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Second Sunday of Easter

Reading I Acts 4:32-35

The community of believers was of one heart and mind,
and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own,
but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness
to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus,
and great favor was accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them,
for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles,
and they were distributed to each according to need.

Responsorial Psalm 118:2-4, 13-15, 22-24

R.  (1) Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
Let the house of Israel say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
Let the house of Aaron say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
R.  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
I was hard pressed and was falling,
    but the LORD helped me.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
    in the tents of the just:
R.  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R.  Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
    let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R.  Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love is everlasting.
or:
R.  Alleluia.

Reading II 1 Jn 5:1-6

Beloved:
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is begotten by God,
and everyone who loves the Father
loves also the one begotten by him.
In this way we know that we love the children of God
when we love God and obey his commandments.
For the love of God is this,
that we keep his commandments.
And his commandments are not burdensome,
for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world.
And the victory that conquers the world is our faith.
Who indeed is the victor over the world
but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?

This is the one who came through water and blood, Jesus Christ,
not by water alone, but by water and blood.
The Spirit is the one that testifies,
and the Spirit is truth.

Alleluia Jn 20:29

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
You believe in me, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord;
Blessed are those who have not seen me, but still believe!
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 20:19-31

On the evening of that first day of the week,
when the doors were locked, where the disciples were,
for fear of the Jews,
Jesus came and stood in their midst
and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side.
The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.”
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
“Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.”

Thomas, called Didymus, one of the Twelve,
was not with them when Jesus came.
So the other disciples said to him, “We have seen the Lord.”
But he said to them,
“Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands
and put my finger into the nailmarks
and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.”

Now a week later his disciples were again inside
and Thomas was with them.
Jesus came, although the doors were locked, 
and stood in their midst and said, “Peace be with you.”
Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here and see my hands,
and bring your hand and put it into my side,
and do not be unbelieving, but believe.”
Thomas answered and said to him, “My Lord and my God!”
Jesus said to him, “Have you come to believe because you have seen me?
Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”

Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples
that are not written in this book.
But these are written that you may come to believe
that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God,
and that through this belief you may have life in his name.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Saturday in the Octave of Easter

Reading I Acts 4:13-21

Observing the boldness of Peter and John
and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men,
the leaders, elders, and scribes were amazed,
and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.
Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them,
they could say nothing in reply.
So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin,
and conferred with one another, saying,
“What are we to do with these men?
Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign
was done through them, and we cannot deny it.
But so that it may not be spread any further among the people,
let us give them a stern warning
never again to speak to anyone in this name.”

So they called them back
and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply,
“Whether it is right in the sight of God
for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
After threatening them further,
they released them,
finding no way to punish them,
on account of the people who were all praising God
for what had happened.

Responsorial Psalm 118:1 and 14-15ab, 16-18, 19-21

R.    (21a) I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures forever.
My strength and my courage is the LORD,
    and he has been my savior.
The joyful shout of victory
    in the tents of the just.
R.    I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
“The right hand of the LORD is exalted;
    the right hand of the LORD has struck with power.”
I shall not die, but live,
    and declare the works of the LORD.
Though the LORD has indeed chastised me,
    yet he has not delivered me to death.
R.    I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Open to me the gates of justice;
    I will enter them and give thanks to the LORD.
This is the gate of the LORD;
    the just shall enter it.
I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me
    and have been my savior.
R.    I will give thanks to you, for you have answered me.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
 

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Mk 16:9-15

When Jesus had risen, early on the first day of the week,
he appeared first to Mary Magdalene,
out of whom he had driven seven demons.
She went and told his companions who were mourning and weeping.
When they heard that he was alive
and had been seen by her, they did not believe.

After this he appeared in another form
to two of them walking along on their way to the country.
They returned and told the others;
but they did not believe them either.

