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.
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.
Dear Faith Family,
I hope you are all doing well.
We have had small glimpses of normal life recently. At least for me, normal life showed a small glimpse of itself when live sports began. Not only is it comforting for me to see these events because of my addiction to live sports, but it is also comforting because it reminds me of what life was like before this unfortunate pandemic.
I, like most of you, have found myself to feel a wide range of emotions these past months. I have felt the anxiety that has come with the “new normal,” I have found myself overthinking my relationships with loved ones and I also have felt plenty of doubt when thinking about when this will end.
In this weekend’s Gospel, Jesus explains to His disciples that he will suffer, be put to death and raised on the last day. If I were Peter, I would have also been hyper focused on the whole “suffering and dying” part, just like he did. That’s why I don’t blame him for his response of wanting to save Jesus from this suffering.
Obviously, Jesus set him straight.
While Jesus’ response seems harsh, it is definitely just. How many times in our lives have we focused on just suffering without the positives that God can bring through them? While Jesus did mention his suffering and death, he also explicitly mentions that he will be raised from the dead. How many times in our lives have we focused on the suffering in our lives and have ignored the miracles that are right in front of us?
I know that this time has been difficult. And for all those who have lost loved ones, or have loved ones that are currently sick, you are absolutely in my prayers.
Somehow though, in the face of real tragedy, we have to try our hardest to embrace eternal life and understand that where sin is present, grace is present even more. How do we do this? Somehow, through the virtue of faith, we have to stop “thinking not as God thinks, but as humans do.”
Here we are in late August, nearing the end of a summer unlike any other we have experienced. Many of us pine for the experiences of the previous summer during which graduations, Confirmations, weddings, vacations and other communal gatherings and celebrations were taken for granted, but now seem like a dream. While we have adapted and adjusted to live within the COVID19 pandemic, we have also had to come to terms with our limitations.
Trying to make sense of our present reality, we hear from lots of voices who, exercising some authority, are asking us to make sacrifices and conduct ourselves for the greater good. Unfortunately, not all these voices agree with each other and many offer contradictory views. For many, these conflicting voices and views are not exclusive to elected officials and public health authorities. Sometimes differing views manifest themselves within the smaller circle of family and friends and even within ourselves.
Our gospel today provides us guidance on how to discern the voices we should be attentive to. Jesus asks his disciples (and us) “who do you say that I am?” (Matt 16:15) Peter’s confession that Jesus is the Son of the living God comes not from human authority but from God directly. For Peter to “hear” God, he had to create a space in his heart to be receptive to God’s message. This required him to block out other distracting voices including his own internal voices of doubt. You may recall the gospel from two Sundays ago when Peter tried to walk on the water toward Jesus but started sinking when he doubted Jesus’ message and authority (Matt 14:2233). Jesus commissions Peter to be the rock of his Church not because Peter came up with the correct answer, but because Peter was willing to see past the limitations of human authority and seek the greater wisdom that only God can provide.
Listening for God’s voice amidst our distractions and doubts is not easy. The demands of juggling work, school and family often within the physical confines of isolation within our homes does not seem to allow for any time for us to hear God’s voice. Also, we have become so accustomed to the constant barrage of news and social media that it is difficult for us to spiritually “sit still.” Like Peter, we are invited to listen for the authentic voice of God for the answers that will guide us through the current storm we are experiencing.
Doing this requires setting aside some part of the day for prayer and reflection. This will seem like an impossible task especially for those of you with children at home just starting up the fall term having to start the school year via online and virtual instruction. Bishop Robert Barron, in a homily he shared during a recent Confirmation liturgy, suggested a simple but powerful prayer. Whether you are experiencing a moment of happiness or a time of great challenge, praying “Come Holy Spirit” is an effective way of inviting God into your life.
Over the main doors at the entrance to our Cathedral (Our Lady of the Angels), there is an inscription that reads “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” If that sounds familiar, it’s because it comes from this weekend’s first reading. Here the LORD is telling the Chosen People that foreigners who act justly will be welcomed to his holy mountain and their sacrifices will be acceptable to him. This is just one of many instances in the Hebrew scriptures where the LORD is teaching his people that the door is wider open than they thought; that there are more seats at the table than they knew.
At our mass of dedication in 1995 the song “All Are Welcome” by Marty Haugen was sung, and we’ve sung it occasionally since. It’s a beautiful tune with great lyrics. The 5th verse (which often enough we don’t get to sing because of the length of the entrance procession) says this (emphases mine):
Let us build a house where all are named, their songs and visions heard
And loved and treasured, taught and claimed as words within the Word.
Built of tears and cries and laughter, prayers of faith and songs of grace,
Let this house proclaim from floor to rafter: all are welcome in this place.1
I’m sure we aspire to be the kind of community and church where all truly are welcome, but are we? Do we still have work to do? I think we do. But if our understanding of what it means to be a welcoming inclusive community is still unfolding, we must just keep trying to be better. When this pandemic is resolved and we are able to gather once again, what will it look like? What will it be like?
This brings us to this weekend’s Gospel reading where Jesus is a bit harsh with a Canaanite woman begging for help for her daughter who is in torment. “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.” Eventually Jesus relents and heals her daughter because of the woman’s great persistence and great faith. “But sir, even the dogs eat the scraps that fall from their masters’ tables.”
Some whose wisdom and knowledge I respect have said that this story is evidence of Jesus “growing in wisdom” (Luke 2:52). In other words, his understanding of his ministry, and for whom he was sent grew from just being savior to Israel to having been sent to all people – and it was the Canaanite woman’s “badgering” that helped him to come to that realization. Of course, no one wants to be on the wrong side of a Mama Bear advocating for her child!
