WHAT’S KEEPING YA? These words were once said to me by an ice-skating friend, when I wondered aloud about taking the next step to play scrimmage hockey. They may as well have been said by Jesus to his apostles, whom he finally instructed in last week’s gospel and wanted to send out to prepare his way. Were they scared? Afraid of failure-or success? Did they have a hard time moving to that next level-to be not just a follower, but an active agent? This is our call. Jesus doesn’t expect us to create God’s new kingdom by ourselves, but he does commission us-in our Baptism, and every sacrament-to announce his presence, for healing and for challenge. We, who have been blessed in so many ways, can simply tell our family, neighbors, even strangers about that, without being “preachy” or imposing it. Several people spoke to me after two Masses really excited about this, because they “got it” that it’s something they can do naturally. It’s our call, our job. What’s keeping ya?

This Sunday is a great summertime Gospel: “Come by yourselves and rest a little.” If you haven’t felt that this summer yet, it’s still early. Take a few minutes on your porch or patio; revel in what God has done to bring you to this point in your life. Be thankful, and end with a few intercessions.

Speaking of that, this is the week I finally leave for a vacation. I haven’t done so in the year I’ve been here, just a few  days after Christmas and after Easter/1st Communion. I’m resuming taking an extended road trip, as I started a few years ago. I’ll be gone two weekends. With family out East, I head that way in the car, but stop in DC for the art galleries in the Mall. Then to the Jersey shore for family and a couple of nights right at the water. I drive back with another museum or two and spend time painting before coming back Wednesday, August 4. This will be “unplugged” time–no cell phone use or texts because of the lengthy driving, and family can reach me at my stops on their landlines.

Last week I thoroughly enjoyed being part of the Vacation Bible School, with over 90 kids. It was led so well by Monica Feldman and Michelle Patterson, with our own school junior high and high schoolers helping the younger ones, My job was to work with the skit group each day to give a performance at the program Friday evening. Msgr. Blood visited often, around his many home communion calls. Congrats to our leaders, and all the kids who made so much of it.

A random thanks before I go to ladies of the Guild and funeral lunch group who have provided Msgr. and I with a meal each week, since the rectory cook for us and the staff has not been available. I’ve enjoyed meeting them, and it’s often left us with extras for another night.

A couple of cleanup things: a year or more before I arrived, I’m told, the parish went through training to avoid the practice of bringing a pyx (small communion vessel) in line to get a host to take to someone at home or elsewhere. This is not a proper way to get a host for several reasons: the pastor is always to know who needs a host at home, so one of us can visit, not just family or friends. And usually we don’t know the person wanting the host in this way-at one Mass last Sunday, 4 people approached this way, and 2 of them were not from our parish. Abuse of the consecrated host, even sacrilegious, is widespread in our time. If anyone you know needs communion, we will not give a host in the communion line. Please call the Parish Office during the week (not weekends) , you must be a Eucharistic Minister from our parish, and we will fill a pyx for you to pick up after Mass.

On COVID things before I go, you can read the paper as well as I can. Missouri is among the highest rates of new infections, including for children, and in the new variant form. The St. Louis area has seen an increase in infections for three weeks.  The safety practices we have left in place are modest-now only every third pew is roped off, and still without the use of holy water or missalettes. Receiving Communion on the tongue is only to be done at the end of Communion line. None of us know where things are going the next month or so. I regularly get thanks online or in person that we have at least minimal safeguards in place.

See you down the line.

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