May 20, 2020
Today is forty days since Easter and ordinarily we would celebrate the Ascenscion of Our Lord. The bishops of our region transferred the Feast to the nearest Sunday and so instead of the Seventh Sunday in Easter, we have Ascension "Sunday". The dioceses of the East Coast did not transfer the feast and you may have noticed on our parish calendar that today is marked as Ascension. Obviously, there are arguments on both sides about moving feasts, but the 40 day thing is so biblical, I would not have voted for the move.
It is what it is, however. That is why I put the picture of Saint Toribio on the heading of this entry. He was one of the Cristero martyrs of Mexico, a young priest who died when the government of Mexico in the Thirties was persecuting the Catholic Church. St. Christopher Magallanes is another and St. Anacleto, dozens were killed by the "federales" because they were more loyal to the Church than to the State. Several of the priest-martyrs were members of the Knights of Columbus. I was lucky to visit their shrine in Guadalajara Mexico, a side altar of the beautiful cathedral there.
People are usually surprised when they hear that a Catholic country like Mexico would persecute Catholic priests and lay people and hang and shoot them. Just don't say, "It can't happen here," to use an old title of a Sinclair Lewis novel. There is a lot of people who are not only anti-Catholic but anti-Christian and many of them are powerful in the media and government. There is still opposition to our Catholic schools receiving funds from the government (which took them from the parents of our students and others). We are lucky Ohio is a state that recognizes the rights of parents to choose schools.
But we should have no illusions about the fact that there are people in power against the Church. The bishops in Minnesota just decided to defy the governor's orders to keep congregations, no matter what size the church, to ten people. One of the bishops said, "We have cathedrals that seat 1,000 people and we can manage social distancing." We'll have to pray for the courageous shepherds and for the governor who apparently sees more danger in church than in Walmart.
The Feast of the Ascension should make us put our hearts where our hopes our, with Jesus in heaven. That might make us braver in witnessing our faith, like St. Toribio and so many others who put their lives on the line for Christ Our King.
God bless you.