That’s not to say that great faith and persistence in prayer are not great values – of course they are. But if Jesus’ understanding of his mission evolved, then we need not be discouraged if ours must also. Then we can sing “All are welcome” and it can be far more than just self-congratulatory. So, let’s “build a house”!
Dear friend on the journey,
During this global pandemic of Covid-19, I heard repeatedly, “At least we’re all in the same boat.” A more accurate rebuttal is, “We are in the same storm, not the same boat.” Everyone’s experience of the lockdown is varied, not necessarily better or worse, just different. My fears of the virus are not the same as my dear friend, a cancer survivor living with type 1 diabetes. An ICU nurse’s experience of the pandemic is not the same as the corporate executive working at home. Same storm, different boats.
In today’s gospel, a storm is overwhelming the boat carrying the disciples across the Sea of Galilee. In the darkest of night, the wind and rain are churning the waves, violently tossing the boat and its passengers. Seeing this from afar, Jesus knows very well how the apostles are feeling. Fear and despair are consuming them. They desperately want safety and comfort. Jesus walks out on the water to meet them in the middle of the stormy sea to encourage them not to be afraid; he is there for them. This gospel offers two messages. In our personal storms, Jesus knows our fears and anxiety and comes to us, offering courage and a refuge of love and grace. The other message is how to act like Jesus by becoming more aware of another’s fears and needs. His actions in this gospel are an example and invitation to us to be his hands, feet and a refuge for family, friends and neighbors in their stormy times.
In the midst of this pandemic storm, there still exists the storms of illness, hunger, poverty, homelessness, addictions, abuse, grief, and right now the storm of racism has intensified. Each storm churns up fear, worry, concern, pain and suffering. If the storm affects one, it affects all because we are all children of God, equally made in God’s image, equally loved by God. Jesus gave us two commands: love God and love each other. They are not mutually exclusive; they are one in the same.
In the storm of racism, as Christian disciples we can no longer be idle and say “it’s not my problem.” Racism in all its forms is a life issue and we are called to respond, not react, no matter the discomfort. This is a big issue so how do we start? A place to begin is by simply learning. Educating ourselves about the issue involves prayer, reading, researching, and listening. Only then can we act with confidence. Remember the boats are different so listening to another’s story is key. Stories can soften hearts, provide deeper insight and generate compassion.
I invite you Tuesday via Zoom to listen to personal stories, really listen with open hearts and minds to the stories of three parishioners, three mothers who parent their children of color with unique challenges, concerns, fears. Page two of today’s bulletin has details or visit our website www.padreserra.org/news/our-truths. Upon registration you will receive an email with the Zoom login.
If you’ve been by the parish at all in the last months, you have noticed that all the construction going on next door has spilled into our parking lot. I thought I’d take a moment to update you on the history of the process and how things are progressing.
To increase the seminary’s endowment, the archbishop, the seminary board and the seminary administration decided to develop St. John’s lemon and avocado groves. They hired Shea Homes to manage the project. This decision affects the parish, as the development borders our campus on two sides.
In the early planning stages architects determined that the best road entrance to the new homes lay immediately west of our property. The city planners foresaw traffic problems if our old exit entered Upland Road right next to Arboleda, the new road. Either the plans for the development had to change, or our entrance needed to move. The archdiocese requested that we cooperate with Shea’s plans and reroute our western exit onto the new road, assisting the development, for the seminary’s sake.
Shea Homes agreed to reconfigure our front parking lot and replant our borders. In compensation for the inconvenience and the extended period of disorder, they also agreed to provide the curbing and paving for an extension to our parking lot in the back of our campus. You will remember our gravel overflow that we only used on holidays! It is currently being developed into an additional parking lot for us. The parish is financially responsible only for lighting and planting the back lot.
These developments will lead to some changes. Our eastern exit will remain the same. However, when we use our rerouted western exit, from our parking lot, we will make a left onto Arboleda using two lanes. We will then come to the new signal they have put in, giving us the opportunity to turn either right or left onto Upland. If you recall, the island in the middle of Upland formerly prevented anything but right hand turns from our old western exit. So this is a positive. This new configuration will also allow car access, for those travelling east on Upland. We will be able to use a left hand turn lane at Arboleda, off of Upland, with a left turn arrow. This should be a marked improvement for us. On the down side, we will lose 4 spaces in the front, but will gain around 70 spaces in the back.
I hope that in the fall, we can resurface the entire church parking with funds coming from the archdiocesan Called to Renew funds. This might be complicated by the pandemic and the stay-at-home orders affecting churches. The archdiocese has made a blanket request of all parishes that we delay all major capital expenses due to the decrease in parish incomes. We will have to see if those funds are still available to us in the months ahead.
Whenever the resurfacing happens, we will be able to add more handicapped spaces in close to the church, the parish offices and the Serra Center. We have needed to do this for some time. We already have the number of handicapped spaces required by the city, but the number is insufficient for the actual number of handicapped parishioners, who arrive early for Mass, only to find every handicapped space already occupied. Since handicapped spaces absorb three regular spaces to make two handicapped spaces, and since city codes require us to maintain a certain number of regular spaces, we had to wait until the construction of additional parking in the back of our property, behind the church.
At this time, both projects are in progress. I am uncertain when they will be completed. It should only be a matter of another month, maybe two. In a certain graced way, the vastly reduced numbers present for Mass, due to the pandemic, has made this less catastrophic a change than I first thought…though the pandemic is calamitous enough.
Dear Faith Family,
I want to thank you for all the support during these difficult times. As you may know, along with our Vigil and Sunday night liturgies, we have been celebrating both First Communion and Confirmation liturgies outside in the courtyard throughout the week. Although the process of planning these brought a lot of anxiety, we have learned that the reward outweighs the difficulties we had to endure.
