Homily – Ascension/7th Sunday of Easter in a Time of Pandemic

My dear Friends, 

Blessings on each of you! We have come to the end of our Easter Season with today’s virtual reflection and prayers.  Our task, as you know, is to “be Jesus for our world!” 

My hope as always is that this finds you well–please be safe and take care of yourselves and others as you are able.

I wanted you to know that this past week your board were in agreement to send $300 to Doctors Without Borders to purchase the protective equipment that the doctors are needing to work with our sisters and brothers of the Navaho Nation in the southwest of our country.  The board agreed on an additional $300 to be sent to the Rochester Franciscan Sisters to be used to assist the undocumented in the Rochester area who are especially hard hit at present with job loss, no monies for rent, food and other needs due to Covid 19. 

We continue to reflect on the new ways that we are being called upon to be church, even as we are saddened that we can’t meet in person, realizing that it may be a while before we can do that again regardless of what the Minnesota bishops and others around the country are trying to do.  Let us continue our prayers for each other and please do call me,  507-429-3616 or email me, krredig@hbci.com if I can be of help to you.  Peace and love, Pastor Kathy


 

Entrance Antiphon

O God, hear my voice when I call to you.  My heart has prompted me to seek your face; I seek it, O God, do not hide from me, alleluia!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

Loving Creator, reaching from end to end of the universe, and ordering all things with your wonderful strength; for you, time is the unfolding of truth that already is, the unveiling of beauty that is yet to be.  Jesus, your Only Begotten has saved us in history by rising from the dead, so that transcending time he might free us from death. May his presence among us lead to the vision of unlimited truth and unfold the beauty of your love. We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name, Amen.


Readings:

  • Acts 1:1-11
  • 1 Peter 4: 13-16
  • John 17: 1-11

Homily

My friends, I am taking the opportunity today to blend the feast day of the Ascension and the 7th and final Sunday of Easter in order to share messages from both for our reflection.  In order to do that; I will use the first reading for the Ascension, celebrated this past Thursday and the 2nd and gospel readings from the 7th Sunday of Easter. I think you will find that the key thoughts blend well in these last days of the Easter Season.

I offer these key thoughts for us to consider today:

1) Luke, in the Acts of the Apostles for the Ascension lifts up for us the question of the angel to the apostles after Jesus has physically left them: “Why are you looking up to the heavens?”

2) In 1st Peter from the 7th Sunday of Easter, Peter proclaims: “Happy are you when insulted for the sake of Christ.”  He continues, “See to it that none of you suffers for being a murderer, a thief, an evildoer, or a destroyer of another’s rights.”  And he goes on to say that if you must suffer, let it be because you have been, “a follower of Christ.”

3) John’s gospel today includes the part of Jesus’ priestly prayer to his Abba God, for his apostles and ultimately, us, before his death on the cross and in fact, the very words chosen to name us as a faith community, “that they may be one as you and I are one.”

So friends, hopefully you can see how these thoughts are related or at least you will by this homily’s end!  Jesus’ time with his first followers after his death and resurrection was to prepare them for their lives going forward, once he would no longer physically be with them.

They would be expected to share all he had taught them about God’s love for each person—far and wide.  He knew they were afraid and he therefore tried to comfort them, assuring that he would not leave them alone, but send them his Spirit to give them strength, courage and all that they would need to begin the awesome task of sharing with countless others all about, “the way, the truth and the life” of Jesus, the Christ!

Next Sunday, we remember, in a special way, the coming of Jesus’ Spirit on Pentecost.  All of us will recall the indwelling of the Spirit on that special day of our own confirmations and should pray for a renewal of the strength and courage we received then to be all that we can be as Jesus’ followers.

This world of ours, the here and now, calls us and needs us to be more than those who, “are looking up to the heavens” for the answers!  Our God, in Jesus and the Spirit has given us all that we need to affect change in our world.  Will this task be easy—will we always be understood for hard decisions and actions that we must take to be Jesus’ true followers?  No, it will not always be easy, but as Peter tells those who will listen, “See to it, that if you are called to suffer,” that it is not among other things, because you are “a destroyer of another’s rights,” but because you are a, “follower of Christ.”

