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Pastor's Corner

Father Scott Thomas

Pastor's Corner Father Scott Thomas

December 2019

This Sunday we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Ever since the reform of the Roman Calendar, this feast has been held on the Sunday following Christmas. It was approved by Pope Leo XIII in 1893 and later raised to a higher status by Pope Benedict XV in 1921. Both saw this feast as an excellent way to call the faithful to a deeper meditation on the true value of the family in modern society. We truly can benefit from the example of the Holy Family today in the midst of so much divorce, discord, and anti-Christian sentiment.

The human family needs to regain its place as the “Domestic Church” and a most important cell of society. It is within the family that we first learn how to love our neighbor and put others before ourselves. It is also within the family that we find our identity through our family history. And it is within the family that we learn what it truly means to be created in the image of God, who Himself is a communion of Persons. We are made for community, not loneliness. We are made for each other, to help each other along out of love. And it all begins within the human family. Let us spend some time today reflecting on the virtues of Mary and Joseph through their home life with their son Jesus. And let us pray for all families, new and old, happy and struggling.

– Father Scott Thomas, December 29, 2019

I always feel sorry for the fourth week of Advent. We never really get to enjoy a full week. That poor fourth candle is waiting so long to brighten our time, and then sometimes it only gets a day or two to work. But I doubt the candle minds knowing that it will soon be stepping aside for an even greater light—Jesus Christ. Yes, the Advent Wreath will soon give way and be removed from sight because the season will have run its course and a greater season will take over to celebrate the birth of the Light of the world Himself!

The Christmas Season begins with the first Vigil Mass on December 24, where we will celebrate in great anticipation the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord. But it won’t end with that. Christmas presents may be opened and society’s decorations may be removed. But the Holy Church founded by Jesus Christ will continue with the Christmas Season through the Epiphany on January 6 and even all the way to January 12 when we celebrate the Baptism of the Lord. You read that right—the Christmas Season does not end until January 12! So keep those trees up and that music playing! Everyone was so anxious to get it started in November, but will they keep it going into January? We at St Mary Basilica and Assumption Parish will! And I hope you will join us in your own homes!

– Father Scott Thomas, December 22, 2019

“Gaudéte in Dómino semper: iterum dico, gaudéte. Dóminus enim prope est” (Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed the Lord is near). As we reach the halfway point of the liturgical season of Advent, Mother Church gives us this passage from Philippians 4:4-5 as the Entrance Antiphon for Sunday’s Mass. The Entrance Antiphon is always a scripture passage that sets the tone for the celebration about to take place. We recite it on weekdays at the beginning of Holy Mass. But on weekends, we replace it with a hymn. Looking at this antiphon, you can see where the Third Sunday of Advent gets its name—Gaudete Sunday. It is on this Sunday that we light the rose-colored candle on the Advent Wreathe.

It is also on this Sunday that the priest has the option to wear rose-colored vestments. The use of the more festive color of rose should inspire us to rejoicing that we are getting closer and closer to the celebration of the Nativity of our Savior Jesus Christ. Surely, we have reason to rejoice because the Light of the World is coming nearer and nearer. Even if we do not know the day we will die or the time at which He will return, we can still say that every day we complete gets us one day closer to meeting our Savior face to face. Perhaps spend a moment and consider the previous two weeks of Advent. How prayerful have you been? What have you done to prepare yourself—body and soul—for meeting your Savior? What more can you do now to prepare through these remaining days? Rejoice and be glad for He truly is near! Let us all go out together to meet Him!