Obviously, when it comes to Confirmation, we are used to one large liturgy with a bishop celebrating. These outdoor liturgies, although different, have been beautiful in their own special way. While celebrating with all the candidates and their families during the outdoor Mass, this Mass somehow has had a sense of intimacy that is so different than the traditional way we have done it in the past.
I had no idea how bright the glimpse of heaven would be when we started envisioning the outdoor Masses. It is indeed vibrant.
I just wanted to take an opportunity in this letter to thank all those involved in the Confirmation process. Our leaders have been so patient and adaptable during this confusing time. Zoom meetings are difficult, but our leaders pulled through! I am constantly amazed by the servant leadership that our leaders adopt and practice.
I want to thank all of the families for their patience during this process. It would’ve been so easy to lose faith in church programs while everything is up in the air, but it is because of your domestic church that we are able to celebrate these beautiful Sacraments. As you know, church programs are the secondary source of catechesis, the domestic church is the primary source. I am so grateful that you take your faith so seriously within your homes.
Lastly, I want to thank all of the Confirmation Candidates and the recently confirmed. Your patience has absolutely brought our program hope in these scary times. Not just hope that our program can withstand any disaster, but it gives us hope in the parish that our Church is in good hands. I know it’s cliché and you may have heard it many times, but you are not the future of the Church, but you are the Church. Without you, our Church wouldn’t be so vibrant and full of hope. I can honestly say that you are wonderful examples of the faith and that I look up to you all.
Dear Parish Family,
In today’s Gospel, Jesus tells us three parables to describe the Kingdom of Heaven. The wheat and the weeds, the mustard seed, and the yeast. He speaks in parables (stories) because not everyone is ready to hear the truth. Just like when we have something difficult to explain to a child, we choose our words and how much detail we share, especially if we feel it will be perceived as very sad or scary. Jesus spoke to us in the same way; not everyone is ready to hear the truth clearly. This gives us time to absorb and be able to understand what has been revealed to us.
All three parables use commonplace experiences to describe aspects of the Kingdom of Heaven. The parables give us a warning and much encouragement. Jesus’ explanation to the disciples cautions, any effort to judge the progress of the Kingdom of Heaven is premature. As the wheat and the weeds must grow together until the harvest, so we may not know whether our actions contribute to God’s Kingdom until God’s final judgment. With this word of caution in mind, we act always in prayer that our actions will be consistent with God’s plans. How often are we quick to judge others’ behavior and not see our own? To judge and uproot the “weeds” prematurely will harm the wheat; final judgment rests with God.
In the parables of the mustard seed and the yeast, we are consoled by the message that God can work wonders and produce abundance from even the smallest beginnings of the Kingdom of Heaven. Just as a mustard seed — the smallest of all seeds — will become a large bush, so too God will bring His Kingdom to full bloom. As a small amount of yeast will leaven the entire batch of bread, so too God will bring about the expansion of his Kingdom.
This means that even the little things that we do can make a big difference in the lives of others. What are some of the little things that we can do in our family that help to make things better for others?
What exactly is a parable? In C.H. Dodd’s book, The Parables of the Kingdom, he defines a parable as “a metaphor or simile drawn from nature or common life, arresting the hearer by its vividness or strangeness, and leaving the mind in sufficient doubt about its precise application to tease it into active thought.”
In today’s gospel the Parable of the Sower from Matthew would have been contemporary to a Jewish farming culture. Dry, rocky or thorny soil would have been understood as foolish for a favorable future harvest. This parable of the soil teaching by Jesus was offered to the inquiring or non-believing “large crowds because they do not see and hear and do not listen or understand” his prior teachings that the revelation of the Kingdom of God was at hand.
If we “tease” today’s parable into “active thought” we need to ask ourselves are we too part of the “large crowds” Jesus was speaking to who did not see or hear, listen or understand him? Or are we truly a disciple of Jesus encountering him and living his teachings in good soil of our own lives? Maybe we find ourselves at one moment being an inquirer in the “large crowd” and at another time an active disciple living in Jesus.
Contemporary times for us present different types of challenging “soil” to be tilled with good seed. Contemporary dry soil may be our growing and enveloping secular and materialism culture or the challenge of living a life filled with the rocky soil of anxiety, busyness, loneliness, and siren songs distracting us from balance, solitude and silence. Thorny soil abounds with challenging political and cultural divisions, civic unrest, collapse of families, injustices in education, health and economics, and least we forget a pandemic with many deaths and the social and economic effects of the lock down.
Like so many Americans, in the past few months, I've felt confused, fearful, sad, and outraged related to the recent black deaths, peaceful protest being met with police violence, and violent protests causing destruction in major cities across the United States. I've engaged in conversations with family members and friends about the anxieties that we are carrying. During one conversation, my niece stated, "It's different for you. You have Jesus!" To which I wanted to balk and ask, "What difference does that make?" Instead, I took a deep breath and let her continue talking.
At that time, I had no idea that the text for this Sunday included these words of Jesus: "Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart, and you and you will find rest for yourselves. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
During the past few weeks, I've thought about the words my friend said to me, "It's different for you." I've asked myself what Jesus' words about our anxieties and burdens mean in the context of the world of coronavirus and civil unrest.
Today's gospel begins with Jesus praising His Father for revealing to little ones what remains hidden to the wise and the learned. He adds a declaration that the Father has delivered into His hands all power, authority, and judgment. He knows all our weaknesses and that sometimes the little strength we have can fail us. Therefore, He invites us to offload all our problems on Him and in return, He will give us His yoke, to learn from him, which is easy to bear and light. Jesus tells us that in Him, we will find rest.
