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Resurrection

The Joy of Easter

The Joy of Easter

Dear Parishioners,

Blessed Resurrection Day! Today, we come together today at Holy Mass to celebrate the most important moment in history. On this day, we celebrate the reality that Jesus rose from the dead after being mercilessly crucified and rising three days later. His Resurrection give us hope for eternal life in heaven where there will be no more pain, no more suffering. All our brokenness will be healed and our deepest yearnings will be fulfilled. We were made by God and for God.  Heaven is our ultimate home is with the Blessed Trinity. In heaven we will be able to commune with the Angels who have guarded our souls and defended us from evil as well as the Saints who have helped us with their petitions to God for our good.

I pray that you will be able to sense that at your gathering with family and friends this day, heaven is being foreshadowed. In every moment of joy and love, God is trying to show you a glimpse of eternity. With every bite of delicious food, the Eternal Banquet is peeking through. So, give praise for all the blessings this day and season brings.

If, however, Easter this year brings sad memories rather than joy, I want to encourage you to know, through your suffering, joy can be found. You see, suffering itself is not the end and that only by moving through our suffering with Christ by our side, we can find a new joy. God wants us to be with us in our suffering. His love is the answer to all our suffering. His love can transform you from sadness to joy. I know this in my own life.

So, on this day, I will pray for you all at Holy Mass. May this day and season bring you new hope and joy amidst the challenges of your life. Christ is risen from the dead! Alleluia!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Holy Week & Triduum

Holy Week & Triduum

Dear Parishioners,

We have now entered Holy Week with the celebration of Palm Sunday. On Monday, the priests serving in the Archdiocese of Portland will gather for the annual Chrism Mass at 7 PM at St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. There we will renew our promises that we made on the day of ordination. Also, the Archbishop will bless the Holy Oils (Oil of the Sick, Oil of Catechumens, and the Sacred Chrism) which will be brought back to the parishes. 

Triduum

We then get ready for the Triduum (pronounced, “trid-oo-oom” which encompasses Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil on Holy Saturday. Both Holy Thursday and Good Friday services begin at 7 PM. The Easter Vigil will begin at 8:30 PM.

Holy Thursday

On Holy Thursday, we commemorate the Lord’s Supper. At this Mass, the Gloria is sung for the first time in since just before Ash Wednesday. During that Gloria, an Altar Server will wring the hand bells all throughout. In past years, the bells actually came loose and fell off, leaving the server a bit confused. We’ve since then glue them in place with Loctite! After the homily,  the symbolic “washing of the feet” takes place. Pre-selected representative members of the church will come forward to have their feet washed by the priest. Then Mass continues. A collection is taken up and then brought forward, along with the Holy Oils that were blessed at the Chrism Mass.  The Mass ends with a procession of the Eucharist to an altar of repose where the faithful are encouraged to remain in a vigil of adoration.  

Good Friday

On Good Friday, we will host an Ecumenical Stations of the Cross including members of several churches in the Grants Pass area.  This will take place at Noon.  

Later in the evening (7 PM) of Good Friday, the liturgy of the Triduum continues with the priest, deacon, and servers entering the church silently. The priest then prostrates himself upon reaching the front of the sanctuary. All are encouraged to kneel. After the prostration is concluded, the Liturgy of the Word commences, climaxing with a dramatic reading of the Gospel’s Passion Narrative. Following is the Solemn Intercessions which are explicit prescribed so that all Catholic Churches are praying the same thing that day. A collection for the Holy Land is taken up. Then the Rite of the Adoration of the Holy Cross takes place. A single cross is brought into the church so that the faithful may come forward to venerate the cross. Families and groups are encouraged to come forward together to offer their veneration. This is not a Mass, but Holy Communion that was consecrated on Holy Thursday is given to the faithful. Afterwards, the Altar is cleared and the priest, deacon, and servers depart in silence.

Holy Saturday

On Holy Saturday, the community will gather around a fire in the courtyard of the church.  From this fire, the Paschal Candle will be blessed and lit. A procession will form into the church, lead by the deacon carrying the Paschal Candle. The Exultet will be chanted followed by an extensive series of Scriptures proclaimed. After the last Old Testament reading, hand bells are run all during the singing of the Gloria. Let’s pray that the bells can hold on through it all! After the Liturgy of the Word, those who are to be baptized will process to the baptismal font. There, the baptismal font will be blessed and our Elect will be baptized. After the newly baptized have changed into dry clothes, they will join the Candidates to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation.  The Liturgy of the Eucharist will take place where our new Catholics will receive their First Holy Communion.  

I hope that you will make an effort to participate in these amazing celebrations of Christ Paschal Mystery. They carry the power to deepen our faith and fill us with joy as we walk along the path with Jesus from his passion to his resurrection. 

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Easter Is All Around Us

Easter Is All Around Us

Dear Parishioners,

Happy Easter! Christ is risen! Alleluia! Alleluia! It is possible because Christ first suffered, died, and rose from the dead, making possible eternal life for us all. This process of suffering, death, and resurrection is also called the Paschal Mystery in theological terms. If we look about, it is all around us.

First, look at nature. Winter is officially ended (though maybe someone needs to remind Mother Nature), and from the places where dead plants and leaves once were, the first shoots of flowers are peaking through the soil and buds are clearly seen on the trees.

Look at our new church being built. This journey for our parish is not one simply of human hands, but of prayers, and most of all God’s blessing.  Despite our doubts and disbelief, God has made it possible.  But, we all had to make the journey of suffering, death, and resurrection: suffering in the sacrifice of financial giving to make a new church a reality, death to the old building as it was being demolished, and now we are experiencing the resurrection clearly seen by gazing at the bright yellow shell of a new building coming out of the ground.

Most importantly, look at our lives. All of us have come to us this Easter bearing the burdens of many sufferings and deaths. Loved ones have died since we were here last year. Close friends have moved away or we moved away. Some marriages have been struggling, or worse, broken apart. A new sickness or physical issue has made itself present. The faith of someone who is close has been shaken or abandoned. Again, all of us have come with suffering and death.  But, remember that this is not the end of the story. We must remember that our sufferings and deaths can be redemptive if we join the to that of Christ’s. As much as these things hurt, we must bring them to Him! How? Let him know of your pain. Just tell him. But, also listen and be open. Allow Jesus to touch that pain, so to begin the healing. Let Jesus into the death that has occurred so you can rise from your ashes. We must remember that our Lord desires to heal us. It is for this reason he came. He wants to give us a joy that is beyond our understanding and circumstances. We just need to let him in. By doing so, we can experience an Easter of our own, not despite our sufferings and deaths, but through them.

If you have been away from your Faith and the Church due to some kind of suffering, please return.  Know that our Lord has not abandoned you, but wants you to share your sufferings with him. He knows all of it. He walked that path before you. And he opened the way to rise above it. But, it requires letting go of control, anger, hurt, resentment, addiction, unforgiveness, fear, and past sins. The Sacrament of Reconciliation (aka Confession) is a good start. Regardless of what has kept you away, know that you are welcome to come home to your Church, your Faith, your Lord who is waiting for you with open arms.  If you’ve been away for so long that you are unsure how to return, we have a wonderful gathering that begins this Tuesday at 6:30 PM in room 1 of our Parish Center.  We call it, “Welcome Home Catholics,” and it is an informal way to explore the things that you may have forgotten or just need to be encouraged about. This Easter, come home.  Do not let anything get in your way. This may very well be the beginning of a new start of joy and meaning by reconnecting with your Faith.

Easter is all around us. It is in nature, our church, and deep in our lives.  A new beginning is before us. Through Christ’s suffering, death, and resurrection, new possibilities of life and joy abound. Easter is a time to rejoice in this gift of Salvation. So it is right and just that we lift up our hearts and voices in praise, knowing that Christ has made all things new.  And we know that God wants us all to experience it, for Easter is all around us. Alleluia! Alleluia!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

"Let's Do This!"

"Let's Do This!"

