We have recently come through the month of June, which is the month especially dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. As I meditate on the image of the Sacred Heart—engulfed in flames and pierced by a sword—I cannot help but believe that our spiritual family is called to embody this heart more today than ever before.
We find ourselves, my dear spiritual sons and daughters, in the epicenter of this suffering, this wound. Our nation continues to wrestle through a pandemic, the news has been flooded with upsetting images of violence and civil unrest. Many of you have even witnessed this violence and unrest first-hand. The cries for justice in our society often seem to go unanswered. The institution of marriage and the family remain under attack. Every day, it seems, there is a new, powerful reminder of the effects of sin. And this time, they are very close to home.
Remember: though wounded, Christ’s Heart, set on a throne of blazing fire, is our beacon of hope and peace amidst all these trials that we endure together—as a nation, as a neighborhood, and as a parish. I feel a particular desire, during this season in our parish’s life, to share with you some of the amazing things that God has been doing in our midst during these difficult times. The news seems to suggest that our corner of the world is devoid of good deeds, but I can tell you with immense confidence that our parish is full of them.
And now is a critical moment in the life of our parish family for gratefulness. As I look back over the past few months, I see countless examples of God’s grace working through all of you.
I’ve been so moved by the generosity of time and resources you’ve given to our parish and to those in need, the charity, the patience and equanimity with which you bore the burden of exile from the Mass and the Eucharist, and the prayers that you continue to offer for your fellow parishioners and for the mission of St. Mark’s. I am so grateful that we have finally been given the opportunity, following the prudent guidelines of the Archdiocese and the CDC, to worship together as a family again. It is my prayer that the lessons we have learned during this
exile will prove to be extremely valuable to us now that we can receive the sacraments. It fills my heart with joy to see so many of you in person again!
I’ve seen people come together to clean our church to ensure that we can all worship safely. I’ve seen parishioners run errands for those in need. I’ve seen parishioners cook meals for new parents and for neighbors and parishioners dealing with hardship. I’ve seen our Human Dignity Committee and our Loaves and Fishes Team continue to do what they can to help feed the hungry and homeless and marginalized. I’ve never been more proud to call myself a member of this parish family.
Though we are saddened to say goodbye to Fr. Adam and Fr. Mario as they move on to new assignments, we rejoice to have the new Fr. Cesar and Fr. Yamato serving at the parish in addition to our two new deacons, David and Joe. I am excited to see the ways in which their gifts and talents will be used to build our Church. In the month of June alone, we’ve had 3 marriages, 13 confirmations, 9 baptisms, and 13 first communions! Ours is a growing spiritual family on fire for Christ!
Additionally, many parishioners have humbled me with their generosity during this financially uncertain time. Seeing these gifts from you, and knowing many of the sacrifices that you are making to give them, fills me with hope. It is such a strong evidence of your love for Christ, and I am so proud of you.
As you may recall, last Fall our parish put together four working groups, made up of parishioners, who studied four aspects of our parish life: the Preschool, the School Building, the Capital Campaign, and Stewardship. We are excited to take up the resolutions from these working groups that were begun last fall. More information will be coming soon about the architectural analysis done by the Capital Campaign, and possible renovations in our
My friends, do you see how manifold are the gifts of God? Do you recall the word God used to describe His Creation, after each of the six days? Good. That is what I see in you. I see the work of God, and it is good. As I shared recently, our parish was constructed during the flu pandemic of 1918. It has survived world wars, cultural upheavals, changes, setbacks, and trials of many kinds. And we must re-learn the lessons of previous generations of St. Mark’s parishioners: that as the darkness of our times increases around us, we have the opportunity to be a brighter light than we have ever been before. We are called to be those “living stones” that, like the stones of our pillars and archways, show forth the beauty of the Catholic faith, in good times and bad, in
times of peace and in times of upheaval.
Jesus said: “do not let your hearts be troubled.” Instead, let us use the evil and suffering of these days as a wake-up call: the world is in need of the Gospel now more than ever. The world needs saints! And that is who we are called to be. So before we point our finger in anger at the evil we see in the world, let us instead point at ourselves, at our own sins, and repent. And as we do, the love of Christ will shine forth from us!
After all, the love of Christ is the true “answer” to all of our modern political problems—race, inequality, secularism, lawlessness—the love of Christ is the answer. It is a love that comes from His Sacred Heart. A heart that was pierced for our sins, crushed for our iniquity. A heart that bore the punishment that makes us whole. And by these wounds, my dear St. Mark’s family, we are healed (Isaiah 53.5).
God has not put us here--at this time, in this place--by accident. Each of us has a role to play in God’s plan, a role perhaps more crucial than ever before. As we continue on our safe return back to full operation, I’m counting on you to continue offering your example, your counsel and and your leadership to our Parish family. Let us, then, take up this responsibility, remembering that we bear it not alone, but together—as one strong family
united in Christ.
May the Lord continue to bless you, your family, and our parish, abundantly!
Fr. Humberto Palomino, PES