|After Mass Today on the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God|
Those in the pews today looked into the sanctuary and saw three seminarians serving Mass. Those men--either from this parish or who feel closely connected to this parish--represent just a portion of the seminarians who are part of our family. The people in the pews pray for these men, encourage these men, and find great joy in the vocations of these men. The people in the pews find joy that somehow God has made our parish a place that constantly overflows with the presence of young priests and seminarians.
The people in the pews today also saw a young, fairly recently ordained priest, concelebrate Mass. He is from our parish and is home for some vacation time. The people are joyful not only because he is from our parish and was ordained, but they are joyful that he returns to our parish to be with us and to offer Mass with us.
The people also saw a young man who was recently ordained to the transitional diaconate. Tom, who studies in Rome and is on vacation, preached for today's Mass. A novice to the pulpit, I think it is safe to say that Tom wowed the crowd. His beautiful homily and his evident intelligence and depth gave the people an extraordinary sense of hope in the future of the Church.
In turn, the men in the sanctuary see something truly special happening in the people of this parish. I've heard it from many of the seminarians and priests who come here. "The people receive communion reverently and devoutly. The people here love priests and seminarians. The people here have a deep and profound love for the Eucharist, the sacraments, and for the Word. There are converts here, young families here, college students here, and Catholics who read and study the Faith." The men in the sanctuary come here because it does their hearts good to know that places like this exist and that it is possible to have a parish where the liturgies are beautiful, the fullness of Catholic teaching can be preached, and the pews are filled with every age group.
I'm the pastor here, so I understand that it sounds like I'm boasting. And, I am. But, not about me. I'm boasting because God deserves to be praised and his works deserve to be exalted. God is indeed doing something extraordinary here. It's like everything we touch turns to gold again and again. I think, in large part, our joy arises from the realization that all of these things are happening because we have been taken up together in the life of grace. These things don't belong to us. They are not our doing. We don't create anything. We've discovered that the more obedient we have been to God's plan, the more faithful we have become to following the Church, the more devoted we have been to prayer and to our friendship together, the more God has blessed us and bestowed upon us remarkable signs of favor. He basically blesses us, we show gratitude and accept the blessing, and then he rewards us for accepting his undeserved blessings by blessing us all over again!
An ancient title for the priest is "pontifex" which means, "bridge builder." One of the great joys in my life as a priest has been building bridges between the people of my parish and the many priests and seminarians who come here. They are united together in a beautiful bond and I find great joy in the manner in which they speak about one another. The priests and seminarians love the people here and the people love these priests and seminarians.
Evangelization is about testifying to the good news. Well, all of us who were at Mass at 10:30 this morning at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church in Beverly certainly have some good news to share. God is doing beautiful things in our midst. The New Evangelization must necessarily involve us sharing with joy the beautiful things that Christ is doing here and now. We should be boasting about what Christ is doing in our midst. So, let it be known that the Lord is doing great things for us. Blessed be the Name of the Lord!