I just sent the following note to all 175 of our parishioners who are involved in any of our liturgical ministries following Bishop Edward Scharfenberger’s visit to our 8:30 Sunday morning liturgy on February 22nd, the First Sunday of Lent:
Dear liturgical ministers,
First of all, let me thank you for the ministry you share so wonderfully with our parish, with the Church, and with God Himself. Every time we gather in Clinton Heights for Mass, you know already how we take our place and join with the one heavenly liturgy that is constantly adoring and worshiping God. And each time our community worships, I am so very pleased to preside and help lead us to a holy service.
This morning’s 8:30am Mass was definitely no different, yet with very short notice that Bishop Scharfenberger was coming to preside! You might have noticed that throughout our prayer, Bishop Scharfenberger was taking us all in, and was so very pleased to be with us and shepherd us throughout. Afterward, I took him over to our rectory and whipped up a tidy (yet fattening) little breakfast and we spoke at length about many things. But the first thing he commented on were the various ministries and ministers. He watched while our hospitality ministers ushered folks in from the cold with sincere welcome and care; how our numerous altar servers looked so comfortable yet reverent in their service; how our sacred scriptures were proclaimed clearly and with thought; how our music was uplifting and deep; how our Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion were humble and devout in their offerings; and how Deacon Tim served so well, especially since it’s not even been a year since his diaconal ordination.
For my part, I am rightly proud of each of you who offer yourselves for service, often at great personal cost to your comfort and/or convenience. From the moment of the Collect (Opening Prayer), the bishop commented under his breath when he took his miter, “wonderful, thank you!” I believed he meant that he was so relieved to find a parish in our great diocese that could welcome him with ease and distinction, and still with an appropriate level of solemnity and respect for the liturgical norms of the Universal Church. Later, he said it was because he noted no hesitation to “simply be” with him, as the servers approached and attended to his every need as presider and bishop. Wow! Honestly, he was so very happy to feel welcomed and at home with us…and for that, all of you, and our entire parish family, deserve to receive the recognition and honor of such a beautiful compliment.
So, in the end, as I’ve just finished the dishes and am getting ready to go practice my golf swing at the simulator on this wonderfully sunny day, I wanted to be sure to get this note out to all of you: thank you, thank you! All your hard work in ministry shone forth this morning–as usual–and for that–and for you–I am extremely grateful.
Praise God, with love,