I have always been drawn to those words from the Book of Ecclesiastes. The sacred author presents time as experienced in the different seasons of our lives, as God so intends. It is fluid, continually evolving, each moment accumulating and building toward the next. Nothing stays the same.
Eighteen years ago, Cardinal Seάn visited Lawrence, where I had been serving as pastor for five years. He asked me to leave there and come to Charlestown. I was surprised by the request for there were many exciting things in development. Nonetheless, I replied, “If you ask me to go there, I will, of course”. He did and I came!
Canon law requires a pastor at the age of 75 to submit his resignation to his Bishop. On January 6, 2020, I wrote to Cardinal Seάn and submitted my resignation. I also offered to remain for a couple of more years, if he so wished. He called and asked me to remain.
On my 77th birthday, I wrote once again and suggested June 2022 seemed a fitting time to step aside as pastor and accept a role as senior priest in the Archdiocese. And so it will be. I will celebrate my final Mass as pastor of this wonderful Parish on Sunday morning, June 5 at 10:30. Coincidently, June 5 is also the 40th anniversary of my ordination as a priest.
Transitions and changes are never easy for anyone. This one will certainly be a difficult one for me as I have grown so to love this community over the past 18 years – almost half of my entire priesthood. Yet, I am not retiring from priesthood! I plan to continue in active ministry although not as a pastor of a parish. I look to serve as a helper in a parish that needs a hand in sacramental ministry. Where that will be will become clear in time.
In the meantime, we have a lot to look forward to in these coming weeks of Lent, followed by Holy Week and Easter, the joyful celebrations of First Communions and Confirmations, and, of course, our beautiful Sunday Mass celebrations. I truly look forward to greeting you all in these upcoming days.
The process of selecting a new pastor has been underway for a while and at some appropriate time we will know who that will be. Most likely, that priest will be saying goodbye to his Parish as he prepares to say hello to ours! In time, I am confident your new pastor will grow to love our Parish every bit as I have.
Fourth Sunday of Lent – March 26/27, 2022 (Laetare Sunday)
Today we hear one of the most beloved stories in the Gospel of Luke, Jesus’ parable of the Prodigal Son. Reconciliation is a prominent theme. Seeing the younger son returning to him, the son who left the family and squandered his inheritance, the compassionate father runs to embrace him.
Jesus offers us a vision of a loving God who is merciful and forgiving when we, through our own sinfulness, leave his presence, and then through repentance, return to him.
The remainder of the Lenten season offers us an opportunity to reflect on God’s compassion and our need for reconciliation.
If you have not done so already, consider celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation and experience God’s loving embrace and forgiveness.
Laetare Sunday is the fourth Sunday in the season of Lent, in the Western Christian liturgical calendar. Traditionally, this Sunday has been a day of celebration, within the period of Lent. This Sunday gets its name from the first few words (incipit) of the traditional Latin entrance (Introit) for the Mass of the day.
“Laetare Jerusalem” (“Rejoice, O Jerusalem”) is Latin from the Book of Isaiah 66:10-11
On Laetare Sunday (as similarly with the Third Sunday of Advent’s Gaudete Sunday) the
Church expresses hope and joy in the midst of our Lenten fasts and penances. It is also called
Rose Sunday and pink (rose) vestments are worn. This change in color indicates a glimpse of
the joy that awaits us at Easter, just before we enter into the somber days of Passiontide.
The Power of Prayer
One of the most common requests a priest receives in the course of a day is for prayers. The request can happen anywhere: on a bus, at Market Basket or Dunkin Donuts, walking down Main St., walking Lily in the park, and in the back of the church. Sometimes the request comes with an explanation that indicates a family problem, a sickness or a personal struggle. At other times there is no explanation, merely a look of sadness or stress in the eyes of the person. In whatever circumstance, I always receive the request seriously and take it to heart.
Over the years my understanding of prayer for another has evolved. Frankly, I have probably forgotten the exact theological teaching on the matter and simply know in my heart that prayer undertaken in earnest for another is powerful. You see it is first of all an act of faith. Faith in the power of God to heal, comfort, console and accompany another in the struggle
Nothing is more powerful than belief in God. Prayer for another is an act of belief in the omnipotence of God and the capacity of God to reach into one’s life and affect the heart, the spirit. We believe that God can do all things and acting on this belief frees God to act. Over and again Jesus insisted on faith. He explained that it was the faith of a person that brought about miracles He achieved. “Your faith has saved you,” He would proclaim after some expression of His omnipotence.
Not long ago, a young woman who had asked for prayer came to me to explain that her cancer had been cured, although the prognosis several months earlier had been dim. She stated emphatically that it was prayer that had brought about this healing. I do not doubt her. At the same time, I recognize there is enormous mystery in these matters and rarely are things the black and white some might like them to be. My faith does not insist that all turns out according to my wishes or intentions. Rather my faith in prayer takes the person and presents them lovingly to God with a firm belief that God’s love for them will bring them to a good end.
In Lent, the church urges us to embark upon a routine of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. These are the cornerstones of our Lenten journey. Prayer has many expressions and a prayer of petition for another is one of them. At its root, it is an expression of one’s personal faith. So for me an excellent place to begin this prayer is in the powerful petition of the Centurion from scripture: “Lord I believe, help my unbelief”.