But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them
and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart
because they had not believed those
who saw him after he had been raised.
He said to them, “Go into the whole world
and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Friday in the Octave of Easter

Acts 4:1-12

After the crippled man had been cured,
while Peter and John were still speaking to the people,
the priests, the captain of the temple guard,
and the Sadducees confronted them,
disturbed that they were teaching the people
and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
They laid hands on Peter and John
and put them in custody until the next day,
since it was already evening.
But many of those who heard the word came to believe
and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes
were assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest,
Caiaphas, John, Alexander,
and all who were of the high-priestly class.
They brought them into their presence and questioned them,
“By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered them,
“Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today
about a good deed done to a cripple,
namely, by what means he was saved,
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know
that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean
whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead;
in his name this man stands before you healed.
He is the stone rejected by you, the builders,
    which has become the cornerstone.

There is no salvation through anyone else,
nor is there any other name under heaven
given to the human race by which we are to be saved.”

Responsorial Psalm 118:1-2 and 4, 22-24, 25-27a

R.    (22)  The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good,
    for his mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
Let those who fear the LORD say,
    “His mercy endures forever.”
R.    The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
The stone which the builders rejected
    has become the cornerstone.
By the LORD has this been done;
    it is wonderful in our eyes.
This is the day the LORD has made;
    let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R.    The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R.    Alleluia.
O LORD, grant salvation!
    O LORD, grant prosperity!
Blessed is he who comes in the name of the LORD;
    we bless you from the house of the LORD.
    The LORD is God, and he has given us light.
R.    The stone rejected by the builders has become the cornerstone.
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Jn 21:1-14

Jesus revealed himself again to his disciples at the Sea of Tiberias.
He revealed himself in this way.
Together were Simon Peter, Thomas called Didymus,
Nathanael from Cana in Galilee,
Zebedee’s sons, and two others of his disciples.
Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.”
They said to him, “We also will come with you.”
So they went out and got into the boat,
but that night they caught nothing.
When it was already dawn, Jesus was standing on the shore;
but the disciples did not realize that it was Jesus.
Jesus said to them, “Children, have you caught anything to eat?”
They answered him, “No.”
So he said to them, “Cast the net over the right side of the boat
and you will find something.”
So they cast it, and were not able to pull it in
because of the number of fish.
So the disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, “It is the Lord.”
When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord,
he tucked in his garment, for he was lightly clad,
and jumped into the sea.
The other disciples came in the boat,
for they were not far from shore, only about a hundred yards,
dragging the net with the fish.
When they climbed out on shore,
they saw a charcoal fire with fish on it and bread.
Jesus said to them, “Bring some of the fish you just caught.”
So Simon Peter went over and dragged the net ashore
full of one hundred fifty-three large fish.
Even though there were so many, the net was not torn.
Jesus said to them, “Come, have breakfast.”
And none of the disciples dared to ask him, “Who are you?”
because they realized it was the Lord.
Jesus came over and took the bread and gave it to them,
and in like manner the fish.
This was now the third time Jesus was revealed to his disciples
after being raised from the dead.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Thursday in the Octave of Easter

Reading I Acts 3:11-26

As the crippled man who had been cured clung to Peter and John,
all the people hurried in amazement toward them
in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.”
When Peter saw this, he addressed the people,
“You children of Israel, why are you amazed at this,
and why do you look so intently at us
as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety?
The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob,
the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus
whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence,
when he had decided to release him.
You denied the Holy and Righteous One
and asked that a murderer be released to you.
The author of life you put to death,
but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses.
And by faith in his name,
this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong,
and the faith that comes through it
has given him this perfect health,
in the presence of all of you.
Now I know, brothers and sisters,
that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did;
but God has thus brought to fulfillment
what he had announced beforehand
through the mouth of all the prophets,
that his Christ would suffer.
Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away,
and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment
and send you the Christ already appointed for you, Jesus,
whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration
of which God spoke through the mouth
of his holy prophets from of old.
For Moses said:

    A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you
        from among your own kin;
    to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you.
    Everyone who does not listen to that prophet
        will be cut off from the people.    

“Moreover, all the prophets who spoke,
from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days.
You are the children of the prophets
and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors
when he said to Abraham,
    In your offspring all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
For you first, God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you
by turning each of you from your evil ways.”

