Ascension of the Lord

May 24, 2020

HAPPY EASTER! Today we would normally celebrate the Seventh Sunday of Easter, but now we celebrate the Ascension of our Lord. The traditional 40 days after Easter was changed several years ago in many dioceses in the United States to the 7th Sunday of Easter. Even though Jesus has “gone away” He is closer to us now than He could have been if He had physically remained on earth. The Book of Acts which we have been reading as each Sunday’s first reading is the story written by St. Luke of the Gospel’s spread once the ministry of Jesus was over and the Apostles received the Holy Spirit to be witnesses of “all they had heard and seen.” Our first reading today begins with the story of the Ascension as Luke writes to Theophilus, (“Lover of God.”), It must have been incredible to watch Jesus ascend into the sky. Who wouldn’t be stunned by such an event. But even as the Apostles looked intently at the sky,  suddenly two men dressed in white garments, (angels?), proclaim to them that, “this Jesus who has been taken up from you into Heaven will return in the same way as you have seen Him going into Heaven.” For over 2000 years the Church has waited for that great day. Until then we have a job to do. We hear Jesus tell us, “All power in Heaven and on earth have been given to me. 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, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” The Church refers to this last command of Jesus as the Great Commission. Every time we baptize a child or an adult into the Church we directly fulfill this commission. Every baptism makes a new disciple of Christ. At the very end of today’s Gospel we have a powerful reminder, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.” Jesus is with us always through the Holy Spirit that will give power to His disciples, to His Church, to US, to live the great commission. He is with us most especially in the Holy Eucharist, His Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity in our Churches and soon to be into our hearts once again. Although Jesus has gone “into the clouds,” He is closer than he would have been if He had physically stayed among us. O Lord, let us know You are near.

On Monday of this week, we will celebrate Memorial Day, with Mass on the Grass at McMahon Field at 9:00am, (weather permitting). Being outside will allow us to keep proper distancing and ensure everyone’s safety. Please wear a mask or some form of face covering, bring a lawn chair, and space yourselves accordingly. This will be a good preparation for returning to Mass in Church. Please join us.

We WILL resume Weekend and Daily masses beginning NEXT weekend, May 30/31 as we celebrate Pentecost Sunday with our regular masses, Saturday at 5pm, and Sunday at 10:00am. If you haven’t done so already, PLEASE read the guidelines from the Archdiocese that will be in place for the foreseeable future as we worship together. There are to be NO exceptions to these guidelines. These include social distancing in the pews, and the refraining from gathering before and after Mass in Church. Masks or some form of face coverings will be required, (not just for your own safety, but also your brothers and sisters at St. Luke.), It may be removed only for receiving our Lord in Holy Communion. Holy Communion will distributed in the hand ONLY and under the form of Hosts Only. As you come forward to receive Communion, a distance of six feet will need to followed by everyone coming forward. Through the generosity of the Oratory of Ss. Gregory and Augustine, the Church was professionally sanitized last week. The sanitizer lasts 2 weeks and makes the pews, kneelers and all hard surfaces safe against viruses. The Oratory plans to continue treatment of the Church every two weeks. God bless them. Weekday mass will return on Tuesday, June 2nd at 8:00am. Due to the current Covid-19 situation, our masses will need to be in Church in order to adhere to the guidelines.

After prayer and careful consideration, and to facilitate coordination with the Oratory, for the foreseeable future I will be employing an option of celebrating Mass called, “Ad Orientem,” which means “to face East.” With this option, parts of Holy Mass will be celebrated with us all facing in the same direction, East. That will mean that parts of the Mass will have me with my back to the congregation, and other times, not. While it is an option, it will be a change from normal, but for over 10 weeks there hasn’t been a “normal.” Ad Orientem will allow both of our communities to worship with minimal interruptions. Due to the size of the Oratory, Msgr. Morris has added another Mass on Sundays at 6:45am, since attendance at mass will be limited by social distancing for the time being. Please feel free to share your comments with me.

God Bless! Have a Blessed and Happy Ascension!

Remember those 3 Hail Marys (Fr. Pete)