A night with Jesus in the Eucharist

Every time one sits down to pray, the Lord is there. The encounter is new, filled with grace, love and mercy. It is a time to be healed, strengthened, and transformed.

This idea of creating new encounters with the Lord was the purpose behind a series of seven evening sessions in late January to mid-February called “All Things New: An evening of praise and worship, Eucharistic Adoration and Confession.”

Presented by the Diocese of Venice Office of Evangelization, the theme of the evenings was from the Book of Revelations, “Behold, I am making all things new.” (Rev 21:5)

“This is the best place to be,” explained Joshua Mazrin, Director of Evangelization during the Feb. 11, 2021 gathering at Incarnation Parish in Sarasota. “Sitting here, before Our Lord and the Blessed Sacrament on the altar is the greatest place to be; save for the Holy Mass; it where we are supposed to be; where we are meant to be tonight.”

Noting that there are many obstacles in the world which can create distance in our relationship with the Lord, Mazrin said that opening our heart while in His Presence will allow the Holy Spirit to cultivate and till the soil so that His Graces will be accepted.

Father Eric Scanlan, Administrator of Incarnation Parish, hosted the Feb. 11 evening and said the theme was appropriate during a time when many see things that they feel are not right, make them angry or upset, they feel unjust or stressed, and they question where the Lord is in the world.

“Every time we join together the Lord comes to be with us,’ Father Scanlan said. “Our God is a God who makes all things new.”

He explained that every time we come together to pray with Him or receive the Eucharist, it’s a new encounter of God’s grace, love and mercy. Just as every time we go to the Sacrament of Confession, it is a new experience with God, never the same.

“Each prayer and time before the Lord are a new opportunity for the Lord to heals us, strengthen us and transform our hearts,” Father continued. “Allow the Lord to make your heart new. Allow Him to love you. Allow Him to take away the stress, anxiety, doubts, anger of the outside world… This is an opportunity for the Lord to love you and heal you.”

Brad Fournier was among the 75 or so who took part in the Feb. 11 “All Things New” and described how he tries to spend as much time in Adoration as he can. “This was a wonderful evening with so many focused on one spot in the church, the Lord present on the altar. That helped bring me into focus as well. I think we all need that once in a while. This happened just in time for Lent to begin and I feel refreshed and ready for that journey to begin.”

Each evening of Adoration included prayerful music from Zander, a musician who performed during the 2020 Diocese of Venice Youth Rally. The other six evenings took place at the following Parishes: St. Elizabeth Seton, Naples, Jan. 26; Ave Maria, Ave Maria, Jan. 29; Our Lady of Light, Fort Myers, Feb. 2; Our Lady of the Angels, Lakewood Ranch, Feb. 3; St. John the Evangelist, Naples, Feb. 4; St. Joseph, Bradenton, Feb. 16.

For more information about upcoming events sponsored by the Diocese Office of Evangelization, please visit www.dioceseofvenice.org/evangelization.

Eucharistic Adoration brings one closer to Christ

The First Friday of September was a spiritually emotional day for Bonnie Coyle as it was the first time since March that she participated in Eucharistic Adoration.

Coyle has been a devotee of adoration for many years, finding great comfort in spending quiet time with the Lord in addition to attending Mass. The COVID-19 Pandemic physically separated her, and many others, from the Lord for an extended period and this distressed her greatly.

“I love coming to Mass, but adoration has always been special for me,” Coyle explained. “I just never realized how special it was and how much I would miss it when it wasn’t available. I was worried about coming back for health reasons, so I stayed away even longer. But I am back, and I feel a great relief to again be able to quietly pray before the Lord!”

Coyle was not alone, as many stayed for adoration on Sept. 4, 2020 following the Mass at Our Lady of Lourdes Parish in Venice.

While public Mass resumed in the Diocese of Venice in late May, adoration followed more slowly as Parishes figured out the best way to do so while still ensuring health and safety protocols were being followed.

Instead of taking place in the Parish Chapel, the Mass and adoration at Our Lady of Lourdes took place in the main Church, thus allowing the 100 or so present plenty of space to participate in both without concern.