Responsorial Psalm 8:2ab and 5, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (2ab)  O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R.    Alleluia.
O LORD, our Lord,
    how glorious is your name over all the earth!
What is man that you should be mindful of him,
    or the son of man that you should care for him?
R.    O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R.    Alleluia.
You have made him little less than the angels,
    and crowned him with glory and honor.
You have given him rule over the works of your hands,
    putting all things under his feet.
R.    O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R.    Alleluia.
All sheep and oxen,
    yes, and the beasts of the field,
The birds of the air, the fishes of the sea,
    and whatever swims the paths of the seas.
R.    O Lord, our God, how wonderful your name in all the earth!
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:35-48

The disciples of Jesus recounted what had taken place along the way,
and how they had come to recognize him in the breaking of bread.

While they were still speaking about this,
he stood in their midst and said to them,
“Peace be with you.”
But they were startled and terrified
and thought that they were seeing a ghost.
Then he said to them, “Why are you troubled?
And why do questions arise in your hearts?
Look at my hands and my feet, that it is I myself.
Touch me and see, because a ghost does not have flesh and bones
as you can see I have.”
And as he said this,
he showed them his hands and his feet.
While they were still incredulous for joy and were amazed,
he asked them, “Have you anything here to eat?”
They gave him a piece of baked fish; 
he took it and ate it in front of them.

He said to them,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you,
that everything written about me in the law of Moses
and in the prophets and psalms must be fulfilled.”
Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
And he said to them,
“Thus it is written that the Christ would suffer
and rise from the dead on the third day
and that repentance, for the forgiveness of sins,
would be preached in his name
to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
You are witnesses of these things.”

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Wednesday in the Octave of Easter

Reading I Acts 3:1-10

Peter and John were going up to the temple area
for the three o’clock hour of prayer.
And a man crippled from birth was carried
and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day 
to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple.
When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple,
he asked for alms.
But Peter looked intently at him, as did John,
and said, “Look at us.”
He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.
Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold,
but what I do have I give you: 
in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, rise and walk.”
Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up,
and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong.
He leaped up, stood, and walked around,
and went into the temple with them,
walking and jumping and praising God.
When all the people saw him walking and praising God,
they recognized him as the one
who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple,
and they were filled with amazement and astonishment
at what had happened to him.

Responsorial Psalm 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9

R.    (3b) Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Give thanks to the LORD, invoke his name;
    make known among the nations his deeds.
Sing to him, sing his praise,
    proclaim all his wondrous deeds.
R.    Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R.    Alleluia.
Glory in his holy name;
    rejoice, O hearts that seek the LORD!
Look to the LORD in his strength;
    seek to serve him constantly.
R.    Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R.    Alleluia.
You descendants of Abraham, his servants,
    sons of Jacob, his chosen ones!
He, the LORD, is our God;
    throughout the earth his judgments prevail.
R.    Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord
or:
R.    Alleluia.
He remembers forever his covenant
    which he made binding for a thousand generations-
Which he entered into with Abraham
    and by his oath to Isaac.
R.    Rejoice, O hearts that seek the Lord. 
or:
R.    Alleluia.

Alleluia Ps 118:24

R. Alleluia, alleluia.
This is the day the LORD has made;
let us be glad and rejoice in it.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel Lk 24:13-35

That very day, the first day of the week,
two of Jesus’ disciples were going
to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus,
and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred.
And it happened that while they were conversing and debating,
Jesus himself drew near and walked with them,
but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him.
He asked them, 
“What are you discussing as you walk along?”
They stopped, looking downcast.
One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply,
“Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem
who does not know of the things
that have taken place there in these days?”
And he replied to them, “What sort of things?”
They said to him, 
“The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene,
who was a prophet mighty in deed and word
before God and all the people,
how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over
to a sentence of death and crucified him.
But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel;
and besides all this,
it is now the third day since this took place.
Some women from our group, however, have astounded us:
they were at the tomb early in the morning 
and did not find his Body;
they came back and reported
that they had indeed seen a vision of angels
who announced that he was alive.
Then some of those with us went to the tomb
and found things just as the women had described,
but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are!
How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke!
Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things
and enter into his glory?”
Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets,
he interpreted to them what referred to him
in all the Scriptures.
As they approached the village to which they were going,
he gave the impression that he was going on farther.
But they urged him, “Stay with us,
for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.”
So he went in to stay with them.
And it happened that, while he was with them at table,
he took bread, said the blessing,
broke it, and gave it to them.
With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him,
but he vanished from their sight.
Then they said to each other,
“Were not our hearts burning within us
while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”
So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem
where they found gathered together
the Eleven and those with them who were saying,
“The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!”
Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way
and how he was made known to them in the breaking of the bread.

