At the center of the Church’s life is the Sacred Liturgy. No other form of religious expression can ever substitute for, or be placed on a par with, the Eucharist.
Other forms of prayer, the use of sacramentals, and popular devotions are expressions of love and fidelity that arise from the intersection of one’s own faith, culture, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Since the Middle Ages, popes have encouraged devotions such as Eucharistic Adoration, the Rosary, and the Stations of the Cross.
Saint John Paul II said in 2001 that “devotions promote the faith of the people.” There are many opportunities for devotional and communal prayer at St. Thomas Parish. Through these opportunities, we join together to express our faith, draw closer to the Lord, and celebrate beauty of the Catholic faith. If you have additional ideas, please speak to a member of the parish staff!
Exposition and Benediction
Eucharistic Exposition and Benediction is offered on the first Saturday of the month at 8:30 a.m. in the chapel. The Holy Hour begins with the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament on the altar, accompanied by a reading from the Word, brief prayer, and song. Most of the hour is a time for quiet, personal prayer, reading, meditation, contemplation and adoration. At the end of the hour at 9:30 a.m., there is again a time of brief prayer, with Scripture and song, concluding with Benediction with the Blessed Sacrament in which the priest or deacon blesses the faithful with the Sacred Host. As Catholics, we believe that Christ is truly and substantially present, body and blood, soul and divinity, in the Blessed Sacrament. Join us on the first Saturday of the month!
Perpetual Adoration at St. Mary’s Hospital
Eucharistic Adoration is adoring or honoring the Eucharistic Presence of Christ. Satisfy your spiritual hunger by spending some quiet, reflective time in the presence of our Lord. Spending time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament deepens our relationship with Him, while he bestows grace upon us. Adoring Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is life changing. All it costs is time. “Can you not spend one hour with Me?” (Matt 26:40). At St. Mary’s Hospital, you can visit Mary, Mother of the Eucharist Chapel anytime – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – and delve into a deeper relationship with Jesus. It will be the best hour of your day. Jesus is waiting for you!
May Crowning of Mary
Our annual May Crowning of the Blessed Mother takes place after Mass on the first Sunday of May. It is a Catholic tradition to honor Mary, our Mother, during the month of May by placing on her statue a crown of flowers. The May Crowning gives our parish family an opportunity to especially honor the Blessed Mother of Jesus, and to give thanks to her for bringing our Savior into the world. We invite family and friends to share in this devotion, and we ask families to bring flowers to place before the statue of Mary in the church and honor Our Lady of Grace.
The Church needs your prayer for an increase in vocations to the priesthood and religious life. St. Thomas individuals and families can host the Vocations Crucifix at their home for a week. You’ll receive a booklet with prayers to pray — or pray your own prayers, such as the Rosary. For each day of the week, the host family gathers to pray for vocations. In this way, prayer for vocations continues each day of the year in our parish family. Please sign up today! The signup sheet is on a table in the gathering area of church.
You’ll find a Holy Water Reservoir near the main sacristy in the back of church. The reservoir provides an easy way to refill your Holy Water bottle for your personal sacramental use. There are many ways to use Holy Water to keep us sanctified and holy in our daily lives, and to keep the things we regularly use sanctified and holy. Please feel free to refill your own holy water bottles from home, or take a plastic holy water bottle from the basket under the Holy Water font for your use.
Sometimes Catholics light a votive candle in front of a statue or shrine as a reminder that their prayers continue even after they have left the church. In our church, you will find two votive candle stands in the Eucharistic Chapel. Votive candles are usually lit for a specific intention. It’s a very Catholic thing to say to someone that you will “light a candle for them,” meaning that you will pray for them and ritually symbolize those prayers by the lighting of votives. Another common reason to light votive candles is out of gratitude to God for answered prayers. We light the candle while praying for our intention or offering our thanks and then leave the flame burning as signs of our prayers. The candles will burn for 6 or 7 days.
Anointing of the Sick
Jesus is the Divine Physician, who takes care of our bodies and souls. The Sacrament of Anointing of the Sick is a beautiful opportunity for anyone suffering from physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional illness to experience God’s healing presence in their lives. The Church, the Mystical Body of Christ, continues the work of Jesus in His care and love for the sick. The Anointing of the Sick is a sacrament of God’s touch, healing, and comforting presence. Contrary to old Catholic beliefs, you don’t have to be taking your last breaths to receive this healing sacrament! If you or a loved one is ill and would like to receive this sacrament of healing, please call Phyllis Howley or Fr. Rick Weltin at 877-4404. Also, several times each year we celebrate the communal Anointing of the Sick after weekend Masses. The occasion is published a week or more in advance in the parish bulletin.