Last Monday at 9 AM, my prayer with those gathered in our parking lot ended with this phrase, “Let’s do this!” It was not a statement of arrogance or something to revel in, but one of decisiveness amidst what I expected to be a very difficult event, the demolition of our old church. While I have been very excited about the prospects of a beautiful new church, I have also been keenly aware of the suffering that many have been going through up to this day. It was a day for some of our community where memories were dislodged from a physical space they had come to know and love. In some ways, the past was being demolished along with the building.  But, as Catholic Christians, this cannot be the last word. Suffering does not have the final word.

We believe in God who suffered too. We know he suffered and died in the person of Jesus Christ who was nailed to the cross for our sins, though personally innocent. What can we learn from this example by our Lord?  Not just that suffering is part of life, but that suffering leads to resurrection, to new life, to joy.  Between suffering and joy, however, is death.  We all experienced the death of our old church on Monday.  It was both dramatic and traumatic.  

I was personally moved when the excavator first pushed several times against the facade and doors of our church, breaking the stained glass and caving in the cinder block. The I-beam that held the balcony refused to be moved despite many tries by the excavator, almost as if fighting against its own demise.  But, it soon would give in like the rest of the building. In a sense, this is sentimentalizing an inanimate object. Yet, welling up within me was a sadness at the scene taking place before my eyes.  One parishioner reminded me, “Even though we are demolishing this church building, the gates of hell will not prevail against His Church,” referencing Matthew 16:18.  Great words!  A great reminder, for God has plans in which we can place our hope. The Church is not built with brick and mortar alone, but more so upon the hearts of the faithful where Christ himself resides.

Beginning of demolition.  Photo courtesy of Fr. William Holtzinger

Beginning of demolition.  Photo courtesy of Fr. William Holtzinger

For the next two months, our hallowed ground will lay dormant while we quietly prepare for the next phase.  Beginning in the first part of August, we will go out for bids for subcontractors for the new church.   We already have our mechanical, plumbing, and electrical contractors lined up.  These are the most important and foundational groups needed.  On September 17th, Bishop Peter Smith will be here and offer our 11 AM Sunday Mass followed by an official groundbreaking ceremony.  There may already be some work done on the new foundation by that point, but it is important to be reminded that this is not just a human endeavor.  Ultimately, it is for the praise and greater glory of God. 

May glory of God shine through us as we bury, so to speak, our former church, and begin to witness the rising of a new church building.

Blessing,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Drone photos courtesy of Vernon Snyder

Christ Lives!

Christ Lives!

Dear Parishioners,

All praise be to our Lord Jesus Christ who is risen from the dead! Alleluia!  Alleluia!

This weekend we celebrate the greatest of our holy days in the Church, for we remember and rejoice in the greatest miracle of love: the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is through his rising from the dead that he conquered death, the ultimate barrier humanity had to eternity with God. This event we call Easter concludes what we call the "Paschal Mystery." This Paschal Mystery is Jesus' suffering, death, and resurrection. In Spanish, Easter is referred to as, "Pascua."

We all yearn for heaven, though possibly unaware. We yearn for communion, love, and ecstasy.  Yet, we look for these in things, events, and people that cannot and do not fulfill these desires. Some theologians speak about it in terms of having a God-shaped hole in our hearts, and only God can fill that hole completely. In the meantime, we strive for joy and happiness only to be disappointed when our direction is toward anything other than God.  A simple example is when someone we deeply love dies or suffers; We lose and suffer with them. We seek out help which is important. But, when we leave God out of the equation, we never fully heal, but rather continue to suffer. Jesus knew this about us. Indeed, God made us for himself, and he loves us perfectly. Remember, God is love and the author of love. So, since love is what we yearn for, it can only be fully experienced with God deeply involved. As St. Augustine once wrote in his book, Confessions, "You arouse us so that praising you may bring us joy, because you have made us and drawn us to yourself, and our heart is restless until it rests in you."

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, indeed his entire Paschal Mystery is the model and paradigm for all of Christian life. Whether we realize it or not, it is for this that our soul longs.  So Easter is a celebration and a reminder that we were made for love and eternal life with God in heaven. Yet, we don't have to wait until we are in heaven to experience some foretaste of what is to come. But, in order to do that, we must follow Jesus in his Paschal Mystery. We must join our suffering to him, die to ourselves, and then be set free in a new joy/resurrection in our life here.  

