Father John’s Message

Fr. John Gerritts  |   

26 September 2021

As you likely heard, earlier this week I made the painful decision to cancel our Holy Smoke Barbecue Festival. Admittedly affecting my decision is the fact that I’d had some recent close experiences with Covid. I also believed that holding the event would place staff and volunteers in a position of unnecessary risk. While this was something many of us were looking forward to, at this time I believe the nature of the event posed too many risks.

This is one of the only changes I see us making at this time. Many of our other activities are gatherings of smaller groups, activities that last for a relatively short period of time, or are meeting in a larger space like our church. However, every activity or gathering offers an inherent risk. Therefore, one guide we utilize in deciding about activities is their importance in regard to our faith. Sunday Mass does present a risk because of the large number of people. But it is our most important gathering. Small group meetings involve a smaller number of people and are important for many in supporting their faith lives. The Holy Smoke would have brought a larger number of people together and has less impact on our faith, but important for our life as a community.

With canceling, thank you to our volunteers and staff who were involved in planning. A “thank-you” also goes out to our many volunteers who had signed up to help in one way or another. Of course, thank you also to all who were planning to participate in some way. We all look forward to when everyone can gather safely.

But this is also a good reminder that if you are feeling sick, please stay at home and get well. If you have any symptoms of illness you automatically qualify for a personal dispensation from attending Mass. Remember we continue to livestream Mass every Sunday at 8:30 AM and Wednesday at 8:00 AM.

With this announcement and reminder, it seems a bit ironic to then talk about our homily series “CONNECT.” But as we consider this theme and look at this Sunday’s scripture readings, it might be good to consider the difference between our outer and inner self.

We often focus on our outer self as we interact with others. Our outer self is what is most affected by the activities and business of everyday life, also where sin has a chance to grow. Sins typically start out small and grow – seldom do they start large. Sin hampers the ability to connect, even the small ones.

The inner self is where God dwells. Not because there is something wrong with our outer self, but because the inner self is what was created in God’s own image and likeness. This is where real love is given and received. It is where true and lasting connections are made. There is a quietness to our inner self. This is where goodness is found.

The outer self tends to look for flaws. And the reality is that if we look for flaws we will find them – both in ourselves and others. But it is the inner self that is tuned in to seeing goodness. The inner self presumes the positive and so finds it. And so, this week our challenge question is “How is that ‘little sins’ can lead to ‘big sins’, and what should we do about that?”

A hint: give ourselves the space and the quiet to find our inner self. If we do so we will avoid the little sins altogether or prevent them from growing larger. Touching the inner self, we will connect with others and they with us as well. So, while we would love to use an event like the Holy Smoke to connect with one another as a parish, more importantly we need to give ourselves the quiet and space to be in touch with our inner selves: where sin is avoided, real love found, and connections made.

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