Letter from Fr. Keith (September 23)

Dear Friends and Parishioners of St. Dunstan’s,

With the return of the bulletin last week, another step is taken toward the more familiar, left behind last March. COVID-19 has impacted us in lots of ways.  We've had to make adjustments in all aspects of our lives--including our liturgical worship. It's easy to get discouraged. Sometimes we need to sit with the distress and pour out our hearts to God.

Tuesday of last week, we celebrated the Memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. The first reading was from the letter to the Hebrews (5:7-9). Here is part of what was read: In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to the one who was able to save him from death.

Those prayers and supplications were sometimes on his own behalf--as when he asked in the garden of Gethsemane on the night before he died if he could be spared the cup of suffering (see Mt. 26:39, Mk. 14:35, Lk. 22:420) or on the cross when he cried out to his Father his feelings of abandonment (see Mt. 27: 46, Mk. 15:340).

Those prayers and pleas, though, went beyond himself. He interceded for those around him, in Jerusalem and Galilee, whose anguish touched his heart. He included, even, those who had arranged and accomplished his death (see Lk. 23:24).

More than that, his cries and tears were for those countless since Adam and Eve, whose lives were burdened with all manner of sickness and frustration and failure and chaos. He would visit them in his descent among the dead during that interval between his cross and resurrection with the gift of redemption.

And, in his love as Son of Mary and Son of God, he reached into the future, even to us, to let us know that in our own struggle--with COVID-19 and all other of our burdens--he is with us, interceding, and as one, who knows, first-hand, what it is to live upon this earth, he walks with us helping us carry the load, and ahead of us into the hope of glory.

That same reading from the letter to the Hebrews continued, [Jesus] learned obedience from what he suffered. The word "obedience" comes from the verb "to listen." Out of his own distress, out of the suffering he witnessed around him, out of his awareness of humanity's distress--before and after--his time on earth, Jesus learned to listen to the voice of his Father, reassuring him that he would neither be forgotten or left alone. That reassurance was shown to be sincere in his resurrection.

It's the same for us. In our own strife--pre, during, and after this pandemic--will we learn to listen--as individuals, as families and communities, as the human family--will we learn to listen for and to the voice of God? That voice speaks the same words to us as have been spoken time and again through the record of salvation history. "I have saved you in the past. I'm saving you now. And, be not afraid, I will remain faithful."

In last Tuesday's Mass for the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows, the gospel was taken from John's account of the death of the Lord. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman behold your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." That touching scene is the beginning of that unique relationship between the mother of Jesus and his beloved disciple. It's the announcement of Mary's role as our mother. It's also, in all of that, the mandate we've all received from the Lord to live as caregivers to one another. As he was to remain with this mother and disciple in their relationship with each other, so does he remain with us in our blessed relationship, in him, with one another. It's part of the undying bond of love between and among us, which we profess when we say we believe in "the communion of saints.”

So … since mid-March, we and our world are living together in a different and unfamiliar way. We join the vast "cloud of witnesses" who have gone before us who have been challenged with making big adjustments. We prepare the way for those who will come after us, who will, in their own unique ways, be called upon to do the same. We, as will they, are not abandoned or alone. Through, with, and in Christ Jesus, in the company of one another, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, may we learn to listen for and to the voice of the Father, bestowing upon us courage, hope, generosity, as we walk together toward a future filled with hope.

Jesus Christ broke the chains of death and rose triumphant from the grave. The power of his resurrection is with and in us. Alleluia!!

With the return of the bulletin to keep everyone up to date, I’ll bring my letters to a close. The bulletin will be on line on our parish website each week. If I can be of direct assistance to anyone, please be in touch with me. frkeithstdunstans@gmail.com or 902-894-3486. I’d be happy to talk with you or to arrange a visit. Mass registration is available through the link on the website. If you would like someone to complete the registration for you, you may call 902-892-9387, 902-621-1988, or 902-367-7829.

Peace be with you,

Fr. Keith

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