My Jesus, I believe that you are present in the most Blessed Sacrament. I love You above all things and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot now receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there, and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
St. Alphonsus Liguori
Reflection from Bishop Quinn
Holy Thursday Homily and Eucharistic Reflection
Reflections from Parishioners
From Jason and Laurel Quinn Family, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona
Welcome back! Please join us to celebrate the miracle of the Mass in person. “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.” (Matthew 18:20) God always deserves and desires us to show up and praise him. Attending Sunday Mass helps our family keep the worship of God a priority in our week – even if it is an out of town tournament weekend and the kids need to attend in their soccer uniforms! Returning to normalcy for our family means returning to the celebration of Mass in church. At all times, we need courage and strength and the Catholic Mass sustains us. “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) Through the sacrament of the Eucharist our family receives grace to help us during the week. Come back and be fed and “put on the armor of light” (Romans 13:12).
From Barry Peratt, Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona
In the late 1990’s, I was a dedicated Evangelical Protestant, and my wife and I were members of the Nazarene Church. It was a close-knit, small family of good people who were serious about their commitment to Christ, studying the Bible, and living out their faith. I wasn’t looking for anything. But then, in the fall of 1999, I began experiencing the symptoms of an increasingly debilitating chronic illness, whose diagnosis eluded my doctors, and I had grown quite isolated. I did not want to talk to anyone. I could not pray. I felt like God maybe didn’t care anyhow.
It was at this low point of my life that I wandered into the Cathedral and into the Chapel of the Sacred Heart (just out of curiosity, or so I thought). At the time, it was the Perpetual Adoration Chapel, but I didn’t know anything about all of that. All I knew was that it was a little room with a statue of Jesus, lots of candles, a weird cylindrical container, and a tall thing with spokes with a round white thing in the middle. But something happened that day that I walked into that room. A holy hush – a penetrating quiet. Before long, I realized something strange about this quiet. It wasn’t actually the room that was quiet; it was quiet inside me. For the first time in about two and a half years, all of the anxiety, anger, frustration, hopelessness and despair melted away, and I felt like maybe God did still care about me. Maybe there was hope after all. And as long as I stayed in that room, I felt that way. So I would visit that room often: on my way to work, on my lunch hour, on my way home. I felt like if I could just make it there for a while each day, then I was going to make it.
That was the beginning, but certainly not the end. God has done a lot of healing work in my life: physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And all of it has centered around Adoration of Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament. Today, almost 20 years later, I am overjoyed to be Catholic, and the blessed fruits of Adoration have not ceased but only become so much a part of my life that I do not understand how I had lived without it for so many years.
"Where God Comes to Us"
A short reflection from seminarian John Paul Bickerstaff.
This is My Body
DOW-R Consecrated Virgin Leandra Hubka takes part in a Vocation Panel on the Eucharist at Notre Dame Parish in Cresco, IA
Reflections from Diocesan Priests and Staff
Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Over a year ago, life drastically changed for all of us, when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Some changes were unimaginable, such as the protocols that limited those who could be present for the celebration of Mass with their pastors and especially for the Sacred Liturgies of Holy Week and Easter. The Eucharist is central to our Catholic life because it is the presence of the Risen Christ who builds up the Church for mission and prepares us for eternal life. The decision to suspend public celebrations of Masses was the most difficult and serious decision I have ever made. It was a most painful decision for me, as I thought of our priests and our faithful parishioners, who center their lives around the Eucharist and the celebration of the Mass.
However, Christ is the Light of the World. His promise to be with the Church to the end of time fills us with hope and assures us that the power of grace is always at work, even in the darkest hours of our life. Due to the blessing of technology, there have been live streamed Masses from the Cathedral and from many of our parishes that have reached thousands of God’s people in their homes, and which have been a source of evangelization to countless thousands who tuned in from around the world. In addition to daily Mass, our pastors found creative ways to make available the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick and the Sacrament of Penance. Even with all these generous efforts by priests, deacons and lay ministers, parishioners would write to me and express their yearning and desire for the Eucharist. They agreed that televised Masses were a blessing but that it didn’t provide the opportunity for them to receive the Eucharist, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. They wanted to participate in the celebration of Mass in the presence of their brothers and sisters in Christ and receive the Eucharistic Lord.
