My Dear Friends:
As we gather today to celebrate the great Solemnity of Pentecost, I am reminded that it is now one year since we returned to celebrating the Eucharist together after the 2 ½ month lockdown that sadly shuttered our churches. We gathered last Pentecost for the first time under the restrictions of the pandemic. We were a bit tentative, but we were joyful in being able to celebrate as a parish family again.
One year later, there are still some who feel safer at home and that’s ok, but there are others who still have not returned for other reasons that have nothing to do with the pandemic. Maybe complacency settled in or the crutch of having the Mass streamed virtually every Sunday. Even though the archbishop has not lifted the dispensation from Sunday Mass, it’s time to come home. Now the vast majority of you reading these lines have come home to church and are here every Sunday. Yet, I am calling on you to reach out to your neighbor, reach out to the person that would sit next to you at Mass every weekend that you haven’t seen in year, reach out to family and friends who still haven’t returned to the table of the Lord, and let us make this a community endeavor to go out and “catch” those sheep who have run astray.
I can think of no better day than Pentecost Sunday to ask the Holy Spirit to touch the hearts of those who have fallen away. They are hungry, but they may have forgotten that their hunger can only be satisfied here in God’s house and at his altar when we receive Christ himself in the Eucharist. While more or less the same restrictions that we had a year ago are still in place, we can see the rest of society opening up. There is a hunger for Christ. Just this past May 13, on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, we hosted an evening Mass with the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary that pushed our limited capacity, I’ll admit it, past the limit. And it was joyful to see our church full. We may still be some time away from seeing the church physically full like it was before the pandemic, but just the thought of it sure fill our hearts with joy.
We cannot predict the future, but we can hope that soon we will return to normal unrestricted worship. Today we call upon the Holy Spirit who came down upon our Blessed Mother and the apostles at Pentecost and ask Him to fill our hearts with zeal for the house of the Lord. May we have the zeal to help fill our church again by reaching out to our lost brethren. The Spirit has brought us to this moment so we can share this joy with others. Come, Holy Spirit! Inspire us to be living witnesses of the resurrection and to help bring those who have fallen away back to church to worship with us and to receive the precious gift of the Most Holy Eucharist.
God bless you all!