Well, it’s finally here.  Our annual picnic Mass!  I must admit my mouth is watering a bit in anticipation of the corn and sausage to come!  As I write this column (9pm on Tuesday night) it’s a cool 85 degrees outside.  But “they” say it will be partly cloudy and 74 degrees on Sunday.  That sounds like great picnic weather to me!  And since we’re Christian, we don’t believe in superstition or luck so no worries about jinxing the day.  I hope everyone has an enjoyable time at the picnic…it’s somewhat of a family reunion for us, or at least a family reception.  It is truly wonderful to be a part of this parish family.

Today is the Solemnity of Our Lady of Sorrows.  Since this is the principle feast day of the Congregation of Holy Cross, we have been given permission to celebrate this Mass instead of the 24th Sunday of Ordinary Time.  It may seem odd to have such a day as our feast day, where we celebrate our religious family as we recall the seven sorrows of Mary, but it’s a reminder of what is always before us: the joy of the cross.  Mary knew there would be great sorrow in her life when she and Joseph presented Jesus in the temple.  Simeon was there, and told her “you yourself a sword will pierce”, foreshadowing the seven sorrows she would experience.  (This scene and Mary’s sorrowful heart are beautifully depicted in our stained glass windows.)

Last week Pope Francis said “But Jesus does not want to delude anyone. He knows well what awaits him at Jerusalem, what way the Father wants him to go. It is the way of the cross, for the sacrifice of himself for the forgiveness of our sins. Following Jesus does not mean being a member of some triumphant entourage! It means sharing his merciful love, entering into his great work of mercy for each man and for all men. Jesus’ work is simply a work of mercy, of forgiveness, of love! Jesus is so merciful! And this universal pardon, this universal mercy, passes through the cross.”  So we hail the cross as our only hope of reaching the resurrection, mindful that there was joy for both Mary and Jesus on the way to the cross.  It sounds like a contradiction that in the midst of the sorrow of the cross that Mary could know joy.  But her joy came from knowing the Lord so well that her son’s prayer became her own: “thy will be done.”

As we continue to pray for peace in a world that seems to be more and more violent and bent on destruction, we pray for all who are victims of such senseless acts, and for a conversion of hearts that all may be brothers and sisters in the family of God.