A lot has happened in this pandemic and grace always abounds. Our lives are beginning to resume normalcy with the return of routine activities such as shopping, going to restaurants and attending sporting events. Most importantly, public Masses have resumed at about half capacity, to accommodate social distancing. Our Catholic Schools have remained open with students present since August 2020, due to our dedicated administrators, teachers and parents. Vaccinations are becoming increasingly available and the wearing of masks and social distancing have become standard practice for us.
As part of our gradual return to normalcy, I am inviting our Catholic community to reflect on their attendance and participation in the Eucharist, especially if a person is healthy and has resumed routine activities that are public and done in the presence of other people. I ask the question: if you are able to resume public activities, should you not be attending Mass? If you have an underlying health condition, are a care giver, or are sick, please stay at home and be safe. Also, it might be that your parish church is already at capacity for worshipers. However, if there is not room for you at a Sunday Mass, you might consider going to Mass during the week.
In time, the COVID-19 pandemic will pass into history but the Church will still be celebrating the Eucharist until the Lord returns in glory. St. Teresa of Avila said, “All things pass away, only God never changes.” If you are healthy and are able, I encourage you to return to the Eucharist out of love and not obligation, even now while the dispensation from Sunday Mass is still in effect. Blessed are you!
Leandra Hubka, Assistant to the Vicar General
St. Maximilian Kolbe once said, “If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion.” The angels minister to God in heaven, and always see Him face-to-face. They have made the eternal choice to serve God and do not struggle with temptation and sin. Yet these heavenly creatures are not able to partake in the most sublime gift that Christ has given to His Church: the Eucharist.
Many converts to the Catholic faith have recounted to me how before they were Catholic, or knew anything about the Eucharist, they felt a powerful and peaceful presence upon entering a Catholic church. At the diocesan office, we have a chapel with the Eucharist reserved in the tabernacle, right off the reception area. I marvel at how random visitors, who do not profess to be Catholic, remark how it feels so peaceful in our building. Occasionally, I matter-of-factly reply that the reason is Jesus in the chapel next door, an explanation often met with a bit of puzzlement. As a life-long Catholic, I unfortunately sometimes take for granted the fact that we have Jesus physically present to us in every tabernacle and at every Mass.
As wonderful as it is to be able to walk into a Catholic church and be enveloped in Christ’s presence, it is even more marvelous that we human beings are able to receive Jesus Christ, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, in our very bodies. The angels are always in the presence of our Triune God, but angels, although they may appear in physical form when serving as God’s messengers on earth, are by nature pure spirit and thus cannot physically receive their Lord and God as we can when we receive Holy Communion. It is by reception of Jesus in the Most Holy Eucharist that Christ, the Bridegroom of our souls, unites us to Himself and we are drawn into communion with the Holy Trinity, and all the members of the Body of Christ. What an unfathomable gift of love the Lord bestows on us!
When received in a state of grace, the Eucharist is a foretaste of heaven and profound remedy for our souls. It washes away venial sin, strengthens us against future temptations, and floods us with many graces to assist us in following Christ and living a life of holiness and virtue. The more attentive we are in preparing for and receiving Holy Communion, the more Christ will fill our hearts with His life and love. The Lord is waiting to pour out graces upon us in the Holy Eucharist; how will we respond to His invitation?
Fr. William Thompson, Vicar General
While I was still a seminarian, my family walked with my Grandpa in his final days of this life. For me and my siblings, he was at that time the closest person to us who had passed away. There was great sadness throughout the days after his death, but three things were particularly helpful in getting through that time: sharing memories with family, having a last supper with Grandpa, and ritual.
That last meal, in particular, was very special. Grandpa had been on dialysis for three years, and had very little energy for our visits. However, he had made the difficult decision to stop his treatment and prepare for his death. When we arrived for the meal (a feast, really), he was his old self. Granted, we didn’t stay overly long, but it provided an experience and lasting memory that still makes me smile today. What makes this memory even stronger is that it is intertwined with innumerable other meals that we shared together as a family. I know that Grandpa suffered in his final years, but I also know that we shared experiences that strengthened our bonds in mind, body and soul.
