Last Saturday we held a volunteer appreciation Mass followed by dinner and a concert with John Angotti to recognize our volunteers. It was our way of saying thank you to the many school and parish volunteers who have shared the gift of their time with us over the last three years throughout the pandemic period. We started the evening by celebrating the 5pm Mass together. It was an amazing evening of gratitude and everyone who joined us enjoyed themselves and John’s concert of great hits and some favorite hymns.
I must confess one of the highlights for me was celebrating the Mass together as the church was full of the most ardent regulars. When I gave the greeting of “The Lord with you”, I got back a roaring “And with your spirit.” It was a phenomenal experience, and it will have a lasting memory for me that truly warmed my heart.
I shared in the homily how the first document written at the Vatican II Council is “Lumen Gentium”, which literally means “light of the nations.” I shared how Christ is the light of the world and we, as the body of Christ, are called to shine that light to all nations. It also reminds us that we all have a universal call to holiness; that the call to holiness is not just for the priests and the nuns but it is for every, single Catholic in the whole world to shine the light to all nations; to be a leaven in the world so that all will come to know Christ.
The other Vatican II document, “Sacrosanctum Concilium”, talks about how the Eucharist is the source and summit of all we are; that everything we do as Catholics comes to and from the Eucharist; that it is the source of our strength. The Eucharistic celebration is the place where we learn how to be holy; to be that leaven in the world; to be that light in the world; and that we return here in this constant cycle, which I call the circle of life, coming back and forth.
According to Vatican II we are called to do this both individually and collectively; that we are saved as a body of Christ. We are saved together, and, in a sense, we are condemned together. While we act individually, we also act together. To help illustrate I gave a metaphor: the stand of aspens.
The aspen tree doesn’t stand as a single tree. A stand of aspens is one organism. In fact, the aspen is the largest single organism in the world. There is one stand of aspens in Utah in a place called Pando that covers over 163 acres. They are connected underground in their roots. Their root system is one, single root system. They are not individually rooted but they are connected into one single system: one source with lots of trees. That is how one single organism can be 163 acres!
We, as a Church, are like that. We are connected underground; we are connected through the Eucharist. We are one Church; and the source of our connection is Jesus Christ; the one Lord, the one Table, and we believe in that one Body of Christ.
The institutional Church is flawed but the Body of Christ, who we are, is not; we are an organism that remains connected to each other. How we bring that alive in the world is through service to others. These acts of service testify to the world that we believe Jesus is the Son of God; it is through our actions that we testify to that root system; that we are one Body of Christ.
At the volunteer recognition dinner we recognized that our volunteers represented over 60,000 volunteer hours. That is 30 full time staff—that is 14 at the parish and 16 at the school. That tells us our underground root connection is pretty amazing here. That is the root-system of the aspen of who we are as Church. And without it, we would not be able to do the work that we do.
Now if truth be told, we need twice as many more to be who we really need to be in the Church in this world because there is so much service to be done. We are called to be a light to the nation; it is not just a light in St. Simon’s community alone; we are called to be a light to the entirety of Los Altos, Santa Clara County and indeed throughout the whole world. That is the potential we have if we bind together underground in the roots in Christ.
If we take the time to be involved, then not only do we stay involved but we go deeper knowing that we are connected within and through Christ. If you have been thinking about volunteering and are not sure how, then please go online to our website and look at the many options to find out which ministry you are called to do or you can email Clare D’Agostino, Community Engagement Coordinator here. I promise you will not regret it, the feeling of serving others, working together in fellowship and shining God’s light is so very rewarding and brings us closer as a community and to Christ. It does not make any difference what age we are; no matter how old or how young, there is a ministry for you. Whether it is washing linens, playing music, serving at the Mass; serving at the school; assisting the homeless; visiting those in need in our community and helping with our parish events. There is work for every single one of us. More information on volunteering at Saint Simon here.
Speaking of serving our community, I invite you to come and join us for the School Open House this Sunday, January 22 from 10am-1pm. Come and see your Parish school for yourself and invite your neighbors and friends. We look forward to seeing you. More information here.
Fr. Brendan McGuire