Sunday, March 29, 2020

5th Sunday of Lent Year A Homily

This 5th Sunday of Lent is most interesting. It is traditionally known to us as Passion Sunday and begins a period of time known as Passiontide. It is on this Sunday that images begin to be veiled. Thus you will notice that the cross upon the altar and the crucifix behind the altar has a veil. This serve as a subtle reminder of our separation from God through sin. Hopefully we have a longing in our heart to be reunited with all that has been stripped away from our sight.

During this Lenten season there has been a lot which has been stripped away from us. By far this is not a normal Lent, so hopefully many have a longing to be reunited with elements of our faith that we have possibly taken for granted through the span of time and habit. The Eucharist is the source and summit of our Catholic faith and yet many at this time are unable to receive it. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass should become front and center to our life and yet many have now gone weeks without it and we will not gather again for its public celebration for awhile including the solemn celebration of Easter.

With so many crosses now thrust upon us it might just seem as if there is no hope to be found. Hope is a central message to today’s readings. We are told of the reality of death, but also the new life which springs forth from it. Thus in our reading from the Prophet Ezekiel we were told: “I open your graves and have you rise from them” and “I will put my spirit in you that you may live.” From our Gospel we were also instructed concerning the raising of Lazarus who was dead for a period of 4 days, but brought back to life through his interaction with Christ Jesus.

I agree that it is sad news that we will not gather together publicly for the celebration of Easter. Nevertheless, remember the fact that Easter will indeed come. The Cross is something which is very important for us to bare, but we must also remember the importance of the Resurrection. The Resurrection always points us towards the hope of something greater which will come. When we are forced to bare the weight of the Cross, which is very important for us to do, we must also keep our sight on the life which is to come through the Resurrection.

Again I say what I said last Sunday. I do not nor do you know what next week will bring. Nevertheless, I do know that Christ surrendered Himself upon the Cross for us and rose again on the third day. I hope that each of us will latch onto this same hope and prepare for its arrival. In the days which lay ahead we will not be able to celebrate as we wish, but are still invited to prepare ourself to behold the great mystery of the Lord’s glorious Resurrection.

If we are prepare ourself for such a mystery we must heed the words found in our Epistle: “Those who are of the flesh cannot please God.” Hopefully we heed these words in light of the Lord’s Resurrection. Prior to this outbreak of the coronavirus we should easily be able to think of the many ways that people had taken their sight off of God. Even in days of being stuck inside have we drawn close to God or continued to relive our stress through the invitation of vice into our life? We must heed this advice and allow ourself to begin to live for the Lord and not of the flesh.

Let us continue to prepare for the Lord for very soon we will encounter Him and be given every reason to rejoice for everything that has been stripped away from us will be restored.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

4th Sunday of Lent Year A Homily

How quickly everything can change. Two weeks ago our church was filled with people and all restaurants were open as usual. Last week our church was half full and some restaurants were open just without the normal crowd. This Sunday there is no longer public Mass in the United States as well as most of the world and very quickly we see stores closed and restaurants solely offering take out service. How different will the world look when Mass is offered next Sunday?

With this quick transformation of society I must agree that things are pretty scary. Anytime that we are not in control it is easy to be afraid. Nevertheless, this blind man in our Gospel realized that in the midst of the turmoil of his daily life that he needed Christ. Through his faith he came to see and what was once thrust into darkness was brought to light.

So too in the midst of all this turmoil and uncertainty we must place our faith in the Lord. I do not know what will happen to myself nor do you know what will happen to you and your family. What I do is that from the cross that we are forced to embrace always springs forth the reality of the Lord’s Resurrection. From this reality we are given the Christian virtue of hope. Even if we are not open for public Masses come Easter this season will still spring forth. May we continue to use these Lenten days to enter more fully into our faith and relationship with Christ. If we can learn place our anxieties here there will be nothing for us to worry about for eventually the light will shine forth from the darkness.

Psalm 23 is most beautiful for it reminds us of all that the Good Shepherd does for us. Christ is this Shepherd who provides for us in so many ways especially in the Most Holy Eucharist. At this time when many go deprived of it I hope we will grow in our appreciation of such a wonderous gift. I invite you during this time of uncertainty and disconnectedness to make a spiritual communion each day especially on Sunday. I also remind you that we are keeping the church open for private prayer each day from 8am-8pm. From the silence of this Church Christ continues to dwell with us in the Eucharist and calls out to each of you to place your trust in His merciful hands.

The blind man in our Gospel came to place his trust here and he who was once cast into darkness came to encounter this great light. So too will we who are tried upon this earth eventually come to see this same light for ourself. Let us cast sin away and embrace this purifying light that is Christ our Lord. The road which is now set before us may seem to be long and without hope, but that is not the case. Christ is the shining light that always casts the darkness of sin and doubt away. May we place our faith and trust in Christ and allow His Resurrection to to bring light into our life.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Coronavirus Letter II

Brothers and sisters in Christ,

This Lenten season has presented us with many challenges that would of never been known at the start of this season. Sadly, many do not take Lent to be the time of penance that it is. Nevertheless, the coronavirus has caused much penance for our parish, diocese, nation, and world. At this time of uncertainty I assure you of the support of the Church and Christ’s love for you.

