August 1 – Eighteenth Sunday of Ordinary Time

From the Pastor, Father John M. Thomas:

My Dear Parishioners:

Greetings of peace and joy to you as we commemorate the resurrection of our Lord!

This weekend we begin what is called, “The Bread of Life Discourse’. It is from the Gospel of John, chapter 6.  Jesus offers extensive instruction and encouragement concerning what we know today as The Eucharist and his giving himself TOTALLY to us in the form of bread and wine. This instruction will be our Gospel readings for the next six weeks.

Jesus instructs that He is the Bread of Life. And those who eat, and drink will know the promise of eternal life.  This has been and continues to be our greatest hope and prayer.

Over the last 28 years I have stood at many altars and prayed the prayers of the Eucharistic Prayer, the very words of Jesus: “Take and eat. Take and drink.” Some of these Masses have been occasions of great formality and celebration (St. Peter’s Basilica, St. Paul outside the Walls, Chartres Cathedral, Notre Dame).  These have been moments of profound joy and honor. 

There have been other times, however, where the same words of Jesus are prayed, and the altar is much more informal and simpler. These are Masses I have offered in a hospital, home, or even a hotel. The power and beauty, however, remain the same. God is present. Good is calling.

Now I stand at this altar .  .. . OUR altar here at St. Stephen Cathedral. For several days now I have offered Mass at 7 AM. This is no problem for me as I am an early riser. Every time I approach this altar, I am reminded of my days here as a seminarian when I stood with other priests and served them and the Church. I was humbled to stand there and overwhelmed with the opportunities that were put before me. It is profoundly powerful to now stand at this altar as your pastor. To continue praying these prayers given to us by Christ himself. To join with you in these prayers . . . “Take and eat . . .Take and drink.”

As I pray, I look up to the grand rose window on the east wall of our beautiful cathedral. The morning sun shines brilliantly through the stained glass. It ‘greets’ us and joins us in joyful praise realizing the gift of another day. I join my humble prayers with the many priests who have stood where I today stand and witness the miracle of another day, another opportunity to serve, another chance. 

The Eucharist calls us together, moves us forward, strengthens us, protects, sanctifies, and ultimately saves us.  The Bread of Life. The Cup of Salvation. Let us rejoice and be glad!

Fr. John