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From Fathers Desk web

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!)

When God Doesn’t Make Sense

My dear brothers and sisters,

On this First Sunday of Lent, we begin a new message series: “When God Does Not Make Sense.” We have all lived through at least one experience when what was happening did not seem in accord with what we understood to be God’s will or ways. We have all struggled to understand the mind of God… and perhaps even cried, “Oh God what were you thinking?” Sometimes, when we say that we mean, “What was I thinking?!” but we will leave that case aside for now.

God's ways are not our ways, as He teaches in the Scriptures: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways—oracle of the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8) Yet this is hardly the only occasion in the Bible where people ponder quizzically the mind of God. Paul lays out the idea starkly, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How inscrutable are his judgments and how unsearchable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord or who has been his counselor? Or who has given him anything that he may be repaid?” (Romans 11: 33-35)

 Lenten Frame of Mind 

Dear Parish Family,

This weekend we are holding a Fat Sunday Supper to express our heartfelt appreciation for all of our volunteers. “It takes a village to raise a child,” and it takes hundreds of dedicated and trained volunteers to make parish life happen. Moreover, these myriad opportunities for service are beautiful ways to live the faith, in our little corner of the world, as I like to say. Some have remarked that they cannot remember the last appreciation dinner. With your help, I would like to make the dinner an annual affair.

The designation “Fat Sunday” means that Lent is quickly approaching. This Wednesday Lent begins with the tradition of ashes (see Jonah 3:6). Ashes are a sign of repentance, an admission of guilt, and the need for mercy. Ashes are the status symbol only of sinners, those who admit they have fallen short of walking in the ways of the Lord. The best way to acknowledge our status as sinners… come to Confession. Seek out Reconciliation and the beautiful Sacrament of God’s Mercy. Lent affords our people an opportunity to be healed sacramentally, which ashes do not. Wednesday evenings from 6pm to 8pm, all throughout the month of March, Confessions will be heard in church!

“God gives where he finds empty hands”

Dear Friends in Christ,

A quote from Saint Augustine guides our 2020 Annual Catholic Appeal, “God gives where he finds empty hands.” This beautiful insight helps us to see that our good Lord responds where He sees a need, where he finds receptivity. If our hands are full or if our doors are closed, the Lord passes by. Consider the beautiful invitation found in Revelation, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will enter his house and dine with him, and he with me.” (Rev 3:20) In knocking, the Lord invites contact and intimacy but he awaits a warm welcome from within. God never forces; he invites.

National Marriage Day

Dear Parish Family,

As we approach Valentine’s Day, the church in America kicks off National Marriage Week. Valentine’s Day can tend to be “romantic” and some may think “we are too _____ for that kind of stuff!” But I hope all married couples will celebrate the gift of their married love next weekend. Our dear Columbiettes and dedicated Knights are hosting a wonderful evening at the Maple Room. So far, there has been a strong response. What a great way to celebrate not only married love, but to gather as a greater community and celebrate the gift of love together. I plan to join in, but don’t ask me to dance.