United in prayer and focus for Chrism Mass

The Chrism Mass best confirms that
the church, the Body of Christ,
is the sacrament of salvation for the world
when the anointing of the Holy Spirit
empowers all the baptized to live out
their vocation as collaborators in the
Lord’s vineyard.

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
Earlier this week the Chrism Mass was celebrated at the Cathedral of Saint Peter the Apostle, approximately two months later than the normal Holy Week time frame. Most of our cherished traditions have been radically altered, postponed or canceled in the wake of the world-wide pandemic. Rather than a full Cathedral with representation from every corner of the Diocese of Jackson, the limitations of social distancing allowed for only 50 to 60 priests. A far less festive gathering, but the reality of who we are can never be diminished because Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.
The Preface from the Chrism Mass distinctly proclaims our identity, established through faith, baptism and the path of those called to Holy Orders. “For by the anointing of the Holy Spirit you made your Only Begotten Son High Priest of the new and eternal covenant, and by your wondrous design were pleased to decree that his one Priesthood should continue in the church. For Christ not only adorns with a royal priesthood the people he has made his own, but with a brother’s kindness he also chooses men to become sharers in his sacred ministry through the laying on of hands. They are to renew in his name the sacrifice of human redemption, to set before your children the paschal banquet, to lead your holy people in charity, to nourish them with the word and strengthen them with the sacraments. As they give up their lives for you and for the salvation of their brothers and sisters, they strive to be conformed to the image of Christ himself and offer you a constant witness of faith and love.”
The first letter of Peter in the New Testament declares this lofty image for those who are members of the Body of Christ. “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1Peter 2:9)
Along with the renewal of priestly vows and the affirming prayer of all in attendance and those who are there in spirit, the blessing of the Oil of Catechumens, the Oil of the Sick and the consecration of the Oil of Chrism occur in the sanctuary. The Sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, Holy Orders and the Anointing of the Sick empower the Christian faithful to embrace the way of life begun with Jesus the Christ, the “Anointed One,” he who is the Way and the Truth and the Life.
The Chrism Mass best confirms that the church, the Body of Christ, is the sacrament of salvation for the world when the anointing of the Holy Spirit empowers all the baptized to live out their vocation as collaborators in the Lord’s vineyard. Over the past three months there has been considerable collaboration and communication to make the best decisions regarding public gatherings on behalf of the common good. There have been weekly conference calls, and daily conversations that put into action the unity that is celebrated in the Chrism Mass. Likewise, the principle of subsidiarity shaped what should be or could be done on the local level across the expanse of our diocese as we gradually opened. Subsidiarity is manifest when all in attendance at the Chrism Mass return to their homes and ministries with the Holy Oils in hand to serve the People of God for another year in their particular circumstances.
Although our Chrism Mass was restricted this year by a once in a century viral tsunami, I saw a church filled to capacity with a cloud of witnesses from around the Diocese with whom we were united in prayer and purpose. I thank all of the leadership in our diocese, ordained and lay, who have redoubled their efforts in these worrisome times to serve the Lord in unanticipated ways. I ask your prayers for our priests, young and older, who like yourselves, are feeling the pain of separation from the people they love. Finally, may you share my joy with the forthcoming celebration of Holy Orders on June 27 when I will anoint Deacon César Sánchez and Deacon Andrew Nguyen with the Oil of Chrism, the beginning of their priesthood in the Diocese of Jackson.

Unidos en oración y enfoque en Misa Crismal

La Misa Crismal confirma mejor que la iglesia,
el Cuerpo de Cristo, es el sacramento de salvación para el mundo cuando la unción del Espíritu Santo capacita a todos los bautizados para vivir su
vocación como colaboradores en la viña del Señor.

