Last weekend it was wonderful to see so many parishioners gather for the Fall BBQ. It was the first time that many of you had been on campus in person since the beginning of the pandemic and for many more the first time you had seen each other in person. There was such excitement and energy in the air among the 800 parishioners; especially the children who played, danced, and ran around like children should. Thank you to Angela Schaufler and her BBQ team for planning, organizing, and hosting this event. Thank you to Victor Ramirez and the staff who helped make this event a success. Indeed, thank you to all of you who came and cooperated so well by wearing facemasks except when you were eating or drinking. It was truly an awesome communal success.
One of the comments I heard most as I walked around was how good it was to be there and how we much all “needed this event.” I heard how much we needed to get together and “be community,” how we all missed seeing each other and sharing a simple meal was a balm for the soul. Most of all, we know the kids needed this event. I think we all needed this BBQ for the health of our souls.
The reality is that we are innately communal and this last 18 months of pandemic has been hard for all of us, especially the elderly and the young. The isolation that came with the pandemic shutdowns has not been good for us emotionally, psychologically and most especially not good for us spiritually. We truly “need” each other to be fully human. That is the reality of our human design. God made us to be communal, to be in relationship with each other.
Our nature of being communal is something the Church has always understood and it is embedded in everything we do; most especially when it comes to Mass. Therefore, the Sunday Eucharistic celebration of the Mass is not an additional extra or incidental component of our lives as Catholics. It is the cornerstone of who we are as humans. Or as the Church documents says, “the Eucharist is the font and summit of who we are and all we do.” Everything we do flows from and returns to the Eucharist. It is most fundamental component of our communal life. We come together every week to “celebrate and to offer thanksgiving” for all of God’s gifts to us and to share with each other in our sufferings and struggles of live. It is our most basic need as humans to have a group to share the most important moments of our lives. We ritualize this need in the Sunday Mass and attending each week is for the nourishment for human spirit and soul.
One of the best biblical illustrations of this reality is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus, at the foot of the cross. When Jesus is dying upon the cross, he looks down and sees his mother Mary gazing upon him with love. It must have given him great comfort to see his mother there loving him to the last moment. Yet, it must also have been challenging for him to see his mother suffer as he now suffers. Then he looks across and sees his best friend, the beloved disciple, gazing at him with a similar love. Again, it must have been both comforting and challenging to see his best friend accompany him and suffer with him. What happens next is the most quintessentially eucharistic moment of scripture. Jesus said to his mother, “’Woman behold your son.’ Then he said to his beloved disciple, ‘Behold, your mother.’ And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.” Jesus knows we look at him with love even when we suffer, but he tells us to love one another and see each other’s suffering. That is the Eucharist in action every week, or at least that is the Eucharist ideally in action.
I will be presenting a new livestream Adult Faith Formation series called “Living the Eucharist: The Circle of Life.” I will explore the profound mystery of the Eucharist and help us to enter into a new understanding of our communal need for it in our weekly lives. Come and join me each Tuesday night at 7-8pm from September 28 through November 2 livestream on YouTube and Facebook. I will poll all Mass attendees this weekend and see if some people would like to join me for a live audience in the Church as well. It would be nice to see people in person as I present on the livestream!
Lastly, I want to thank you all for your generosity to the Cash Calendar Raffle. We were able to give a gift to the victims of the hurricane on the East Coast last week. If you have not had a chance to participate, you still can selecting the link in the article below. Congratulations to our first winners of the raffle: Gaby Gemetti and Julian Scurci.
Finally, I look forward to seeing you next weekend as we celebrate Fr. Warwick’s retirement with a formal farewell celebration at 5pm Mass on Sunday, September 26; another opportunity for a communal gathering. Please RSVP here.