“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15: 12
Today’s Gospel touches an area of our lives that we often underestimate. This verse from John is emblazoned in my mind. When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan as a chaplain, I proclaimed that verse each time I stood on an aircraft ramp greeting the remains of a dead soldier. This “ramp ceremony” was something that made the words of this Gospel so sacred and precious for me and many other witnesses to our fallen comrades.
However, laying down one’s life occurs in other ways as well. Without question, soldiers killed in battle are clearly laying down their lives. But so is the mother or father who is working multiple jobs in order to provide for the needs of their children. For those folks, they have no lives of their own. There are many, many more examples of folks laying down their desires, goals, dreams, preferences, etc. These too are laying down their lives. I recall Bishop Barron had T-shirts printed that stated three Gospel principles to live by, and one was something like: "Your life is not about you!" That says it all.
Here in the parish, we will return to the regular schedule beginning next week. By now, Fr. Augustin should be back from his well-deserved trip home to Cameroon. During these past six weeks I have gained many insights into the requirements for a one priest situation. The schedule adjustments were helpful and I would say necessary when only one priest is covering this parish. There were many other unexpected requirements and challenges that I can now reflect upon and formulate some mitigation strategies. I want to thank everyone for your support and patience during the time when I was the only priest here.
Soon we will be in this permanent status of one priest assigned. Given the number of priests we are projecting, most parishes will only have one priest. This does cause significant changes to how a priest ministers in a parish. However, we are not there yet! Please pray for vocations to the priesthood!
Regarding COVID restrictions at the church, please be patient and flexible when coming to church. If there are no more open seats, please consider the side of the church or the front outside area. We can have folding chairs available as well. Of course, the outside speakers will be blazing away and when communion time arrives the folks outside can file in when the inside folks are complete. Given the restrictions, it is impossible to project and assess numbers and therefore it is difficult to plan various mitigation strategies. I really hope we are close to lifting these restrictions.
Finally, I am still excited from the past weekend Masses. It is so awesome to have Confirmations and First Communions during regular Masses. Unfortunately, we are not able to get Baptisms at Mass. For now, we are doing them almost every Sunday afternoon. I hope we can get back to Baptisms at Mass as well. Additionally, after COVID, I hope to begin a monthly Anointing of the Sick at the end of one Mass.
One more awesome piece of news is Fr. Augustin successfully defended his dissertation and earned his Doctorate… Fr., Dr. Augustin!
Happy Sixth Sunday of Easter!