COME HOLY SPIRIT
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
This weekend we celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. We often associate it with the coming of the Holy Spirit, the apostles in the cenacle, and the tongues of fire. Even though these are all true, there is much more behind it. For a better understanding of it, we would need first to look back at the Old Testament in the book of Exodus, and then look at how this celebration helps us, person- ally.
The feast of Shavuot, also known as the feast of weeks, is the celebration of the manifestation of God at Mount Sinai when God gave/revealed the Law to the people of Israel. God gives them the Way of Life (the Law) through the two tablets of the 10 commandments. This moment, according to the Jewish scholars, God manifests his love for his people. The Law is not meant to limit us with Do’s” and Don’ts. Rather, it means to show us the way to True Happiness, the way to Eternal Life. However, because of Original Sin, there is always a doubt about God’s ways, and we see every- thing that limits us as a burden, hence the thought that “I have to do that, or I should do that, but I can’t.” The truth is that it’s actually completely the opposite. We should always interpret any law from God as “this is what will make me happy,” like “love one another as I have loved you.” Only then we will be happy/saved.
The Prophet Jeremiah announces that when the Messiah comes, God would reveal himself once again. In this new revelation, it would not be like in the Old Testament, that the Law was written on stone. He announces that God would write the Law (Way of Happiness and Life) “on man’s hearts” (Jr 31:33). Indeed, when Christ came, God wrote his Law using the HOLY SPIRIT. It is the third Person of the Trinity that speaks to our hearts. Jesus announces that the Spirit would remind everything that he taught (Jn 14:26). The whole law is summarized by the Love of God and the neighbor. The Holy Spirit comes to give us GOD’S LOVE! God’s love manifested by Jesus Christ is a NEW LOVE, in which, one does not resist evil, one that forgives. Surely, we by ourselves, can’t love the person that is different or is a sore on our side. We can tolerate them at best! To for- give is not to let it go, but to pray for the person killing you, like Christ who says, “Father, Forgive them.” The Holy Spirit comes to give us THIS LOVE. If we want to be Christians, that is, CHRIST LIKE, then we NEED THE HOLY SPIRIT BADLY!!! We can’t love like that. St. Paul in the letter to the Romans recalls Psalm 44 that says we are like sheep led to the slaughter. I would add that this happens every day. Every day we encounter events, small or big, and people that make us suffer. Those moments we need the love of God, because we can’t deal with it on our own strength. That’s why it’s so important to ASK FOR THE HOLY SPIRIT! St. Paul also says “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed... struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2Co 4:7- 10). In other words, today, in this Pentecost, it is THROUGH US THAT GOD WANTS TO MANI- FEST HIS LOVE FOR THE WORLD.
I invite you to ask for God’s help. Welcome the sweet guest of our souls. Ask for the Holy Spirit, to renew the face of the earth through love. Ask for his fruits; love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, modesty and chastity. On the next page, we included an act of the consecration to the Holy Spirit and the prayer for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Only then we will be able to BE HOLY!
God bless Fr. Steven
“FATHER, THE HOUR HAS COME”
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
WE ARE BACK!!!! We are not back from the future…or back into the past…WE ARE BACK WITH EACH OTHER!!! It was a difficult time to be away from the church, from the sacraments, and from each other. At the very beginning of the quarantine, one of the newspapers was interviewing me and God inspired me to say something that is still in my mind since then. The social distancing will BRING US CLOSER TOGETHER…six feet away with masks…but closer!!! It was funny to observe how the folks from our morning mass quickly came together as a community. Everyone would say good morning to each other, welcome those attending for the first time, one person out of her own generosity would post the entrance antiphon, communion antiphon and other prayers. It really moved me to see you together during this time. By one family sending me cookies, it generated the cookie drives and people in town LOVE them. On my second round, they recognized me immediately! Some places I became known as the “cookie priest’! I replied to them in the same way that I would always say to everyone else…I’m only the delivery guy!!! God is the one who is doing everything and holding us together as he has up to today…and He is doing that THROUGH YOU….so THANK YOU ALL!!! All of you showed us a lot of support by your Facebook/YouTube comments, emails, prayers, waving and smiling through masks. We would not have made it through without you!!!
