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from fathers desk

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From Fathers Desk web

Dear Parish Family,

Last week we celebrated Mass together for Corpus Christi, the Feast Day of the Body and Blood of Jesus; we also began a Message Series on the Sacraments. We have long been without the Most Blessed Sacrament as a parish family and so it seems important to name and deepen the object of our yearning. We hunger for the Sacraments because they are the powerful ways that our heavenly Father bestows his grace upon us.

Last week Tertullian taught us that “the flesh is the hinge of salvation.” It sounds even better in Latin: caro salutis  cardo. Now we can appreciate the play on words: caro, carnis (flesh) and cardo, cardinis (hinge, pivot, axis). The Latin shows Tertullian as a clever teacher developing a phrase that sticks in the brain. From caro we get carnivore or carne in Spanish. From cardo we get cardinal, as in cardinal virtues - the “pivotal” virtues.

My Dear Family,

I am delighted to welcome you back to church this weekend. Today we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi, or the Body and Blood of Christ Jesus, so it is a perfect weekend to gather again and celebrate the Sacrament of Sacraments, to gather around the altar and be fed by the beautiful gift our Lord left us, Himself.

This week we are unfolding a new Message Series. Remember, a message series strives to link homilies one to another by a common theme. Over the next four weeks we shall center on the Sacraments - those beautiful gifts of grace Jesus left His Bride the Church as super channels of his gifts, graces and blessings.

Dear Parish Family,

My heart soars & yet is broken. We are underway to reopen for Masses beginning Monday, June 8th and Sunday Masses next weekend for Corpus Christi! Yet throughout our nation great unrest surges. I have had to turn away with disgust at the news & video of George Floyd’s violent and abusive death, and then again a week later at rioting, pillaging and violence afflicting some of our nation’s cities.

In both cases, the saying “might makes right” comes to mind. Not that it is true but only that in both instances we see those acting who appear to espouse the dictum. The officer appears to believe that the might (violence) he is using is right (justified), and now the rioters, pillagers and thieves also appear to think that their violence is justified. Neither is true.

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.

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend we observe Memorial Day, a time when we remember those who have sacrificed for the greater good of the nation. During this time of pandemic our realization of the true breadth of that number grows. We can see more clearly now - during these days - the nurses & doctors in the fields of our bloodiest war, the Civil War, amputating grizzly limbs from soldiers with little anesthetic. Scars remain on the bodies of young men sent to war against their brothers, but also etched in the minds of those who cared for the wounded and the dead. The sacrifice of war permeated our whole society. It is not merely the sacrifice of the soldier, as heroic as that is, but really the cost paid by the nation. Memorial Day began to recall the great cost of fighting a war.

Dear sisters and brothers,

Experts say it takes 40 days to make a habit. We have been in lock down, since - more or less - March 15th. So, we have passed the 40 day mark. Who’s counting?! In the first few days and weeks of our new temporary reality, things were topsy-turvy like those tea-cup rides down the shore that make me mildly seasick. Do not get on one of those rides having recently consumed a bag of popcorn and a snowcone. Interesting memory!

We are also approaching the holy Ascension, 40 days after the Resurrection, Jesus ascends to our Father to take his seat at the right hand in glory. Normally, we keep the Ascension on Thursday. Many dioceses around the country have transferred the Solemnity to the following Sunday. This year, in the light of the pandemic, we are doing the same. So next Sunday, May 24th will be Ascension Thursday. A Sunday becomes a Thursday…. Ha! Only in liturgical time.

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.