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71 Central St. Stoneham, MA 02180

Browsing Pastor's Notes

We are indeed one body in Christ

From the PastorDear Friends in Christ,

I have had many experiences in my life as a priest that seem somewhat surreal. As an example, I recall many years ago being in my car on the way to go food shopping. As I came around the bend in the road, I saw people standing in the road. A car and a large truck had only seconds before been involved in a major crash. I pulled over, grabbed my Holy Oil and stole, and went over to the car which was badly damaged. An elderly woman, unconscious and severely injured, was in the driver’s seat. I reached in and anointed her. A few minutes later, the emergency vehicles arrived and used the jaws of life to get her out of the car. As they laid her on the ground, she let out a breath and died.

I remember getting in my car after that and thinking, “Am I really going to leave here now and go do the food shopping?” The juxtaposition between going from a mundane errand to a life and death situation, and then back to a mundane errand seemed quite surreal. This is often my experience here at St. Patrick Parish.

Our life together here often involves moments of intense joy and profound grief, all within the context of “everyday life.” Within a twenty-four hour period, we can experience the joy of babies being baptized, a marriage beginning, our all being together for Sunday Mass, and a First Communion being celebrated. During that very same period of time, one of our parishioners mourns the sudden death of a spouse, another family gathers at the bedside of a seriously ill parishioner, and someone’s child is undergoing testing. And all of this happens at the same time as the parish attends to the “nitty-gritty” of budgets, maintenance, and administration.

It is an amazing reality. St. Paul speaks about the Church as the Body of Christ. He speaks about how when one member mourns, we all mourn and when one member is honored, we all rejoice. It is good to remember that we all belong to one another. We are indeed one body in Christ. And that a whole lot of intense life is happening all the time among us. And, a whole lot of “everyday life” is happening too.

Everything we do for our parish is so that we can share in each other’s joys and share in each other’s sufferings. When we financially support the parish and when we give of our time and talent to the parish, we are loving one another. When we show up for Sunday Mass, we are there not just for ourselves, but for each other. When you come to Sunday Mass, you are there also for the sake of praying for each other and for strengthening one another. When you go to Confession, you go not only for yourself, but in order to strengthen the rest of the Body.

Those of us who are privileged to work and serve the parish in a full-time way perhaps have a greater sense of all the intense life that happens and also all the mundane activities that are required to keep the whole thing running. I hope, however, that in some small way this letter helps you to realize in a deeper way how much you matter to the rest of the Body. The more you intentionally grow in holiness, give yourself generously to the parish, and become actively involved, the more fully alive this parish will be in Christ.

Thank you for all that you do to build up the Body of Christ and to love one another.

Your Brother in Christ,

Fr. David Barnes