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Daily Tweet Archive

MONDAY OF THE SEVENTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 25, 2020 _MEMORIAL DAY

 

Today we begin again our Catholic tradition of daily Mass.

We do so still in the midst of the pandemic, which has altered our lifestyle.

Temporarily our Weekly Mass schedule has had to change to accommodate the needs of our parishioners under these severe circumstances so they all can participate in Mass at least once a week.

Our bishops in Ohio have extended the days of Mass obligation to all seven days of the week.

There will not be enough pew space for everyone to go to Mass on Sundays, so we asked out of charity for others to schedule keeping your duty of weekly worship of God to one of the other days.

This Mass schedule is designed to do this.

With all the precautions necessary at this time we can seat only 50-60 persons in church at a time.

 

So until further notice our weekly Mass Schedule is beginning Monday, May 25th:

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

Thank you for your understanding and cooperation.

 

 

Memorial Day Prayer for our Faithful Departed:

 

O God, glory of the faithful and life of the just,

by the Death and Resurrection of whose Son

we have been redeemed,

look mercifully on your departed servants,

that, just as they professed the mystery of our resurrection,

so they may merit to receive the joys of eternal happiness.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,

who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, for ever and ever.

Amen.

Ascension Sunday — May 24, 2020

Mass as Saint Gabriel to resume on Monday, Memorial Day, May 25th
Sorry not Sunday, 24th

Mass Schedule change beginning Monday, May 25th

The change is necessary because we must provide a safe and healthy environment for Mass participants as we work our way back to our regular schedule. To do so we have to practice “distancing” and a simplified Mass service. We, as all other churches of the Archdiocese, have had to rope off about half of our pews. This greatly reduces the number of persons attending Mass. You are already aware of the limited number of shoppers in a store at a given time. Since most churches could not accommodate all of the usual number of Sunday attendees our bishops have extended the obligation of worshipping God through Mass to all seven days of the week. That is the reason for the drastic new Mass schedule below.

 

Here are our temporary Mass times beginning Monday – May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

Please find a time other than Sunday to fulfill your obligation of worship. This may mean a major change in your routine but find comfort in the fact that you are doing it out of love and concern for others

 

All this information has been and still is on our official website and was sent to you by regular mail (which I am told has not reached everyone). You will find the Resumption of Mass Letter on our official website www.gabrielglendale.org. The Letter is linked on the Archives at the bottom of the Blog Page (bottom of the homepage across from the daily scriptures).

 

Please share this information with family and friends.

__________________________________________________________________

SAMPLE OF HOME PRAYER FOR THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION OF THE LORD

 

INTRODUCTION

[Before entering into the sample Sunday prayers, you may wish to familiarize yourself with the scripture commentary which is provided on this homepage just beneath this opening Tweet.
Today’s homily is a quasi homily because the ideal homily takes much of its meaning from its actual setting in a “live” liturgy in which the Holy Spirit is at work uniting the body of Christ. This communion together is part of the reality of a homily within the action of the liturgy itself. It is offered here to bind together your small group of prayer on this Lord’s Day. The scripture commentary is meant to give some background to what God is saying and doing at this particular time.]

 

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you.

 

PENTENTIAL RITE to let the Lord prepare our hearts for pure worship

 

Lord Jesus, You are our King, victorious over sin and death — Have mercy
Lord Jesus, You are the King of glory at the right hand of the Father— Have mercy
Lord Jesus, You pray to the Father on our behalf, because we are members of your body — Have mercy

 

Let us pray:
Lord God, in your almighty power and love, we beg of you to give us the gift of a sacred joy in giving you thanks as a sign of our religious devotion to you. This day in raising your Son to your right hand in glory as Head of his body, the Church, you afford us the undying hope that whiter the Head has gone, we, his body, will follow.

 

Listen to the sacred scriptures:
[Go to the Today’s Readings section below on this webpage.]

A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S READINGS

Acts 1:1-11
While the Apostles looked on, Jesus ascended his throne.

This version of the Ascension of the Lord comes from Luke. The writers all recounted the event each from their own perspective. Luke emphasizes the mission of the Church which came from Christ. He also mentions the pathway of the spread of the Gospel: Judea, Samaria, to the ends of the earth. This is an outline of what Luke has written in the Acts of the Apostles. He ends up with Rome as the crossroads of the whole world. He does so to show that it is God’s plan.

Psalm 47:2-3, 6-7, 8-9
The Lord God ascended his throne as King.

This psalm reflects the tradition of the Israelites in crowing their king. There is music and singing, the sound of the shofar, the new king walks up (ascends) to his throne chair, the people surround him and acclaim him with shouts of joy. It is a great celebration. Notice that there is singing which is their way of “acclaiming” their king. We do this at Mass we generally “sing” our acclamations, e.g. Holy, Holy, Holy. An acclamation is done in the presence of the king. Our acclamations at Mass are a statement of faith that our King is present and we celebrate with him there.

Ephesians 1:17-23
God made his Son sit at his right as coregent
The wonderful Letter to the Ephesians is a marvelous summation of the Mystery of Christ. What makes it wonderful for us, especially on this Feast of the Ascension, is that it teaches us that in in the Father’s raising his Son made man to heavenly glory our God is making us heirs to his kingdom. That is our heritage. So we have a stake in it. With Jesus now at the right hand of the Father we will always have an advocate with the highest person — there is no one higher to whom we can go. This fact of faith gives us the lasting hope that we shall have all that we will ever need.

Matthew 28:16-20
All power has been given me both in heaven and on earth

If you listen carefully you will wonder why or how come Matthew does not mention heaven here. He, too, has his version of the Ascension. What he does mention is the mountain, which has been associated with Jesus at prayer in the scriptures. Of course, the mountain always reminds us of Moses on the mountain of Sinai which in turn connects us with the Covenant. So Matthew’s account joins this event to the Covenant which finds it completion in the Paschal Mystery. So the Ascension of the Christ is the final phase of God’s plan for us. We have reached the conclusion and fullness of what God has in store for us. The Ascension is very important for our eternal happiness to be in communion with Father, Son and Spirit.

Silent Reflection and/or share comments.

Homily Written for the Web —May it enhance your prayer and worship of God this day.

