From Father's Desk

From Father's Desk

From Fathers Desk web

Dear sisters and brothers,

This Sunday is Mother’s Day! Happy Mother’s Day to all of our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers, stepmothers, and all mother figures in our lives. We honor you. We thank God for you. We love you. This is the first time, I imagine, that large portions of our parish family will not be visiting Mom today.

I have heard tales of mothers in nursing homes. Families coming to visit by the window and sharing a bit of life and a smile, showing their love and affection. As I write this, I am scheduled for a COVID-19 nasal swab test, and I am unaware when the results will arrive, so it is likely my mother and grandmother will be without my mug on Mother’s Day. We cannot take the risk of exposing that household to the virus, especially with my grandmother’s fragile health. Thank God for video chat, but I wonder if an old-fashioned letter to mother telling her how much she means to you might be an even deeper expression of affection during these days. Something to touch and to savor.

Dear Parish Flock,

The last time church was open for Sunday Mass is now 7 weeks ago… feels like forever. It is a great challenge to shepherd the flock entrusted to me while keeping the minimum social distancing, and the church doors locked. Pastors, sheep, shepherds, flocks - hardly any of that can be done while keeping the necessary distance.

Today is “Good Shepherd Sunday .” Each Fourth Sunday of Easter we hear from the tenth chapter of John’s Gospel. As you may recall, Sundays follow a three-year cycle. We hear proclaimed the Gospel of John chapter 10. First verses 1-10, then 11-18, and finally 27-30, in years A, B and C, respectively. So every year on this Sunday, we meditate on these themes. This week in family, John chapter 10 would be worthy of our attention and meditation.

Dear Friends in Christ,

Remember the movie, “Groundhog Day?” Bill Murry lives the same day over and over and over and over. Doesn’t our present reality seem like that! I saw a news clip. Mom asked a child, “Today is Saturday, what is tomorrow?” He replied, “Quarantine day!” Every day is lockdown day. It can be a challenge during these days of new and odd routines to find a meaningful pattern for our existence.

In the Gospel today, we find ourselves on Easter Sunday… again! “That very day, the first day of the week,” Luke tells us. For three Sundays now we have been “stuck” on Easter Sunday - our own version of liturgical groundhog day. Yet the richness of Easter is the reason why we are still “here” on Easter Sunday, trying to soak in the awesomeness of this first new day.

Dear friends in Christ,

Today we celebrate the Second Sunday in Easter, which Saint John Paul designated Divine Mercy Sunday, as revealed by Jesus to Saint Faustina Kowlaska. The Diary of Saint Faustina  makes for great spiritual reading. Today is the great Sunday of mercy showered down throughout the whole world. During these days of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are in need of God’s special grace, favor and love. Mercy is love’s second name, as John Paul once wrote. Just as Jesus gave his life freely on the cross, and even from the Cross forgave the repentant sinner, so too our good Lord is ready to forgive those who bear their hearts to him.

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.

Dear OLPH Family,

A Palm Sunday like no other! We ordered our palms weeks ago. They are in the basement now since we cannot distribute them, to avoid congregating and to honor the wisdom of social distancing.

Each day as I offer holy Mass in an empty church, or nearly empty (for the recorded Masses I need a few key helpers). It strikes me that while I am in the church I am not among the church. Or, rather the church is not with me. As I tend to stress: you are the church! While the building is the church, without you there praying and singing and laughing… and even crying, the building feels like a ghost of its former self. The Most Blessed Sacrament is present, and I have been making holy hours and offering Mass each day, but it is just not the same. And it is more than just being alone… I miss the beautiful roles you play in the worship of our Lord and God. 

I long for the day to be with you again, gathered around our lovely marble altar, to offer the sacred mysteries once again. I hunger for the occasion when together we can receive the holy Eucharist from the Mass and be nourished by the bread of life. I miss not being able to feed you with that super-substantial food that nourishes the soul not the body. And I hope you feel that hunger and longing too! Often when we are without something essential in our lives do we realize how much we miss it. And I miss you. I miss how you worship with me and how together we lift up a pleasing and fragrant offering to our Father. I miss how you help me to be me: your pastor. Pastors need flocks.

Over the past two weeks, we have joined Flocknote: a service that helps us connect with you via email and text. Text OLPHMS (all caps) to 84576 to sign up. I began a YouTube channel: “Father Joel Wilson.” And I am trying to light up FaceBook - even though I don’t care for it too much. But all that is not the same. The virtual world will never supplant the real world… well not for me.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense - Week V

Three Things: Eternal Life - Timing - Faith

We find ourselves in the last week of our Message Series “When God Does Not Make Sense” and I cannot but smile at the perfect timing of these themes chosen before the Corona Virus Pandemic.

During these days, we have so many doubts, concerns, fears & questions. It is easy and natural to ask: God what are you doing?

But first we must admit that we cannot see all ends as God sees them. Instead, we are encouraged to trust and to grow and to mature in our faith with the Lord.

This week is a lot like two weeks ago: obstacles and growth - when we recognized in the Flight from slavery to Egypt that God placed obstacles in the way of his people in order to raise them in a mature faith. God stretches us so that we can be better and stronger servants for him.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense - Week IV

Light in the Darkness

Dear OLPH Family,

“May you live in interesting times!” an ironic turn of phrase from England (purportedly a Chinese curse). Boy are these interesting times?! From toilet paper shortages to school lessons at home, and even the suspension of public Masses: life is full of the unexpected!

One of our umbrella principles during this message series, When God Doesn’t Make Sense, is that our heavenly Father has everything in mind, while we cannot. No surprises for God. Given our limitations, however, it makes sense that God does not always make sense. We have also seen that our Lord expects us to use our freedom for good. And during these days it is especially important to abide by all the public prescriptions to slow the spread of the virus. 

When God Doesn’t Make Sense - Week III

Bumps in the Road of Life

Dear OLPH Family,

Week three of our Lenten Message Series: When God Does Not Make Sense. Today, we are focused on obstacles and growth. We are seeking to make sense of why God seems to place obstacles in our path at times. 

Anything worth doing is not easy. When we witness greatness: excellence on the ballfield, in the concert hall, or even in the kitchen, we can forget all the sweat equity built up over years of dedication and toil to arrive at a moment which appears effortless, but in fact requires - and has required - the greatest of care, effort and attention.

Today in our readings, the Church places before us two examples of obstacles and the stories of resulting growth: The woman at the well and the Israelites in the desert. Let’s focus on Israel here.

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

Making Sense of Suffering and Death

Dear OLPH Family,

Some news we post on FaceBook, when we want the whole world to know! Well, at least all of our “friends.” Other news, we might share only with family. Still other matters may only be confided to a confidant. Today, we gain a real window into Jesus’ identity through a moment shared privately with Peter, James and John - his closest friends.

When we read the Gospels, it is valuable to attend to the audience. Who is Jesus addressing? Who is in the room? Some popular options: the scribes and Pharisees, the crowds, the disciples, the apostles. Sometimes Jesus is out in public; other times he is teaching in a private home; our Lord also purposefully takes people aside for a one-on-one encounter, to speak with them or heal them alone, away from others. (See Jn 4, next week’s Gospel!)