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Father Muench Says...

Rediscovering our our parishes

June 24, 2020

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

This is a good time, an important opportunity to rediscover our Church as the people of God. The past few months have been a very curious time now – here in our own lifetime. This has been a time of separation and recently a time of protests and marches. And, also, it has been a time of separation from being Church, especially a separation for the local parish, a separation from the pastor, even the local Bishop.

I do know that many of you during this time have discovered how extensive our Catholic Church is. Like you, I have watched the Mass streamed on YouTube coming from Churches all over the world. I have personally participated in Masses, streamed Masses, celebrated by our Holy Father, Pope Francis. In addition, I have experienced Masses celebrated by cardinals, like Cardinal Dolan from New York City, as well as others celebrated by the cardinal in the Philippines, a cardinal in Australia, and other such places. I have prayed and participated in Masses of priests in almost every state in the United States. By the way, I must mention I have participated in Masses streamed by Bishop LaValley and Bishop Lucia.

So, I have discovered how extensive our Catholic Church is. Right here, on my own computer, I have found Mass celebrated in churches all over the world. We have all had an experience of just how vast our Catholic Church is. However, one of the problems of this pandemic is that many of us have lost our connection with our own parish.

So, now we are beginning to draw together for Mass in our own parish churches. This is an important time for us to rediscover our parish church as we join in prayer at Mass. Our prayer should begin with gratitude for our own parish, for our pastor and the people, the people of our parish. As we gather again at Mass, even with our masks and such, it should be a time of truly getting together. We should be part of this reunion by reaching out to each other to be a united church community.

At this time, our Gospel readings at Mass are from Matthew. In past weeks, we have read Matthew’s description of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. The next few Sundays will include Gospel readings from Jesus’ teaching concerning being a good disciples of the Lord.

In one place, Jesus says, “Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” This sounds rather curious to many. Yet, it may give us something to think about at this time. We are to find Jesus first and make the Lord first in our lives, loving Jesus before all others. Jesus challenges us to love him first, even more than our own mother and father. This is not easy to accept. I believe that Jesus has a way of teaching us that when we keep the Lord first in love, we will develop a certain quality of love, a way of life about ourselves that will transform our love for our parents, a special love for a son and daughter. The Lord will guide us and show us the way.

When I love Jesus, I know what it truly means to love. I will learn how to love like Jesus – the Jesus who loved all of us so much that he suffered and died for us. Jesus wants us to be a loving people, to love like Jesus teaches us, to love our parents and others with that kind of love.

It is that kind of spirit that will draw our parishes together again in the Spirit of Jesus’ peace and love.

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