Letter from Fr. Keith (July 17)

Dear Parishioners and Friends of St. Dunstan’s,

Almost every day this week saw me inspecting the tiny plot of ground that is my garden. I dug up a little more soil over the past while, and planted some perennials I’d received from a number of people. They won’t show much in the way of flowers this year. I’m hoping, though, they’ll survive the winter and next summer display their full prosperity.

Last year, I grew some tomatoes. No matter how many tomatoes are picked, it seems a few always fall to the ground, evade scrutiny, decay, leave their seeds behind, and grow back the next year. It reminds me of Jesus teaching that the grain must fall to the ground and die if it is to become more than a single grain (see Jn. 12:24).

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been watching evidence of that: some stray tomato plants from the seed of last year’s crop springing up here and there among the lettuce and beets. This week, when both they and their competitors had reached sufficient maturity, I took out the tomatoes and transplanted them. If I’d tried it too soon, I’d have destroyed them and the little beet and lettuce plants among which they’d sprung up.

I was reminded of this Sunday’s gospel. The kingdom of heaven may be compared to someone who sowed good seed in his field… When the plants came up and bore grain…weeds appeared as well. The slaves inquired if they should pluck out those weeds, but the farmer wisely curbed their enthusiasm. No, he replied, for in gathering the weeds you would uproot the wheat along with them.

Weeds and wheat, stray tomatoes and lettuce: it’s, of course, about more than that. Jesus is talking about the intermingling of what is life-giving and what is death-dealing; what we’d like to save and nurture and what we’d sooner be clear of, what’s where it should be and what isn’t. That combination exists around us and is rooted within us—all of us. To jump in too quickly, says the farmer and the Lord, could be the result of misplaced zeal, maybe even doing more harm than good. It’s essential not to confuse weed and wheat, tomato and beet, but discerning the time to cull one from the other is also vital.

As the slaves needed prudence and wisdom greater than their own, so do we. The labourers required direction from the farmer; we, from the Spirit of the living God—many times confirmed by those who care for us. It’s not that the weeds’ uprooting didn’t need to happen, but much more was required than knee-jerk reaction.

The hoped-for result in the field was the outcome of a joint enterprise between grower and field-hand. The hoped-for result in our world and in our hearts will be the fruit of God’s direction met with our compliant response. A keen eye, a willing spirit, patience, readiness to take direction, and a commitment to do the work—as with the slaves—is our part. God, like the farmer, decides the time and inspires our action. Something upon which we might reflect in the week ahead as we observe wheat and weed around us and within.

A reminder of our Masses, weekday and weekend. Because of the need for contact tracing in the event of a COVID incident, and our present restricted numbers, registration is required. Names and contact info are kept here on file for 30 days; then, destroyed. To register, visit the parish website for the link: www.stdunstanspei.com. Would you kindly pass along to parishioners you may know, who don’t have computer-access, that a number of parishioners are available to register for them? They may phone 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988. After August 1, another number will also be available: 902-367-7829. A very willing group of parishioners has been involved in the various tasks now needed for every Mass: checking the names of attendees, greeting and guiding people to their seats, and cleaning afterward. What we are now able to do wouldn’t be possible without them. If you’d like to take a turn helping out, please see one of the hospitality group after Mass or email brhood12@hotmail.com , jawhite5414@gmail.com or saintdunstans@gmail.com

We’ve now increased our capacity at the Sunday 9am Mass to 100. We hope to do the same soon at the 11. In Masses where there is the capacity for 100, it is essential that the two groups of 50 remain completely separate. To help with this, it is important that you note whether your group is North (Sydney St. side) or South (Dorchester St. side). Though everyone enters through one of the doors on Great George St., North or South determines the side of the church for seating. Details are available on the registration website.

This week brought a COVID-19 scare from the QEH. At this writing, there is no word of it leading to any further infection transmission. It reminds us of the need to be vigilant—not frightened, but vigilant. Following the simple precautions recommended by the Chief Public Health Office is our way of helping keep others and ourselves virus-free. To repeat the language of Catholic moral theology, it’s our contribution to the common good. Every individual is responsible for the well-being of the group, and the group shares responsibility for the welfare of every individual.

This will be my last letter for now. It has been my joy communicating with you this way over these past four months. Please monitor our parish website for updates as required. May we keep one another and our wider society in prayer in this unfamiliar time, that we may meet its challenges and find its blessings.

If I can be of help in any way, please don’t hesitate to be in contact: 902-894-3486 or frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com

My prayer is with you and yours. Kindly, pray for me.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

ST. DUNSTAN, PRAY FOR US

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