As we continue our journey through the Lenten season, I can only remain filled with gratitude that Holy Redeemer is such a devotional parish. The huge numbers attending our Lenten Novenas, and the Stations of the Cross, plus an increase in the numbers attending our daily Masses, all bear witness to the fact that our parish community is based on a very solid foundation of faith and love. This devotional gift is something that also ensures the continuing deepening of our life of faith and discipleship. It is a blessing to the youngest and the eldest members of our parish. For this we must give thanks to God.
At the same time, each of us must know that our faith is not simply expressed through a life of prayer and devotion, but must also be shown through our true willingness to be of service to one another. Indeed, this is the Gospel call of Jesus: that our love for Him must be revealed in the way that we love and serve one another. We can thank God here too, that so many of our parishioners express that love and service in very practical ways: from taking Holy Communion to the sick to teaching catechism to our children and young people; from taking care of the poor and needy to visiting and looking after our elderly brothers and sisters.
I would just like to make the suggestion that active service of the parish community is not something that should be restricted to just a few committed parishioners. Whilst I recognise the demands on our time each day, and our many commitments in family life, there is also a personal call to each of us to fulfil our vocation to bear witness to the love of God in the world today. There are two areas of service that I would like to make mention of today, since both are an essential element of a parish that truly lives out the Gospel of love.
The first concerns the call to Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our chapel. We already have many people who devote an hour each day to prayer as Adoration takes place each day from 9.a.m till 5.p.m. Such prayer is not simply a time for personal growth in a person’s relationship with Our Holy Redeemer. It is also, at the same time, a prayer on behalf of the parish, especially for those who are in most need. Therefore it is an act of prayerful service that benefits us all. Ideally, it would be wonderful if more people were able to commit themselves to offering an hour of prayer each week. After Easter I hope to talk more about this and to invite many more people to participate in this experience of grace. It is my hope too that we can increase the hours available for Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, that the love of God might ever increase amongst us.
A second area of service within the parish is our care for those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. Being such a big parish, we have many funeral services here. Over the years, a group of remarkable women have offered the service of providing tea in the hall after our services in the Church. It is important that we recognise the wonderful service they provide to so many people in their hour of grief. Most of these are not young and indeed feeling the burden of the years. They would dearly love to have more members join them in their important task. I would be delighted if some of our parishioners were able to commit to this ministry. And, of course, such a service should not be limited to women.
If anyone feels the call of God to offer their service in either of these ways, please do not hesitate to call the parish office or to get in touch with me personally. Let the grace of God challenge each one of us to give all we can for His Kingdom.
Fr Gerard, CSsR