370 Campus Dr. | Arcadia, CA 91007

Letters from Fr. Kevin

September 22, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

This continues to be a very challenging year for the entire planet.  With the death count approaching one million (200,000 in the U.S. alone), the pandemic has taken its toll, in one way or another, on the lives of nearly everyone in the world.  

This month has brought us not only extreme discomfort, but extreme danger as well, in the form of record-breaking temperatures, which seem to be afflicting us more and more often.

On top of it all, we are facing horrific fires all along the West Coast and in our own backyard.

In the last days we have had periods of breathing air that was unbreathable and toxic.

And now an earthquake -- right here! -- gives us a not-so-gentle reminder that nothing we have is solid or can be taken for granted.

It is easy to lose hope and fall into despair.  It is easy to blame others, blame systems, blame God.  It is easy to succumb to fear.

That is exactly what we should not be doing.  After the earthquake the other night, as I lay there a bit "shaken up," I began to reflect on the precariousness of life itself.  For me it would be impossible to get through life without a belief in a God who lovingly holds our hand through it all and sometimes even picks us up and carries us through.  

There are things we can control and things we cannot.  One thing we can always control is how we take what comes our way.  Two people can experience exactly the same thing; one melts in fear or bitterness or despair, and the other grows from it.  One shakes his fist at God, and the other embraces God more tightly.  One curses his fate, and the other begins to consider how he can help.  It is remarkable what crises show about the true character of each individual.

You and I might not be able to annihilate a pandemic, but we can do our part to slow its spread.  We might not be able to extinguish a fire, but we can start taking seriously the bigger causes.  We might not be able to blow the smoke from the air, but we can certainly improve the atmosphere around us by spreading love and kindness.  We might not be able to stop the earth from quaking, but we can allow it to shake us into a place we need to be.  Each of us CAN do something to make this world a better place for all.

The popular rabbi, Jack Riemer, has written a beautiful prayer regarding what it is that we have right at our disposal.  

"We cannot pray to you, O God, to banish war,
for you have filled the world with paths to peace,
if only we would take them.
We cannot pray to you to end starvation,
for there is food enough for all,
if only we would share it.
We cannot merely pray for prejudice to cease, 
for we might see the good in all that lies before our eyes,
if only we would use them.  
We cannot pray, "root out despair,"
for the spark of hope already waits within the human heart
for us to fan it into flame.
We must not ask of you, O God,
to take the task that you have given us.
We cannot shirk, we cannot flee away,
avoiding obligation forever.
Therefore we pray, O God, for wisdom and will,
for courage to do and to become,
not only to look on with helpless yearning,
as though we had no strength.
For your sake and ours,
speedily and soon,
let it be,
that our world may be peaceful,
that our lives may be blessed."

Fr. Kevin

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August 24, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

These days powerful fires have been raging in many parts of the West Coast, bringing terrible destruction and loss in their wake.  We pray for all who have been affected and for all who have been fighting the fires.

But there is another fire burning through our midst in these days, and that is the unstoppable Fire of the Spirit of God, not a destructive force, but an eminently creative one.  It is always during the darkest times that its unmistakable, powerful light comes shining through, piercing the darkness surrounding us.  We continue to experience so many inspiring, uplifting moments at our parish.  The extraordinary kindness of so many shines through even more strongly than the sun has been doing during this heat spell.  The Spirit of God is alive and well!

On the sacramental level as well, the Fire of God's Spirit has swept through our parish family.  Over the past several weeks we have witnessed the Holy Spirit coming down upon our young people in the Sacrament of Confirmation.  And so many of our children have received our Lord for the first time in Holy Communion.  This is a tremendous grace, not only for those receiving these sacraments, but for our entire community.  

All of these ceremonies took place in the most beautiful church in the world:  the magnificent cathedral known as God's Creation.  Under the gorgeous blue evening sky, heaven was brought down to earth.  No stained glass window could have provided a backdrop more glorious than the richly colored California sunset.  The unique intimacy of these unforgettable moments made it all a very special and moving experience, a powerful encounter with the Divine.

