For all these years, we have been accustomed to gathering physically for our Sunday services, and the Catholic church has always emphasized how important it is to be together as a community.
While it is important to recognize the significance of the church ‘gathering to worship’ the pandemic has forced us to rethink how we gather. Many of us still turn to our virtual platform to continue with worship and prayer. The new landscape calls for both resilience and adaptation, embracing new ways of doing things and of being church. I am not sure when we will return to pre-pandemic church. I know that our bishops are concerned about church attendance. Health and well-being of everyone is very important to me, and everyone needs to be vigilant about their well- being. No one needs to feel guilty for these decisions. God is good.
I do want to highlight that some of our church ministries such as Ministers of Communion, Lectors and Ushers have been greatly impacted by the pandemic. We are very fortunate with our sacristans who continued to minister during the pandemic and have in fact added new members to the ministry. These realities are also true for St. Stephen where a faithful few have continued to serve without fail. Gayle Nault, our coordinator for Eucharistic Ministers, has done an amazing job during this time, in terms of scheduling and training of new ministers. Sadly, for us, Gayle is moving to another State with her daughter. We owe her a great debt of gratitude. All of these ministries have reduced to a third of who we were pre-pandemic times. So, I would like to request you in both communities to consider stepping up to serve in one or two of these ministries. Please call the parish office or connect with Sr. Dominic or Chris Lang, and we will schedule training programs for you.
The disciples of Jesus were imperfect men, who in following Christ, struggled time and again with their weaknesses. And yet, they persevered in the path of discipleship. This has tremendous implications for the Church today. First, no one should consider himself or herself exempt from effective ministry in the service of the Gospel or the Church because we are not gifted or competent. Second, our weaknesses, even our iniquities, are not necessarily an obstacle to God’s blueprint for the world and our participation in its realization. Reflecting on her unique calling as Mother of God, Mary admitted in her Magnificat, “He looked graciously on the humble estate of his servant.” The history of the Church is replete with examples of how God continues to exalt the lowly to great heights of holiness and power. The Greats in Scripture were men and women of inadequacies and struggled to make sense of God’s designs in their lives.
“There are many pious people who believe themselves to be saints who are not,” wrote Tony Hendra , “and many people who believe themselves to be impious who are.” A saint, according to him, is a person who practices the keystone human virtue of humility – humility in the face of wealth and plenty, humility in the face of power and prestige, humility in the face of one’s own genius or lack of it, humility in the face of love and beauty, and humility in the face of pain and death. God’s chosen ones are driven to humbling themselves before the majesty and splendor of God and letting themselves be fashioned in ways that transcend our human understanding and expertise. An apostle is one who easily makes that transition from “It’s not about me,” to “it’s all about Him” and willingly embraces His will as one’s own. An apostle is one who is deeply aware of one’s inadequacies and unworthiness and recognizes God’s greatness in attending to our lowliness.
There is no place better than being part of our ministries that are associated with the church and the celebration of the sacraments. Once again, I would invite you to consider serving as a Minister of Communion, Lector or Usher. At some point in the fall, we will also need to bring back our altar servers. We miss them so much. As ministers, you are called to be a vessel of God's compassion and love that can only be borne from your own brokenness and your own sense of being God's beloved.