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Day 53 — With Jesus as He Goes to All the Towns and Villages

GUILFORD, INDIANA, July 9 — The Seton Route Pilgrims of the National Eucharistic Pilgrimage had a full day in All Saints Parish in southeast Indiana, having a Mass, two three mile Eucharistic processions and a Eucharistic Encounter event celebrating the 200th anniversary of St. John the Baptist Church in Guilford, one of four churches associated with the parish.

The day began with a Mass at St. John the Baptist Church, which was celebrated and preached by Seton Route chaplain Father Roger Landry.

In his homily, Father Landry said that in the Gospel of the day (Tuesday of the 14th Week in Ordinary Time), St. Matthew describes Jesus going "around to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom and curing every disease and illness." Father Landry said that the same Jesus was coming to Guilford County to walk around the towns and villages of Dearborn Country giving witness to the truth, proclaiming that the Kingdom of God is at hand because the King — Jesus himself — is present and seeking to bring whatever healing is most needed.

He added that as he went Jesus cured a possessed mute man and the crowds were amazed, saying, "Nothing like this has ever been seen in Israel." As Jesus traverses All Saints Parish, Father Landry said, we are similarly experiencing something that has never been seen in the United States or in any other country in history: a National Eucharistic Pilgrimage. We are called to exult in gratitude as well, he stated.

Father Landry focused on St. Matthew's expression, Jesus' "heart was moved for pity for the crowds, because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd." He said that the word St. Matthew's Gospel uses in Greek is "splanchgnizomai," which is better translated, "Jesus was sick to his stomach" or "his innards were exploding." And any time any of the synoptic evangelists use the expression, it is immediately followed by one of five acts of mercy: Jesus teaches, heals, forgives, feeds, and then asks his followers to pray to the Harvest Master for laborers and summons the very ones praying to be those laborers. All five are expressions of his merciful love. And all five, declared Father Landry, Jesus seeks to do for us in the Holy Eucharist.

At Mass Jesus teaches us in the Word of God. Instructing the ignorant is always a work of mercy and he carries it out in the liturgy of the Word, just like he did with the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, to help us to live off of every word that comes from his mouth and become true doers of the Word, Landry stated.

He, the Divine Physician, also seeks to heal us in ways he knows we most need, whether we know it or not. Sometimes with regard to our known wounds, Jesus doesn't take them away but he transfigures them so that they might no longer bleed.

He seeks at Mass to forgive us of our venial sins — hence the public confession that we're great sinners by our own most grievous fault at the beginning of Mass — and, with the intercession of the saints, to bring us to receive his mercy in the Sacrament of Confession. The Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist are intimately related: Jesus' body and blood were offered "for the remission of sins" and we offer to God the Father his dearly beloved Son's Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.

Similarly at Mass he tries to feed us not just with the Word of God but with himself, the Word made flesh.

Finally, at every Mass he helps us to pray to the Harvest Master for laborers for his harvest, and then, just like we will see tomorrow at daily Mass, he summons those who are praying to be those laborers. He wants to strengthen us every Mass to be able to go to others and bring to them the Gospel, the Kingdom, Christ himself. He trusts us so much that he entrusts essentially others' acceptance of salvation to our labors, conscious that others are praying to the Harvest Master specifically for us.

Father Landry said that as beautiful as Jesus' mercy is, there's opposition. We see it in the Pharisees in today's Gospel who accused Jesus of working the exorcism of the mute man by the power of the devil. We see it in the idolatry of the eighth century people of Israel against God. We see it in the rejection Jesus prepared his first followers to be ready to suffer as he would send them out. But he nevertheless promises to be with us always and to have all things work out for the good.