– Father Scott Thomas, December 15, 2019

The Sacrament of Marriage is a marvelous Sacrament instituted by God to be an image of His love for us. The way a husband loves his wife should be an image of Jesus’ love for His bride, the Church (all of us). The Church describes marriage as “the one blessing not forfeited by original sin nor washed away by the flood.” Therefore, it is a most important Sacrament for us all as Catholics and Christians. In Matthew 18:18, our Lord Jesus Christ tells the Apostles, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven,” giving them and the Church authority over the Sacrament of Marriage. Therefore, it states in Canon Law that all Catholics are bound to being married by validly ordained Catholic clergy and two witnesses (see Can. 1108)

It has come to our attention that there are couples in our parishes who, for whatever reason, are not validly married in the Catholic Church. If you are Catholic and not married in the Church, this means you are not living in communion with the Church and, therefore, are not worthy of receiving Holy Communion. But don’t let this discourage you. Fr Mark and I want to help rectify this situation, give you the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage, and bring you back into full communion with Christ’s Church. If you were married outside of the Church, we would like to meet with you.

We invite you to call the church office 601.445.5616 or email us directly at Father Scott Thomas or Father Mark Shoffner to set up an appointment.

– Father Scott Thomas, December 8, 2019

It ain’t Christmas, yet. That’s always my motto for this time of the year. It ain’t Christmas, yet. We have not celebrated the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ yet, nor has He returned in His Second Coming. And that is what Christmas is all about—celebrating the Incarnation and birth of the Son of God as well as preparing for the Second Coming and final judgment at the end of time.

Of course, society doesn’t care about that because it doesn’t want to be challenged too much. But what happens to a body that is never challenged? It fails to reach its full potential and, in many cases, diminishes. In the liturgical worship of the Church that Christ founded, we begin the Advent Season today. Historically this was a penitential season a lot like Lent. And penance is always a good way to prepare for a great celebration as it removes anything preventing us from fully receiving the grace of the celebratory season.

It ain’t Christmas, yet. Christmas begins on December 24 and continues (contrary to our Godless society) at least through the Solemnity of the Epiphany on January 6 if not all the way to the Feast of the Baptism of Our Lord (this year celebrated on January 12). Society may put everything away on December 26, but our liturgical worship of God will continue. And we must ask, which one will get us to Heaven—society’s calendar or the calendar of our worshipping of God?

– Father Scott Thomas, December 1, 2019

October 2019

In the past we have celebrated the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick during Mass on a monthly basis at Assumption Parish. As pastor, however, I have decided to limit this to only about four times a year. I am basing this decision on the 1983 Code of Canon Law as well as what the Second Vatican Council taught in its first document, Sacrosanctum Concilium (SC). It is true that the Church began recommending this great Sacrament for more than just those on their deathbed. On this topic the Council stated, “As soon as any one of the faithful begins to be in danger of death from sickness or old age, the fitting time for him to receive this sacrament has certainly already arrived” (SC 73). In 1983, the Code of Canon Law was revised to accommodate this change, stating that, “The anointing of the sick can be administered to a member of the faithful who, having reached the use of reason, begins to be in danger due to sickness or old age” and that the Sacrament “can be repeated if the sick person, having recovered, again becomes gravely ill or if the condition becomes more grave during the same illness” (Can. 1004).

Note the limitations that are kept in place. Those requesting the Sacrament must be in some sort of “danger” due to sickness or old age, and the situation should be grave. Also, repeating the Sacrament is not necessary if your health improves. Considering this, there really is no need to have a Mass with the Anointing of the Sick every month. Those in need of the Sacrament are welcome to ask for the Sacrament as needed.

– Father Scott Thomas, October 27, 2019

If you come to Adoration on Mondays, you’ll notice that we are now placing the Monstrance on the main Altar of Sacrifice (the wooden Altar) as opposed to Mary’s Altar on the side. This was recommended to me, and I love the idea because of what it teaches us about Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Adoration is meant to complement our worship of Jesus in the Holy Mass and build up a greater desire within us to participate in the Holy Mass. Adoring Jesus in the Most Blessed Sacrament, whether that be during Adoration or while simply praying before a closed Tabernacle, should build up within us a greater desire to receive Him more worthily and more often in Holy Communion.

Having the Monstrance exposed on the same Altar upon which the Holy Mass is offered shows more clearly that connection between Adoration and the Holy Mass. It also draws more attention to tourists who may enter and not realize something important is going on. This also allows them to light their candles by the side Altars without walking by the Blessed Sacrament irreverently. So come join us for Adoration on Mondays, anytime between 8:30 am and 5:30 pm. Come worship Jesus, thank Him for His perpetual presence in the Holy Eucharist, and build a greater desire for worthily receiving Him in Holy Communion at the next Mass you attend.

– Father Scott Thomas, October 20, 2019

Last weekend I preached about finding Jesus in the Holy Eucharist and showing Him proper reverence. Now that we are using the original Tabernacle at the Basilica, how we act when passing the center of the sanctuary needs to change. Surely many of you were taught to bow whenever walking past the Altar of Sacrifice. This teaching is correct when the Tabernacle in use is off to the side. But the General Instruction of the Roman Missal (GIRM) states that if the Tabernacle is situated in the center of the Sanctuary, then it surpasses the Altar in importance. So now anytime you walk across the sanctuary in the Basilica you should do your best to genuflect to Our Lord in the Tabernacle. The only time where you would bow is during the Holy Mass.

As the GIRM states, during Mass the focus moves from the Tabernacle to the Altar of Sacrifice with anticipation for the consecration of the bread and wine that will be presented during the Offertory. Therefore, the GIRM states, those entering the sanctuary during the Holy Mass only genuflect to the Tabernacle during the entrance and recessional processions. Otherwise, you merely bow to the Altar of Sacrifice when passing by it. So those who read or assist with Holy Communion will continue to bow when entering the sanctuary during the Holy Mass. Remember that your Savior, Jesus Christ, makes Himself perpetually present in the Eucharist out of love for you. Let us all, together, strive to respond to His love with the proper reverence and respect.

– Father Scott Thomas, October 13, 2019

In the dioceses of the United States, October is Pro-Life Month. During this month we are asked to spend some time reflecting on the gift of human life. In his 1995 encyclical Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), Pope Saint John Paul II said, “Truly great must be the value of human life if the Son of God has taken it up and made it the instrument of salvation of all humanity!” God could have redeemed us in any way He wanted. But He chose to send His Son incarnate as one of us, taking on our human flesh and lifting it up to a new reality. By being born fully human and then dying and resurrecting in human flesh, Jesus Christ has sanctified all human life. Thus, we must respect that sanctity and defend it at all costs.

Recall how in Matthew 25:40, Jesus tells us, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Whatever we do to the least among us, from the moment of conception all the way until death, we do to our Lord Jesus. If we don’t defend the defenseless, then who will? It is up to us—Jesus’ soldiers on Earth—to defend the gift of life that He has given to every person born into this world. For whatever it is that we do, whether good or bad, we do unto Him.

– Father Scott Thomas, October 6, 2019

August 2019

Our readings at Holy Mass this weekend speak of how God will call all people “from the east and the west and from the north and the south and [they] will recline at table in the kingdom of God.” God is not calling just a select few to salvation. Rather, He is calling all of humanity to salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ.

But our entry to Heaven is not automatic. Notice that in the same passage Jesus says some will be “locked out” of Heaven. Those locked out will be anyone who did not seek a personal relationship with Jesus during their life. Instead they chose sin and, as a result, eternal death. So we must live now in a way that looks forward to Heaven.

We must strive for a personal relationship with Jesus now so that we may enjoy His fullness in Heaven for all eternity. And the best way to do that is by living in full communion with the Church Jesus founded—the Catholic Church. We must strive to do so ourselves and we must strive to bring others into this great communion.

We all know people who are not Catholic. Have you invited them to join you for Holy Mass lately? When was the last time you invited someone to RCIA, the process by which non-Catholic adults come into full communion with the Church?