Our sharing in the Eucharist—the fruit of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection—strengthens our bonds as members of the family of God. Right about the same time that my Grandfather’s health was diminishing, I was studying a book called Models of the Eucharist by Fr. Kevin Irwin. Of the ten models, or viewpoints, from which to understand this Sacrament, one that stood out to me was “Bread for the Journey.” As members of the family of God, the Church, we join together on the journey of faith and are sustained by the Eucharist.
Jesus gives us his body and blood in order to strengthen us through this journey of life. The journey, however, does not end here. We have a special set of prayers for the final reception of the Eucharist before death, called Viaticum (which means “on the way”). Like my experience with Grandpa, many people find this reception of the Eucharist so special not only because it may be the last time they receive Communion, but because of the memories of receiving the Eucharist so many times throughout their lives. We receive Jesus in the Eucharist in this life so that we can be with Jesus for eternal life.
We tend to be more aware of the gift of Jesus, who nourishes us on this journey, at key points in our lives: First Communion, weddings, funerals, on retreats. If we are honest with ourselves, there are times when we are less aware of how amazing the Eucharist and the celebration of Mass truly is. Jesus, however, is no less near to us in the week in, week out reception of the Eucharist. But isn’t that the same for any meal we share with our family? What makes the difference is a commitment to sharing life together and breaking bread together.
Jesus gives himself to us in many ways, and we can experience his presence in many ways. However, it is in the Eucharist that we receive his very self. It is a blessing that we can bring Communion to the homebound and the dying, and these are special moments to receive our Eucharistic Lord. I pray that we will all have the opportunity to be nourished with this Bread for the Journey at the end of our lives. At the same time, we don’t want to underestimate the powerful grace of receiving this nourishment every Sunday. Welcome (back) to Mass!
Marsha Stenzel, Superintendent of Catholic Schools
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these."(Mark 10:14) As parents and educators in teaching our children the Catholic faith, this scripture verse affirms our vocation.
In Christmas of 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to children in the Year of the Family. He shared names of saints who were children: St. Agnes, St. Agatha, St. Tarcisius, St. Bernadette of Lourdes, the children of La Salette and Lucia, Francisco and Jacinta of Fatima. Pope John Paul II in his letter, speaks of the enormous power of prayer of children. Jesus awaits, encourages and welcomes their prayer.
One of the many duties for parents and teachers in teaching the Catholic faith to children/students includes the concept of Eucharistic Adoration. How will a preschool child, as well as those younger or older, comprehend the Mystery, let alone understand the Eucharist, as the source and summit of our faith?
The first challenge begins with helping children find silence. This silence supports them in their desire to grow and seek the joy of Jesus in their daily lives. For small children, Eucharistic Adoration begins with planning. It may include one decade of the Rosary, prayers, reciting of short scripture verses, silent adoration, prayer intentions, and Benediction if possible. It is a way to introduce children to contemplative prayer and a perfect opportunity for them to visit, pray, adore, thank, and understand Jesus’ presence.
Eucharistic Adoration prepares children to become familiar with Jesus in His real presence at Mass. Children begin to understand the mystery of our faith and the relationship of the gift of the Eucharist at Mass. These experiences help children to know Christ’s sacrifice of death on the cross - a true gift of love.
As you gather for family meals to eat and share your day with one another, remind your children that the church gathers as a family at Mass to receive spiritual nourishment. Only at Mass can we receive the body and blood of Christ and receive the strength to live our week as loving Christians.
Children need to know that Jesus is their Friend. They need to talk about this friendship, so they will understand that Christ is present in the Eucharist. His presence in the Eucharist allows Jesus to stay close to them and all of His friends. Children need to know the Eucharist unites the whole Christian family with Christ. Jesus comes to each of us every time we receive Him in the Eucharist. He stays with us this way because He loves us so much! Children deserve to experience the love of Christ. Please consider allowing your child/children to experience the love of Christ which happens at Eucharistic Adoration and Mass.
Fr. Patrick Arens, DOW-R Director of Divine Worship
“Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that fully conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as ‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people’ (1 Pet. 2:9; cf. 2:4-5), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism. In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy, this full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else; for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 14).
While these words were part of the Second Vatican Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy promulgated almost 60 years ago, they are still worthy of our reflections in regard to our participation at Mass in this time of return after the restrictions of COVID-19.
