I remember as a child reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, and coming to that fateful moment of the book when Azlan was slain on the Altar. I also remember my teacher telling us that that was a symbol of Jesus being slain on the altar in our church. That image never left me – seeing such a magnificent, strong creature be sacrificially offered up and connecting it to the majesty of Christ, who himself was slain for us. Powerful.

Did you know that there is a stone in our altar called the "Altar Stone"? The stone was placed in our altar on March 13, 1977, at the dedication of the altar, which was also the blessing of our current church. Like Azlan slain on the stone, that was the first time the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb slain for our sins, was offered on our altar stone.

Can you imagine being at the very spot where the blood of Jesus dripped to the ground on Calvary? Sacramentally, the stone in our church, upon which the sacrifice of the Mass is offered daily, IS the same place where Jesus was sacrificed 2,000 years ago.

Did you also know that Mass is a participation in that very same sacrifice that happened 2,000 years ago? It is not a new sacrifice. Nor is it an empty "recollection" of a past, ended event. No, as the book of Hebrews says, Jesus was sacrificed "once and for all" – one time, for all people. Mass is itself a full participation in the one-time unrepeatable event.

How? As Hebrews goes on to explain, "Christ did not enter into a sanctuary made by hands, a copy of the true one, but heaven itself … now once for all he has appeared at the end of the ages to take away sin by his sacrifice" (Hebrews 9:24,26). In other words, Christ's sacrifice not only happens on earth but also in heaven. As such, being a heavenly sacrifice, His "once and for all" sacrifice is present to all times and peoples, just as heaven is present to all times and people.

For this reason, the date of the dedication of the altar marks an historic moment in our parish church – March 13, 1977 – when the altar was for the first time a location upon which the sacrifice of Christ, our Lion of Judah, was offered for the salvation of souls and remission of sin.

This is why this date is set apart as a solemnity for our parish family, one of three such solemnities:

  1. Oct. 4 – Our "Titular" solemnity on the date of our namesake, St. Francis.
  2. July 1, 1959 – Formal establishment of our parish in the Diocese of Wichita.
  3. March 13, 1977 – Dedication of the altar of our current parish church.

So, I strongly encourage you to go to church on Wednesday, March 13. Holy Mother Church also encourages this because she adds a plenary indulgence to any parishioner of St. Francis parish who celebrates Mass that day at the church: "A plenary indulgence is granted to the faithful who visit, and there devoutly recited an Our Father and the Creed in a church or an altar on the day of its dedication" (Manual of Indulgences, p. 102).

Father Jarrod Lies, Pastor