We will be starting up RCIA soon, and it is up to you to help us fill it up. So who can you ask? Who will you invite? With whom would you like to share the fullness of the truth and God’s call to “recline at table in the kingdom of God?”

– Father Scott Thomas, August 25, 2019

You may have recently noticed two differences in the sanctuary at St Mary’s Basilica. First, after years of sitting bare, the “old Altars” now are covered with Altar cloths. I felt it to be fitting that we keep those Altars covered with Altar cloths since they are still consecrated Altars.

One reason is that Father Mark and I use the St Joseph Altar from time to time to offer the Holy Mass privately, if we don’t have one of the scheduled Masses of the day. For decades, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass took place upon those Altars, meaning that our Lord Jesus Christ rested upon their stones. How sacred of a space and structure those Altars are, then. And I believe they should be treated as such meaning that we should take special care about what we place upon them.

Which leads to the second difference—have you noticed that the flowers in the sanctuary (behind the presider’s chair) have not been on the mensa (table) of that Altar? There, again, is a stone enclosing a saint’s relic and the spot where many Holy Masses have been offered. I believe it is more reverent to place the flowers on the portion of the Altar that was actually made for them, that is, the shelf just beyond and above the mensa where the candles are.

While I do not currently plan to begin using these old Altars publicly anytime soon, they are still consecrated Altars and should be treated with reverence. And perhaps through that reverence we will give thanks to God for the many Holy Masses that were offered on them over the years for the salvation of our ancestors and ourselves.

– Father Scott Thomas, August 18, 2019

On August 14 the Roman Church celebrates St Maximilian Kolbe. Born in Poland on January 8, 1894, he was given the name Raymond. He was such a troublemaker as a child that one day his mother looked at him and asked, “What is to become of you, Raymond!?” In response, he ran to the local church and prayed hard to the Blessed Mother asking that very question.

She soon appeared to him offering a choice between virginity and martyrdom. His response was, “I choose both!” He would go on to become a Franciscan, taking the name “Maximilian” and being ordained at age 24. He would travel to China, Japan, and India, until his poor health forced his return to Poland. In February of 1941, he was arrested by the Nazi’s for the crime of being a Catholic priest and was sent to Auschwitz.

During his imprisonment, he fulfilled his priestly duties as best as he could (in secret, of course). This led to many beatings at the hands of the guards. One day in July someone escaped from the concentration camp. As a result, ten men were picked for execution. When one cried out for his wife and children, Fr Maximilian Kolbe volunteered to replace the gentleman.

Fr Kolbe was known to have led the other nine in prayer as they were being starved to death. When he was the last one alive, he was given a lethal injection of carbolic acid. St Maximilian Kolbe was canonized in 1982 by Pope St John Paul II, who was also a native of Poland. He is the patron saint of drug addicts, political prisoners, and families.

– Father Scott Thomas, August 11, 2019

This Sunday, St Paul tells us, “If you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God” (Colossians 3:1). Holy Baptism is a participation in the death and Resurrection of Jesus. Therefore, those who pass through the baptismal waters are called to spiritually die with Christ and rise with Him as a new creation.

We baptized Christians are called to live for Heaven. This world is a passing world while the Heavenly Kingdom is eternal. Holy Mass and our church’s architecture should always remind us of this. That is one reason why we still use Latin and Greek in the Holy Mass instead of regular everyday language. We should also use music that is sacred.

If we just sing popular music you hear on the radio, what is so special about that? The same goes for why older churches have such high ceilings and ornate decorations made of the best materials. The high ceilings and steeples cause us to look up to higher realities, and the use of the best materials reminds us that we need to give our best to God.

Again, all of this and more is meant to draw our minds to higher, heavenly realities. After all, that’s the point of worship—to draw us closer to our goal of eternal union with God in heaven. So the next time you go to worship God, seek what is above and not what is below.

– Father Scott Thomas, August 4, 2019


St. Mary Basilica Coat of Arms