We are all well aware that, as the pandemic progressed, the public celebration of the Mass was suppressed due to the fears that our liturgical gatherings could become a source of infection and serious illness. It was logical that a gathering which celebrates our new life in Christ should not be one where our earthly lives are put in danger. Due to this, participation in Mass for many became largely virtual, either on TV, radio, or by computer.
The reactions to these restrictions were varied. Many enjoyed the convenience of watching Mass on TV in the comfort of their homes. But at the same time, many felt the pain of the absence of true, full, sacramental participation in the Mass. While the audio prayers of the Mass could be heard and followed electronically, the actual prayers could not be experienced and prayed in person, nor could the Holy Sacrament of the Lord’s Body and Blood be received.
Although the videos of Mass produced a bit of a liturgical atmosphere in our living rooms, an essential element of the Mass was sorely missing. What was absent was our full, conscious and actual participation in the Mass itself—a robust and active participation which finds its fullest expression in the reception of Holy Communion.
Months later, as scientists and medical professionals became more familiar with how the virus works, we discovered that attendance in person at Mass was not a serious threat to contracting COVID-19 if certain careful procedures were followed. In light of this, Masses became public again and we could again fully participate in Mass.
So now we return to a more normal experience of Sunday Mass. While the Masses on TV and online can be helpful at times when participation in person is not possible, these do not allow for our full participation in the Mass. This can only be achieved in person, where we are able to voice our prayers together with the gathered assembly, hear God’s word proclaimed in the midst of the Church, and be fed at the divine banquet table of the Lord.
The Second Vatican Council desired greatly the full participation of all the faithful at Mass. It is there that we take our rightful place and participate in “a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy which is celebrated... and with all the warriors of the heavenly army we sing a hymn of glory to the Lord.” (Sacrosanctum Concilium 8). What a privilege and grace it is to celebrate with the whole company of heaven, with the faithful departed, and with all our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ here on earth. May our participation truly be full, conscious and actual as we once again take this rightful place at the celebration of Mass.
Jenna Cooper, DOW-R Tribunal
Chapter 6 of John’s Gospel describes how Jesus, moved with compassion for the crowd that followed after Him, worked a miracle in order to feed them. With only five loaves of bread and two fish, Jesus feeds a crowd of over five thousand, so that even after everyone had eaten until they were satisfied, there were still twelve large wicker baskets of food left over. Besides showing forth His power as God, Jesus also demonstrates His humanity in this passage. He understood that human beings grow hungry and require nourishment, and He concerned Himself with meeting this most basic of human bodily needs.
Yet while the Evangelist invites us to dwell on this story, we are not meant merely to remain there. According to the Gospel account, the very next day Jesus goes on to admonish the crowds (and by extension, you and I as well): “Do not work for food that perishes but for the food that endures for eternal life.” (Jn. 6:27) Jesus goes on to tell us more directly: “I am the living bread that came down from heaven; whoever eats this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn. 6:51) In these passages, Jesus is explaining what we would come to know as the Eucharist.
The celebration of the Eucharist during the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is what nourishes us with the Bread of Life. As Catholics we believe that in the Eucharist, Jesus becomes present to us not only in a spiritual sense, but in a literal and physical way as well. Truly, the Eucharist is one of the greatest treasures of our Catholic faith! So much so, that the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium calls the Eucharist “the source and summit of the Christian life.” Or in other words, our entire identity as Catholic Christians flows out of our relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist.
As the pandemic restrictions gradually lessen, many of us will find ourselves more comfortable with a return to many features of “normal life.” For example, depending on our own personal health and social circumstances, we may choose feed out bodies by going out to eat at restaurants, or to nourish our hearts by seeing family and friends more often. But in all this, let us never forget to attend to our deepest and most important need: our need for Jesus, the only “food” who can ultimately sustain and satisfy us.
Currently, because of the ongoing pandemic the general obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation remains suspended in the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. At this unique time in history, all of us are free to discern, in conscience, whether it is prudent for us to keep the Sabbath holy by the specific means of attending Mass. However, in our discernment we need to be sure to give the Eucharist a special pride of place. If we discern that it is safe and reasonable to socialize in other public places, then let us prayerfully consider choosing to spend Sundays at Mass, close to Jesus our Eucharistic Lord.