Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This weekend we celebrate the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. We all know that the Trinity is made of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We often refer to the Father as the creator, the Son as the redeemer, and the Holy Spirit, as the sanctifier. But have we ever wondered what the relationship is among themselves? Do we realize how our God allows himself to be known by man?
St. Patrick is one of the most popular saints who explained the Holy Trinity in a very simple way. When he was explaining to the Celtic people how God is three persons under one God, he used a three-clover leaf. There are three leaves in a plant, but they are all part of the same plant. So it is God. There are three different persons of the Trinity under one God. And how does that union take place? Through LOVE! They all love each other so much that they are united to each other. Pope Benedict summarizes saying that “the Father gives everything to the Son, the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude, and the Holy Spirit is like the fruit of this mutual love between the Father and the Son.”
This great knowledge is not hidden from man, and it is not reserved for the chosen ones or someone with certain skills. It is revealed to all. The first reading today speaks how there is no other god who is so close to his people, who took his people from slavery, or who has spoken directly to them like our God. We know the reason behind God’s intervention in people’s lives. We find the answer in John’s Gospel: “God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish, but have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16)
Some of this information may seem logical, or something that everyone knows about. But deep down, unfortunately, there are still people who have never heard of it before. I remember Fr Andrea telling me about the experience of his sister in China, who did not know a thing about Jesus. People around us maybe don’t connect the dots to the awesomeness of God. Others could have had their vision/understanding of God blurred by some events of their lives, or even there are people who simply don’t give much thought to God’s immense love. So what can we do to help people have this experience of God? The answer was given by Jesus in this weekend’s Gospel: “GO, THEREFORE, AND MAKE DISCIPLES OF ALL NATIONS, BAPTIZING THEM IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER, AND OF THE SON, AND OF THE HOLY SPIRIIT, AND TEACHING THEM TO OBSERVE ALL THAT I HAVE COMMANDED YOU.”
Last weekend we asked God to send us the Holy Spirit and we were commissioned to bear witness of him with our lives. We as part of the Church are called to participate in her mission of being the prophetic voice of God in the world. By how can we concretely do that as individuals, and, above all as a Parish? I invite you to come and attend our Pentecost Initiative meeting this Tuesday, June 1, at 7pm in the upper church. We will brainstorm ideas of where God wants to lead us, what kind of ministry we need in our parish to help us, and others, to grow in our faith, and people to be part of those ministries.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week we received very encouraging news that COVID seems to be something that we are about to put behind us by the grace of God. This weekend, we celebrate the Feast of the Pentecost, which we remember the Holy Spirit descending upon the Apostles, blessing them with the ability to speak in languages they didn’t know and with words far beyond their own learning.
The apostles were not learned men. Some of them were quite the opposite. We know that Peter and his brother Andrew were fishermen, that although skilled with netting and boating, they seemed to be quite rough and uneducated. Those elements for God did not matter when the Holy Spirit descended on them. It was the Holy Spirit that empowered them to be evangelizers throughout the world, transformed them from who they were to who God wanted them to be.
I believe that God wants to do a similar transformation in our parish. After many months praying and talking with parishioners, I believe that God is calling us to come together with fellow parishioners and to bring our faith family to the forefront of our minds. It is a time to greet old friends and to meet and welcome new ones. To resume cherished traditions and hopefully look to start new ones. As the disciples left the upper room filled with the Holy Spirit and began to spread God’s word, let’s likewise come together to create parish outreach ideas that will become events for celebration, gathering, support, joy and growth. Together we can share thoughts on a great number of outreach ideas to help support and give opportunities to flourish by sharing our time, treasures and talents both in preparation or participation.
