Dear Parishioners: A Note From our Pastor
In these past weeks we have been reflecting on the passage of a year since the pandemic caused us to close down our churches for public worship. Those early months of March, April and May were months of spiritual desolation for us. We are a Eucharistic people and we gather weekly, many even daily, to receive Jesus in Holy Communion. No one could have imagined or anticipated not being able to attend Mass, and what made it even more difficult was not knowing when we might be able to worship together again.
When I worked as a chaplain at UMass Boston, we had use of an interfaith chapel. It was really a miracle of grace to have such a chapel right off a large gathering space for students and with an amazing view of the Atlantic Ocean. The sunsets there were spectacular. We had daily Mass and we also hosted many community events in the chapel and many right outside of the chapel. Evangelization was a daily effort as there was no residential community and we really depended on extensive outreach for people to even know we were on campus. There was also the reality that while many people were drawn to come to some of our events, there was an open door and a threshold they would have to cross to enter. Physically it was a very small step, but it represented a step that many felt they were not ready to take. This point was driven home to me one day when a man who was preparing to graduate approached me and thanked me for being there. He said that he never came to anything we offered but took comfort in the fact that we were there and if he needed to talk to someone he knew we were available.
I have thought about that man and that sentiment often over the past twenty years. I have reflected a lot about it over this past year. All of our parishes are on major roads in their communities. How many hundreds or thousands of people drive by our front doors every day? Even if they do not come in our churches I pray that they know that we love them, we are there for them, the doors of our churches and our hearts are open to them. We desire so much to be there for people in their times of crisis. What made the last year so difficult for us was that in so many of our people’s hours of greatest need they found the church doors locked and our services limited. For them, for me, for us, this reality has truly been a Good Friday and Holy Saturday experience.
As we began to open again late last spring, even in very limited ways, we gained a new appreciation for our faith, our community, and the Sacraments. Many have returned to their benches sobbing after receiving Jesus for the first time in months. There is a new fervor in us as we receive the vaccines and begin to resume our lives. We anticipate spring after the longest winter. We will not return to “normal,” as we have been changed through our experiences. The apostles and the faithful women did not “return to normal” after the Paschal events. They were forever transformed. We too are transformed and we walk together in faith and hope, closer to Jesus and to one another.
We have experienced losses and endured suffering over these last several months. The Cross has been ever present and at times heavy on our shoulders. Yet, so has the Resurrection! Our Risen Lord is always with us. Darkness is overcome by the Light, sin is forever defeated by Christ’s gift of Himself on the Cross for us, and death is swallowed up by Life: Eternal Life in Christ! The more bitter the battle the sweeter the victory. Christ is Risen! We celebrate Christ’s Victory over sin and death today, every day, and for all eternity. “We are an Easter people and Alleluia is our song!” Please forgive me (and block your ears) if I am singing “Alleluia” a little bit louder this year.
Happy and Blessed Easter to all of you!
Rev. Richard F. Clancy