Stations of the Cross
The Stations of the Cross is a 14-step Catholic devotion that commemorates Jesus Christ’s last day on Earth as a man. The 14 devotions, or stations, focus on specific events of His last day, beginning with His condemnation. The stations are commonly used as a mini pilgrimage as the individual moves from station to station. At each station, the individual recalls and meditates on a specific event from Christ’s last day. Specific prayers are recited, then the individual moves to the next station until all 14 are completed. The Stations of the Cross are commonly found in churches as a series of 14 icons or images along the walls. The stations are most commonly prayed during Lent at St. Thomas on Fridays at 3 p.m. Prayer booklets are available in the sacristy.
The seasons of Advent and Lent are special times when we are reminded of our call to conversion. If you haven’t gone to confession in a while, Advent and Lent are the perfect times to reconcile yourself with God and the Church. Communal Reconciliation Services are scheduled at Holy Family Church and St. Patrick Church during these seasons. Priests from all Decatur area parishes are present to hear confessions. Don’t stress about going to confession, rejoice in God’s love and mercy! Participating in the Sacrament of Reconciliation allows you to experience the healing gift of God’s love! In addition, confessions are heard weekly at Our Lady of Lourdes Church at 11 a.m. on Saturday and at 3 p.m. on Saturday at St. Thomas the Apostle Church.
Divine Mercy Celebration
The Feast of Divine Mercy Celebration will take place on the Sunday after Easter at 3 p.m. at St. Thomas Church. The prayer service includes the presentation of the Divine Mercy Image by the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus and praying of the Divine Mercy Chaplet. Please come and celebrate this special feast!
Corpus Christi Celebration
The feast of Corpus Christi is one time when our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament is exposed not just to faithful Catholics but to all the world. This is a time when Catholics can show their love for Christ in the Real Presence by honoring Him in a very public way. It is also a wonderful way in which we can show our love for our neighbors by bringing Our Lord and Savior closer to them. The celebration is sponsored by St. Mary’s Hospital with the participation of all Catholic parishes in the area. Catholics are invited to join in a procession celebrating the Solemnity of Corpus Christi on the feast day in June. The day includes adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, a Liturgy of the Word, and then a procession to Central Park for Solemn Benediction. Read the parish bulletin for specific details.
Blessing of Families
The Feast of the Holy Family, usually celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas, is about the Holy Family, as well as a call to holiness of our own families. The Feast presents the Holy Family as the model for all Christian families. Our family life becomes sanctified when we live the life of the Church within our homes. This is called the “domestic church.” During the Masses that weekend, we will pray and ask God to grant each of our families and our larger parish family a special blessing, and to open our hearts to His grace to live our lives following the loving example of Mary, Joseph, and Jesus.
Blessing of the Baby Jesus Figurines
After Masses at the beginning if Advent we maintain the beautiful tradition of the Blessing of the Christ Child figurines, the miniature statues of the Baby Jesus, to be placed in the nativity sets in our families’ homes. The blessing of the Christ Child will be held at both Masses during the weekend. Bring the Christ Child from your home nativity set and have it blessed. It’s a faith building experience for the entire family and an opportunity to discuss the Incarnation with children and grandchildren.
Feast of St. Nicholas
We welcome Saint Nicholas, the historic 4th-century saint and Greek Bishop of Myra, at the Sunday Mass in Advent nearest to his feast on Dec. 6. Children and adults alike learn about the true St. Nick and his radical love for Christ and his compassion for the poor. After Sunday Mass we join St. Nicholas in Angela Hall for a special treat and challenge for children of all ages.
Epiphany Home Blessing
We like to say that faith is caught, not taught. At St. Thomas we offer opportunities for families to learn about and participate in various traditions of our rich Catholic faith. The traditional blessing of homes on Epiphany is a good example. On this day the family gathers to ask God’s blessing on their home and on those who live in or visit the home. It is an invitation for Jesus to be a daily guest in our home, our comings and goings, our conversations, our work and play, our joys and sorrows. Over the doorways of the home are inscribed using blessed chalk with the following: 20+C+M+B+17. The 20 and 17 refer to the year, the CMB are said to represent either: Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar — the Magi; or the Latin phrase: Christus Mansionem Benedicat, which means “Christ, bless this home.” On the feast of the Epiphany we remember the adoration of the newborn Christ by three wise men from the East.
Blessing of Throats – St. Blaise
On the Feast of St. Blaise, the parish offers the Blessing of Throats after morning Mass (if on a weekday), and after the weekend Masses prior to the feast day. Popularly known as the saint who protects from ailments of the throat, Saint Blaise was a bishop and martyr of the fourth century.
Blessing of Animals -St. Francis
Each year during the month of October we dedicate some time to the blessing of pets in remembrance of the feast of St. Francis of Assisi whose feast day is October 4. Bring your beloved animal friends to the Blessing of the Animals, on the Sunday nearest the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi. The service takes place grassy area behind the Mary Garden near the rectory. The service commemorates St. Francis of Assisi’s love for all creatures. We will gather for the blessing on the g All humans and animals welcome!