We are incredibly blessed.

There are some who, in a novel situation, shake their heads bitterly and mourn the loss of "what used to be."  There are others who, in the very same situation, smile delightedly and rejoice at the specialness of the moment.  Which of these, I wonder, knows happiness in life?

The Fire of God's Spirit always burns new and unexpected paths into our heart.  It cannot be stopped, as long as the heart is willing to open.  

2020 has brought to every corner of the world a special challenge not seen in a hundred years.  The real challenge, though, is that which 2020 has brought to every corner of our heart.  Just as those who lived through the uncertainties of the Great Depression, just as those who lived through the horrors of the War, so too we who are living through the Pandemic of 2020 are suddenly confronted with the realization of what is truly important and what is not.  If our eyes are opened to this, then we have already opened our hearts and allowed the Spirit to enter.  And for the rest of our lives, our vision will be "2020."

Blessings,
Fr. Kevin

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY  IN!

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August 5, 2020 (This letter was sent in the mail on July 20, 2020)
Dear Holy Angels!

There is an old phrase, supposedly an ancient curse, which says:  "May you live in interesting times!"  We certainly are living in those times.  Who would have thought a year ago that we as a human race would be facing the very serious challenges that have now changed our lives in so many ways?

Certainly we have seen much death, much suffering, much grieving.  The statistics are appalling.  But it is when it strikes your own family and circle of friends that the cold numbers become colder realities.

However we have also seen, in those who have allowed it to happen, some very positive changes in the ways we think, the ways we interact, the ways we pray.  We have seen growth where we have allowed ourselves to grow; we have seen people caring about each other as never before; we have seen God touching lives and lives reaching out to touch God in the sudden and vital realization that God is not confined to time or space or walls; we have seen because we have opened our eyes and noticed things and people and connections we never noticed before.

Our planet has become smaller, our relationships more precious, our creativity more imaginative.  Recently astronaut Doug Hurley spoke of his own experience observing the world from space, seeing the earth from the vantage point of the heavens:  "When you look out the window, when you see the planet below, you don’t see borders, you don’t see the strife. You see this beautiful planet that we need to take care of. If you get the chance to look out the window from space and look back on our planet, it will change you. It will change you for the better. And you’ll realize that this is one big world, rather than all these different little countries or cities or factions that we have on the planet.  And I think it will make it a better place."

The present challenges present us with just this opportunity:  to see the world for what it is, to see ourselves for what we are, to see all of humanity and all of creation as the one family God created us to be.  There are some who would seek to use the crisis as a means to divide; let us see in it rather a God-given invitation to come together as one.

See the earth with eyes that have beheld the stars.  Open the eyes of angels and you will see sisters and brothers you never noticed before.

Blessings,

Fr. Kevin

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!

Even with all the churches closed, we continue with our enormously successful in-car Communion each Sunday from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m.  It continues to grow every week, and many even from outside the parish are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to receive the Holy Sacrament.

Our latest drive-through food drive on July 19, held in conjunction with the Communion line, was also a tremendous success.  Thank you for your generosity.  Thank you for seeing the sisters and brothers all around us who need our help more than ever.

Please do continue following our on-line Mass and the homily presentations on our website.  We are reaching far more people now than we did before the pandemic!  

Thank you so much for your continued support of Holy Angels Parish and our school.  Remember that one very convenient way of doing this is by registering for the on-line giving on our website.  We really appreciate your assistance during these "interesting times."  God bless you for your generosity!

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July 27, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!
 
We are pleased to report that over the weekend we tried an experimental outdoor Mass to see if we could do it both safely and not too uncomfortably, even in the July heat.  With the proper timing, location and set up, we are happy to announce that it went well!  We thank those who were brave enough to be the first to help us try this out, so that we could figure out how we can most safely offer as much as possible to all of our people.  

So, beginning this Sunday, we will now be officially starting our Sunday outdoor Mass, and we invite you to participate if you feel comfortable doing this.  
 
