"The disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord.
Jesus said to them again, 'Peace be with you.
As the Father has sent me, so I send you.'
And when he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them,
'Receive the Holy Spirit.
Whose sins you forgive are forgiven them,
and whose sins you retain are retained.'"
I have joked in the past that while the seminary trained me how to forgive sins, there was very little attention paid to how to retain them. Now, that would put me in the power seat! “Stop giving me a hard time or be prepared to have your sins retained!”
Forgiveness, by its very nature, removes the power we have to control or punish one another. It removes a specific form of the power of darkness that fills us with emotions such as anger and guilt. Oftentimes, it is in those moments when we are unable to forgive or be forgiven that we find the distress and anxiety that keeps us from feeling peace.
In a word today where we are filled with anxiety, we are called to understand what it also means to be filled with the Holy Spirit. As St. Paul wrote, “The love of God has been poured into our hearts through the Spirit of God dwelling within us" (Romans 5:5). To understand the Spirit dwells within us means that God is at home with us, and we are called into the safety and wellbeing of what it means to be at home with God.
The experience of Pentecost reminds us that we are called home together. The disciples return to the upper room as one family to experience what they could never have fully anticipated: the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. They were apart from the world but not isolated. They were called by name in a sense of community to prepare to venture out and proclaim the Good News while bringing healing and strength to a world filled with anxiety and fear -- a world not unlike our own.
I was privileged to witness and partake in the Community drive-thru food distribution that took place this past Tuesday and witnessed what it meant for an extended family of dedicated people to reach out to others in need. I was blessed to see so many people come together by the Regional Food Bank, Catholic Charities, and local food pantries for the betterment of all. In what seemed to be an insurmountable endeavor, local government, schools, police, firefighters, religious and civil representatives, and especially those community leaders shepherding the Chatham Fairgrounds, demonstrated that by working together, anything is possible.
The food distribution poignantly reminded me how much we hunger for the Eucharist and gathering together as the disciples did. Things are changing on a daily basis, and we are anticipating ways in which we can begin coming home and being together. Please know of my love and respect for all of you and our amazing extended community. We are at home with the finest people I have ever known.
Pentecost celebrates the fullness of the Spirit and the great gathering of people, prepared to feed the world with and understanding of God’s love. We gather each day in our prayers and our resolve. Soon we will gather together as a family, back home where we belong. God bless you. We are waiting for you and leaving the lights on. God Bless, Fr. George
ALL MASSES IN THE DIOCESE OF ALBANY CANCELED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE, FAITHFUL URGED TO TAKE TIME TO PRAY AT HOME
Due to growing concerns and medical advice related to the rapid spread of COVID-19 in social settings, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger
has announced that all regularly scheduled public Masses in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany — except weddings and funerals — will be canceled until further notice. Churches will, however, remain open for private prayer, pending further regulations. In addition, all Confirmations have been canceled until further notice and will be rescheduled. Funerals and weddings may be attended only by close family and in accordance with social distancing
and capacity requirements. Further restrictions may force a change in those guidelines as we go forward. “Although we know how difficult it is for Catholics to be without the Mass and without the Eucharist, we must do our part to help ‘flatten the curve’ and stop the spread of COVID-19 in order to
protect the most vulnerable among us,” Bishop Scharfenberger said when making the announcement. “I encourage the faithful to
pray and fast as we continue our journey through this season of Lent. Try to include at least 15 minutes of daily intentional prayer, with family where possible and safe. Use the Bible, say the Rosary, watch Mass on TV, and please remember to pray for those who are suffering from the Coronavirus worldwide and for community who are on the front lines.” The Diocese of Albany is keeping Catholics apprised of changes, updates and resources on its dedicated web page: rcda.org/ coronavirus. In addition, a Faith at Home page includes links to live streamed Mass, daily Scripture readings, saints of the day, and suggestions for creating a sacred space at home: rcda.org/coronavirus/resources.
Below are PDF versions of each week's bulletin. If you cannot open it, you can download a free version of Adobe Acrobat Reader off the web.