FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “We need discernment at all times, lest we fail to heed the promptings of His grace and disregard His invitation to grow.”
Today we celebrate the 19th Sunday in the season of the Ordinary Time of the Year. While we normally focus on the Gospel reading during the season of Ordinary Time, our first reading, usually taken from the Old Testament, provides us with an interesting reflection.
Like most prophets, Elijah, angered some important and powerful people with his preaching. Queen Jezebel was one of those offended by Elijah’s message and actions. He took on the 400 priests of the false god, Baal, and utterly defeated them. This outraged Queen Jezebel. He spends forty days fleeing from her soldiers and takes refuge in a cave at Mount Horeb (Sinai). Burnt-out and exhausted, he wants to give up and drop the mantle of his office as prophet. God desires to assure him that he has not been abandoned and invites him to the mouth of the cave where he is hiding and to await the appearance of the Lord. There he experiences a strong, heavy wind, an earthquake and a powerful fire. But God was not in those grand forms of natural phenomena, as Elijah expected. When he hears “a tiny whispering sound,” he senses God’s presence in that surpassing calm. Elijah returns to the cave after realizing God is not found in the expected forms, but comes in surprising ways. Elijah knew that God had more surprises in store for him.
Again and again, the Scriptures challenge us to let go of our expectations of how God is supposed to act and where God is supposed to be found. God rarely acts in the ways that we expect God to act! Instead, God comes in surprising ways and at times that we do not expect. Our call is to be alert for the amazing and marvelous ways God reveals his presence to us, day after day.
Pope Francis recently shared a reflection that echoed the invitation to recognize God’s presence in the unexpected. He wrote, “This is the joy which we experience daily, amid the little things of life, as a response to the loving invitation of God our Father: ‘My child, treat yourself well, according to your means … Do not deprive yourself of the day’s enjoyment’” (Sir 14:11, 14). We can often fill our days with unreasonable expectations of our colleagues, ourselves, our children, or our weekends. We set standards that probably won’t be met. When we receive a new invitation, a little voice in our heads begins to tally all the things that might fall short of our expectations. God’s invitation is simple – “Don’t miss the surprises.” When we stop looking for disappointing gaps, and start looking for inspiring gaps, we begin to see more than we could imagine and the ways God is trying to reach us through the unexpected.
When we find ourselves running from event to event, from place to place, wishing that there were a few more hours in the day, we lose sight of the big picture. Our individual concerns take on a life of their own and can become the most important issues in the world. It is very easy for us to lose perspective with the pace at which we live. Then we need a good reality check – “Don’t miss the surprises.” When we realize that Some One else is in control, we can see order and beauty all around us. We can hear that “tiny whispering sound” and recognize God is all around us in spite of our expectations.
I hope that each of us has a chance to step back and to see the big picture from time to time. We have all experienced many loses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Focusing on our losses can narrow our vision. We miss the big picture and forget that even in a time like this, we are greatly blessed. I hope that we experience some calming moments that only summertime can bring and that those moments can help us notice things that have always been there, but never really seen before.
I shared in last Wednesday’s “Mid-Week Pastor’s Corner” that we have been noticing that the sanitizing crew after each weekend Mass is needing far less time than we expected to complete their task of sanitizing our church. When we were able to re-open our church, we set our Sunday Masses at two hour intervals to allow time for the sanitizing crews to accomplish their tasks. Over the past several weeks we’ve realized that we don’t need as much time as we have allotted between Masses. We are now hoping to be able to add an additional Mass in the church during the morning “prime time” hours. We are looking to make that change beginning the first weekend of September – September 5th & 6th.
Beginning with the first weekend in September, our Sunday Mass schedule will be adjusted to 7:00, 8:30, 10:00 and 11:30am and 1:00pm in Spanish. As the Spanish community tends to linger in the parking lot as they catch up with each other, we thought it best to keep the Spanish Mass at 1:00pm. They would not need to clear the parking lot in anticipation of another Mass beginning soon after the Spanish Mass. Social distancing regulations have reduced the seating capacity in the Chapel to only 20 people. We will not be able to celebrate a Sunday Mass there with such a small congregation. As the 6:30pm Saturday Spanish Mass was the smallest Mass in our schedule, we will not be resuming that Mass in our schedule either. So come September, we will have an additional Mass offered during the Sunday morning “prime time” hours.
Beginning on Saturday, August 15th we will resume Saturday morning opportunities for the Sacrament of Reconciliation following the 8:15am Mass from 8:45 to 10:00am. We are working out the details of sanitizing the Reconciliation Rooms after each individual use. Face masks and social distancing are required in both the waiting line and in the Reconciliation Room.
Many other things are taking place in our parish. Please check the online weekly bulletin posted on our website, the emailed Flocknotes and other notices posted on our parish Facebook page. As always, I pray that God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy