No One Has to Tell Me to Go to Mass!

06-06-2021From Fr. Antony's DeskFr. John J. Barbella

This weekend is Corpus Christi, the Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ. It is a day to celebrate and reaffirm our Faith in the Real Presence of Jesus in the Holy Eucharist, under the appearance of bread and wine. As many of you know, it is also one of my favorite holy days of the year.

It seems appropriate that things have improved so much that our dispensation from attending Holy Mass due to the pandemic has been removed on Corpus Christi. It was a year ago that we began having public Masses again, after several months of just virtual ones. Now we are blessed to be pretty much back to normal, with our bishops reminding us that we need to be at Holy Mass personally each Sunday, unless we are truly sick or have other just cause to be excused.

I don’t know about you, but no one has to tell me that I ‘have to come to Mass.’ From my conversations with so many of you over the years, I’m sure you feel the same way. We come to Mass because we love Jesus Christ, and want to receive His Precious Body and Blood in Holy Communion. Indeed, when you really believe in the Real Presence, coming to Mass is a labor of love.

Of course, I don’t have to tell you that there is a crisis of belief in the Real Presence these days. Many reputable polls, even ones conducted by Catholic agencies, indicate that less and less people who ‘identify’ as Catholic believe that Jesus is really present in the Eucharist. Some claim they never learned this Truth. Others seem to have been taught it, but find it too hard to believe.

This has been a problem from the very first time Jesus taught about the Real Presence. After hearing Jesus say that ‘My flesh is real food and My blood is real drink’ and the one who ‘eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in him’ – a number of His followers told Him this was too hard for them to believe. But, Jesus did not water down the teaching one bit. Instead, He let them walk away, implying that if we’re going to believe in Him, then we have to believe in His Real Presence in the Eucharist.

Unlike the crowd that walked away, we who believe in Jesus’ Real Presence do everything we can to stay close to Him in the Eucharist. Many of us come to Mass every day. Others spend time in Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, sitting or kneeling in the presence of Jesus and opening our hearts to Him.

Indeed, our parish is blessed to have Adoration. While we currently are having it from 12:45–7:00pm on weekdays, we want to get back to having it every day until 11:00pm. We will need many more adorers to do this, so that Jesus is never left alone in the monstrance.

I am happy that so many have already returned to adoration, and understand why some of you cannot yet do so. We will be making a push for new adorers this weekend, as part of our Corpus Christi celebration. I want to personally encourage every parishioner who is able to spend at least one hour a week in Adoration. Come as a family and spend that time with the Lord, or come alone. Great saints have told us that Adoration is a source of many blessings, and those of us who spend time adoring our Lord in the Eucharist know exactly what they mean. Believe me when I say that spending time with our Lord in Adoration will bring you blessings you never imagined, and a new closeness with Him.

There are inserts about the Real Presence in this week’s bulletin. Please read them and pass them on to others. Let’s all make an effort to increase our own faith in the Real Presence, and pass that faith on to as many people as we can!

Next week, Mon, Jun 14- Fri, Jun 18, I will be going on my annual priest retreat. I will be staying with some other priests near my seminary alma mater, Mt. St. Mary’s in Emmitsburg, MD. While there, I will pray at the tomb of St. Elizabeth Seton and visit some nearby shrines and grottos. If you have special intentions for which you want me to pray, please write them down and give them to me before next weekend. I usually take a long list on retreat with me, and am always happy to do so. Praying for all of you is one of my favorite things to do as your priest!

It was nice to watch the Memorial Day Parade on South Main Street last Monday. Seeing many people honor those who died in the defense our country, and watching them applaud in appreciate of our current first responders was very meaningful. Let’s remember to pray for our fallen heroes, all who put themselves in danger to serve and protect the rest of us.

Please also remember to pray for me, at least one Hail Mary a day. Let’s also pray for the sick, the poor, and for peace.

Have a great week!
Fr. John