The Passing of Fr. Jim Shelton (June 16, 1933 – July 29, 2020)

This morning Our Merciful and Loving God called Fr. Jim Shelton to Himself. Fr. Shelton was 87 years old. He came to Holy Trinity in early 2011. Despite various health challenges in recent years, he was as active as he could be in his priesthood.

I will write more on Fr. Shelton in the near future. Please remember him in your prayers. It is our hope the next nine days to pray the Rosary for him each evening. Details regarding his Funeral Mass will be forthcoming.

God bless

FRVW

Weekend Adorers?

Thank you to everyone who has committed to an hour or more to Adore Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It has been tremendous to witness as a priest.

As we go forward, can we see if we can regularly have adorers for the weekend hours? Presently, we have a good many hours open on Saturday mornings, afternoons, evenings and Sunday mornings. One can see the open hours through the SignUpGenius on this blogspot. Please consider spending an hour in Adoration over the weekend.

God bless

FRVW

Peace vs. Fear

How often in the history of our nation – indeed the world – has there been civil strife?  How often has there been threat of contagion and disease?  Who found peace in those times?  Where did they find true peace – in their own hearts?  The ones whose focus was Jesus Christ.

In our own country a few come to mind: Fr. Andrew White – who was taken from Maryland to England in chains for exercising his priesthood, St. Junipero Serra – who spread the Faith to over 6,000 Native Californians and defended them against Spanish oppression (his statue was just desecrated in California), Fr. Augustus Tolton – the first black Catholic priest in our country who had been born into slavery, St. John Neumann – who regularly had his parish church attacked when he was pastor in Buffalo, St. Damien of Molokai – who took care of the lepers on Devil’s Island in Hawaii, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and Mother Katherine Drexel –who established schools, hospitals and missions for African Americans and Native Americans, and Fr. Vincent Capodanno – who laid down his life on a Vietnamese battlefield to give the final sacraments to dying Marines.  There are so many more in our country and throughout history.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid (John 14:27).

It is only in Jesus Christ that we find peace – His freedom in our hearts.  Often I quote from Fr. Jacques Philippe who is a contemporary French writer.  In his book, Nine Days to Welcome Peace, he gives very practical guidance for obtaining peace and making decisions.  If you will permit me to again cite his wisdom for our times.

Fr. Lorenzo Scupoli, a 16th century spiritual writer, said: The devil does his utmost to banish peace from one’s heart, because he knows that God abides in peace and it is in peace that He accomplishes great things (p. 24-25).

Fr. Philippe continues,

Trying to keep the peace of our hearts and fighting against worry, trouble and spiritual agitation are indispensable conditions for letting God act, thus allowing us to grow in love and in giving our lives over to the fruitfulness to which we’re called.

I would add that it’s only in peace that we can discern rightly.  When we’re not at peace, when we’re filled with worry, agitation, or trouble, that’s when we’re at the mercy of our emotions, and we don’t have an objective or accurate outlook.

When a problem comes up that makes us lose our peace, the urgency is not in resolving the problem in the hope of regaining peace; rather, the urgency is in first recovering some minimum amount of peace, and then seeing what we can do with the problem (p. 26-27).

What is the predominant emotion in our country – maybe in the world – over the last few months?  How about FEAR: fear of disease, fear of my fellow man, fear of the future, etc?

Fear does not give peace.  It causes anxiety, worry, agitation and trouble.  Philippe’s words are good advice: . . . the urgency is in first recovering some minimum amount of peace, and then seeing what we can do with the problem.

And, how do we recover some amount of peace?  One has to re-focus on and love Jesus and not the problem that is causing the worry, agitation and trouble.  Get to Mass, Confession, Adoration, pray Mary’s peace plan daily – the Rosary,  etc.  And, SHUT OFF THE SOCIAL MEDIA!  How can you possibly think you will be able to focus on Jesus when you are bombarded with FEAR!

Then, focus on being a saint today in your vocation – marriage, single life, or consecrated life.

The Lord is at hand. Have no anxiety about anything (Philippians 4:5).

God bless

FRVW

Corpus Christi

Thank you to everyone who spent an hour (or two) with Jesus last weekend!  Please again, can I ask that you consider looking at the SignUpGenius on this blogspot for open hours this weekend?  Adoration will be in our chapel through the weekend until 1pm on Monday.  As we celebrate Corpus Christi Sunday, spending time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration would be a tremendous way to celebrate – in addition to Mass.

Over the last two and a half months you noticed two young men at our Masses, Holy Communion Outside of Mass Rites and the daily Chaplet of Divine Mercy and Rosary.  Ricky Malebranche and Ray Goins both finished their first year of the seminary while with us.  Almost all of our seminarians were placed in parishes when the seminaries shut down in late March.  Each would continue his studies online until exams in mid-May.  Ricky and Ray were extremely helpful.  As you saw, they were always available for Masses and other liturgical functions.  When we were quarantined, they were the ones troubleshooting and setting up for live streamed Masses, Chaplets and Rosaries from the rectory.  They were quarantined when Fr. Carr had COVID after Easter.  They helped with meals.  We had some great conversations throughout those two and a half months.  I am grateful they were assigned at Holy Trinity for the time they were.  As of this past Monday, they began their summer assignments at other parishes.  Please keep them in your prayers as they continue to follow Our Lord’s call.

This Sunday is the Solemnity of Corpus Christi (The Body and Blood of Christ).  The feast dates back to the 1260s following a Eucharistic Miracle.  A young priest, Fr. Peter, implored Our Lord in his prayers to help him have a deep faith in Jesus’ Real Presence in the Holy Eucharist.  In the midst of one Mass, as Fr. Peter completed the Consecration of the bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus, the Host actually began to bleed.

Fr. Peter wrapped the Host in the corporal and walked a few miles to the next town, Orvieto, where the Pope was living.  The Pope was given the news of the miracle and met Fr. Peter outside the city walls.  He knelt before Our Lord in the Eucharist then brought the Eucharist to a church in the town.  He soon pronounced the Solemnity of Corpus Christi to be celebrated.  In Orvieto, you can still see the Blood-stained corporal in the cathedral built for It.  Ever since the Miracle there has been a yearly Eucharistic Procession throughout the town with Jesus in the Host followed by the Corporal that is stained with His Blood.  Our Corpus Christi Procession takes its roots from Orvieto’s Eucharistic Procession.  Our altar on the front steps for Benediction mirrors the Benediction at the end of the Eucharistic Procession in Orvieto.

Finally, on July 4th our new music director will begin his work at Holy Trinity.  Mr. Trevor Rowland comes to us from St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Hagerstown, Maryland where he has worked in the music ministry for the last nine years. He and his wife, Bebhinn, and their baby daughter are happy to be in his wife’s native state!  Mr. Rowland is humble and a gentleman.  He comes to us with a love for the Mass as well as a love and knowledge of liturgical music in the tradition of the Church.  I look forward to working with him at Holy Trinity.

God bless

FRVW

Trying Times Surrounding Pentecost and Holy Trinity

Well, what a week it has been.

I was looking forward to our first public Masses since March 16, 2020.  It was terrific to have people back in the church for Mass.  It was the high Church Feast of Pentecost, the Birthday of the Church:  the Holy Spirit coming down upon the Apostles.  The same Holy Spirit gave the Apostles the courage and wisdom to go into the world and spread the Truth of Jesus Christ; to endure hardship, suffering and even death for His Name.  What a glorious feast it is.

Thank you to everyone who helped with cleaning and preparing in various ways. (And have done so this past weekend.)

It would seem the lengthened Lent of COVID-19 without public Mass – and the various other restrictions placed upon us – was lessening.  Ah, but the devil does not give up so easily.

COVID engendered, and still does, fear, loneliness, isolation, sadness, frustration, discouragement, etc.  These are tools of the devil.  He also uses chaos, fear and hatred to separate man from God and man from man.

The headlines are no longer COVID, but racial tensions.  The tools are still the same as mentioned above. Satan is behind all the fear, sadness, discouragement, hatred, violence and chaos.

The headlines are of the tragic death of an African American man (George Floyd), riots and violence.  (Yes, there have been peaceful marches in the midst of the headlines.  We had one here in Gainesville.  But, peaceful anything doesn’t sell as well as crisis and chaos.)

I am still struggling with the question, ‘Why?’

Why the violence?  Why the fifteen people dead?  Why the simple businesses attacked?  (Agreed, there are professional agitators using racial tensions to cause chaos.)  Is there a solution to all of this unrest?

Yes.  His Name is Jesus Christ.  He Died to set us free; free from hatred, violence and chaos.  Free to forgive.  Free to love my neighbor as myself.

When we look at so many throughout our Catholic history we see many, many who have experienced prejudice.  When they were able to forgive, they were able to love.  They were able to become saints.

One that comes to mind is Fr. Augustus Tolton – the first African American priest in America.  He was born into slavery in 1854 and suffered greatly.  He later became a very holy priest after, he says, the priests taught him how to forgive.

More recently, I recall reading Justice Clarence Thomas’ book wherein he tells of racist Catholic seminarians.  It led to him leaving the seminary and losing his Catholic Faith for a time.  Thankfully, he returned to the Church many years ago.

Close to home, I am mindful of our local law enforcement – black and white – who have endured many insults – and injuries – over the last ten days: all silently as not many media are interested.  In speaking with them, they hold no hatred in their hearts.

Is my fellow man a child of God?  Does he have dignity from God?  Is he my brother?  Is she my sister?  Isn’t this one facet that makes us different as Catholics, as Christians?  Isn’t this the mentality that has converted empires?  To see Christ in my neighbor. To love my neighbor as myself!

How did St. John Paul II deal with prejudice from the communists in Poland and worldwide.  He spent hours each day with Our Lord Jesus.  He prayed daily to the Virgin Mary.  He spoke.  He wrote.  He met peacefully.  His presence brought about the greatest human revolution in the world – the downfall of one of the greatest forms of persecution the world has ever known, Communism.

Who is the One Who heals wounds?  Who reconciles?  Who brings peace?

Jesus Christ.

May we truly know Him that He may set us free.