This Sunday the Mass will begin at 7:15 in the evening.  This could change in the coming weeks, as the time of sunset changes.  There is a very small window between the heat of the sun and the darkness of the night, and we are trying to make it the least uncomfortable possible.  It is certainly a work in progress, but we feel now that we can safely invite you to this, as long as all the safety precautions are strictly observed.
 
We are continuing, of course, our highly successful in-car Communion on Sunday mornings.  This has become extremely popular, and now some of the other parishes are imitating us as well.  This is a way to serve everyone, even those who would not feel safe going into a crowd of people.  
 
My 82-year-old mother back home tells me she so wishes her parish offered something like that.  She has not been able to receive Communion in months.  Her parish has already begun offering Mass, with all the usual restrictions, but of course the Archdiocese back there (just as everywhere) encourages the elderly and those with health conditions to participate in televised or on-line Mass instead.  She does that, and it is great, but it is the Communion she misses.  She is so glad that out here we have found a creative way to make sure all have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament.
 
Please feel free to attend either the online Mass, the outdoor Mass, or the in-car Communion -- or all three!  If, because of health conditions, age, caution, or anything else, you do not feel safe or comfortable coming to the live Mass, please feel free to participate in one of the many televised or online Masses available (including, of course, our own online Mass at 11:00 a.m.).  The Archbishop has dispensed from the obligation of attending Sunday Mass.
 
As always, if you are sick or not feeling well, please do stay home!
 
Our number one priority is your health and safety.  We hope to greet you at one of our Sunday options if it is possible for you.  
 
May God bless you all!
Fr. Kevin
 
STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!

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July 20, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

There is an old phrase, supposedly an ancient curse, which says:  "May you live in interesting times!"  We certainly are living in those times.  Who would have thought a year ago that we as a human race would be facing the very serious challenges that have now changed our lives in so many ways?

Certainly we have seen much death, much suffering, much grieving.  The statistics are appalling.  But it is when it strikes your own family and circle of friends that the cold numbers become colder realities.

However we have also seen, in those who have allowed it to happen, some very positive changes in the ways we think, the ways we interact, the ways we pray.  We have seen growth where we have allowed ourselves to grow; we have seen people caring about each other as never before; we have seen God touching lives and lives reaching out to touch God in the sudden and vital realization that God is not confined to time or space or walls; we have seen because we have opened our eyes and noticed things and people and connections we never noticed before.

Our planet has become smaller, our relationships more precious, our creativity more imaginative.  Recently astronaut Doug Hurley spoke of his own experience observing the world from space, seeing the earth from the vantage point of the heavens:  "When you look out the window, when you see the planet below, you don’t see borders, you don’t see the strife. You see this beautiful planet that we need to take care of. If you get the chance to look out the window from space and look back on our planet, it will change you. It will change you for the better. And you’ll realize that this is one big world, rather than all these different little countries or cities or factions that we have on the planet.  And I think it will make it a better place."

The present challenges present us with just this opportunity:  to see the world for what it is, to see ourselves for what we are, to see all of humanity and all of creation as the one family God created us to be.  There are some who would seek to use the crisis as a means to divide; let us see in it rather a God-given invitation to come together as one.

See the earth with eyes that have beheld the stars.  Open the eyes of angels and you will see sisters and brothers you never noticed before.

Blessings,

Fr. Kevin

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!


Even with all the churches closed, we continue with our enormously successful in-car Communion each Sunday from 8:30 until 9:30 a.m.  It continues to grow every week, and many even from outside the parish are taking advantage of this unique opportunity to receive the Holy Sacrament.

Our latest drive-through food drive on July 19, held in conjunction with the Communion line, was also a tremendous success.  Thank you for your generosity.  Thank you for seeing the sisters and brothers all around us who need our help more than ever.

Please do continue following our on-line Mass and the homily presentations on our website.  We are reaching far more people now than we did before the pandemic!  

Thank you so much for your continued support of Holy Angels Parish and our school.  Remember that one very convenient way of doing this is by registering for the on-line giving on our website.  We really appreciate your assistance during these "interesting times."  God bless you for your generosity!

