71 Central St. Stoneham, MA 02180

Browsing Pastor's Notes

03/13/24 - The Crosses We Bear

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

Everyday people walk into St. Patrick Church carrying with them the heavy burdens of life. Some are undergoing medical testing or preparing for surgeries. Others are worried about their children, their grandchildren, or some other relative. There are people who are anxious about employment or finances. Perhaps a big decision looms large over their life or they feel like their life is a failure. There are people suffering from addictions and people whose family members suffer from addiction. There are marriages that are under strain, children who are making a mess of their life, and people suffering from depression, loneliness, or some other hardship. Some are weighed down by sins that seem to be unforgivable. So many in the pews at Mass are mourning the loss of a loved one.

I sometimes think we would be astounded if we could see written out on a wall all of the burdens, sufferings, and worries that are carried into St. Patrick Church each week. Everyone who sits in our pews carries with them some cross. Some carry many. It’s good for us to remember that. Sometimes it can feel like you are the only one carrying a cross. It can feel like everyone else “has it altogether,” and that your life or your family is the only one that has problems. Or, you can feel embarrassed by your cross or that it is not a worthy cross. Maybe you wish for a more noble appearing cross or a cross that wasn’t so heavy. You’re not alone. We do not choose our own cross, but we must choose to carry the cross that we are given.

Today we turn our attention to a man who knew what it was to carry a cross. St. Patrick was only a teenager when he was abducted from his native land and enslaved in Ireland for several years. This horrific period in his life could have embittered Patrick, made him distraught, and caused him to give up on life. Instead, Patrick became a man of prayer. He drew close to God and grew in his faith. After he escaped captivity and returned home, Patrick had a dream that the people of Ireland were calling to him, asking him to return. Patrick, as we know, became a priest, was ordained a bishop, and then returned to pagan Ireland to convert the people there. Patrick played an integral role in why so many of us today are Catholic.

Faith changes us. Faith teaches us to see the Cross as something to embrace and to carry. When we grasp the Cross, we grasp Jesus and Jesus always sets us free. Patrick teaches us that to carry the Cross we are given can change the world. This, of course, takes faith. It takes faith to say, “Lord, I do not understand why I am in this situation, but I trust in you. I trust that if I carry this cross even though I cannot see the outcome, that you will use it for my sanctification and for the sanctification of the world. I believe that you love me and that you walk with me. I trust that you know me better than I know myself, and that even though I think a different cross would be better for me, I trust that you have given me the cross that is best. I carry this cross because I believe you. I carry this cross because I love you. I carry this cross and trust that, even though it is painful, you will bring something truly good and beautiful from it.”

All of the Catholics in this parish are under the patronage of St. Patrick. He prays for us. He teaches us to carry our cross. He helps us to carry our cross. And, he reminds us that in carrying our cross, God is drawing us close to Himself and drawing others close to Himself through us.

As we enter into these final weeks of Lent, take a look around at Mass this weekend. The persons seated in those pews with us all have a cross too (as do all of our homebound parishioners). Let’s pray for one another, that we will all live by faith. Pray that we will all carry the cross that we’ve been given. And pray that our faithful carrying of the Cross will–as it did in the case of St. Patrick–win many others to Christ.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes