I am writing this letter on Friday, January 9th. On the way back from Parkview Hospital this morning I received a call from the Diocese, officially to notify me that the Bishop is assigning me as pastor to Divine Mercy Parish. Up to this time I have only been “parochial administrator”. It looks like now I am here officially for some time. I will continue to try to give my best. [With this news, my condolences to those who already think I am a misfit; and I share a “Hallelujah! Praise the Lord!” with those who are glad to have it official.]
The Paris massacre this week was tragic. I hope such events convince us all the more of the need the world has for people who live life in the light of God’s love, in Jesus Christ. At Mass this week, from 1John 5 we read, “Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” The tragic killing is a symptom of a massive forgetfulness of God’s presence on the one hand, or a skewed vision of God’s nature on the other. A couple days earlier in Mass we read from 1John 4: “We love, because he first loved us.” I hope we can see that Jesus Christ – who has revealed His Loving Father to us, and given us the power of the Holy Spirit of Love – is the answer to such woundedness in the world. When we experience ourselves to be loved by Him, we become part of His remedy by becoming oases of love in Jesus that ripple out around us to heal. How much the world needs us to overcome it by love!
I met with a representative of the Fiat committee this week. Looking forward to Lent, we discussed my offering a couple of talks on Morality (or will I do something more on the Church’s vision of family, given what I write below?), which I will do on a couple of Sunday evenings towards the later part of Lent. Then for this coming Advent we discussed organizing a parish wide opportunity for a 33 day consecration to the Blessed Virgin Mary. We will see how plans develop. I can talk more about all of the advantages of Marian consecration as we approach Advent.
This week I also got an update on the annual parish retreat that a team of our parishioners put on during Lent. I will be giving the talk on the Sacraments for that retreat, and I will try to be a resource for everybody else giving talks. I also plan to provide (with Fr. Stites helping!) the Sacrament of Penance for retreatants and for the team. I have heard many good things about this retreat, and I am eager to see it happen. Talks will all focus on the work of the Holy Spirit. We certainly need more fully to live in the power of the Holy Spirit.
It was announced a couple months ago that the Pope is coming to Philadelphia this coming September 26-27; and there is a whole program of activities for the preceding week. I am wondering if we can get a committee to organize parish involvement; i.e., especially sending a group to attend. Many will probably go just for the weekend, rather than participating in the entire week’s events. Should we try to enter into the momentum of family life focus up to the papal visit? We are only eight months out now, so that is not a lot of time. I finally got around to looking at some of the preparatory resources provided by the Diocese of Philadelphia (www.worldmeeting2015.org). These resources include plenty of study sessions and activities that could be helpful for any group (our various prayer groups and youth groups?).
Have a blessed week!
In cordibus Iesu et Mariae,