I wanted to update everyone about what’s happening here at the parish.
First of all, I want to thank the Lord that we did not sustain any serious damage because of the storm a couple of Wednesday’s ago. We posted some pictures on the parish Facebook page – take a look.
Secondly, as we move along in the hopes of restoring the sacramental life of the parish, I wanted to share a few things with you. First of all, we will be receiving Estelle into the Church this Sunday at the 10:30 am. liturgy. Estelle has been patiently waiting – she chose not to enter the Church at Easter because we were not able to have public liturgies – and decided she would like to enter this weekend so that others can share with her in the joy of becoming a Catholic. Let’s keep her in our prayers. I think it’s significant that June 29th the day following this Sunday is the Feast of the Apostles Peter and Paul, who remind us of our apostolic origins and the unity of the Church. It is a great joy to have Estelle become one with us this weekend.
This weekend as well, we will be taking some more steps to restore our Eucharistic liturgies. I want to thank everyone who has been patient and cooperative with our efforts to protect the faithful while continuing to provide the sacraments to the faithful. As restrictions ease, we will be able to do more and more. We are looking forward to the day when we can return to our normal sacramental life. One of the good things that has come out of all these challenges is our live streaming of Masses. I have had a lot of positive feedback about this. I hope we can continue this, even after the restrictions cease so that our shut-in’s can always have access to Mass.
Some people have asked me when we will be restoring the Saturday evening Mass. We are just starting to see our numbers at the Sunday Masses increase. I plan on restoring the Saturday 4:30 pm. Mass no later than the end of the summer. That’s not that far away – hard to believe since we’re already moving into July.
We will also be celebrating First Communion with our young people. Again, because our normal weekend for First Communion coincided with the cessation of public Masses, we were not able to celebrate our traditional First Communion. So we’re doing something a little different this year. We are in the process of inviting families to choose a weekend in July and early August to celebrate their First Communion. We will also offer some of our weekday evening Masses (Monday and Wednesday) to celebrate First Communion as well. We will also have a communal celebration sometime in August. So families will have the option to celebrate individually or communally or both.
Our annual Parish Festival will look a little different this year. We’re calling it “MHT Parish Festival Pandemic Style.” We will be having food trucks, as well as our volleyball tournament and 5K Race and our Money and Quilt Raffle.
From what I hear on the news, there are hopeful signs for a vaccine to be developed and made available to the public. Again, our Holy Father has asked all the faithful to pray the Rosary for an end to the pandemic.
Gospel Reflection for this Sunday
What does Jesus mean when He says that you should take up your cross daily?
To “take up your cross” is something that has to take place in your thoughts and hearts first. St. Paul writes in Colossians 3:5: “Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” All these sinful behaviors begin in the mind. We must make choices to reject thoughts that do not please the Lord. That happens in the “inner cross” of the mind and heart before it can happen in our lives.
St. Paul also tells us: “Overthrowing arguments, and every high thing lifting itself up against the knowledge of God, and taking captive every thought into the obedience of Christ..”
That’s an interesting way of putting it, isn’t it? Making every thought captive to Christ.
How Do We Do This?
1. First, accept responsibility for your thoughts. You have the ability to exercise control over your thoughts. In the Book of Genesis, God warned Cain to focus his mind on the right things, but Cain chose to think about anger and jealousy, which led to the murder of his brother. We have to stop blaming others and our circumstances for our bad thoughts and choices. To be a mature Christian, we must take responsibility for our thinking.
2. Your mind - not just your behavior - must change. God calls us to change sinful behavior that does not honor Him. Instead of focusing on your outward behavior, work on disciplining your mind, from which the behaviors stem. This may mean that you need counseling or spiritual counsel to help you. Some of us have been hurt by lie and sometimes seriously wounded. For some of us, it is not possible to negotiate this path alone. If you need to get help, then do so…
3. Think through your problems rather than just react to them. Ask yourself: “What is God trying to show me through this difficult experience?” Failure is necessary for growth. In his book, “Learned Optimism” the respected psychologist and therapist, Dr. Martin Seligman addresses how many of us “learn” patterns that lead us to depression. This is true in the spiritual life as well, we can “learn” how to identify our thinking and whether it is healthy or in need of healing.
4. Take responsibility for your sinful thinking to confession. Turn them over to God and exercise humility. Pride is the enemy of spiritual growth. Part of our journey involves our choices and decisions, but also we must never forget God’s grace. Confessing our sins give us grace to fight them and conquer them.
5. Choose to focus your thoughts on the right things. We are to think about those things that are "true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable" (Phil. 4:8). When we think about those things, they direct and discipline our mind. Taking up our cross daily leads to transformation in Christ. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” Philippians 3:12.