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
Al comienzo de esta semana, se celebró la Misa Crismal, en la Catedral de San Pedro Apóstol, aproximadamente dos meses después de la Semana Santa.
La mayoría de nuestras más preciadas tradiciones han sido alteradas radicalmente, pospuestas o canceladas a raíz de la pandemia mundial. En lugar de una Catedral llena de personas, representando a todos los rincones de la Diócesis de Jackson, solo asistieron entre 50 y 60 sacerdotes, según lo permiten las limitaciones del distanciamiento social.
Fue una reunión menos festiva, pero la realidad de quiénes somos nunca puede verse disminuida porque Jesucristo es el mismo ayer, hoy y siempre. El Prefacio de la Misa Crismal proclama claramente nuestra identidad, establecida a través de la fe, el bautismo y el camino de aquellos llamados al Orden Sagrado.
“Porque por la unción del Espíritu Santo hiciste a tu Hijo unigénito como Sumo Sacerdote del nuevo y eterno pacto, y por tu maravilloso diseño te complació decretar que su único Sacerdocio debía continuar en la iglesia. Porque Cristo no solo adorna con un sacerdocio real a las personas que ha hecho suyas, sino con la amabilidad de un hermano, también elige a los hombres para que participen en su ministerio sagrado mediante la imposición de manos. Deben renovar en su nombre el sacrificio de la redención humana, poner delante de sus hijos el banquete pascual, guiar a su pueblo santo en la caridad, nutrirlos con la palabra y fortalecerlos con los sacramentos. Al renunciar a sus vidas por usted y por la salvación de sus hermanos y hermanas, se esfuerzan por ser conformados a la imagen del mismo Cristo y ofrecerle un testimonio constante de fe y amor.”
La primera carta de Pedro en el Nuevo Testamento declara esta elevada imagen para aquellos que son miembros del Cuerpo de Cristo. “Pero ustedes son una familia escogida, un sacerdocio al servicio del rey, una nación santa, un pueblo adquirido por Dios. Y esto es así para que anuncien las obras maravillosas de Dios, el cual los llamó a salir de la oscuridad para entrar en su luz maravillosa.” (1 Pedro 2:9)
Junto con la renovación de los votos sacerdotales y la oración de aprobación de todos los presentes, físicamente y en espíritu, la bendición del Aceite de los Catecúmenos, el Aceite de los Enfermos y la consagración del Aceite del Crisma ocurre en el santuario. Los sacramentos del Bautismo, la Confirmación, las Órdenes sagradas y la Unción de los enfermos capacitan a los fieles cristianos para abrazar el estilo de vida que comenzó con Jesús el Cristo, el “Ungido”, el que es el Camino, Verdad y Vida.
La Misa Crismal confirma que la iglesia, el Cuerpo de Cristo, es el sacramento de salvación para el mundo cuando la unción del Espíritu Santo capacita a todos los bautizados para vivir su vocación como colaboradores en la viña del Señor.
En los últimos tres meses, ha existido una considerable colaboración y comunicación para tomar las mejores decisiones con respecto a las reuniones públicas, en nombre del bien común. Hubo llamadas semanales, en conferencia, y conversaciones diarias que pusieron en acción la unidad que es celebrada en la Misa Crismal.
Del mismo modo, el principio de subsidiariedad dio forma a lo que debería o podría hacerse a nivel local y estatal para la reapertura progresiva y por extensión a lo largo de las parroquias de nuestra diócesis. La subsidiariedad se manifestó cuando todos los asistentes a la Misa Crismal regresaron a sus hogares y ministerios con los Aceites Sagrados en la mano, para servir al Pueblo de Dios por otro año, esta vez en circunstancias particulares.
Aunque nuestra Misa Crismal fue restringida este año por un tsunami viral de una vez en un siglo, vi una Catedral llena a tope de una nube de testigos de toda la Diócesis, con quienes estábamos unidos en oración y propósito.
Agradezco a todos los líderes de nuestra diócesis, ordenados y laicos, que han redoblado sus esfuerzos en estos tiempos preocupantes para servir al Señor de maneras inesperadas.
Les pido sus oraciones por nuestros sacerdotes, jóvenes y mayores, que, como ustedes, sienten el dolor de la separación de las personas que aman.
Finalmente, compartan mi alegría con la próxima celebración de las Sagradas Órdenes el próximo 27 de junio, cuando ungiré al Diácono César Sánchez y al Diácono Andrew Nguyen con el Aceite del Crisma, para el comienzo de su respectivo sacerdocio en la Diócesis de Jackson.

A seamless garment

In other words, how we pray establishes what
we believe and determines how we are to live.
Worship, belief and life are to be a seamless
garment, not a torn fabric.

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
“You are indeed holy, O Lord, and all you have created rightly gives you praise, for through your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, and through the power and working of the Holy Spirit, you give life to all things and make them holy, and you never cease to gather a people to yourself so that from the rising of the son to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name.”
This splendid prayer of praise is the opening section of the third Eucharistic prayer which is overflowing with our beliefs, our worship, our posture before God’s marvelous creation and the solidarity among all nations and peoples. It truly is an amazing expression of who we are and whose we are as a people of faith.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

