Jul 11, 2020

Getting Outside



“On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to get into a boat and sit down while the whole crowd stood along the shore. And he spoke to them at length in parables”. Matthew 13:1


Even though we find ourselves, more than ever, under lockdown or quarantined, Our Blessed Lord never allowed Himself to be held involuntarily under house arrest.  During His time on this earth, He was more of an outdoors-type rather than a stay-at-home guy! 


Often, we read of the many times Our Lord went down to the harbor, the shoreline, the crowded marketplaces and town squares where the crowds had gathered. He didn’t stand on the shore and look into the vastness of the ocean. Instead He gets into a boat (which is often used as a symbol of the Church), and from there, He looks at the whole crowd of humanity, upon the faces of everyone – yours and mine. Even though we may be wearing coverings over our mouth and nose, Christ’s look focuses on eyes. And what does He see?


Each face in the crowd, covered or uncovered, tells a story, a life.  Christ does not speak to a crowd. He speaks to the individual, to one’s soul.  For that reason, He often speaks in parables – coded language because not one of our lives is really the same. 


His parables can sometimes go over our head.  Sometimes they appear to be just nice stories, like storybook illustrations. But if we ask the Holy Spirit to open our minds and our souls to the Word of God, taking time to listen, to read His parables again and again, slowly, and carefully we will often see our lives somehow reflected in the images Christ creates in His illustrations. His parables can reach those unique moments in our lives when we know that He is speaking to me, individually, personally in the uniqueness of my life and circumstances. Christ is looking into my eyes, into my life!


Go back to that first line – “Jesus went out of the house”.  How did He get in the house to begin with? Was He escaping a “stay-at-home order”. The final verses of the previous chapter of this portion of the Gospel (take a look at it) tells us that Our Blessed Mother came to visit Him at that time. He had just completed a preaching mission. Maybe, after He had finished, Our Lord took His mother to a private house to spend some time with her.  And then the portion of the Gospel we read for this week picks up what happened next.   “On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around… And he spoke to them at length in parables”


Having spent some quiet time with His Mother, which parable did He go on to speak to the crowd about? Open up your Bible and read Matthew 13: 1-23. It’s the Parable of the Sower and the Seeds. God is the sower and the Word of God as the seed! Could our Lord have been thinking of His Mother when He told the crowd that “But some seed fell on rich soil and produced fruit”?  For what do we say concerning Our Blessed Mother, “Blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus”.  


While we are at home, read this portion of the Gospel and allow it to unmask the circumstances of your life right now. How does the Seed of God find you? What type of soil do you find your life rooted in right now? The Lord’s parable allows us to test our soil, the garden of our souls. 


If we are to hear God’s Word speaking to us in the secret of our lives, let us aim to do so by imitating Mary, who not only received and understood that Word, but who in turn gave that Word to the world so that we might hear Him speaking into the depths of and circumstances of our lives. He does so by first looking into our eyes, the windows of our soul, and addresses this parable to us. Sometimes, stay-at-home is not a bad thing after all, if we do so looking after our garden. 


Jul 2, 2020

Fourth of July

Every Fourth of July, we observe the anniversary of the writing and proclamation in 1776 of the Declaration of Independence. From the City of Brotherly Love, a new political experiment was born.  From there, it slowly made its way westward.  It would not be until 1849 that California would finally be admitted into the union of these United States of America.


It is well worth reflecting upon what was happening in California in 1776.  On that historic day when the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia announced the birth of the United States, the bells of six of the Californian Missions were already ringing throughout California.  These bells were announcing the beginning of Mass, the times for prayer and when food was served for anyone who was hungry.


Even today, these bells have been immortalized along the 600 miles of the El Camino Real that begins in San Diego, passes through the middle of our parish and stretches north to Sonoma, just north of San Francisco where Saint Junipero Serra was living and witnessing to the Gospel on that historic first 4th of July in 1776. 


His legacy is not the image of statues bearing his likeness. Rather, it is the endurance of the Mission churches he built in his effort to usher in the Kingdom of God. In their own lifespan, many of the Missions were burnt, torn down, set upon by mobs, even confiscated by the government. But today, they still stand as enduring and historical witnesses, despite the odds, continuing to communicate the Good News of Jesus Christ throughout California. 


Whether we are local, natives, out-of-staters, visitors or immigrants, we all owe our faith and our industrial ingenuity to the first missionaries and those who came before us. We are therefore duty-bound to be always grateful that we have found a home and a land where we have, at least in principle, the freedom to worship and pursuit of happiness. 


