Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is an integral part of the spiritual life of St. Francis Parish. A eucharistic procession winds through the streets of Staunton on the feast of Corpus Christi. An active adult education program in the parish offers speakers on liturgical, spiritual, and theological topics. Every year in January a substantial number of St. Francis parishioners travel to Washington to witness for life. Icons located in the Blessed Sacrament chapel remind visitors of the company of heaven surrounding them. On the left, the steeple of the church undergoing renovation in 2015-2016; on the right, the completed project Each January members of Youth for Life travel to Washington to witness in the March for Life. The St. Francis Choir leads the congregation in praise at the Saturday vigil Mass and the Sunday liturgies. CCD catechists offer their time and talents to educate the children of the parish in the Catholic faith. In 2007 the Respect Life Committee built a prayer garden in honor of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the unborn. At left, a view of St. Francis sometime between the 1920s and the 1960s; at right, the church since the 1988-89 renovation Each summer vacation church school offers St. Francis youngsters opportunities to learn about the faith, pray, and play together. Monsignor Mark Lane administers the sacrament of confirmation for youth of St. Francis and neighboring parishes. St. Francis Church decorated for the celebration of Christmas Msgr. Andrew Cassin and Fr. Joseph Wamala greet parishioners at the front door of St. Francis Church. The choir and musicians offer special music on the occasion of the completion of church renovation in 2016. The Catholic Daughters (with Fr. Joseph Wamala) celebrate the 80th anniversary of the chapter's founding. Francis DiLorenzo, Bishop of Richmond, reconsecrates St. Francis church after the exterior renovation in 2015-2016. The convocation of diocesan deacons was held in Staunton in 2014, with a special Mass and reception at St. Francis. Members of the Haiti Outreach greet parishioners of Our Lady of Pointe-à-Raquette, the twin parish of St. Francis in Staunton. Pilgrims from the Diocese of Richmond join a vigil before the closing Mass of World Youth Day 2016 in Poland. Music Director Chris Bono oversaw the repainting of the organ pipes in 2017.
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Occurring in the same week, the solemnities of the Body and Blood of Christ (Corpus Christi) and the Sacred Heart of Jesus are celebrations closely related to Holy Week. Corpus Christi is an extension of Holy Thursday, when the eucharist was established, and Sacred Heart echoes Good Friday, when from the Savior’s side poured blood and water. But with the solemn nature of Holy Week, it was not possible to give sufficient attention to these two aspects of Christ’s love for his people. Thus on Corpus Christi we hold a procession carrying the Blessed Sacrament and have Benediction afterward. On Sacred Heart we commemorate the love of Christ personified in his pierced heart.


CORPUS CHRISTI

Corpus Christi

It is appropriate that we should receive the body of Christ in the form of bread, because, as there are many grains of wheat in the flour from which bread is made by mixing it with water and baking it with fire, so also we know that many members make up the one body of Christ which is brought to maturity by the fire of the Holy Spirit....Similarly, the wine of Christ’s blood, drawn from the many grapes of the vineyard that he had planted, is extracted in the winepress of the cross. When men receive it with believing hearts, like capacious wineskins, it ferments within them by its own power. And so, now that you have escaped from the power of Egypt and of Pharaoh, who is the devil, join with us, all of you, in receiving this sacrifice of the saving passover with the eagerness of dedicated hearts. Then in our inmost being we shall be wholly sanctified by the very Lord Jesus Christ whom we believe to be present in his sacraments, and whose boundless power abides for ever.

From a sermon by St. Gaudentius of Brescia


SACRED HEART

Sacred Heart

It was a divine decree that permitted one of the soldiers to open his sacred side with a lance. This was done so that the Church might be formed from the side of Christ as he slept the sleep of death on the cross, and so that the Scripture might be fulfilled: “They shall look on him whom they pierced.” The blood and water which poured out at that moment were the price of our salvation. Flowing from the sacred abyss of our Lord’s heart as from a fountain, this stream gave the sacraments of the Church the power to confer the life of grace, while for those already living in Christ it became a spring of living water welling up to life everlasting.

From Lignum vitae by St. Bonaventure