Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church
Hot Springs Village, Arkansas
Today's pastor's column starts with a question.  (That, as you know, is the normal way I begin my homilies).

Who spends more time in church than the priest?  I can only speak for myself and tell you that Carol and Larry Cruz, who have been the head sacristans at Sacred Heart Church for almost 15 years, have indeed, spent more time in the church than myself, and I'm sure, Monsignor Malone before me.  The list of activities that Carol and Larry did on a daily and weekly basis were so many, that I dare not try to list them all here.  Suffice it to say they have been a HUGE blessing to the priests and parishioners they have served for all these years.  I can't begin to thank them enough for their tireless and faithful efforts when it comes to the environment of our church and making sure everything is ready for Mass.  I look forward to recognizing their efforts and all of us thanking them in some kind of public gathering in the future.

By now you probably realize that they are retiring from their position, though they are willing to continue to help in some way and are ready to help the new head sacristan(s) in learning what needs to be done in terms of our liturgical celebrations and environment.  We are blessed to have more than a couple of assistant sacristans who are regularly giving of themselves to set-up for all the Masses that happen here.  We need some, or a number of people, to take over Carol and Larry's duties.  I cannot expect to find any person or couple who's willing to spend as much time as Carol and Larry did in this ministry, (though I would be thrilled if such people stepped forward).  If you are interested in the head sacristan position and want to know more, please call me at 501-209-2502.  I'm looking for someone, or persons, with good organizational skills who can work well with others and who have a love for the Lord and the Church as Carol and Larry do.  Please pray to God in thanksgiving for Carol and Larry and in petition for a person or persons to step forward and serve the Lord in this important and fulfilling way.

GOD BLESS YOU CAROL AND LARRY.  Enjoy your freedom to pursue other interests and activities at this point in your lives or just rest from your labors.
"Time flies when you are having a good time," is a saying that many of us have heard, said and/or have agreed is true.  As one who is blessed to spend at least one holy hour with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration in our chapel most every day, I would testify that a holy hour often goes quickly and fruitfully when I am in the presence of Jesus in the Monstrance on the altar.  Often I find myself just resting in the peace and love of the Lord.  Sometimes I engage in Scriptural reading and reflection as I pray the Lord's insight that will inform my mind and influence my actions in His name.  Ofen I bring people and needs before Him, and ask His help, comfort, strength and peace to win out over weakness, fear, and conflict.

Recently I have been reading a chapter of the book by Vinny Flynn, "Seven Secrets of the Eucharist" and ponder some of his insights on the gift of Jesus present to us in the Eucharist.  And I always take time to pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, praying that God's mercy will be experienced by us here as well as people throughout the world.

As we are celebrating the Fourth Anniversary of Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration at Sacred Heart Church, I give thanks that many of you have answered the call to come "be" with the Lord, in this unique and intimate setting.  It is truly wonderful to know that some have been faithful in this "Ministry of Adoration" for all four years.  I pray for those who have participated in this blessed activity and now rest in the peace of Christ.  Finally, I continue to pray that this ministry will continue to be strong and will be made stronger by more of you signing up to be a weekly adorer or offering yourself as a substitute when the need arises (and believe me that happens for various and good reasons).  While I would have a hard time ranking in importance all the ministries and acticities we have here at Sacred Heart, I can say for sure that number one on that list is Perpetual Eucharistic Adoration and from it flows many blessings seen, and many more unseen, that give praise to the Lord.  Please call Mike at 922-1531 to choose an hour that will be the most important hour of your week (after participating in Mass), because it is spent with the Lord!
Recently, I didn't get much of a response when I talked about the "Precepts" or some would say, Commandments, of the church.  I realize that it was probably a long time ago when most of us were taught these in Catholic School or in CCH classes.  The first one which obliges us to participate in Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation dates back to the third century, and was proably a result of laxity when it came to the Faithful going to Mass.  The Precept was making a strong statement of how essential it is in our life as disciples of Jesus, to gather on the "Day of Resurrection" (every Sunday and Holidays of Obligation) to break open the Word and receive the Body and Blood of Christ.  Other "Precepts" were added at various times, to respond to unhealthy spiritual practices such as the laity not going to Communion because of a sense of unworthiness to do so.  The precepts to receive Communion at least once a year during the Easter Season and to confess one's sins at least once a year to a priest, are considered the "very necessary minimum" in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor.  Obviously, the Church sees frequent reception of the Eucharist and Reconciliation as the best path to a holy and grace-filled life that directs us to our heavenly home.  In case you're wondering, the other precepts listed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church are observing the prescribed days of fast and abstinence and giving of one's financial and material goods according to one's ability to support the Church in all of its endeavors, works and needs.  (Cat. 2041-2043).