Prayer for Victims
Please join us in prayer, penance, and fasting
for healing of the victims
and the purification of the Church.
Letter from Archbishop and Communications from the Archdiocese
Letter from the Pastor
8/25-26: 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time
“As a result of this, many of his disciples returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him. Jesus then said to the Twelve, “Do you also want to leave?””
The living of the Gospel is not easy. The scripture readings this week remind us of the jarring truth. Joshua reminds the people that God freed them from slavery and challenged them not to return to slavery by serving false gods.
Paul’s words to the Ephesians are some of the most misunderstood and underappreciated words of Scripture. Listeners often fail to swallow the words “Wives should be subordinate to their husbands…” Well-intentioned explanations often speak of the cultural norms of marriage and family of the Mediterranean world at the time of Paul. But these interpretations miss the mark by failing to understand Paul’s intention, not to teach us about marriage but to use marriage to teach about Christ and the Church: “This is a great mystery, but I speak in reference to Christ and the church.” Paul is teaching us about submission as a means to true freedom. Rather than submission to urges or desires, Paul implores us to submits our wills to the will of God. Follow God’s plan. Not our own.
And, Jesus in the Gospel concludes his teaching on the “bread of life” recognizes the difficulty and challenge of discipleship. God’s will is not easy. Jesus gives us the Eucharist not as a magical food source which will make living the Gospel easy but as the gift which calls us to mission. We are to live up to the immense challenge of being the Body of Christ.
And that leads to the question, “Who is the Church?” Karl Marx waning philosophically described the Church as an opium of the people. Along with a number of modern and contemporary thinkers, he looked to a world without religion as the next advancement of human civilization. This cry was at the heart of communism and rise of the Soviet dictatorship; this cry too was at the crux of the Nazi message and Hitler’s subversion of the Christian message for the ideology that lead to massive loss of life. And proudly, I look to those saints and the Christian Churches that faced martyrdom rather than succumb to the lies.
Rather than faltering, this subtle message has often become overt in the attack on the Church and people of faith. We are accused of stalling human “advances” and being behind the times. And sadly, rather than witnessing to the power of the Gospel and the eternal life offered by Christ as witnessed by the best of us, we have faltered. We as a Church have failed to stand with the victims of sexual abuse. Too often those in leadership… and the people in the pews have assumed that our enemy is outside the Church. We assumed we could do no wrong. And in our pride, we have become the latest enemy that has tried to silence the Gospel. Too many people have turned away from the Church because of our actions.
This past week, I have recognized in myself some of the stages of grief. The Pennsylvania Grand Jury report is tragic – not because the sin, corruption, and criminal abuse is coming to light but because it shakes our trust in the Church as the Body of Christ. In the midst of working for a rebirth and momentum to grow our parish, while attempting to set the sail moving forward along path of Jesus’ mission, we keep getting stuck in this depressing muck. We seem to be losing.
Pope Francis’ words this week have been a small consolation, based on the teaching of St. Paul: “If one member suffers, all suffer together with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26). How do we cope? How do we heal? How do we continue to build God’s kingdom? I encourage adult parishioners to read the Grand Jury Report directly: www.attorneygeneral.gov/report/ But be prepared, as it is sad and disheartening. Reading the report is not about knowing statistics or data, but the report does a beautiful job at telling the story of victims, giving their lives a voice. Reading the report should lead us to prayer for and with the victims.
Second, as Archbishop Lori is calling upon of the Archdiocese in conjunction with the guidance of Pope Francis, to atone. We ought to fast and pray for forgiveness. The Archbishop has encouraged all parishioners to join bishops and priests in a day of reparation on Friday, September 7. The Archbishop will celebrate mass at 12:10pm at the Basilica and at 5:30pm at the Cathedral. At Our Lady of Grace, we will extend this to include Friday, September 14, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross. As we look to the tragedy of the cross, let us continue our prayer and fasting for healing. I will celebrate mass on Friday, September 14 for the victims of abuse at 8:30am in the Church and we will adoration following mass until 10am Benediction.
Lastly, I encourage families to discuss the tragedy at age appropriate levels. We are saddened. We are culpable as the Catholic Church. But we can be so much more. There is hope… as we submit our own desires to the Will of God. Freedom is found for those who commit to the path of discipleship. I encourage you in that light to prepare for conversation by reading Pope Francis pastoral letter (Pastoral Letter) and the Archdiocesan communications (www.archbalt.org/accountablility) with letter by Archbishop Lori.
And we will keep moving forward. We strive to improve our mission of helping all parishioners and our entire neighborhood an encounter with the living Christ. Our new mass schedule begins September 8-9, with a prayer for new revitalization: Saturdays 5pm, Sundays 8:30am and 11am. Adoration will be available each Sunday in our Chapel after the 8:30am mass and before the 11am mass. Religious Education for preschoolers and kindergartners will take place at 8:30am, with religious education for 1st to 5th grade from 9:45am to 10:45am. Middle School religious education will take place on Monday evenings and Confirmation and High School formation will center on Sunday evenings. Please help us strengthen our parish to live out the mission entrusted to us.
In the Lord,
Archdiocesan Day of Reparation
Friday, September 7
Mass with the Archbishop
12:10pm at Basilica
5:30pm at the Cathedral
Our Lady of Grace
Mass & Adoration for Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross
Friday, September 14
Mass at 8:30am with Adoration until Benediction at 10am