5th Sunday of Easter: Join Bishop Strickland for Sunday's Live Mass - 5.10.20
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Bishop Strickland in the live Mass for Sunday, May 10, 2020.
Dear Catholic Online Community and Catholic Online School students...
I AM HAPPY TO OFFER EACH OF YOU ANOTHER INVITATION TO HOLY MASS!
This Sunday is the fifth Sunday of the Easter Season. While we are all still moving through the disruptions caused by various reactions to the COVID 19 Virus, thank the Lord, more and more of our Churches are open - and the faithful are returning to Holy Mass. Receiving once again, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ at the Holy Altar.
There have been some silver linings in this entire experience. Many people have taken this time to reexamine their lives and ask the existential questions which can lead to a deeper faith. Questions like, what are the most important things in life? What is my relationship with the Lord?
Hopefully, this protracted time of prayer and reflection has also helped us to reaffirm the things that matter most, like living, genuine faith, loving and serving the Lord, loving our families - and loving one another. And, decide that we have an obligation to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ to a world waiting to be born anew.
The readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter are beautiful.
Our first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles tells the story of the selection of the first Deacons of the early Church, and their ordination at the hands of the Apostles.
Personally, this is a particularly moving reading for me. On the Feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1996, the hands of the Bishop were imposed upon me and I was ordained to the Order of Deacon, a member of the Clergy of the Catholic Church. My life was never the same.
There are three orders in the Sacrament of Holy Orders, Bishop, Priest and Deacon. Therefore, Deacons are clergy in the Catholic Church, not laymen. Deacons are ordained to be an "icon" (an image which makes present what it reflects) of Jesus the Servant, for the Church and the world.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church, citing the Bible, ancient Christian sources and the documents of Church Councils, explains that Deacons are ordained, not to the priesthood, but "to the ministry."
Pray for the deacons of the Church. St Stephen, the first Martyr, was a Deacon. St Philip, the one whom the Lord used to help bring the Ethiopian Eunuch to faith and baptize him, was a deacon. Early Church history was filled with the ministry of Deacons. We need holy, Spirit filled Deacons for this new missionary age of the Church.
In our second reading, the Apostle Peter writes to the early Christians - and to us, today. Like those early Christians, we are called to be living stones, built up unto a spiritual household. Jesus Christ is the Cornerstone.
The world which the early Christians were sent into was very much like the world of our own time. The religious leaders, at least some of them, had fallen away from the faith and were corrupted. Many of the civil leaders were hostile to the Gospel and the Church. Sound familiar?
But those early believers had a dynamic, living, personal relationship with the Risen Lord Jesus Christ. They experienced and lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. Do we? We can! Jesus Christ is Risen. The Holy Spirit has been poured out. We are being invited to take our place as living stones and help to rebuild the Church of this hour.
In the Gospel appointed for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Jesus teaches his followers, his disciples, that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Way to the Father. He and the Father are One. That to have seen Him is to have seen the Father.
The Apostle Philip does not get it. He says, "show us the Father". Truths such as this require living faith. Living faith is a gift from the Lord. Have we asked for that kind of living faith? Now is the time to do so. Lord Jesus, open our eyes. Open our hearts. Give us the gift of living faith.
My Bishop, Joseph Strickland of the Catholic Diocese of Tyler, will offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
I will not be assisting as the Deacon at this Holy Mass; I have other ministry assignments. But a deacon brother from my Diocese will. We invite you to join, virtually, with the faithful throughout the world in prayer and worship in an online experience of watching this Holy Mass and praying along with the Bishop and the faithful.
Let us pray that the Lord, in His Mercy, will continue to reach out from heaven to heal those afflicted with the virus - and intervene by the Power of the Holy Spirit.
Let us pray for the Church - and for all of her clergy and faithful - that she would be a witness to the Power of Living Faith in Jesus Christ and share the Good News of Jesus Christ to a world steeped in fear and darkness.
Let us pray for those in Civil leadership, that the Lord would give them the wisdom they need to make right decisions for the health, safety, and true welfare of the people. Let us pray for those in the scientific and medical community, that they would be inspired by the Lord to find a cure for this virus.
Let us pray for one another. And finally, let us believe the words and he promise of Jesus Christ. Even during this crisis, He is at work, healing, delivering, and setting people free.
The Father hears our prayers as we turn to Him, in the name of His Son and Our Savior. He sends forth the Holy Spirit to heal, inspire and give us hope in this time.
May the Lord bless you, your families, the Church, and the Nations of the world,
Deacon Keith Fournier
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