The Priceless, Precious Blood

Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ and realize how truly precious It is, seeing that it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of conversion to the whole world
— Pope St. Clement of Rome

July is upon us. I was recently taken aback when someone told me that they and their friends celebrate a ‘half new year’ with the transition of June into July. Hard to believe that half of 2018 has already run its course!

July has traditionally been observed as the Month of the Precious Blood of Christ. It has been said that the Old Testament is an extended lesson in ‘blood sacrifice’ which prepared the way for the definitive sacrifice of Christ on Calvary. Jesus’ Precious Blood is referred to over 75 times in the New Testament. St. Peter, the first Pope referred to the Lord’s Precious Blood as like that of a lamb, unspotted and undefiled (see 1 Peter 1:19). St. Clement, the fourth Pope also referred to that Blood in his letter to the Corinthians—quoted above— which was written in about the year 96 of the first century.

Down through the centuries, the Saints have all pondered the value of that precious and amazing gift of Christ’s life-blood. Although in our parish we do not distribute Holy Communion under two species, but rather only under the Sacred Host, the Catholic Doctrine of Concomitance is an important one to remember. Concomitance is a technical word that explains how the entire Christ is present under each Eucharistic species: Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. Christ is indivisible. This is an important truth that accompanies our Eucharistic Faith. To receive both the Host and the Chalice, as a couple may do at their Nuptial Mass, is not to receive ‘more’ of Christ’s presence but rather has been said to be a ‘fuller sign’ of the truth of the Sacrament of the Eucharist.

For two of our wisest (and oldest) parishioners, July 1915 is amazingly a living memory! That’s right, both Stan Marciniak from Holy Cross and Tilly Anderson from St. Clement are celebrating their 103rd Birthday this month, Stan on July 11 and Tilly on July 19. Happy Birthday to both of them! It is amazing to think that these two individuals have lived for over a hundred years in the same neighborhood and never met.

July marks at least a couple of other occasions. As I noted in last week’s bulletin, it marks five years since our parish merger took effect in 2013. For Fr. Hagan and I, it marks a full year of our service here in Northeast Minneapolis. For us, and for parishes everywhere, it also marks the beginning of a new Fiscal Year. The Finance Council and Parish Trustees recently approved a balanced Budget for Fiscal Year 2019. It was a fun and challenging process to prepare for and I believe that our ability to be stewards of the generosity of the people of God will be manifest in living according to this budget during the coming year. My thanks are due to Leon and Anne Sweet and to others who have been involved in the process. To all of you, our parishioners and friends, we depend on your ongoing generosity in Sunday Giving. Thank you! Your sacrificial giving is an expression of your trust in God.

This past weekend was the annual Peter’s Pence collection taken up to support our Holy Father’s charitable initiatives and to stand in solidarity with the Universal Church’s mission to those in need. If you would like to contribute to this fund and missed last weekend, you can drop your Peter’s Pence envelope in the collection or return it the parish office.

We welcome Fr. Bienvenu Tsanga who will be present at our parish Masses during the next couple of weekends preaching as part of the Annual Missionary Cooperation Plan that keeps us attentive to the needs outside of our parish and local community on the global reality of  Catholicism. Each year we receive a visit from one missionary assigned by the Center for Mission. Thank you for your generosity in responding to this appeal. I am grateful personally that Fr. Bienvenu’s presence gives me an opportunity to step away from the parish for a blessed time of vacation. I will be camping in Wyoming for about ten days and am looking forward to some quality time in the great outdoors. I am grateful to Fr. Hagan, Fr. Stan and Fr. Jaspers for their generous service while I am away.

Summer is a time of recreation and refreshment, but also a time for a specific kind of work. The primary work of this summer has been focused on developing a new approach to our Wednesday evening Faith Formation in an exciting new direction that emphasizes engagement of the whole family rather than just attempting to teach the children. Morgan Smith, Fr. Hagan and a team of committed parents and catechists have been working to prepare for this exciting transition. More will be communicated in the coming weeks, but for now, suffice it to say that we hope our entire parish will benefit from this approach.

I want to highlight Morgan’s appeal for intercessors to join a new Prayer Ministry initiative that will support and surround this program in prayer. Our homebound parishioners or Catholic Elder Care residents are especially invited to participate in this intercessory effort. There are also needs for volunteers to join a new Hospitality Group that will help prepare and serve a monthly meal for our Family Nights. Please consider this invitation to consider how you might get involved. There will also be a number of exciting Adult Formation opportunities as well as a monthly Wednesday evening Parish Night that will offer ongoing opportunities for all of us to grow in faith together. Stay tuned!

All are invited to St. Clement on Sunday evening, July 22nd. Immediately following the 4 pm Mass there (which will begin as a weekly Mass on Sunday, July 15), we are hosting our first Parish Family Faith Night. It will run from approximately 4:45-7:15 pm. People of all ages are invited to attend together. It is an intergenerational event which will offer something for everyone. The theme of the evening will be family life and our call to imitate the Holy Family, particularly reflecting on the 50th Anniversary of Bl. Pope Paul VI’s prophetic (and sadly unheeded) letter Humanae Vitae. Food will be available as well as children’s activities for various ages, an adult panel discussion, table conversation and concluding devotions. It is sure to be an edifying and enjoyable evening which we hope will be the first of many such opportunities for fellowship, growth in understanding of our Faith and praying together. One of the added incentives to attend is that we will have sign-ups and an ability to ask questions about Family Faith Formation and other offerings for adults.

God bless,

Fr. Howe

 A final prayer to make our own in this Month of the Precious Blood:

Lord Jesus, You became Man in order by your Passion and Death and the draining of your Blood on the Cross, might prove to us how much You, our God, love us. Protect us, dear Jesus, from ever running away from the sight of blood. Strengthen our weak human wills so that we will not only not run away from the Cross, but welcome every opportunity to shed our blood in spirit in union with your Precious Blood, so that, dying to ourselves in time we might live with You in Eternity. Amen.