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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

Dear Parish Family,

Remember where you were this time last year? I do! Eating lamb chops and running around the parking lot making sure everyone was having a good time. It was our 100th Anniversary Parish Celebration. Bishop O’Connell presided over a glorious Mass. The church was full and the party afterwards was a tremendous sign of the love that knits our parish family together.

I also celebrated 10 years of priesthood. I offered my first Mass, by God’s grace, on the Solemnity of Pentecost, which perfectly corresponds with this year’s calendar. So, the same date -- May 31st - in 2009 and in 2020 occurs on the same day on both secular and liturgical calendars. Today is Pentecost, the day to focus on the Holy Spirit and the Birthday of the Church.

A while back now someone commented to me: “Father, it all seems to be about Jesus. We don’t focus on the Father or the Spirit.” I think that can be true. The culmination of the Liturgy of the Word is the Gospel and Jesus is surely front and center in the Gospels. The Father and the Spirit can take “a back seat.” Today we focus on the Spirit, and given the fact that the Holy Spirit animates and vivifies the Church, more focus is warranted.

In Acts today , we hear that from the sky a strong driving wind filled the house, and then “tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues, as the Spirit enabled them to proclaim.” Many images of the Holy Spirit belong to our tradition: the dove, wind, water, fire, a cloud, the dewfall. Many of these ways of referring to the Spirit are nebulous and ephemeral, not capable of being touched or grasped. Something that would slip through our fingers, but simultaneously a recognizable presence. One never doubts the presence of dew or fire, even if it cannot be captured. The Holy Spirit is like that: present and yet full of freedom and movement.

One of the principal roles of the Holy Spirit is unity, what theologians call communio, koinonia or sobornost. The Spirit is the harmonizing and binding presence in the Church. The Spirit unites while the evil one divides. The Spirit leads into truth, while the evil one deceives. The Spirit casts out fear, while the evil one preys upon it. Hence, Jesus breathing on those gathered in the upper room: “Receive the Holy Spirit. Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them, and whose sins you retain are retained.” Sin divides while love unites. The gift of the Holy Spirit forgives and heals the wounds caused by the lack of faith, the infidelity and the cowardice of the disciples. Jesus forgives them as he bequeaths on them the beautiful power of forgiveness.

What always amazes me is the difference between the cowardly disciples huddled in the upper room and the courageous disciples proclaiming the Good News in every language of the surrounding regions. Filled with the Holy Spirit, these are different men! As we begin to reopen our sacred spaces, I pray that the Spirit will guide us, both to be courageous and to work towards the deep unity which is the bond of peace and perfection that unites the Church. May these days not be full of division but of common purpose, concern and goodness. May we all work together for the upbuilding of the Body of Christ, the Church.

Lord, send forth your spirit to renew the face of the earth!

Fr. Wilson