Laudetur Jesus Christus! Gelobt sei Jesus Christus!
Sia lodato Gesù Cristo! Praised be Jesus Christ!
Today is the first Sunday with the new Mass schedule. I want to thank each of you for your patience and support over these past few weeks and with these adjustments. I appreciate all those who sent me notes of support or mentioned it in person.
The changes were certainly not anything that I wished, but I knew it was something that the situation demanded. So know that I appreciate your continued prayers and support. To this end, I want to encourage every one of you to encourage people to come to both of our parishes. To, in particular, try to evangelize those who have not been to Mass in some time, who have fallen away from the faith and those who are not Catholic. We can’t and shouldn’t just ‘cannibalize’ those from other parishes, in the end, that isn’t the Catholic spirit. We must, instead, be missionaries, and draw in new souls who will benefit from the grace and gifts that God seeks to bestow upon us through the Church.
This is a challenge, this is difficult, of course. In a particular way with those who have fallen away from the faith. St. Philip Neri greatly desired to go to the missions, to join St. Francis Xavier in bringing Christ to those who had never heard of Him. But a saintly monk told him no, that his Indies was Rome. So he gave up that idea, and worked for the salvation of the souls of people of Rome, in a particular way those who had grown lukewarm in the practice of the faith. He even had it as his special mission to draw back to the fountain of grace those priests, bishops, cardinals, and popes who did not maintain the grace that their offices demanded.
We need to look to St. Philip Neri, and the early Church, as our model today. If we love Christ, if we love the Church, if we love the various traditions of the parishes, and if we love our parish churches, this is what we need to do today. Not merely for numbers, not simply to keep our churches open. Our parishes show that they can undoubtedly remain going with lackluster attendance. But we need to remember the charity that the Sacred Heart of Jesus calls us — reminding ourselves that Christ’s heart burns with love for men. He desires to be known and loved by all human beings. We must, in our faith and actions, demonstrate that true love to humanity. So that all may be drawn to the fountain of grace.
Charity, love, must be overflowing. It can’t be contained for itself. Because of what we claim, we can never allow ourselves to be a stumbling block to those who should otherwise see Christ in us. At times, we can set the worst examples of Christian living and be that stumbling block to evangelization. Who do not, by our actions or cowardice, draw others to Christ. We should strive to do better by our growth in virtue, in charity, in patience, and kindness. Reminding ourselves daily that Christ has no hands and feet in the world but ours, as St. Teresa of Avila would say. And when we identify as a Christian, and we fail, the world judges Christ again because of us. May we use our previous failings as the motivation not to fail Christ anymore, but to allow Him to draw all to Himself through us!