Here’s a sampling of things that have been happening here over the past week or so….
Last Friday evening we had a special mass for Our Lady of Guadalupe in our chapel. It was a balmy night; people filed into the chapel; and we celebrated the mass en Espanol with the singing of “Las Mananitas” and with images of Guadalupe painted by a member of our parish near the altar. It’s a big day especially among the Mexican community. When I was at Immaculate Conception in Durham, that mass drew more than 1,000 people at four o’clock in the morning. The day commemorates the appearance of Mary to a poor man, Juan Diego at a time when the indigenous peoples of Mexico were under the oppression of the conquering Spanish. It reminds us of an aspect of Mary’s experience of God that we hear about in the gospel of Luke: “he has lifted up the lowly.” (Luke 1:52).
On Saturday morning last week I drove out to Skinner Drive, twenty or so miles east on Route 40 for the dedication of several Habitat for Humanity houses, a few of which members of St. Francis helped to build. On the program for the dedication were the words “together, we build.” The “together” part was apparent that morning, as I looked around and saw members of several different Christian denominations and heard how the families who are the recipients of the new houses were also involved in the building. Some of those families are Muslim and they spoke about how grateful they were to be part of it all. What comes through, in all of this, is the word “build.” On a sunny Saturday morning in Raleigh, in a small but noticeable way, something more than just a house was being built. Many thanks to the people of St. Francis for being part of it.
Also last Saturday morning, in our Anthony Hall Founders Room, 70+ people gathered for “Rejoice in The Father’s Mercy: A Retreat for Ministers,” planned and presented by several members of our staff for those who minister here. It was a nice beginning to the “Year of Mercy” declared by Pope Francis. Last week as well, in the second reading for the Third Sunday of Advent, we heard from the Letter of St. Paul to the Philippians the following line: “Your kindness should be known to all. The Lord is near.” Coincidentally, I received an email from a member of the parish who, in the midst of all the construction and traffic tie-ups on Leesville Rd. and observing moments in which drivers graciously and patiently make way for one another, wrote to me about “being kind and helping others” even when it may not be easy. “The Lord is near” indeed, as we await once again the birth of the child Jesus. Check the bulletin and the website for our Christmas schedule.
Blessings on your week!