Fr. Joe's Letter

Fr. Joe’s Letter

May 24, 2023

COME HOLY SPIRIT AND RENEW THE FACE OF THE EARTH! Today is the Feast of Pentecost and so we remember the coming of the Holy Spirit and the beginning of the Church. The Holy Spirit came down upon the apostles gathered in fear in the upper room. The gift of the Holy Spirit enabled the apostles to come out of their fear and go out into the world and begin to proclaim that Jesus is indeed the Christ. The Holy Spirit, whom Jesus sent to His apostles, empowered them to begin the preaching of the Gospel and as a result thousands were baptized that day. The same Holy Spirit has been given to us in Baptism and the fullness of the Spirit to those who have received the Sacrament of Confirmation.

The Holy Spirit was sent to the Church to guide us by teaching us the truth that Jesus revealed to us and by giving us the courage and resolve to follow the teaching of Jesus and so enter into His life here and now and to someday enter into His eternal kingdom. The Holy Spirit can dispel all our fears. Fear is one of the greatest obstacles to living and growing in our Faith. When we are fearful, we cannot trust God as we should and, as a result, we begin to trust more in ourselves and in what the world has to offer.  The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of love and Jesus told us that love casts out all fear. The Holy Spirit gives us all that we need to follow Jesus in our daily lives. The gifts of the Holy Spirit: wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, fortitude, piety, and fear of the Lord, are gifts that will help us, but we must be willing to use them and seek a deep relationship with Jesus. These gifts are given to all of us in the sacraments so that we can become more like Him in all that we do.

Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will show us how to use our gifts to serve others so that more may grow in faith and love. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to cast out all fear so that we can truly trust in Jesus every day.  On that note, please keep in your prayers the young people who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation on the next two Saturdays, June 3 and June 10, at the 5 PM Mass.  We are having two Confirmation Masses again this year because we have moved the age of Confirmation from the 9th Grade year to the beginning of the 7th grade year.  This is a very important time for these young people.  Please remember that the Sacrament of Confirmation does not mark the end of religious education, but it is the beginning of their adult formation in the Catholic Faith.  Fr. Pat and Claire Corridoni along with several volunteers have been developing a very fine program for our young people after Confirmation.  Please keep these young people and their parents in your prayers.

Tomorrow is Memorial Day and Mass will be at 9 AM in the church. A good way to begin our celebration of this holiday is by attending Mass and giving thanks to God for all the women and men who have died in service to our country and gave totally of themselves so that we can live in freedom.

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 also be sold in advance as well as 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. Tickets will be on sale after the Masses from now until the picnic.

We hosted a Pre Cana-Day for engaged couples last weekend.  A big thank you to Deacon Rich, Josh and Beth Watson, Dave and Karen Kennedy, and several other couples from our parish for all their hard work in preparing for the day.  A Pre Cana-Day is part of the instruction engaged couples receive as they prepare for the Sacrament of Marriage.  May God bless these and all couples preparing for marriage with a deeper awareness of His love for them so that they may love each other more deeply.

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 10:30 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.


For our Liturgy Lesson today, we will consider the words of consecration and the gestures that accompany this moment in the holy sacrifice of the Mass.  Instructed to hold the host slightly above the altar, the priest bows over the host and says, “Take this, all of you and eat of it.  For this is my body, which will be given up for you.”  In like manner the chalice, “Take this all of you and drink from it.  For this is the chalice of my blood, the blood of the new and eternal covenant, which will be poured out for you and for many for the forgiveness of sins.  Do this in memory of me.”

Three things to consider with the words of consecration, the most sacred and solemn words of the entire Mass.  First, the “I” who is speaking in these words is not Fr. Patrick or Fr. Joe, or any priest.  The personal subjectivity in the words of consecration is Jesus himself, the great high priest, who, using the instrumental causality of the priest’s own humanity, speaks HIS  words over the bread and wine, the same words he uttered at the Last Supper.

Secondly, the same Jesus who said to the lepers, “be made clean” and they were made clean, who said to the dead Lazarus, “come out” and the man came out, speaks to mere bread and wine, through the priest, “this is my BODY…this is my BLOOD” and so it is.  His word doesn’t merely describe reality; his word makes reality.

Thirdly, the elevation accompanied with the triple ringing of bells.  The priest, by the power of the spirit, acting through and with and in Jesus, elevates the consecrated host and the consecrated chalice in a gesture of offering to the Father.  Through the centuries, Catholics have been falsely accused of believing that we re-sacrifice Christ over and over again in the Mass.  This is not true, nor what we believe.  Christ offered himself once for all.  But here and now, by the power of the spirit, we participate mystically, and TRULY, in the real ONE offering of the Son of God to the Father.

Fr. Joe Labak