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Lectionary for Mass for Use in the Dioceses of the United States, second typical edition, Copyright © 2001, 1998, 1997, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine; Psalm refrain © 1968, 1981, 1997, International Committee on English in the Liturgy, Inc. All rights reserved. Neither this work nor any part of it may be reproduced, distributed, performed or displayed in any medium, including electronic or digital, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Catholic teaching on Communion applies to politicians who support abortion, too, bishop says

Phoenix, Ariz., Apr 6, 2021 / 08:01 pm (CNA).- Catholic teaching sees the Eucharist as Christ’s transformative sacrifice on the cross and this Holy Communion must only be received worthily. This teaching is not partisan, but it certainly applies to political leaders who back abortion and euthanasia, Bishop Thomas Olmsted of Phoenix has said in an apostolic exhortation on the sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.
 
“Holy Communion is reserved for those, who with God’s grace make a sincere effort to live this union with Christ and His Church by adhering to all that the Catholic Church believes and proclaims to be revealed by God,” Bishop Olmsted said, explaining that Church teaching on this has “always been clear and based on Scripture.”
 
This is why the Church “requires Catholic leaders who have publicly supported gravely immoral laws such as abortion and euthanasia to refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they publicly repent and receive the Sacrament of Penance,” continued his exhortation, Veneremur Cernui.
 
“Not all moral issues have the same weight as abortion and euthanasia. The Church teaches that abortion or euthanasia is an intrinsically grave sin and that there is a grave and clear obligation for all Catholics to oppose them by conscientious objection,” the bishop said.
 
Olmsted said that the current political climate means the Church can be “easily accused of favoring one party and singling out politicians of a certain party with such a teaching.”
 
“However, the Church is only faithfully reaffirming its perennial teaching on the Eucharist and the worthy reception of Holy Communion which applies to every single person,” said the bishop. Elsewhere in the letter, he explained that in an unworthy reception of Holy Communion, the sacrament “becomes a sacrilege.”
 
He added: “the spiritual medicine becomes for that person – it is frightful to say – a form of spiritual poison.”
 
“When we do not really believe in Jesus, when we do not really seek to conform our entire life to Him and receive Jesus even though we know that we have sinned against Him, then this just leads to a greater sin and betrayal,” said Olmsted.
 
His exhortation included exhortations to an increase in devotional acts as well as to repentance and confession.
 
“The Church invites everyone to the Wedding Banquet while at the same time commits herself to helping everyone arrive properly dressed in a purified baptismal garment, lest the greatest Gift – the Eucharist – becomes his or her spiritual destruction,” he said.
 
Olmsted published the exhortation April 1, Holy Thursday, which marks the institution of the Eucharist.
 
“The more the Lord in the Eucharist is our central focus, the more surely He will bring us through these dark and turbulent waters,” said the bishop. “On this day when we commemorate the Institution of the Eucharist, I as your shepherd implore each of you to seek out Jesus in the Eucharist to be strengthened and renewed in your faith.”
 
He voiced hope that everyone, whether strong in faith or weak, Catholic or not, will have a sincere “Eucharistic amazement” incited in them.
 
Olmsted  emphasized that Christ “meant what he said” in the Bread of Life discourse: “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.”
 
“Despite the uproar caused by His teaching, Jesus did not soften His claim. On the contrary, He strengthened it,” said the bishop. “The Eucharist is the supernatural food that keeps us going along the difficult journey towards the Promised Land of eternal salvation.”
 