For the remainder of this homily, I would like to lift up two examples, one that follows Jesus’ way and one that does not, or perhaps, we could say, “falls short.”

All the Catholic papers this week are remembering Pope Francis’ encyclical, Laudato Si and the fact that it is now five years old.  I read a commentary this week that said, it may take 40 years for our world to truly understand—maybe more to accept what he is saying in this wonderful statement on care and love of our planet.

The trouble, of course, with the above statement that it may take 40 years to accept what Francis is saying, is the fact that we may not have 40 years to heed its warnings that global warming is a real threat, now!

Those who will probably still be alive in 40 years, like Greta Thunberg, teenage activist from Sweden has these past couple of years become a world-wide figure sounding the alarm that we must all work to save our beautiful planet for the next generation—hers!

Within the Catholic church hierarchy, aside from Pope Francis, we have the example of many of the country’s bishops declaring that they will open churches for Masses once again on May 31st—Pentecost.  To speak to this further, I will turn to the example of my home state of Minnesota.

Our governor, Tim Walz has set out a plan, based on the best science available, the input of reliable medical people, the leaders in the business world as well as input from church leaders and so on about the perceived needs of our people—across the board as to the best way to reopen our state.

Regarding churches reopening, his plan suggests that this be done incrementally with gatherings of 10 or less and then when we see how that goes, adding to this amount. Businesses are part of this plan and will be opened in the same way with the underlining measure being, “how long you are in a particular place “of business, church—whatever it might be.”  Because people are generally in church at least an hour or more, whereas people going to “big box stores” for necessities can be “an in and out” type of venture, the amount of people allowed in at any time is different with the idea of keeping people safe.

The bishop’s complaint is that if the stores can be open to larger amounts of people, the churches can be too.  Thus, the Minnesota bishops plan to defy the governor’s more incremented plan and open early allowing one-third the capacity of the church’s space to be filled with stringent measures of social-distancing, use of masks and good sanitation measures in place.  The bishops’ further explanation goes something like, “The people need the Mass and the sacraments.”

Now, I am aware that there are differing views on this issue, but I would just say that this example shows the bishops’ consistently small—minded thinking where matters of faith are concerned.  Where were these same bishops a few weeks ago when Cardinal Timothy Dolan was falling all over himself in support of the president in order that he would support their key issue—fighting against abortion?

We must recall that this is a president who does not support any other life issue; immigrants and their children, the poor, the homeless, care of the earth and if truth be told, doesn’t support those who want to see legal abortion eliminated in our country either, except to get the Catholic vote.

So again, I ask why do these same bishops not come together and make a statement criticizing their brother Timothy for supporting a president who is against a multitude of human life issues.  Probably because it is always easier for most of us to support a cold, sterile law (Sunday Mass attendance) than it is to support the human,  life-giving needs of the People of God. For Jesus, it was all about love—and for us, as his followers, it must be too!

The bishops say that the people want and need the sacraments.  I would tell them that there is also the “sacrament” of assisting state leadership trying to keep all of us safe!  As I tell my parish, these times call us to be “church” in other ways—the “eucharist” is truly about “thanksgiving” and can happen in many ways, outside of church attendance.  These times truly call us to get outside of our “small boxes of thinking and acting!

In conclusion, today’s gospel calls us to reflect on the prayer of Jesus’ heart the night before he died. He so wanted us to be one in our love, our giving , our being, even though he realized how hard an undertaking this can be at times.