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July 9, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

During the last months many new words and phrases have entered our everyday usage.  We speak of "pandemic," "quarantine," "isolation," "flattening the curve."  And many talk of "social distancing."

We should rather revise that and call it "physical distancing."  In no way should we curtail our social connection to other people.  As children of the same God we are intimately bound to one another.  Our methods of reaching one another may vary according to our situation, but we must never stop practicing -- and celebrating -- our oneness!  Certainly all of us are now experiencing one of those situations where physical distance is an absolute necessity, but that distancing must not extend to anything beyond the physical.  In fact, this is the time to intensify our social connection, the time to realize that we are all in this together, we need each other, and we are there for each other.  That's why God made the telephone!

As Catholics, there is no more powerful celebration of the communion between us than our Sacrament of Holy Communion.  In uniting ourselves in this way to our Lord, we are also consciously uniting ourselves to one another.  How blessed we are at Holy Angels to have the opportunity for EVERYONE to receive this wonderful Sacrament!  Many parishes have begun to offer it to a very small, restricted, select group of people, in the laudable effort to keep people safe; we have been trying to utilize the safest means possible to reach out to ALL.  And the response has been overwhelming!

Our communion with one another extends beyond the sacramental, beyond the social.  In its highest expression, it is a bond of charity and love, a bond which makes us all responsible for caring for the needs of all our sisters and brothers, especially those in need.  There are many kinds of needs.  Let us use this time to reach out to others who really need someone to talk to.  That includes all of us at one time or another.  Let us also be generous in helping those in need of material assistance.

To facilitate this, we once again invite you to participate in our upcoming food drive on Sunday, July 19.  Quite fittingly, it will be held in conjunction with our Sunday Communion.  The great Sacrament of Love overflows into a life of love-in-action.  It cannot be otherwise!

For the sake of all of us, let us continue our physical distancing!  And for the sake of all of us, let us intensify our social bonding!

Blessings,
Fr. Kevin

STAY SAFE!  STAY WELL!  STAY IN!

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June 27, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

Thank you for continuing to act with caution, prudence, and just plain common sense during these extraordinarily dangerous times.  Thank you for not being self-centered, but rather taking all the necessary precautions to protect and health and safety of others.  Thank you for being Holy Angels.

A very special thank you goes out to all our healthcare workers, who continue to work heroically, putting their lives in constant danger as the pandemic grows out of hand in our state and county.  

This past week the Holy Father expressed his deep appreciation to the doctors, nurses and health workers in Italy, a land that was particularly hard hit at the beginning of the pandemic.  Over 150 doctors, 34 nurses, 18 health professionals and 13 pharmacists have died of the virus in Italy alone, leaving the remaining professionals with unbelievable burdens.  Their heroism is mirrored in the health workers in every land facing the scourge of this terrible plague, "a visible sign of a heart-warming humanity."  

"Dear doctors and nurses," said the Pope, "the world has been able to see the good you do in a time of great challenge.  Though exhausted, you continue to commit yourselves with professionalism and self-sacrifice.  We must treasure all the positive energy invested during this time.  The pandemic has left a deep mark on the life of people and the history of communities.  The many deaths must be honored and not forgotten as we work together to build the future, a task which requires the commitment, strength and dedication of all.  In this way we will emerge from this crisis spiritually and morally stronger, but only if everyone cooperates.  God has created us for communion, for fraternity, and now more than ever the claim to focus everything on ourselves has proven illusory.  It is illusory to make individualism the guiding principle society."

"In these months," said the Pope, "people have not been able to participate in person in liturgical celebrations, but they did not stop feeling like a community.  They have been praying alone or with family, sometimes with the means of social communication.  They have been spiritually united and aware that the embrace of the Lord extends beyond the limitations of space." 

The pandemic has taken a heavy toll on the Church in Italy.  So far 121 priests have died of the virus in that country -- a truly staggering number.  Pope Francis praised the churches that have been putting the safety of their people first and have cooperated in the struggle to reduce the spread of the virus.  But he sharply condemned those churchmen who have put up "adolescent resistance" to the measures authorities have put in place to protect people.  