On Pentecost Sunday last weekend, we proclaimed from God’s Word “the power and working of the Holy Spirit” to the 11 apostles, upon the 120 gathered in the upper room and in the church through manifold gifts, ministries and works. This weekend we proclaim the mystery of the Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, our God of the alive in the handiwork of creation and in the design of salvation. All of our Eucharistic prayers at Mass are in thanksgiving for God’s creative and redeeming love “as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen.”
“From the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name,” invites us to recall always that the Gospel has indeed gone out to all the nations, the promise of Pentecost, and the church is reborn and renewed each day around the world through this pure sacrifice of the Mass brought about “through your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ.” The feasts of Pentecost, the Most Holy Trinity, and Corpus Christi flow seamlessly from the same fountain of God’s mercy.
“Lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi” is a fundamental truth regarding our relationship with God, one another and the world in which we live. The Latin phrase is literally translated, the law of praying, the law of believing, the law of living. In other words, how we pray establishes what we believe and determines how we are to live. Worship, belief and life are to be a seamless garment, not a torn fabric. As we cautiously respond to the pandemic in our public liturgical gatherings, let us not overlook what the opening section of the third Eucharistic prayer is proclaiming. “All you have created rightly gives you praise” and “you give life to all things and make them holy.”
On May 24, 2015 Pope Francis, following upon this first encyclical, Evangelii Guadium, The Joy of the Gospel, gave to the church and the world the gift of Laudato Si, in praise of creation and our responsibility to care for our common home.
By far, knocking out the pandemic is our most pressing world-wide challenge, but we must not lose sight of the urgent need to foster integral human development on behalf of the planet and the poor. From section ten in this amazing document, we get a glimpse into the passion of Pope Francis. “I do not want to write this Encyclical without turning to that attractive and compelling figure, whose name I took as my guide and inspiration when I was elected Bishop of Rome. I believe that Saint Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. He is the patron saint of all who study and work in the area of ecology, and he is also much loved by non-Christians. He was particularly concerned with God’s creation and for the poor and the outcast. He loved, and was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his openheartedness. He was a mystic and a pilgrim who lived in simplicity and in wonderful harmony with God, with others, with nature and with himself. He shows us just how inseparable the bond is between concern for nature, concern for the poor, commitment to society and interior peace.” On the fifth anniversary of this landmark encyclical may our worship inspire us to raise up God’s creation and the most vulnerable.
“From the rising of the sun to its setting a pure sacrifice may be offered to your name,” is our commitment as a universal church to proclaim the gospel and make disciples of all the nations. This mission must rest upon a profound respect for the dignity of all peoples, their culture, traditions and way of life. This vision must also be incarnated in our marvelous melting pot of a nation, our own United States who in the moment is plagued once again by our original sin of racism. Recently, (2018) the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published a precious document entitled “Open Wide our Hearts – The Enduring Call to Love: A Pastoral Letter Against Racism.” The unrest, violence and destruction that currently rages across America demonstrates the sad relevance of this document. Just last week the USCCB issued a statement decrying the injustice of racially motivated violence against people of color in our nation. (This statement is included in this edition of the paper on page 6.) Liberty and justice for all is embedded in our nation’s founding vision.
Laudato Si and Open Wide our Hearts are well grounded in our identity as Catholics who embrace “lex orandi, lex creyendi et lex vivendi.” “You are indeed, holy, O Lord.”
From the feast of Pentecost I conclude with the ardent prayer of St. Augustine that we might make it our own for daily worship and living. “Breathe on me, O Holy Spirit, that my thoughts may be holy. Act in me that my work also may be holy. Draw my heart that my love may be holy. Strengthen me, O Holy Spirit that I may defend all that is holy. Guard me, O Holy Spirit, that I may always be holy.”

Bishops Joint statement on HB 1295

By Most Reverend Louis F. Kihneman and Most Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz, D.D.
JACKSON – We, the undersigned, Most Reverend Joseph R. Kopacz, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, and Most Reverend Louis F. Kihneman III, Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Biloxi, are writing on behalf of the Catholic Church throughout Mississippi with regard to HB 1295, The Life Equality Act. This bill seeks to protect unborn lives from discrimination in the womb on the basis of race, sex, and disability. We believe in the legal protection of these classes as they are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We seek to live out the Gospel of Jesus Christ by caring for the most vulnerable among us.
Our Catholic Charities are very active in supporting pregnancy resource centers, adoption, racial reconciliation, disability rights, and family assistance needs in Mississippi. We will continue to serve those in need while advocating for the preservation of life at all stages. It would be detrimental to our Church’s mission, as well as to the common good of our State, to be silent on matters of human life and discrimination.
The Church’s steadfast stance on the protection of preborn human lives has biblical support, e.g., the words of Psalm 139, declaring that each of us is fearfully and wonderfully made, knit in our mothers’ wombs. But even if one does not acknowledge the Bible, the truth that the womb of a pregnant woman contains a unique human life cannot be denied. This truth ought to be reflected by our Mississippi legal system without prejudice.
We thank you for your attention to this critical bill that is before you. As we celebrate the 25th Anniversary of John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae, Gospel of Life, The Church reflects deeply on our duty to protect the “least of these” in our society. May the Holy Spirit enlighten your deliberations and decisions to choose wisely on behalf of all people of Mississippi.

Together in Faith Reopening our churches

Current Liturgical Directives and allowances AS OF MAY 18
• The faithful are dispensed from the Sunday Obligation until further notice.
• Livestreamed Masses may ONLY be celebrated with no congregation present
• No public distribution of Holy Communion – such as drive-thru distribution in the parking lot.
• Sacraments and Rites that are allowed:
• Reconciliation – masks and social distancing of six feet required
• Baptism – must be Outside of Mass with 10 or less people present
• Matrimony – must be Outside of Mass with 10 or less people present
• Funerals – Graveside only with 10 or less peo- ple present
• RCIA Elect and Candidates may be received into the church in gatherings of 10 or less.
• Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament may occur in the church with 10 or less present at one time. Masks and social distancing are required. Adora- tion may also be held in the parking lot if people remain in their cars and can maintain proper so- cial distancing.

General Directives BEGINNING MAY 30, 2020
• Bishop Kopacz will continue to dispense all the faithful from the Sunday Obligation to participate in Mass until further notice.
• The public celebration of Mass will begin on the Solemnity of the Feast of Pentecost at 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 30.
• Home Masses: At this time, Masses may not be celebrated in private homes or properties of parishioners. This places everyone at risk.
• The sacraments and rites currently in place are continued with proper social distancing. (See above)
• First Holy Communion and Confirmation celebrations may begin August 1, 2020.
• Bishop Kopacz has delegated individual pastors to confer the Sacrament of Confirmation for the remainder of 2020.
• If a candidate will be moving away prior to August 1, pastors may confer the sacrament individually for this family in the church.
• Social distancing will be kept in accord with the state and local health recommendations and local ordinances.
• Each parish and mission should have a plan in place by May 25, for re-opening that includes seating map, training of ushers and hospitality ministers in the plan, a method for parishioners to sign up for Mass, and a communique sent to parishioners explaining the plan.
• Parish Mass schedules may be expanded to accommodate the faithful but taking great care not to spiritually bankrupt clergy with too many celebrations – a maximum of two vigils on Saturday evening and four masses on Sunday.
• Choir and Ensemble singing and practices are suspended until further notice.
• Livestreaming of Mass may continue. Additionally, livestreaming to overflow crowds in parish centers or gyms on parish campuses though not ideal for participation will be allowed during this time.
• These directives may not encompass every minute detail. The overriding maxim is: use common sense. According to health officials, this virus will linger in our communities for longer than we can project. Stay safe and be vigilant!

THE LITURGY OF THE EUCHARIST & COMMUNION RITE
• The gifts of bread and wine should be brought to the altar from the credence table in the sanctuary. There is no offertory procession involving congregation members.
• For the offertory, baskets will not be passed in the pews. An offertory station can be used, run by the ushers. Baskets should be sanitized before and after Mass.
• Exchanging the sign of peace should not involve physical contact.
• Distribution of the Precious Blood continues to be suspended.
• Distribution of Holy Communion will be in the hand. Distribution on the tongue is suspended. Medical personnel have emphasized that saliva is one of the worst fluids for transmission.
• Preferably, younger priests and/or younger Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in good health should distribute communion.
• The use of gloves to distribute Holy Communion is no more effective than distributing with the bare hand. Indeed, gloves would have to be changed for each communicant. Use of tongs or other instruments would, likewise, come into contact with each communicant’s hands.
• The Communion Rite is an essential and unmovable element of the Order of Mass. It is not to be celebrated after Mass.
• Masses may not be celebrated in private homes or properties of parishioners.

Safety and Hygiene: The Duty of Every Individual
• Those who are sick or symptomatic should stay home! This includes clergy!
• Vulnerable individuals, those 65 and older or with underlying health conditions, should continue to shelter in place. Families with vulnerable individuals are encouraged to continue to take special precautions.
• We would like for parents to consider the vulnerability of infants, toddlers and small children during this time, considering not bringing them to Mass or to perhaps bring them to a Mass during the week that is less attended rather than one of the busier weekend Masses.
• Wash hands at home and use hand sanitizer upon entering the church.
• Face masks are mandated for all assembly members over the age of two.
• Pastors must use face masks in proximity to parishioners, especially during the distribution of communion.
• Pastors and LEMs should make every effort to clearly communicate good hygienic practices and liturgical alterations to their parishioners prior to May 30, in light of continuing public health concerns.

Pope composes prayers for end of pandemic to be recited after rosary

By Cindy Wooden
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – Pope Francis asked Catholics to make a special effort in May to pray the rosary, knowing that by doing so they will be united with believers around the world asking for Mary’s intercession in stopping the coronavirus pandemic.
“Contemplating the face of Christ with the heart of Mary, our mother, will make us even more united as a spiritual family and will help us overcome this time of trial,” the pope said in a letter addressed to all Catholics and released by the Vatican April 25.
The month of May is traditionally devoted to Mary and many Catholics already are in the habit of praying the rosary at home during the month, he noted. “The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this ‘family’ aspect, also from a spiritual point of view.”
“You can decide according to your own situations” whether to pray individually or in groups, he said, noting that “it is easy also on the internet to find good models of prayers to follow.”
Pope Francis wrote two prayers to Mary that can be recited at the end of the rosary, prayers he said he would be reciting “in spiritual union with all of you.”