As we prepare for Pentecost, let our own priestly prayer be one with our brother Jesus—to get past ourselves, seeing the bigger picture, with the Spirit’s help, “to be one” as much as that is possible, for the good of us all.  Amen?—Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”

  1. Jesus, today we remember that your life among us has taken on a new form, but help us to remember that you are with us, always, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
  1. Jesus, let peace reign in our hearts and give us the strength and grace to be people of  peace, especially in this time of pandemic and be with those suffering now from Covid 19 in any way, physically, emotionally, or spiritually, we pray—Response:  “Jesus, hear our prayer”
  1. Jesus, you who said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend, give us hearts that strive to love unconditionally, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”

4.  Jesus, give the gift of hope and a light at the end of the tunnel for those suffering from job loss, especially now due to Covid 19, from chronic illness, or discouragement of any kind, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”

  1. Jesus, you have called us friends—enable us to extend that relationship in our world to those who most need friendship, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
  2. Jesus, you no longer have a body in this world except through us—help us to be your hands and eyes and ears and heart for our world , we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”
  1. Jesus, your words in Scripture today remind us that we are to be one—to make a place for all at our table—help us to always remember that is why we are here in this community—to welcome all to our table—to your table, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”    

8.  Jesus, remind us this week as we prepare for the feast of Pentecost, that your Spirit lives within us enabling us to be your body for the needs of the world, we pray—Response: “Jesus, hear our prayer”

  1. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially from the coronavirus—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

       ***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—(Pause)—we pray, then response

Let Us Pray

Jesus, be the strength we need each day to be a people renewed—true to our calling to be people of peace and of love. Let us never falter in our commitment to you and your world. Let us look at your people, always with love, remembering that you have called us friends—that you have given all that we might have eternal life with you. Let us always remember your never-failing love for each person and that because you have loved us so fully, we too must love fully in return.  Give us ever more open minds that we might see your face in each person we meet and therefore cease to judge others, but simply try and understand, to put ourselves in another’s shoes and then to simply look on them with love. We await anew the gift of your loving Spirit into our lives. Give us what we most need today—be especially with all the front-line workers caring for the sick, keeping them safe. Be as well with all those necessary workers who aren’t able to shelter-in-place or social-distance—keep them safe.  We ask all of this of you, our loving Savior and with the Creator and your loving Spirit— all, one God, living and loving us forever and ever, Amen.


Let Us Pray—again, we remember that “communion,” receiving the “bread” we know to be Jesus’ life in this special way has to wait a safer time.  Ask that our brother Jesus be with you in a special and new way at this time and he will be!  Then, share that “bread” –his life, with others.

Prayer after Communion

Loving God, hear us and through this holy mystery, give us hope that the glory you have given Jesus will be given to the Church, his body, for he is our loving Savior, forever and ever, Amen.


 

Bulletin – Ascension/7th Sunday of Easter in a Time of Pandemic

NO PHYSICAL MASS AGAIN THIS SUNDAY!!!


  By now you have heard that the six Minnesota Catholic bishops will defy our governor’s order for limited church openings gathering 10 or less people beginning June 1st and proceed with Masses beginning on May 26–Pentecost Sunday. The bishops have also said that their Masses will be conducted with 1/3 capacity of the church spaces being used. They have also said that with stringent measures in place  regarding sanitizing, wearing masks, etc. they feel all will be safe.

What these bishops don’t seem to understand when comparing the opening of “big box stores” as compared to churches, is the time spent in each facility. Shopping for necessities has been from the beginning of this pandemic and “in and out” sort of venture, whereas Mass is generally an hour or more in the same place, which makes for a less safe exposure. Another thing that the governor mentioned is that “singing” should basically not be done at this time for obvious reasons concerning potential transmission of the virus. I don’t read anything in the bishops’ statement regarding limiting singing, although that may be part of their plans. 

All Are One is not able to open as we are not able to social-distance in our space and keep parishioners safe, so until everyone can be tested and tracing put in place or a vaccine becomes available, we won’t be meeting.  There may be a time that we could try an outdoor Mass as the weather warms and the state has moved beyond its peak for transmission, but for now, my wisdom and best judgment is to abide by our governor’s wise, step-by-step and “let’s see” plans. 