Don't we all seek this deep-down sense of peace, of healing, of rest and refreshment? Why do we struggle along with so many things? We often do, though. We forget to pray. We forget to turn to Jesus and give Him our cares and concerns, our worries, our heartaches. We carry them like weights sometimes on our shoulders, disturbing the peace of our hearts. Jesus said, "learn from me", and this is excellent advice.
His life was founded in prayer. We, too, need to revive our prayer life. In a single moment, God can impact the grace we need to handle the things that cause us the most heartache if we only give him half a chance.
Some of us have had our coronavirus birthdays and wedding anniversaries. Too many young people had covid-graduations – that was not what we wanted for them! Celebrations on Zoom are fine, and very worth doing. Drive-by revelries are SO much more festive, but both of these leave something unfulfilled. Today, we have our own great parish event to remember and celebrate, most certainly in a way less than it deserves. So, my dear Padre Serra parishioners, happy 25th Anniversary of our church building to you!
Twenty-five years ago, on July 1st, 1995, the founding families of the parish dedicated the beautiful church in which we worship. Those of us who came later owe them a debt of gratitude for their generosity, courage and faith. They worked long and hard to raise the money to buy the land and build our campus. They were daring and spirited, designing a beautiful, innovative church in the round, with Chumash and Mission touches, celebrating both our predecessors and our patron saint. Their actions flowed from their deep trust in God, and their admirable willingness to build up the Kingdom, not primarily by building a building, but foremost, by gathering a community. If we can hold onto that sense of kinship in these coronavirus-ridden days, it will be because we stand on their shoulders.
The church that we are celebrating on this anniversary is a beautiful house of prayer, for the praise of God’s name. One of my great pleasures these last ten years is watching people take their first look at the church’s interior. Their reaction is invariably one of pleasure and intrigue. It’s different, and yet its many components work so harmoniously. It both shelters us when we are at prayer, and invites us into contemplation and a rich spiritual experience. Its forms, colors, architectural elements of walls, windows, ceilings and pillars all work together, in an experience of beauty and grandeur, to make an interior experience of God possible.
The great irony of this year, of course, is that the quarantine prevents most parishioners from even coming to our parish home. Even when Masses are possible, most can’t and many shouldn’t come quite yet.
They do say, though, that “absence makes the heart grow fonder.” I’m hoping that’s true for you, that the separation leaves you hungry for the beauty of the church, and even more for the warmth of the community. It really needs to be a combination of both. The shape and configuration of the church invites us into an awareness of, and an appreciation of, one another.
We had all kinds of plans for how we were going to remember. You may remember we asked our founders to share their memories, their participation and their important family events. Our intent, which we’ve had to scrap, was to have some of our pioneers share those moments and light one of the consecration candles in the church for us at all the Masses this weekend. We were also going to have a BBQ, and maybe dance a little in the backyard of the parish…Sigh. The pastor proposes; the coronavirus disposes.
While I usually prefer the scripture readings of the day as the subject when it’s my turn to write this letter I find this time that it’s Father’s Day, and specifically some of what my dad taught me that are on my mind. Perhaps some of what is in the day’s readings will connect.
I’m not a perfect dad by any means, nor, in spite of my best efforts, a perfect grandfather. It turns out I wasn’t a perfect son either. For that matter – spoiler alert – my dad is also imperfect. But I remember as a young boy when my dad was with me in a challenging situation, I always felt protected. The middle part of today’s first reading has the prophet Jeremiah (after complaining about how he is mistreated as a result of his obedience to God by all who surround him) expressing complete confidence in the Lord:
But the LORD is with me, like a mighty champion: my persecutors will stumble, they will not triumph.
This is how I hope those of us who are dads and grandfathers are experienced by those we try to love and nurture and protect, at least in our best moments. For those whose fathers did not give you that gift, know that Jesus, the perfect son of the perfect father grieves with you. And he asks his Father to be with you, to be your mighty champion.
One lesson my dad taught me early on was to always be the first to apologize, the first to ask forgiveness, because restoring the relationship is more important than being right. Dad didn’t just preach this, he lived it, and modeled it, time and time again.
I have tried to treat my kids and grandkids the same way (in fact, I hope I treat everyone that way). God knows I’ve had lots of opportunities to apologize and try to repair relationships. I’m grateful for my dad’s humble example as a way forward, over and over again.
But what about when I am in the right, when I am truly the one who “has the right” to be offended? I’ve found that to be hollow comfort or none at all, compared to reconciling with the other person. Often when I make the first conciliatory move, then we can talk honestly about whatever the conflict was in an atmosphere where the tension and anger have been discharged. But not always. Sometimes I, or the other person, just can’t or won’t have that conversation. In that case, I’ve been taught to pray for the other person and not that God “change” them to suit me. Then the resentment which poisons only me when I carry it can recede and I can be free. Do I do this perfectly, every time? Not at all. But it’s a path my dad (and other mentors) have taught me that I’ve found useful, so I share it with you.
Dear Faith Family,
It has been more than 80 days since we have had to shut down the world. I don’t know about you, but whenever I look at the number, it is quite surreal. 2020 has been a difficult year with a lot of changes we have had to make in multiple facets. The world looks different right now, some for the better and some for the worse, and it has brought plenty of challenges to us as individuals, our families and to our nation.
Sometimes it is hard for me to grasp the idea of God (like everyone else, I’m sure). But in moments of clarity I realize that our God is not a shape-shifter, but is an eternal God of mercy and justice that never ceases to change. In times of weakness, I find comfort in the fact that our God never changes. He will always love and always yearn for us.
