The Power of Parish

13 Oct

 

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Embraced by God, Final in Series

 To discover the strength and power of the Church, I had to move from the limited understanding of Church, to its universal dimension. Strangely enough, I discovered this universality, not in my work as a Catholic journalist on the diocesan and national level, but in the “lived-out” Gospel in my parish home.

 It is in the parish we find the meaning of Christian love—in celebrations of friendship, in ministry to the sick, the youth and the people who seek help for mind, body and soul.   

 Before You Know It—Soup!

Angela Logan (Kimberly Elise) in the UP-TV movie, “Apple Mortgage Cake,” was trying to convince her sons of the importance of belonging and working together. The family was about to lose their home, yet she was dedicated to her friends, and spent many hours helping women in need. She was dedicated to her local church.

She told her sons about how important each person is to the welfare of all. She used a down-to-earth comparison. She said that you may not have everything you need to make a soup, but one person may have a carrot, another, a potato and, still another, an onion—“and before you know it, you have soup.”

Jesus knew we would need to belong, to have stability in a community and a steadfast, ever-renewed Church. This Church would offer hope, healing and holiness to all generations.

St. Paul says: Accept one another as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God (Rm 15:7). He urges us to bear one another’s burdens, and to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:1-3).

Our Own Parish

Our St. Mary Magdalen Parish, Altamonte Springs, Fla., among many others to be sure, is a community that offers healing and hope beyond its parish boundaries.

People here love one another. They show it in their joy at Sunday Mass, at weddings and the birth and baptism of infants and adults. They share sorrow at funerals, support in difficult times and participation in outreach to the less fortunate here at home.

We have a number of men who go to other states to help people whose homes have been damaged by natural disasters, and in Latin and South America where their help is needed. And each year, our parish joins another parish to build a Habitat for Humanity house.

But so much of the love we have in our parish goes unheralded, and rightly so. I am reminded of a dear old widow. She finds great joy in being with everyone at Sunday Mass, to see familiar faces, to hear God’s Word and to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus in Holy Communion. She loves to remind everyone, “Jesus loves you.”

There are people who have never thought of God or felt inclined to seek him. Then there are others who somehow have always felt drawn to the Divine Mystery.

I am thinking of a woman in our parish who once said, “If you want a great conversion story, don’t look to me. I’ve always known and loved the Lord.”

Then there are the little children who, at times, entertain us with cries or dropped hymnals—and the occasional parent who rushes down the aisle to retrieve a fleeing toddler.

And there are the aged, the lonely, and the mentally and physically challenged.

The wonder and beauty of it all

We all fit in.

We all belong.

We all love one another—in varying degrees of intensity and intimacy.

The Church, and each Catholic parish, was founded by Jesus—for all of us.

Whoever you are, you are called into the embrace of Jesus Christ. You are called to the fullness of God’s love and the fullness of truth.

You are called by Jesus to enter fully into his Church, to become engaged in the love, sacraments, mission, ministry and worship of the Church.

“Seated at the right hand of the Father” and pouring out the Holy Spirit upon his Body which is the Church, Christ now acts through the sacraments he instituted to communicate his grace. The sacraments are perceptible signs (words and actions) accessible to our human nature. By the action of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit they make present efficaciously the grace that they signify.

             Catechism of the Catholic Church, “The Celebration of Christian Mystery,” pg 282.

 

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