Invoking the imagery of the Old Testament, Olmsted portrayed the Mass as “the new Exodus from the Slavery of Sin.” The Eucharist fulfills both the Jewish Passover and the Covenant of Israel.
 
“The first Passover saved the Israelites from death and led to their liberation from slavery,” he said. “Every home that followed the rites commanded by God for this sacred meal were spared from the death of their firstborn sons.”
 
“Just as the Hebrews had no alternative means of liberation other than the Passover lamb, there is no other means to salvation than through the grace of Jesus’ own self-sacrifice,” he continued, adding that the Mass is the “eternal memorial of Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross.”
 
“The sacrifice of Jesus on Calvary is perpetuated and made present to us in such a way that we can participate in it, linking our imperfect and sinful lives to the perfect and pure sacrifice of God and receiving all the divine benefits that flow from His eternal sacrifice,” said Olmsted.
 
“When we attend Mass, do we seek to join Jesus in His total surrender to the Father’s will? Do we bring our imperfections, our toil and sin, and lay them before Jesus to be consumed by His Death? We either say with Jesus, ‘Into Your hands, Father, I commend my spirit, too!’ or we choose to remain enslaved to our sin.”
 
Olmsted compared present-day anxieties, uncertainties, and doubts to those which faced the Israelites as they sought the Promised Land.
 
“(T)he Church at large is experiencing a grave crisis of faith in the Eucharist,” he said. “This crisis has inflicted additional significant implications for authentic Christian discipleship; namely, abysmal Mass attendance, declining vocations to marriage, priesthood, and religious life, waning Catholic influence in society. As a nation we are experiencing a torrent of assaults upon the truth.”
 
“The Gospel message has been watered down or replaced with ambiguous worldly values,” Olmsted continued. “Many Christians have abandoned Christ and His Gospel and turned to a secular culture for meaning that it cannot provide and to satiate a hunger that it can never satisfy.”
 
“In such troubled waters, our greatest anchor in these storms is Christ Himself, found in the Holy Eucharist,” said the bishop.
 
He chose the letter’s title, translated as “down in adoration falling”, from St. Thomas Aquinas’ hymn Pange lingua gloriosi. He exhorted the faithful to adore Christ “with ever increasing reverence.”
 
Every Mass, where Christ is present, is “immeasurable” in value and makes accessible “unfathomable” grace.
 
In response to a gift like the Eucharist, Olmsted asked various questions: “Do we really desire Him? Are we anxious to meet Him? Do we desire to encounter Him, become one with Him and receive the gifts He offers us through the Eucharist?”
 
Reception of Holy Communion is to change us and transform us into another Christ, he explained: “Being assimilated by Jesus in Holy Communion makes us like Him in our sentiments, desires, and our way of thinking. In Holy Communion, His heart nourishes our hearts; His pure, wise and loving desires purify our selfish ones, so that we not only know what He wants, but also start wanting the same more and more.”
 
The Eucharist also transforms those who receive it well into “one body, one spirit in Christ.”
 
Receiving Holy Communion “out of routine only, without openness to the Lord,” means we do not receive all the graces God wants to give us. Olmsted said it can be easy for us to “lose our sense of wonder” at the miracle of the Eucharist. Faith, however, is the “first essential requirement” to receive all the benefits and effects of Holy Communion.
 
“If we receive the Lord with the right dispositions, God’s grace will strengthen our resolve to follow, love and imitate Him. Our Lord Jesus deeply desires our union with Him in Holy Communion and through it He wishes to bring about our transformation into Him and the transformation of our society in which we live. But we, on our part, must ardently desire this union with Jesus Christ as well,” he said.
 
He emphasized the importance of church decoration, art, music, vestments, incense, candles and other details as a way of expressing Christian devotion and faith. Eucharistic prayer and adoration are also important, as is respectful dress.
 
