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Eucharist

The Scrutinies

The Scrutinies

Dear Parishioners,

As we continue our journey through Lent, there are some very special rites we celebrate for those seeking to enter the Church via our RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults).  I am speaking of the “Scrutinies.”  Often I get raised eyebrows when people hear the name of these rites. They sound quite dramatic, and we actually hope they are for those participating in them.  But, they are not something to fear.  It is my hope that they build up the hope and strengthen the faith of those experiencing the Scrutinies.  

The actual rite comes from antiquity and is celebrated on the third, fourth, and fifth weekends of Lent. So, this week, the Scrutiny was held at the Saturday 5 PM Mass and will move to the Sunday 8 AM and 11 AM Mass respectively in the coming weeks.  Originally, these rites were the ways the early Church assessed the readiness of those who desired to be baptized and, thus, become Christians. Over time, the rituals changed and eventually disappeared along with the whole process of the Catechumenate as it was once called. It was after the Second Vatican Council that the call was made to restore the RCIA and all of its rites and adapt it to modern times. In our case, we use a combined rite for the elect (those to be baptized) and candidates (those already baptized).

What does the rite consist of?  It begins with bringing the elect and candidates with their sponsors before the community. Then there is an invitation to prayer and a period of silence.  The Elect are asked to kneel and the Candidates are asked to bow their heads, both as a sign of inner repentance.  What follows are intercessions for the elect and candidates. A prayer of Exorcism and laying on of hands or hands stretched over is made by the presider. The rite concludes with a dismissal so that they can leave and take part in a deeper reflection on the Word of God already proclaimed at Mass.

The purpose for the elect and candidates at each of the scrutinies is to 1. to uncover, 2. to heal all that is weak, defective, or sinful, and 3. to bring out, then strengthen all that is upright, strong, and good. (cf. RCIA 141).  In the big picture,, “the scrutinies are celebrated in order to deliver the elect from the power of sin and Satan, to protect them against temptation, and to give them strength in Christ.” (ibid. 141).

So, I hope you will be able to witness and prayerfully support our elect and candidates in the Scrutinies. Personally, I find them to are very moving and powerful for all involved, including myself.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Gratitude & Thanksgiving

Gratitude & Thanksgiving

Dear Parishioners,

This weekend we heard from Proverbs the value of a loving wife. The Psalm reminds us of how blessed we are with our children. Thessalonians reminds us that we are children of the light, not darkness. In the Gospel of Matthew, we heard that the one who stewards well the talents they have been given will enter into our Master’s joy.  In all these things, what is our response?  

It could be one of worry for all the times we have fallen short of God’s standard.  Maybe it is one of regret for the times we have taken our spouse for granted and are guilty of not being as loving as we should be. It could be one of fear, for we may realize that, too often, we have been anything but sober and alert. It could be of sadness for we may have squandered parts of our lives with the talents our Lord has given us. These concerns are worthy of consideration.  They are all worthy of reflection as an action of examining our consciences in light of the Scriptures. There may even be true reasons for concern about our state of relationship with God and our neighbor. I think we should all take these challenges seriously.  But, I would also like to remind us that this is half of the story.

The other half of the story revolves not around how we have failed, but what God has done for us, how our Lord is always there waiting to restore us back to him. I would like to propose that given all our challenges in our lives, we have plenty of reasons for joy and gratitude not despite our failures and sufferings, but through them. God sent his Son who suffered death for us and rose so that our sufferings would not have the final say. Through Jesus’ Paschal Mystery, our Lord can bring grace and restoration when we join our suffering and dying to his, because the other half of the story, the reason Jesus came, was to save us. 

In just a few short days, we as a nation will celebrate Thanksgiving Day. I would like to invite you all to Mass on that day (8 AM).  Between now and then, ponder on where you have fallen short, repent and as our Lord to forgive you, and then give thanks for his goodness. On the Mass of Thanksgiving Day, as is my little custom, I turn the homily time towards an opportunity for all present to express, publicly, what they are grateful for.  We must not keep our praise and thanksgiving to ourself.  We must express our gratitude for all that God has given us.  So, between now and then, consider all that God has gifted you with.  Come to that Mass, lay down your burdens, offer your sacrifice, and exchange it for gratitude. We are a Eucharistic people the word, “eucharist,” meaning “thanksgiving.”

May we all give praise and thanksgiving all the days of our lives.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtinger
Pastor 

Truth In Charity

Truth In Charity

Dear Parishioners,

This week’s readings (July 30.31), we heard from Ecclesiastes: “Vanity of vanities, says Qoheleth,vanity of vanities! All things are vanity!” From Colossians: “seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” And finally from the Gospel Luke, “Take care to guard against all greed, for though one may be rich, one’s life does not consist of possessions.”

The message is one for all the ages, one that we all need to ponder upon deeply. For something to be vain, it is essentially empty, worthless, of no lasting value. This is very much related to greed which focuses our attention on things that are empty, things that will never satisfy. Due to our sinfulness, we have all entertained and acted on our desires for things that cannot satisfy. We have all entertained thoughts and words that are misdirected and will bear no spiritual or corporeal fruit. In fact, such words and actions may very well cause scandal to others to the point of leaving the faith.

We must be all the more careful in our world today as Christians not to cause others to stumble while also sharing the truth in charity. So, today, listen and hear the voice of the Lord! Choose to be people whose love is full and not vain. Allow the parts of your life, your desires that will do you no ultimate good, those things that are arrogant, prideful, harsh, unloving, addictive, illusionary, selfish, divisive, lying, impure, immoral, and callous—allow these parts to die in Christ. Yes! It will involve suffering, for we want to hold on to them so much. Now is the time to do this. Now is the time when the political, economic, and violent parts of our world are so prevalent.

The Church exists for the salvation of souls. We are all given the mission to further this goal. To know salvation is to know the Truth, Jesus. Indeed, the world needs to know the Truth, but it is not sufficient to say, “I’m just tellin’ it like it is,” all the while steamrolling the person in arrogance and pride. We must pray to rid ourselves of any vestiges of vanity that can become a roadblock to the Truth. This is not about just being nice, but being charitable, being sensitive to the situation of the other, listening and building a relationship with the other, journeying with them, and sharing our hearts and what God has done for us.

Our world needs to know Jesus. We need to know Jesus more deeply as well. Let us not be embarrassed nor fearful for admitting our sinfulness, for by repenting we allow Christ to shine through us. It is through our woundedness that we can help heal. It is by our true love of God and our neighbor that we become the people we have always been meant to be. It is by being beacons of light that we will attract others to the knowledge of the Truth.

My friends in Christ, much is at stake... our souls and the souls of others. Let us strive for the narrow way through our own suffering and dying to our vanities. May Christ in the Eucharist be our strength, so that we be conformed into the likeness of Him who loves us so much.

Sincerely,
Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor