May 28 – The Ascension of the Lord
Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations,
baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit,
to observe all that I have commanded you.” (Matt.28:19-20)
The Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord is a celebration of absence and presence. It is curious that only two of the four Gospels recount the event. I remember as an altar server in the pre-Vatican II era when Ascension was celebrated as a holyday of obligation on a Thursday, forty days after Easter, as Luke recounts in Acts 1:1-11. After the gospel, one of the servers extinguished the Paschal candle. It was a visible sign that Jesus was gone into heaven, “seated at the right hand of the Father.”
In the renewed liturgy of Vatican II, Ascension is seen as an integral part of the entire Easter season which culminates with Pentecost. The focus of the Ascension shifts from the appearances of the Risen Lord to his disciples to his return to the Father, asking them to wait in Jerusalem for the coming of the Holy Spirit and giving them the Great Commission as is indicated in the quote from Matthew. Our call to go “make disciples” parallels the many events going on at this time of year, especially with graduations. Usually, an inspirational speaker addresses the grads and challenges them to go make the world a better place by using the gifts that they have received and nurtured. Jesus has blessed us with the gifts of the Spirit and sends us forth to preach the gospel, cast our demons and make disciples. The Ascension reminds us that Jesus is not absent; He is head of his Body, the Church.
Finally, on Monday May 29 we commemorate Memorial Day as we honor all those who died in the military service of our country. We will have a Mass at 9:00 a.m. at Old St. Mary Parish. Why not come and join us for Mass. It is a great day to visit the cemeteries where our loved ones are buried. Have a blessed and safe holiday weekend.
Fr. Mike Michalski
May 21 – Sixth Sunday of Easter
Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready
to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope…
(1 Peter 3:15)
With the Sixth Sunday of Easter we have two more weeks of Easter. Next weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension (formerly celebrated on a Thursday). We conclude the 50 days of Easter with Pentecost. The Easter season is a time to celebrate our renewed dignity as baptized sons and daughters in the Risen Lord. We move from the “good news” that “He is risen” to a time of waiting and preparation for the coming of the Spirit.
To return to the Scripture quote from 1 Peter, we are called to give witness to Christ even in the midst of suffering and rejection. We have been promised the gift of the Spirit who is our comfort, strength and guide. The title for the Spirit that Jesus uses is Parakletos (defense attorney). The Spirit of God enables us to read the signs of the times, as Vatican II called us to do, in a way that is different from the ways of the world. Just as we see the beauty of nature in springtime, so too does the Spirit bring forth the many gifts mentioned in chapter 5 of the letter of St. Paul to the Galatians.
The Spirt conforms our hearts to the love of God to keep the commandment of love. We are able, in the Spirit, to cast out the demons of war, violence and hatred and the spirits that separate us as a Church and a world community. The weekend of May 20-21 has been designated by Mayor Tom Barrett as the Annual Ceasefire Sabbath. This partnership of faith leaders in the community is an opportunity to address the issues of gun violence and the other problems that plague our community as we work together to promote peace and non-violence. Please pray for a safe summer.
Please note! While the Solemnity of the Ascension is celebrated in some dioceses and countries on Thursday May 25, it has been transferred to the weekend of May 27-28. We have our regular Mass schedule on May 25th.
Come, Holy Spirit, come!
Fr. Mike Michalski
May 14 – Fifth Sunday of Easter
Remember, O Most Gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession, was left unaided.
Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother, to thee do I come, before thee I stand sinful and sorrowful.
O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen. (St. Bernard)
In this month of May, we remember Mary our Mother, and all mothers, grandmothers, and all those women who so wonderfully bless creation with their love!
The Memorare was the first prayer outside of the basic prayers that my mother taught me, and it has guided me everyday.
Let’s all take a springtime breath, and as we move to the great breath of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, be filled with hope and that deep peace that comes from faith in Christ. As His Mother takes us to His heart, let us take the time to be more open-hearted and loving to everyone, especially those who are most troublesome for us and hardest to love. Let’s increase prayer, and carry the burdens of our troubled world, knowing Christ and His Mother walk right beside us, helping to carry the load!
Sincerely, with love,
May 7 – Fourth Sunday of Easter
“The gatekeeper opens it for him (shepherd),
and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” (Jn 10:2-3)
As we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Easter and First Communion in many of our parishes and the 54th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, I cannot help but reflect on my own vocation. On May 30th I will be celebrating my 41st anniversary of ordination to the priesthood.
I went to a Catholic grade school at St. Hyacinth on 14th and Becher. When I was in third grade, I already knew that I was going to be a priest. It was not a matter of thinking I might want to be a priest; I knew for certain, by God’s grace, that I would be a priest. Of course, all vocations grow in the fertile soil of family and Church. Both of my Dad’s parents, whom we called Busia and Dziadzia, had a sister who joined the Felician order. My Mom had an Aunt Sr. Georgia Banicki who taught at St. Josaphat School plus a cousin who was a Franciscan, OFM Conv. My vocation was nurtured by my family and parish community. The 12 years spent at St. Francis de Sales Seminary helped challenge and form me to be a critical thinker and a pastoral leader. I am grateful to God for my vocation and pray for young people today who are discerning their vocation.
Bishop Robert Barron commented on today’ gospel and said: “Christians …are those who have heard the voice of Jesus and have responded to it.” Pope Francis, in his annual Message for World Day of Prayer for Vocations, reminds us that there is a missionary dimension to our Christian calling. The only way we can respond to our vocation is by listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd through contemplative prayer and Eucharistic adoration. Jesus sows the seeds of a vocation and waters it by the Holy Spirit.
We especially pray for our First Communicants this weekend who will come to the table of the Eucharistic banquet for the first time. God bless their parents, guardians, families and friends who have helped support them to live our Baptismal call to hear and follow the Good Shepherd. Thanks to our staff at ESCYM and Catholic East and to their catechists who helped our children learn to know and love Jesus Christ. May they always come to the Banquet of Life.
Fr. Tim and I will be gone from May 8-10 at the 33rd Annual Spring Assembly of Priests. It will be a time for learning, renewal of friendships and an opportunity to honor our jubiliarians. Keep us in your prayers.
Peace in the Risen Lord,
Fr. Mike Michalski