TOWARD A HOMILY ON THE FEAST OF THE ASCENSION

We have spent a lifetime, my brothers and sisters, coming to understand the faith of our ancestors land how they expressed that faith in the scriptures and in prayers at Mass and by the way they lived. Such is our faith. It has been handed on to us.

We have made remarkable progress in our communion with God in this way in our day in our awareness of God’s great love for us. We give special thanks to God for such a gift. We live in good times.

Today we give thanks to God and praise him for moving the Feast of Ascension from Thursday to Sunday. In doing so he has made us take a closer look at what the Ascension of Christ really means, As children we took the surface meaning of Jesus rising from the earth – much as if he got on an elevator and was taken above the clouds. We have become suspicious that there is something behind the reality of the Ascension of the Lord which has affected our whole faith life.

The Ascension of the Lord we can say is the summation of the Easter joy. It gives us the whole purpose of Jesus dying and rising. The other expression of this Mystery is that Jesus, risen in glory, is seated on the throne at the right hand of the Father. What’s that all about? Well throne tells us that God is King and that Jesus is equal to the Father and enjoys kingship over God’s people. It is further described as Christ is the Head and we are his body in our more recent term of Mystical Body. This immediately leads us to the way we pray, especially in the liturgy. The Body of Christ together with Head and members celebrate in the liturgy. Christ, being at the right hand of the Father and being priest at our Mass, presents to the Father our worship. This is the meaning of our prayers as say through Jesus Christ our Lord or in Jesus’ name we pray.

If there were not an Ascension of the Lord, we would be praying on our own and much less effectively. This is why God gathers us as he does at the altar of Christ to worship

Blessed be God! Blessed be his Easter people!

 

CREED: I believe in God the Father almighty…

 

We conclude with this prayer together:

Let us pray
for all those preparing themselves when they can go to Mass again.
for the Church of Cincinnati that the Lord make these days of greater holiness for us
for those who have died in recent weeks, that Jesus the Truth bring to fulfillment their hope,
for our government officials in Washington that they be honest servants of he people
for those hospitalized or confined to home due to illness
for those returning to work
for those out of work be given some hope of reemployment
for family and friends that these days be spiritually rich for them all

In Jesus’ name we pray for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

 

Covenant Renewal Prayer
aka Prayer of those unable to participate in Mass in person

 Through your gift of Covenant love, O Lord, you have opened our hearts to welcome your Son to dwell within us by being baptized into his Church community and enlivened and strengthen by his Holy Spirit as to what you have made us so that we can better answer your call to gather for the Eucharist. Unable to join the body of Christ at this time to celebrate the redemption of your people, we beseech your merciful love to enlarge our hearts so to welcome your presence all the more and that of your Son and the Holy Spirit so that we may give you thanks always and everywhere as befits your name. Open our ears, O Lord, to your word, both spoken and lived. Through your Holy Spirit make our daily lives more in the image of your Son who is the perfect example of your eternal Covenant so that we may soon join his body, the Church, to burst forth in praise of you at the Table of the Lord, sharing his Body and Blood, and to advance with all your faithful people toward your kingdom of heaven, bound together with you and your holy ones in your one family. Make firm that unity of your Church in answer to your Son’s prayer that we be one so that the world come to know your presence here and know that you are always with us. Through Christ our risen Lord. Amen.

 [See this and the explanation of it on the Blog Archives under the name New Prayer of Saint Alphonsus]

 In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 

Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter — May 23, 2020

 

Mass as Saint Gabriel to resume on Monday, Memorial Day, May 25th
Sorry not Sunday, 24th

Mass Schedule change beginning Monday, May 25th

 

The change is necessary because we must provide a safe and healthy environment for Mass participants as we work our way back to our regular schedule. To do so we have to practice “distancing” and a simplified Mass service. We, as all other churches of the Archdiocese, have had to rope off about half of our pews. This greatly reduces the number of persons attending Mass. You are already aware of the limited number of shoppers in a store at a given time. Since most churches could not accommodate all of the usual number of Sunday attendees our bishops have extended the obligation of worshipping God through Mass to all seven days of the week. That is the reason for the drastic new Mass schedule below.

 

Here are our temporary Mass times beginning Monday – May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

Please find a time other than Sunday to fulfill your obligation of worship. This may mean a major change in your routine but find comfort in the fact that you are doing it out of love and concern for others

 

All this information has been and still is on our official website and was sent to you by regular mail (which I am told has not reached everyone). You will find the Resumption of Mass Letter on our official website www.gabrielglendale.org. The Letter is linked on the Archives at the bottom of the Blog Page (bottom of the homepage across from the daily scriptures).

 

Please share this information with family and friends.

 

The Big Questions [continued]

 

So here are some initial faith questions that face us as we return to Mass. Attached are a few comments to help us to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.

First Big Question:

How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God, how we pray?

Some comments: It is to God’s credit and the gift of faith he has given us that the Lord’s Day means so much to us. Our habit of Sunday Mass is so ingrained in us that we have felt an emptiness when it was not opened to us.

So how did it affect our work? Did we observe work days different from worship days? Did we distinguish servile work from time spent for God?

So how did it affect our routine around the house? Were there special meals to honor God? Did we still come together as a family and spend time together?

So how was our preparation Mass different? Did we put more time into reading and meditating on the scriptures? Were religious subjects more a part of family conversations?

So how did we live out in our daily lives what we usually “took home” from Mass?

So how was our personal prayer changed? Or was it? Did we change our routine and explore other ways of conversation with God?

 

Second Big Question:

How will our return to “live worship in person” make us and our worship more pleasing to God?

Some comments: Virtual worship through digital means has in many cases kept us in contact with the Church’s worship during two months of quarantine. But the Last Supper was not virtual worship of the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. Being in the presence of Jesus and hence in the presence of the Father in a personal encounter cannot be replaced by electronic means, even a video recording or presentation. This is what we have missed, even though we might not be able to explain it fully. One way of saying it might be that we are not virtual persons and the God we worship is not a virtual God. It has to be us, flesh and blood, who open our hearts in a loving and close way to the God who opens his heart to us in the Eucharistic mysteries. In this type of encounter we come away changed persons interiorly and God is glorified by the deepening of his presence within us. We show this through the liturgical actions of eating and drinking the Lord Jesus in his word and in his sacrament. Liturgy is “live” and we are part of the action, not in a virtual way but actual way in the midst of the Church gathered together. That is the “real” presence to Christ and to one another.