We can be proud of the fact that, with the exception of certain fringe elements, the Catholic Church has recognized the wisdom of making these necessary sacrifices for the protection of humanity, and in so doing we have helped to save countless lives.  The same can be said of nearly all the mainline Protestant churches, as well as the non-Christian faith communities.  It has been a time for coming together and recognizing that we really are all in this together.  May we never lose sight of that!

In our own county of Los Angeles, the pandemic has been spreading at a truly alarming rate in the last few days.  We are in constant contact with our local hospital, and it is very serious.  We must all exercise prudence, responsibility and extreme caution.  Some things may have partially reopened, but it is by no means a return to "the old ways."  

We continue to offer in-car Communion on Sunday morning from 8:30am until 9:30am.  This has been extremely well received and has been providing an opportunity for the Sacrament to people who never could have received otherwise.  Word has been spreading, and some from outside our parish family have also been coming from far away to partake of this beautiful opportunity -- the safest people could find anywhere, and the only opportunity open to all.

This Sunday, if you would like to receive the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick, you may also request that at the in-car Communion line, and we will be happy to strengthen you with that Sacrament as well.

Furthermore, the  Sacrament of  Reconciliation will be available on Saturday, July 11, from 3:30pm until 4:30pm at a special set-up in the outdoor gathering center.  

Don't forget our online Mass at 11:00am on Sunday morning, but also available online the rest of the day and, indeed, the rest of the week.

The Sunday homily is also available in illustrated format online every weekend and throughout the week.

Deacon Mike's morning prayer service has been going on via Zoom since the beginning of the Pandemic and continues to offer prayerful support to all.  Monday through Saturday 8:30 a.m.  Contact Deacon Mike at 626-802-7728 for more information.

Pope Francis has been a beacon of wisdom, courage and hope from the beginning of this challenging time.  He encourages us now, saying:  "The transformations inspired by the creativity and ingenuity of medical experts, religious and laypeople must inspire the next phase of humanity and faith.  May this miracle that you have started end well!"

Blessings,
Fr. Kevin
 
And remember:  You look great in your mask.  Because you look like someone who cares.

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!

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June 10, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

The feast of Corpus Christi celebrates the Body of Christ, that Body which we receive in Holy Communion, and that Body which we are.  The tradition of the Corpus Christi Procession celebrates this beautifully in both aspects, and this has become a beloved tradition at Holy Angels.

As the People of God, the Church, we are the Body of Christ!  Perhaps at no other time in our life has this reality been more manifest than during this time of pandemic.  The real Church is not made of bricks and mortar, but of flesh and blood.  We are not a building; we are a People.  

Of course the usual Procession can not take place.  However, we are planning a different type of procession for this Sunday.  We are inviting you to come in your cars and receive our Lord in Holy Communion in a drive-up line.  (Please see the details after this letter.)

Our drive-up food drive was a powerful manifestation of the living Body of Christ.  Adding now the Eucharist to this will be truly awesome.  This will likely be the most memorable and unique Corpus Christi celebration we will ever participate in.

Let us come together in this way, both meaningfully and safely, as the Body of Christ!  Let us continue to BE that Body to the world!

Blessings,
Fr. Kevin

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!

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June 1, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

Yesterday, Pentecost Sunday, was a truly momentous day for our church.  With scant notice and very little time to prepare, our people responded in unprecedented droves to the call to feed the needy in these difficult times.  It was a success that far exceeded anyone's expectations.  While maintaining strict safety procedures to protect the health of all, we were able to collect a tremendous amount of food for our local Foothill Unity Center.  Everyone knew the Angels would step up to the plate; no one could have foreseen the overwhelming response.  An almost unbroken parade of vehicles arrived with food in such quantities that we could not keep up with it.  One wonderful Angel had actually emailed all his neighbors to bring him all the food they could, and so he was able to arrive with an enormous vehicle loaded to the gills.  One by one the Angels arrived, with great spirits and generous hearts.  It was truly moving to witness the Spirit of God blowing like a mighty wind through the People of God.  A true Pentecost.

