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Dear Parish Family,

We have ALL been spending more time at home lately. Some of us may relish the chance; most of us are probably “over it” by now; either way, we WILL be spending more time at home over the next six to twelve months! When we crashed into our new reality in March of 2020, there may have been some inadequate planning, to put it nicely. By contrast, there has been a lot of planning for our work-life, and school-life. It is time to focus, once again, intentionally, on our home-life.

There are three Ms (or three Fs - if you prefer) in every solid, stable and Christian home-life. And these three mirror aspects of our communal worship, in other words our liturgy in church together (or remotely.) These 3 are: Mercy, Meditation, and Meal. Or: Forgive, Focus, Feast.

Mass begins with a cry for Mercy: O, Lord have mercy! Then we meditate on the Word of God, and finally we share the heavenly Meal of the Eucharist. Likewise, as we gather in prayer, we turn to the Lord for forgiveness, then we focus on the readings from Scripture and the liturgy climaxes in the Feast of the Bread of Life. Our life together at home needs to benefit from those components as well.

Today in the Gospel, forgiveness is the operative word. How many times do I have to forgive my brother? I am almost certain that the EXACT same words left my mouth growing up. “Mom! He did it AGAIN!” Our life together in the home does not move beyond cold stares without daily fervent forgiveness, plain and simple. So, if you might be holding a grudge or keeping score or biding your time...these tactics are not of the Lord. Our lesson is clear: our good and gracious God is quick to forgive. He understands how deeply we need it, and how it is the first stage to building genuine and deep covenantal love. “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, his merciful love endures for all ages!”

The richness of the Scriptures are accessible to all those who take the time and energy to focus (a bit) and meditate. It may sound daunting but it is easy! The simple question is: Jesus what is your message for me in this passage? One great way to meditate as a family is to read and discuss the Gospel for Sunday during one dinner during the week. Thursdays is Gospel night! Building this habit in the life of your family is very rewarding for those who commit to it. Be not afraid. Beginnings are never perfect. Jesus wants to speak to your family (and to you personally) through his holy Word. Please give him the chance. Daily 15 minutes with the Gospel (from Pope Francis) and weekly reading of the Scriptures as a family are great beginnings on the path to discipleship.

Lastly, feasting - the meal - the best part! The Eucharist is the Medicine of Immortality, the Bread from Heaven, our supersubstantial food, but it is also so important as a family to gather and break bread together. It brought me such joy to be home with family for Labor Day weekend! Communal meals (without technology) - just talking, sharing life, speaking about the day - were a part of my daily upbringing. Now it seems this is a special occasion with the busyness of our lives. Hopefully COVID gives us a bit of time and space to pause and gather as a family around the table. Meals together - focusing on each other’s presence - are so important! In the early Church, often the eucharistic meal was followed by a regular feast, so that the community could be built up in each other’s company. We need to put our phones away and just share some life and some food without each other.

Mercy. Meditation. Meal. Or if you prefer: Forgive. Focus. Feast. These three aspects are essential to healthy family life. It is no coincidence that the holy Mass mirrors these aspects. I hope each OLPH family can grow in whichever area may need improvement.

Stay tuned for the next stage in the Home Life Message Series!

God bless you and your family!
Fr. Wilson

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