your families truly have a Happy Easter.

Fr. Carl

“O my God, why have you sent me into the world?”
“To save your soul.”
“And why do you wish me to save my soul?”
“Because I love you.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

The Ambo at the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, MD.
Week 6: Ambo

During the Mass, the ambo is the focal point for the Liturgy of the Word. From this kind of tall, elevated desk, “only the readings, the responsorial psalm and Easter proclamation (Exsultet) are to be proclaimed; it may be used also for giving the homily and for announcing the intentions of the prayer of the faithful” (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, No. 309). The design and location of the altar and ambo emphasize the close relationship between the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist: from the holy altar we receive the body and blood of Christ, and from the ambo, Christ’s holy doctrine. In this regard the ambo, like the altar, is not just an object but sacred place.
Rev. Msgr. Carl Cummings speaks from the pulpit at St. Jane Frances

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal also explains: “The dignity of the word of God requires that the church have a place that is suitable for the proclamation of the word and toward which the attention of the whole congregation of the faithful naturally turns during the Liturgy of the Word.”

Once the persecution of Christians ended in the fourth century, churches were built and designed with an ambo or raised platform, making it easier for the congregation to hear. Around the ninth century, the pulpit replaced the ambo and was located either in the sanctuary or the nave.

  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Holy Week

Dear Parishioners,

Once again St. Jane Frances was blessed by the generosity of Atlantic Maintenance Group who spruced up the parish grounds and put mulch in the gardens and around the trees. Thank you Atlantic Maintenance Group for your support.

Today as we kick off Holy Week, we begin with Passion (Palm) Sunday. The Mass celebrates both the joyful entrance of Jesus into Jerusalem and his brutal passion on Good Friday (Matthew 26:14—27:66). How fickle life can be sometimes. Jesus goes from conquering hero to despised criminal in a very short time. The lesson we might learn is to put our faith and hope in God alone, for He alone will not disappoint us. He will always be there to comfort us in our sorrows and support us when fair weather friends desert us. He is the one constant who will never let us down. Thanks be to God.

- Fr. Carl

“You must accept your cross; if you bear it courageously it will carry you to Heaven.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars


The Sancutary Lamp in the upper church.

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 5: Sanctuary Lamp

In every Catholic Church, we find a readily visible lamp or candle burning before the tabernacle. This is the same light the Magi followed until they found the baby Jesus in a stable. This ever-present light still beckons to each of us. We all look for the flickering flame as soon as we enter the church. Our attitude and demeanor change as we recognize that we are in the house of the living God. The flame signifies his presence and a sign that our love for the Lord is eternal, never to be extinguished.

Called the sanctuary lamp, it was first used in the 13th century, and Canon Law 940 requires the lamp to burn continuously. This perpetual light is mentioned in Leviticus 6:6 in discussing the fire for burnt offerings: “Fire shall be kept burning upon the altar continuously; it shall not go out.”


  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, March 31, 2017

Cardinal William Keeler: May He Rest In Peace

Dear Parishioners,

This week, the church in Baltimore bid a fond farewell to our beloved Cardinal William Keeler. He led our archdiocese for the better part of two decades and was a prominent leader in the ecumenical movement. I first met him when I was a chaplain in the U. S. Navy. Home on leave for a week, I met him in his office where he was very gracious. I was particularly impressed at how good a listener he was. Although I know he was busy man, he gave me his full attention and seemed in no hurry for me to leave.

The second time, I remember, was after being named pastor to St. Agnes in Catonsville. He gave me three valuable pieces of advice: “Don’t make any major changes in your first year; get out and visit the shut-ins regularly; and let people see you praying in church.” I have tried to do that in both parishes I have been privileged to serve. I believe that advice has served me well.

It is poignant that the Cardinal’s funeral Mass take place this week, as we will hear on Sunday the gospel of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). While Cardinal Keeler’s body will not be raised from the dead [until Jesus returns on the last day], we have hope and confidence that his soul will be raised up to heaven, if not immediately, then in the very near future. May he rest in peace.

Fr. Carl

“Sometimes, temptations are useful in making us recapture our lost sense of the Presence of God by means of an act of love or aspiration.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars



“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 4: Tabernacle

Since there were no churches during those early centuries, Christians did not have a tabernacle. However, as we do today, they were careful to protect the Blessed Sacrament. There is some evidence that following their divine services, Christians took the consecrated bread home and consumed it during the week. By the fourth century, when construction of churches began, any reserved hosts were kept in various rooms in the church, including an area that became known as the sacristy. Theft, pilferage or worse was a serious threat, especially following the Protestant Reformation, when violence was carried out against the Catholic Church.

The design of the tabernacle slowly evolved, and by the 16th century tabernacles similar to those we have today were in use. Canon Law spells out the rules for the tabernacle location: “The tabernacle in which the Blessed Eucharist is reserved should be sited in a distinguished place in the church or oratory, a place which is conspicuous, suitability adorned and conducive to prayer” (No. 938.2). As authorized by Church law, and approved by the local bishop, some churches use a separate chapel to house the tabernacle. The tendency today is to keep the tabernacle in proximity to the altar.

The tabernacle in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located to the left of the altar.

The tabernacle in the lower church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal, located directly behind the altar.

  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, March 24, 2017

Seeing Clearly

Dear Parishioners,

Last Friday March 17th, the school held its annual St. Patrick’s Day Bazaar. It was a huge success with excellent food, games, music, and fellowship. All had a great time thanks to the hard work of all our volunteers. I was particularly impressed by one group who rarely receive any recognition—the clean-up crew. When I went into the hall Sunday afternoon, the hall was spotless, and the floors looked like they had just been polished. Thank you clean-up volunteers.

