Over the past two years it has been a blessed experience for our parish and for me to accompany PETER ROBINSON on his journey of formation for the Catholic priesthood. In order to get a broad experience of parish life, Bishop Crosby has re-assigned Peter to Our Lady of the Assumption Parish (our neighbours!) for the next stage of his formation. His last Sunday with us will be on JUNE 23. Join us then as e offer Peter our best wishes and prayerful support. There will be a special reception for Peter after the 11a.m. Mass.
Dear parents of our First Communicants;
Please permit me to apologize for any distress I caused you, your children or your relatives due to my homily this past Sunday.
In all honesty, I hold Catholic parents in the highest esteem. The main reason why I became a parish priest (as opposed to becoming a priest of a religious order) was in order to accompany parents in their task, which is the most demanding and the most important task in the world. This is the case for all parents; how much more so for Catholic parents! You have exhibited the courage to take on the awesome responsibility of bringing the Good News of Jesus Christ to those tiny potential disciples who are your children. My hat goes off to you and my heart goes out to you.
I wanted, and I still want to help lighten the load you carry. I’m sorry if it seemed from last Sunday that I was actually adding to the load.
May I explain some of the circumstances that brought about the giving of that particular homily? To do that might reassure you that your pastor has not gone off his rocker! You see, the first Communions were scheduled for the regular Sunday 4pm mass of the parish. I considered the mass to be both for the first Communicants and their families and the regular parishioners.
That is why, at the beginning, I addressed both the children and the (grand)parents only briefly. You might recall that I encouraged the children to learn to recite what I thought was a beautiful little thought for every time they celebrated the Mass: “Child of God, receive this Holy Communion, as if it were your first Holy Communion, as if it were your last Holy Communion, as if it were your only Holy Communion.”
I still consider this to be a precious little self-exhortation, and I encourage you to teach it to your children. After that I told the children that I wanted to address the adults in the congregation.
First I addressed the (grand)parents, thanking them for fulfilling the promise they made at the day of the children’s baptism, a promise to bring them up in our wonderful Catholic faith. I spoke briefly ( too briefly to properly express my full gratitude for the labour of love that you perform for your children; see above).
Next I went into the homily that I had prepared for all the masses of the weekend, it being a regular Sunday mass. What you heard from that point on was exactly what was heard at the 5pm Saturday and 9 and 11am Sunday masses, with the same emphases, I might add.
I had preached that homily three times already to our fellow parishioners before preaching to you; some of them were families with children. No one told me after the masses that what I said was inappropriate. Indeed the only response I did receive was a very enthusiastic one from one couple. This is to say that I didn’t expect that what I had to say was particularly inappropriate for a regular Sunday mass.
In reflection, it seems to me that the main cause for grief comes from different expectations about the mass. You saw the mass as a first Communion mass, pure and simple. I saw it as both that and as a parish Sunday mass. Hence the painful misunderstanding. Hoping to learn from this, I’m taking careful thought as to how to ensure that for future first Communion masses this will not happen again.
It might be that you still feel, after these explanations, hurt and upset by my homily. Might I suggest a type of prayer that helps me when I am upset?
This prayer is predicated on my conviction that God wants us to be perfectly honest with Him. We do ourselves a huge disservice by (falsely) thinking that we should only approach God when we’re feeling “all sweetness and light”. He wants us to share with the good, the bad and the ugly. So, when I’m upset, I go to God and I vent! I try to tell him exactly how I feel, why I’m upset, how unfair things are, all the bad things I would like to do to myself, to others, to Him --- whatever! I complain, I lament.
But, when I’ve finished venting I --- and this is important --- I extend to God the courtesy of listening to Him in turn. I wait for Him to share His thoughts with me. This might take some time, for God is gentle, and He doesn’t impose his thoughts on us. I take the time, I try to sort out what thoughts are from Him and what from my overheated brain. I give Him permission to show me what’s really bothering me, and how He can help me.
Perhaps, should you follow this simple little prayer format as I’ve just outlined it, you might discover that other things are bothering you, in addition to your foolish old pastor! Should you wish to discuss these things with me, I would be glad, particularly during the summer months, when I have a little more time.
For instance, I’m very proud of our wise, wonderful, demanding Catholic church’s beautiful teachings on the goodness of human sexuality within marriage. On Sunday I mentioned one such teaching; St. Paul VI’s magnificent encyclical Humanae Vitae. I would be happy to share with individuals or with small groups about this teaching, or, for example, St. John Paul’s encyclical Familiaris Consortio or anything else that seems good.
I have received your concerns and complaints, and I hope that this apology addresses them. If you feel any further need to discuss please contact me by phone (905-643-1637) or by e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Thank you for your kind attention and may God bless you and your families. Please continue to pray for your parish and for your pastor. It’s not always easy to be a pastor, so I need those prayers!
This beautiful prayer may be prayed at any time; however, it is particularly efficacious when prayed just after receiving Holy Communion:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me
Body of Christ, save me
Blood of Christ, inebriate me
Water from Christ’s side, wash me
Passion of Christ, strengthen me
O good Jesus, hear me
Within Thy wounds hide me
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee
From the malicious enemy defend me
In the hour of my death call me And bid me come unto Thee
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints and with Thy angels
Forever and ever, Amen.
As we Kick off our own One Heart One Soul Campaign this Weekend, April 6 & 7, we invite you to take a look at the inspiration behind this great campaign! Look for your letter in the mail!