In our Catholic mass, or other liturgies that we have in our Catholic faith, the presider begins with one of 3 options:
· “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God
and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all.”
· “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the
Lord Jesus Christ.”
· “The Lord be with you.”
Notice how we do not begin mass with a casual “Hello” or “How are you doing?” Even the first words that we say reveal to us why we have come together. We are gathering for something that is not pedestrian, but rather, something spiritual. We are gathering to have an encounter with the divine, and thus, we even greet each other in this unique way.
The first and second options come directly from the writings of St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians, Galatians and Ephesians. Paul starts his letter with this very greeting. He wants the readers of the letter to put themselves in the mind of God as they read the words. St. Paul wants them to realize that he is writing to them about Godly things. As they read his letter and hear his words, they should be in the mindset of God’s love for them.
The third option comes from the Old Testament in the book of Ruth and Second Chronicles. In a similar way to the first greeting, we see people from the Old Testament greet one another with this statement, “The Lord be with you,” to remind both people that God is present there, even in their brief encounter with each other.
And so, in the Catholic mass, and liturgies, we begin with this greeting and the congregation responds, “And with your spirit.” This recent re-translation of the Latin again reveals the spiritual reason for our gather.
When we stop and realize what we are saying to each other, we can see how incredible these greetings truly are. As we begin each mass, or any of our liturgies, let us not miss the important spiritual reason for our greeting and our gathering. Then, let us give glory to God together and experience the great mercy and love He has for each of us.
The Lord be with you, Nativity.
A year ago, Pope Francis was preaching at St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and he said, “Jesus Christ manifested himself; we are invited to get to know him, to recognize him in our lives...is Jesus Christ at the center of my life?”
As Catholics, we often speak about the importance of having Jesus at the center of our lives, but why? Why should Jesus be at the center of my life? We need Jesus at the center, because it is Jesus Christ who reveals to us the best life, the path to happiness that we all desire. When my life is centered around Jesus, then I know that I have the anchor to keep me stable in times of distress, hurt, or suffering. I have the guide to help me make the moral decision. I have the Savior who heals my wounds and welcomes me into his heart.
Just as the sun is the center of the solar system and all planets orbit around it, so too it should be with the Son and our lives orbit around him.
This understanding is part of the motivation to moving the tabernacle to the center of our church Sanctuary. The
tabernacle is where we place the Eucharist after communion. The Eucharist that we receive at communion is not a symbol, but is real. The Eucharist is Jesus Christ: body, blood, soul and divinity. And so, at the conclusion of communion, we place the Eucharist in the tabernacle where He is present for our worship. By placing the tabernacle at the center, we put into our architecture the teachings of our faith: Christ should be at the center of our lives.
As Pope Francis said, when Christ is at the center of your life, “you will never be disappointed.”
So as you enter our church, I encourage you to see the tabernacle, genuflect and ask yourself that question that Pope Francis asked of each of us: “Is Jesus Christ at the center of my life?”
Today we celebrate the feast of the Epiphany, when the message of Jesus Christ reached beyond the Jewish people, to even those who were “outsiders” to the message of the Messiah. The “Three Wisemen” represent those who were not part of the Abrahamic faith and they reveal that God has come to save them.
Today, in our community and in our state, there are people who are considered to be legally “outsiders” however, they are truly people of our spiritual family and have only experienced our country. I am speaking of the “Dreamers,” those people who are/were young immigrants, brought to the United States by their families when they were only children. Because they were young, it was not their conscious decision to enter the United States and this is the only community and country they have ever known. Because of their experience, the United States of America is home.
Mindful of the needs of these young people and inspired by the love of Jesus Christ, the bishops of Minnesota are encouraging all of us to support the Dream Act of 2017 which opens up a path to citizenship for the “Dreamers”. You can contact your representatives via email or a postcard. All of the information can be found on our parish website under the “Useful Links” tab and the “Archdiocesan Announcements” link along with a video from Archbishop Hebda and Bishop Cozzens.
Through the intercession of the Holy Family, who were migrants themselves, let us ask our Lord to be with all
migrants, that they may find safe passage and a loving community.
Fr Nathan LaLiberte