You are not in the flesh;
on the contrary, you are in the spirit,
if only the Spirit of God dwells in you.
5 July 2020
Brothers and Sisters,
Greetings. As St. Paul would write, “I give thanks to God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is heralded throughout the world” (Romans 1:8). I am grateful for a parish committed to discipleship, even though we have our flaws and weaknesses. In the words of St. Paul, the flesh represents our selfishness, our pride, and our sins. Yet, we are temples of the Holy Spirit and our value and worth is grounded in the Lord’s grace active in our lives.
The teaching of St. Paul on the Holy Spirit is affirmed in this week’s Gospel. Jesus reminds us that our own knowledge and the limits of our knowledge are nothing compared to the wisdom of God. Even the child–if open to the Holy Spirit–may confound the brightest and the best with knowledge beyond comprehension. I think of St. Thérèse of Lisieux (Monday’s Saint of the Day for VBS!), who at an early age had a profound awareness of herself and cultivated her desire for God. Recently, I learned of the Venerable Carlo Acutis, who is to be beatified in October (and I believe the first to be beatified who was born after me). Carlos’ profound love for the Eucharist has had a miraculous impact, even though he passed from Leukemia at the age of 15 in 2006. May his life be a witness that our age should not be an excuse for not living in holiness.
The Gospel reading for today, taken from Matthew 11:25-30, concludes with the important promise that as we labor for Christ and experience the burdens of this life, we will miraculously experience rest. I ponder this promise frequently, and it’s not rare for me to ask for the rest that God promises. Of course, I must admit my own fault in the experience of exhaustion and fatigue. God gave us the Sabbath, that we might truly rest each week. We need time for rejuvenation. I honestly have that time (even though Sundays at times can be a bit busier for me, priests have the opportunity for Sabbath rest). When I have time, I, unfortunately, fail to truly rest. I may turn to the screen – whether the internet, movies, or TV. I may pass on an opportunity to spend time with family or friends. Let us renew our prayer for the rest the Lord promises while also committing ourselves to living by the wisdom and guidance of God.
In The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis emphasizes the importance of the parish. The thrust of parish life must be missionary, orienting the parish to inclusion and openness. In §28, he challenges parishes to engage in renewal, remaining adaptive to the service of our community. Rather than being an outdated model, the parish is the center for growth in the Christian life. The parish is a place of “dialogue, proclamation, charitable outreach, worship and celebration.” While personalized with language that we hope speaks to and is embraced by our parishioners and community, the discipleship pathway Four aims to be a framework for ongoing assessment and renewal.
As a great entryway, Belong has a much deeper value than one’s initial impression might suggest. A recent reflection reminded me of Bishop Malooly’s Confirmation Homily. For those who were confirmed by Bishop Malooly (I was not, but I was ordained a priest by him), you probably remember his three points. In addition to his three points, he also referenced Lee Ann Womack’s song, “I Hope You Dance.” To choose to dance, rather than being a wallflower, means accepting the risk that you will appear awkward and silly, at least to some. Choosing to dance may mean departing from your comfort zone. But it also gives you the opportunity to embrace the fullness of life, to connect with others and experience the thrill of dancing. The personal challenge of belong is to choose to dance–not just to be present but to engage–and to be one who invites others to dance. For we know life to its fullest when we embrace life with Jesus. And it all begins with the simple invitation to discover God’s love for you, the invitation to BELONG to the family of God, to be welcomed into a community centered around Christ, where you can find genuine friendships and loving support.
When I reflect on Belong in the parish, there are a lot of ways this is a strength. While we are not immune to the challenges of our culture and society as our neighbors choose to leave Churches and religious practice, I am able to joyfully report that new families are finding a spiritual home at OLPH. Even during the course of this pandemic, we have welcomed new members to our parish as a place where they BELONG. Many of our parishioners encourage neighbors, family, and friends to consider joining them at Church, sometimes for a more social gathering like Family Dinner Nights. I get the impression that families, including those with small children, have felt the hospitality of OLPH neighbors and thereby chosen OLPH as their spiritual home. While this is my perspective, I do invite you to reach out to me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org and share with me, “Why OLPH?”.
While we strive to celebrate Jesus and build a community of support, there are times we fall short. I recall one Festival of Praise from last summer in which Eucharistic Adoration continued in the Good Shepherd Chapel immediately following. Parishioners were encouraged to socialize in the Narthex, rather than the nave of the church. One of the Adorers, expecting to be able to pray in silence, came out of the chapel to admonish the group that included adults and youth alike. While our chapel is reserved for silent prayer, in this particular situation, flexibility to others was a lost opportunity as the Adorer spoke in a stern manner to adults and children rightfully gathered in the Narthex. We as a parish have to be aware of our body language, tone, and words to one another. Like living in any family, flexibility, sensitivity, and charity is required to live in harmony and reach a greater understanding of one another.