We need our God not to change, but we need to allow Him to change our world right now.
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus expresses that he is the Bread of Life. When those who heard started to become appalled, Jesus did not change his stance, but he doubled down. Christ never wavered when it came to the importance of the Eucharist, he never changed the plan to dwell with us physically, and he never will.
A lot of us have been unable to receive Communion for a while. There is a strong sense of yearning for the Sacrament within our community and Catholics everywhere. Since we haven’t received Christ in the Eucharist in a while, does that mean we are lacking in grace? The answer is no. There is so much power in the Eucharist that you received before this pandemic and it would be a shame to not recognize that Christ dwells with you because of that Eucharist and that he won’t cease to do so.
Yearning for the Eucharist is good. Yearning for the eternal God is very much imprinted on our souls. Let us remember that the yearning will help us have a more vibrant experience in this intimate Sacrament.
Dear friends on the journey,
Have you ever been amazed, or even baffled, by the deep love someone has for you? Or received a gift so unexpected that you are mystified by the thoughtfulness and love behind it? Got it in your mind? How did you respond? Did you see that person in a new way? Did their love cause you to act differently, and not by way of reciprocation but because their love just changed you?
Now multiply that love by a gazillion. That is God’s love for you and his gift to you is Jesus, the way of salvation. Today’s gospel is John 3:16, probably the most quoted and known scripture passage of all time. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” God’s love is manifested in gifts to us. At the beginning of salvation history, God gave us the earth and all her creatures and plants to enjoy. Through the chosen people, the Israelites, God called us into a covenantal relationship. Then God’s ultimate gift of Jesus fulfilled the covenant and brings us believers back to God’s self to live a glorious eternal life.
As Christians, our salvation comes through belief that Jesus is our way to eternal life. I have known this intellectually but to be quite honest, it wasn’t until my Fundamental Theology class at the seminary five years ago when I had a profound moment that my heart just suddenly knew it. I truly felt God’s love for ME and knew that Jesus died for ME. When our hearts know it, our natural and only response is to live it by being the best Christian we can be and sharing that reality with other.
Our response is to see the world as God sees it, to see all of God’s creation as good, to love others just like God loves us and be in relationship with one another. It sounds simple but to our human eyes and hearts it can be much more complex. Focusing on the cultures and peoples that please us is much easier but dangerously comforts us. Relating to and loving the others becomes more difficult or impossible.
We are not seeing much love these days. News and social feeds are filled with images of death, hate, destruction, and division. From Covid-19 to acts of racism to looting to earthquakes to our own personal traumas, we are suffering and hurting. We are frustrated and angry. What do we do with all of us this?
I think we take it step by step. First, we care for ourselves. Sit with our thoughts and feelings, taking it to God in prayer then listening. Embody scripture especially today’s gospel and second reading: “mend your ways, encourage one another, agree with one another, live in peace, and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss.” We remember that we are called to act with love, patience, kindness, humility, compassion, and empathy. We remind ourselves that the God made every human being beautiful and good, in a wide array of color, voices, and smiles among many cultures, foods, dances, and traditions. All life is sacred, and no one should be left behind to be sick, hungry, homeless, devalued, dehumanized, discarded.
My Dear Fellow Parishioners,
Today, fifty days after Easter, we celebrate Pentecost Sunday which marks the end of the Church’s glorious Easter Season. What a strange season it has been as we isolate ourselves in our homes and celebrate Mass via livestream! Under normal circumstances, today also would have marked the end of the initiation process (RCIA) for those who would have been initiated at the Easter Vigil. Alas, they are still awaiting the day when it will be safe to gather in the church building again to celebrate baptisms, Confirmations and the reception of Eucharist. Also longing for the sacraments are our First Communion and Confirmation candidates and the parents of little ones waiting to be baptized. Let us hold them all in prayer that they do not become discouraged, rather that this time of anticipation will bring its own unique graces.
Pentecost is also considered the “birthday of the Church” as described in our first reading today from The Acts of the Apostles. This year, sequestered in my home with my husband for fear of COVID-19, I can relate more than ever before to the account of the disciples hiding for fear of meeting the same death as Jesus. Yet, with the coming of the Holy Spirit whom Jesus had promised to send as an Advocate, we hear that their fear was replaced by a fervor to spread the Good News of Jesus who is Messiah and Lord, crucified and risen.
Reflecting on all this, I feel a connection between the Church’s first birthday at Pentecost and the rebirth of the Domestic Church (the Church lived in our households) that we see re-surging under the guidance of the Holy Spirit during the current pandemic. On the parish website, Facebook and Instagram pages you can see photos of home prayer centers (little altars), children working on their Faith Formation lessons under the guidance of parents or older siblings, and (most importantly) families participating in, not just watching, Sunday Mass livestreamed from our parish church. Some households are making banners, posters or sidewalk chalk drawings to thank the delivery people serving them. In many various ways we are witnessing the Good News to one another in our homes and in our neighborhoods.
Last words can mean so much to us. When I sit down with a family to talk about a deceased family member, they will occasionally tell me they thought their mom or dad waited for someone to arrive before passing on. Sometimes they tell me the deceased’s last words. It seems so significant when a family member or friend says, just before dying, “I love you,” or “I forgive you,” or “I’ll still be with you from the far side.” We cherish these kinds of last things. They resonate like tympani in our hearts.
In that spirit, it is so very important for us to attend carefully to Jesus’ last words: “All power in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age.”
His communication starts with power – if the Father gave all authority to him, then we must attend to his last command. “All authority” includes power over us. We’re left free, but if we’re wise, we’ll listen carefully and obey. We are told to “go.” We’re not to be static, but on the move. Complacency is insufficient. Sleepiness can only be temporary. Naps may be cherished, but they can’t rule our lives. The camino of fidelity to our Lord is calling, and we have to follow.
And then we get to the heart of Jesus’ last directive: “Make disciples of all nations.” He doesn’t ask us either to be, or to make, demanding consumers who come to church expecting to be entertained. He doesn’t look for blind obedience. He doesn’t seek people who will say that they are Christian, or who will choose only the most shallow forms of observance. He’s looking for people who will take their faith to heart and act. Disciples work to grow in their understanding and application of their faith. Disciples are active doers, servants of the Lord, and ministers to the broken world around them. Ultimately, if we accept that Jesus has all authority, as he claims, then we can’t be content until “all nations” have been taught to observe all that he has commanded, until “all nations” are caring, active and living as disciples, imitating Jesus’ words and actions.
The parish mission statement embraces this Gospel with enthusiasm: “Encounter Jesus. Be disciples.” The first invitation, “encounter Jesus,” stands on the truth that everything begins and ends with Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega. Encountering him is much more than simply “knowing” him. I knew many people in my doctoral studies, who knew all kinds of facts about Jesus, but in spite of their academic pursuits, lost their faith. All their knowledge was for naught. “Encounter Jesus” means to dive into the experience of the sacraments. It requires us to pray, and invites contemplation. It leads to a relationship that is real, accompanying Jesus in all our activities. This will inevitably lead us into a loving bond, for to encounter Jesus is to love him. When we, in fact, love him, we make it about him, and not ourselves.
And there is where we become disciples, actively imitating Jesus in our daily lives. He fed people; so do we. He healed, taught, and answered his world’s questions; so do we. He accompanied others and comforted them in their struggles; so do we. He laid down his life for the sake of a broken world that crucified him; so must we, hard as this one is.
Twenty eight years ago, at just about this time, I was out in the garage looking for something when I came across some of Terrie’s things. She had died that January and I was still struggling with her loss. It triggered what was a persistent questioning and struggle for me at that time. Life was not supposed to be like this. Why did she have to suffer with and die of cancer? Why do I have to go through this? The grief group that I was a part of helped me to navigate through this pain and suffering. We were a diverse group of individuals of similar ages, different backgrounds, different faiths or none at all. Although the suffering we experienced was not equally distributed, in this community the one thing that that we all had in common, however, was the loss of a spouse. We were able to remind each other that we were not the only broken hearted people in the world and the pain of loss so present in our lives was not ours alone. As I looked into the box I found some of the crafts Terrie had made. There were hair bows and other things she had made that helped her to rediscover the beauty in the world and in her own life in the midst of incredible struggle with cancer over which she had no control. In the midst of her own suffering she found a way to find joy and beauty. She found a way to share that joy and beauty with others around her.
I find that the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting shelter in place restrictions bring back some of those same feelings. Why do so many have to suffer with and die of as a result of this virus? Why do I have to go through this isolation and being closed off from so many of the things that I find life giving? The gentle reminder from so many years ago returns as well: We are not the only broken hearted people in the world and the pain of loss so present in our lives is not ours alone.
The gospel today calls out to remind us of the presence of the Spirit. “You know the Spirit, because the Spirit remains with you, and will be in you.” The fact is that hardly anything in life turns out the way we expected it to, and we are so often ready to write life off as too difficult and retreat. But we all must be willing to take a moment to recognize the presence of the Spirit that remains with and in us. Stretch to find the beauty that surrounds us in the midst of suffering and struggle. This may be in simple things like finding some rocks and painting them and adding our own design; perhaps it’s playing a musical instrument; maybe it is spending some time in prayerful silence and deep listening. It doesn’t matter that we lack any artistic talent, musical ability, or even a sense of deep spirituality. It is a willingness to be open to the spirit within.
Dear Family in Christ,
My late mother was everything a mother should be—loving, caring, watchful, protective—until I reached adolescence and started having opinions of my own. From that point on she was incapable of releasing me to make my own decisions, and our adult relationship was difficult. Our society’s ritual of selecting Mother’s Day cards put me in an annual moral dilemma. I could spend an hour searching through the card selection at Target or CVS trying to find a message that didn’t make a liar out of me. “The best mother in the world” and “You were always there for me” just didn’t cut it. One year I sent her flowers instead, and she refused delivery. Sometime during my youth, I discovered I was better off relying on God for my motherly nurturing.
My mother and I never abandoned our relationship, as difficult as it was. Near the end of her long life it became necessary for me to mother her, but along the way I found others who lovingly nurtured me. Older and more experienced friends gently coached me how to be a wise mother to my own children, and members of the church taught us all by example how to hold one another close and to let go when appropriate.
But the one who has constantly held me and truly mothered me from my birth has been God. Scripture, Christian tradition, and our own experience teach us that God’s love, comfort, and care know no bounds. In Isaiah 66:13, the Lord tells Jerusalem, “As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.” Jesus’ lament over Jerusalem illustrates a mother’s concern as he says, “How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings.” (Luke 13:34 and Matt. 23:37) Early Christian mystics speak of the maternal nature of God. Julian of Norwich describes God as both Father and Mother: “As truly as God is our Father, so truly is God our Mother.” Anselm of Canterbury describes Christ as “the great Mother” who comforts the frightened with gentleness. And every recent pope since John Paul I has made some reference to the value of understanding God as a mother.
We are God’s children, and God knows how to protect us, where to correct us, how to guide us, and when to let us learn from mistakes. God wants us to explore and learn and love, and God is always there to kiss our booboos and put bandaids on our knees when we fall off our bikes. Give thanks to God—the source and embodiment of motherhood!
Dear Padre Serra Family,
This weekend, May 2 and 3, 2020, was to be the wonderful celebration of First Holy Communion for our Faith Formation children. They have been readily preparing for their sacraments for almost two years now but the current situation in our community and across the globe has rearranged our schedules. We in Faith Formation completely understand the concept of altered plans (almost daily!), and often have a Plan B or Plan C if needed. Yet, the past weeks have the formation staff taking a few steps back and allowing the Holy Spirit to influence our creative abilities so that we can continue to share the Catholic faith via the Gospel stories.
Today in John’s Gospel, Jesus portrays a true image of daily life to illustrate the depth of his desired relationship with us. He reminds us that He is the shepherd: “Amen, amen, I say to you ... Whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.” (John 10:1-10) Amen, amen, truly, absolutely, yes! How emphatically He tells us that we belong to Him! “The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out ... they recognize his voice.” Just as the relationship of a shepherd to his sheep is personal, so is our own relationship to Jesus through the Holy Eucharist. The fact that we cannot physically partake of the sustenance that is the bread and wine become body and blood does not exclude us from the First Sacrament, Jesus. Our good shepherds here on earth, Pope Francis, Bishop Gomez, Father Patrick and others, entreat us to enter a deeper spiritual communion with God, present in the Blessed Sacrament. The Lord wants to remain with us in the Eucharist, and therefore, we become the tabernacle, carrying Him with us.
And if we do not understand Jesus as our Shepherd, the Gospel continues and tells us He is also the gate. The ideal image of a good and caring shepherd becomes even more evident when we learn that it was customary for the shepherd to sleep on the ground across the threshold of the sheepfold in order to protect his flock. In other words, a watchful shepherd became, literally, the gate. Jesus is not any door, but THE door through which all people come to the Father. “Whoever enters through me will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture ... I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” What a gift Jesus offers to us — the opportunity of eternal life with Him! He has created a picture of total freedom, coupled with total security. We need only to recognize his voice and desire his presence in our hearts to be truly united.
Persist in your warm prayers for our First Communion children and adults through their ongoing preparation. I humbly request that Padre Serra parishioners wear a white garment today, not only to continue celebrating the glorious Resurrection of Jesus, but as a reminder of our own Baptisms and First Communions. When our faith family returns to communal liturgy within our sacred walls, it will be as if everyone is receiving Jesus for the first time in the Eucharist!
Dear Faith Family,
I hope you are doing well. I know times are difficult and it may be hard to find silver linings throughout the quarantine, but even if we cannot see it, God is still at work.
For years as Youth and Young Adult Minister here at Padre Serra, I have been incredibly blessed to minister to hundreds of youth and young adults. I know it is cliché, but it’s absolutely true when I say that they minister to me as much as I minister to them. They have made my faith more real and I am blessed to have encountered so many examples of young people pursuing Christ and becoming disciples.
I’m not sure about you, but I tend to fall under the trap of exploring my faith mostly at church functions.
Whether it’s Mass, gatherings with other youth ministers or the events that we run at Padre Serra. While these are important to our faith lives, this quarantine has got me thinking about the importance of the Domestic Church. I mentioned silver linings, this may be one of them; through this quarantine, I have learned to bring my faith home in a new way.
We are blessed to have Mass livestreamed, thank you to all of you who have tuned in, and in Youth and Young Adult Ministry we have been very active with digital gatherings, trying to keep to the norm before all of this mess. My challenge though, since we are adhering to social distancing, is who to share the good news with beyond the Church event. What better place to do this than at home?
I am lucky to say that my family’s prayer life at home has been more intentional than ever. Like all of you, my family and I are yearning for the day where we can gather in person again, but somehow, even without being able to physically be at church, a new spirituality has been on my heart. I truly believe that by allowing God in our homes in a more intentional way, we will continue to make disciples of all nations, even if we are stuck at home.
Again, I know things are difficult. Just the thought of the amount of Zoom meetings I’ve had make my eyes hurt. But I promise you it is not without benefit! When Christ commissioned his Apostles to spread His good news, what was the major step? To gather in homes to allow the Holy Spirit to dwell within them. This is such a great opportunity to strengthen our homes with grace.
I promise when we do that, the next time we all get to receive Communion together, we will be more joined in community than ever!
Dear friends on the journey, Here we are on day 31 and 5th Sunday of quarantine. What we’re living right now seems like a movie doesn’t it? For our family, comedy might be the best description and I suspect there’s not too many living a romance. I’ve heard several people compare their experience to a science fiction film and even Groundhog Day. Perhaps for others it might parallel horror, suspense, adventure, crime, drama, fantasy, mystery or satire. No matter the movie genre, this pandemic and our stay-at-home response is something surreal, unbelievable and unprecedented. We’re all wondering if this is for real. Everyone is locked in their homes in comfy clothes, only going out for groceries. Masks and gloves are wardrobe musts. Essentials are the basics for survival. School and graduations canceled. Telecommuting to work. And our liturgy is now on YouTube! It’s certainly an emotional roller coaster with ups and downs, fears and joys, calm and frenzy, tears and laughter, and everything in between. We are living moment to moment, not knowing what will happen next.
Today’s gospel story about Jesus’ post resurrection appearance to the disciples in the locked room is also a roller coaster of emotions from fear and worry to doubt. They are filled with disbelief and uncertainty, likely wondering if the recent events were real and what was going to happen without their teacher. Then Jesus appears to them and they rejoice, three times he offers peace, gives the Holy Spirit to them, and sends them out to be believers and to forgive. Then Jesus challenges their belief. Does it come only from their seeing Jesus in person?
