Voices of Faith

The Twenty-Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time

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Dear Friends:

In the conversations I have had with many people over the past few weeks, I have heard expressions of concern about how we stand up for our faith when others question it. How strong do we have to be? How can I respond to challenges? The prophet Isaiah speaks with great confidence of his trust in the Lord: “ The Lord God is my help, therefore I am not disgraced; I have set my face like flint, knowing that I shall not be put to shame” (Isaiah 50:7). Our gathering for the Mass each week, each day, is one way we can express that confidence in the Lord. Our ACTIVE PARTICIPATION in the Mass with our reverence, our voices in spoken and sung prayer, and our interior devotion have a direct effect on the expression of the whole gathered assembly. The sound of the church filled with devotion expressed in boldness of response and passionate song (whether in joyful praise or in agonizing supplication) is inspiring to all of us. How each of us participates affects everyone else’s experience of the Mass as well. Take Isaiah’s words to heart as you worship… do not be disgraced or ashamed, but set your face and your heart to the Lord and give your best and fullest devotion and participation in our work of worshipping God. Something wonderful happens when God takes our best efforts and makes something holy out of them!

We had a packed house at last week’s Town Hall Meeting, and I am grateful that so many took the time (and braved the heavy rain) to come to share your thoughts and voice your concerns, pain, and anger at the issues facing the Church today. There were certainly more questions than there were answers, and Fr. John and I were moved by your openness and honesty. In all of this, we heard of your great love for the Lord and your concern that all that is good in the Church will prevail. We are assembling the notes taken at the meeting and will be sending them to Archbishop Lori. We will also find a way to provide them with a more concise summary form so that others in our community can benefit from the testimony and the suggestions that were voiced.

There is much work to be done on the local, national, and global levels, and we need to do our part to participate in healing and in assuring that such atrocities never happen again. The Archdiocese’s employee and volunteer screening and education program, Virtus, is one step that we have been taking. This program strives to create a safe environment for our community not only through the background checks for all volunteers but more importantly through the education component so that everyone—adults and young people—know how to pay attention and take note of particular signs that something might be amiss. Part of each of our responsibility is the basic lesson, “if you see something, say something.” As we expand the reach of Virtus by requiring all volunteers to participate, we not only provide an opportunity for our children and youth to participate in all available ministries and activities of the parish, but we foster a greater sense of responsibility and awareness of what is going on around us. I am grateful for your cooperation and your support in this effort.

God’s peace,

Fr. Rick

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