A series of conversations during this pandemic has also raised two ways that we have to keep growing in our sense of belong. As our nation goes through racial injustice and upheaval over the poor treatment and loss of African-American lives, how are we as a parish willing to embrace beyond our borders? Are we willing to be bold prophets who are part of the solution to a systemic problem, acknowledging our complicit involvement and need to confront the injustice? In some ways, I see the positive work of SALT and our Outreach Ministries, as well as our sister parish relationship with St. Veronica. But how engaged are we as an entire parish in connecting with our universal Church?
The second reality worth our examination, which also does not contain an easy solution, is our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters. Much of the Church is in dialogue about this segment of our faith community, which at times may not appear present because often they do not feel welcome. Even when fully present many choose not to identify themselves in fear of rejection. While I am not suggesting we should change Church teachings, we also may not shut our doors in the faces of those who need Jesus and his mercy — as we all do! We likewise cannot exaggerate Church teachings, imposing unnecessary weights on others. Let us always remember, Jesus regularly dined with the marginalized. In encountering others he also challenged them, as he challenges us today, to live a holy life. This begins with creating a space for everyone to encounter the pure love of Jesus Christ and commit one’s life to follow Him. I was recently asked about considering hosting a Regeneration meeting, which is a ministry that brings healing to those struggling in the LGBTQ+ community as well as healing for those who struggle with sexual addiction (for more information you may visit regenerationministries.org). If you, or someone you know, struggle in either of these areas, we welcome the opportunity to minister to your needs. If you would be interested in attending a Regeneration meeting, please reach out to me at email@example.com.
Some of the key considerations for this week.
- Our Vacation Bible School kicks off this Monday, July 6. VBS will be experienced over the next 5 Mondays, with new videos for you and your child to experience a daily lesson, music videos, bible story, saint of the day, craft, snack suggestion, and game together in your home.
- Please pray for our Youth Ministry, as we begin our search for a new Youth Minister.
- Our parish participation in Our Daily Bread Casseroles resumed this past weekend. I thank you for your participation in this important partnership to feed the hungry. With these efforts–along with SALT-All Weather Compassion and the SVDP Food Pantry–our OLPH parish family continues to go BEYOND and serve in the name of Christ as His ministers.
- As we celebrate Independence Day this weekend, let us continue to give thanks for the freedoms that we have from the Lord. And let us seek to use that gift of freedom for the greater praise of our Lord. As our nation suffers from both the Pandemic and from racial injustice, let us implore the healing of God and willingly offer our lives to help build a nation that embodies the Kingdom of God here and now.
- Confirmation Masses have been scheduled for the weekends of July 18-19, July 26, and August 15-16. Please remember in prayer our youth and families who have been patiently waiting for this sacrament and if your child is to be confirmed, please do not forget to sign up!
- As a reminder, please do “sign up” for Mass on July 11 and 12 here and view our weekly liturgy schedule here.
Lastly, I share with joy and delight the overdue celebration of our RCIA candidates into the Church this past weekend. Congratulations to Josh, Alex, Alexandra, and Angela, who were received into the Church, confirmed and welcomed to the altar for their First Holy Communion, along with more of our parish children receiving their First Holy Communion! We are grateful to celebrate with these families.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts, forever.
In the Lord,
Rev. Michael S. Triplett
Adaptation of the prayer composed by Archbishop John Carroll
for the inauguration of George Washington
1962 The usual pattern for such celebrations calls for an invocation prayer at the beginning and a benediction at the end. The prayer which follows may be used for either purpose.
1963 This prayer is an adaptation of the prayer for the Church and for civil authorities which was composed by Archbishop John Carroll for use on the occasion of the inauguration of George Washington in 1789.
1964 The whole prayer may be used or, in addition to the first and last paragraph, one or more of the three central paragraphs may be selected. Paragraph B is for the president, Paragraph C is for members of Congress, and Paragraph D is for state governors, legislators, judges, and other civil officials.
A Almighty and eternal God, you have revealed your glory to all nations. God of power and might, wisdom and justice, through you authority is rightly administered, laws are enacted, and judgment is decreed.
B Assist with your spirit of counsel and fortitude the President of these United States, that (his/her) administration may be conducted in righteousness, and be eminently useful to your people over whom (he/she) presides. May (he/she) encourage due respect for virtue and religion. May (he/she) execute the laws with justice and mercy. May (he/she) seek to restrain crime, vice, and immorality.
C Let the light of your divine wisdom direct the deliberations of Congress, (and especially of n.,) and shine forth in all the proceedings and laws framed for our rule and government. May they seek to preserve peace, promote national happiness, and continue to bring us the blessings of liberty and equality.
D We pray for n., the governor of this state (commonwealth, dominion), for the members of the legislature, (especially, n.,) for judges, elected civil officials, (especially, n.,) and all others who are entrusted to guard our political welfare. May they be enabled by your powerful protection to discharge their duties with honesty and ability.
E We likewise commend to your unbound mercy all citizens of the United States, that we may be blessed in the knowledge and sanctified in the observance of your holy law. May we be preserved in union and that peace which the world cannot give; and, after, enjoying the blessings of this life, be admitted to those which are eternal. We pray to you, how are Lord and God, forever and ever. Amen.