Sunday, September 25, 2022
The Lord be with you!
Bishop Hennessey, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston with responsibility for the Merrimack Region of the Archdiocese (widely believed to be the best region of the archdiocese and, some would argue, of the nation) will be visiting Our Lady of Grace Parish next weekend for confirmation on Saturday, October 1, and will be the main celebrant at the 4pm Mass that day. Let us welcome him well! In the meantime, I ask your prayers for those will be confirmed next weekend (and who made a retreat this weekend), that they come to understand what the Lord is doing for them, and that they might appreciate it genuinely and deeply.
Religious education registrations are coming in. Please refer friends and family to the religious education section of our website, and encourage them to read the introduction with the very important message advocating Mass attendance: www.stjs.page/religious-education
I want to thank those who contributed to last weekend’s second collection for the clergy trusts. These help provide for retired and/or sick priests, bearing in mind that the normal retirement age for priests is 75, and oftentimes it is even later that they retire (although sometimes earlier due to ill-health). They also help fund programs to encourage priests to take better care of their health (and thus reduce medical costs to the trusts). Your contributions now will hopefully help to ensure there will be something there when Father Kwang and I retire one day, and if the health promotion programs work well, we probably won’t be retiring until well after 75, or at least we will be helping out in parishes after retirement!
The first reading and Gospel today warn us to take care of the poor. They call us to recognize visible realities that we sometimes ignore, as well as hidden realities that we have been informed about. There is a startling line at the end of the Gospel: “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded if someone should rise from the dead.” Of course, this is prophetic of what did subsequently happen, and the lack of faith found even among those who have learned about God. Sometimes the truth that sets us free can seem just too good to believe, or something that does not penetrate to where it affects how we act. What can we do to facilitate belief, to show that we believe by our actions at all times? Certainly, take the Lord at His Word: feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick and imprisoned (to which we could also add the home-bound and those in senior living centers and nursing homes). Following up on last week’s column, do our actions in church show we recognize Jesus Christ risen from the dead and truly present among us in the Eucharist? Do we let silence in the interior of the church facilitate conversation with the Lord? A suggestion I received during the week was: “One thing my family has always done…is to kneel and say three Hail Marys after the recessional hymn. Maybe encourage others to do the same and pray them for the souls in Purgatory, or maybe a different intercession each week suggested in the bulletin?“ Perhaps pray for a spiritual renewal of the two parishes of our collaborative? I want to commend you for trying to do this because changing our practice is not easy.
At the same time that we foster prayer in the church, we also want to foster a sense of community and conversation among friends outside the interior walls of the church. So please do strike up conversations with your neighbor outside the doors of the church, but do that too in a spirit of prayer to allow the Lord to guide your conversation (it takes a bit of practice to do this, and I often forget it myself; perhaps this is for another bulletin column). The Divine Liturgy is God’s public work. Our participation allows the liturgy to bear fruit. We will have more about this in the coming weeks, but for now I ask you to ask the Lord in prayer: “Can You please help me to understand what You are doing and how I can more fully participate?”