This weekend is not only special to me for seeing all of you, for us getting together to celebrate mass, but it also marks my 6th anniversary of Ordination. I could not wish any better gift than celebrating physically with you!!! Not even in the greatest imagination could I ever imagine that I would be celebrating masses online during a world pandemic. It’s true that lately there were some very difficult moments, but they cannot be compared at all with all the joys that I have lived both in these 6 years or during the pandemic. Each smile (behind the masks), the (virtual) high-fives, dedicating each second of the day thinking, praying, reaching out to you. I even learned how to use Facebook!!!! As I said six years ago, nothing would be possible if there were not so many people behind me supporting me with their prayers. Through all the difficulties, sadness, fires, and crises (including a world pandemic), there was never a moment that I thought that I should not have been a priest. I’m a VERY HAPPY priest, fulfilled and proud to be called your pastor. I’m sorry for my mistakes, and if I have offended anyone, I ask for your forgiveness. Please know that the doors of IC are always opened for anyone who wants to come back. Please be assured of my daily prayers to you!
Since the decision to suspend public Masses and gatherings due to COVID-19, the Archdiocese has been singularly focused on keeping people safe and doing our part to help mitigate the spread of the disease, consistent with guidance from state and local officials. Our priests and parish leaders, school principals, teachers and staff as well as our various social justice ministries have stayed strong during this pandemic and continue to be engaged with the faithful in various ways. Schools have conducted virtual classes, parishes have celebrated Mass via live streaming, programs such as marriage preparation have continued and parish food pantries are doing everything humanly possible to meet the dramatic increase in people seeking food.
The announcement by the Governor this morning that the Commonwealth was beginning the process of re-opening is welcome news. The Archdiocese has consistently stated we will work collaboratively with local and state officials during this crisis and we will continue to comply with their guidance and mandates devised to restart community activity while continuing to fight the virus and keep people safe.
Shortly after the Governor’s announcement we communicated a series of steps to our parishes that they must follow to adhere to both the state and Church requirements to re-open. That document is available by clicking here.
The guidance, established by a working committee of priests, deacons and laity accompanies the decision today that parishes can resume Mass as of Saturday, May 23. Strict guidelines require that no more than 40% of the Church capacity can be in attendance, social distancing must be followed for pews and restrictions for the safe distribution of Communion must be in place. Weddings and funerals may proceed but with the similar restrictions.
As stated in the Archdiocesan document released today, “If a parish within the Archdiocese of Boston, after careful and deliberate preparation, considers that they are able to meet all of the State, Municipal, and Archdiocesan guidelines, they may request permission from their Regional Bishop or Episcopal Vicar to begin Masses as early as Saturday evening, May 23. Many, or even most, parishes may well need more time to prepare, and may choose Sunday, May 31 (the Feast of Pentecost), as the date for their reopening. Parishes should not resume Masses before they are ready, and the decision to delay the resumption of Masses until May 31 may very well be the best decision for a parish. No matter what the start date, no parish should have Mass unless they can do it safely, and in compliance with the guidelines.”
The dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation will continue for the foreseeable future. Cardinal Seán strongly encourages people in vulnerable populations, especially the elderly and those with complicating physical conditions, to continue to watch Mass from their homes, on their parish’s social media or on CatholicTV.
The days ahead will continue to be challenging for all. Our parishes, schools and ministries will be meeting these challenges in unprecedented ways. The return to the celebration of Masses and the sharing of the Eucharist will be welcome activities for the people of the Archdiocese as we proceed patiently and with caution in this first phase of reopening. We hope and pray that the steps undertaken by our public leaders and by the Church will be effective in preventing a new surge of the virus and we will remain vigilant in our efforts to keep people safe.
Learn more about Coronavirus (COVID-19) by clicking here.
Father Steven Clemence