Yesterday the Archbishop consecrated our new Eucharistic Adoration chapel, which we have named for St. Joseph. I wish to thank all our benefactors, both those who gave money and those who gave time and service in this 2-year, $250,000 project. We now have a beautiful St. Joseph Chapel that will be open day and night for Eucharistic adoration, and it will grow more beautiful as we practice good stewardship of this inestimable gift of the Eucharist. Our parish has been given this gift, and this responsibility, to provide a public adoration chapel for the City of San Francisco.
Today is Laetare Sunday, meaning “joy” from the introit, “rejoice Jerusalem.” We find joy at Mass and in our new chapel, because there we find Our Divine Lord. We will find Jesus in our friends and families, in our work and school, and on the streets and marketplaces of our city, but only if we find him here first. They told us in the seminary to make a Eucharistic holy hour every day, and I’ve been doing that, by the grace of God, for 30 years. Sometimes I miss, but without that holy hour I can’t imagine persevering in my vocation. Many mornings I enter the chapel in our rectory a broken man, a sad middle-aged man, and an hour later I come out a new man, full of joy and peace. In the Latin Mass the priest prays Psalm 42 before ascending the altar: “I will enter the sanctuary of God, the God who restores the joy of my youth.” A priest by definition is an “old man” (the literal meaning of presbyteros in Greek), but every time a priest enters the Eucharistic sanctuary, he becomes a young man again. Just being in the presence of the Sacred Eucharist, God stills my heart. I realize that I don’t have to save myself or anyone else. I don’t have to fix anything in anyone’s broken life, or achieve success in this parish. I can rest in the certainty that it is His Church, not mine. The Eucharist gives us the simple joy of a child, without which no one can enter the kingdom of heaven.
After the Mass itself, the most important thing I do in this parish is just “sitting” an hour a day with Jesus. Just being there, listening, learning to trust, recovering the joy of knowing Jesus, I am renewed each morning as a man, as a priest, and as your pastor. That is true for you too. If you spend an hour with the Blessed Sacrament, you will remain forever young.
In today’s Gospel Our Lord provides bread for the people, the miracle of the loaves. The Lord provides his children with bread, just the way his father on earth, St. Joseph, provided bread for his own Holy Family. Last night we reestablished the tradition of St. Joseph’s table, because last Sunday was St. Joseph’s Day, and our new chapel is dedicated to St. Joseph. In fact, we dedicated the chapel, and fed the crowds afterwards at St. Joseph’s Table, on the feast of the Annunciation, when we celebrate the Bread of Life entering into the womb of the virgin Mary. St. Joseph is so important to this parish, both as the spouse of Mary and as the “nutritor Domini,” he who fed the Son of God with bread from his table. St. Joseph fed the Bread of Life; he provided for Him who provides the beasts with their food; he clothed Him who clothes the lilies of the field. We must entrust our parish, and our families, and our souls, to the guidance and protection of good St. Joseph.
Our Lady of the Annunciation
Yesterday, as I said, was the Feast of the Annunciation, the first mystery of the Holy Rosary. When Mary said Fiat to the angel, the Holy Eucharist entered her body, just as we say amen at the altar rail and the Lord’s body comes into us. Mary’s was the first First Holy Communion. She was the first tabernacle, the first monstrance, the first Eucharistic procession in history, as she bore the Word Made Flesh in her womb. We find her in the Eucharistic chapel too, the tender mother of God made man. In this parish named for the Mother of God, we have consecrated a Eucharistic chapel to St. Joseph on the Feast of the Annunciation, Laetare Sunday. May Jesus give us joy each time we enter that bright chapel. Thanks to all of you, in Christ Jesus, for dedicating your time to prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.