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Pastor’s Message




I apologize for being lazy and not submitting a bulletin article for the last two months. I was gently reminded to get my article in ’cause the deadline was looming. I’m not very good with a ‘gentle’ reminder.. .lol. I have now been issued a ‘warning’ that I’d better have something for this bulletin. So, here I am on the day of the deadline hammering out this article. Looking back at the December 2022 bulletin, I began answering the question I’m often asked: “Why does the priest do that at Mass?” There are many actions within the Liturgy that can seem esoteric (obscure or meant to be known only by a few) but are very important for a deeper appreciation of the beauty and meaning of each Mass. I ended the January 2023 bulletin explaining what the signing with the cross of the forehead, lips and heart meant just before the Gospel is read.

Moving along, I want to point out an action that is so often overlooked and taken as not important (I guess) but, when thoughtfully considered, is an important expression of an awesome part of our Profession of Faith…that ancient Creed, the Nicene Creed, handed down to us in 325AD. It’s a long list of all that we believe as a Christian community. It’s required to be said at all Sunday liturgies, except when there is a renewal of Baptismal Promises when what we believe is expressed in a question/answer form. We tend to run through the articles of our faith because we say it so often. If you’ll notice, when we come to the phrase BY THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, HE WAS BORN OF THE VIRGIN MARY, AND BECAME MAN, we BOW (from the waist) as a reverence of how awesome it is that the Son of God would condescend to become human. It may seem like a small detail, but that bow impresses on us how special we must be to God. So, try not to let that phrase just be run through without special notice. It’s awesome!

Now we approach the part of the Mass called the Liturgy of the Eucharist. The altar and our gifts of bread and wine are prepared. Unfortunately (I think), as the altar and gifts are prepared, you, the assembly is distracted by the singing of the Offertory hymn. However, you may have noticed that, after pouring the wine into the chalice(s), the priest or deacon adds some water. (Some priests are obsessive about adding only one drop…). What’s that all about?

In the ancient world, wine was often very strong, gritty or thick, so water was added to make it more drinkable and pleasing to the taste. It became just good manners to do so. As with so many customs of the ancient world, the early Christians ‘baptized’ these customs. The wine took on the symbolism of Christ, our precious drink. The water represented us, ordinary humanity. Once the water is poured into the wine, it cannot be extracted. It becomes wine. From the 4th century, the ‘baptized’ meaning represents the mystery of humanity’s never being able to be separated from God permanently because of Jesus’ coming and pouring His life out for us. Hopefully, we become inseparable from Christ. Christ is inseparable from us. It’s a beautiful ancient custom still retained when every Mass is celebrated. As the water is poured into the chalice containing ordinary wine, the priest or deacon pray silently, “By the mystery of this water and wine may we come to share in the divinity of Christ who humbled Himself to share in our humanity.”

The glory of our Roman Catholic Mass is that many of these ancient customs and gestures are still retained up to our present day and still retain their sacred meaning.

When the gifts (the hosts and wine presented by the assembly) are prepared by the priest/deacon/sacristan, the priest then washes his hands. Couldn’t he have washed his hands before Mass? Again, this is an ancient custom originating when the gifts presented were not just bread and wine for the Eucharist but cheese, goats, ducks, eggs, chicks, maybe a cow…you get the idea. They were whatever the people had to give. They were then used mainly for the feeding of the poor. You can imagine that the priest receiving these gifts would need to wash his hands before continuing the Eucharist. Eventually, someone invented the offertory envelope…lol. The gifts became the bread and wine and the monetary offerings of the people. However, the gesture of washing hands continued.

(Notice: it’s a washing of hands, not fingers.) It was ‘baptized’ to represent the priest wishing to be washed clean of sin before beginning the celebration of the Eucharist. He prays silently: “Lord, wash away my iniquity; cleanse me of my sin.” It’s taken from Psalm 25.

With the washing of his hands, the celebrant is now ready to begin the Eucharistic Prayer, the heart of our Catholic Liturgy. In this prayer the priest acts in the person of Christ as head of His body, the Church. He gathers, not only the bread and wine, but the substance of our lives, and joins them to Christ’s perfect sacrifice, offering them to the Father. [USCCB, United Stated Council of Bishops].

(To be continued next month…promise.).



This month’s message is the fourth part of my series explaining some of the actions within the Mass that might seem mysterious or are just overlooked but have a significant purpose in our understanding and our participation in the Church’s Eucharistic liturgy.