There is an “intrinsic connection” between the Sacrament of Penance and the Eucharist. Benedict XVI’s 2007 apostolic exhortation Sacramentum caritatis warned against “a superficial approach that overlooks the need to be in a state of grace in order to approach sacramental communion worthily.”  St. John Paul II’s 2003 encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia said the Eucharist “presupposes that communion already exists, a communion that it seeks to consolidate and bring to perfection.” Anyone conscious of grave sin must refrain from Holy Communion, said Olmsted’s letter, citing the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

“There are situations when we can honor God more by abstaining from Holy Communion than by satisfying a personal desire to sacramentally receive Him in communion,” he said, recounting a Catholic mother who abstained from Holy Communion for several years because she lived in an irregular marriage. Nonetheless, she faithfully attended Mass with her children and regularly took part in Eucharistic Adoration.
 
Olmsted emphasized the need to preserve Sunday as the “Day of the Lord” and the ultimate purpose of the week. Embracing some other thing, even a good thing, as more important than the worship of God will result in “bondage to some good but creaturely fixation” and “spiritual exhaustion and discouragement.” Sunday is not simply about freedom from work, since freedom from servile work makes it so that “we are free to participate in the work of our Redemption.”
 
He encouraged practical measures to make Sunday special, like turning off one’s phone for extended periods, moving any commitments to work, family, or friends to other times, and finding ways “to make the experience of Sunday Mass truly joyful and festive.” He suggested wearing one’s best clothes, having a good meal with loved ones afterward, playing great music at home, phoning loved ones, spending time in Bible reading, performing acts of charity, or savoring “something truly beautiful in nature or art.”
 
Daily Mass, a full hour of Eucharistic Adoration, or even a short visit to the tabernacle are also excellent ways to increase one’s devotion. He encouraged priests to make the Eucharist the source of their priesthood’s good work. Pastors should hold a Eucharistic procession each year in their parish. Eucharistic adoration is an evangelical opportunity.
 
“Many Catholics have wandered away from the practice of Sunday Mass, focusing more on work, sports, sleep, or entertainment rather than the Lord. There are also those who are physically there but not with their faith,” said Olmsted. “They may come to Mass but do not receive Jesus with faith, love, and reverence because they think that they are only receiving a symbol rather than God Himself who died for them. There are those who physically come to Mass, but their hearts cannot wait to leave Jesus’ presence. Indeed, the Eucharist is hard to believe! Thus, it is important for us to have patience and compassion for those whose faith is weak. Nevertheless, the call to faith is urgent.”

L.A. archdiocese to close, consolidate six elementary schools

CNA Staff, Apr 6, 2021 / 07:32 pm (CNA).- The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced this week that six Catholic elementary schools in the area will close and be consolidated with other schools, due to ongoing financial difficulties exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic. 

 

“These six schools had been trying to overcome financial challenges long before the pandemic,” said Paul Escala, superintendent of Catholic Schools, according to NBC Los Angeles. Challenges facing the schools include  low enrollment, financial difficulties, and a shift in demographics.

 

“After careful discernment with Archdiocesan and school leadership, the decision was reached to consolidate these schools with nearby schools to create a union that would strengthen the school communities in the area so that all students can continue to receive the quality Catholic education that our schools provide,” Escala said.

 

At the end of the 2020-21 school year, six elementary schools will close - Assumption, Blessed Sacrament, St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Ferdinand, St. Francis of Assisi, and St. Madeline.

 

These schools will all be consolidated with other local elementary schools. 

 

The archdiocese noted that, during the current school year, students in Los Angeles Catholics schools outperformed their peers nationally in math and reading.

 

“Though there have been many challenges and some setbacks, our Catholic school communities have demonstrated resiliency throughout this crisis,”' said Escala, according to NBC Los Angeles. 

 

“As our Catholic schools welcomed students back, our students were able to celebrate the sacrament of their First Holy Communion something they missed early on in the pandemic,” he said. “Our Catholic schools continue to demonstrate academic performance growth in reading and math in both elementary and high schools. This among so many other accomplishments, is something we can all be proud of.”

 

Utah to require fathers to pay for half of pregnancy costs

Salt Lake City, Utah, Apr 6, 2021 / 06:19 pm (CNA).- A new law in Utah will require fathers to pay for half of the mother’s cost of pregnancy, making Utah the first state to mandate prenatal child support from the father. 