 

Third Big Question

 Are we more or less holy than before? Is the Church and our Parish more in the image of Christ now? Can we detect an increase in our faith life for which we offer thanks to God?

 Some comments: We easily get in trouble when we try to “measure” progress in our life in Christ. We are not going to give ourselves a report card. Rather can we point to something in our lives which indicates that our faith and love of God has matured more? In other words, do we understand any of the scriptures more deeply, e.g. in the daily readings assigned to Mass? Did the “light” of the Holy Spirit so touch us that we said: Ah, I never knew that before! e.g. Jesus said I am going to the Father and  we replied What a wonderful way to speak of death. Did I find myself spending more time reflecting of whom Christ has made me in life? Am I amazed how much more others are dedicated to God in prayer throughout this quarantine time? How widespread are God’s gifts of grace? How much I have been blessed to be Catholic? What a treasure is the Eucharist? Did you resolve to enter in to the action of the Mass more the next time I get to go to church? Can I say that these last couple of months have been a gift of grace?

 

Fourth Big Question:

 Have I come to realize the beauty and wisdom of God’s plan of saving us by making us “Church” to be united with other human beings in so many ways?

 Some comments: The pandemic has certainly highlighted in our lives our interpersonal dependence on others, not only in family, but in the whole of society, including our Church family as God gathers us for the Eucharist. The reality of the Mass is the unity of Christ and his people. The Lord joins us together through his gift of the promised Spirit – as we have shown earlier. God very clearly reveals that we are interdependent and need one another because not one of us is and has everything. This leads us to realize that we need God, humans alone cannot fill our all our needs. He alone can give us total fulfillment. So out of this fact he has made us Church people. Those who try to live without God are deceiving themselves. This realization is not limited to Christians or Jews. It has been in other civilizations from centuries ago. For instance, Saint Paul encountered the Greeks in Athens as having shrines to gods – even to the unknown god. They were worried that they would miss some divinity and thus suffer in this world. The ancient Romans produced a poet Horace who glorified all Romans by saying that they had a great civilization because they reverenced the gods. By this he pointed out that the Romans had a sense that there was someone over them to which they must answer. Just in themselves they were not complete. So we are blessed at being “Church” and we are being blessed to be reminded of that gift. We hope that as time goes on and our return to the Eucharist will deepen our appreciation of being part of God’s Church and sharing in the great blessing of coming together for worship in Christ’s name.

 

Fifth Big Question:

 This is a once in a lifetime experience (like World War II), so what spiritual heritage have I gained during these last couple of months which I will hand on to my children, grandchildren, family and friends, and anyone will listen to me?

 

Some comments: Each of us has had his/her own personal experiences during the pandemic — good or bad.  Here is a sample.

Sherman and Susan, I want you to know and remember what happened to me in 2020 when the coronavirus immediately change everyone’s life. It came by surprise. And we had to work our way through it. Many people got sick — some only mildly others fatally. We were all scared. That part of our life that was disrupted and affected the most was our prayer life. Those government officials in charge mandated a stay at home policy. It changed the way we worked and caused many to work at home using the internet. Schools did the same thing. What pained us the most was not being able to go to church. We had to rely on our religious prayer and customs at home that we could remember. Our family, all five of us, would gather once a day for scripture and prayer. On Sundays, and even on weekdays, we would view a Mass presented on our television or computer Internet. It was not the same as being there and receiving Communion. It was up to us to be creative and follow our own routine for conversation with God. Some did and some didn’t. Some were tempted to give up on religion. I found just the opposite. It was better than many times in my life, perhaps even the best. I found myself trying harder to listen to God and to speak to him. I definitely came out of it a changed person. Now when I participate in the Eucharist I get more out of it, my going to Communion means more to me, I am much more aware of what it means to be Church and how God has blessed us in making and saving us that way.

Sherman and Susan, I hope you appreciate what you have got. God willing, you will be blessed by God some way or another. Do not forget what happened to me. I know God loves me. He always has but the pandemic time was rich in grace. Thanks be to God!

 

FRIDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 22, 2020

 

Mass as Saint Gabriel to resume on Monday, Memorial Day, May 25th
Sorry not Sunday, 24th

Mass Schedule change beginning Monday, May 25th

 

The change is necessary because we must provide a safe and healthy environment for Mass participants as we work our way back to our regular schedule. To do so we have to practice “distancing” and a simplified Mass service. We, as all other churches of the Archdiocese, have had to rope off about half of our pews. This greatly reduces the number of persons attending Mass. You are already aware of the limited number of shoppers in a store at a given time. Since most churches could not accommodate all of the usual number of Sunday attendees our bishops have extended the obligation of worshipping God through Mass to all seven days of the week. That is the reason for the drastic new Mass schedule below.

 

Here are our temporary Mass times beginning Monday – May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

Please find a time other than Sunday to fulfill your obligation of worship. This may mean a major change in your routine but find comfort in the fact that you are doing it out of love and concern for others

 

All this information has been and still is on our official website and was sent to you by regular mail (which I am told has not reached everyone). You will find the Resumption of Mass Letter on our official website www.gabrielglendale.org. The Letter is linked on the Archives at the bottom of the Blog Page (bottom of the homepage across from the daily scriptures).

 

Please share this information with family and friends.

 

Now for something completely new (at least in part)

 

So here are some initial faith questions that face us as we return to Mass. Attached are a few comments to help us to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.

First Big Question:

How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God, how we pray?

Some comments: It is to God’s credit and the gift of faith he has given us that the Lord’s Day means so much to us. Our habit of Sunday Mass is so ingrained in us that we have felt an emptiness when it was not opened to us.

So how did it affect our work? Did we observe work days different from worship days? Did we distinguish servile work from time spent for God?

So how did it affect our routine around the house? Were there special meals to honor God? Did we still come together as a family and spend time together?

So how was our preparation Mass different? Did we put more time into reading and meditating on the scriptures? Were religious subjects more a part of family conversations?

So how did we live out in our daily lives what we usually “took home” from Mass?

