Browsing From the Pastor's Desk

A Holy Family

Jul 26, 2018

For the last three months, there was a sign on the wall in the Parish Center that read, “Keep your eye on this space.” If you’ve been in the Parish Center lately, you know why.

An alumnus of the Priory School from the 1980s lives in Alaska and is a pilot for Alaska Airlines. You may recall that Alaska was once a territory of our good friends the Russians. Although we purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, most of the Russians living there stayed on and became good Americans. However, they remained good members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and an important element of Orthodox religious practice is the veneration of icons. Burke Mees, this airline pilot, sort of went artistically native and developed his talent in the medium of iconography. He has his own studio and his own style, painting his icons on canvas rather than wood. He produced a beautiful large icon for his church in Anchorage, only to have a new pastor arrive and decide the icon was not something he wanted in the church. And so Burke had a large icon (4’ x 6’) with no home.

Burke wanted this icon to be in a church, so to make a long story short, he offered us this beautiful icon. But it had to be removed from its mounting and carefully shipped here and then remounted. And so it would fit in with our other icons, it had to be specially framed to match them. As you might imagine, that took a little time, and there were a few bumps along the way. But now you can look at that place on the wall in the Parish Center and admire this beautiful icon of the Holy Family by Burke Mees. I can’t thank him enough for this generous gift of his talent and faith.

The Holy Family is an appropriate icon for this space. It is here that we have the weekly Family Mass on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m. If you haven’t attended, you might give it a try some Sunday. During the school year, this Mass occurs right after our Parish School of Religion (PSR) classes, so it is full of children, families, and life. The children serve, the children sing, and those who can, read. Nothing is more important for our Church, our nation, and society than strong families and strong children. We used to hear all the time as I was growing up, “The family that prays together, stays together.”

The other Parish Center Sunday Mass occurs at 5:30 p.m. each Sunday. This used to be a Youth Mass, but now it’s a Mass for everyone. From zero to 90 years, there are children and adults of all ages.

So it isn’t just youth or families with children who attend these Masses. Our liturgies, both in the Parish Center and in the Abbey Church, make the point that our whole Parish is one family, a holy family. The styles are different, the space is different, the music is different, but the faith and our God is the same.

Another devotional feature in our Parish Center is growing…the Cross Wall. There are crosses from Haiti and Central America, as well as a Saint Benedict cross and a reproduction of the cross designed by Fr. Christian de Cherge, OCSO, of the Abbey of Our Lady of Atlas in Tibhirine, Algeria. Fr. Christian and his fellow monks were kidnapped and martyred in the civil war of the 1990s. There is a tile from Lourdes depicting Mary, who faithfully stood at the foot of the cross. I invite you to bring back to us a cross from the exciting places you visit on your travels, and we will add your cross to the wall.

Finally, if you haven’t been to the Parish Center chapel lately, I invite you to stop by during Eucharistic adoration, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. We have placed beautiful overlays on the windows there of the Stations of the Cross. They add a beautiful new dimension to this holy space. Each of the windows was donated by a different parishioner or group of parishioners.

We thank Burke Mees and all those parishioners who have donated the crosses and Stations windows. They make the point that our Parish is a community contributing and working together to build the kingdom of God and make our corner of that kingdom beautiful.
Give unto the LORD the glory due unto his name: bring an offering, and come before him: worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness. ~ 1 Chronicles 16:29

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