When a tragedy befalls us, when we have been betrayed, when we have been hurt by others, we naturally suffer.  But, we are prone to avoid entering into it and avoid dying to ourselves. I include myself in this as well. When that happens, we never heal, never rise in joy. Easter reminds us that the path to joy is one preceded by suffering and death. So, where Jesus went, we are to follow. Think about a situation where there is some hardship or suffering.  Spend time in prayer reflecting with Jesus about that situation. Ask Jesus to enter into that suffering with you.  Listen to what he has to say. Put yourself aside. Put your own desires aside, and listen to the Lord. Seek out with Jesus and ask him where you need to let go, to die to yourself in regard to the suffering. Then, you will be open to what Jesus says and wants for you, not despite your suffering, but through your suffering. By doing this, you begin to die to yourself.  By trusting in our Lord, a new situation, a new day, a resurrection is possible. By letting go and dying to yourself, you let Jesus work miracles in you. Sorrow can turn to joy. Hatred can turn to love. Despair can turn to hope. This continual spiritual exercise will train you for life eternal.  It will turn you into a person whose joy is beyond the circumstances of this life. Your focus will no longer be the news or the latest gossip. You will not desperately seek out the approval of others. It will be solidly resting in the truth about God in your life, the truth that he loves you, the truth that sets you free!

This is what we celebrate in Easter. Jesus rose from the dead. He conquered death. He opened the gates of heaven. Resurrection is possible. Jesus rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father where he intercedes for us. He wants all of us to join him. But until that time, he wants us to live here on Earth in joy and to love his creation. May this Easter, this Pascua, remind you of these divine truths. May we all rejoice in God's love for us and his gift of the Paschal Mystery of his Son, Jesus Christ. May we all, too, live in imitation of our Lord, and so rise one day like him. May all we do give praise to Christ who showed us how to live, die, and rise to eternal life!

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger
Pastor

Christ Sets Us Free!

Christ Sets Us Free!

Dear Parishioners and Friends in Christ,

All praise be to Christ Jesus who is risen from the dead!  Alleluia! After our lenten journey of preparation, we are finally here.  Today, we celebrate the greatest gift given to humanity: salvation won by Christ through his suffering, death, and resurrection (a.k.a. The Paschal Mystery).  Our heavenly Father sent his only begotten Son to walk with us as God-man thereby taking on all our sins, though not having sinned himself.  By his taking on our sins, crushing them in death, and rising on the third day, he has opened up for us the way to eternal life. This is the Good News! 

Many of us struggle to realize this in our lives due to all the stress we experience and the sheer weight of sins which we carry unnecessarily.  In addition, the popular media and news give us no reason to hope that anything will change.  Each one of us carry burdens which dampen our joy or even blind us to the Divine Mercy which Christ wants us to experience.  So, today is the day we celebrate the fact that God has done something miraculous for us which can set us free.  

I am the way, the truth, and the life.
— John 14:6

Do you want to be set free?  Do you want to truly live without the burden of all that holds you down? You can be set free!  You don’t need to do this alone.  You do not need to be afraid or worried all the time.  Christ is the answer.  It’s all about him. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Today, spend some time in quiet prayer.  Share with Jesus your pains and sorrows, your sins and problems.  Ask him directly and without pretense or precise language to enter your heart, to have permission to take on all these burdens, and create you anew.  Ask him to take away whatever disordered attractions keep getting you into trouble.  Allow yourself to die to yourself in Christ, to let go and let Jesus take over.  He won’t let you down.  He will never leave you.  He knows you and loves you beyond all measure, for his love is perfect and his grace is sufficient for you to be able to handle whatever hardships come your way.  He desires for you to live with him along with all the Saints and Angels in heaven. But, know that in the meantime, he has work for you to do. By letting him be the Lord of your life, he will set you on a path that will bring you joy and fulfillment.  Living by His Holy Spirit is an adventure worth living.

Let the reality of Christ’s resurrection steep in your soul.  And finally, if there is anything I or any of our staff can do to help you on your Christian journey, please let us know.  That’s why we are here.

Blessings,

Fr. William Holtzinger

Pastor