HB 113, sponsored by Rep. Brady Brammer, stipulates that the baby’s biological father must pay half of the mother’s insurance premiums while she is pregnant, as well as pregnancy-related medical costs, including the hospital birth of the child.

The father would only be required to pay those expenses after his paternity is confirmed, the law stipulates.

“We want to help people and actually be pro-life in how we do it as opposed to anti-abortion,” Brammer, the bill’s sponsor, told the AP.

“One of the ways to help with that was to help the burden of pregnancy be decreased.”

Under the law, if the mother obtains an abortion without the father’s consent, the father is not required to help pay for the abortion, unless the abortion was done to preserve the life of the mother or if the pregnancy was the result of rape or incest.

Gov. Spencer Cox signed the bill into law in February.

Jean Hill, director of the Archdiocese of Salt Lake City’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace, told CNA that the diocese supported the final version of the bill.

“In our view, the law is a positive pro-life measure to help women who want to keep their baby but feel overwhelmed by the costs,” Hill told CNA.

She said her office initially had concerns— which some lawmakers also had raised— that the law could unintentionally tie mothers financially to abusive partners.

The final law includes a provision that mothers are not legally required to seek financial help from the father if they do not want to. In addition, the Office of Recovery Services, which collects child support payments in the state, will serve as an intermediary between a mother and her potentially abusive partner.

“A woman may choose whether to seek payments and, if she does choose to pursue this option, reinforce the fiscal responsibility a father should accept for creating life,” Hill said.

Planned Parenthood has criticized the law, touting abortion as a more cost-effective solution.

“In the grand scheme of things, having a child and raising them to adulthood is going to be a lot more money,” Planned Parenthood spokeswoman Katrina Barker told the AP, adding that she does not believe the legislation will lead to fewer women having abortions, because the costs of pregnancy are typically small compared with the costs of raising a child.

Utah has a 72 hour waiting period for abortions, as well as a “trigger law” on the books which would ban abortion in the state if the Supreme court were to overturn the Roe v. Wade decision.

On March 23, Cox signed a bill into law to make pornography filters mandatory and switched on by default on cell phones sold in the state. The law will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, but only if five other states pass similar laws.

White House: Biden has ‘difference of opinion’ from Catholics concerned about Equality Act

Washington D.C., Apr 6, 2021 / 05:00 pm (CNA).- The White House on Tuesday said that President Joe Biden “has a difference of opinion” from Catholics concerned that the Equality Act would trample conscience rights.

At Tuesday’s White House press briefing, Owen Jensen of EWTN News Nightly asked what Biden would say to Catholics concerned about conscience rights in health care.

“What does the President, who we know is Catholic, say to Catholic doctors, Catholic institutions, who are fearful that if the Equality Act passes, it has the potential to trample on their conscience rights,” Jensen asked White House press secretary Jen Psaki.

“What does the President say to those people who are concerned about that?” Jensen added. 

When EWTN News Nightly White House Correspondent @owentjensen asked about Catholic doctors and their conscience rights, White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki claimed President Biden is "a supporter of the Equality Act and he also is a practicing Catholic." pic.twitter.com/oYTQLBsjTn

— EWTN News Nightly (@EWTNNewsNightly) April 6, 2021 In response, Psaki declined to answer Jensen’s questions directly. She said that President Biden “has a difference of opinion” from those concerned about the Equality Act, and that he “respects their difference of opinion.”

Psaki added that Biden “has been a supporter of the Equality Act, and he also is a practicing Catholic and attends church nearly every week.” 

Catholics, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), have been raising concerns about the Equality Act for months.

The legislation would extend federal civil rights protections to cover discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sexual orientation. The USCCB has warned that the bill would require Americans of all faiths to assent to issues such as same-sex marriage and transgender ideology – or risk adverse action by the federal government.

Legal experts have said that the bill would require women-only spaces – such as bathrooms, locker rooms, sports teams, and shelters – to be available to biological males identifying as transgender females. Pro-life groups have also warned that by outlawing “pregnancy discrimination,” the legislation could recognize a right to an abortion.

