1925 - 2020
Friday, October 9, 2020
Padre Serra Parish
Dear Parish Family,
Happy Catechetical Sunday to you all. On this day we celebrate the importance of passing on the faith and being witnesses to the Gospel. The root of the word Catechesis comes from a Greek word meaning “to echo, or resound.” Catechism is the act of resounding or bringing the Church’s teachings to the world. A catechist is one who teaches in the name of the Church. This ministry of teaching in the name of the Church has a profound dignity, which is why catechists are formally commissioned by the Church.
“The 2020 Catechetical Sunday theme is taken from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, “I Received from the Lord what I also Handed on to You.” This theme focuses on the essential work of catechesis, which is an invitation to a whole new life given by Christ Himself. It emphasizes that living faith necessitates movement, inspiring all those who hear the Word to share it as witnesses of the true and living God.” Bishop Robert Barron; USCCB
On this day we not only highlight the work of catechists in parishes and schools, but we also commend parents and guardians and encourage them to take seriously their role of making their Catholic households a place where faith is passed on to the next generation. Parents are truly the primary catechists of their children. This has become even more evident this year, with the pandemic, so many of you became not only academic teachers, but with the closures of the church buildings, you became the main source of faith to the children in your life. Building the domestic church; recognizing that it’s not the building, but the gathering of believers that makes the Church.
This is why the rite of blessing of catechists used on Catechetical Sunday includes a blessing of parents and guardians. You too will be commissioned and blessed, in your vocation and mission. To all catechists in our lives, parents and grandparents, priests and deacons, religious sisters, church family, all who have been encounters of Jesus in our lives, we thank you!
Dear friends on the journey,
On September 6, 2018 Botham Jean was killed by Amber Guyger. Thirteen months later Amber was convicted of murder and sentenced to ten years in prison. The circumstances of this case are important, but not the whole story. You may recall that Amber was a white female police officer who entered what she thought was her apartment to find Botham, a young black man, sitting on her couch. Thinking he was an intruder, she fatally wounded him. Later it was revealed that it was in fact not her apartment. She entered Botham’s home where he was unarmed, sitting on the couch eating ice cream.
I believe the lesson here is forgiveness. At the sentencing hearing, Botham’s brother Brandt, in his victim impact statement, told Amber that he loved her as a person, wanted only the best for her, and offered his forgiveness for her actions that had ultimately taken his brother’s life. Brandt then asked permission to hug the defendant Amber. Gasps, tears and sniffles filled the courtroom during their oneminute embrace.
What struck me most deeply in this tragic story was young Brandt. How could someone forgive the murderer of a loved one? How could an 18yearold have such wisdom? He said it repeatedly in his statement…God. It was clear that his Christian faith has so strongly shaped this young man and his values. He understood that God would forgive her, and that he should too. I wonder if I could do the same thing. Could I offer forgiveness to someone who hurt me so deeply?
To this point in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus is revealing the secrets of the kingdom of God. We’ve had the Beatitudes back in chapter six followed by his teachings on the dangers of wealth, the importance of denying oneself, and thinking as God does. In today’s parable, Jesus offers another insight: God’s mercy and the necessity of forgiveness. Grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness not only describe the kingdom of God in heaven, they are also the keys to God’s kingdom on earth and how to live a happy life now.
Today’s gospel holds us to a higher standard in God’s kingdom and teaches us about the freedom that comes with forgiveness. Nelson Mandela said it well: “Not forgiving someone is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die.” The resentment, anger, pain, and grudges we harbor only bind us. Only when we ask God’s forgiveness and we forgive others can we make space for God’s grace and mercy in our lives, thus in turn our transgressor’s life.
The rub is in the place of forgiving and not forgetting. Forgiveness is not forgetting nor condoning but an opportunity to learn a lesson and more about ourselves and another. This is the place of growth and transformation and to encounter Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice for our forgiveness.
