Dear Good People of Saint Mary,
It’s always the same when I’m trying to get ready for a trip, to be away for even a few days. I worry about all the stuff that still needs to get done, it is hard to sleep and even to see beyond the moment of departure. Once I’m on the plane usually I’m fine, and I have the sense that I did what I could in order to be on my way. But up until that point I find it hard to go.
I imagine getting to heaven to be most like that moment when you lift off from the runway and there is a kind of peace that settles in. We did all we could, let the anticipation of what is about to happen open up before us. Still, departures are just so hard.
You will see in the church our version of scrolls which include the names of all those deceased loved ones for whom we provided services since last November 2, All Souls’ Day. We include their names so that we will remember to pray for them. I’ve heard it said that we most hold on to our grief at the loss of someone we love because we are afraid that we will forget them. It is in the offering of the Mass, though, that we gather together all those who have lived before us, all present, and all those yet to come into one eternal self-emptying act of love to God the Father, in remembrance. His body is made up of all: Jesus Christ is mercy, because his Communion isn’t just the glorious assembly of the saints in heaven, but also us sinners here on earth, and the sinners who have already died and await that glory. As Christ we offer that body of faith, hope and love every time we gather for liturgy. Our perfection on this earth is in our hoping.
We celebrate during the month of November all those who have gone before us, , but we also reflect this month on how we are preparing ourselves for the journey – how are we making arrangements, what are we packing, how are we saying goodbye? Are we leaving a culture of reconciliation and love behind, in the expectation of discovering the perfection of life to come? Have we lived so as to fulfill God’s plan and our potential in a way that is truly full, active and conscious? On a most basic level, I think that involves a goal being able to see what is true, beautiful and good in ourselves, but even more importantly finding it in others. Looking not in a mirror, but to the horizon.
This week I’m headed to Italy. The ultimate reason for this trip is a wedding this coming weekend in Florence, for the daughter of some good friends. While there, it makes sense to look around a little before and after, right? So, I’ll be in Rome for a couple of days, hopefully aending Pope Francis’ audience on Wednesday. Then a couple of days in Florence and Tuscany. I’ve never been to Lucca and the coast of the Cinque Terre, so I thought maybe I’d check that out. After the wedding, a few days with the bride’s family in Siena. By the time you get the next bulletin I’ll be back already, so I’ll say goodbye and hello right here since deadlines are early. But I want you to know that you are remembered in prayers and Masses throughout the trip, especially Masses at St. Peter in Rome, early in the mornings on Monday and Tuesday when I am there. I will offer Mass for all of you near the tomb of Peter. Because we always have to remember to pray for the living, too.
It so happens that while I’m gone this weekend we welcome Cross Catholic Outreach for their presentation on the missions and how we can be involved in their work. Please respond generously as you are able for all the good work they do and the missionaries they represent. Then we come to the Solemnity of Christ the King, and the end of our church year of 2013 and the annual unfolding of the Mysteries of Christ begins all over again with the Year of Grace 2014 with the First Sunday of Advent, Dec. 1.
I guess that, too, is a moment of “lifting off” to a new year, filled with anticipation and joy.
God bless you.