THIS IS CHURCH!!!  

Beautiful and grandiose as some of our buildings may be, the Church is not a structure of brick or stone or adobe or wood.  The Church is the Spirit-filled People of God, responding to the call to love.  It is not edifices that define it, but edifying acts of love. That Church is alive and well.  That Church has never closed.   

Yet that Church is also in constant need of reopening:  a reopening of hearts to the Spirit Who "has sent me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and to the blind new sight, to set the downtrodden free."  This is the Spirit Who calls us to take a stand for the hungry, the oppressed, the marginalized.  This is the Spirit Who sends us to take a stand against injustice, hatred, prejudice, racism, and the violence that is destroying our planet.  This is the Spirit that makes us the living, loving, serving Church we must be if we can claim to be Church at all.  That Church has never closed.

Doors of wood may open and close.  Such doors do not open or close the Church.  It is the door to our heart which we must always keep open, to allow the Spirit of God to "renew the face of the earth."  One bag of groceries at a time.

Blessings,
Fr. Kevin

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May 28, 2020
Dear Holy Angels,
 
As the whole world continues to combat the spread of the deadly virus, we are beginning to see certain businesses begin to bring back some of their suspended services, slowly and cautiously.  The Archbishop of Los Angeles has just given permission for parish churches to begin preparation for reopening the church building, again slowly and cautiously.  Each church has to go through intense preparation and sanitizing first, before requesting permission of the bishop to open on a limited basis.  This will be different for each church, of course, and the timing will be different for each.  The first phase is to open the churches for private prayer.  We hope to open our church for private prayer soon.  For the second phase, it might be possible to hold very limited public Masses a few weeks later.  
 
When this happens, the numbers will be very restricted, and the way of doing things very different.  This will in no way be a return to how things were before; that is still very far off.  Procedures will be rigid and very strictly enforced.  Of course the elderly especially will still be very strongly urged to remain at home.  As the Archbishop says, "it is important to remember that the coronavirus is still out there, it is still contagious, and it is still dangerous.  So, we need to proceed with prudence and caution and concern to protect our most vulnerable parishioners."
 
The dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass remains in effect indefinitely, as the Archbishop in no way wishes to encourage people to put themselves and others in danger.  Let us remember that this new possibility is opening up at exactly the same time that the U.S. death toll has reached 100,000 (the highest in the world, by far) and California has become the fourth state to reach 100,000 confirmed cases.  Los Angeles County has been particularly hard hit.  This is no time to become careless, and no time to forget our concern for the health of those around us.  On the contrary, these new possibilities will challenge us to a heightened vigilance and a deepened respect, concern and love for our sisters and brothers.
 
We will keep you informed of further developments.  Please stay tuned!  Thank you for continuing to be the wonderful parish family we are.  This time has brought us closer together than ever before.  May we never lose that!
 
Fr. Kevin
 
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May 19, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

The Sunday Gospel of a few weeks ago relates a story so important that it will be repeated very soon in the Gospel of Pentecost.  The apostles are under lockdown, and Jesus comes to join them.  He enters through the locked doors to bring a desperately needed message:  "Peace be with you!"

The worldwide experience of these present times has been different for different people.  Many are bored, some are frustrated, while others are worried, fearful, or lonely.  Many others have become far more spiritual than ever before and have discovered a whole new set of resources they never knew before, both inside and outside the cyber-world, both inside and outside of themselves.  Some have become irritable and some downright irrational, while others have become kinder, more loving, thoughtful and generous people.  Some have allowed their higher nature to shine through as never before, while others have given in to quite the opposite.  Some have been plunged into financial worries.  Nearly all have connected or reconnected with others on a much deeper level.

