July 28, 2013 – World Youth Day

I’m running a little late with the blog this week.  No good reason – it just felt like a weekend to not have to follow a schedule too closely.  I think the weather may have something to do with it.  What a gorgeous run of days we have had!  After baking like a lobster on the beach last year, I think we deserve it.  Evidently, some of our parishioners decided to take advantage of the beautiful weekend as well:


And who said Catholics didn’t know how to have fun!  I love my Facebook friends and their posts (although after this, some of them may not be my friends anymore).

On to other business, I want to thank everyone who complimented me on how nice the picture directories came out.  It was a lot of fun to see it come together into a finished product.  Someone asked me the other day if I was glad that the process was over.  Well, with our directory being online and being able to keep it updated, I hope that my job actually will continue.  The most time consuming part is certainly over, but we still want to keep it as current as we can.  So if you address or phone number or e-mail address changes, please let me know and we can still find you (well, maybe that’s not necessarily a good thing, LOL).

As you know, one of our beloved parishioners, Martha Maes, went to be with the Lord this past week.  Martha had been in poor health for a while, but her family kept hope for a long time that they would be able to bring her to church in order to have her photo taken for the directory.  When it became clear that it would not be possible, they asked me to come to her home and take a photo, which I was more than happy to do.  Shortly after, she suffered a stroke and eventually was relieved of her suffering.  This turned out to be the last photo of her, so that will always be a lasting memory for me.  If you have not seen the directory, here is the photo I will always treasure:

maes 002

The eyes of the church this week of course were on Brazil and the World Youth Day celebrations.  If you heard polka music and smelled the scent of sausage coming from the rectory, it was probably Fr. Gene celebrating the announcement that the next World Youth Day in 2016 will be in Krakow, Poland.  Seriously, I think it is a great choice, especially considering the fact that World Youth Day began under the Pontificate of Blessed John Paul II, and that by that time he will have been canonized a saint.  What a wonderful way to celebrate his heritage!

Despite the fact that around 3 million people were in attendance for the prayer vigil last night and for the closing Mass this morning, the star of the show was Pope Francis, who made his first trip back to his home continent since his election as Pontiff.  He kept a very rigorous schedule throughout the week, and made stops at places that have come as no surprise given his humble demeanor, including one of Rio’s “slum” areas and a hospital which attends to drug addicts.  The impressions of the Pope continue to be that he is a man of great humility – a man who keeps the needs of the poor first and foremost on his agenda.  he is a man who believes that the message of the gospel was truly intended for everyone.  He also re-iterated the fact that we must carry our religion outside of the church walls.  In one of his homilies this week, he told the crowd of bishops, priests and seminarians that “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people! Let us courageously look to pastoral needs, beginning on the outskirts, with those who are farthest away, with those who do not usually go to church. They too are invited to the table of the Lord.”

Francis appears to be drawing praise because he is not afraid to speak against the status quo.  One part of his speech to the same audience gave the message that the church has become too “intellectual”, that ordinary Catholics simply don’t understand lofty ideas and need to hear the simpler message of love, forgiveness and mercy that is at the core of the Catholic faith.  He tells us that  “At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people,” he said. “Without the grammar of simplicity, the church loses the very conditions which make it possible to fish for God in the deep waters of his mystery.”

More and more it appears that God has given us a Pope that we need for these times.  When Blessed John Paul II died, the church was in a state of uncertainty – not knowing what direction it needed to go.  Pope Benedict was the right choice at that time in being willing to keep the church on course and to remind us of our deep-rooted history.  However, Pope Francis has brought a renewed spirit of inclusion – an invitation to everyone.  He is not abandoning the doctrine of the church, but is reminding us of the true mission of the church.  The Holy Spirit has truly worked in a marvelous manner.  Hopefully all of us in all corners of the world will look at the example of Francis and re-dedicate ourselves to the mission of evangelization.

Have a great week.  It’s a big week for the Cardinals – 8 games in 7 days.  We need some wins!  Have a great week.  Peace.

One Response to “July 28, 2013 – World Youth Day”

  1. Anita & Mike Bievenue Says:

    A other great column Brian!

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