JACKSON – Bishop Joseph Kopacz reconsecrated the Diocese of Jackson to the Blessed Virgin Mary on Friday, May 1 outside of the Cathedral of St. Peter the Apostle. The service was livestreamed on Facebook. (Photo by Joanna Puddister King)

Both prayers acknowledge Mary’s closeness to her son’s followers and ask for her protection and for her intercession just as she interceded with Jesus on behalf of the newlyweds at Cana who had run out of wine for their wedding feast.
“We know that you will provide, so that, as at Cana in Galilee, joy and celebration may return after this time of trial,” one of the prayers read.
Pope Francis’ prayers also include specific intentions for those who are sick, for those who care for them, for those who have died and those who mourn for them, for scientists seeking cures and vaccines and for government leaders who must find a way to protect their people.
“Mary Most Holy, stir our consciences, so that the enormous funds invested in developing and stockpiling arms will instead be spent on promoting effective research on how to prevent similar tragedies from occurring in the future,” one of the prayers said.
“Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity, we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need,” it continued. “Make us strong in faith, persevering in service, constant in prayer.”

The Good Shepherd is with us

We celebrated the consecration and turned to the
Good Shepherd in the heart of the Easter season, to hear the voice of the one who laid down his life for us, who knows each of us by name, our fears and dreams, our struggles and hopes, and wants to hear our voices
in prayer and in concern for one another.

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
On Friday, May 1, the Diocese of Jackson in solidarity with all Catholic dioceses in the United States and in Canada renewed the consecration of the United States to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The following statement of faith and hope along with the opening prayer unfolds the tradition of the centrality of the Blessed Mother’s singular vocation whom all generations will call blessed. “When our Risen Lord appeared to his disciples on Easter Sunday he said: ‘Peace be with you.’ We can be confident that he desires this same peace for all the members of his body, the church, and for the people of the entire world. In this difficult time, we turn to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace, to ask that she intercede with her Son for all those who are affected in any way by this pandemic. As we renew the consecration of our country and of ourselves to the Mother of the God, we implore her maternal care for her children.
Let us pray.
“O God, Father of mercies, whose Only Begotten Son, as he hung upon the Cross, chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, his Mother, to be our Mother also, grant, we pray, that with her loving help your Church may be more fruitful day by day and, exulting in the holiness of her children, may draw to her embrace all the families of the peoples. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.” (John 19:26-27)
Mary’s identity as the Mother of the Church was sealed on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended upon her once again, along with the other 119 disciples at the church’s inception. (Luke 2)
Earlier in the Gospel of John she was present at the wedding of Cana, the site of her son’s first sign or miracle, where he changed the water into wine. In that moment she was a witness for all who want to be disciples when she said to the waiters, “do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5) These words link the prayer of consecration with Good Shepherd Sunday and the call to hear the voice of the Lord, and to do whatever he tells us. Not as an escape from reality, which is very complicated at this time, but as an invitation to know that God is with us always.
We celebrated the consecration and turned to the Good Shepherd in the heart of the Easter season, to hear the voice of the one who laid down his life for us, who knows each of us by name, our fears and dreams, our struggles and hopes, and wants to hear our voices in prayer and in concern for one another.
The 23rd Psalm, our responsorial Psalm of the day, is a beacon of courage and hope. “Although we walk through a dark valley, we fear no evil, because you are at our side with your rod and your staff that give us courage.” God never abandons the flock. We know this in Jesus Christ whose suffering and death and resurrection are a healing balm for our suffering and the promise of life in abundance. “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ.” (Romans 8:39)
We possess abundant treasures in the storehouse of faith. The grace of God already has led us to the restful and renewing waters of Baptism, to the anointing of our heads and hearts with holy oils, and to the Eucharistic table, filled with life and love in abundance. The Good Shepherd is at our side, in our homes, in all the spaces we carefully navigate. It is true that the borders and edges of our reality are blurred, and life and death are locked in mortal combat for all to see, too close for comfort. Yet, out of darkness and the shadow of death the voice of the Good Shepherd is not silent. May our shelter-in-place and safety at home provide for us a channel to hear his voice and follow his paths. We must drink deeper of the waters of our faith in creative in life-giving ways. It is true that we are scattered and sacramentally separated from the flock, the Body of Christ, the green pastures of our spiritual lives, but the grace and love of the Shepherd remain a living fountain that does not run dry, and already flows upward to eternal life.
We all yearn for the day when we can feast directly at the table of plenty, the Eucharistic banquet, the body and blood, soul and divinity of the Good Shepherd. The time is drawing nearer when we will hear the voices of the communion ritual: “The Body of Christ” and “Amen.” Afterall, Holy Communion with the Lord and with one another is what the Good Shepherd desires for us. But while we wait in joyful hope, let us not waste time fretting over what we are lacking, but rather, celebrating all that we have in abundance in Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd. With our Blessed Mother, may our souls also proclaim the greatness of God and rejoice in God our Savior. (Luke 1:45-46) This is our faith and we are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

El Buen Pastor esta con nosotros

Celebramos la consagración y recurrimos
al Buen Pastor en el corazón de la temporada
de Pascua, para escuchar la voz de quien dio su vida
por nosotros, que nos conoce por nuestro nombre,
nuestros miedos y sueños, nuestras luchas y esperanzas
y quiere escuchar nuestras voces en oración y
preocupación por los demás.

