by Fr Richard Heilman | October 28, 2020 10:40 PM
Please pardon me while I go ahead and brag on my amazing parishioners (The photos in the collage for this article are all of my parish family). I’ll begin by saying, every single soul in my parish is strong in the supernatural power of God. I mean, I’m talking about “willing to be martyrs” level of supernatural strength. There are so many indicators I could give to demonstrate this, but I’ll pick one that is fresh.
How Did My Parish Family Respond During Covid?
While we were shut down with Covid, our parish family was clamoring to find as many ways as possible to “remain connected” to God. I did my best, while staying within the lines of restrictions, to make as much as possible available. While Masses were limited to the priest and server only, or later limited to just ten people, we kept our church doors open all day, every day. And, there was a steady stream of folks who would come to pray before the Blessed Sacrament. Also, I kept my 24/7 Rectory Confessional open, and I would have several every day who would come for the Sacrament.
I made sacramentals available for pick-up. Epiphany Holy Water, exorcized and blessed salt, blessed candles, green and brown scapulars touched to a relic of the True Cross, etc.. I would leave these on my screen porch, and I called it “Drive-Thru Sacramentals.” And, there was steady traffic of cars coming for these sacramentals.
When we were finally opened up to 50%, our Masses were so filled, I needed to add another Mass. Except for a handful of our elderly who remained cautious, EVERYBODY came back, and tears were shed as they received Jesus on that altar rail, after having just suffered through separation from the Most Holy Eucharist.
And here was another “tell” as to these amazing souls’ love and devotion to God. During the fiscal quarter when folks could not attend Mass, we actually SURPASSED the giving level of the same quarter from the previous year, and that quarter, last year, was amazing! That’s right, even with no collection basket in their face to nudge them, and many suffering layoffs, they stepped up and gave even more!
One last piece of bragging on my parishioners. Every indicator of giving, when compared to parishes in our diocese, including diocesan collections, our parish family always remains in the upper 5% of giving, per capita. ALWAYS!
This is what people of “supernatural faith” do!
It’s just incredible to behold!
How did we get here? I’ll tell you a little “secret” …
I believe most priests understand what I am about to say, as I reveal “the secret.” And, here it is …
The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass must be offered in such a way that it reflects what is actually going on: GOD IS BEING MADE PRESENT ON THAT ALTAR! How we offer the Mass simply MUST assist the faithful in crying out, “My Lord and my God!” This opens them to receive the very first (entry point) Gift of the Holy Spirit, which is “Awe & Wonder” or “Fear of the Lord.” Biblical “Fear of the Lord” means one has such love for God that they fear disappointing Him.
There it is. That’s the “secret unveiled.” Why would this even be referred to as a secret? Because, outside of a few remnant movements here and there throughout the Church, this remains unspoken (hidden?) by the vast majority of the hierarchy in our Church. Why?
The answer is simply this: A LACK OF FAITH. Now, this “lack of faith” is manifested in two ways:
So, you can understand why priests are, quite literally, “frightened” to move in the direction of acting upon “the secret” that most of us know. They know their bishop, in most cases, will nearly panic if a priest goes anywhere near this. While near or actual heretics, who are chronic liturgical abusers, remain unscathed by their bishops, priests who make any efforts to recover a sense of the sacred, and to speak the truths of our faith, are routinely reprimanded by their bishops.
Add to this that virtually every pastor has experienced a type of “cancel culture” in their parishes. What do I mean by this? I think pastors know what I mean.
So, if the pastor indicates he is moving in this direction and decides to, for example, add “Consecration bells” during the Canon of the Mass, there always seems to be, as we see in the culture, an aggressive “element” within every parishes that “rises up in rage” and threatens, if not actual enacts, destruction of the pastor’s reputation (and so diminishes his effectiveness), while they commence “dividing” the parish against one another. Oftentimes, letters are sent to the bishop that accuse the pastor of anything they can conjure up to destroy his good name. And, more times than not, the bishop will “side with” the complainers; the parish “cancel culture” (See the Fr. James Altman “episode”).
Of course, this is all demonically influenced. Why? Because the very last thing Satan wants to have happen is for people to move from “merely practicing a religion” to “actually having supernatural faith.”
I’ll conclude by saying that the way to break through all of these obstacles is to become united around your pastor. You need to know this! Because, in most cases, the pastor is left alone as he is assaulted, and the parish is destroyed.
When priests ask me what steps they should take to have an amazing parish filled with souls on fire with supernatural faith, I say, “Do what Jesus did” (as we see in today’s Gospel). First, he prayed. Then his first “action” after that was to “form a posse.” He got 12 guys around him … a united front. There is strength in numbers. Jesus modeled this for us. Also, it is important to note, I did have a very supportive (rooting me on!) bishop in Bishop Robert Morlino. And, I believe, by the grace of God, I have another in Bishop Donald Hying.
I speak to this “uniting” in today’s sermon (below).
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