February 11th – VI Sunday in Ordinary Time

My Dear Friends, 

I want to thank you for your generosity last week during the ABCD appeal. As I said during my homily, it was quite difficult to stand before you asking for your support of the charities of the Archdiocese of Miami while we’re in the midst of our Centennial Campaign, but it is a solemn duty that we have as a parish to take care of the poor around us and the many ministries of the archdiocese that are dependent on our support like our seminaries that educated Father Andrew thanks to the ABCD.  There was one couple who told me after Mass that they filled out both their ABCD pledge card AND their Centennial Campaign pledge card which warmed my heart. I have said this before: the generosity of the parishioners of Little Flower never ceased to amaze me. If you were out last weekend or are still praying over your pledge to ABCD, I encourage you to fill out the envelopes in the pews today and simply place them in the collection basket during the offertory or you can contribute online by either scanning the QR code on the envelope or visiting isupportabcd.org (just remember that you choose “Little Flower-Coral Gables” as your parish so that we can meet our parish goal).  Once again, on behalf of Archbishop Wenski and all those whose lives you changed for the better because of your pledge: thank you! 

Let me shift gears now for a Centennial update: Over the last three weeks, there have been changes in our worship area as we start our journey towards our 100th anniversary. The temporary organ we will use for the next two years has been successfully installed in the balcony, the old choir loft in front of St. Joseph has been demolished, and the pews that were removed from the balcony to make way for the choir have been brought downstairs so that we may worship the Lord next to St. Joseph to mirror the other side of the church in front of our Blessed Mother.  The pews that were installed down on the main floor are temporary as we await the installation of new solid wood pews throughout the church. This new arrangement has caused a shift for some of us in the way we worship because it may have altered where we sit.  I have noticed that we’re still tentative to sit by St. Joseph for Mass, and that is understandable since that hasn’t been an option for 37 years. But an encouraging word: you will not find a better prayer companion that Joseph who was blessed to raise the Son of God and to be the husband of our Blessed Mother. As for the balcony, for now, it will remain closed as our choir continues to adjust to being “closer to heaven.”  For larger Masses as we get closer to Easter, there are still a few pews still up there for overflow seating, but I speak for our priests when I say that it is a joy to have everyone on the ground floor engaged in worship. It truly makes a difference in the celebrant’s experience of the Mass particularly during the homily. 

During the first weekend of this change, Father Andrew and I got nothing but positive feedback from parishioners who admired the work our music ministry did to make our parish choirs sound angelic from above as if they had always been up there. Yes, there are a few choir members who are still getting used to being so far removed from the altar, but now the choir, cantor, and organ are behind us, the music now “pushes” our attention solely on Christ at the altar, and it kind of forces us as worshiping people to sing so we can hear the music surrounding the temple.  Many times, in the past a soloist, especially at weddings and funerals, diverts our attention from the altar because of the beauty of their voice and naturally our heads would turn to the right to where the choir loft used to be. However, anything that shifts our attention away from the altar during the Divine Liturgy is not conducive to worship.  When we were going through the process of moving the music ministry to the balcony, I consulted extensively with the Archdiocesan Director of Worship and Liturgy, who happens to be our neighbor, Father Richard Vigoa. On more than one occasion, he applauded our initiative to begin the process of this move early to get the community ready for the installation of the permanent organ in two years. Now, when we hear the heavenly voices of our fellow parishioners (and let’s not forget our Children’s Choir), our gaze is fixed solely on Jesus Christ who is the primary reason why we are here in this glorious church. I thank our music ministry for what has been a seamless change, for anything that places Christ as the center of attention is truly worship of praise.

God bless you all,

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