Obispo Joseph R. Kopacz

Por Obispo Joseph Kopacz
El viernes primero de mayo, la Diócesis de Jackson, en solidaridad con todas las diócesis católicas de los Estados Unidos y en Canadá, renovó la consagración de los Estados Unidos a la Bienaventurada Virgen María. La siguiente declaración de fe y esperanza junto con la oración de apertura revela la tradición de la centralidad de la vocación singular de la Santísima Madre, a la que todas las generaciones llamarán bendita. “Cuando nuestro Señor resucitado se apareció a sus discípulos el domingo de Pascua, dijo: ‘La paz sea con ustedes’. Podemos estar seguros que Él desea esta misma paz para todos los miembros de su cuerpo, la iglesia y para la gente de todo el mundo. En este momento difícil, nos volvemos a la Santísima Virgen María, Madre de la Iglesia y Reina de la Paz, para pedirle a ella que interceda con su Hijo por todos aquellos que se vean afectados de alguna manera por esta pandemia. Al renovar la consagración de nuestro país y de nosotros mismos a la Madre de Dios, le imploramos a ella por su cuidado maternal para con todos sus hijos.”
Rezamos:
“Oh Dios, Padre de misericordia, cuyo Hijo Unigénito, mientras colgaba de la Cruz, eligió a la Santísima Virgen María, su Madre, para ser también nuestra Madre, concédenos, te rogamos que, con su amorosa ayuda, tu Iglesia pueda ser más fructífera día a día, exultando la santidad de sus hijos, que ella pueda atraer a su abrazo a todas las familias de los pueblos. Te lo pedimos a través de nuestro Señor Jesucristo, tu Hijo, que vive y reina contigo en la unidad del Espíritu Santo, un solo Dios, por los siglos de los siglos. Amén.” (Juan 19:26-27)
La identidad de María como la Madre de la Iglesia fue sellada el día de Pentecostés cuando el Espíritu Santo descendió sobre ella una vez más, junto con los otros 119 discípulos en el inicio de la iglesia. (Lucas 2).
Anteriormente en el Evangelio de Juan, ella estuvo presente en la boda de Cana, el sitio del primer signo o milagro de su hijo, donde cambió el agua en vino. En ese momento, ella fue testigo de todos los que quieren ser discípulos cuando les dijo a los camareros, “hagan lo que él les diga”. (Juan 2:5) Estas palabras vinculan la oración de consagración con el Domingo del Buen Pastor y el llamado a escuchar la voz del Señor y hacer lo que nos diga, no como un escape de la realidad, que es muy complicado en este momento, sino como una invitación a saber que Dios está con nosotros siempre.
Celebramos la consagración y recurrimos al Buen Pastor en el corazón de la temporada de Pascua, para escuchar la voz de quien dio su vida por nosotros, que nos conoce por nuestro nombre, nuestros miedos y sueños, nuestras luchas y esperanzas y quiere escuchar nuestras voces en oración y preocupación por los demás.
El Salmo 23, nuestro Salmo responsorial del día, es un faro de coraje y esperanza, “Aunque pase por el más oscuro de los valles, no temeré peligro alguno, porque tú, Señor, estás conmigo; tu vara y tu bastón me inspiran confianza.” Dios nunca abandona el rebaño. Sabemos esto en Jesucristo, cuyo sufrimiento, muerte y resurrección son un bálsamo curativo para nuestro sufrimiento y la promesa de vida en abundancia. “ ¡Nada podrá separarnos del amor que Dios nos ha mostrado en Cristo Jesús nuestro Señor!” (Romanos 8:39)
Poseemos abundantes tesoros en el almacén de la fe. La gracia de Dios ya nos ha guiado a las aguas tranquilas y renovadoras del Bautismo, a la unción de nuestras cabezas y corazones con aceites sagrados, y a la mesa eucarística, llena de vida y amor en abundancia. El Buen Pastor está a nuestro lado, en nuestros hogares, en todos los espacios que navegamos cuidadosamente. Es cierto que las fronteras y los bordes de nuestra realidad están borrosos, y la vida y la muerte están encerradas en un combate mortal para que todos las vean, demasiado cerca, para su comodidad. Sin embargo, desde la oscuridad y la sombra de la muerte, la voz del Buen Pastor no es silenciosa.
Que nuestro refugio en el lugar y la seguridad en el hogar nos brinden un canal para escuchar su voz y seguir sus caminos. Debemos beber de las aguas más profundas de nuestra fe en formas creativas y vivificantes. Es cierto que estamos dispersos y sacramentalmente separados del rebaño, el Cuerpo de Cristo, los verdes pastos de nuestra vida espiritual, pero la gracia y el amor del Pastor siguen siendo una fuente viva que no se seca, y que ya fluye hacia arriba en busca de la vida eterna.
Todos anhelamos el día en que podamos deleitarnos directamente en la mesa de la abundancia, el banquete eucarístico, el cuerpo y la sangre, el alma y la divinidad del Buen Pastor. Se acerca el momento en que escucharemos las voces del ritual de comunión: “El cuerpo de Cristo” y “Amén”. Después de todo, la Sagrada Comunión con el Señor y con los demás es lo que el Buen Pastor desea para nosotros. Pero mientras esperamos con gozosa esperanza, no perdamos el tiempo preocupándonos por lo que nos falta, sino celebrando todo lo que tenemos en abundancia en Jesucristo, el Buen Pastor. Con nuestra Santísima Madre, que nuestras almas también proclamen la grandeza de Dios y se regocijen en Dios nuestro Salvador. (Lucas 1:45-46) Esta es nuestra fe y estamos orgullosos de profesarla en Cristo Jesús, nuestro Señor.