So how was our personal prayer changed? Or was it? Did we change our routine and explore other ways of conversation with God?

 

Second Big Question:

How will our return to “live worship in person” make us and our worship more pleasing to God?

Some comments: Virtual worship through digital means has in many cases kept us in contact with the Church’s worship during two months of quarantine. But the Last Supper was not virtual worship of the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. Being in the presence of Jesus and hence in the presence of the Father in a personal encounter cannot be replaced by electronic means, even a video recording or presentation. This is what we have missed, even though we might not be able to explain it fully. One way of saying it might be that we are not virtual persons and the God we worship is not a virtual God. It has to be us, flesh and blood, who open our hearts in a loving and close way to the God who opens his heart to us in the Eucharistic mysteries. In this type of encounter we come away changed persons interiorly and God is glorified by the deepening of his presence within us. We show this through the liturgical actions of eating and drinking the Lord Jesus in his word and in his sacrament. Liturgy is “live” and we are part of the action, not in a virtual way but actual way in the midst of the Church gathered together. That is the “real” presence to Christ and to one another.

 

Third Big Question

 Are we more or less holy than before? Is the Church and our Parish more in the image of Christ now? Can we detect an increase in our faith life for which we offer thanks to God?

 Some comments: We easily get in trouble when we try to “measure” progress in our life in Christ. We are not going to give ourselves a report card. Rather can we point to something in our lives which indicates that our faith and love of God has matured more? In other words, do we understand any of the scriptures more deeply, e.g. in the daily readings assigned to Mass? Did the “light” of the Holy Spirit so touch us that we said: Ah, I never knew that before! e.g. Jesus said I am going to the Father and  we replied What a wonderful way to speak of death. Did I find myself spending more time reflecting of whom Christ has made me in life? Am I amazed how much more others are dedicated to God in prayer throughout this quarantine time? How widespread are God’s gifts of grace? How much I have been blessed to be Catholic? What a treasure is the Eucharist? Did you resolve to enter in to the action of the Mass more the next time I get to go to church? Can I say that these last couple of months have been a gift of grace?

 

Fourth Big Question:

 Have I come to realize the beauty and wisdom of God’s plan of saving us by making us “Church” to be united with other human beings in so many ways?

 Some comments: The pandemic has certainly highlighted in our lives our interpersonal dependence on others, not only in family, but in the whole of society, including our Church family as God gathers us for the Eucharist. The reality of the Mass is the unity of Christ and his people. The Lord joins us together through his gift of the promised Spirit – as we have shown earlier. God very clearly reveals that we are interdependent and need one another because not one of us is and has everything. This leads us to realize that we need God, humans alone cannot fill our all our needs. He alone can give us total fulfillment. So out of this fact he has made us Church people. Those who try to live without God are deceiving themselves. This realization is not limited to Christians or Jews. It has been in other civilizations from centuries ago. For instance, Saint Paul encountered the Greeks in Athens as having shrines to gods – even to the unknown god. They were worried that they would miss some divinity and thus suffer in this world. The ancient Romans produced a poet Horace who glorified all Romans by saying that they had a great civilization because they reverenced the gods. By this he pointed out that the Romans had a sense that there was someone over them to which they must answer. Just in themselves they were not complete. So we are blessed at being “Church” and we are being blessed to be reminded of that gift. We hope that as time goes on and our return to the Eucharist will deepen our appreciation of being part of God’s Church and sharing in the great blessing of coming together for worship in Christ’s name.

 

As the Athenians told Paul: We will have to talk about this next time

THURSDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 21, 2020

(The Feast of the Ascension has been transferred to the coming Sunday)

 

Here are our temporary Mass times at Saint Gabriel’s
                                     beginning Monday – May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening & 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

 On our “Blog Page” under Archives you can find a link to the entire letter being sent to our parishioners and friends regarding the temporary change in our Mass schedule to accommodate our return to regular celebration of the Eucharist due to the limitations the pandemic has imposed on us. It is a drastic change for a while but forces us to ask some deep questions not only about our worship but the rhythm of our lives which is centered in the Eucharist of Christ, primarily our Sunday Mass. Please plan what day of the week you and your family will participate in Mass. With the social distancing required, seating is limited (about 50+). Everyone cannot attend at the same time as usual on Sunday. Please respect these regulations for health sake — yours and the others.

 

So here are some initial faith questions that face us as we return to Mass. Attached are a few comments to help us to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.

First Big Question:

How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God, how we pray?

Some comments: It is to God’s credit and the gift of faith he has given us that the Lord’s Day means so much to us. Our habit of Sunday Mass is so ingrained in us that we have felt an emptiness when it was not opened to us.

So how did it affect our work? Did we observe work days different from worship days? Did we distinguish servile work from time spent for God?

So how did it affect our routine around the house? Were there special meals to honor God? Did we still come together as a family and spend time together?

So how was our preparation Mass different? Did we put more time into reading and meditating on the scriptures? Were religious subjects more a part of family conversations?

So how did we live out in our daily lives what we usually “took home” from Mass?

So how was our personal prayer changed? Or was it? Did we change our routine and explore other ways of conversation with God?

 

Second Big Question:

How will our return to “live worship in person” make us and our worship more pleasing to God?

Some comments: Virtual worship through digital means has in many cases kept us in contact with the Church’s worship during two months of quarantine. But the Last Supper was not virtual worship of the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. Being in the presence of Jesus and hence in the presence of the Father in a personal encounter cannot be replaced by electronic means, even a video recording or presentation. This is what we have missed, even though we might not be able to explain it fully. One way of saying it might be that we are not virtual persons and the God we worship is not a virtual God. It has to be us, flesh and blood, who open our hearts in a loving and close way to the God who opens his heart to us in the Eucharistic mysteries. In this type of encounter we come away changed persons interiorly and God is glorified by the deepening of his presence within us. We show this through the liturgical actions of eating and drinking the Lord Jesus in his word and in his sacrament. Liturgy is “live” and we are part of the action, not in a virtual way but actual way in the midst of the Church gathered together. That is the “real” presence to Christ and to one another.

 

Third Big Question

 Are we more or less holy than before? Is the Church and our Parish more in the image of Christ now? Can we detect an increase in our faith life for which we offer thanks to God?

