Mercy in Grace

This has been a week of tremendous grace here at St. Peter’s. I will always be the first to acknowledge how very blessed I am to be a part of so many wondrous and sacred moments in the life of the church and in the lives of our parishioners. There are, however, those stretches of time that seem to show us the depth of God’s love for us in a particularly striking way. This week has been one of them.

Underlying the significant individual events of these last days is the hope of the Easter season. Fresh from the days of preparation and purification, we emerge into the light that is Christ’s Resurrection and the purchase of our forgiveness. We sing “Alleluia” again with a renewed joy that, for many, has long been dimmed by Ash Wednesday. It’s very true that the light is warmest and brightest only after the cool and dark of dormancy. Even my sons, who never seemed all that enamored with “Alleluia” in the past, are inspired to sing it with fresh energy and zeal this Easter.

This week we began, as some of you know, with the celebration of Divine Mercy Sunday, the first Sunday after Easter. Here at St. Peter’s, we have held an afternoon service for this feast annually, thanks in very great part to the devotion and commitment of our Cenacle. This dedicated and prayerful group gathers weekly to study and pray, and their prayers include each and every one of you.

This year, however, was notably special. As Catholics, we belong not only to St. Peter’s Parish, but to the greater universal Church. In an effort to bring the message of God’s mercy and love to as many as possible, we joined with St. Joseph and St. John Neumann parishes for a tri-parish Divine Mercy service, which will be hosted by each parish in turn. St. Peter’s was fortunate to host the first of these last Sunday, April 3rd. None of us knew what to expect, but we, including David Dunst, our music director, cenacle members from all three parishes, and six priests, were hopeful. What transpired, by what can only be the work of the Holy Spirit, took us quite by surprise. Over 400 faithful came that afternoon to offer grateful prayers in front of the Blessed Sacrament for the gift of God’s mercy and pardon for their sins.

Also illuminating the limitless mercy of God this week is the celebration of four funeral liturgies. Four families came here to St. Peter’s to find the love and comfort that is found in Jesus Christ. Each of the deceased was a loving parent, dedicated to service in the community in their own way, and a beautiful witness to the sacrament of marriage. Our volunteers worked “overtime” this week, but ministry such as this offers a deep awareness of what it means to be privileged to be a child of God and, therefore, beloved sibling to one another and to Jesus Christ himself.

As if that weren’t enough, we were able to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation this past Monday. At the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary and tells her that she will be the mother of the Son of God. Mary asks for clarification; and once she understands, at least as well as she can, she says , “Let it be done to me according to your will”.

The Annunciation is the moment when Mary is called into the mystery of her vocation, the moment she receives her calling. For Mary, this likely felt overwhelming and unbelievable, most especially because this is also the moment of the salvation of all humankind. God called Mary to be the theotokos, the God-Bearer. Jesus calls each of us to follow him, each in our own way. With Our Lady as our example, we know that to open ourselves to this call takes real trust. But ultimately it is necessary, because the nature of God’s call is frequently obscure until you live it out. Mary knew only that she would have a son and that the child would be called the Son of God. What that meant and how it would affect her life is something she only discovered as time went on and her infant grew into the man who would, ultimately, be responsible for saving her. She knew she would be pierced as with a sword, but I’m sure the Cross came as a shock.

I could say that weeks like this are a challenge, and they are, for staff and volunteers alike. How great is our God, though, that in these moments in our work and our lives, we are invited to allow our hearts to be opened more fully to the grace and mercy so abundant in God’s love for us.

Alleluia, indeed.

Lisa Amos

Pastoral Associate

 

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