Next Sunday: Third Sunday of Easter Fr. Tharp
Chaplet of Divine Mercy for Pastoral Region at St. Ann
Today is Divine Mercy Sunday. We will celebrate the (sung) Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3:00 p.m. at St. Ann. I will live stream the celebration on our You Tube page. This is the Divine Mercy celebration for the Sacred Heart and St. Ann pastoral region. Please bring your rosary.
Archbishop’s Invitation to return to “in-person” celebration of Mass
I have posted at the end of my article a letter dated March 15 from Archbishop Schnurr asking everyone to prayerfully consider returning to the “in-person” celebration of Mass during the Easter Season. The Archbishop makes it clear that he is extending the dispensation from the precept of Sunday attendance for everyone in the Archdiocese, so as not to tax the conscience of those who (because of their medical condition) still need to stay away from crowds.
Convocation of Priests
I will be largely unavailable after morning Masses on Wednesday, April 21 as it is a day-long virtual convocation for the priests of the Archdiocese. I will be in my office sitting in front of a computer, attending a Zoom convocation, but I will not be able to answer the telephone or leave to do a sick-call.
Beacons of Light
If you have access to the internet, go to https://catholicaoc.org/beacons-of-light or type Beacons of Light into your favorite search engine. The Archdiocese has known we were facing a shortage of priests for the last forty years. Now we need to use all the modern tools at our disposal and the power of the Holy Spirit to plan for our future of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. This is why we must all participate as parishioners of our pastoral region in the Beacons of Light initiative, so we can look to the future with hope and trust in the Holy Spirit.
I encourage everyone to check this website out and pray for this important initiative.
Also, please note that the Archbishop’s Easter message is on You Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PgOwGNLia-Q
Communion on the Tongue
Because we are still within a time of high risk for certain segments of our population, if you wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, you must come to me (Fr. Tharp) ONLY; and you must be sure you are at the end of my line. Please do not present yourselves to Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers for communion on the tongue! If on Sundays, you see that I am going to be at St. Ann, then you must come to St. Ann that Sunday if you want to receive ONLY on the tongue. If on Sundays, you see that I am going to be at Sacred Heart, then you must come to Sacred Heart that Sunday if you want to receive ONLY on the tongue. I always celebrate Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart and 5:15 p.m. at St. Ann every week.
Live Streaming a precept Mass from St. Ann and Sacred Heart each week
Live streaming will continue for the sick, shut-ins, and others unable to come to Mass. Please remember to access the Sacred Heart / St. Ann Pastoral Region You Tube site by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg
Reflection on Scripture: Divine Mercy Sunday
In human society, justice is almost always “retributive.” The blindfolded Greek goddess of justice holding the scales in her left hand and a sword in her right hand are a well-known concrete symbol of the abstract concept. But for us as followers of Christ, God’s justice is not retributive but defined by mercy. The symbol of justice for Christians is not the blindfolded woman; but rather the cross of Christ.
In today’s gospel, Thomas refuses to believe that Jesus is resurrected until he has tangible evidence. The resurrected Jesus uses the moment to state the often repeated words, “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.” But how does a skeptic put his or her faith in an intangible historical reality? For me, the answer is that you look at the sentimental gift left for us by the giver, verifying the authenticity of the one (Jesus) who gave the gift. The Eucharist is the tangible reality (the sentimental gift) of the giver; the resurrected Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Divine Mercy is an intangible reality that we can reach out and touch, receive, and treasure in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Jesus said to Thomas, “Need physical proof of the resurrection? Put your finger in the nail marks, you hand into my side and believe.” Jesus says to us today, “Do you need physical proof of the resurrection? Come forward and receive my body and blood.” Alleluia! Taste and see the goodness of the Lord.
Next Week: Third Sunday of Easter
Acts 3:13-15, 17-19
1 John 2:1-5a
Theme: The resurrected Jesus is not a ghost!
On March 15, Archbishop Schnurr sent the following letter to the faithful of the archdiocese.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Peace be with you this Lenten season.
This has been a most unusual and difficult year for all of us. A year ago at this time, none of us envisioned the anxiety, illnesses, deaths and other losses that were coming as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. We likewise could not have anticipated that the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation put in place last spring would still be in effect a full year later.
From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, in the interest of the common good, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio have voluntarily cooperated with the guidance of public health authorities. As you know, last March we temporarily suspended the public celebration of Mass for the safety of our parishioners and to help slow the spread of the virus. In May, we reinstated the public celebration of Mass with strong health and hygiene protocols in place. We have been able to keep churches safely open for public worship since that time thanks to the vigilance of parish leaders and parishioners alike.
As good news in overcoming the pandemic continues to develop each day – and as we together approach the Paschal Triduum, the center of the liturgical year – please prayerfully consider returning to in-person celebration of the Mass this Easter season. As more and more of the social aspects of our lives approach normalcy, so should our communal worship of God, who “so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).
The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life (Lumen Gentium, 11). At Mass our souls are nourished by both God’s Word and the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We recall Christ’s own words as he foretold the salvific gift of the Holy Eucharist: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6: 54-56). This unmediated connection with Our Lord is only possible in person. Moreover, the Mass is where we come together in communion as God’s holy people. Christ brought us together as Church because we need each other. We cannot return to the God who created us out of love without the help and support of other Catholics. This is why God gives us the Church, and this is what we share in most completely at Mass.
Nothing can adequately replace gathering together in person for the live celebration of the Mass. Because the commandment to keep holy the Lord’s Day is never suspended, I am very grateful for the efforts of our pastors and parish leaders to offer remote access to the Mass through livestreaming, and for the many other creative ways in which they have tirelessly continued to minister over these trying months. Many resources for keeping the Lord’s Day holy are available online for those of you who are still unable to participate in person.
The coronavirus pandemic, despite positive trends and widespread vaccination, is not yet over. For that reason, the dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation will remain in place at least for now to not unduly burden the consciences of those who have serious health concerns, either for themselves or for someone in their immediate care. Likewise, please maintain vigilance when it comes to wearing masks, social distancing and using hand sanitizer in church. The health and safety of our communities continues to be of paramount importance. However, for those who are able safely to return, our priests, deacons and I wholeheartedly look forward to worshipping with you in person once more.
During this Lenten season, we unite our sufferings to those of Our Lord Jesus Christ and we trust in the glorious hope of His Resurrection. May God bless you and your loved ones.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Dennis M. Schnurr
Archbishop of Cincinnati