This week's bulletin contains a two page pictorial on "The Binding of Isaac."
The governor's new regulations which raise the attendance limits for houses of worship to 50%, while maintaining social distancing and mask wearing will not have much of a practical effect on small to medium size worship spaces like Holy Cross. Simply put, we cannot significantly increase attendance limits without easing the social distancing requirements at the same time.
Masses at Holy Cross have not even reached the old maximum allowed 30% with safe limits. Chief demand for increased capacity comes for gatherings over which we have much less control and cooperation from the congregation (weddings and funerals). Some families interpret "household seating" very loosely, especially when guests arrive from out of town. Mask wearing compliance is generally good, but unreasonable demands are placed on the restroom facilities - especially that guests should sanitize the space after use. It becomes difficult to minimize congregating in the gathering space and on stairways during these events. Keep in mind we have a handful of volunteer funeral and wedding coordinators on hand for these events.
Should the governor or the bishop allow closer seating with mask wearing, the situation will truly change.
The seating guidelines represent a combination of both what is allowed and what is safely feasible in each worship space and with each parish's personnel and volunteer staff.
Under the present circumstances, no changes will be made to the seating guidelines at Holy Cross.
We're trying live streamed Stations on Friday night. They are prayed live in the church, but will also be live streamed. Tonight we simply had a video of the Altar Cross and Fr. Manning used a portable wi-fi microphone for the stream. We'll experiment with a mobile cam app and see how that looks before we use it on a Friday evening - I would definitely need a "steady cam" feature!
As you know, we have been honoring St. Joseph in this, his year, by praying the Litany of St. Joseph after the morning mass on Wednesdays. The material ordered in January has finally arrived and now he has a banner to mark his place in our sanctuary for the remainder of the year, and well in time for his feast day in March. The candles have also been replaced to emphasize prayer to St. Joseph.
We can hear Jesus' frustration with his disciples in this morning's gospel. After chiding them to beware of the bad leaven of the Scribes and Pharisees, they mistakenly believe he has scolded them for taking too little to eat with them in the boat.
Jesus is worried about their contamination by duplicity and they think he is worried about lunch.
At this point he has already multiplied the loaves hinting about the life sustaining food he will give us in the Eucharist at the Last Supper. We shouldn't be quick to scoff at them, Jesus can ask the same question of us:
This morning's reading from Genesis relates the sad killing of Abel by his brother Cain. His rage was fueled by jealousy and anger then later covered up with lying and remorse. Perhaps he is shown nude by the sculptor to emphasize that neither Cain nor his act could be hidden from God.
Today's martyrdom of St. Valentine and the blessing of Marriages brings a corrective to the modern, sometimes overly romanticized version of love. Instead of the romantic love tradition inherited from the troubadours and perpetuated in contemporary music, true love springs from a willingness to sacrifice for the other and for the family which can arise with God's grace from a loving, mutual partnership.
Even secular troubadours can probably agree that love is not all about cards, flowers and candy.
It is precisely because we are made in the image and likeness of God that we owe each other respect, whether or not our man-made laws reflect that Divine mandate.
We delude ourselves if we think that administrative directives or legislation can confer or remove basic human dignity.
Happily our human dignity comes from God alone.
May our behavior toward each other always reflect respect and reverence.
A Sudanese citizen, she was kidnapped and enslaved at an early age, sold and resold in the trade of North Africa. Finally obtaining her freedom in Italy, she became attracted to Catholicism and entered a convent where she served God as a vowed religious for 50 years. Her hospitality to those in need and her prayerfulness became legendary in the local community.
Her feast day commemorates a Day of Prayer for those enslaved in human trafficking - still a profitable and thriving evil throughout the world.
Holy Cross Academy will be closed tomorrow for a snow day. Classes will be virtual. Do the children get any real "snow days" any more with most school prepared for virtual instruction?
Now I get it. (I skipped the video to shuttle throwing part; just watch the first few minutes - unless you want to learn how to weave!)
All it took was a dance.
Jefferson misidentified the woman in the figure as Herodias. Reni's original is a portrait of Salome, her daughter.
St. Theophilus was a sixth century archdeacon who became disgruntled when he was edged out for the episcopacy by a rival and then accused by the new bishop of misusing the office of church treasurer which had been entrusted to him. His desire to obtain the episcopacy and even the score led him to make a pact with the devil to accomplish his goal. He even signed a contract! - the first contract with the devil recorded in literature. His guilt and buyer's remorse soon got the better of him and prompted by a chiding apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom he confided his desire to repent, he went to the new bishop and confessed his plot. Mary appeared to him once again rescuing him from the contract.
This story became quite popular in illuminated manuscripts and stained glass windows during the Middle Ages and may be the inspiration for Goethe's Faust and similar themed literature throughout the ages.