God’s word: a call to us all

If God’s word could land on the fertile soil of
our hearts and minds it would produce a
harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundredfold.

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
This weekend marks the first annual celebration of Sunday of the Word of God which will land every year on the third Sunday in Ordinary shortly after the conclusion of the Christmas season. There is not another Christian denomination that proclaims the Word of God as faithfully and comprehensively as does the Catholic Church, 365 days per year. Make that 366 days in 2020.
At the Saturday Vigil Masses and throughout the day on Sunday the People of God in the Catholic Church throughout the world hear four distinct scripture readings based on a three year cycle, two from the Old Testament, including a Psalm response, and two from the New Testament, culminating with a passage from one of the four gospels. If God’s word could land on the fertile soil of our hearts and minds it would produce a harvest of thirty, sixty and a hundredfold. The following scripture passages reveal God’s call and promises and the urgency to respond that goes out to the ends of the earth to all of the Lord’s disciples.
Solid foundation: “Everyone who listens to my words and acts on them will be like the wise who built their houses on rock.” (Matthew 7:24)
Jesus and his family: “Jesus was told, your mother and your brothers are standing outside and they wish to see you. He said to them in reply in reply, my mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and act on it.” (Luke 8:20-21)
Lasting wealth: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.” (Colossians 3:16)
Power: “Indeed, the word of God is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, even able to discern thoughts and reflections of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12-13)
Constant recourse to Sacred Scripture: “All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction and for training in righteousness.” (2Timothy 3:16)
Promise, understanding and enlightenment: “How sweet to my tongue is your promise, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through your precepts I gain understanding; therefore, I hate all false ways. Your word is a lamp for my feet, a light for my path.” (Psalm 119: 103-105)
The storehouse of grace: “Every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52)
Indeed, the word of God is a lamp and a light for all that the Church believes, teaches and lives in every generation. The power underlying Martin Luther King’s prophetic call and action to the point of shedding his blood originated with the Old Testament prophets and surged throughout this land like Jesus announcing the Kingdom of God and the call to repentance. A sampling of the prophets follows.
Justice: God said, “I hate, I despise your feasts; I take no pleasure in your solemnities. Rather, let justice surge like waters, and righteousness like an unfailing stream.” (Amos 5:21-24)
Justice—Goodness—Humility: “You have been told, o mortal, what is good, and what the Lord requires of you: only to do justice and love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8)
Let us set things right: “Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wrongs; hear the orphans plea, defend the widow. Come now, let us set things right.” (Isaiah 1:16-18)
The Kingdom of Heaven: “For the kingdom of heaven is not a matter of food and drink, but of righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade, that has made a wasteland of unborn life. The word of God, on the other hand, exalts the beauty of unborn life as the foundational reality for all stages of human life.
The elegance of creation: “You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb. I praise you, because I am wonderfully made; wonderful are your works. My bones are not hidden from you when I was being make in secret, fashioned in the depths of the earth.” (Psalm 139:13-15)
The Call of Isaiah: “Before birth the Lord called me, from my mother’s womb he gave me my name. He said to me: You are my servant; in you I show my glory … Though I thought I had toiled in vain, for nothing and for naught spent my strength. Yet my right is with the Lord, my recompense is with my God.” (Isaiah 49:1, 3-4)
The Call of Jeremiah: “The word of the Lord came to me: Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you, a prophet to the nations I appointed you.” (Jeremiah 1:4-6)
John the Baptist encounters Jesus: “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment that the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leapt for joy.” (Luke 1:41-44)
Indeed, the word of God, the Bible, is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path, both in our personal lives and in our quest for the Kingdom of God in this world. With the right to life of the unborn as the foundational life issue, we embrace the entire drama of the human condition from beginning to end. May our love for what is just, true and good find their origin in God’s holy word and proceeding through nearly 2000 years of our Church’s tradition, may we embrace our vision for life as a good scribble in the Kingdom of Heaven who can take from the storehouse of treasures both the old and the new. We give thanks for all who labor in our generation for a world on behalf of life, justice and peace.