Dear Friends,

In addition, as we plan and prepare for Pentecost, let us consider the ways that our God may be encouraging us, in this present day to live out our confirmations in Jesus’ Spirit.

Peace and love–stay safe and well!

Pastor Kathy


Readings:

  • Acts 1: 1-11 (Ascension)
  • 1 Peter 4: 13-16
  • John 17: 1-11 (7th Sunday of Easter–last two)

 

News Item–Ascension Thursday–in a Time of Pandemic

Dear Friends,

Tomorrow as you know the Church marks Ascension Thursday and I simply wanted to comment on it and we will “talk” more about it with the Sunday liturgy, homily and prayers. Now whether Jesus’ time on this physical earth ended on a Thursday or not is not really the most important thing to keep in mind as it is what this piece of religious history signifies for us as his followers.

With this feast, Jesus is basically saying, my physical work is done and now, I am entrusting my mission to you because I believe in you, love you and won’t “leave you orphans.” “Don’t be afraid, I am with you always!”

So, there you have it friends! This coming Sunday will be the 7th and final Sunday of Easter with the feast of Pentecost coming the following Sunday–Jesus will send his very Spirit to guide and show us the way.  With the Spirit comes courage, strength, and confidence. The seven gifts of the Spirit are wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, piety and fear of God.

I would say that these gifts are basically about coming to know that we are first loved by God and are called to love God  in return, which is about finding time to spend with consciousness each day of God–we call this prayer, who is our source and being (piety). The Spirit of Jesus gives us knowledge and wisdom and helps us to revere (fear) God in each other and all the universe. Let us ask this Spirit to be truly with us as we learn how to become better followers of our brother, Jesus. –Pastor Kathy


 

Homily – 6th Sunday of Easter in a Time of Pandemic

Dear Friends, greetings once again in our new “normal” which has us meeting virtually, but together just the same. Hopefully you are each doing what is needed now to keep you and your family safe. Know of my loving thoughts and prayers for you and of my gratitude for remembering me in your prayers as well. A thought for this week might be to consider what God is calling you to, in particular, during this time–how might you grow to become your best self? Blessings on all your discoveries! Please let me know of any ways that I might be of service to you–call: 507-429-3616 or email; krredig@hbci.com

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy


Entrance Antiphon

Speak out with a voice of joy; let it be heard to the ends of the earth:  Our God has set us free, alleluia!

Let Us Pray

Opening Prayer

 Loving Creator God, the crown of your creation is Jesus, the Christ, born of a woman, but without beginning; he lived and loved for us, but lives forever.  May our mortal lives be crowned with the ultimate joy of rising with him, who lives and loves us forever and ever, with you and the Spirit, Amen.


Readings:

  • Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17
  • 1 Peter 3: 15-18
  • John 14: 15-21

Homily

My friends, another week has passed in this time of pandemic and through my checks to those of you in the Winona area and even those that I have contact information for who are “sheltering in place” in different areas; I can report that all are safe and well! My prayer is that you all can stay that way!

An interesting article that I read from the National Catholic Reporter, (NCR) this past week, addressed the result of Catholics experiencing COVID 19 who became quite ill with the virus, but came out of it.  In all cases, “gratitude” was the overarching feeling in women and men alike.  Now, this feeling of gratitude is most understandable in those interviewed who were gravely ill to the point that each spoke of never being so sick and seriously wondering if they would make it through the night on any particular day.

Gratitude then became coupled for each one with the sense of a renewed and greater appreciation for life, not only their own, but the lives of others, their family members and even those outside of their families—our sisters and brothers in this world—they became, in other words, more sensitive to the needs of others that perhaps they had ignored or hadn’t let themselves be bothered with before.  It seems that the “slowing down” that COVID 19 has brought forth in many of us, especially those of us with means, is a good thing in that it has awakened us to the reality with which many in this world live most of the time.

If you have been watching or listening to reputable news stations, you have heard the reports stating that those who live in poverty, and/or, are dark-skinned, have been hardest hit by the coronavirus.  And the truth of the matter is that the poor in this world, who are poor for many reasons, suffered as a rule, even before the coronavirus pandemic, which should tell all of us who live with enough of this world’s goods, that there is something wrong with this picture—that is if we want to claim that we are followers of our brother, Jesus.

It seems that in much of what I am reading, there is that sense that we cannot go back to the “normal” that said that the discrepancy between the rich and the poor in this world is somehow, OK.  We need to understand that when there aren’t enough dollars to feed one’s family,  you buy what is cheapest and will fill bellies, not that which may be most nutritious and this leads ultimately to diabetes, obesity, heart disease and so on. All of this, of course makes a person more susceptible in a time of pandemic.  We Christians know in our heart of hearts, that Jesus would not be OK with this!

This week’s Scripture readings are instructive in how we should respond to present day problems as Jesus’ followers, and go about sharing his message.  The first reading from Acts lets us know that we must be inclusive of all—no exceptions!  God’s love is big enough for all and that God wants “good” for everyone.

Before Jesus came into the lives of the apostles, none of them would have gone to Samaria to spread a doctrine of love and inclusion because mainline Jews made a point of ignoring their Jewish sisters and brothers in Samaria that they considered, as “less than” themselves.  But with Jesus, they learned that they must not judge who is worthy and who is not. Thus we see Philip going to Samaria to share the “Good News” and the people’s response is one of joy!  The fact that Peter and John then follow Philip to Samaria to “bring the Spirit” to them is basically saying, as we proclaim here at All Are One, that all are welcome!

The reading from 1st Peter continues this theme as he tells us to “venerate Jesus Christ in our hearts,” treating others, “gently and with respect,” as we share the reason for our hope.  Jesus must always be the one we check back with when we don’t know what we are being called to do—what, in fact is the right way to go.

We see this lack of “checking back with Jesus,” the one Christians say they follow in the recent actions of Timothy Cardinal Dolan in his blatant support of the current U.S. president who has demonstrated a lack of Christian values through actions that show hatred of immigrants, children, women, the poor and disadvantaged and the list could on. I try, my friends, not to be political in my comments to you, but to simply lift up Jesus’ words for us to reflect on, “You will know them by their fruits.” Perhaps Cardinal Dolan feels that supporting our current president is what God is calling him to, but whatever else it might be, it certainly is not Christian!

In response to NCR’s editorial of a couple of weeks ago denouncing Dolan’s “cozying up to” Trump and lack of response from any other bishops or the pope, Catholics from around our country, Canada and England responded positively in support of NCR’s stance.

One of the responses was especially interesting coming from a British man who spoke to the phenomenon of what he calls, “American Christianity.” He says, “American Christianity is an ideology of racism, hierarchy, patriarchy and xenophobia.  Christianity, he continues, is only a mask for hate, racism and bigotry.  This “Christianity” (italics mine) is pro-life but only insofar as it excludes capital punishment and caging of kids in detention camps.  American Christianity, he goes on, is about power and domination. Do not misconstrue it, he says, with Jesus of Nazareth—the guy that is famous for compassion, mercy and forgiveness!”

This British gentleman concludes his comments by recalling the rebuke of present-day Afro-American historian, Vincent Harding: “We first met the American Christian on slave ships.  We heard his [God’s] name sung in hymns of praise while we died in the thousands, chained in stinking holds beneath the decks, locked in with terror and disease and sad memories of our families and homes.  When we leaped from the decks to be seized by sharks we saw his name carved in the ship’s solid sides.  When our women were raped in the cabins, they must have noticed the great and holy books on the shelves.  Our introduction to this Christ was not propitious.  And the horrors continued on American soil.”

My friends, in the Gospel today from John, Jesus tells us that he “will not leave us orphans”…that he will send us his Spirit.  That Spirit, we know is not about sanctioning fear, suffering, hatred, power and control, but in affirming Jesus’ healing touch through love, caring, justice and understanding—basically, the works of mercy.  We as Jesus’ true followers have always known this, and we simply must not lose sight of which actions constitute true Christianity.

