Today we celebrate the Ascension of Our Lord into Heaven. Until several years ago this feast was celebrated 40 days after Easter which made it Ascension Thursday. Most of the diocese in the United States changed the celebration to the 7th Sunday of Easter so that more of the faithful would be able to celebrate the feast by going to Mass. Our Lord’s ascension into heaven marks His parting words to the apostles to go spread the Gospel to every land and nation. As He told them, He also tells us that we too must be ready and willing to spread the Good News, that is, to evangelize by witnessing to our faith in the world today.
Next Sunday, we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles. At this time, they were given the fullness of the Holy Spirit along with the gifts that the Spirit brings. We have received those same gifts at Baptism and Confirmation. On this Feast of Pentecost, we pray and reflect on how we use the gifts we have been given and pray that the Holy Spirit guide and strengthen us so that we may generously give of ourselves to God and others. Please remember to wear something RED in honor of this feast.
June 11 is the Feast of Corpus Christi, the Body and Blood of the Lord. As we have done for several years, we will have a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. This year our procession will take place at the conclusion of the 10:30am Mass. We will process through our neighborhood and then back to the church. Please pray for a nice day so that we can continue this beautiful custom we started last year. Please make some time to participate in this time we have to honor, in a very public way, our devotion to Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament. Join your parish family as we take to the street with Jesus backing us up as we strive to witness to the world of our faith in Him.
PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS. Our celebration of the Feast of the Sacred Heart will take place on the weekend of June 17 and 18 with our parish picnic following the 5 PM Mass on June 18. What would a Parish Picnic be without a raffle? This year we will have a raffle with a Grand Prize of $500. The tickets will be $5 each and will be sold starting next Sunday after all the Masses. You can also purchase tickets at the Parish Office and on the day of the picnic. The winner need not be present. The proceeds from the raffle will go to help Ukrainian refugees coming into the Cleveland area. We are joining with three other parishes to raise money to help these refugees. Please be generous in supporting our efforts.
Graduation season is upon us and there are many young people beginning new parts of their life. We have young people graduating from our own Sacred Heart School which will take place on Wednesday, May 24 at 7 PM in the church. May God bless them as they leave our school taking with them all that they have learned, especially in their Catholic Faith. We pray for them and their parents as they continue to grow in their Faith as part of our parish family. I believe that Wadsworth High School is graduating today so we pray for them as well. In the near future Archbishop Hoban High School, St. Vincent – St. Mary High School, and Highland High School will be graduating as well. I am sure there are many of our parish families who will be graduating from a variety of colleges and universities. Graduations are both happy and sad occasions as our young people move on to new experiences in their lives. Let us all pray that these new experiences will always have one constant and that is the Catholic Faith and actively following Jesus Christ in daily life.
LITURGY LESSON: EUCHARISTIC PRAYER #3: EPICLESIS
We continue today with our Liturgy Lessons on the Eucharistic Prayer, focusing on one specific moment of the prayer called the Epiclesis, which, in Greek, means “to call down upon.” Towards the beginning of the Eucharistic prayer, you will notice the priest changing his bodily posture. His hands move from the “orans” position, arms and hands extended, to stretching out his hands over the gifts of bread and wine spread upon the altar. During the action, the deacon kneels, while a server rings the bells once to call our attention to what is happening upon the altar. And what IS happening upon the altar?
In a word, fire! Recall Elijah in the Old Testament battling the false priests of Baal. Hundreds of priests of Baal gathered to challenge Elijah who stood alone as the lone prophet of the God of Israel. A contest was suggested where altars would be built and sacrifices would be prepared, and both the prophets of Baal and Elijah would call upon their God, and whichever God answered with fire, that is the true God. So as the day went on, the prophets of Baal danced and sang around their altars, crying out for Baal to reply, but nothing happened. They worked themselves into a frenzy, and even spilt their own blood in offering; still nothing. Finally Elijah ordered that his altar and sacrifice be completely soaked with water, several times. And he turns to heaven and speaks to the Lord and calls down fire upon the altar and it consumes the sacrifice.
The Lord, through the priest, sends down the fire of Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine not to consume or destroy them, but to transform them, to sanctify them, to divinized them. Just like at the Annunciation when Gabriel told Mary, the “power of the most high will overshadow you,” so too at the epiclesis, the Word becomes flesh through the outpouring and overshadowing of the fire of the Holy Spirit. Through this gesture and the accompanying words of consecration, which we will consider next week, ordinary bread and wine become the body and blood, soul, and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ.