Pastor's Page

Easter Sunday

Dear Brothers and Sisters in our RISEN Lord!

Alleluia!! Let’s say it together… 1 - 2 - 3, ALLELUIA! Our dear Jesus is Risen. While the raising of Lazarus from the dead was an epic miracle, “one for the books,” when the faithful women return early on the first day of the week (what would come to be known as Sunday), they encounter something beyond epic, beyond awesome, beyond earth-shattering. They confront an empty tomb. Not a dead man waiting to be raised, but evidence that the Son of Man is risen from the dead.

In the midst of this pandemic, we have been united to the suffering of Christ in a particular way. This may have been a very fruitful Lent! I hope and pray that it has been for our parish family. So often our sufferings go “wasted” - washed out by complaint, misgiving, or self-pity. “Why me?” is not a helpful question. “Why NOT me?!” is better. We can also spend so much energy wishing our crosses away, rather than offering them up!

Our dear Jesus who has opened a way to salvation through suffering, made sacrifice truly efficacious, by being the priest and victim. His offering set us free, in the deepest sense, a liberation from slavery to sin. And as we gaze about the victory of the empty tomb, with the faithful women who approach early in the morning, we can recognize that true freedom is freedom in Christ, even as we are limiting our lives to essential travel only.

Saint Melito of Sardis paints this reality beautifully in an Easter homily, “For the sake of suffering humanity… he clothed himself in that humanity in the Virgin’s womb and was born a man. Having then a body capable of suffering, he took the pain of fallen man upon himself; he triumphed over the diseases of soul and body that were its cause, and by his Spirit which was incapable of dying, he dealt man’s destroyer, death, a fatal blow.”

For it is in Christ that we are truly free. I have been rereading a beautiful book by Fr. Jacques Philippe, Interior Freedom. He notes that many conceive of freedom as “a life resembling an immense supermarket” where folks stroll through and pick out what they want… (no masks, plenty of TP!) or a huge mail-order catalog (26). Christian freedom is not a range of options, but “in order to become truly free, we are often called to choose to accept what we did not want, and even what we would not have wanted at any price,” (28). Acceptance, consent, and surrender are the keys to freedom in Christ.

Jesus shows us the same in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Not my will Father, but yours be done.” Mary’s heart echoes as she offers herself to the plan of salvation, “let it be done to me according to your word.” A “yes,” a deep acceptance in the moment is the true form of freedom, choosing to receive as given what the present moment holds. Fr. Philippe notes, “We can only transform reality fruitfully if we accept it first,” (35). That means we need to admit who we are, where we find ourselves, and how God is inviting us forward, accompanying us on the journey of life, through the Cross to the glory of the Resurrection.

While we continue to endure the cross of the pandemic, an involuntary sacrifice, and a great involuntary fast from our great spiritual nourishment in the Holy Eucharist, now is the time to take stock, to sift out the essential from the non-essential, to commit ourselves once again to a life lived for others and above all for our Lord and God, the Son of Man, who today stands triumphant over the empty tomb. 

Dr. Mary Healy poses some probing questions for us, “Half the human race is under some form of lockdown, as if suddenly consigned to an involuntary retreat. Have we sometimes failed to honor the Lord by keeping the Lord’s Day? Have we treated Sundays just like any other day, as a time to go shopping, get work done and pursue our own agenda, instead of taking time to deepen our relationship with Jesus and relax with family and friends?” As we long to return to ‘normal’ - what will that new normal look like? And what lessons learned during this time will carry through and endure as newly discovered virtuous habits that conform our lives more and more to Christ?

Times of crisis are times of great potential growth. Today we celebrate that Jesus is on the other side of his crisis and has won the ultimate victory over sin and death. We find ourselves still on the journey of discipleship, invited to ever greater faithfulness and ever greater freedom. Not freedom as the world promises, but liberation in Christ Jesus. For he reminds us, “I came that you might have life and have it in abundance!” (Jn 10:10).

In the light of the Resurrection, we see the victory. Now it is time to be faithful to him, who has been so faithful to us! May our Risen Lord share with us the rich spoils of his victory, the graces to abide in holiness of life!

Your pastor,

Fr. Joel Wilson

 

Stewardship: Yous Guys Rock!

Hard to believe that Easter Sunday marks a month since March 15th, when Mass was optional. Our regular weekly collection total had been hovering between $9-10,000 (first, second, and Givelify.)

On March 15th First Collection: $6,060.73      Givelify: $1,192.00        Total:$7,252.73

On March 22nd First Collection: $1,557.00      Givelify: $1,227.00      Total:$2,784.00 

On March 29th First Collection: $4,750.00      Givelify:$2,363.00        Total:$7,113.00

On April 5th First Collection: $7,100.00       Givelify: $2,548.00      Total:$9,648.00 

That is simply awesome. You have been doing awesome! Our Givelify figures just about doubled. And lots of folks have been dropping their envelopes in the mail slot, or sending them through snail mail.

This has been a HUGE adjustment and a HUGE suffering for you. We appreciate that many in our parish are probably without work, or reduced hours. We also deeply appreciate your sacrificial giving and feel so grateful. Your pastor feels so grateful for all you are doing! I would HUG you… if not for social distancing ;-). 

Many are donating for multiple weeks, or monthly. That is great. It is hard right now to predict a new normal, but we are so grateful for your sacrificial giving!

 

Wellness Calls during COVID19 Pandemic

This week some volunteers began calling a bunch of our older parishioners, just to check in. Since older folks are more likely to suffer more severely from COVID-19, we are calling to make sure you have what you need to practice social distancing. We want to know how things are going for you. I have heard wonderful heart-warming accounts of good chats and deep appreciation. This effort will go on over the course of several weeks, and we hope to check in again!

If we can run an errand for you, we would like to help! If YOU would like to be part of the group who volunteers to run errands, get in contact with Deacon Ron Meyers: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 609.234.0600.

If you think we may have a bad phone number, please call us, and help us update our database. Thank you so much!

And in general, now is the time to look in on our neighbors and to be of service to them, to love them, to see Jesus in them. “Love your neighbor as yourself.” These wellness calls seek to do that, but anyone reading can reach out as well!

 

Let’s stay connected: FlockNote, etc.

We have joined a service called FlockNote. It helps us keep in contact with you. FlockNote works with email and cell phone numbers. To join, simply text OLPHMS (*all caps*) to 84576 to sign up.

A new YouTube channel: “Father Joel Wilson” offers videos, homilies, reflections and updates. Just trying to stay connected! 

We have been doing our best on Facebook too. 

Please take a minute and share with us your updated contact info, so that we can stay connected! Email Theresa: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call 856.667.8850 ext 210. 

 

OLPH Pastoral Council

This year we reinstituted a Pastoral Council for our parish. Currently there are six members: Rosemary Acker, Tom Asher, Donna Marie Clancy, Mike Garofalo, Dawn Morning and Coni Tartaglia.

The Pastoral Council serves as a consultative body to our pastor. As a body, the council is charged with prayerfully discerning parish needs, setting pastoral priorities, and empowering people to participate in the mission of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish. They help the pastor vision for the future and offer valuable advice and connection to the community.

We hope to add 3 new members to the council this Spring/Summer. If you are interested in being considered for the council, please submit a letter of interest and credentials to our Chairperson, Donna Marie Clancy: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

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