“The last will be first and the first will be last”
Those are words we don’t like to hear too often, at least I don’t. I feel I work hard to lead a life that I can be proud of. I feel I choose things because they are the right thing to choose. I feel my moral compass is one that see’s both sides of the story and my prayer life is one that unites me to God. And then I hear the words from this weeks Gospel, “the last will be first and the first will be last”? So, I sit with these words and contemplate them. Then it comes to meGod is talking about some- one else. Those “other” people who don’t do his will. “Those” people who put themselves first and don’t do for or help others. I can finally fall asleep knowing I got the message! Then I get a slap on the back of my head from the Holy Spirit and I hear “you hypocrite”. This isn’t for anyone else but you! WHAT!!
You see, if after hearing this story we only see ourselves as the ones who worked a whole day and therefore deserve more, we are in a dangerous place spiritually ... the place in which we are convinced that WE aren’t the problem, that WE are doing it right, that WE are always pleasing to God. It’s starting to sound like the Pharisees, right? And this could not be further from the truth.
My friends, we aren’t the ones who have given God a full day’s work. We are the ones who have only given God a little effort, a little work, a little time, a little bit of ourselves. We are people who don’t love unconditionally. We are people who aren’t always generous. We are people who don’t always show mercy and compassion. Simply put, we are sinners, flawed people who are often unwilling to fully embrace the lives God is inviting us to live.
How can we change that? Adoration, devotionals, dedicated time to prayer? It’s different for each of us. But when God is at the center of all that we do...yes even sitting in a movie or out skiing on the lake, we involve him in our decisions.
That leads into an announcement from our Wisconsin Bishops and Bishop Callahan. With much prayer, much hate mail and many conversations from priests and laity alike, the return to Mass is forthcoming. The diocese of La Crosse will be the last diocese to resume Masses and stop the dispensation.
Effective October 4, 2020, the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi, our diocese will resume Masses and the dispensation to not attend will be lifted. The Bishop’s letter states this:
“Many of the notes, emails, and phone calls that have been received at my office indicate an equal share of anxiety and concern. The lifting of the dispensation and the return to full in-person attendance also seems to lift the ban on 25% occupancy, etc. None of the bishops wants to place any of our priests or the faithful in jeopardy of COVID-19. The return to in-person celebration, as best we can, will and must take into consideration the general fear that many of our people seem to have right now about going out in public. So many fears weigh heavily on our minds and hearts right now – the pandemic, the political situation, civil unrest, and economic pressures. In this frame work it would make sense for us to pray and huddle close to Source and Summit of our Salvation, the Eucharistic Presence of our Blessed Lord. We must, however, approach the Throne of Mercy and Grace with open minds and common sense. We must not abandon care and prudence in our eagerness to return to ‘normal.’ It is clear we are not completely ‘out of the woods’ just yet. Although the Feast of St. Francis is the proposed date to lift the dispensation from the obligation for the Diocese of La Crosse, we will continue to monitor the situation closely, to determine future action.” - Bishop Callahan
With this mandate from our bishop, I will discontinue live streaming Mass on the 4th of October. I do understand that some of you are not ready to come back, but we will take every precaution to make Mass a healthy place for everyone. Every other pew will remain unoccupied. 6 feet distancing will continue for communion and face mask will be provided for those without one and will be strongly encouraged. We will also take advantage of our live view in the basement with communion being brought down-stairs if needed.
I feel we are ready to resume Masses. Faith and trust in our Lord, along with the common sense Bishop Callahan referred to, will allow us to worship our Almighty God in his presence. Precautions are in place and safety is a top priority. This along with God’s grace will get us through this pandemic. Have a blessed week and as always, my door is always open with your concerns should you need me.
Your Brother in Christ,