This week Star of the Sea Parish in San Francisco takes a giant step forward. It has been too long since we had a proper Parish Mission, and now that time has arrived. Traditionally, we speak of “Parish Missions” in our country. In the early part of the nineteenth century, before there were many catholic schools or even churches, when most men and women were worn out by their daily work and duties; and even children were put to work in the fields and factories, missionaries would travel from city to city or if possible from parish to parish (often by horse) to offer a time of spiritual renewal and refreshment to burdened souls. Because of a lack of formal catholic education many knew little of their faith, and thus were easily tempted to give in to the spirit of the world or even lose their Catholic faith in a hostile environment. These mission talks and ceremonies were not superficial as we can tell from the manuals these holy priests have left behind for us. (I have a three volume set in my library.) These missionaries laid the foundations for the growth of the Catholic Church in the United States from coast to coast.
As parishes and schools became established throughout our great country the Parish Missions continued as times of spiritual refreshment and renewal in a parish setting. They served as an objective examination of conscience as local pastors were sometimes afraid to take on the controversial issues for fear of being unpopular. As a consequence many would go to confession and come back to the sacraments during the Parish Mission when the Truth of the Gospel was heard. It was also a time to renew the Catholic life of families. As Catholics became more advanced in faith these Parish Missions were looked forward to as a time of spiritual reawakening and even fellowship. Catholics developed a strong identity as a result that would last for many generations.
Clearly, the current crisis of rampant secularism, watered-down Catholicism, the collapse of Christian values, apostasy in great numbers, and the infamous dictatorship of relativism, calls for a revival of the Catholic Faith through Parish Missions. From Thursday, June 19th through Thursday, June 27th Father Paul Nicholson, a preacher and teacher of the New Evangelization, will be in our midst to bring to us the authentic word of God and help us treasure the Lord’s gift of Himself to us in His institution of the Holy Eucharist. Statistics reveal that many Catholics are not clear about the full Catholic doctrine on the Eucharist. Otherwise, they and their children and grand-children would be at Holy Mass at least each Sunday. Did not the Lord give us the solemn command at the Last Supper: “Do this in remembrance of me!” And then He went up to Calvary to give up His life on the Cross for the salvation of souls. “Come and see!” the Lord Jesus calls out to each soul. “Come and see!” In a very real way Jesus will be walking among us with an urgent agenda: “Repent and believe in the Gospel!” Now is the time for all of us to stand up for Jesus as we shout out for all to hear: “We stand for God!” and “Firmly I believe and truly”. Let us sincerely and lovingly fall down in adoration before our Eucharistic King.
From time to time we all need some extra help in living holy lives. That is the purpose of our Parish Mission. In a special way from June 19 through June 27th we will be walking on holy ground, like Moses before the burning bush, as the Holy Spirit does His special work of spiritual recreation and renewal in our community. LET NO ONE STAND IN THE WAY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT!! This will be a time of prayer, preaching, purification, teaching, conversion, reconversion, fellowship, and joyful celebration of our faith.
There will be two processions in the streets with the Most Blessed Sacrament in the Monstrance on Thursday, June 19th after the 6:30 P.M. Mass and on Sunday, June 22nd after the special Mass at 5:00 P.M. Please take home a brochure with all the details.
After a Parish Mission it was often the custom to erect a large crucifix in the sanctuary as a reminder to stay faithful to the Way of the Cross. Star of the Sea has such a cross in the sanctuary near the Altar of St. Joseph. May this Mission Cross once again serve as a constant reminder to take up our cross and daily follow the Lord.
Please, please pray and do penance for the spiritual success of our Parish Mission. St. John Bosco once said: “Da mihi animas; cetera tolle!; Give me souls, take the rest away!” If only one soul is saved because of Our Parish Mission then it was worthwhile. Consider, this letter your personal invitation to come each day and to invite family, friends, and neighbors.
I am, sincerely yours, in Jesus Christ,
Father Mark G. Mazza