Today, in particular, even though we are far from perfect and we wrestle to understand divine providence, we are duty-bound to pray for our land, for the nation, and for our government.  


And let us also not forget all our brave men and women in uniform, both past and present. They often find themselves in the heat of the battle to save lives, to protect the innocent and to uphold our cherished values. They are joined today with those who are also helping us in the battle of an unseen enemy in the form of Covid 19. To that end, we also pray in gratitude for our nurses, doctors, medics and researchers and all those enlisted in the fight against the virus while caring and supporting those who are sick and have been weakened by this pandemic.  May the shield of St. Michael protect us and the remedies of St Raphael bring healing.


And may our nation, under the patronage of the most Immaculate Mary, Queen of Heaven and Earth, become a credible witness to the Good News of Christ Himself and the Kingdom of God to come. 


Jun 25, 2020

Judgement Day


Pastor’s Message for the Week of June 28th, 2020


The Church's opening prayer for the 13th Week in Ordinary Time which will carry us through the upcoming week is worth reflecting upon: “O God, who through the grace of adoption chose us to be children of light, grant, we pray, that we may not be wrapped in the darkness of error but always be seen to stand in the bright light of truth. Through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen”


To be a witness to the “bright light of truth”, implies we can judge wisely between good and evil. To refuse to engage the Holy Spirit’s gift of Right Judgement would imply we do not care about distinguishing truth from falsity, that there is no difference between being “wrapped in the darkness of error” or standing “in the bright light of truth”. 


But the Holy Spirit's gift of Right Judgement allows us in every situation or circumstance to see our surroundings and those around us with fresh eyes. Prejudice distorts our vision of God and His world. It stifles the work of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth. Within this context, when we prejudge someone based on irrelevant criteria such as language, culture, race, education, career etc., we effectively say we do not want to see “them” sharing the same dignity of being made in the image and likeness of God as “us”. 


I know firsthand how difficult it is not to prejudge people and their cultures. I grew up in Northern Ireland where religious, political, and cultural prejudices were very much ingrained into the daily fabric of society, even passed down from one generation to another for hundreds of years. It affected what neighborhood you could live in, the type of job available to you, and the type of sport you might engage in. I was part of a generation who remember well what it was like to live daily life within what many called a “military and police state” where checkpoints and soldiers on the streets were commonplace. 


Too often, there is a “muscle memory” that we have all inherited that unfairly haunts us. Events, behaviors or sights and sounds can easily trigger a personal or collective history of discrimination, abuse, neglect or warfare that one may never really have healed from - “a thorn in the side”, to borrow a phrase from St. Paul. 


Yes, we should discriminate when it comes to ideas and actions, but not against individuals. And we should continually pray that the Holy Spirit will always guide us towards Right Judgement. When we reflect on the opening prayer the Church gives us for this coming week, we can also remember the words a famous preacher once remarked, (in the language of the 1960’s) that “the good neighbor looks beyond the external accidents and discerns those inner qualities that make all men human and, therefore brothers.” 


May our Blessed Mother Mary be able to look upon all her children’s faces and see reflected back to her, the recognizable face of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who will judge us rightly in the spirit of justice and mercy. 


Father Cávana Wallace

Pastor

Jun 20, 2020

Counting Sheep For Restful Sleep



Don’t try this alone!


Whereas it is good news to many that the parish has daily public Masses once again, the flip side of the coin is not only that the congregation are required to wear a mouth covering while inside the building. Instead, we are required to have only 100 people gathered at any given time. As the Lord’s parable reminds us, it just takes one sheep amid the 100 to push the boundaries and the Shepherd has to leave the 99 behind. 


This numerical directive does not apply to the outside piazza, although social distancing and face coverings are still required in this outdoor area. Although Catholics are still not under any obligation to present themselves at this time at a public gathering of Mass, I am grateful that those who do so are choosing to attend a weekday evening Mass (Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 6pm) or a weekday morning Mass (Tuesday’s or Thursday’s at 8am). This has helped immensely. 


If we reach the maximum capacity inside the church on any given day, the ushers may have to ask you to remain in the piazza until the final blessing where you can follow the prayers of the Mass with the help of your own prayer book, a downloaded app or by listening carefully to the outside speakers. Mass every day inside the church takes around 30 mins, and once completed, whether you are inside or outside, if you are prepared to receive Holy Communion you may do so by making your way through the inside colonnades to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. 