Day by day and hour by hour things seem to change. Nevertheless, I write this letter to update you on what is currently taking place in our parish and diocese. It is possible that future information will come out which will change some of these policies.

The Diocese of Knoxville has canceled all public Masses effective March 20 until April 1. A decision will then be made to resume public Masses or not. I assure you that this does not mean that Masses in this diocese will cease. Father Jesus and I will continue to offer Mass each day. We are looking into the possibility of live streaming a Mass in Spanish and English each Sunday, more information on this will be given at a later date. Both of us will also post a homily each Sunday to our parish social media accounts.

Currently each school in the Diocese of Knoxville has been closed until April 13. With that all parish activities are to cease until further notice. This means that there will not be meetings or social gatherings taking place at our parish at least until April 13 if not longer.

Our parish adoration chapel will close today, March 17, at 4pm until further notice. Our church will be unlocked each day from 8am-8pm. During this time I invite you to come in and pray. Remember that the tabernacle is the dwelling place of Christ our Lord. Also, we have Stations of the Cross inside as well as outside that can be prayed. When you do come to pray please stick to social distancing by allowing six feet between yourself and other people.

Confessions will continue to be heard Wednesday at 6pm, Saturday at 9am, and Sunday at 1:30pm. When you are in line please keep a distance with those around you of about six feet in order that we can do our best to keep everyone safe.

Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion have been asked to no longer bring communion to the homebound. I do ask that they call those who they were visiting weekly to pray with them over the phone and to see how they are doing if this is possible. Priests will continue to take sick calls and anoint the dying and bring viaticum to them as requested.

It is important that the church continues to reach out to those who are need. We have thus put procedures in place to continue the ministry of the food pantry during this time. We have also organized a shopping group to shop for the elederly to make sure that they have what they need. You can continue to drop off food to the food pantry during the hours that the parish is scheduled to be open.

If you are able please remember that we have online giving or you can send your donation to the church by mail. We will continue to make the bulletin where a digital version can be found on our parish website. The Sentinal will also continue to be used to keep everyone updated on the constant updates from our parish community.

I ask that all pray the rosary every single day that this may come to pass as well for the reparation for the many sins made against our Lord and for the conversion of all sinners. I ask that you continue to fast and pray during this time as well in order that we may be spared of this plight and that our life may resume as normal. It is my hope that this time will draw each of us close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Also, with the realization of our sins please frequent the sacrament of confession.

I know that some are not happy over no public Masses being offered, but please pray the rosary, fast, pray, and frequent confession. Also, I recommend that you study scripture each day especially the readings for Mass. I recommend that you find a way to stream the Holy Mass and watch it. I recommend that you offer up your sufferings for the salvation of souls and good of this parish. I recommend that you make a spiritual communion as your heart longs to receive our Blessed Lord.

Prayer of spiritual communion: “My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”

Our final public Masses will be on the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, March 19. Our Mass schedule for the day will be 7am, 8:30am, 5pm (Extraordinary Form), 6:30pm procession followed by Mass in Spanish at 7pm. If attending these Masses I request that you follow social distancing. Our remaining Masses will be offered in the church rather then the chapel to allow for more distancing. On this day I will consecrate our parish to Saint Joseph to invoke him to offer his protection over our parish.

If I or a member of the clergy can be of assistance to you or your family please let me know. For now our office will continue normal office hours until further notice.

Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 
Christ, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. 
Lord, have mercy. Lord, have mercy. 
Christ, hear us. Christ, graciously hear us. 

God, the Father of Heaven, have mercy on us. 
God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy on us. 
God the Holy Spirit, have mercy on us. 
Holy Trinity, One God, have mercy on us. 

Holy Mary, pray for us. 
Saint Joseph, pray for us. 
Noble Offspring of David, pray for us. 
Light of Patriarchs, pray for us. 
Spouse of the Mother of God, pray for us. 
Chaste Guardian of the Virgin, pray for us. 
Foster-Father of the Son of God, pray for us. 
Zealous Defender of Christ, pray for us. 
Head of the Holy Family, pray for us. 

Joseph Most Just, pray for us. 
Joseph Most Chaste, pray for us. 
Joseph Most Prudent, pray for us. 
Joseph Most Courageous, pray for us. 
Joseph Most Obedient, pray for us. 
Joseph Most Faithful, pray for us.
Mirror of Patience, pray for us. 
Lover of Poverty, pray for us. 
Model of Workmen, pray for us. 
Glory of Domestic Life, pray for us. 
Guardian of Virgins, pray for us. 
Pillar of Families, pray for us. 
Comfort of the Afflicted, pray for us. 
Hope of the Sick, pray for us. 
Patron of the Dying, pray for us. 
Terror of Demons, pray for us. 
Protector of the Holy Church, pray for us. 

Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Spare us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Graciously hear us, O Lord. 
Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world, Have mercy on us. 

