The Branch - August 19, 2018

Aug 19, 2018

Let Us Learn from St. Paul 

Last week, during the Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, in a letter from Saint Paul to the Ephesians, we heard: 

All bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling 
must be removed from you, along with all malice.  
And be kind to one another, compassionate, 
forgiving one another as God has forgiven you in Christ. 

As I sat in the pew, I could not help but think how appropriate this scripture passage was for Our Lady of the Woods.  I have an open, public confession to make:  I did not finish the Mass with my faith family that day.  I got up after the homily and left the sanctuary.  Now, I am not that great a fan of St. Paul; I think he may be the patron saint of run-on sentences.  And yet, I am so grateful that the spirit moved him to record those words.  I think his words ring so true for our parish. 

Over a month ago, I altered the scripts for the screens to play the parish mission statement before Mass.  My hope was, and still is, that it would serve as a reminder of why we gather together.  We come to worship, praise God (the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit), and to “bring people into a relationship with God and one another through the celebration of the Sacraments, especially the Holy Eucharist.”   

Look around.  Can we say that we are living out the mission that we established for ourselves?  Can we say that we are following the instructions put down by the church’s greatest evangelist?  Each week through one form or another, I feel like we are letting St. Paul down.  Worse, we are letting ourselves down.   

As an individual who has been frustrated frequently with the happenings at Our Lady of the Woods, I completely understand the resentment, frustration, anger, and respect the option to reach out to the Archdiocese as some parishioners (past & present) have done.  As an employee of the parish, I completely understand the position of the pastor as the shepherd of the flock and respect his decisions to lead the parish in what he feels is the best direction for our spiritual well-being and long-term sustainability. 

We don’t have to agree with each other (all the time), nor do we have to like each other (even some time), but we do have to realize that we are one body in one faith in Jesus Christ.  Just as any of us cannot tear out an eye or cut off an arm, we cannot destroy ourselves from the inside with “bitterness, fury, anger, shouting, and reviling.”  I am not proud of my actions in leaving the church before the conclusion of the Mass last week.  I hope that it never comes to that again.  I hope that no one else feels that way (to either leave during Mass or to leave the parish entirely).   

I love and cherish all of you as my brothers and sisters in Christ.  Please join with me to “be kind, compassionate, and forgiving [to] one another as God has forgiven [us] in Christ.”  Amen. 

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