If receiving Holy Communion, there is strong recommendation at this time to do so directly onto your outstretched palm, which, because of the purity of Christ’s Real Presence, must also be free from impurities or contaminants. Make use of the hand sanitizer as you approach Holy Communion. I’ve even added a few drops of Holy Water and Blessed oil to the mix. Consider it “Sanctified Sanitizer”! 


Those who would normally attend the older form of the Mass, if receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue, may choose to retain their custom. As there will be no kneeler, I would ask that you remain standing, doing so perfectly still, close your eyes, open your mouth fully and extend your tongue completely, as you would for a doctor. One way or another, our attention during Holy Communion should be focused primarily on Christ and also the protection of the clergy’s health, which, if compromised, risks the public availability of the Holy Mass itself.


Although this communication has much to do about procedures in place for those who are attending one of the daily Masses, I am also very conscious of the environment we are living in outside the church walls. To that end, I will be sharing with you soon some pastoral thoughts and reflections based on the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit that must help us dispel the evils of fear, prejudice and rash judgment so prevalent in our society that it can also influence church members at every level. 


In the meantime, a defining characteristic of the Christian is our inner peace and joy offered as a free gift by Our Lord Himself. Even though we wear a covering over our mouth, it is our eyes and our gaze into the world that must reflect this gift of Christ the Good Shepherd offered through us to the world.


Father Cávana Wallace

Pastor

Jun 12, 2020

Abundance of Caution



Dear friends,


While the bishop has still dispensed the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass there are still restrictions in place. These are the same restrictions that already govern our lives in public and in public places. Church buildings are public places. Why should we be reminded of this? Allow me to put things in perspective. 


1. If this church was not built to code, we would not be permitted to be inside it.


2. If this church did not have a fully functioning sprinkler system, we would not be permitted to be inside it.


3. If this church did not have clearly visible emergency exit signs, we would not be permitted to be inside it. 


4. Look around any publicly used building. It must always be up to code as expected by the civil authorities who are public servants charged with the responsibility for the common good, the safety and the health of our local community. For this, we must always be grateful.


When we completed building our beautiful church, I received the necessary legal occupancy permit allowing the public to enter. However, I decided that no one would set foot inside for a further month until the bishop opened the doors himself and led us through himself and blessed it from the inside out. Gathered around the altar for the first time, as our chief shepherd, he reminded us of the Scriptural prayers we used dedicating this house of worship to God. He reiterated that when we gather together to worship, we become the “living stones” that make up the Church, with Christ as the cornerstone. 


As “living stones” we are also breathing stones. Some are strong and healthy while others are weak and vulnerable. We depend on Christ but we must support each other to build up this church of living, breathing, strong and fragile stones that we are. We too are public servants. 


To that end, if you enter through the doors of a public house of worship that has been opened for you because it is deemed to be “up to code”, then all of us, as “living stones”, are also being asked by our bishop to be likewise, body and soul, “up to code” for the common good of the whole Body of Christ of which we are members. 


If entering the church, prepare yourself both physically and spiritually. Be physically healthy and spiritually mature. 


1. Do so with the necessary mouth covering required and if you speak, do so at all times with civility and humility.


2. Maintain the expected social distance and trust that, wherever you are, angels and saints fill the gap.


3. Avoid sitting in a pew marked off in red and pray for absent brothers and sisters, especially the sick and homebound. 


4. If you choose to receive Holy Communion after Mass, read carefully and follow exactly the instructions posted on the wall of the shrines of St. Margaret and Our Lady. Then offer back to God your own daily sacrifices, praying for those unable to receive the sacraments at this time. 


Doing so, in all these ways, whether we are able to attend Mass or not, brings us up to a code of conduct worthy, as much as God’s grace allows, of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, permitting us to support each other as Living Stones and witnesses of God’s healing mercy in the world. 


With every blessing,



Father Cávana Wallace

Pastor

The Substance of God



The Sacrament of the Body and Blood of Christ reminds us that the bread that He gives us, is not the stuff that fills our stomach. He feeds us through His eternal priesthood – by the sacrifice of His own body and blood He offers to His Father on our behalf. This is what priesthood is and does – offering sacrifice.

   
The bread and wine that we place on the church altar at Mass, counts for little – it is little, just like you and me.  But in the hands of Christ the eternal priest, the bread and wine become His own life-giving body and blood – Christ becomes our food in the wilderness of the world.

 
This is by no means allegorical, or a metaphor. Time and space as we experience it, blocks our vision of what angels and the saints of heaven perceive. From our perspective, we have only a temporal reference point to look towards - our bread and wine that our natural senses perceive. 


But when we do what the Lord commanded us to do at his Last Supper, the eternal God enters time and place at the coordinates of the altar at Mass. The bread and wine we place upon it are, by God's power and design, brought into complete and perfected union with the resurrected and eternal Christ. 

In such a unique encounter between heaven and earth, between time and eternity, our bread and wine have no choice but to become the substance of Jesus Christ who, in all His power and glory, intercedes for us before the throne of our heavenly Father. 

Even though from here, we can not see, nor taste this heaven on earth, when we eat and drink of the Eucharistic elements, our frail and broken bodies are guided, locked into communion with Christ's body and blood in heaven.

This can be as painful as it is beautiful. Painful, because Holy Communion alerts us to our unworthiness, our sinfulness - we are imperfect, unfinished. It is beautiful because the gift of Holy Communion gives us hope that we, and all of creation, will be brought to our own finality in Christ himself.

In the meantime, as people of faith and hope, we journey through this world with the expectation that it will blossom with new life, that all creation with eventually be changed into the substance of Christ Himself. 

As we wait in joyful hope, let us be ever more conscious of our deepest hunger for the Bread that feeds and satisfies angels and heavenly saints - the Bread of Eternity, Christ himself. 

We also built up our deepest appetite through fasting and longing, never rushing the altar as if starved, but with holy fear, gratitude and thanksgiving for the greatest gift heaven can give us on earth. It is worth the sacrifice!

Jun 4, 2020

Ready to Come Back?




Dear Friends, 

In heaven, how many days are there in a week? In short, there are no days of the week in heaven, only one day and it’s eternal! That one eternal day (call it what you may) is always “The Lord’s Day”. 

Until there are no restrictions on how many people can attend a Sunday Mass of the Lord’s Day at one given time in the parish church, it will be necessary for the majority of parishioners to freely choose another day if they choose to attend Mass. Of course, every Mass of every day points towards Sunday and every Sunday points towards the uniqueness of the Easter event which radiates across all time and eternity. 

So, as your pastor, leading you slowly and carefully towards the great Day of the Lord when we can all, shepherd and flock, celebrate without fear or restriction during the Holy Mass, here’s the map I’m going to follow. 

So as not to create an environment that will jeopardize public health, nor stifle the holy longing of the faithful to participate in the sacrifice of the Mass, I am asking that you prudently consider the following

Our bishop has been clear that the obligation to attend Sunday Mass is still suspended until further notice. In other words, it does not reflect poorly upon you if, during this time, you do not attend Sunday Mass. Your own sacrifices carry untold graces. 

If you or anyone in your household is ill or has been in contact with anyone who may have been exposed to a contagion of any kind, please consider your personal responsibility to discuss your responsibilities to the general public with your healthcare provider and/or stay at home. God’s grace will give you perseverance. 

Beginning on Monday, June 8th, St. Margaret’s will offer Mass in the church. Official State guidelines recommend that no more than 100 people be in attendance. Every Mass, including Sunday, will be offered in a very simple form. After Mass, for those who choose to stay, Holy Communion will be offered from the two sides of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel. 

Please note, new Mass times (mornings and evenings) during this transition

Monday 6pm
Tuesday 8am
Wednesday 6pm
Thursday 8am
Friday 6pm
Saturday at 6pm
Sunday 7:30am (Latin)
Sunday 9:30am
Sunday 11:30am

The parish website has been updated to also reflect new Confession times beginning on Saturday, June 13th

VERY IMPORTANT: If you are genuinely able to attend Mass during the week, please consider a morning or evening weekday Mass. Doing so will allow those who have to work during the week an opportunity to attend a weekend Mass. In other words, if you decide to attend Mass choose which day and time will become your personal Lord’s Day Mass. 

Once again, Mass in public begins on Monday. I am grateful for your patience during these past months. I appreciate the sacrifices you have had to endure. Please join me in giving thanks to a great team - Deacon Chuck, Pam, Anna, Angie and “Brooksi” in the parish office and Claudia working behind the scenes. With the grace of God, we are now able to steer this great ship to safe harbor. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement along the way. We are nearly home. Steady as she goes!

Father Cávana Wallace
Pastor

Getting Outside

“On that day, Jesus went out of the house and sat down by the sea. Such large crowds gathered around him that he had to get into a boat and ...