Today, the 4th Sunday of Lent is called Laetare Sunday. Laetare in Latin means “rejoice.” Just like Gaudete Sunday which in Latin also means rejoice, it means we are more than half-way to Easter when our Lenten pilgrimage will come to an end. This week’s gospel tells of Jesus’ healing of the man born blind (John 11:1-45). It’s an amazing miracle, but the greater miracle is the man’s seeing who Jesus really is—the Lord! Hopefully, our penances of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving have opened our hearts to more clearly see who Jesus is and enter into a stronger relationship with the Lord.

- Fr. Carl

“The way to destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and
by doing often those things which are opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 3: Altar

The altar is the centerpiece, the most important part of the church to which everything else is subservient. Every Catholic church is built for the altar. Altars have been part of religious services going back to antiquity, even before churches were built; the name altar is derived from a Hebrew word meaning “place of sacrifice.”


Well into the fourth century, there were no churches nor public worship. Christians held their divine services away from the occupying Romans in places like private homes. Often the altar was a simple wooden table or chest.


The top of the altar, called the mensa, a Latin word for table, traditionally has been made of stone. The altar is consecrated by a bishop and becomes the symbol of Christ: “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone” (Mt 21:42).


The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines the altar: “On the altar, which is the center of the church, the sacrifice of the cross is made present under sacramental signs. The altar is also the table of the Lord, to which the People of God are invited” (No. 1182). Here for us is Mount Calvary; here too, the bread and wine are turned into the body and blood of Christ.

* In the early Church, altars were built on the sites of martyrs’ graves. As more churches were built, relics were contained in or buried under altars, a practice that still occurs today.

The altar decorated at Christmas, St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, March 17, 2017

The Gift of Water

Dear Parishioners,

Here in Maryland, we rarely have a problem with water. Perhaps every so often in the summer, our water supply may get low because of a lack of rain. Then we may have to limit the days we can water our lawns and gardens. But in the Holy Land where Jesus lived, it was a different story. It rained infrequently in the dry countryside, and people had to find a well for their basic human and physical needs. That’s why the Samaritan women went to the well (John 4:5-42). There she met Jesus who offered her a different kind of water—the water of God’s grace. We first received that water at baptism, and we continue to receive more of it every time we receive a sacrament. Let us rejoice at this gift of spiritual water (grace) which alone can satisfy our deepest thirst for which we were created—God.

Fr. Carl

“He that has received the Sacrament of Confirmation is always ready to give his life for God… His only fear is the fear of committing sin…”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 2: Sanctuary

“They shall make a sanctuary for me, that I may dwell in their midst.” (Ex 25:8).

The sanctuary is the area, often raised, in the front of the church where the altar, the ambo, the celebrant’s chair, and, in many churches, the tabernacle are located. Separated from the nave, this is the place reminiscent of the Holy of the Holies, that is, the inner sanctuary of the temple described in the Old Testament. Interestingly, the altar and tabernacle were centuries apart in the introduction into the Church.

The General Instruction of the Roman Missal defines the sanctuary as “the place where the altar stands, where the word of God is proclaimed, and where the priest, the deacon and other ministers exercise their offices.” (No. 295)

The Sanctuary decorated at Christmas, St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***

Friday, March 10, 2017

Persevering

Dear Parishioners,

Last week we found ourselves early in Matthew’s gospel with Jesus in the desert fasting, praying and being tempted by Satan (Matthew 4:1-11). This week, much time has passed as we find Jesus in the middle of the gospel on a mountain (Matthew 17:1-9). There he is transfigured, and Peter, James and John see the glory of the Lord. This is meant to bolster the faith of the apostles during the passion and death of Jesus, give them hope and confidence to continue our Lord’s mission after the Ascension, and be a sign of our destiny if we live our faith. This we can do with the help of our Lenten practices—prayer, fasting and almsgiving, combined with our regular reception of the sacraments. May God give us the strength and grace to persevere.

Fr. Carl

“The way we destroy bad habits is by watchfulness and by doing often those things which are the opposites to one’s besetting sins.”
~ Thoughts of the Cure D’Ars

“INSIDE OUR SACRED SPACE”

Week 1: Nave

The part of a Catholic Church where the laity prays and worships is called the nave. The word “nave” comes from the Latin “navis,” meaning ship. We, the people of God, are regarded as passengers on a ship destined for heaven. The nave is not a meeting place but a place of worship; the congregation is not an audience but participants in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

In most churches today, the nave is filled with pews or chairs. That was not always the case. For over 1,000 years, churches did not have seats for the congregation; the faithful mostly stood or knelt during the Mass. Not only did they stand, but they were separated by gender. Men were normally on the right facing the altar and women were on the left. Not until the 13th century did pews or benches become popular; still today there are Catholic churches without seats, save a few designated for the old and the infirm. Parishes quickly discovered that pews are an expensive addition and the cost of installation was passed on to parishioners. Pew were purchased or rented by the laity and often regarded as the property of a particular person or family. This idea persisted for centuries. Today we may contribute to pew renovation or installation, but we don’t own a particular pew (although many of us seek to sit in the same spot at every Mass).

The nave looking toward the altar in the upper church at St. Jane Frances de Chantal (Riviera Beach, MD)
  
***This article “Inside Our Sacred Space” was originally published in the OSV Newsweekly, www. OSV.com, on January 8-14, 2017 and is used with permission of the author D.D. Emmons. ***