How can we reach out? Where can we seek inspiration? Let’s come together to inspire and to be inspired! Together we can be a spark for a dynamic parish and even the smallest thoughts or gestures often have tremendous impact, so please consider how you will get involved. Great and small – all are welcome and needed. At first, we may feel like the apostles, that we are not fit for this task, or not qualified for this work. Remember the famous saying, “God does not call the qualified, but He qualifies the called.” The second reading this weekend from Saint Paul, he exhorts the Corinthians saying that “to each individual the manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit.” Our parish needs each manifestation of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Finally, in order to bring about this change in ourselves, in our parish, and those around us, let’s meet on Tuesday, June 1st, at 7:00pm in the Upper Church to discern what God is calling us to do together. This Pentecost initiative is only a spark of the fire of the Holy Spirit that will get us ignited to bring about this change. As I wrote last week, “the harvest is plenty and the laborers are few!” Please come and join us bringing God’s word to all the ends of the earth! All are welcome to this evening.
In the meantime, let’s pray asking the Holy Spirit to invade our hearts. Let’s ask him to inspire people. I ask you during this time to say the invocation of the Holy Spirit every day, so that we listen to the call and respond generously: “Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
These past weeks I was asked almost by everyone if the parish would be getting another priest in place of Fr Adriano. I believe I gave the same answer all the time, “Let’s pray that someone is sent.” Even though this is all we can do, it is nonetheless something very important to do. Let’s PRAY for God to send another priest to our parish.
It is not news to anyone that today the Church is faced with a shortness of priests. As of the last report from April, in the Archdiocese of Boston, there are 536 priests all together. Out of those priests, only 329 priests are in “active” ministry (the others are either retired or disabled). However, not all those priests are working in parishes. Some are serving outside the archdiocese, others are in the seminary, or chaplains, or some other sort of ministry. Therefore, there are 239 priests serving full time covering 237 parishes. (There are 25 other parishes that are currently served either by religious priests or priests from out of the archdiocese.) As some parishes like ours have more than one priest, that results in having one priest serving more than one parish. In a way, we were blessed to have had at least 3 priests serving IC for a long time. Even though we were all sad with Fr. Adriano’s new mission, I was grateful to God for having had him in the parish all this time. We have requested help from the Archdiocese, who wants to help us, but there might not be anyone available to be sent here. That’s why it’s important for us to PRAY!
Back in 2006, Cardinal Sean published his first Archdiocesan Letter titled “Vocations, everybody’s business.” It was a beautifully written letter in which the Cardinal encouraged parishes to form a vocation team that would promote awareness, begin a campaign of prayer, and identify individuals who may have a calling to the priesthood. Saint John Bosco, who worked with the Italian youth in the 19th Century says that 70% of the children receive the call to the priesthood, but only a few listens, and even fewer responds to that call. Bringing that awareness to our children, youth, and young men, is very important. There was a seminary who once said that the discernment to this vocation is done step by step. The first is to wonder, “does God call me”? Pope Leo the Great says that the very questioning about vocation is the very first sign of a vocation. There are some people who just never wondered, or even contemplated that question. This is not something crazy that a person can feel called to be a priest. Regardless how inadequate or unworthy one may feel, there is a great possibility of a vocation there. Pope Benedict XVI says that “the question of our vocation is not a problem to solve, but an adventure into who God made us to be and how we can best glorify God in this life.” Praying always helps this process. Another important element that seminarians always speak about is the support that a person receives either before or after entering the seminary. I have received (and still do) some letters of people who wrote to me saying that they had offered a holy hour for me. Others have sent chocolates or other goodies. Some people even “spiritually adopted” us throughout our formation. Personally, I am a priest today certainly through the many people who have prayed for my vocation. Here at IC, we already pray for vocations in our morning mass. We pray each day for one priest and one seminarian. But there is still much more that we can do. Next week, starting on Friday May 21st at 10am through Saturday, we will have a 24 hour adoration PRAYING for vocations. In a special way, this adoration time will also be offered for the 5 men being ordained priests for the Archdiocese on Saturday May 22nd. Their names are Fernando Ayala, David Campo, Robert LeBlanc, Leonardo Moreira, Kevin Pleitez. Indeed the adoration will conclude at the beginning of their ordination. For those who would like to write a note in support to them or to the other seminarians, we will have a list of their names and the addresses of their seminaries. We will also have available a calendar in which each day a priest is listed to be prayed for. We also need to PRAY for the sanctification for the clergy as Our Blessed Mother has instructed many times.
