Last weekend I had the great honor of giving a retreat to one of the largest parishes in the country at American Martyrs Parish, Manhattan Beach, CA. They have over 7,500 parish families, an elementary school of 720 students and six Masses on Sunday. The church is huge with seating capacity of 1,400 and all the Masses were well attended with nearly 5,000 people attending Masses over the weekend. What an amazing parish! What was most endearing was the number of children in attendance. At the 9:45am Sunday morning Mass, it was jammed packed with over 1,200 people and 50% children. The children were loud and noisy but to my ear that “noise” was such a sweet sound, like music! I miss seeing so many children at Mass and it lifted my spirit for the week. The pastor is a strong-willed Irishman who is 84 years old and still going strong. He is a hero to me with his oversized compassionate heart full of love for his people. It was a privilege for me to serve there last weekend. I encourage our families to come back to church and bring your children, we welcome them (and their noise) and we miss seeing their smiling faces in the pews. I promise you that this time spent together one hour a week is an amazing gift to share with your family and you are making memories.
I presented the retreat I gave here at St. Simon in the fall of 2021 called “The Eucharist: Circle of Life.” It was well received with over 200 people attending each night, another 200 watching online live and 100’s more watching later in the week. I challenged the community to see the Eucharist in light of the Vatican II context that it was developed,how profound our theology is and how deep the mystery really is for all who participate. One point I emphasized was the importance of the Word of God in the new liturgy. In pre-Vatican II Masses, we read 1% of the Old Testament and 16% of the New Testament. With the introduction of the three-year lectionary, in the new Vatican II Masses we now read 14% of the Old Testament and over 70% of the New Testament. Pope Francis’ insistence on the new Mass and no longer allowing the old Latin Mass is as much about the use of Scripture as he sees this as a major dividing element in our Church. It is more than just the language, it is about the Word of God proclaimed and preached each week. If you would like to watch the retreat, the link is here (you need to scroll through to Sunday, Monday and Tuesday nights).
Many of you have asked me about receiving my homilies via email each week. I publish them in written form and in audio form via podcast every Tuesday morning. If you would like to receive them via email, please go online and sign up here or email email@example.com. The links are also on the website and links to St Simon Retreats are on our website here. Thank you for your interest.
Speaking of retreats, John Angotti is back this Sunday, March 12 and he and I will present a Lenten retreat mission on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, March 13, 14, & 15 at 7:00 pm-8:30 pm called “Keeping Time…Sacred.” This retreat is all about the challenge of being present to this current moment…not tomorrow, not yesterday, but NOW. We will focus on keeping this time…sacred and examine how we can invest our time with more sacred ventures that will pay dividends for the rest of our years and indeed for all eternity. John and I will banter back and forth with words of wisdom from the saints and scripture and John will infuse music and lyrics that draw us into a mystery beyond ourselves. Words alone cannot draw us into the mystery of God’s love for us, so we will use sacred music to help us fall upwards into God’s loving arms.
We will close the three days of retreat with a Taize Prayer service on Wednesday, March 15 at 7:00pm. We have invited several parishioners from different generations to share 4-minute witness talks about a time of conversion, a time of renewal, a time of joyous reunion with God in their lives. We hope these reflections inspire you to remember your own memories of divine interruption and open yourself to more possibilities during the remaining weeks of our Lenten journey. We encourage you to invite a friend to these sessions and bring them with you. If you cannot travel at night, then join us via our livestream and invite friends to watch with you.
This coming Friday is St. Patrick’s Day and we will continue our long tradition of celebrating with a traditional St. Patrick’s Day dinner, music and Irish dancers at 6:00pm following the Stations of the Cross. Bring the whole family and join us for Stations of the Cross at 5:30 pm first and then the dinner. Remember we have been granted an exemption by Bishop Cantu from fasting from meat this Friday and can enjoy good ole fashioned corned beef and cabbage and honor this Irish tradition. It will be a delicious meal and a fantastic evening of community. No tickets are sold at the door so please buy your tickets online here.