 Some comments: We easily get in trouble when we try to “measure” progress in our life in Christ. We are not going to give ourselves a report card. Rather can we point to something in our lives which indicates that our faith and love of God has matured more? In other words, do we understand any of the scriptures more deeply, e.g. in the daily readings assigned to Mass? Did the “light” of the Holy Spirit so touch us that we said: Ah, I never knew that before! e.g. Jesus said I am going to the Father and  we replied What a wonderful way to speak of death. Did I find myself spending more time reflecting of whom Christ has made me in life? Am I amazed how much more others are dedicated to God in prayer throughout this quarantine time? How widespread are God’s gifts of grace? How much I have been blessed to be Catholic? What a treasure is the Eucharist? Did you resolve to enter in to the action of the Mass more the next time I get to go to church? Can I say that these last couple of months have been a gift of grace?

 

More to come.

 

WEDNESDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 20, 2020

Masses begin again at Saint Gabriel’s on Monday, May 25th 

 

On our “Blog Page” under Archives you can find a link to the letter being sent to our parishioners and friends regarding the temporary change in our Mass schedule to accommodate our return to regular celebration of the Eucharist due to the limitations the pandemic has imposed on us. It is a drastic change for a while but forces us to ask some deep questions not only about our worship but the rhythm of our lives which is centered in the Eucharist of Christ, primarily that of our Sunday Mass.

So here are some initial faith questions that face us as we return to Mass. Attached are a few comments to help us to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.

First big question:

How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God, how we pray?

Some comments: It is to God’s credit and the gift of faith he has given us that the Lord’s Day means so much to us. Our habit of Sunday Mass is so ingrained in us that we have felt an emptiness when it was not opened to us.

So how did it affect our work? Did we observe work days different from worship days? Did we distinguish servile work from time spent for God?

So how did it affect our routine around the house? Were there special meals to honor God? Did we still come together as a family and spend time together?

So how was our preparation Mass different? Did we put more time into reading and meditating on the scriptures? Were religious subjects more a part of family conversations?

So how did we live out in our daily lives what we usually “took home” from Mass?

So how was our personal prayer changed? Or was it? Did we change our routine and explore other ways of conversation with God?

 

Second big question:

How will our return to “live worship in person” make us and our worship more pleasing to God?

Some comments: Virtual worship through digital means has in many cases kept us in contact with the Church’s worship during two months of quarantine. But the Last Supper was not virtual worship of the Father through his Son Jesus Christ. Being in the presence of Jesus and hence in the presence of the Father in a personal encounter cannot be replaced by electronic means, even a video recording or presentation. This is what we have missed, even though we might not be able to explain it fully. One way of saying it might be that we are not virtual persons and the God we worship is not a virtual God. It has to be us, flesh and blood, who open our hearts in a loving and close way to the God who opens his heart to us in the Eucharistic mysteries. In this type of encounter we come away changed persons interiority and God is glorified by the deepening of his presence within us. We show this through the liturgical actions of eating and drinking the Lord Jesus in his word and in his sacrament. Liturgy is “live” and we are part of the action, not in a virtual way but actual way in the midst of the Church gathered together. That is the “real” presence to Christ and to one another.

 

More to come

 

TUESDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 19, 2020

 

Below you will find a copy of the letter being sent to our parishioners and friends especially regarding the temporary change in Mass schedule to accommodate our return to regular celebration of the Eucharist due to the limitations the pandemic has imposed on us. It is a drastic change for a while but forces us to ask some deep questions not only about our worship but the rhythm of our lives which is centered in the Eucharist of Christ, primarily our Sunday Mass.

So I shall begin here today with some questions that face us and later to explore these areas with the hope that we shall come out ahead in our understanding of the faith and why we do what we do. God is behind this to bless us more.

First big question:

How will switching our Eucharist to another day of the week beside Sunday not only impact our going to Mass but also how will it affect our daily routine, e.g. work, household chores, our preparation for the Eucharist, how we live out our worship of God.

More to come.

 

Below is the Letter of Father Fay being mailed to the Parish regarding the reopening of the church to the public celebration of the Eucharist.

 

May 18, 2020

Greetings Parishioners and Friends

The long awaited resumption of parish Mass at Saint Gabriel will take place on Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day.

 

It will not be a return to normal. In a sense we will have a new normal by gradually reintroducing our cherished customs over a period of time. There will have to be temporary adjustments. Everything will not be at once.

To abide by recommended distancing it will require limiting gatherings in church to smaller groups, which in turn led Archbishop Schnurr and the other Bishops of Ohio to suspend for a time the Church practice of directing us all to Sunday Mass attendance. Instead they extended the days of fulfilling our Mass obligation to all the seven days of the week. In this way by spreading our Eucharistic gatherings over several days smaller groups (50-70 at the most at Saint Gabriel’s) could be accommodated more safely in our church building and everyone would have the opportunity to worship God at the Table of the Lord once a week.

This slow approach can have its advantages. As we take our time we are less likely to invite the return of the pandemic, giving our medical community more time to make progress in care of the sick and in the discovery and manufacture of remedies.

This added time which God is giving us provides us with the opportunity to take a deeper look into our faith practices and come to understand better the reasons why we have these sacred traditions. Hopefully our faith will be stronger and deeper in this regard. It is a time of grace.

With guidelines from the Archdiocese to help us we want to say:

1) Our bishops have thought it best at this time to give us seven days for fulfilling our obligation to God to gather to worship him weekly. To follow health recommendations of distancing and thus having smaller groups at Mass at one time we shall change our Mass schedules for everyday of the week, including Sunday. For most of us this will mean selecting a day of the week other than Sunday for celebrating the Eucharist with God’s family.

Suspending the “Sunday” Mass obligation does not exempt us from the basic obligation God gave all of us to worship him in the midst of the Church on a frequent and regular basis. That is not up to us but to God. His commandment to worship him the way he wants is a blessing. We should be very familiar by now that our God is the Lord of all times and seasons of life. His surprises us, such as we have now, and calls us to be faithful to him in these different circumstances.

(You also know well that if you are coughing or sneezing or feel ill you should not come to church that day out of love and respect for others.)

