Monday greetings from the sunny Midwest.
Yesterday at Mass, I moved my location to sit with some of the older African-American women in my parish. I love these ladies!
Well, the woman next to me asked me a question right away: "Jerry, in one simple sentence, can you tell me what the word 'consubstantial' means in the Creed?" Yikes! My response was to say that a simple definition is that the Father and Son, two of the three persons of the Blessed Trinity share the same substance, the Son is "one in being with" the Father. She said, "Oh, I know that, then why did they have to change the words if the meaning was the same? I read and write poetry and I just feel that these texts should flow; even after all this time, when I get to the word 'consubstantial' in the Creed, it makes me stumble. It just doesn't flow."
That was the first part of the conversation. The second part was quite different. She told me something that I have heard at least four of our elderly African-American women say since it was announced that Saint James Parish will have a new church building built. She said, "I am hoping that they get this building thing going; I want to be buried in a church building; I don't want them bringing my body into this hall." (We are currently worshiping in a Catholic school auditorium.) Funerals cannot even be held in the auditorium because we simply cannot get a coffin into the building!
So there is an understandable level of anxiety for some of our older parishioners. It has been a sad thing that during this, our time of "exile," we have not been able to provide basic Catholic services for our parishioners. Cardinal George and the archdiocesan officials named that as a central problem in our current situation. I hadn't given it much thought, mostly because I have been focused on Sunday liturgy at our parish. Providing a place to celebrate a funeral Mass is a basic thing that most Catholics don't even think could ever be an impossibility in their parishes. For us, it has been different. And it makes me think of a wonderful future for our parish and for our parishioners.
Please keep Saint James in your prayers as we move forward.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.