This Week in Prayer, Service & Community

This week – Jul 7, 2016

Dear Parishioners:

The restoration of the Blessed Sacrament chapel necessitates the relocation of the Blessed Sacrament. Starting Saturday, July 9, and until the restoration is complete, the tabernacle will be placed behind the main altar. Please be mindful of the Blessed Sacrament’s presence as you enter church. A genuflection toward the tabernacle or a reverent bow of the head is completely appropriate. Thanks.

This week in prayer:

Your crosses, their freedom?

The Canticle of Zechariah (Luke 1: 68), which many recite every day, proclaims “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who has visited His people and set them free . . . free from the hands of our enemies . . . free to worship Him.” The history to which Zechariah refers is not a history of magical interventions. It is a history of people saying “yes” when God asks “Will you help me set my people free? Free from their enemies? Free to be in right relationship with one another and with me?” The history is also a history of active crosses. The voluntary “yes” frequently requires people to do something when they’d rather do nothing. The “yes” also imposes difficulties.

Isaiah said “yes” when God asked him to help. Sunday’s passage reminds us that Isaiah labored to set people free from self-destruction and free to be in the sort of right relationship with God that the passage describes.

Saint Paul also said “yes” when God asked him to set the Galatian Christians free from harmful people who wanted them to jump through painful hoops that had nothing to do with right relationship with the risen Christ. Paul’s mention of “the marks of Jesus on my body” reminds us that his “yes” produced many active crosses. He undertook initiatives that harmed him.

The 72 disciples in Sunday’s gospel also spoke a robust “yes.” Jesus asked them specifically to free people with physical difficulties, that they might be free to be in right relationship with God and others. And as he sent them, Jesus reminded the 72 that the mission would lead them into harsh treatment.

The locals who signed the Declaration of Independence also give us an example of people saying “yes” to the sometimes costly call to set others free. John Witherspoon, Richard Stockton and John Hart incurred terrible costs because of they said “yes” to the call. Our fireworks are for them.

And our fireworks are for Isaiah, Paul, the 72 and all who took up active crosses to set us free. Of course our fireworks are also for Jesus, who gave us the ultimate freedoms, the freedom from death and the freedom to live in heaven for all time.

Our fireworks are also for YOU. You do the work, generally without stopping to think about it, of setting people free. You routinely set people free from constraints God disdains. You routinely set people free to be and do who God hopes they will be and do. 

Think of three or four ways in which you carry on our religious and national histories of setting people free. Maybe you won’t make headlines but you have said “yes.” You have helped God free people from self-destructive habits, free from harsh influences, free from isolation. Many parishioners free loved ones with physical difficulties free from worry and isolation. Parents routinely free their children from fear and from wasting their talents. Public servants of every stripe set people free from harm. Teachers, doctors, nurses, drivers of carpools, receptionists, coaches, plumbers, accountants, gardeners, you name it – they set people free. Name three or four ways in which you routinely set people free. And enjoy the fireworks. They’re for you too. 

This week in service:

  • Please do what you can to help out the summer CCD students’ point of light project – a collection of backpacks and school supplies for kids in foster care.
  • Thanks for the impressive support for the Catholic Heart Work Camp project!

This week in community:

  • Thanks to the girl scouts who have really spruced up the garden by the hospitality room. Your labors have made a great difference.
  • In early August we will send out the updated list of “Church Improvement Projects.” Most will be quite amazed at the work parishioners have done. The list will also identify opportunities for others to do the church a favor.

After the 11:30 Mass on Sunday I will be leaving for retreat in CT. The retreat will be directed by Gene Hensell, OSB – a truly inspired scripture scholar. This retreat is 50% standard annual retreat, 25% scripture seminar and 25% “praycation.” Say one for me and for my priest friends who will be making the retreat. Know that I’ll be thinking of you and praying for you plenty – sorry to miss the weekday Mass gang and glad I’ll only miss (a) one Sunday Mass (6 pm this week) and (b) next week’s “This Week.”

With all best blessings and with that heightened sense of gratitude for you that time away engenders – 

Fr. Hank, SJ