The Blessed Sacrament is carried in the back of a pickup truck as part of a vehicle procession from St. Michael Parish in Wauchula to nearby Missions on Sept. 29, 2020 in celebration of the fifth anniversary of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel.

At Parishes throughout the Diocese, the offering of Eucharistic Adoration has required some changes. Most parishes have designated days and times for adoration with many including the First Friday of each month. When possible, Parishes with small Adoration Chapels have created a reservation system for adorers.

The occasion of the fifth anniversary of the Perpetual Adoration Chapel at St. Michael Parish in Wauchula during the ongoing Pandemic led to a unique celebration Aug. 29, 2020.

Parish Administrator Father Oscar Mendoza Moya led a procession of vehicles, while riding in the bed of a pickup truck with the Blessed Sacrament in a monstrance. The procession went from the Parish to Holy Child Mission in Bowling Green, then on to San Alfonso Mission in Zolfo Springs, before returning to the Parish. At each location, Father Moya offered a special blessing. The celebration concluded with a Mass of Thanksgiving in the main Church.

Lucinda Perez described the entire evening as amazing. “What a beautiful way to honor Jesus Christ and celebrate the Adoration Chapel and for the Parish and Missions to come together.”

Bishop Frank J. Dewane encouraged the expansion and availability of Adoration in an Aug. 5, 2020 letter to the priests of the Diocese. “This will be of great help and consolation to the Faithful during these turbulent times, when the People of God long to be close to the Lord,” Bishop Dewane wrote.

Pope Francis is a strong proponent of participating in Eucharistic Adoration, describing it as a way of putting the Lord at the center of one’s life. The Holy Father includes adoration in many public celebrations. Most notably, on March 27, 2020 Pope Francis presided over the Eucharistic Adoration before he imparted the “Urbi et Orbi” blessing from outside St. Peter’s Basilica, before the empty square where he usually has the general audience.

Please contact your local Parish for the latest Eucharistic Adoration schedule.

Adoration resumes across Diocese

Bishop Frank J. Dewane has authorized the resumption of Eucharistic Adoration in Parishes throughout the Diocese of Venice while at the same time encouraging other Parishes to offer this as a new opportunity for the faithful to spend to with the Lord.

Bishop Dewane encouraged the expansion and availability of Adoration in an Aug. 5, 2020 letter to the priests of the Diocese. Adoration was necessarily limited upon the reopening of Parishes on May 18, 2020 due to the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic.

“This will be of great help and consolation to the Faithful during these turbulent times, when the People of God long to be close to the Lord,” Bishop Dewane wrote. “By offering Adoration, an opportunity for prayer in the Lord’s presence is provided for those who may have reservations about attending Mass due to the number gathered.”

Bishop Dewane also wrote that it may also be helpful to offer Holy Communion to attendees following the closing Benediction or at the start of Adoration.

“Clearly, I recognize that these are challenging times for us all,” Bishop Dewane added. “While in itself Adoration has great value, it does encourage another population to increase their contact with the Parish.”

While exposition may be held either in the main Parish Church or in a Chapel, the continued following of protocols for social distancing and face coverings is still required. If using a smaller space, it was suggested that Parishes may wish to consider a registration process to limit the numbers present at any one time.

The Bishop also noted in his letter that he highly values and appreciates the efforts of the priests to continue to provide pastoral care during these challenging times.

Drive-thru blessing inspires

During a recent downpour, the faithful of St. Michael Parish in Wauchula patiently lined up in their vehicles to be closer to the Lord.

Father Oscar Mendoza, Administrator of St. Michael, led a drive-thru blessing on July 25, 2020, with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament. Father Mendoza stood in the rain, with the monstrance safely under an umbrella, and offered a blessing as each vehicle paused.

“At the beginning, the idea of ​​blessing families with the Blessed Sacrament was to replicate what was done a few months ago, visiting house to house and covering as much area as possible,” said Father Mendoza while explaining what actions were taken while the Parish Church was closed due the COVID-19 Pandemic.

While the Church is open for Mass, Father said there are some elderly, sick, or those who were still in fear due to the Pandemic that are staying away from Church.

Understanding the concern, Father Mendoza consulted with Bishop Frank J. Dewane about options for the public to participate in Adoration, but in a new format.

