Next Sunday: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time Fr. Schmitz
Appreciation for all who helped during the Christmas Season
As best as I can remember, I celebrated thirty-six Masses between Sacred Heart and St. Ann between December 24 and Epiphany. (This does not count the nine Masses Fr. Schmitz celebrated.) For each of these Masses, Fr. Schmitz and I relied upon lay ministers like musicians, lay distributors, lectors, ushers, bereavement ministers, church decorators, sacristans, staff from both parishes, and others to assist us. I do not want to neglect including anyone, but I do want to say a huge “Thank You” to all involved in making the Christmas Season merry and prayerful. Special thanks to all who organized and brought about the seasonal decorations in the Church. I know I speak for Fr. Schmitz when I say, “We could not have done it without you.” I am deeply grateful to all who helped in any way. Thanks to all who helped make this unusual “Christmas with COVID restrictions” as cheerful as possible.
Congratulations to the Split the Pot winner
Sincere congratulations to Bill Falk, this year’s winner of the Fr. Tharp’s New Year’s Eve Split the Pot. I offer my thanks to all who participated by buying tickets. I also want to offer special thanks to Tim Vaughn, our parish council member who again took this task on, and both chaired and oversaw most of the selling and all the other intricacies of making the process a success. Also special thanks to Mark Conese, our parish council president, as well as the other parish and school volunteers who helped in selling tickets. Finally, I offer thanks to all who purchased and sold tickets making the annual endeavor a success. In a year when COVID robbed us of the much needed revenues from the annual festival, the revenues to the parish from this fundraiser are much needed.
Moral implications of COVID-19 Vaccines
Some have accused the Catholic Church of moral duplicity in its teaching regarding abortion and the use of fetal cells harvested from aborted babies in the development and testing of vaccines like the COVID-19 vaccine. The USCCB website cited below reports the following: One of the three pharmaceutical companies making the vaccine apparently did use a compromised cell line in design, development or production, but it would seem that the other two did not. Later confirmatory tests applied to this vaccine manufactured by the three companies may have used the compromised HEK293 cell line.
The entire document is available on the USCCB.org website at: https://www.usccb.org/moral-considerations-covid-vaccines.
The following statement from page 5 of the referenced document seems to sum up the advice of the USCCB regarding the moral issue associated with the vaccines. It reads, “In view of the gravity of the current pandemic and the lack of availability of alternative vaccines, the reasons to accept the new COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna are sufficiently serious to justify their use, despite their remote connection to morally compromised cell lines.”
Communion on the Tongue
Please remember as I stated in recent articles, until the threat of COVID is over; 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. I am not willing to ask Fr. Schmitz or any of the Lay Eucharistic Ministers to take a risk with which they are uncomfortable. Be assured, I will follow all the protocols necessary to administer on the tongue safely.
Live Streaming a precept Mass from St. Ann and Sacred Heart each week
Please remember to access the Sacred Heart / St. Ann Pastoral Region youtube site by clicking on the following link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg
Reflection on Scripture: The Feast of the Baptism of the Lord
Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan, not for the remission of sin, (Jesus is the Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity. He cannot sin!) but as the inauguration of his public ministry. As such, there is an accompanying “Theophany” of the Voice of God saying, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” Thus, the Sacrament of Baptism was instituted by Christ in action and words.
In the administration of every sacrament there is an action and words, or as we say theologically, matter and form. The matter (or action) in baptism is the pouring of water. The form (or words) is “I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.” In the administration of every sacrament in the Catholic Church there is matter and form necessary for the validity of the sacrament. However, it is critical to note that sacraments are NOT magic. The Trinitarian formula used in baptism is not an incantation. Remember from your Baltimore Catechism that a “Sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by Christ, to give grace.” In other words, the seven sacraments are sentimental gifts from God made holy and special by the giver. Baptism is a gift from God, administered by the Church, to allow God’s grace to be infused into the recipient. Each sacrament is miraculous! All are efficacious! Nevertheless, no sacrament should ever be dishonored by calling it “magic.”
As we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord this Sunday, let us recommit ourselves to use the graces of the Sacraments we have received to live for the Lord as an effective and committed member of the Body of Christ.
Next Week: Second Sunday in Ordinary Time
1 Sm 3:3b-10, 19
1 Cor 6:13c-15a, 17-20
Theme: Peter the Rock!