Dear Parishioners: This weekend we celebrate the great Solemnity of Corpus Christi. In this celebration we proclaim our belief in the Real presence of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist. We also proclaim that same Jesus lives within each one of us who are baptized into His Body, the Church. In the Holy Eucharist we receive the Divine Host whom we carry in procession. Through our Baptism he has taken up residence within each one of us. We carry Him into the real world just as we carry the monstrance in procession today. When we process we proclaim that the Lord continues to come into the world, through us.
The celebration of this Solemnity goes back to the thirteenth century. Pope Urban IV instituted it in 1264 for the entire Church. He wanted it to be filled with joy and accompanied by hymns and a festive procession. He asked the great Western Church father, St. Thomas Aquinas, to compose two Offices of prayer. St Thomas did so- along with five hymns - and they have nourished the faith of Christians for centuries. In one of them St. Thomas noted: "Material food first of all turns itself into the person who eats it, and as a consequence, restores his losses and increases his vital energies. Spiritual food, on the other hand, turns the person who eats it into Itself, and thus the proper effect of this sacrament is the conversion of man into Christ, so that he may no longer live for himself, but that Christ may live in Him. And as a consequence it has the double effect of restoring the spiritual losses caused by sins and defects and of increasing the power of the virtues."
We will celebrate Corpus Christi with great solemnity at the 10:30AM Mass. The Mass will include a Eucharistic Procession to Mercy Park and then Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. As we celebrate the great gift of the Eucharist this weekend, we might reflect on the words of Blessed Mother of Theresa of Calcutta: “Our lives must be woven around the Eucharist...fix your eyes on Him Who is the light; bring your hearts close to His Divine Heart; ask Him to grant you the grace of knowing Him, the love of loving Him, the courage to serve Him. Seek Him fervently.”
We also celebrate this weekend the ordination of two new priests for the Diocese of Providence. On Saturday morning Bishop Tobin ordained Scott J. Carpentier and Thomas J. Woodhouse as priests. Fathers Carpentier and Woodhouse are great young men and we are blessed to have them answer God’s call to serve His Church. They are to be assigned by Bishop Tobin as assistant pastors and will soon be serving at parishes in the Diocese. We congratulate them and offer our prayers for them and their priestly ministry. While there were only two ordained priests this year, we had eight priests retire from parish administration. This means there are fewer priests to serve the 150 parishes and many other priestly ministries needed in the Diocese. So it’s clear that we need to pray for vocations to the priesthood. Do you know a young man who might make a good priest? Have you told him? Have you asked your sons, nephews, grandsons or even a neighbor? “The harvest is plenty but the workers are few,” let’s see if we can change that by our prayers and our invitations. You can get more information at http://catholicpriest.com
Speaking of priests, I hope to find out this week who is to be assigned as our new Assistant Pastor at Our Lady of Mercy. Once I’ve learned who it is from the Bishop, I will announce it to the parish. Fr. Shemek is back from Poland this week and will be with us until the end of the month. His new assignment as Pastor of St. Christopher and St. Theresa Parishes in Tiverton is effective on July 1, 2013. His replacement assumes his duties here at OLM on July 1, 2013 as well. Also at the end of the month I am retiring from my duties as the Theological Consultant and Editorial Writer of the RI Catholic. It has been a great fifteen years working at the weekly diocesan paper but it is clear the time to move on from the paper has arrived. God Bless.