Pastor's Blog - March 23, 2014

Third Sunday in Lent

News and Notes:  Our Pastoral Team is in the midst of another stage of training/formation to help us implement our Collaborative in alignment with Disciples in Mission, the Archdiocesan plan to mobilize our parish resources in order to draw many others to Christ and his Church. We are learning about concrete ways to welcome and attract more of the 85% of Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts that currently do not go to Mass.  The bottom line is that we can’t keep doing business as usual.  Years ago, Blessed Pope John Paul II coined the phrase the “New Evangelization” to emphasize the point that we have to find fresh new ways to articulate, celebrate, and promote the truth and beauty of our unchanging Catholic faith.  Our people are immersed in a highly secular culture that adopts priorities and espouses values that are often at odds with the gospel.  We need to offer liturgies that really engage the faithful in worship; formation programs for our adults and children that help people know and love Christ ever more deeply; regular opportunities for fellowship that builds our community of faith, and pastoral service to the sick, poor and marginalized that manifests our commitment to those in need.  Any changes we may make in our parishes are not just for the sake of change or because of the preference of the priests or convenience of the Pastoral Team.  They are implemented in an effort to get better at what we do, and to ultimately reach the vast number of un-churched people in our towns.  Cardinal Sean uses two great analogies from Scripture to describe our work of evangelization today.  He says Jesus taught his disciples to be fishers of men and women, not keepers of the aquarium; Jesus left the ninety nine sheep to retrieve a single lost sheep while we seem content to stay with the relatively few sheep in our midst and ignore the ninety nine who are lost.  Some folks will be unhappy with this new focus on the “lost” but it is imperative if we want to grow and flourish well into the future.  I want to offer a brief word about reception of Holy Communion.  The practice of “intinction” or dipping the host into the chalice is not allowed in the dioceses of the United States.  Our bishops say the following:  “it should be noted that it is never permissible for a person to dip the host he or she has received into the chalice of Precious Blood.  If, for some reason, the communicant is not able or willing to drink from the cup that person should receive only under the form of bread.”  If you have practiced “intinction” in your reception of Holy Communion, I ask you kindly to heed the directives of our bishops.  Blessings to all of you in the week ahead!