Bulletins (Please scroll to the bottom of the page for this week's and past weeks' bulletins.)

Reading a new Pew Research Poll concerning Catholic belief in the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, I was reminded of a famous quote from the author, Flannery O'Connor.  O'Connor was a devout Catholic from Georgia who was trying to make her way in the literary world of New York City. One evening, she was invited to join a group of authors and notable people at a house party. She was a very shy person who barely entered the conversation.

As the evening wore on, the conversation turned to religious beliefs and practices. Speaking about the Eucharist, one person in the group said, "Well, I guess it is a pretty good symbol." Speaking for the first time all evening to the amazement of all the guests, O'Connor replied, "If it's only a symbol, then I say 'to hell with it.'" She later said the guests turned and stared at her as they might look at a dog who had been trained to say a few words. Within a short time, the guests departed.

Flannery O'Connor might not have had the most elegant language to describe the Eucharist, but she hit the nail on the head from a Catholic perspective. From the time St. Paul was writing to the Corinthians and St. John writing his Gospel, Catholics have always believed that the bread and wine of the Eucharist actually become the Body and Blood of Christ during the celebration of Mass.

There are many ways that we can describe this change in theological language. In some ways, the change is beyond our human comprehension, that God Himself would become present in a piece of bread and a cup of wine. The whole concept is filled with mystery. Of course, the fact that God took on human flesh in the first place is a great mystery also.

Even in the Gospel of John when Jesus spoke to the crowds about eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood, many people took offense at his description. They would not walk with Him anymore. Down through the centuries, there have been many splits among the churches over the teaching on Christ's presence in the Eucharist.

Catholics have always insisted that Jesus actually becomes present on the altar and gives Himself to under the appearance of bread and wine. We call our belief the Real Presence. At the end of Mass, any leftover Eucharist is placed in the tabernacle for veneration and for use at future Masses. We genuflect toward the tabernacle out of reverence for Christ who dwells there in a particular way.

We often review these concepts with children in our parish school and in Religious Ed. classes. I hope that parents will also review this vital teaching with their children. Help them understand what it means to say "Amen" when they receive Holy Communion. Help them participate at Mass and maintain a reverent attitude while they are in church.

As the summer wears down, it will soon be time to embark on a new year of adult faith formation. For a number of years, a group in our parish has been meeting at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesdays. This year we will be doing a century-by-century review of the saints. The saints are often regarded as some of the surest signs of God's activity in the world.

All are invited to participate in this early morning group. It doesn't require any homework but does encourage attendance, reflection, and discussion. Classes will begin the Wednesday after Labor Day (September 4th).

On Wednesdays and Thursdays immediately following morning Mass, Scripture study groups will meet in Room 203. This year we will be studying the synoptic Gospels, beginning with Mark. This study will require a tiny amount of homework, simply reading a section of the Gospels in preparation for class. In class, we will be using the most current edition of The New American Bible, but any Bible would be suitable for advanced reading.

We are still in the process of choosing appropriate materials for adult classes on Wednesday evenings. A number of parents have indicated they would appreciate an opportunity to gather while their children are also in class.

Next Saturday we will have our annual Parish Picnic right after Mass. Like last year, our picnic will be on our parish grounds. Under the tent, there will be plenty of good food and entertainment for adults and children. The picnic is always a big favorite at our parish and I am looking forward to seeing our parish coming together in advance of the school year. My potato crop is weak this year, but I'm still thinking of potato salad!

Finance Report: With parish members still in their summer mode, our crowds were a little light last weekend, so we were happy to find $6,119 in the offertory collection. Thanks so much!

A Stewardship Testimonial: "Our children are past school age, but we are still happy to help someone else's children attend our parish school."

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