Biden has promised to sign the Equality Act during the first 100 days of his administration. 

The USCCB has said that the bill did not include sufficient protections for religious freedom, and could be used to “punish” religious groups opposed to transgender ideology and the redefinition of marriage.

The conference has also warned that the bill would trample on the conscience rights of health care workers. Under the bill, doctors, nurses, and other staff could be forced to perform gender-transition procedures and abortions upon request, legal experts have said.

Psaki has previously refused to comment on conscience protections for medical professionals. Last month, she dismissed Jensen’s questions on the Equality Act and the rights of doctors to refuse to perform gender-transitioning procedures and abortions.

“Pro-life groups right now are very concerned about the phrase ‘pregnancy discrimination’ in the Equality Act,” Jensen said. “That it would force doctors to perform abortions, even if it violates their conscience. There are also concerns the bill would force doctors to perform gender-transition surgeries and sterilizations, again, even if it violates their conscience.”

“What does the president, President Biden, say about those concerns?” he asked Psaki.

The press secretary replied that Biden “has been a long supporter of Roe v. Wade,” the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that legalized abortion nationwide. She said nothing about conscience protections.

When Jensen followed up by asking about Biden’s position on “conscience concerns,” Psaki simply repeated her previous statement.

In one of his first executive actions, Biden in January signed an executive order stating that his administration’s policy would interpret sex discrimination to include sexual orientation and gender identity.

Some legal experts told CNA at the time that this action would produce a “tidal wave” of consequences, requiring single-sex bathrooms or women’s sports to be available to people on the basis of their gender identity and not their biological sex.

Nebraska dioceses to restore Sunday Mass obligation in May

Lincoln, Neb., Apr 6, 2021 / 04:01 pm (CNA).- The bishops of the three local Churches in Nebraska will each restore the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days next month.

The obligation will be restored May 23 in the Archdiocese of Omaha and the Dioceses of Lincoln and Grand Island.

“I would like to use the occasion of this announcement by recalling the deepest reasons why Catholics have a grave obligation to attend Mass as well as clarify, in light of COVID-19, when the obligation does not apply,” Bishop James Conley of Lincoln wrote in his March 31 announcement.

“The reason all Catholics have a grave obligation of being physically present for Mass on Sundays and holy days is because the Eucharist is at the heart of what it is to be a Christian.”

He added that “in the Eucharist, Jesus Christ, the Risen Lord is truly present … In Holy Communion, when we receive him worthily, that is, without mortal sin, we are physically and spiritually united to Him and to our brothers and sisters in Christ. Likewise, participation in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sundays is the primary way that we keep the Lord’s Day holy and so live out the third Commandment. These are some of the deepest reasons why there is an obligation and why we should freely want to fulfill this obligation.”

Bishop Conley explained that the obligation does not apply “when one is physically or morally prevented from attending,” giving the examples of bodily illness or having no means of reasonable transportation as ways of being physically prevented, and a parent taking care of a sick child, or if military personnel would compromise their duty for the common good, as moral preventions.

Regarding Covid-19 in particular, he said the obligation does not apply if you have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have good reason to believe that you may have contracted it; if you are ill or have a condition that would seriously compromise your health if you contracted COVID-19; if you care for the sick, homebound, or infirmed and have a compelling reason for believing that you would infect them by going to Mass; if you have significant and grave fear or anxiety of becoming ill by being at Mass; or if you are elderly or pregnant and have a serious reason to believe you would put yourself or your child at risk by attending Mass.

Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha wrote that “those who are prevented from attending [Mass] due to advanced age, sickness, disability or some other serious reason are excused” from the obligation, and that “for the foreseeable future, those who feel they are at heightened risk of contracting or communicating COVID-19 are excused.”

Bishop Joseph Hanefeldt of Grand Island wrote that the obligation “extends to all baptized Catholics who are of able body and sound mind,” but that some “may be excused from the obligation to attend Mass due to advanced age, sickness, disability or some other serious reason.”