Our Holiest Week

“Holy Week” is what is says – the holiest week of the year. The General Norms for the Liturgical Year expresses it well: “Christ redeemed humanity and gave perfect glory to God principally through his paschal mystery: by dying he destroyed our death and by rising he restored our life. Therefore the Easter triduum of the passion and resurrection of Christ is the culmination of the entire liturgical year.” (#18)

The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy says: “the liturgy is the summit toward which the activity of the church is directed; it is also the source from which all its power flows. For the goal of apostolic endeavor is that all who are made children of God by faith and Baptism should come together to praise God in the midst of his church, to take part in the sacrifice and eat the Lord’s supper.” (#10)

Putting these two together suggests that for all Catholics there is no more important time for us to celebrate the liturgy than the liturgies of Holy Week.

However, the reality is that most Catholics who attend Palm Sunday Mass do not come to church again until Easter.

In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells a parable about a great dinner to which the man preparing the feast invited many. “When the time for the dinner came, he dispatched his servant to say to those invited, ‘Come, everything is now ready.’ But one by one, they all began to excuse themselves. The first said to him, ‘I have purchased a field and must go to examine it; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have purchased five yoke of oxen and am on my way to evaluate them; I ask you, consider me excused.’ And another said, ‘I have just married a woman, and therefore I cannot come.’” (Luke 14: 17-20).

No one actually refused to attend the banquet; they were just busy. What got in the way? Life.

It is significant that the liturgies of Holy Week are not “days of obligation” – unlike Sunday, no one is required to participate. What gets in the way? The same as in the parable – life. The world doesn’t slow down just because it’s Holy Week. The demands of family, work, friends, daily living continue as usual. There are many reasons – legitimate reasons – that a person can feel too busy, with many “somethings else to do”  and so it is easy to say, “I ask you, consider me excused.”

And yet … this is the culmination of the entire liturgical year, the source and summit of our Christian life.

The invitation has gone out.

And your response?

Proposed Pastoral Council Guidelines

Clicking on the link below will take you to a copy of the Proposed Pastoral Council Guidelines that were distributed at all the Masses at St. Malachi Parish yesterday.  You can print out a copy or view it on your computer.  There will be a meeting on Sunday, April 11 at 6 pm to review and discuss the Guidelines.

http://blog.junta42.com/CSM/Proposed-Pastoral-Council-guidelines.pdf

Washing of Feet

Once-in-awhile, it’s good to just sit and be amazed at Jesus’ teachings in words and in actions. According to today’s norms, one of Jesus’ amazing times is just before the Last Supper.

Then Jesus poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was tied around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?”Jesus answered, “You do not know now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.” Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” (John 13:5-9)

Putting oneself in the scene sometimes helps to experience the amazement.

Imagine being at the table with Jesus, your friend and leader, for this meal. It is apparent that we do not always understand what Jesus says or does. At times it seems he is counter-cultural past our grasp. His dealings with the Samaritan woman and the adulteress are just two examples of that. As followers of this teacher and healer, we also experienced mysterious and wonderful events. His feeding of five thousand with the loaves and fishes and his healing of the man who had been ill for 38 years are examples of the mystery and wonder. This Man is beyond our understanding, though we continue to try to understand. We love him, we respect him, we honor him.
We know we must be clean for the meal. We have walked barefoot or in sandals and our feet are dusty with the dirt of the streets. If the host of the meal is to be faithful to tradition, a person must be on-hand to wash our feet.

As we begin to be seated for the meal, it is Jesus who gets a towel and a wash basin. He kneels at Peter’s feet. Peter tries to put off Jesus from doing the work of a lower class person. But Jesus responds that Peter does not understand this action is necessary. Ultimately, Peter allows Jesus to wash his feet. Peter bends to the humility of obedience. We wonder how Peter does that, allowing Jesus to wash his feet. We wonder if we will be obedient when Jesus gets to us. Will our pride move us to challenge Jesus when he gets to us, or will we openly receive Jesus’ love as Jesus wants to love us?

Jesus enacts the humility of service to all. Even though he seems to know someone will betray him, he washes all the disciples’ feet. Even though he seems to know someone will deny him, he washes all the disciples’ feet. Even though he seems to know many will abandon him, He washes their feet. Living at the time of Jesus, we do not know all this and we still wonder at his actions.
To bring this amazement to the present, to imitate Peter in this event, would mean allowing Jesus to cleanse us. To bring this amazement to the present, to imitate Jesus in this event, would mean washing the feet of those who let us down, reject, or leave us. Are we free enough to accept and to give the unconditional love of God?

God loves us and call us first. God loves us without merit, as we are. If we are at least willing to be willing to accept the unconditional love of God and to give a taste of that love to others, we are free enough to encounter an exceptional Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Resurrection this year!

submitted by Jackie Krejcik

Holy Thursday: Washing of the Feet

After carefully studying the ritual for the Holy Thursday Mass of the Lord’s Supper, and with prayer, discussion and reflection, the Liturgy Commission has decided that we should do the traditional ritual of washing of the feet (mandatum) of selected members of the congregation this year. This is a departure from the St. Malachi tradition of hand washing that has continued for  many years and so the washing of feet may not be familiar to many people who regularly attend Holy Thursday Mass at St. Malachi. Especially because of this, it may be helpful to reflect on the purpose and meaning of the washing of feet.

It may be tempting to focus on personal preferences and immediately react in terms of “I like this” or “I’d rather do that” ritual. What may be more helpful is to enter into reflection on the symbolism and meaning of the foot washing ritual itself. This will prepare us not only to understand, but to pray the ritual on Holy Thursday.

Gabe Huck reflects on the washing of the feet as an introduction and way to enter into the prayer of the Triduum [“three days” – Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday Easter Vigil]:

The mandatum rite is meant to be much more than the re-enacting what Jesus did. It is even more than fulfilling his words to “do what I have done to you.” The ritual washing of feet, whether or not such a gesture is any longer part of a people’s common practice, powerfully expresses Holy Thursday night: first moment of the church’s Triduum in which such signs of gentle attention and service say what we have received from our Lord. This Passover we have entered contains a very specific vision of the universal human theme of death and resurrection. Volumes and centuries of witness have helped to express this. And as Paul said, every time we break bread and share the cup we are proclaiming it. But in these three days the Christians who gather to pray need once-a-year prayers and gestures. Mandatum is one of these. To wash one another’s feet is to get very close to what makes us church, to our Easter Triduum. We do so in the presence of our “elect,” those who will be baptized at the Vigil; it can be the image of the church we wish to be and offer to them.

….

Don’t be hasty to discard the traditional mandatum. True, it is not “contemporary” but neither is breaking bread or laying on hands, yet all these are far more than relics of other cultures and times. They need only be done with care and beauty to release the power of meaning beyond surface impressions. Foot washing is that kind of gesture also, if the ones involved care about what is happening, know it is a gesture that expresses and judges their lives.   [Gabe Huck, The Three Days: Parish Prayer in the Paschal Triduum, 1981]

In his blog post, Hugh McNichol  reflects on the meaning of the ritual symbolically:

Religious signs and symbols are usually very misunderstood by Catholics. The reason is not that we do not have lots of them for personal spiritual contemplation, but that the entire concept of sign and symbol is frequently lost in modern perceptions that usually involve politically correct assumptions. One great example of this confusion is the ritual Washing of the Feet, at the Mass of the Lord’s Supper on Holy Thursday. The optional observance of this ritual in the Holy Thursday liturgy has both sign and symbol dimensions associated with the actions. Jesus’ washing of the feet of the disciples is a sign of Jesus’ humility by performing this act. It is also a symbol of Jesus’ message of service that he conveys to the Apostles by acting as a personal attendant for the needs of the Apostles. Additionally, it is also central to the cultures of the Semitic and Eastern cultures to ritually wash before the participation in a meal. Good hospitality in the Jewish world included the opportunity for guests to “freshen-up,” so to speak. After travel on dusty paths and highways to celebrate the Passover meal, such cleansing would be a welcome relief.

Jesus offers however a strong indication of His determination to perform this act of hospitality for the Apostles as an example of ministerial service for His Apostles. One needs to understand that Jesus is the principle leader of this gathering and the host of the Passover meal. His actions are indeed the antithesis of what one would expect from the host in similar situations. One for example would not anticipate (the) President … attending to the needs of his guests personally at a state dinner. One does not anticipate Jesus’ actions of ritual purification. However, that is precisely what He does and the entire notion regarding personal service is conveyed to the Apostles and indirectly to the Church by the actions.   [Hugh McNichol, The Holy Thursday Ritual … a Ritual for both men and women (http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com/2008_03_ 13_archive.html)]

When Jesus finished washing his disciples’ feet, he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?” (John 13:12)  It is a question for each disciple in every age to answer.

What does this ritual mean to you?

What does it mean for St. Malachi, our new parish, formed as a Eucharistic people, united in prayer, welcoming to all, serving those who are poor and in need?

February Council Meeting Summary

Interim Parish Pastoral Council
St. Malachi Parish
Meeting – Sunday, February 21, 2010

Action Items:

1.    A discussion was held related to concerns regarding the backdoor ministry..  Fr. Tony to follow up at next meeting

2.    Matt Rossman and Kevin O’Donnell submitted a draft of the Guidelines and Regulations of the Parish Pastoral Council.  Council to review at its March meeting.

3.    St. Malachi Reverse Raffle ticket sales have decreased in the past couple of years. A decision was made to continue the raffle this year and that time re-evaluate its long-term future.  It was suggested that a specific focus for the profits of the raffle, such as the Backdoor Ministry, might generate some interest and involvement in this year’s raffle.  Fr. Tony will take our thoughts to that committee.

4.    Cluster Planning Team:  Fr. Tony and Joe Nagel reported that small sub-groups are reviewing elements of the Cluster Plan.    There is currently a vacancy for a St. Malachi representative on the cluster team.  A requet is being made for a parish rep to fill the void.

5.    Paypal:  The St. Malachi’s Parish website is now ready to begin accepting special donations.  Donations

6.    St. Wendelin’s:  A discussion was held about extending an open invitation to the people of St. Wendelin’s Parish. A letter and possible visit will be developed. The parish is scheduled to close on Pentecost Sunday.  Concurrently, the cluster team is addressing this issue.  Fr. Mark has been in dialogue with Fr. Jerry regarding St. Wendelin’s future in the Near West Side Ministry.

Commission Reports:

Liturgy:  The commission is sponsoring a Scripture Reflection series on Saturdays during Lent for the parishioners in the school building in classroom #2.  A request was made to post the schedule for Liturgical Ministers on the bulletin board in the back of the church.  Mary Jo and Charlene to follow-up.

Finance:  A call for 2010-2011 budgets from commission heads, etc. is in process.

Evangelization:  Representatives from the council have met with the Diocesan Evangelization Office.  The off ice has agreed to make a presentation to the commission (yet to be formed).

Spiritual Development:  On May 19th, the Spiritual Development Commission will once again host a Pentecostal Day of Reflection, at which individuals will have an opportunity to give their personal spiritual witness.

Stewardship:  Members of this commission attended a second training with the Diocesan Office on Stewardship.  The commission will be form sub-committees to implement the process of stewardship throughout the parishioners.  The will be education, ministry assessment, ministry fair and commitment.

Other business:  Sweatshirt sales have been good; approximately 75 shirts have been ordered.

Soup for the Soul is March 13th.  Tickets are available.

Next meeting:  March 21, 6:00 p.m, at the Center

Called to Prepare for Priesthood

On Friday, March 12, John Lee, the seminarian at St. Mary Seminary from Korea who was here during the summer for his seminary internship at St. Malachi was formally admitted by Bishop Quinn to Candidacy for ordination as a deacon and priest for his home archdiocese of Daegu, South Korea along with five men admitted to Candidacy for ordination for the Diocese of Cleveland.

There is an instruction as part of the rite, which reads, in part:

Our brothers here have already begun their preparation so that later they may be called to ordination by the bishop. Day by day they will learn to live the life of the Gospel and deepen their faith, hope and love. In the practice of these virtues they will gain the spirit of prayer and grow in zeal to win the world to Christ. Urged on by his love and strengthened by the Holy Spirit, they have come here to declare in public their desire to bind themselves to the service of God and of humankind.

 John Lee has been reflecting on the Admission to Candidacy and wrote a personal reflection about his journey and what this means to him. He shared it with me and gave me permission to share it with others. What follows is his reflection:

Today is the day.

 “Present!”

 John Lee, a child of God from Korea, will be officially accepted as a candidate for the priesthood.

 When I was in the 2nd grade, I started to serve Mass as an altar boy. A priest celebrating Mass looks very holy and wonderful at that moment, and it was then that I decided to become a priest. The parish priest was an ideal person to me because he was very faithful to God, smart, handsome, sang hymns beautifully, and played ping-pong very well.

However, today I do not see priests in the same way I did when I was young. Since I entered the seminary ten years ago, I have lived with all different kinds of priests. Most priests are good, but I realized that they are also weak human beings. I saw some priests making mistakes, sometimes neglecting prayers, hurting parishioners’ hearts by their imprudent words and actions, and even falling into clericalism.

Unfortunately, I realized that I myself at times do not do what God expects me to do. Too often, even though I decided to follow the Lord, I expected Him to do my will. What I have to do and want to do always occupies the first place. During Friday morning prayers, we hear the repenting voice of David say, “Have mercy on me, God, in your kindness. In your compassion blot out my offense.”

 Priests and seminarians are called to holiness. To be good priests, we need to change our words, hearts, and actions day by day. At this special moment as I step forward toward the priesthood, I ask God again to have mercy on me as I renew my decision to follow the Lord. At times that means carrying my cross.

