Back when I was young enough to ride roller coasters at amusement parks, I remember the thrill of that coaster car ratcheting up to the top of a long hill (click-click-click-click….click…. click) and the minute it crested over the top of the hill starting to fly down the hill, faster and faster until it seemed as if you were in free fall. As a priest of many years, I always get that same feeling of things speeding up almost beyond control right after Easter, when everything has to be crammed in between Easter Day and June, when everyone wants to wrap things up before the summer vacation hits and people skip town or hit the pause button for vacations. I suspect that will be even more so this year, as vaccinations ramp up and people who have voluntarily cooped themselves up for a long time start wanting to get out again. A lot of pent-up demand! So just wanted to give you a “preview of coming attractions” for the whirlwind of happenings in the parishes between now and the end of June.
In mid-April we celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday with about 50 people to share in the special Easter blessing of forgiveness and the great gift of confessions. In early May, we are planning a blessing of tools for Saturday, May 1st, the feast of St. Joseph the worker. We are still celebrating the special year of St. Joseph, where the Church focuses on the intercession of this great saint, the guardian of the redeemer and the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He was what St. Luke calls a “tekton” – sometimes translated ‘carpenter,’ but better, a ‘workman’ or ‘tradesman.’ He worked with his hands and tools, essentially anonymously, in his mission to support and protect the Holy Family so it is entirely fitting that all of you who have tools you use for home life or your trades can bring them to the parish to be blessed, as we follow his lead and ask his intercession. That will be at St. Peter at 9:00 a.m. You don’t have to be a parishioner (or even be Catholic) to attend, so feel free to invite friends and neighbors. I hope this will be a new tradition for the parishes.
That same weekend, we will be celebrating First Communion for our parishes’ children. That is always a very happy day. For over a century now the Church has broadened her invitation to receive Holy Communion not just to young adults but to all children after the age of reason. It is beautiful to see the children in their innocence and wonder receiving the gift of the Lord’s very Body and Blood which we so often take for granted. It helps us to restore our sense of wonder, much the same as seeing children opening presents at Christmas renews our gratitude for everything God gives to us, especially the gift of family. We will be inviting or First Communicants back to participate in the Corpus Christ procession on June 6th, on the feast of the Holy Body and Blood of Christ (see below).
Throughout the month of May, we honor Mary the Mother of God. So it’s fitting that in mid-may we remember our mothers and the gift of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church. We will incorporate a May crowning to honor the Blessed Mother on First Communion weekend.
In mid-May, our local church of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati will celebrate with great joy the ordination of seven men to the holy priesthood. Archbishop Schnurr will lay his hands on them at the Cathedral Basilica downtown. When he confers sacred orders upon them, that is a gift not just for the men, but given to the whole Church. Please pray for them as they start their first assignments in very challenging times of priest shortage. Starting in the middle of May, the Church celebrates a barrage of solemn feast days – four (count ‘em, four) Sundays in a row. There’s Ascension Thursday (moved to Sunday in our diocese); Pentecost, Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi [Body and Blood of Our Lord].
Ascension celebrates the Lord returning to His Father in Heaven to reign with Him in glory, where we hope to follow at the end of our earthly life, reigning with Him on His throne; Pentecost ends the Easter season and reminds us of the gift of the Holy Spirit the Lord continues to send upon His Church, fulfilling His promise that He would be with us always until He comes again in Glory; Trinity Sunday reminds us of just Who God is – the Communion of Persons in an eternal exchange of divine love in which we share; and finally Corpus Christi reminds us of the gift Christ’s Real Presence in the Eucharist. In a way, this last one is the “flip side” of the Pentecost, because one of the greatest gifts of the Spirit is the miracle of transubstantiation at every Mass, so Our Lord Jesus is physically with us in sacramental form. We hope to have a very special Corpus Christi outdoor procession this year to honor Our Eucharistic Lord.
At the end of June, St. Peter Parish hopes to have a special parish picnic and Mass for the solemn feast day of Ss. Peter and Paul, the greatest Apostles and evangelists of the Church. We are tentatively planning on transferring that feast day Mass from Tuesday the 29th to a Sunday (June 27th) so all parishioners can share in it. So get ready for a busy spring in the parishes! Through all the joy, excitement and devotion, we know that the Lord is always with us. Alleluia!