Reflections on life and death

In recent years, in quiet moments of reflection, Uncle Joe, like Simeon, righteous and devout, expressed his gratitude for many blessings and his love for all in his life. Indeed, God allowed his servant to go in peace on the morning of the feast of the Holy Family …

Bishop Joseph R. Kopacz

By Bishop Joseph Kopacz
During the morning of the Feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 29, 2019, in the heart of the Christmas season, my Uncle Joe Calomino peacefully died at the age of 96 on his birthday. I was blessed to be on my annual holiday to the Northeast to be with family at this noteworthy moment when the curtain fell on the last member of that generation, respectfully referred to as the greatest.
There were nine siblings on my mother’s side and seven on my father’s. My Uncle Emil died this past summer at the age of 94 and he and Uncle Joe braved stormy winter weather on Feb. 6, 2014 to be present at my ordination and installation as the 11th Bishop of Jackson. Both lived lives of loving service that were deeply rooted in faith in the Lord Jesus and love for him in the Eucharist. Daily Mass, with the rosary beforehand, was the bedrock of Uncle Joe’s day, providing his daily bread and inspiring him to hold fast to our ultimate goal of having communion with Jesus Christ forever. A stroll down memory lane provides the background for why our family celebrated his funeral with joy and pride and a small measure of sadness, a life well lived.
Uncle Joe was born in 1923 and graduated from high school in 1942 as World War II raged. Immediately, he enlisted in the Army and was sent to southern England to be part of the effort that would crest with the invasion of Normandy. There were six brothers in this branch of the Calomino clan and five of them served in WWII. The sixth was heartbroken when he was not able to enlist because of disqualifying physical impairments. Families and the nation were overwhelmingly of one heart and one mind in the 1940s in defense of our allies and freedom, perhaps for the only time in our history.
Afterwards, like countless others, Uncle Joe returned home to marry and build a life with his beloved Angeline, Aunt Lena, a marriage of 62 years that ended when she died in 2009. They were not blessed with children, but the extended family would have had a gaping hole without their loving presence. At the funeral we were unable to count how many godchildren they had together, perhaps a dozen or more. After his retirement at the age of 65 as a warehouseman for food distributors, he began volunteering at the food stand at the local playground association, serving baseball and soccer players and their families until this past October when the season ended. Over the course of this extraordinary life, he was a blessing for family, for neighbors, for the church, for the community and for the nation.
Reflecting upon his life and death, I am drawn to the figures of Simeon and Anna who were the venerable ones featured in the Infancy narrative of Saint Luke’s Gospel during the Presentation of the infant Jesus in the Temple by Joseph and Mary. Their lives were a testimony to faith and hope, faithfully waiting for and actively praying for the fulfillment of the promise of the Messiah. There would be a gaping hole in the Christmas story if not for these elders who were there to encourage and spiritually support Mary and Joseph in God’s plan of salvation for them and for all the nations.
Recall these inspired words in Saint Luke’s Gospel. “Now there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. This man was righteous and devout awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. … When the parents brought in the child Jesus to perform the custom of the law in regard to him, he took him into his arms and blessed God saying: Now, Master, you may let your servant go in peace, according to your word, for my eyes have seen your salvation which you have prepared in the sight of all the peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and glory for your people Israel.” (Luke 2:25-32)
In recent years, in quiet moments of reflection, Uncle Joe, like Simeon, righteous and devout, expressed his gratitude for many blessings and his love for all in his life. Indeed, God allowed his servant to go in peace on the morning of the feast of the Holy Family when he was born into eternal life.
This weekend is the culmination of the Christmas season with the Baptism of the Lord Jesus in the Jordan River at the hands of John the Baptist. Through faith and baptism, we become members of the Body of Christ and the family of God, adopted children, no longer slaves to sin, but heirs to eternal life. We are God’s children, sisters and brothers of the Lord Jesus, and Temples of the Holy Spirit. May we not receive the gift of God in vain, squandering our inheritance on the vanities of life. Instead we are invited to make our lives something beautiful for God. May we be inspired by others in our lives, in every generation, who daily respond to God’s call with wisdom, knowledge and grace.
Requiescat in pace, Uncle Joe, as you join the Cloud of Witnesses who encourage us to fight the good fight, stay the course, and finish the race in eternal life. (2 Timothy 4:7)