Our Lord Jesus Christ already experienced the need for people to work in the Lord’s vineyard from the very beginning, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore, ask the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest.” (Mt 9:37-38) Let us pray that the Lord may send not just more priests, but also HOLY PRIESTS. I conclude with a quote from St. John Bosco, “vocations are preserved only with prayer.”
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Although I express my feelings about Mother’s Day sometimes, I dare to repeat it once again. I’m totally against dedicating a day for Mother’s Day. If we consider everything that a mother does in a year, I’m sure that they deserve at least ONE MONTH to celebrate, show our appreciation to them, and spoil them a little bit as well. Unfortunately, we live in times that everything is quick, time flies, and there is no time to catch our breath. As we come to a halt this Sunday, it’s essential for us as individuals, children, Catholics, and as a parish to not only truly appreciate the value of mothers, but also to defend their needs and support their mission.
Each day our society becomes more polarized between two extremes conservative and liberal, right and left, republican and democrat, up to the point man and woman. It seems that only the best counts. Therefore, there is a “rivalry” that grows in our midst to see who is right and who is wrong, who is first and who is not, and unfortunately, we end up eliminating or discarding many good things that fall off from those classifications. God does not look at these classifications, nor should we Christians. God has made man and woman in his image and likeness, in such a way that we complement each other! It is not about who is right or wrong, but who is our neighbor.
In this battle, unfortunately, mothers lose their value and significance, because they are overlooked. In the Bible one of the bravest characters are women who have taken tremendous risk to save their people, such as Deborah, Esther, Rahab. There are some other women who are mothers, who often are not in the spotlight, but whose actions were also remarkable for being selfless and courageous. I will name only a few, but there are plenty in the Bible. Moses’ mother, Jochebed, defied the Pharaoh to save her son, who later on would lead the people out of Egypt. Hannah, Samuel’s mother, is an example of humility and perseverance, as she tirelessly prayed to God to have a son, who later was consecrated to God. Samuel was one of the greatest prophets in the erection of the kingdom of Israel. Lastly, the Virgin Mary, who by accepting conceiving Jesus risked her life by possibly being accused of adultery. She bravely also accompanied her Son in his life and death. Then there are other mothers whose important role is often in the background, but no less important than others.
Therefore, I urge you this weekend, and all the days of our lives, to stop more often to contemplate the value of those around us, especially of the mothers. It is important for us to help them in their mission, to pray for them, and above all, to be grateful to them more than once a year! Here in the parish we certainly see the need to do more for the mothers. There are some ideas floating to create a group of mothers in order to help especially the young mothers to learn from those with more experience. There is always a great concern for the mothers whose children were called by God before birth. It can be a very difficult time, and this is a road that no one should be left alone. We are finalizing some details before we can unveil this and other ideas.
Please join me as we congratulate our mothers on this day as we pray for them the following prayer:
“Mary, on this day when we honor all mothers, we turn to you. We thank the Lord whom you serve for the great gift of motherhood. Never has it been known that anyone who sought your intercession was left unaided by grace. Dear Mother, thank you for your "Yes" to the invitation of the angel which brought heaven to earth and changed human history. You opened yourself to God's word and the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.
Dear mother, intercede for all of our mothers. Ask your Divine Son to give them the grace of surrendered love so that they could join with you in giving their own "Fiat." May they find daily strength to say yes to the call to the sacrificial love- the very heart of the vocation of motherhood. May their love and witness be a source of great inspiration for all of us called to follow your Son.
On this Mothers day, Mother of the Word Incarnate, pray for us who have recourse to you.” (https://www.catholic.org/prayers/prayer.php?p=4930
Father Steven Clemence