School is Out for the Summer - Almost!

As a kid, I remember well that the last days of school always seemed to drag on as the ‘dog-days’ of summer tantalized us but could never seem to arrive quickly enough. This must be especially true this year as the temperatures have already soared to the high 90s no doubt causing students and teachers alike to wonder when it will all be over.

Faith Formation has officially come to a close with this past Wednesday’s joyful celebration of the Mass of Christian Initiation where a group of our young people received the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation and First Holy Communion. Praise God for the good example they give to us of openness to the graces of the sacramental life, especially as we celebrate this great feast of Corpus Christi.

Coming this Friday at 11 am, Fr. Kevin Finnegan—pastor of Our Lady of Grace parish and our illustrious chaplain and booster of St. John Paul II Catholic Preparatory School—and I, will celebrate the final Mass of the school year at Holy Cross church. All are welcome to attend to bring this school year to a spiritual finale. As you have likely heard, with the close of this year we are bidding farewell to Señor Edgar Alfonzo who has been serving as principal. Our gratitude and promise of prayers go with him. Muchisimas gracias por todo!

I also wish to express gratitude to the teachers, staff and volunteers who serve so generously at St. John Paul II and throughout the Ascension Catholic Academy. A recent highlight was the remarkable concerted effort that built the playground. Special thanks are due to Danette Fettig Halloran, Alison James and Margaret Conroy who helped to pull it all off. Tom Siwek and a veritable army of volunteers made it happen and even the Archbishop stopped by to bless the workers and greet the school children! There are still a few finishing touches to bring the playground project to conclusion but what a blessing for our Holy Cross campus. The school has a very bright future ahead and we look forward to an even stronger partnership going forward. Stay tuned for new volunteer opportunities to get involved in the wonderful things going on at this beloved Catholic school of Northeast Minneapolis.

This summer is sure to be an occasion for outdoor activities, fun in the sun and cook outs. Turning to the theme of today’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ—or Corpus Christi—I would like to reflect a bit on food. This summer our Sunday Gospels will come for five consecutive weeks from the famous sixth chapter of St. John’s Gospel. Here is a sneak peak of what Jesus will say: “Do not work for the food that perishes but for the food that endures to eternal life” (John 6:27).

It is natural for us to see an Olympic gold medalist perform and ask ourselves: “I wonder what they eat?” This logical connection between input and output is evidenced in the use of the iconic slogan, “Breakfast of Champions” which was first printed on the Wheaties cereal box in 1935 together with images of sports heroes.

Today one is aware of a cultural search for ‘superfoods’ and a growing refusal to settle for counterfeit ingredients. Walk into any grocery store and you will notice heightened attentiveness to labels and greater scrutiny about hidden unnatural additives.

Although some are skeptical about the marketing push behind the hype for more fresh and wholesome foods, Jesus Christ Himself taught that classic spiritual wisdom that mothers draw upon when urging their children to eat veggies. There is a massive difference between food that perishes and food that endures (and Christ isn’t talking about preservatives).  We thus come to the ‘true food’ and ‘true drink’ with which Christ has nourished His church for 2000 years. Reading from the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel and the Bread of Life discourse for five Sundays in a row beginning on July 29 will give us a chance to consider the Eucharist as the real ‘super-food.’

Although this food is largely unknown to our contemporary world and sometimes taken for granted even by those of us who are Catholic, it is the central gift that Christ gives to the Church in the Last Supper utterance, “Take this all of you and eat of it.” We must feed on the Eucharist with the expectation of the saints who drew all their strength from the Eucharist. As Bl. Teresa of Calcutta admitted her secret: “I know I would not be able to work one week if it were not for that continual force coming from Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament.” St. Philip Neri (1515-1595) knew his utter dependence on this food as well: “Chastity is impossible without the Eucharist.” Even as a good Italian he knew deep in his bones that no savory pasta or sweet gelato could compare!

But this wisdom goes back even to the earliest days of the Church. I close with this reflection from the 400s: “If the poison of pride is swelling up in you, turn to the Eucharist; and that Bread, Which is your God humbling and disguising Himself, will teach you humility. If the fever of selfish greed rages in you, feed on this Bread; and you will learn generosity. If the cold wind of coveting withers you, hasten to the Bread of Angels; and charity will come to blossom in your heart. If you feel the itch of intemperance, nourish yourself with the Flesh and Blood of Christ, Who practiced heroic self-control during His earthly life; and you will become temperate. If you are lazy and sluggish about spiritual things, strengthen yourself with this heavenly Food; and you will grow fervent. Lastly, if you feel scorched by the fever of impurity, go to the banquet of the Angels; and the spotless Flesh of Christ will make you pure and chaste.” - St. Cyril of Alexandria (c. 376-444). If you are looking for good summer sustenance, this is it. You are what you eat!

Let us be nourished by it Sunday after Sunday—especially throughout the summer months—for it is the only food that endures to eternal life.

Fr. Howe

+ Please see the cover of this weekend’s bulletin for an invitation to check out our new Simplified Giving program, Vanco. Check out www.OurHolyCross.org/donate for more information on this secure, confidential and simple way to continue supporting our wonderful parish. Help us grow! Note, if you are currently signed up through WeShare there is information on our parish website about transitioning to the new program.

+ I am excited to announce that Fr. Andrew Jaspers who is a classmate and periodic guest priest through the past couple of years has been assigned by the Archbishop beginning this summer to serve as a full-time spiritual director at St. John Vianney College Seminary. He has also been designated as a weekend assistant at our Holy Cross campuses. Please join me in welcoming him more fully to the parish. Stay tuned for a more formal introduction from him.