In the second reading on the Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time, St. Paul remarks on Christian courage, stating, “we walk by faith, not by sight. ”Our time continues to call us to act courageously as parish staff lead and minister to the faithful.
Articles in this issue examine some ways that parishes have built community, nourished the sacramental life, and formed people in faith, even while social distancing. In “Taking the Parish Online: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic,” authors Corinna Laughlin and Maria Laughlin write of the St. James Cathedral staff learning suddenly the ways of virtual formats. They discovered too that the parish can still gather in prayer, learn, build relationships, and reach out to the poor through “contactless” methods. Though this period is challenging, they also have found grace and opportunity.
“Forming Parishioners to Minister to the Homebound,” by Mary A. Ehle, encourages parishes to develop ministries to pray with people unable to attend the liturgy. Noting that the number of people in this group has grown since the pandemic, the author suggests involving all age groups in this ministry. The homebound may need the expertise of a young person to learn to connect to virtual formats, the comforting voice of an experienced reader, and perhaps a tech savvy person to procure a device to connect to virtual platforms. The experience may bring hope to all involved.
With the need for social distancing during the past year, some couples who had intended to have a large wedding in the parish may have instead opted for a small civic ceremony. At some point, they may desire a convalidation of their bond. The article “Set Me as a Seal on Your Heart,” by Elizabeth Simcoe, considers the option to celebrate the union at a Sunday Mass. The author demonstrates the importance of a spirit of accompaniment while preparing for the liturgy with the couple.
As the warmer spring weather beckons a new look at the church grounds, parishes may want to consider how to stir environmental concern in the faithful. In “Gardens, Habitats Foster Sense of Unity with Creation,” Mary Patricia Storms writes of ways to help parishioners recognize their part in the state of the ecology. Undoubtedly, the art and environment members, gardeners, and environmentalists will find plenty to discuss in the topics of butterfly gardens, bee hotels, and sustainable practices.
With May as the month in which many parishes crown an image of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the faithful often think of our Lady’s place in our lives. In the Living Our Faith article, “Nurturing a Love for Mary,” author Kathryn Ball-Boruff suggests ways to help children see the Mother of God as their mother.
At times, a couple planning their wedding may be surprised by the requirement that the ceremony takes place in a church. Kathy Kuczka writes in “Parish Wedding Ceremony Links Day with Life of Faith” that marriage involves more than the couple who exchange vows. A wedding in the parish community can bear witness to the support that the couple can expect from the community.
May your days be blessed.
Bishop Joseph N. Perry
Auxiliary Bishop of Chicago
Using the liturgy as its source, Pastoral Liturgy® has been intentionally designed to be of service to the whole parish with resources for leaders and parishioners, those who are just beginning to learn about liturgy, and those who are seasoned volunteers and professionals.
The six 32-page, full-color issues follow the course of the liturgical year to provide guidance for liturgy preparation, faith formation, liturgical art and architecture, and the many areas of parish ministry that flow from the liturgy to witness the Gospel and build the kingdom of God.
Pastors, parish staffs, liturgy committees, catechists, musicians, architects, and everyone seeking to learn more about how the liturgy forms and informs all of parish life will find this resource a valuable support to understanding the liturgy more fully and incorporating it as the source for all they do. That's why Pastoral Liturgy® magazine is the liturgy magazine for the whole parish!