Seek the Things That Are Above: Occupying Our Minds with Heavenly Things
Sadly—as the proverbial phrase goes—our culture often looks askance at the one who is heavenly minded as quite likely to be of no earthly good. This idea that a person with a drive to pursue spiritual things is inevitably disengaged from the realities of terrestrial life is based on a false dichotomy whereby practical things are set in opposition to spiritual ones. Perhaps there is a pitfall there, but it seems to me the stronger pull of our age is towards materialism which ends in consumerism, experimentalism, and ultimately nihilism and futility.
The truth of the matter is that to seek the things that are above, as Peter, James and John learned at the Transfiguration of Christ on the mountain, is to allow those things to enlighten all earthly reality and to imbue it with a richness of meaning that it could never have on its own. With a sacramental vision, all earthly things come into a new and clearer focus. Ultimately it is only the one who sets their gaze on heavenly things who can truly see their neighbor and live in this world rightly as preparation for the one to come. As the chosen Apostles came down the mountain after the Transfiguration, they were changed by the vision and their hope was anchored in a new and deeper way in Christ’s identity as the Beloved Son of God. Lent is about joining them on the mountain, sharing their vision of spiritual realties, all the while remaining grounded throughout the anxieties and travails of life here below.
Each year the Second Sunday of Lent draws our attention to the mystery of Our Lord’s dazzling Transfiguration on Mount Tabor. I am ever intrigued by the connection in Catholic liturgical practice to our liturgical reflection on Christ’s transfiguration. The monstrance, the ornate vessel for the ‘showing’ and public adoration of the Eucharistic Host, is often placed upon the altar on top of a throne or shelf, called a ‘Tabor’. This is true for example in our parish Adoration Chapel in the Holy Cross convent. Many traditional altars were designed with a shelf that could pull out to allow solemn exposition to take place above the tabernacle. In our Holy Cross sanctuary, we have a special ‘Mount Tabor stand’ that fits over the tabernacle at the High Altar and allows the monstrance to be placed directly on top, just beneath the sculpted crucifix. This is only used on the most solemn moments of the liturgical year, but it dramatically invites us to focus all our attention upon the Host.
Perhaps what this indicates most beautifully is the connection between the grace of Eucharistic Adoration and the experience of the disciples Peter, James and John on Mount Tabor who fell at the feet of Jesus in adoration. Their experience of Christ on the mountain was accompanied by the thundering voice of the Father attesting, “This is my chosen Son; listen to him” while ours takes place in silence that invites us to ponder the truth of these divine words. Our focus as a parish on Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in this Lenten Season invites us not to sit back complacent, but to ‘enter the cloud’ with Peter, James and John and to encounter Christ as He is revealed by the Father (Luke 9).
Our annual Forty Hours Eucharistic Devotion takes place this coming week. It can be an opportunity for us to lift our hearts and gaze higher. Although veiled under the appearances of bread and wine, Our Lord illumines our hearts by the reality of his Divinity. Through the rising incense and the glow of candles we are invited to contemplate Jesus’ Real and Saving Presence.
I would like to invite each individual or household in our parish to sign up for an hour throughout the daytime or nighttime hours. Our younger adults are especially invited to take the late night/early morning sacrificial hours. Binders with the open hours of adoration are at each of our churches. Come to experience the gift of silent stillness in His presence! We can bring to him the many intentions for which we fervently pray; we can simply sit at His feet in humble acknowledgement of His Sacred Presence. Even if you have never experienced adoration, I invite you to come and try it. You will not regret doing so and might even find yourself wanting to become a regular adorer in our Adoration Chapel in the Holy Cross convent. The Lord is always drawing us, He is seeking adorers in spirit and in truth!
Consider joining for our Opening Mass of Forty Hours at 6:00 pm on Thursday, March 21st which will be bilingual (English/ Polish). My friend, Fr. Paul Haverstock, who is Parochial Vicar in Shakopee, will preach the Mass. All are of course heartily invited to participate in the Solemn Closing of our Forty Hours Devotion on Sunday, March 24th at 4 pm followed by a wine and cheese reception in the Holy Cross Gymnasium. We are blessed this year that Archbishop Hebda will be present to preside and preach. Many priests and deacons will be present with us. Let’s plan to gather around our shepherd to adore the Lord.
The Eucharist is the source of our unity. On the Thursday mornings of Lent, we have been hosting adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in the River Village chapel. Our time of adoration at River Village on Thursday morning, March 21 will be almost like a ‘mini-Forty Hours’. Those with more limited mobility can thus be united with our parish-wide Forty Hours observance at Holy Cross.
In addition to the Friday Fish Fry Suppers each week, don’t forget about our Wednesday Lenten Soup Suppers hosted by the Holy Cross Women’s Rosary Guild in Kolbe Hall. This past week’s Chicken Noodle was delicious. Don’t miss the Vegetable Beef Barley on March 20th! Lent is a season of simplicity and spiritual discipline but we are called to feast with the church as well. There are a few Irish folks around this neighborhood and parish, so even the Polish can kick up their heals on St. Paddy’s Day, March 17th. March 19th is the Solemnity of St. Joseph and March 25th is the Solemnity of the Annunciation to Our Lady. These are great holy days, though not days of obligation. They are great days to build Mass into your day to share in the great feast of faith!
United in Our Eucharistic Lord,
Is it Spring Yet? - St. Teresa of Avila famously said: “There is no such thing as bad weather! It all comes from God!” We aren’t saints yet, so a bit of complaining about the length of Minnesota winter is okay! The fact that several snowfalls this winter have coincided with weekends has meant decreased Mass attendance and collections which has created hardship for churches throughout the region. I ask you to consider supplementing your weekly collection to help us make up for the heavy impact of winter weather. Cold and snowy weather means real increased costs to for heating, utilities and snow removal at all of our campuses. Consider the Simplified Giving option which helps us to stabilize our parish stewardship: find out more at www.ourholycross.org/donate. Thank you for your generosity and constant support. Spring rains and snow melt will also mean flooding and challenges for farmers. Let us keep in prayer all those affected by the challenges of this season.