71 Central St. Stoneham, MA 02180

Browsing Pastor's Notes

02/14/24 - Life gets away from us sometimes

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

I remember some years ago a priest said to me, “When you arrive somewhere new, write down the repairs that you notice are needed, because after a year, you’ll not notice those things anymore.” When you first arrive somewhere new, you think to yourself, “We’ve got to fix that leaky faucet.” Two years later when someone mentions the faucet to you, you say, “Yeah, that’s the leaky faucet.” Or, “Yeah, that’s the drawer that doesn’t open.” In one rectory that I lived in, I was cooking one night and needed a can opener. In the drawers I found seven can openers. All of them, broken!

Life gets away from us sometimes. We settle in and get comfortable. It happens in parishes all the time. I’m not talking about the obstinate resistance to change that can sometimes happen. I mean more a complacency that we don’t even realize is happening. It struck me recently that one of the things that every parish needs to do is constantly examine itself to ask, “What do we do well?” And we have to ask, “What needs some work?” As I’ve mentioned to you before, one thing that really strikes me about St. Patrick Parish is how friendly and welcoming people are when you walk in the door. And yet, I want to ask, “Are there ways that we can do that even better?” I think especially because St. Patrick Parish is such a busy place, there never seems time to stand back and examine it. But, I’d like to find a way to begin examining all aspects of our life so that we can continue to grow and flourish. What needs to be pruned and what needs to be planted? What is the Lord asking of us? How can we best respond? This is something that we will have to do together.

Of course, what I just said about parish life is equally applicable to our own spiritual lives. We can settle in, get comfortable, and no longer live as intentional disciples of the Lord. We can lose the savor of following Christ and become insipid. We can grow accustomed to our sins, no longer pursue virtue, and become sluggish in our prayer life. We can lose that fascination for Christ that we once had and live a boring kind of Christianity.

In some ways, this is why the Church gives us the holy season of Lent each year. It is a time to rekindle the love that we first had for the Lord. It is a time of conversion. It is a time to shake off the sluggishness that weighs us down. It is a time to turn to the Lord and ask him to set us free from our sinful habits. It is a time to cast off the deeds of darkness and to put on the armor of light. It is a time to be forgiven and a time to forgive. It is a time to rediscover what it means to be a disciple of the Lord. I am happy that we are living Lent together.

A couple of other things . . .

Last week I noticed a lot of new faces at some of our Masses. I’m new too, so sometimes it is difficult for me to know who else is new! As a fellow newbie, I want to welcome you and tell you how happy we are to have you here. There was definitely one new person at Mass last week. I met a beautiful two-week old infant. Praise God for the beautiful gift of life! And thank you to her parents for sharing your joy with us.

If you are new to our parish, please introduce yourself to me!

Lastly, as a community, let us pray during these weeks of Lent for those among us who are preparing to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church during the Easter Season. The example of these people who are falling deeper in love with Jesus Christ and who are choosing to follow him with greater intentionality are a source of encouragement to all of us. We are praying for you!

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes