Whenever a sport’s team wins a tournament or a trophy, after expressions of delight from the players and coaches and the fans, the usual thing to be said is that it is now time for the team to build on its success, and to become even more successful in the future.
Over the last week, our parish here at Holy Redeemer has experienced the grace of a very successful parish mission which was very wonderfully led by Fr Larry Kaufmann. I was delighted that so many of our parishioners made such a commitment to attending the mission services, despite the very cold weather of the past week
Over the first three days, the focus of the mission was on different aspects of the mercy of God. Fr Larry preached on Monday evening on the theme of Jesus as the face of the Father’s mercy, and we were all invited to reflect on the bountiful mercy of God revealed in the loving acts of Jesus, Our Most Holy Redeemer. The service concluded with an inspiring meditation where we were encouraged to personally recognise the mercy of Jesus in our own daily lives.
On Tuesday, we had a Healing Service which was intended to show us that, despite all our personal and family problems, we can still encounter the healing mercy of Jesus in every situation. The service concluded with a personal blessing of all those present. I know that many people found the service very helpful and joyful, and indeed healing.
On Wednesday evening we were asked to focus on the wonderful gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, which affords each of us an amazing opportunity to see penance and forgiveness as essential ways of encountering the mercy of God in and through all our human weakness and fragility. The service concluded with a very moving communal penitential service, an act of sorrow and absolution.
Finally, on Thursday evening we had the great joy of concluding the Mission with a celebration of Holy Mass in thanksgiving for the 150th anniversary of the Redemptorists receiving the Icon of Our Blessed Mother of Perpetual Help. It was highlighted that our beloved Icon is itself an Icon of Mercy, and therefore we can recognise the ways in which Our Blessed Mother will teach us to reflect too the mercy of God in our lives.
We thank Fr. Larry for the way that he has conducted the Mission and for the many ways that he inspired and challenged all those who attended to become more aware that we walk each day in the mercy of God, and that we are called to reflect that same mercy to one another and to the wider community.
We must also give thanks to God that our Mission of Mercy has indeed been successful. But the important thing for me, going back to my sporting metaphor, is that as families, and as a parish community, we find meaningful ways to build on the success. It is all too easy for us to have a wonderful spiritual experience, and then for the memory of those graces to quickly fade away from our consciousness, so that nothing really changes.
It is my sincere hope and prayer that this Mission we have just celebrated will be a starting point for all of us; that we begin to find practical means of living out the mercy of God in our personal and family lives and that we bring more kindness into our harsh world.
It is also my hope that the Parish Pastoral Council reflects on practical ways that we at Holy Redeemer can express the mercy of God to one another and to the wider community. There are so many people in our midst who are broken or wounded through the daily struggles and pain of life. Let us all do whatever we can to become a Church of Mercy to one another and to the world.
Fr Gerard, CSsR