After the celebrant washes his hands, symbolically asking for a clean heart and cleansing of any sin as he approaches the sacred moment of Consecration [but historically a practical washing of hands after handling the many kinds of gifts originally brought up …bread, wine, cheese, eggs, chickens, etc. to be then distributed to the poor], we begin the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

An action so often overlooked or whose significance is simply not understood is the Epiclesis, a Greek word meaning ‘invocation’. It is a dramatic action asking the Father to call down the Holy Spirit upon the bread and wine to sanctify them to become the very Body and Blood of Jesus. It is invoked in all the Eucharistic Prayers but most dramatically in Eucharistic Prayer II [which is prayed most on Sundays cause it’s shortest…]. The celebrant dramatically raises his hands over the gifts sending them over the gifts ‘like the dewfall’. The actual Consecration occurs with the words of Jesus at the Last Supper. Notice also that the Eucharistic Prayer is addressed to the Father. What we do we do in and through Christ, His Son, in the unity we share by the Holy Spirit. In the old Latin Mass this most important action of ‘epiclesis’ called for the ringing of the bell. Not because it was so important but to get the people to stop their private devotions [rosary, novenas, daydreaming] and pay attention to this important part of the Liturgy. Now-a-days, no bell is rung because we’re suppose to be attentive throughout the Mass.

The Eucharistic Prayer ends with the ‘Great Amen’. It’s called ‘Great’ because it places an exclamation point (!) that concludes what has happened: simple gifts brought forward have been transformed into the Body and Blood of Jesus. I have to say as a celebrant I can gage the assembly’s participation in praying the Eucharistic Prayer with me by the response to its conclusion: ‘Through Him, and with Him and in Him in the unity of the Holy Spirit all glory and honor is Yours, Almighty Father for ever and ever…..’ Even if not sung, a weak ‘Amen’ signals they’ve been listening. A strong ‘Amen’ signals they have been participating and praying with me. I am pleased to report that usually it is a strong ‘Amen’.

The Sign of Peace, after the praying of the Our Father and the two simple prayers after, is meant to be an actual offering to those around us the Peace of Christ that we have in our hearts as we prepare to come forward to receive Communion. That Peace offered is also meant to be a resolve to be at peace with those with whom we might be estranged. An extending of peace symbolically to those whom we have hurt or who have hurt us. We want that peace as we prepare to receive the Prince of Peace. We’ve already done the greeting, saying hello, doing the ‘howdy doody’ before we started Mass. This is a solemn moment, not casual. Again, once we realize its true meaning, this handshake/kiss/wave becomes important and meaningful.

The actual breaking of the large Host, the Body of Christ, takes place after the Sign of Peace. Notice it does not take place during the words of Consecration when we recount how Christ, at the Last Supper, took bread, said the blessing, broke the bread…It takes place as we’re preparing to come forward to Holy Communion to receive the Lamb of God. The Lamb Whose body was broken for us on the cross. There is also a reference to Jesus being the Spotless Lamb offered for us. The spotless lamb offered in the Temple would have had its throat cut, blood gathered and sprinkled for purification, and the body torn apart to be burnt or distributed. The breaking of the Host, the Body of Christ, at this moment as we ask the Lamb of God to have mercy on us and grant us peace reminds us how costly our Salvation was.

After this ‘fraction’/breaking of the Host, you might have noticed that a small part of the Host is placed in the celebrant’s chalice. It’s done without much drama but has a historical significance. Participation in the same Holy Sacrifice was regarded as a sign and pledge of ecclesiastical Com-munion; mutually to prove and maintain this, Popes and bishops sent to other bishops, or priests too, parts of Consecrated Hosts, which the recipients dropped into the chalice and consumed …This custom existed in Rome until about the ninth century. There the Pope on Sundays and feast-days sent to those priests who had charge of Divine service at the churches within the city, the Eucharist as a symbol of communion with the ecclesiastical Head, and as a sign that they were empowered to celebrate. This action has continued to this day. This simple gesture reinforces what we prayed in the Eucharistic Prayer: ‘Remember, Lord, Your Church spread throughout the world, and bring her to the fullness of charity, together with Francis, our pope, Bishop DiNardo, our bishop …’ What we are doing unites us with the Universal Church who finds our unity in our Holy Father and our Bishop.

As has happened in many instances, this action also took on an additional meaning: the uniting of the Body with the Blood of Christ. Theologically, the Consecrated Host contains the fullness of Christ. The Consecrated Precious Blood is the fullness of Christ. Understanding the gesture’s historical roots makes it more meaningful and definitely easier to explain.

Something you might find interesting and haven’t thought about: Communion has to be distributed. Communion cannot be a come forward and serve yourself. We come forward to receive the Body of Christ and His Precious Blood. We are permitted to do so actively in the hand or passively on the tongue.

One gesture I myself take fore granted is the celebrant’s extending his hands in prayer. This is called the ‘orans posture’, orans latin meaning praying. This orans posture, in which the celebrant has his arms extended, is the oldest gesture of prayer in Christendom. In this posture, we are physically opening and surrendering ourselves to God. Moreover, the celebrant’s outstretched arms remind us of Christ’s outstretched on the cross, opening His arms and drawing us to Himself. Indeed, the cross adds depth to this simple gesture of prayer. As the celebrant is opening himself up to offer prayer and the Eucharistic sacrifice, so we too open ourselves to unite our hearts and minds as a Community of faith with the Lamb Who sacrifices Himself for us. Pope emeritus, Benedict XVI, even encouraged this gesture in our private prayer. It has become somewhat a custom, though not part of the ritual itself, to pray in the orans posture, arms extended in union with the celebrant, as we pray together the prayer Christ taught all His disciples, the Our Father. So…Father is in a praying posture with arms extended, not getting ready to fly…lol.