That's a truth, Landry stated, we see lived out today in the feast of two sets of martyrs. The first are the 120 Chinese martyrs, St. Augustine Zhao Rong and companions who gave their lives for Christ from 1648 through 1930. St. Augustine Zhao Rong had been a soldier in 1815, Landry said, when he accompanied French missionary bishop John Gabriel-Taurin Dufresse on an infamous death march to Beijing. The way that Dufresse handled the torture he received along the way converted Zhao Rong and he asked what would happen after all the missionary bishops and priests were wiped out. When told by the Christians there would be no sacrament of the Eucharist, he inquired what one would have to do to become a priest. They told him he would need to enter the seminary and the closest seminary was in Macao. He decided to be baptized, traveled to Macao, and soon after he entered the seminary was ordained a priest in case the bishop there would be arrested or killed and not have a chance to ordain him later. There was the hope to have him make up other instruction later, but after a crash course, he was sent out to care for the Christians. Within a short time he himself would be arrested and martyred. And the time from being a faithless soldier, to baptism, to ordination, to martyrdom was only three months. His life shows the importance of the priesthood for us to have access to the Eucharist and to the type of priority that needs to be given to it.

The second set of martyrs Father Landry mentioned were the 19 Martyrs of Gorkum, who on July 9, 1572, were hung for their refusal publicly to deny the Church's teaching on transubstantiation and on the primacy of the Pope. They were 18 priests and 1 layman. They had been made strong in bearing witness to Christ by bearing witness to him each day in celebrating or attending Mass, and they refused to betray Christ. They all show us that each of us is summoned to be a martyr with respect to the Eucharistic Lord, to give witness in daily life that he is worth living for and dying for, Landry concluded.

After Mass, there was a three-mile Eucharistic procession from St. John the Baptist Church in Guilford to the Church of St. Paul in New Alsace.

After arriving at St. Paul's, there was Eucharistic Adoration for an hour, followed by a Mass for 70 young boys on a vocation camp, followed by another hour of Eucharistic adoration.

After that, there was another three-mile, two-hour procession to the Church of St. Martin in Yorkville. After arriving there was continuous adoration through a Holy Hour at 7 and then adoration throughout the night until Mass the following morning.

During the Holy Hour, Seton Pilgrims Zoe Dongas and Brother Damian Joseph Novak, CFR, played praise and worship music and Father Landry preached a homily on the occasion of the Catholics in Dearborn County celebrating 200 years of Catholic faith, based on the founding of St. John's Parish in Guilford.

Father Landry preached about the theme of inheritance and legacy, especially the most important part of that treasure, Jesus himself present for, before and within us in the Holy Eucharist.

Father Landry based his words on St. Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor 15:3-8; 1 Cor 11:23-26) and Jesus' Parable of the Talents (Mt 25:14-30). St. Paul showed us that he sought to pass on to the first Christians in Corinth as of the first importance what he himself had received, not just the essential facts of Jesus' passion, death and resurrection, but also what Jesus himself did on the night he was betrayed, taking bread and wine into his hands, changing them into his Body and Blood and telling us to do this in remembrance of him. Similarly, Father Landry stated, we need to pass on to others as of the greatest importance what we ourselves have received as a treasure from the generations of Christians before us.

The Parable of the Talents teaches us how to invest the enormous treasure of the gifts God entrusts to us. The greatest of all God's gifts are not the individual skills that may distinguish us from others, but the gift of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the gift of prayer, the Word of God, the Church, Jesus' moral teachings, the mission he's given to us and more.

Father Landry highlighted the example of lay people in Korea in the 18th century and in Japan from the late 16th through the middle of the 19th century to show that type of care that was given, as lay people, to transmit the treasure of the faith.

He concluded the homily by inviting those present to build on the inheritance that Catholics in the area of All Saints Parish have been passing on for 200 years and to resolve to pass them on invested and enriched to the Catholics who come after, so that, if the second coming is delayed, the feasts celebrating the 250th, 500th, and 1000th anniversaries might be mindblowingly bigger than even the great crowds coming for the 200th.

At the end of the Holy Hour, Father Landry imparted Eucharistic benediction and then all night adoration began.


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