“This time it was more meaningful for families, thanks to the suggestion of the Bishop to be outside the church,” Father Mendoza explained. “In fact, it was a success. Many faithful came to the blessing despite the heavy rain that afternoon, which I called a ‘Rain-down of Blessings.’”

Father began by setting up an appropriate outside altar where he could pray before the Blessed Sacrament. While wearing a mask, Father carried Jesus forward in a monstrance to be closer to the faithful who remained in their vehicles.

“At that moment, and with great emotion, I could perceive that the individuals and families who received the blessing were deeply moved by His presence and continued on their way with great gratitude and joy in their hearts,” Father said. Some people were brought to tears while others sought specific prayers for family members who are struggling because of the Pandemic, whether they are ill, in fear, or out of work.

Father Mendoza said he plans to have another drive-thru blessing. “This act of faith could be promoted, since the faithful are hungry and thirsty for God, especially in this uncertain time when they cannot participate in Mass as before due to the pandemic.”

Divine Mercy Sunday “Jesus, I trust in You”

Bob Reddy – Florida Catholic

The Second Sunday of Easter, or Divine Mercy Sunday, completes the Octave of Easter, a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ and the blessing of His continuing presence in our midst. The Gospel reading for Divine Mercy Sunday, April 28, recalls the encounter between St. Thomas and Jesus after the Resurrection.

For many in the Diocese of Venice, the Feast of Divine Mercy takes on a powerful meaning when they participate in a private or public prayer called the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Each year many parishes throughout the Diocese hold Divine Mercy services and novenas. The popularity of Divine Mercy has been noticed and embraced by many diverse communities throughout the Diocese.

Divine Mercy Sunday celebrates the mercy of Jesus as reminded us by St. Maria Faustina Kowalska, a religious sister who lived a humble life to whom Jesus appeared. St. Faustina was born in Krakow, Poland and lived from 1905-1938 being canonized by St. John Paul II in 2000, who at that time declared the Second Sunday of Easter is Divine Mercy Sunday.

St. Faustina wrote in her diary what Jesus told her: “I desire that the Feast of Mercy be a refuge and shelter for all souls but especially for poor sinners. I pour out a whole ocean of graces upon these souls who approach the fount of My Mercy… let no soul fear to draw near to Me, even though its sins be many.”

The image of the Divine Mercy was created by St. Faustina who was told to paint the image of Jesus as she saw Him. The painting has the saying at the bottom: “Jesus, I Trust in You.” The rays emanating from Jesus represent water – which makes souls righteous — and blood — which is the life of souls, Jesus told St. Faustina.

At St. William Parish in Naples, Divine Mercy Sunday included the traditional afternoon prayer service. This included Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, a reflection from Father Anthony Lukka, recitation of the Divine Mercy Litany, singing of the Divine Mercy Chaplet, and concluded with a veneration of the image of Divine Mercy. A large newly-created painting of the Divine Mercy image, by Rosalie Polivika Ramstead, was on display during the prayer service.

The prayer service began with a procession which brought the Divine Mercy image forward while being escorted by the Color Corps of the Knights of Columbus. First children, then adults placed red and white flowers before the image.

Divine Mercy Sunday serves as an important time to remind our brothers and sisters in Christ of our own need to be merciful and that no sin is too great to receive the Lord’s forgiveness, Father Lukka explained.

“Don’t take forgiveness for granted,” he warned. “You must ask for forgiveness, which will help you grow closer to Jesus Christ.”

Georgina Stringer loves the Divine Mercy devotion and takes part in the Novena of Divine Mercy which begins on Good Friday. “It is comforting to know that this devotion exists to allow us all to pray as one as we trust in the Lord to bring mercy upon the world.”

Pope Francis describes the Catholic Church as the “Church of Mercy” and stresses the importance that everyone “be apostles of God’s Mercy.”

From the Vatican on Divine Mercy Sunday, Pope Francis reflected on Christ’s wounds, which he said contain the difficulties and persecutions endured by people who suffer today.

“Touch the wounds of Jesus,” Pope Francis said. “The wounds of Jesus are a treasure from which mercy comes.”

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