Easter Mystagogia Homilies

Since her most ancient days, the Church has used the time after Easter to reflect on the sacraments.  The links below are to the homilies we’ve heard in Church during the Easter  season to help us unlock and fall in love with the sacraments that we’ve all received.

Divine Mercy Sunday: The Sacraments are all related and flow from the events of Jesus’ Passion Death and Resurrection

Third Sunday of Easter: Confession

Fourth Sunday of Easter: Baptism

Fifth Sunday of Easter: Confirmation

Sixth Sunday of Easter: Holy Orders and Marriage – the Nuptial Sacraments


Some Q&A About Daily Mass

Over the last two weeks, I’ve gotten some questions from two parishioners about daily mass, and thought I might field some answers here in the Bulletin for everyone’s benefit.  

“What is daily mass?”  While the Lord commands us to observe the sabbath (Sunday mass), daily mass is more a matter of personal devotion, a smaller-scale chance during the week to hone one’s love for the Lord not out of necessity, but out of pure gift.  Daily masses are also a great chance for people to offer up attendance at mass for a particular purpose, for example the journey of a loved one through purgatory to heaven… or the healing of a sick friend… etc.  Personal acts of devotion and sacrifice find a wonderful setting at daily mass.  Daily mass is also the Church’s way of marking all the various feasts/observances of the year in answer to St. Paul’s admonition, “Pray always.”(cf. I Thess. 5).

While most people can’t make it to daily mass on a regular basis because of work schedules, it’s certainly something I’d recommend whenever one can.  Here at St. Francis Xavier daily mass is offered at 9am in the Rectory oratory (an oratory is a space with an altar but no tabernacle).  We typically offer the rosary at 9 and begin daily mass by 9:15.  You can enter the Rectory via the side door just opposite the church entry most of us use all the time.

“Why the Rectory?” Is another question that has come up lately.  Up until November of last year we were celebrating daily mass in the church every day.  When the boiler broke down for about two weeks, we moved into the Rectory so that attendees wouldn’t be worshipping in the cold.  Once the boiler was fixed I decided to keep celebrating daily mass in the Rectory.  I addressed this with the parish council at the time.  

“Why stay in the Rectory?  A few reasons in no particular order: (1) From January until November 2017 we rarely had more than 4 people attend daily mass, and very frequently it would just be me and our parish sacristan Mr. Zappone.  It requires a lot of work to open up the Church for so small a crowd.  Also, the experience can be a bit cavernous as voices echo around the mostly empty space.  I thought the Rectory would be a somewhat more intimate setting.  (2) Bills – In fiscal year ’16-’17 it cost us about $10,000 to heat/cool the church 7 days/week on a timer that turned the HVAC on/off according to a schedule.  If we’re going to use the church through the week those systems need to be on all week long because it takes so long to feel the effect of the heat/AC in so large a space.  Holding mass in the Rectory means we can keep the heating/cooling systems off Mon-Fri. And turn them on just for weekend worship. As the finance council and parish council know from regular updates… and as you know from the updates we’ve been publishing every six months, our financial position is delicate at St. Francis Xavier.  As of last Sunday we were maintaining a cash balance of only $3,000 in our operations account and approximately $40k in our savings account, which we’ve had to dip into from time to time to keep our operating balance securely positive.  I’m proud to say that we pay all our bills on time and in full, but it’s not always easy.

“Can we consider moving back to the church?”  I’m certainly open to celebrating daily mass in our beautiful church and I’ll bring up the subject at our May 6 Parish Council meeting to get the input of parishioners.  I’m just trying to be as prudent as possible with our limited resources.  I’m grateful to our entire community for any thoughts you may have at any time.  

Until then, I remain,

Your priest,

Fr. De Rosa

MLK Day – The bridegroom was with them, and he is still with us!

Dear Parishioners,

The Gospel this Monday (Martin Luther King Jr. Day – Mt. 2:18-22) offers us two lessons.  He tells the assembled crowd that his disciples rejoice because, “As long as they have the bridegroom with them they cannot fast.” He goes on to teach, “New wine is poured into fresh wineskins.”  A few thoughts on these lessons, which fall providentially on MLK Day this year.

Dr. King’s witness was unique and uniquely effective.  It was peaceful and thoroughly grounded in the Christian message.  Those who followed him turned the other cheek to the verbal abuse, legal intimidation, and even the physical violence of their persecutors.  They responded with words and even hymns of peace and hope.  They could do this because they kept the bridegroom with them in their hearts.  They knew that even should the struggle claim their lives, they had something greater to look forward to in the true promised land of heaven.  Like the first martyrs of the Church suffering in the arenas of the pagan world they shocked onlookers with their peace… the peace that only Christ can bring.

This peace comes from being filled with the love of the bridegroom like wine filling a wine skin.  And Jesus wants us to have an ever greater share of his loving presence in us.  Herein lies our challenge, because each time he renews us, each time he tries to fill us with a new share of his love we need to prepare “fresh wine skins,” to receive him.  We need to reinvent ourselves a little.  Back in the days when wine was stored in animal skins, the skins would – over time – become brittle.  New wine expands with fermentation, requiring a more flexible storage space, hence fresh wine skins.  How do we achieve this renewal?

Renewal comes from without and from within.  Without: It helps us to get beyond the echo chamber of our daily lives.  Last week I was in Arizona at a conference with Catholics from all over the US.  A member of our DC group remarked, “Father, do you notice how happy and optimistic all these people are?”  She made this observation in contrast to what she perceives as a gloominess in Washington.  I’m sure folks all over America have their own struggles… and that our fellow participants found the DC delegation a cheerful bunch.  The point is this: stepping out of our routines gives us a chance to re-assess things with fresh eyes, make new resolutions and return home different people.  Whether it’s a trip to Southern Maryland, or the Shrines of Emmitsburg or the wine country in Virginia, consider getting out of town just for a day.  You may be surprised at the new person who comes home.  Within: Renewal comes from within as each of us is washed anew by the stream flowing from the pierced side of Christ.  We turn to him in the fountain of the Word.  We turn to the fountain of the sacraments flowing from his pierced side.  In confession, at mass, and through our sacramental relationships (marriage, holy orders), we find an internal refreshment and inspiration to make ourselves anew in his image.  Turn to the sacraments frequently.  Stop by Church to visit the Blessed Sacrament or attend Adoration on First Saturdays.  You’ll be amazed at what Jesus does for you.

Thus recreated we can be filled ever more with the presence of the bridegroom and equipped -like Dr. King’s followers- to achieve whatever our circumstances may call for.  I came back from my conference very much renewed and look forward to sharing the fruits of that experience and that prayer with our community.

Your priest,

Father De Rosa