“Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me,”
Book of Revelations, 3:20
This weekend marks the great Solemnity of Pentecost, May 23, whereupon the dispensation from attending Sunday Mass within the Diocese of Lansing will expire. The dispensation remains in place, of course, for those who have good reason not to attend. If in doubt, speak with your pastor.
In order to help each of us to prepare prayerfully for Sunday Mass or, perhaps, for our return to Sunday Mass, I am gifting you and your family a blessed candle representing Jesus Christ, the Light of the World (John 8:12). They are available in parishes now.
Each candle burns for eight hours. May I suggest that we light our candle for one hour each day during which we can spend time with Our Lord in prayer. There are eight daily intentions nominated in the prayer card accompanying each candle. They are also available in parishes.
The image on the front of the card is by the English artist William Holman Hunt (1827 – 1910). It portrays Christ knocking on an overgrown and long-unopened door. It represents our oft-closed hearts and obstinate minds. You’ll also note the door has no handle. It can only be opened from the inside. That’s why Sunday Mass really matters. As the author of the Letter to the Hebrews in the New Testament writes:
“We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near,” (Hebrews 10:25).
The fact is, we need each other. We are not meant to be alone. God made us with and for one another. And Jesus redeemed us as God’s people. In fact, in one sense, the Church really only comes alive when we are gathered together, called together by the Lord. God, our Father has made us his sons and daughters and in Christ we have become brothers and sisters. This family of faith is meant to live as a family. We are called to be what God has made us through Jesus and in the Holy Spirit.
What is more, there are days when I need you and your faith. When mine is weak, your faith strengthens me. I pray that when you are weak, my faith will strengthen you. This is what is means for each of us to stand up for our faith and encourage one another. The Catechism of the Catholic Church points this out:
“Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (#2182).
Sisters and brothers, the verse from the Letter to the Hebrews shows that absenting oneself from the assembly is not new; it happened even in New Testament times. But it is not a good practice. Not only are others deprived of our witness and support but we are deprived of theirs. Granted, everyone is a sinner and so our witness is always marked by weakness and sin. Nonetheless, God has called us as to be a community and his grace seeks to form us as one people redeemed by the blood of his Son, Jesus Christ.
Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,
Bishop of Lansing
* This letter was first published in Bishop Boyea’s Friday Memo, May 21. To subscribe to the weekly Friday Memo go to: https://dioceseoflansing.flocknote.com/FridayMemo