This gospel’s message is for us as well. Now more than ever, we need Jesus’ peace. We need belief and the Holy Spirit to get us through this time. Only Jesus can give us this peace and he offers it every day. It’s our response that will make a difference, especially when we have no certainty of the immediate future. I have found much hope, comfort and peace in this time of quarantine and see the Holy Spirit at work. Here is where social media has shined for me. Seeing stories of courage, charity given, appreciation, gratitude, humanity at its best. I am beyond proud of our parish for acting so quickly to live stream Mass, to be willing to shop for seniors, to make wellness calls, to donate food, to give generously so the parish can stay afloat.
So today I encourage all of us to rely on our faith that Jesus has us. Rest in his peace that with him and through him, we will come out on the other side stronger and better. Lean on the belief that the Holy Spirit is working and look for even her small, simple movements in our lockdown. Celebrate them. Take comfort that the disciples who were locked in that room in fear and disbelief eventually came out stronger and better and with greater conviction.
The coronavirus has gripped us in its teeth, and within only weeks, left many with the sense that it would never end. We remember the pleasures of everyday life, often take so much for granted: trips to the store without fear, time spent in crowds, the hugs of friends, our children’s soccer games, crowded concerts, noisy restaurants. Is it possible to miss crowded restaurants? We can’t pretend it’s not happening, yet…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
Every generation, throughout human history, has its own story to tell about death and rebirth, be it rooted in financial ruin,
warfare, flood or drought, tornado, violence, tyranny…or plague. Our greatest struggles all too often, betray our weaknesses: we become frightened or rebellious against restraints, we hoard, we struggle with authorities making decisions for us, we grow angry and aggravated with the people we live with, our friends, family and neighbors. Familiarity (and forced enclosure) breeds…aggravation. We can’t pretend it’s not happening, yet…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
Jesus experiences the Passion first, death second, and only then renewed life and reunion with the Father in the Ascension. So, even on this otherwise joyful day, when we are experiencing a national passion, where many have died and many are still dying, there remains the hope of renewal and reunion, with family and friends, and with Jesus. This too may happen…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
On the other hand, our resistance to the crisis also helps us grow immensely when, through self reflection, we refine our rough edges and recover from our relationship problems. Through our struggles, we grow stronger and find clarity as we seek new visions and purpose for our lives. How much more life giving that rebirth is when coupled with the intimate experience of God’s presence, giving renewed meaning to our sufferings, accompanying us in our struggles, and giving our hearts reason for rejoicing. This growth, too, is happening…
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
If I can give you any encouragement in this confused, unwell time, it would be to in the face of an uncertain future. It would be to cherish small joys, celebrate courageous actions and be grateful for the generous help of the essential services going on around us. Don’t wait for a trouble free, coronavirus free, aggravation free time to live fully. Choose happiness. Choose family and friends. Choose your neighborhood. Choose your co-workers. Choose life.
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen! And he would have us rise, too, both here and now, from our covid ridden weeks, and on into eternity.
My prayers are, of course, for your health, for a strong trust in God, and for an Easter that is joyfully full of the people who matter to you, whether in person, or on the phone, or the internet.
Jesus is risen – He is truly risen!
This is written for submission fourteen days before it will be published. What a significance that number of days has become for us and for our global community. We have only to look across The Pond to see where we will be two weeks from the day you read this. Sometimes it causes me to tremble, tremble, tremble. It is something many of us have never seen, many are not now seeing, and many will not see.
“See you on the other side” is a phrase I have seen in print among the Tweets I follow in my attempt to understand from the epidemiologists, immunologists, historians and others who analyze factual data in my quest to confront FEAR, which I see as False Evidence Appearing Real. The ambiguity of whether the phrase pertains to the other side of this crisis or the other side of a transformed life; yes, even a resurrected life does not escape me. However, for me having knowledge of what is ahead allays fear. Both the angel [28: 5] and Jesus [28: 10] say, “Do not be afraid,” then they follow up with information as to what is ahead of the listener. So, it is with the Gospel readings of this day. The followers are told what lay ahead.
In the Gospel of the Procession, “... you will find an ass tethered ...” and instructions as to where to go and what to do. Throughout the Passion Jesus is telling his people what to do, who will do what, and what is to come. A drama unfolds. Certainly, I jumped ahead to Easter in the preceding paragraph, but the conclusion of that drama is important to me in the passion in which we are today involved. I quote from the Gospel reflection offered in Living Liturgy,
“There is a mob mentality at work and it should give us pause, not only for what happened in Jesus’ day but for how such actions continue today. False testimony, deceit, betrayal, even physical force and violence leading to death are prominently on display. The crowd, humanity itself, is only too eager to believe the worst, to mock, taunt, scourge, and kill the incarnation of love itself ... The response demanded by God of humans is faith. When faced with deceit, lies, violence, and death, God has another way, and we are invited to enter into this new way of life.”
In the unprecedented absence of an Easter Vigil, we pray especially for our Elect, whose initiation has been delayed, yet are invited into this new way of life in Baptism. May our faith lived out exemplify this new life to them.
I sense The Way of the Cross will be unprecedented for us even beyond Easter. May the LORD be present in our kindness and compassion. May we all be Cyrenians and live out the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy. May we heed and give credence to the experts in the areas of health, safety, and security of our collective well-being.
Pray for Father Patrick, all spiritual and civic leaders that they convey a global community, compassion, humility and hope. Pray for those who put themselves at risk for the sake of our health and security. Pray for the sick and dying we know and those no longer strangers due to our common suffering. Pray for those who have died before us. Continue to love one another as Jesus loved.