I hope this series has been helpful in understanding, appreciating and spiritually enlightening some of the actions and gestures so important in celebrating Mass with a full, active and conscious participation. That means all of us, celebrant and assembly. In writing this series, I myself have been reminded of how important are the gestures I do within the Liturgy and how conscious I need to be of their meaning when I do them. Hope the same insight and appreciation for you.

In order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects, it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain [28] . Pastors of souls must therefore realize that, when the liturgy is celebrated, something more is required than the mere observation of the laws governing valid and licit celebration; it is their duty also to ensure that the faithful take part fully aware of what they are doing, actively engaged in the rite, and enriched by its effects.”

Constitution On The Sacred Liturgy, Vatican Council II

Youve Made 50 Years of Priesthood A Pleasure!

I am so blessed to be celebrating my 50th anniversary of my priestly ordination here at our communities of St. Mary and St. Joseph. I’ve reflected more than once that almost half [23years….beginning 24th July 1st] have been here. Thanks to everyone of you for making me the envy of every priest in the Archdiocese…lol. I have received such an outpouring of love and support that I am somewhat embarrassed cause I don’t feel I’ve worked hard enough to deserve it. When Bridget and I wake up each morning, we both look forward to the new day and everyone who will cross our paths. We both are very spoiled… who is spoiled more is open to debate…lol. Thanks so much for the many cards and gifts. The precious gift has been your support, encouragement and affection showered on me during these many years.

Some fellow priests have asked if I plan to retire any time soon. I’ve heard there are a lot of priests out there that have their sight set on coming here. I’ve also been questioned by parishioners… ‘You’re Not planning to retire soon, are you?’. My response to both has been: ‘That would be stupid. I have it too good!’.

I was ordained on April 14, 1973 at my parish church of Sts. Cyril and Methodius in Corpus Christi in the presence of my pastor, Msgr. Francis Kaspar, who baptized me, gave me my 1st Holy Communion, was there for my Confirmation by Bishop Garriga…all at Sts. Cyril and Methodius. In the early 70’s it was thought that ordination in one’s parish might increase vocations to the Priesthood. Am not sure it worked out that way cause, after several years, ordinations were again celebrated in the Cathedral church of the diocese. That is the practice today.

I asked for the date of April 14th cause it was the earliest date Bishop Morkovsky would ordain that year. He agreed. I didn’t realize that April 14th was the Saturday before Palm Sunday. My Dad demanded that the Ordination Mass be good for the Sunday. Again, Bishop Morkovsky agreed. I might be the only one ordained with the Passion being read at his ordination Mass. I wondered at the time if having the Passion read was a sign of what my Priesthood would be like. It definitely has NOT! I have been blessed with assignments at wonderful parishes, with wonderful dedicated pastors. Again,

Thanks so much. 50 went by in a flash! Having too much fun!!

WE ALL REMEMBER HOW SUCCESSFUL THE QUILTERS’ SHOW WAS HERE AT ST. MARY’S SEVERAL YEARS AGO. It ran its course and was a highlight of quilter shows in Texas. This was due to the hard work of so many, especially Lorraine and Ron Nilson, its promoters and organizers. Our Stitchin’ Sisters still meet on Wednesdays at St. Joseph’s and create beautiful, handcrafted quilts for our bazaars and community events. 
I have become aware of an extraordinary quilt show that will take place later in the year and thought some of you might be interested:

European Patchwork Meeting
September 14th—17th 2023
Alsace, France
Tour leaving September 12…returning September 21

The quilts on display are by invitation and created by big name quilters and designers from all over the world. They are displayed in four medieval villages, in churches, theaters, villas and public buildings. After viewing the quilts, there will be days touring Germany and Switzerland.

A group will be leaving from Bush intercontinental on September 12… returning September 21. The organizer is a noted quilter, Marchita Mauck, of Baton Rogue. I’m thinking of jumping on board…For information contact Marchita at [email protected] .com or call her at 225-802-2434.

Family Life Center 2023 Renovations

Most of you are aware that we will be expanding our Family Life Center soon. The architectural firm Ziegler Cooper is in the process of finalizing the construction drawings and we are hoping to have the final pricing in the next (45) days. The initial preliminary cost of the renovation is $1,700,000.00 plus. 

The renovation consists of a (2) story addition on the west end of the building which will provide (6) additional classrooms and (2) additional storage areas. The main restrooms will also receive a face lift along with a fresh paint job throughout the facility and a new covered drop off will be added which provides a covered entrance to the Hall and the Family Life Center.

St. Mary’s has been so blessed to have such generous parishioners that we are able to fund this project from our savings, however several parishioners have inquired about participating with the funding.

If you would like to help offset the cost of this project, you are more than welcome to do so, and it would be greatly appreciated. Please flag your donation as “Family Life Center 2023 Renovation”.

God Bless You,
Fr. Ed