Here are our temporary Mass times beginning May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;

Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

 

These times were chosen so that more people could find a convenient time to fulfill their obligation — e.g. noontime might be better for senior citizens and those at work could come during lunch break as they do on holydays; early risers might find the 8:00 AM more suitable for worship. Only one Mass on Sunday morning because we have to sanitize the church after each Mass (this includes wiping used surfaces and discarding any paper materials).

By each of us choosing a different day and time we will not jeopardize the health of others by too large a crowd and avoid having to limit the number of persons we can let into church.

2) The Mass will be simplified to start with. The whole order of service will be there from start to finish. Homilies may be more brief but not eliminated — the word of God elicits the faith we need to give thanks to God properly. Singing will be from printed worship aids instead of the hymnals. Some of the ministries, e.g. lectoring and serving, will initially be taken care of by the priest. Seating will follow the national recommendations of six feet apart (families can sit together) so every pew will not be able to be used. According to Archdiocesan Guidelines the faithful should be encouraged to wear a face mask. Likewise according to the Guidelines the distribution of Communion will be at this time under only one species (the bread form). Depending on the Spirit to guide me I probably will bring Communion to the pews (as I do at Maple Knoll and Glendale Place). Communion should be received in the hand to avoid any possibility of transmitting germs by saliva (personal preferences take second place here). Leaving church will have to be done by sections rather than having everyone crowd at the door. Boxes for collection will be at the entrances to church. These are some of the changes you will experience. Always keep in mind that we gather for worship and adoration of God. He is giving us a way to do that as the body of Christ that we are. We will always remember the sad days when this was not possible.

I wish to thank you all for your understanding and assistance to Saint Gabriel’s during what I call desert days. We have been able to hold our own. Those needs will continue. We will need small teams (perhaps about 4 persons) to sanitize the church after each Mass. Please contact the office and leave a message if you can help.

Your patience during these changing times will restore us more quickly to a deeper share in the mystery of Christ and the eternal salvation it brings. I will try to continue to offer frequent spiritual teaching on our website www.gabrielglendale.org. Keep in touch.

Thanks for your comments.

 

God’s blessing!

Father David Fay
Pastor

 

 

MONDAY OF THE SIXTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 18, 2020

Below is the Letter of Father Fay being mailed to the Parish regarding the reopening of the church to the public celebration of the Eucharist.

 

May 18, 2020

Greetings Parishioners and Friends

The long awaited resumption of parish Mass at Saint Gabriel will take place on Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day.

 

It will not be a return to normal. In a sense we will have a new normal by gradually reintroducing our cherished customs over a period of time. There will have to be temporary adjustments. Everything will not be at once.

To abide by recommended distancing it will require limiting gatherings in church to smaller groups, which in turn led Archbishop Schnurr and the other Bishops of Ohio to suspend for a time the Church practice of directing us all to Sunday Mass attendance. Instead they extended the days of fulfilling our Mass obligation to all the seven days of the week. In this way by spreading our Eucharistic gatherings over several days smaller groups (50-70 at the most at Saint Gabriel’s) could be accommodated more safely in our church building and everyone would have the opportunity to worship God at the Table of the Lord once a week.

This slow approach can have its advantages. As we take our time we are less likely to invite the return of the pandemic, giving our medical community more time to make progress in care of the sick and in the discovery and manufacture of remedies.

This added time which God is giving us provides us with the opportunity to take a deeper look into our faith practices and come to understand better the reasons why we have these sacred traditions. Hopefully our faith will be stronger and deeper in this regard. It is a time of grace.

With guidelines from the Archdiocese to help us we want to say:

1) Our bishops have thought it best at this time to give us seven days for fulfilling our obligation to God to gather to worship him weekly. To follow health recommendations of distancing and thus having smaller groups at Mass at one time we shall change our Mass schedules for everyday of the week, including Sunday. For most of us this will mean selecting a day of the week other than Sunday for celebrating the Eucharist with God’s family.

Suspending the “Sunday” Mass obligation does not exempt us from the basic obligation God gave all of us to worship him in the midst of the Church on a frequent and regular basis. That is not up to us but to God. His commandment to worship him the way he wants is a blessing. We should be very familiar by now that our God is the Lord of all times and seasons of life. His surprises us, such as we have now, and calls us to be faithful to him in these different circumstances.

(You also know well that if you are coughing or sneezing or feel ill you should not come to church that day out of love and respect for others.)

Here are our temporary Mass times beginning May 25th.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;

Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;

Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.

 

These times were chosen so that more people could find a convenient time to fulfill their obligation — e.g. noontime might be better for senior citizens and those at work could come during lunch break as they do on holydays; early risers might find the 8:00 AM more suitable for worship. Only one Mass on Sunday morning because we have to sanitize the church after each Mass (this includes wiping used surfaces and discarding any paper materials).

By each of us choosing a different day and time we will not jeopardize the health of others by too large a crowd and avoid having to limit the number of persons we can let into church.

2) The Mass will be simplified to start with. The whole order of service will be there from start to finish. Homilies may be more brief but not eliminated — the word of God elicits the faith we need to give thanks to God properly. Singing will be from printed worship aids instead of the hymnals. Some of the ministries, e.g. lectoring and serving, will initially be taken care of by the priest. Seating will follow the national recommendations of six feet apart (families can sit together) so every pew will not be able to be used. According to Archdiocesan Guidelines the faithful should be encouraged to wear a face mask. Likewise according to the Guidelines the distribution of Communion will be at this time under only one species (the bread form). Depending on the Spirit to guide me I probably will bring Communion to the pews (as I do at Maple Knoll and Glendale Place). Communion should be received in the hand to avoid any possibility of transmitting germs by saliva (personal preferences take second place here). Leaving church will have to be done by sections rather than having everyone crowd at the door. Boxes for collection will be at the entrances to church. These are some of the changes you will experience. Always keep in mind that we gather for worship and adoration of God. He is giving us a way to do that as the body of Christ that we are. We will always remember the sad days when this was not possible.

I wish to thank you all for your understanding and assistance to Saint Gabriel’s during what I call desert days. We have been able to hold our own. Those needs will continue. We will need small teams (perhaps about 4 persons) to sanitize the church after each Mass. Please contact the office and leave a message if you can help.

