We are fast approaching the month of May, traditionally known among Catholics as one dedicated to our Blessed Mother and celebrated on the first Sunday with a May Crowning. This is, perhaps, a good time to teach our children to call on our heavenly Mother. She will lead us to Jesus, as she has done so throughout the history of the Church, and continues to beckon us with the exhortation to, “Do whatever He tells you.” I would ask that you please make time this month to pray the Rosary, a Catholic tradition for recourse to Mary. Many great popes and saints have endorsed this powerful prayer as life-changing, one that can most certainly strengthen your family and bring peace to the world. As Saint John Paul II explained, a loving and repetitious prayer “embodies the desire for Christ to become the breath, soul and all of one’s life” (RVM, 27). In the same way, the repeated prayers in the rosary help us to grow more in touch with the deepest desires in our souls for God. The beauty of the rosary is that it can be prayed in different ways and customized to fit the pace of our lives. We don’t have to pray it all at once. We can pray it anywhere. The rosary is like a portable chapel. Even if you pray the rosary amidst distraction, it offers something beautiful to God; you make space in your daily life, offering praise and thanksgiving directly from the scripture. So, give it a try! As Fr. Patrick Peyton, a Holy Cross Rosary Priest, once said: “The family that prays together stays together.”
I take this opportunity to express our heartfelt sorrow for not being able to receive our Catechumens and Candidate into the Catholic Church during the Easter Vigil. Other postponements include the celebration of Reconciliation for SJE Kids on March 28 and the First Communion Mass with our children on May 2nd, to include May Crowning with our First Communicants and CCW on May 3rd. The Confirmation Liturgy planned for May 23rd has likewise been cancelled. There is, however, a silver lining in all of this! Those of us invested in these celebrations have been granted more time to grow with purity of faith a more profound hunger for the Lord so that, when we are finally able to come together and celebrate these liturgies, we might be more fully prepared.
I would like to draw your attention to something that we will be celebrating together as a parish henceforth: 1 May, the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker, will be noted as “Religious Brothers Day.” The Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life says, “The vocation of the Brother is part of the answer that God gives to the absence of brotherhood which is wounding the world today.”
As we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Easter, also known as Good Shepherd Sunday, let us be mindful of the readings proposed for our reflection, inviting us to focus on Our Lord who cares for us even more than a parent for his or her child. He is a shepherd, willing to give His life for us so that we might be saved. The apostle says it well in 1 Peter 2:24-25, “… By his wounds you have been healed. For you had gone astray like sheep, but you have now returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” In the Gospel of John, Jesus tells us that He is the true shepherd, the gate through which we enter into the sheepfold. In this most memorable passage from John 10:10, Jesus tells us emphatically, “… I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” How blessed are we to have a shepherd who knows our names and who leads us to eternal life? The psalmist puts it so beautifully in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.”
Today, in celebration of the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us also pray for an increase in vocations. May the Lord choose from among us men and women who would answer the call of the Good Shepherd to be his ambassadors of peace and love!
Let us continue to hear the voice of our Good Shepherd and follow his direction, for he is the only one who can lead us through these dark days.
Have a blessed week!
Fr. John Britto Antony C.S.C.