We may at present may be lacking in the kind of true leadership that is needed in our American church, but that does not let us, “off the hook,” so to speak, in following the ways of our brother, Jesus.

This time of year is the usual time when bishops confirm new young people as adult followers of our brother, Jesus—a practice that will perhaps be postponed this year due to the coronavirus.  But let those of us already confirmed in our faith truly live out our confirmations no matter how long ago that may have happened—may we as Jesus’ true followers cast out, through our love and caring response to our world and its people, the demons of mistrust, hatred, anger, violence, disinterest and disdain of those that we don’t understand. Amen? Amen!


Prayers of the Faithful

Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

  1. Jesus, in your risen state, be our guide to live out your loving example toward all people, especially the least among us—help us to do this primarily by following ever closer your way of goodness and justice toward all, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

2. O Risen Jesus, let your peace reign in our hearts—the kind of peace that comes from lives of loving service, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

  1. Jesus, risen Savior, you who were a healer in every way, freeing people’s minds, hearts and bodies of illness of every kind, grant us health in these same ways, especially for those suffering now from COVID 19, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

4. Risen Jesus, you who have said, you will never leave us—help us to look for you earnestly each day in the faces and lives of those we encounter, we pray— Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

  1. Risen Jesus, our brother and friend, you have promised that you will always be with us in your Spirit—increase our faith and help us to be comforted by your closeness, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

6.Risen Jesus, in your new, resurrected life, continue to be our constant model of one who lived very simply upon the earth, and show us new ways to live in our changed economic climate going forward—beyond COVID 19 to refocus on the needs of all in our world, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

7Risen Jesus, you who never turned anyone away, be with our community, All Are One—continue to bless us and assist us to be open to all of your people and guide us to remain a community during this time of pandemic, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

  1. Loving Jesus, be with all families who have lost loved ones this week, especially from the coronavirus—give them your peace, and help them to find their way through their grief, we pray—Response: “Hear us O Risen Jesus”

     ***Let us pray for your particular needs—you may say them aloud, we pray, then response

***Let us pray for the silent petitions on our hearts—(pause)—we pray, then response

Let Us Pray

Good and gentle God, our source of all strength and wisdom.  We ask that you would give us peace—filled and loving hearts—the energy to always seek after peace through the gifts of lovingkindness and mercy.  Help us to remember that our real task in this world as followers of Jesus, our brother, is to love your people and this world. We ask that we might have the strength for this great task.  We ask a special blessing this week for all those in this country and around the world giving frontline care to those afflicted with the coronavirus—keep them safe.   All this we ask of you, Jesus, our Shepherd and Friend,   AMEN.


Let Us Pray—Again the reminder my friends, that in this time of pandemic, our reception of Jesus must come in other ways—we must ask him and he will come to us in just the ways that we need. Then, we must share him, “the bread” and body with others.

Prayer after Communion

Loving and ever-living God, you restored us to life by raising Jesus, the Christ from death.  Strengthen us by this Easter sacrament; may we feel its living power in our daily lives.  We ask this in Jesus’ wonderful name. Amen.


 

 

 

 

Bulletin – 6th Sunday of Easter in a time of Pandemic

Again this week, NO PHYSICAL MASS, but we pray, just the same, for each other.  Due to our small space, social-distancing isn’t possible, plus we are generally more than 10 per recommendations from our governor.  So, until that time that more testing and follow-up tracing can be accomplished; we will need to remain a virtual community. 


Dear Friends,

This week’s readings continue to remind us that, “everyone is welcome”–that God’s love is big enough to include all–let our love be the same! Stay safe and well.

Peace and love,

Pastor Kathy

P.S. This next Thursday, May 21 is Ascension Thursday–I will send some reflection for that day next week.


Readings: 

  • Acts 8: 5-8, 14-17
  • 1 Peter 3: 15-18
  • John 14: 15-21