Your patience during these changing times will restore us more quickly to a deeper share in the mystery of Christ and the eternal salvation it brings. I will try to continue to offer frequent spiritual teaching on our website www.gabrielglendale.org. Keep in touch.

Thanks for your comments.

 

God’s blessing!

Father David Fay
Pastor

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER — MAY 17, 2020

SAMPLE OF HOME PRAYER FOR SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

Peace be with you.

 

PENTENTIAL RITE to let the Lord prepare our hearts for pure worship

Lord Jesus,  Have mercy, Kyrie eleison
Lord Jesus,  Have mercy, Christe eleison
Lord Jesus,  Have mercy, Kyrie eleison

Let us pray:
In our gathering here today, Lord God almighty, let us celebrate these days of Easter joy eagerly and lovingly for we gladly carry out this time of prayer in honor of the Lord Jesus whom we join in his risen state at your hand. Our prayer with the Church in this memorial is that what we remember your doing in his name be reflected always in the way we live. Through Christ our Lord. Amen

 

Listen to the sacred scriptures:
[Go to the Today’s Readings section below on this webpage.]

A BRIEF COMMENTARY ON TODAY’S READINGS

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
The Apostles place hands on their heads and they received the Spirit
Philip, one of those seven ministering as deacons, took the word of God north to Samaria as he made his way home to Caesarea. He evidently could not stop talking about Jesus and what God was doing through him. The preaching of the word brought a faith response from his listeners. They were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Apostles Peter and John follow this up by ritually bringing them the gift of the Holy Spirit through the sign of extending hands over their heads — not unlike what we do today. The word of God is spreading.

 

Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 (1)
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.

This psalm (and other psalms as well) reveal the ancient faith of the Israelites that God’s plan extends to all mankind, not just the Jews. So it is fitting response to the first reading which tells of the some of the early efforts to evangelize the whole world. What is great about this psalm is its joyful tone. The amazing spread of the faith shows us the magnificence of God’s love for all his creatures. See this as connected with the resurrection of Christ who died for us all.

 

1 Peter 3:15-18
Be ready to give reason to others why your hope is so strong
Underlying the realities of which Peter speaks is the fact that our faith is a shared faith. God made us to live in the world with his other creatures. Our lives are intertwined — the pandemic is bringing this home to us very sharply. When you think of it, God reveals his glory in creating (and saving) us the way he has. So human ways bring us heavenly ways. Thanks be to God.

 

John 14:15-21
I will pray to the Father to send you another Spiritual Advocate

These words of Jesus make us stop and think what Jesus has done for us. He has been a “Spiritual Advocate” during his life here on earth. So whatever Jesus said and did brought us spiritual life, i.e. life beyond the grave. He will continue to do so from his place at the right hand of the Father by praying to the Father to send the Spirit — which he continues to do. Notice in the reading that this gift of Father and Son is the Spirit of truth. The truth is the eternal plan of God for mankind, i.e. the everlasting Covenant of communion with Father, Son and Spirit around his heavenly throne. The Easter Gospels are filled with the gift of the Spirit. That is the word of God. Our Easter faith is to accept it as such.

 

Silent Reflection and/or share comments.

Homily Written for the Web —May it enhance your prayer and worship of God this day.

TOWARD A HOMILY FOR SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

 

One of the things I am afraid we are missing from Mass during these unusual days is the Prayer after Communion. Yes, it is said or sung over the television or Internet. But it certainly does not carry much weight since it is not part of our Communion Rite. These altar prayers are composed to fit right in with the liturgical action — which we are missing without being there.

 

So the Postcommunion Prayer runs something like this (with embellishments for better understanding):

O God you are all-powerful and capable of doing everything. In the resurrection of your Son; you have recreated us for life eternal. Only you could do this and you have done it right here today through our celebration of the Paschal Sacrament. Make sure and increase the gifts of this Eucharist within us. This day give us new strength from this nourishment of Jesus’ Body and Blood for his very presence brings us salvation.

 

These prayers are packed with spiritual teaching. That is why the prayer itself is Jesus’ fulfillment of sending us the Spirit. Giving us this prayer today following his words in the Gospel is the promise–fulfillment so characteristic of him.

First of all, the Church is praying to our God is omnipotent. What took place at Mass today was something only God can do. Divine power is needed. Man is not capable of this on his own. Jesus, the Son of God at this place on high, is our priest. There is no substitute. We do not make the Mass, he does.

Secondly, this is done by the risen Christ. Now we know why he passed through death and was taken on high. If remained on the earth and did just earthly things we would have no hope of life eternal. But if he goes to the Father and shares his glory he can share that glory with us, even in this life. Our human efforts cannot reach that high.

Thirdly, our celebration is a Paschal/Passover celebration. Think of the historical setting of the Passover Meal. It is not just a fancy meal we set on the table. It is a gathering at God’s table and altar to give thanks and to join in his sacred meal, i.e. share the heavenly gifts of God. The meal is not limited to earthly food. It is also spiritual food which we cannot make for ourselves. Those spiritual gifts assure us of a share in the eternal life of the Lord himself.

Fourthly, the gifts do not remain outside us, they are taken in like food and drink and change us interiorly. This is the purpose of the Mass — to receive all the more the Christ who came to dwell in us through faith and baptism. This increase is what we seek and pray for at the altar of the Lord. Christ told us he wants us to have his life and have it in abundance. It is that abundance that we desire.

 

All of this takes place because of the many facets of Jesus’ real presence which we have celebrated at this Eucharist from start to finish. So what are the final words: Go forth on mission to bring Christ to othersIte, missa est. We want to hear those words again — Christ sending us forth (as he did in the early Church). It will happen soon. Thanks be to God.

Blessed be God! Blessed be his Easter people!

 

CREED: I believe in God the Father almighty…

 

We conclude with this prayer together:

Let us pray
for all those eagerly awaiting the time when they can go to Mass again.
for the Church of Cincinnati, that the mercy and holiness of Christ shine forth for all to see
for those who have died in recent weeks, that Jesus the Truth bring to fulfillment their hope,
for our government officials, both elected and appointed, that they be close to God
for those being tested for the virus have good results
for those in the work force be safe and sound

for those out of work hear good news about their future

for family and friends that these days be spiritually rich for them all

In Jesus’ name we pray for ever and ever. Amen.

