A Letter from Fr. Paul - June 18, 2017
Happy Father’s Day to all of our fathers. May the Lord continue to bless you!
Vacation Bible School has come to a successful conclusion and our youth are away this week at the Appalachian Service Project. We owe much to the adult volunteers that make these programs possible: THANK YOU! Hopefully, others will step up next year to join you. Please pray for the safety of those on the service project trip.
This past week a newsletter from the diocese presented some information on weekly Mass attendance. Approximately 23% of the estimated Catholics in the diocese attend Mass on a given Sunday. If you count only those who are registered in a parish, the number jumps to 30%, but still less than 1 in 3. Here at Pius, the last time we counted and submitted numbers to the diocese (an average of three weekends) was in the spring. 420 of 1,308 or 32.1% of our parishioners attended.
Why do we Catholics believe that attending Mass is so important? Two weeks ago we celebrated the feast of the Holy Spirit. That feast is also considered the birthday or foundation day for the Church, the Body of Christ, our Community. Today we celebrate the feast of Corpus Christi or the Body and Blood of Christ. These two feasts explain for us what is so important in attending Mass:
Left on our own, it is difficult to find our way. It is hard to think of other people (especially those different from us) and not just ourselves. It is hard to control our desires, urges, and emotions. It is hard to share, love, and forgive. But we are not left on our own: we have the Spirit living within us to help and guide us; we have the Community, the Body of Christ, to support us; we have His Body and Blood as food and drink to sustain us and give us strength.
But if we don’t come to be with the Community, if we aren’t present to listen to the Word so the Spirit can inspire us, if we don’t come to partake of the Food and Drink that will sustain us, then we are leaving ourselves on our own. And I don’t need to tell you that in this world we need all the help we can get!
Part of our responsibility as followers of Jesus, commissioned at baptism, is to help others find their way. I invite you to reflect on whom you can invite to come/return to Mass, be it relatives or friends or neighbors. Not in an aggressive way, but in a kind and gentle way. It might be by sharing what it means to you and that you would like them to experience that also. Not laying guilt, but sharing something that you find good and explaining why – and inviting them to share in that goodness.
I’ve heard people say they stopped coming to Mass and no one said anything, “no one missed us.” While that might be an excuse, there is probably an element of truth in it. I invite us to reflect on the great gifts we have in the Community, the Spirit, and the Eucharist, and then resolve to invite others to share more fully in these gifts. And remember, it is the Spirit who will move people to respond. Our job is to be an instrument.
-- Paul James Portland, SDS
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