Dear Friends in Christ,
Welcome back to Mass in our phased approach! We are happy to have entered what some have called “phase 2 freedom.” Whatever, I’ll take it! For religious services, this means we can gather up to 50 congregants for a religious service or meeting, including, of course, the celebration of Mass. With thousands of members in our parish communities, that means we are challenged. We routinely have about 1,400 people attending Masses on a given weekend. So, 50 is going to be a challenge. See the message below my letter for all the details you need to sign up to attend Mass this coming weekend and week.
I think it is fitting that we are beginning public Masses on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord, known as
. The desire and hunger for the Eucharist is shared by so many. I have heard from many of you expressing your sadness at not being able to come to Mass and receive Holy Communion. However, the Lord still provides. We have had many opportunities to gather via livestream. We have had opportunities to pray our Spiritual Communion, and really take to heart the love we have for the Lord Jesus who comes to us in the Eucharist. I think one of the many fruits and graces of the pandemic is that we will be better prepared and more appreciative of the gift of the Eucharist in our lives, in our Church, and parishes, and in the world.
Archbishop Etienne has provided us with a beautiful Pastoral Letter on the Eucharist called
The Work of Redemption
. It was published in this month’s Northwest Catholic. You can also read it
. Your homework is to take a look at his reflection on the meaning of the Eucharist in our lives as Catholics. I think you will appreciate the Archbishop’s insights. He has called for a “Year of the Eucharist” to begin this Sunday, so we will have many more opportunities to grow in your knowledge and understanding of the gift of Christ’s presence in the Eucharist.
We know that Holy Communion and the Eucharist have as fruits the gift of unity. Receiving communion brings about
…the creation of real community among peoples. It’s ironic that as we celebrate
this Sunday, we do so when our nation is torn apart in strife. We are a people divided in a number of ways. But the murder of George Floyd has caused the issue of racism, on the part of individuals and institutions, to come to the forefront. Racism, like all sin, causes disunity and harm; chaos really. And we have certainly seen that at the extremes these past weeks. What’s the solution? Saying racism is a sin and it must end? Well, that’s a given, but it’s not enough. Destruction of property, violence, and harm to others? Certainly not. Raising fists in anger and empowering fringe groups and ideology? Hopefully not. So, what is the solution?
Well, I believe the solution is Jesus Christ and the conversion that He calls for. Christ and His teachings, if truly proclaimed and lived, are the solution to the biggest problems we face as a society and nation. At the core is the conversion of hearts. No social issue we face can truly be changed by laws, societal opinions, and norms alone. People’s hearts must first be converted before racism and injustice are a thing of the past. Here’s an example: Slavery has been a stain upon our nation’s history. It had real consequences for people and society. I believe it also has spiritual consequences that are at the root of much of what is wrong in our nation today . . . but that’s for another letter. However, you can’t deprive people of freedom and bind them in chains without a lot of repercussions. Slavery did not end until hundreds of thousands lost their lives in the civil war and the institution of slavery itself became so repugnant to people, that it became unthinkable. That is the point that we can say the conversion of hearts came about on that issue.
A similar conversion of hearts is needed so that the consequences of racism can become a thing of the past; so that prejudice does not dictate one’s beliefs and actions as they apparently did in an arrest in Minneapolis a few weeks ago. In short, racism must become unthinkable. Until we can see all people as human beings, created in the image and likeness of God, and treat them with the dignity that is theirs, our hearts will be in need of conversion and we will fall short of who we are called to be as Christians. Here’s the standard that Christ sets before us from the Catechism:
1934 Created in the image of the one God and equally endowed with rational souls, all men have the same nature and the same origin. Redeemed by the sacrifice of Christ, all are called to participate in the same divine beatitude: all, therefore, enjoy an equal dignity.
1935 The equality of men rests essentially on their dignity as persons and the rights that flow from it: Every form of social or cultural discrimination in fundamental personal rights on the grounds of sex, race, color, social conditions, language, or religion must be curbed and eradicated as incompatible with God's design.
What the Church teaches us is that it is natural for us to live as brothers and sisters in Christ, treated with equal value and love. Anything short of that is out of order. Friends, we are really out of order these days. But with hearts that seek the true, the good, and the beautiful; with hearts focused on Him who is the way the truth and the life, we can overcome sin and dysfunction. It may seem daunting, but here’s the thing: it begins with each of us. It begins with my heart being converted, and then another, and another. So, one heart at a time……and let it begin with me.
Fr. David Mulholland