Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018

Pentecost Sunday, 2018

Dear Parishioners,

During the morning gospel recently and at the threshold of this Pentecost feast, Jesus prayed the following, saying:

…that they may all be one, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe…(John 17: 21)

That they may all be one.  This has come to be called Christ’s priestly prayer; words uttered the night before his death.  As he was dying, Pope John XXIII made these words of Jesus his own and for the entire world; the pontiff who, at the beginning of Vatican Council II, prayed for a “new Pentecost”. 

We abide in a painfully divided world.  The divisive nature of sin is alive and well.   So, we stand in need of a renewed dose of the Holy Spirit’s oneness; all of us receiving a portion of the Spirit of God.  God is whole, seamless in his divinity.   So, to pray that we “may all be one” voices a primal thirst within: innate to the nature we have in common, made in God’s image and likeness as we are.  To drink of this one Spirit taps into what we already are.  Just before his untimely death, Thomas Merton spoke the following at a monastic conference in Bangkok: 

We are already one.  But we imagine that we are not.  And what we have to recover is our original unity.  What we have to be is what we are.

This Pentecost I am inaugurating, together with my Executive Committee, a planning process for Our Lady of the Lake Parish that will extend to the end of December, 2018.   Together, I hope to address questions such as, “What are we about?” and “Where are we heading?”  We are calling this process “ONE OLL” and are employing the Reid Group, a national Catholic consulting firm—based in Seattle—to help facilitate this process; a process that will help with the implementation of the new OLL 5-Year Plan, beginning in January 2019.

We are now forming a “Futuring Team” that will coordinate focus groups of 10-12 people.  As groups they will meet in various homes within the parish and during the summer months.   This will give us the chance to ‘find our voice’ together; to speak our minds about what we hope for the future as a parish.  I believe this process will help us form a more cohesive voice of faith.  Such oneness has the power to impact our world if we, together, take this transformative work of grace seriously.  This is my hope and the antidote to the divisions we face.  It can become a way where God opens us in ways that listen; for God still speaks even if no one is listening.

In a recent documentary, Pope Francis said:

The world today is mostly deaf.  And I think that among ourselves, the priests, there are many deaf ones.  I’m talking about getting involved in people’s lives.  I am talking about closeness.  Talk little, listen a lot, say just enough, and always look people in the eye.

Such words admonish and challenge all of us.

This is just a beginning, with the hope of forming a more cohesive parish; more together and alive as followers of Christ.  This coming October I will have completed my 14th year at Our Lady of the Lake Parish.  And my sole purpose now is to initiate this process where it continues to bear fruit long after I’m gone. 

Let us begin together and become, through the seamless work of grace, a more cohesive community of faith; more alive to the promptings of God in our midst.  Recently I was asked, “What is your vision for OLL?”  I’ve never been one to impose my vision.  That’s not my style.  Yet, I found myself blurting, “I want a Pope Francis Church!”  A church that is much more merciful and ever more willing to accompany those on the “periphery”.  I want a church that dialogues with the culture instead of a defensive one caught within a war of words; a church that listens mercifully and recognizes what Pope Francis pointed out so beautifully, that “All of us are in the same boat, headed to the same shore”.  Such vision reveals the oneness of Love and work of the Spirit.

In the weeks ahead, we will keep you abreast concerning the next moves in this process.  I see this more as a journey rather than another program.  What I’ve noticed since my return from monastic life, and which saddens me, is how corporate the church has become:  intent on results, programs, delivery.  The work of God’s Spirit involves transformation that is life-long.  God has no interest in what I produce.  All that matters is our surrender to the one work of love.

May the merciful God “fan into flame” this endeavor we will soon begin; together.  “Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love.”

Sincerely in Christ,

Timothy J. Clark, Pastor






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