I am praying for you, not simply that you weather these days, but that you triumph over adversity, that you not merely endure each other, but that your capacity for love becomes ever more like Jesus’ own, and that when faced with great financial or emotional difficulties, you find the strength you need each day.
It’s probably long past time for an update on what has been happening. So, I am sending this message because there are some coming Mass time changes, a new entrance to the parking lot, and new paving.
New Mass Schedule: The days are getting shorter, and although the summer’s warmth endures, we know that, too, will change. On the first weekend of October, we will begin the following schedule:
As before, all parishioners, including priests and deacons, will wear masks covering their mouths and noses. State guidelines permit us to wear face shields in addition to facemasks, but not in place of them.
New parking lot entrance: At long last, our new entrance on Arboleda Road will be open this weekend. This will allow parishioners travelling east on Upland Road to turn left into the parking lot at both entrances. It will also permit both right and left hand turns, when exiting, at both gates. The new parking lot in the back is also available for parking for Mass on the Grass.
Parking lot paving: I am sorry for all the inconvenience over these months. It is not quite over. Our parking lots require maintenance. On Wednesday through Friday, September 23rd — 25th, different sections of the parking lot will be closed for resurfacing. There will always be parking available for morning Mass those days, but the walk will probably be longer than usual on some of them.
As you can see, the parish is not “closed.” We carry on together in spirit, even when not in the same place. The church survived the Black Death, when one in three people in Europe succumbed. We will by the grace of God, continue to encounter Jesus and be His disciples, even in our own challenging times.
1920 - 2020
Friday, September 18
Padre Serra Parish
It’s a curious line, in today’s Gospel: “… treat him as you would a Gentile or a tax collector.” Brothers and sisters sin against each other with some frequency. What are we to do when sinned against, offended, hurt, or emotionally bleeding? Sometimes people regret their own offenses, often as soon as the transgression takes place. Some do not. What do we do then? Should we just let our hurt lie there, unresolved? Should we make an issue of it? Should we rage against those who cut us? Should we sulk or withdraw in hurt?
The stages Jesus sets before us make profound sense. First, and sensibly, try to resolve things quietly, just between the two of you. Not every good intentioned individual is also sensitive. Some, when they discover their words or actions are hurtful, will be truly repentant. It may take some explanation for them to understand the consequences of what they’ve done. If there is any good will at all, and there often is, calm explanations will work better here than angry finger pointing, irony or guilt making. This approach of the Lord has the advantage of not shaming the other publicly.
Second, when a quiet conversation fails to work, bring in witnesses, where possible. This can be a necessary stage since some, even those of general good will, fail to listen to people close to them, family or friends. Familiarity can breed deafness as well as contempt. The practice of drawing in two or three witnesses draws upon the requirement of Deut 19:15 and Num 35:30 that, for any serious offense, the testimony of multiple witnesses was required. Having a few others, somewhat more distant, may lead your offending siblings to hear the weight of their actions in a new way.
Third, consult with the church. I’m often drawn into some of the most painful family situations, to listen and provide counsel. Sometimes the distance I have from the situation, and the freedom I have from the deep emotions poisoning people’s relationships, provide me with the clarity needed to intercede without heated passions, but with sympathy. I haven’t saved every marriage, or resolved every parent/child dispute, but I have been helpful for many.
Then, and only then, when even the intervention of the church fails, comes the curious encouragement to treat the offender as we might “a Gentile or tax collector.” In Matthew’s world, they were the outsider born in sin, the irredeemable foot soldier of Rome’s financial oppression.
Do you have a way of treating Gentiles and tax collectors? I know I don’t … and that may be the very point. I have no expectations of tax collectors. Perhaps the invitation is to address, not the offender, but myself. If I can’t change my “brother” then, perhaps, I’m going to have to change myself, my own expectations. If my brother or sister can’t or won’t turn from what hurts me, do I continue to give them enduring control over my emotions, denying me peace of mind and happiness? As I have no expectations of “Gentiles or tax collectors,” perhaps I need to have no expectations of my unrepentant, offending siblings.