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 working with the first thirteen Black Catholic Families to start a new Black Catholic Church community. We are thankful to all my brother Spiritans who have shepherded this parish community for 77 years. We offer a prayer of gratitude for all the parishioners and clergy who have gone before us, filled with the Holy Spirit and labored to create this wonderful parish community. Happy 77th anniversary to Our Lady Queen of Peace 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 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 use 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 we suddenly are set off center and 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 would reassemble! All this without any certainty on when we will be able to return to something that looks like it used to look and feel.
But what we do know is we will all return, when it is safe for everyone, and we can once more raise our voices in full song without masks and we can once again greet our sisters and brothers with a sign of the peace of Christ! And we can all come forward to the Table of the Lord!
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 of not just our parish community 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 can all seem 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 77th anniversary Our Lady Queen of Peace!