 

Our Father, who art in heaven…

 

Renewal of the Covenant Prayer aka Prayer of those unable to participate in Mass in person

 Through your gift of Covenant love, O Lord, you have opened our hearts to welcome your Son to dwell within us by being baptized into his Church community and enlivened and strengthen by his Holy Spirit as to what you have made us so that we can better answer your call to gather for the Eucharist. Unable to join the body of Christ at this time to celebrate the redemption of your people, we beseech your merciful love to enlarge our hearts so to welcome your presence all the more and that of your Son and the Holy Spirit so that we may give you thanks always and everywhere as befits your name. Open our ears, O Lord, to your word, both spoken and lived. Through your Holy Spirit make our daily lives more in the image of your Son who is the perfect example of your eternal Covenant so that we may soon join his body, the Church, to burst forth in praise of you at the Table of the Lord, sharing his Body and Blood, and to advance with all your faithful people toward your kingdom of heaven, bound together with you and your holy ones in your one family. Make firm that unity of your Church in answer to your Son’s prayer that we be one so that the world come to know your presence here and know that you are always with us. Through Christ our risen Lord. Amen.

 

[See this and the explanation of it on the Blog Archives under the name New Prayer of Saint Alphonsus]

 

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

 

SATURDAY OF THE FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER — MAY 16, 2020

 

The unusual times we live in should not surprise us by the changes demanded of us to be faithful to Christ under these different circumstances.

According to Archdiocesan regulations Masses may resume on Monday, May 25th, with certain cautionary steps taken to provide for the health and safety of Mass participants. To abide by recommended distancing it will require limiting gatherings in church to smaller groups, which in turn led Archbishop Schnurr and the other Bishops of Ohio to suspend for a time the Church practice of directing us all to Sunday Mass attendance and instead extend the days of fulfilling our Mass obligation to all the seven days of the week. In this way by spreading our Eucharistic gatherings over several days smaller groups (50-70 at the most at Saint Gabriel’s) could be accommodated more safely in our church buildings and everyone would have the opportunity to worship God at the Table of the Lord once a week. For example, as part of the precautions the church needs to be sanitized after each Mass and thus reduces the number of Masses that can be scheduled on a daily basis.

This will mean for most of us a shifting of our habitual Mass participation to a different day of the week out of loving concern for others.

Our Mass schedule at Saint Gabriel’s is being finalized and will be published shortly.

 

Lessons Learned in the Early Days about Unity in Worship

 

Before we leave our reflections on what is called The Council of Jerusalem in Acts 15 let us take a second look at the way the Holy Spirit guided the early Church to preserve unity in the body of Christ for which Jesus prayed at the Last Supper.

 

The Church was heading toward a split into two groups — the Church in Jerusalem and the Church in Antioch. The Church in Jerusalem was made up mostly of Christians of Jewish origin; the Church at Antioch was a mixture of Christians of both Jewish origin and Greek speaking origin. The two cities had different cultures. In Jerusalem the milieu was mostly Jewish traditions, including the food in the shops was in our terms kosher; in Antioch the Greek (or pagan) practices were prevalent, e.g. some meat in the shops had come from pagan temple worship. So some Christians in Jerusalem ask why aren’t they like us and strictly follow Jewish law, e.g. eating “clean” foods and ritual circumcision. In Antioch and the north Peter and the other bringers of Good News ran into a different response to God’s activity, especially word and Spirit. The famous example was Peter’s encounter with God in the house of the Roman Centurion Cornelius (Acts 10). These people accepted the Gospel without going through what the Jewish Christians had experienced. Peter even remarked I see the same Holy Spirit in these people as in us (i.e.in us who were circumcised). How then could I refuse to baptize them — which he did. So the Christian community, even in Antioch, was breaking up into two groups and the antagonism was increasing. To solve the question a delegation was sent from Antioch to Jerusalem to meet with the Church there (considered the Mother Church).

In this meeting we have the spirit-filled leadership of the Apostles Peter and James as recorded in Acts 15. Peter recounts the situation mentioned above and out of it states something central to our belief — God works by inner faith in the name of Jesus Christ, not by certain rituals. Cornelius had the faith before he was baptized. The rituals express externally what is first within the person. Peter’s exact words were: God purified their hearts by faith [in response to the word of God]… we believe that we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way as they. Note it is the “Lord” Jesus. For him that is the risen Christ.

James uses the chronological approach. The Bible attributes the religious practice of circumcision to Abraham. Prior to Abraham we are told of Noah who disembarked from the Ark and God said: ‘I am now establishing my covenant with you and with your descendants to come, and with every living creature that was with you: birds, cattle and every wild animal with you; everything that came out of the ark, every living thing on earth. God sent his Son and raised him from the dead for the salvation of all mankind. God can choose whatever way he wishes to unite his creatures to his plan of salvation, even apart from certain Jewish practices. Along with Peter and James we see this happening through his gift of the Spirit.

The psalms (perhaps even composed before the editing and inclusion in the Bible of the Noah accounts) frequently sing of God saving the whole world. The Church chose such responsorial to follow the reading of Acts 15, e.g. Psalm 57 I will sing your praises among the nations; Psalm 100 Let all the earth cry out to God with joy. The Jews clearly saw themselves as blessed by God and so be instruments of salvation for the rest of mankind.

 

Now the final solution to the original question which the Council of Jerusalem presented is not one sided. There is something for the Christians of Jewish background and something for those of “Greek” culture. Both sides must practice mutual respect for unity sake — same for us today. The messenger dispatched from Jerusalem to Antioch carry a double message: 1) respect God’s gift of the Spirit in those who have not been circumcised because they too share in salvation; 2) respect ancient Jewish faith that puts the Father of Jesus first in everything — there is no other god, life comes from God and is sacred, the marital union symbolizes the covenant union between God and his people and is sacred as well. This is what is meant by believing in Father, Son and Spirit and accepting that gift of Christian faith according to our baptism.

 

United as Church we say: There is one Body, one Spirit, just as one hope is the goal of your calling by God. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father of all, over all, through all and within all (Ephesians 4:4-6).

 

Great lesson from the past. Same for today.