 During the afternoon, I will walk the Stations of the Cross and reflect on the way the Lord accepted his sufferings. When the evening ceremony’s excitement begins, I will keep my mind on faithfully following the Lord and bearing my cross. Please, congratulate my classmates for accepting their vocations on this special day, and pray for them also to bear their cross faithfully.

 Although it has been almost 35 years since I was admitted to Candidacy for ordination, reading John’s reflection stirred my own memories of youthful dedication and idealism necessary and appropriate for preparing for ordination. It is a vivid reminder that any vocation – marriage, vowed religious life, priesthood, diaconate, lay ecclesial ministry – is both a calling from God and also one requiring personal choice and ongoing commitment.

 A church vocation especially is also the call of the community. Let us support John, his classmates (both here and in Korea) and all who are preparing for ministry with our prayers – and the example of faithfully living our Christian vocation. Let us also keep our young people, who are called to discern their vocation in our prayers.

Holy Ground

“When the Lord saw him coming over to look at it more closely, God called out to him from the bush, ‘Moses! Moses!’ He answered, ‘Here I am.’ God said, ‘Come no nearer! Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place where you stand is holy ground.’” (Exodus 3: 4-5)

 The place was holy ground because the Lord was present in that place. This is the same reason churches have always been considered holy places, because they are “the house of God.” Throughout history, people have entered God’s house with reverence and respect. The traditional practice of genuflecting to the tabernacle on entering a church is the equivalent of “removing your sandals” – acknowledging the greatness and holiness of God truly present in the Eucharist and expressing reverence and humility before God.

 One of the major complaints of those who have been critical of the liturgical changes is the perception of “a loss of the sense of reverence” at Mass and in church. People dress more casually, enter church informally, greet others and speak with them before Mass begins.

 To an extent the change in behavior reflects a change in understanding and spirituality. People come to church more conscious of their identity as members of the Body of Christ, and, therefore already being in the Lord’s presence. Gathering together, greeting one another is a genuine part of the preparation for liturgy. Liturgy is a celebration, an active and joyful act in which the whole community plays an active role, rather than passively sitting and remaining quiet.

 However, I wonder whether there is something to the perception that we have lost a degree of reverence, that we lose awareness that in church we are “on holy ground” in the presence of the Lord. In talking with the people around us (and I have often experienced concelebrating priests sitting together in church before a special Mass, such as a priest’s funeral, doing the same thing), do we get so caught up in socializing with each other that we forget the presence of the Lord? By talking (before or after Mass), do we make it difficult for those who are praying? Would it be better preparation for liturgy to greet each other briefly and then spend time with the Lord in quiet reflection and prayer?

 How do you “remove the sandals from your feet” because you are on holy ground?

Jesus’ Way of Peace: Nonviolent Love

Please join us for retreat at St. Malachi Parish on Friday March 19th from 7 to 9 pm and again on Saturday March 20 from 9 to 5 as Reverend Emmanuel Charles McCarthy presents on this wonderful topic.

He is a priest of the Eastern Rite (Byzantine) of the Catholic Church.  For 27 years he was associated with St. Gregory the Theologian Byzantine Melkite Catholic Seminary in Roslindale, Massachusetts, as teacher, spiritual director or acting rector.  Formerly a lawyer and a university educator and the rounder and original directory of the Program for the Study and Practice of Nonviolent Conflict Resolution at the University of Notre Dame.  He was also a co-founder of Pax Christi-USA.  For over forty years he has directed educational programs and conducted spiritual retreats though out the world on the issue of the relationship of faith and violence.  He was the key note speaker at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee for the 25th anniversary memorial fo the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., at that motel.  He is the author of three books:  Christian Just War Theory:  The Logic of Deceit; August 9/ and All Things Flee Thee, For Thou Fleest Me!:  A Cry to the Churches and Their Leaders to Stop Running from the Nonviolent Jesus and His Nonviolent Way.  He has also authored innumerable articles on the subject of violence and religion.

His audio/video series on Gospel nonviolence, Behold the Lamb, is universally considered to be the most spiritually profound presentation on this matter available in this format.  The writings of Fr. McCarthy on Christian Nonviolence may be found on the website of the Center for Christian Nonviolence at www.CenterforChristianNonviolence.org.

The retreat is co-sponsored by St. Patrick, St. Coleman, St. Wendelin and Pax Christi.  As well as Cleveland Catholic Worker and CAIR (Council on American/Islamic Relations).

Cost is a free will offering.

Lent, Identity, Transfiguration

transfiguration-1

Each year on the Second Sunday of Lent, the Church offers an account of the Transfiguration for our reflection. On the mountain, Peter, James and John experience the divine glory that is Jesus’ as the beloved Son of the Father. For perhaps the first time, they catch a glimpse of Jesus’ true identity: the Son of God and the son of Mary, fully divine and fully human. [Read more…]