Kia tau te rangimārie ki a koutou
Last Sunday I was at St Gerard’s Monastery to join in celebrating the last Mass in the church which had been opened in 1908. The ICPE Community made the difficult decision to close the Church because it was only 25% of the New Building Standards.
Understandably it was a sad occasion. Yet at the same time there was deep gratitude for all that St Gerard’s has meant for generations of people when the Monastery was run by the Redemptorists, and in latter years by ICPE. Many people reflected on the various ways God had touched and graced them over the years. It was Pentecost Sunday and there was a real sense of the presence of the Holy Spirit, of being gifted by the Spirit and sent out on a mission, as were those who had locked themselves away in the upper room in Jerusalem for fear of the Jewish authorities.
As the Sequence was proclaimed before the Gospel, the words about the Spirit of God as the “soul’s most welcome guest” impacted on me, with the thought that wherever we are the Spirit is with us as our “most welcome guest.” St Gerard’s church was closing but this would not be the end of our faith. Wherever we are to go, whatever church people chose to worship in, the Spirit would always be there as our “most welcome guest.”
Just a few hours after all this happened Pope Francis gave his Pentecost homily. He said, “The Spirit also tells us, ‘Look to the whole’. The whole, not the part.’”. The closure of St Gerard’s or any church or parish could seem disastrous, but that would mean that we are only looking at “the part, and not the whole”. When we look to the whole, we look beyond ourselves, and we know that God is sending us out as people full of faith and hope. It is naturally sad when a church or a parish closes, even more sad when people become angry and bitter, or stop going to Mass, but that is because we are looking at only a small part of our faith and not the whole.
Blessings to all
Nāku noa. Nā