We are thankful for our courageous Black Catholic sisters and brothers who, filled with the Holy Spirit, went to Richmond to meet with the bishop and ask for a parish of their own where they could worship in dignity and be treated with love and respect. And we are thankful for the Spiritan Congregation who responded to the call from the Bishop of Richmond to come to Arlington and work with the first thirteen Black Catholic Families to start a new Black Catholic Church community.
We offer a prayer of gratitude for all the parishioners and clergy who have gone before us, filled with the Holy Spirit, and who labored to create this wonderful parish community.
St. Augustine said that the Spirit blows where the Spirit wills...not exactly comforting if you are someone who likes things neat and orderly or if you prefer to have life all figured out and neatly packaged. Most of us would prefer to see life’s decisions as right or wrong, good or bad...as if everything in life were black and white. The problem with life is that most of the time we are living in the grey; everything is not always black and white! This is where the Holy Spirit offers counsel. The challenge is to be open to the Spirit’s counsel! The Holy Spirit blows where it wills and inspires and guides whomever it chooses, whenever and wherever it chooses.
Most of us get used to a particular routine and we find comfort in doing things in particular ways and we find discomfort when our routine gets changed by outside influences or when we are forced to do things in a different or new way. It is no different in the church -- we all get comfortable in the way we worship, in the way we pray, in the way we sing, in what we sing. And, then when change comes and we suddenly are set off center, we feel “off balance” at the change or new ways.
This reality has probably never been clearer or truer than during this COVID pandemic. First closing all masses to the public and then reopening but with restrictions on how many could come back and how we could reassemble! All this without any certainty on when we would be able to return to something that looks like it used to look and feel like it used to feel.
But we are returning, and we can once more raise our voices in full song with or without masks and we can once again greet our sisters and brothers with a sign of the peace of Christ! And we gather to celebrate the wondrous gift of the Eucharist and receive the Body of Christ!
It has been said that there is one constant in life and that is change. We recognize how difficult all the changes due to COVID-19 have been for all us, from the youngest to the oldest. Not just for us, but for people around the entire world.
I am sure that many in the church today see the Pope’s challenge to live a radically gospel centered life as a change from what they were used to; a change in what they thought it meant to be a Catholic.
In answering the Gospel’s call, Pope Francis has called us out of the church building and into the streets to be a “field hospital” where binding up the wounds of the poor and brokenhearted is a priority.
The Pope is following the call of Christ, who calls us to be a welcoming presence to immigrants and refugees, to seek out the lost and forsaken and to “be” the word of peace in the presence of war, to “be” the word of love spoken to the lonely and marginalized of the world, to “be” the word of justice and equality spoken in the midst of racial injustice and exclusion.
As well, we are called to be care takers of creation, to take responsibility for the way we live on the planet: personally, communally, nationally and internationally.
While all of this seems overwhelming, we need to remember that we are not called to do all this by ourselves but rather as a community filled with and guided by the Holy Spirit. It is in and through the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit within us and around us that we are able to do all good things! As we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost, let each of us ask ourselves: to where and to what is the Holy Spirit calling me in my life?
Happy 78th anniversary Our Lady Queen of Peace Catholic Parish! And happy 320th anniversary to the Congregation of the Holy Spirit!
Happy Pentecost, and all God’s blessings to you all!