ORDER OUT OF CHAOS: Sacred Writ begins with these verses: In the be-ginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters (Genesis 1:1-2). In other words, the story of salvation (which, at its most fundamental level, is what the bible IS) begins with God bringing ORDER out of CHAOS. But merely two chapters later God's order is thrown back into chaos as Adam and Eve disobey God's command (read: they SIN). Sin IS chaos.
Well, my brothers and sisters, there has been a lot of SIN (read: chaos) in Our Lady Queen of the Yough ever since the incorporation of Saint Aloysius of Gonzaga Parish this past summer and then the addition of Fr. Julius to our leadership team in November. Before everyone gets their knickers in a knot allow me to explain. Prior to those changes we had FIVE Masses divided between TWO priests, and I had developed a general rotation (which, of course, often had to be adjusted): a priest would do the 4, 9:30, and 11:30 one weekend and the following he would do 6 and 8. This (at least in theory) ensured that the priests would regularly see all the usual Mass-goers and the usual Mass-goers would regular see each priest.
Now, however, we have TOTAL CHAOS. There have been times when a particular priest was at the same Mass for weeks in a row. And, if that priest was ME the poor people in the pews were really forced to do penance. (Although they DID earn time off purgatory as a result of their EXTREME suffering!) It isn't only the people who are affected by this chaos. Both Fr. Dan and I have lamented the fact we can sometimes go weeks and weeks without the opportunity to see particular people/congregations.
FINALLY the Spirit of God moved upon the face of MY waters and showed me a way out of the darkness and formless void. Thus now there will be SOME semblance of order to the scheduling of priests. The GENERAL rotation will group Masses together as follows, with the same priest that particular grouping for the weekend:
1) Immaculate Conception (6pm and 9:30am)
2) Saint Rita Masses (4pm and 8am)
3) Saint Aloysius and Saint John (5pm, 9am, 11:30am)
I must add the caveat that this isn't SET IN STONE. There will be adjustments due to other commitments (weddings, baptisms, vacations) or circumstances (family/friends of a priest are visiting and want to attend a particular Mass with their priest). In fact, this very weekend has already violated my carefully crafted schema. I had the the opportunity to spend some time in Deep Creek with one of my best friends whom I only get to see a few times a year. So naturally I JUMPED at the opportunity. (And perhaps JUMPED into the lake in another polar bear plunge!) But next weekend we will be right back on track.
One additional benefit of this new schedule is that EACH priest will have one of the MAIN Masses every weekend. Previously (when we were just the Connellsville Catholic Community) I had grouped the most-attended Masses (4, 9:30, 11:30) and the least attended (6 and 8) together. This arrangement, on a partially subconscious level, led to me be less concerned about preaching on the weekends I had the less-attended Masses. Now I'll have to be on top of my game EVERY weekend!
GOOD NEWS IN DECEMBER! For about the last half-year we have been including in the bulletin a monthly financial statement comparing ordinary income vs. ordinary expenses. As anyone regularly scrutinising the figures has learned that some months a particular parish will be in the red and another month will be in the black. (More accurate MOST of the time all the parishes are in the RED.) Last month, however, for the VERY FIRST TIME all four parishes were in the BLACK. Undoubtedly this was due to parishioners‟ generosity at Christmas. (Too bad “Christmas comes but ONCE a year”!) Nonetheless I am extremely grateful to ALL who helped make December 2018 a BANNER month. May this trend continue into the New Year now begun!
Looking at the forecast for this weekend (remember, I am writing on Tuesday and you are reading on Saturday or Sunday) a similar scene might be repeated here in the lowlands RIGHT NOW! I captured this idyllic winter scene as I was doing the committal for Immaculate Conception parishioner Nancy Miller (God rest her soul) at the cemetery next to Normalville United Methodist Church last Friday. What a difference a mere 750 feet in elevation makes!
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