V. He has made him lord of his household, 
R. And prince over all his possessions. 

Let us pray. O God, who, in your loving providence, chose Blessed Joseph to be the spouse of your most Holy Mother, grant us the favor of having him for our intercessor in heaven whom on earth we venerate as our protector. You, who live and reign forever and ever. Amen.

In Christ,
Fr. Dustin Collins

Sunday, March 15, 2020

3rd Sunday of Lent Year A Homily

The Lord commanded this Samaritan woman: “Give me a drink,” but He later seems to contradict himself by saying, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst.”

Saint Augustine comments concerning these seemingly contradictory statements: “Why did the Lord request a drink of the Samaritan woman who had come to fill her jar with water, when afterwards He Himself was going to say that He could give the gushing of a spiritual fountain to those asking? Well, obviously, the Lord was thirsty for the trust of that woman.”

It is here that I wish to highlight this word, “trust.” As seen written at the bottom of the image of the Divine Mercy, “Jesus I trust in you.” Do we truly trust in the Lord or are we instead caught up in the ways of this world? There was the occasion where the apostles were in a boat and it was beaten about by a storm. This gave them great fear and thus they went to wake the Lord from His slumber. He then calmed the sea and rebuked them saying: “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?

This trust that this woman came to place in the Lord would turn into faith and thus too she as well as others came to understand, “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world.” Hopefully each of us have this same trust and faith placed in the Lord, so that we too can come to believe and proclaim this same reality “that this is truly the savior of the world.”

I think this is an important lesson for us to learn for we often allow ourself to grow afraid and forget to place our trust in the Hands of the Lord. With that the media as well as social media leads many to so much anxiety. We sit around worrying about things that are out of our control. Instead of placing our trust in the Hands of the Lord we instead attempt to resolve things on our own. With roadblocks placed in our way it is easy for us to get caught up in mass hysteria.

With that I place my focus upon upon the recent Coronavirus pandemic. From this fear grocery stores have been wiped out of their surplus especially toilet paper. I reflect how different this world would be if the concern that we currently have for clean hands and avoiding contact (as important as that may be) were to transcend to our desire to avoid mortal sin at all costs. We place so much effort in the containment of this virus (not to discredit it), but don’t fear the loss of Heaven and the pains of hell. Hopefully we use this time to reflect on our own mortality and come to embrace the cross of the Lord. As the Lord reminds us: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.”

During this Lenten season when all has seems to of been taken away from us (holy water, human contact, and the freedoms that we Americans enjoy) let us continue to trust in the Lord for very soon we will rejoice anew with the Good News of our Lord’s Resurrection. Let us come to trust as this Samaritan woman came to trust and may our faith in the Lord become perfect no matter the illness, hardship, or cross that we must endure. For from the cross always comes the hope of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

Coronavirus Letter

Let us continue to pray for those who have been infected in any way concerning the outbreak of coronavirus. During these times we play place our trust in the merciful hands of Christ who is our cornerstone.

To assist at Mass each and every Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation is very important. Nevertheless, there are times when one cannot fulfill this obligation. With this I remind you that you every Catholic in this Diocese of Knoxville is dispensed from your obligation for the month of March especially if you have an illness or because you are an older adult who has a serious chronic medical condition I encourage you not to come.

To those who are unable to assist at Mass I remind you of a practice known as spiritual communion. This is an opportunity for the faithful who cannot receive Holy Communion to unite themselves to God through prayer with the desire to spiritually receive Holy Communion in their heart. As Saint Josemaria Escriva noted of this practice: “What a source of grace there is in spiritual communion! Practice it frequently and you’ll have greater presence of God and closer union with him in all your actions.”

Here is an example of a prayer of spiritual communion: “My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacrament ally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.”

During this time our bishop has also decreed that all the faithful receive communion only in the hand. This will be the case for each of our Masses. If one desires to refrain from receiving communion for whatever reason during this period of time I encourage them to make a spiritual communion.

Finally, following the 2pm Mass in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite will be a Eucharistic procession around our parish grounds which will conclude with prayers taken from the Roman Ritual concerning a time of epidemic. Hopefully this will remind us to place our attention and trust upon the Lord in this time of fear as we plea for an end to this outbreak and that Churches around the world may once again be opened to the faithful.

Now let us turn our hearts together in prayer and trust in the intercession of our Blessed Mother: 

O Mary, you always shine on our path as a sign of salvation and of hope. We entrust ourselves to you, Health of the Sick, who at the cross took part in Jesus’ pain, keeping your faith firm. You, Salvation of the Roman People, know what we need, and we are sure you will provide so that, as in Cana of Galilee, we may return to joy and to feasting after this time of trial. Help us, Mother of Divine Love, to conform to the will of the Father and to do as we are told by Jesus, who has taken upon himself our sufferings and carried our sorrows to lead us, through the cross, to the joy of the resurrection. Amen.

Under your protection, we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God. Do not disdain the entreaties of we who are in trial, but deliver us from every danger, O glorious blessed Virgin.

In Christ,
Fr. Dustin Collins