The experience has been varied, but it has been a changing one for you and for me and for all of us, in one way or another.  Of course ministering to the sick and witnessing the reality of the deathbed opens up eyes.  Talking with dedicated veterans of decades of spiritual and physical care in the hospital gives a whole new perspective, as they face a frightening challenge unlike any they have ever seen.  And hearing from friends in every corner of the globe puts our own situation into perspective, as they describe the far more extreme and far more strictly enforced restrictions in place long before ours, in the worldwide effort to halt the spread.  

How comforting the message that can penetrate locked doors and closed hearts:  Peace be with you!

These days will pass.  But it would be a shame to return to what was before, without holding on to some of the tremendous good that has come out of this.  Will we continue opening our hearts to others, lending a hand in extraordinary acts of generosity and kindness?  Will we continue treating people with the old-fashioned courtesy and consideration so many have rediscovered in these days?  Will we continue to nurture the wonderful connections we have discovered during these times of shared hardship?  Will we still take the time for those important things we used to neglect in the busy-ness of our life, things like home, family, undistracted conversation and undivided attention?  Will we continue to take the time to reflect and pray?

Or will we go back to cutting each other off on the roads, calling each other names?  Will we go back to ignoring each other, suing each other, stepping over and on one another to get ahead?  Will we begin once again to neglect those "unimportant" things that we have rediscovered now?

What will we be like afterwards?  That is the real question.  This has been a time when priorities and values have been rearranged, and that has certainly not all been bad!  Things once considered important are now no longer so, and things we had long forgotten or neglected have now occupied their rightful place in our life. 

As David Hollis has wisely admonished, "In the rush to return to normal, use this time to consider which parts of normal are worth rushing back to." 

Let us be Holier Angels than ever before!

Peace be with you!

Fr. Kevin

For so many parishioners and non-parishioners alike, our parish website has become the point of connectedness and spiritual nourishment.  We invite you to visit it often and share with your friends the messages you find there.

Remember, if you are not receiving our email messages, it is probably because we do not have your current email address.  Please do provide us with this information in order to receive our mailings.

Thank you for the tremendous support you continue showing your parish family during these times.  Without you we could not continue being the family we are.

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!
Website:  www.holyangelsarcadia.org

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May 11, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

So many people have been telling us how much they are enjoying the Mother's Day reflection on our parish website, along with the Mother's Day homily, the slideshow tribute, and the candles and pictures around the statue of our Blessed Mother.  There is something about the songs and prayers and pictures of mothers that speaks to our heart and summons us back to something hidden yet still alive in us, primal and long forgotten.

These past weeks have been for almost the whole planet a time of relative isolation.  We are not able to enjoy the company of others in the ways we have been used to.  Parties, restaurants, meetings, visits, even Masses, have all ceased in the way we knew them before.  Some have found the seeming isolation oppressive.  By nature most of us crave human contact.

Mothers' Day, however, comes as a bold reminder that, unless we were twins, each of us spent the first nine months of life in similar isolation.  Yet that isolation of the womb was not a lonely existence at all, for it was precisely at that time, and only at that time, that we were blessed with the most intimate human connection possible:  the connection between mother and unborn child.  During that magical time we never saw our mother's face; we didn't need to, for we were in her, a part of her, and we knew no other world -- nor did we need one.  During that time we never saw anyone's face, yet we were content and at peace because that connection to the mother was so very real and unquestioned.  During that time we grew, by leaps and bounds and in every way, as we would never grow again.  We did not even notice the isolation; we felt only the powerful intimacy.

When it was finally time to sever that life-giving cord of connection, each of us came into the world kicking and screaming, every fiber of our being fighting against our release from this intimate isolation.  

So wonderful is that gift!

Later in life we forget the gift in all of that.  In the busy-ness of our hectic day-to-day life we become caught up in the motions and forget the Mover.  We run in terror from moments of solitude, afraid perhaps of confronting ourselves.  It is easier to keep running, than to stop and reflect on whether we are going in the right direction.  In the precious and all too rare gift of solitude we see the lonely emptiness of the tomb, rather than the intimate connection of the womb.

In this period of Spiritual Retreat (for that is what it is for those who choose to make it so), let us rediscover the womb.  The first gift of our mother, and the most important, was that nine-month period of intimacy in isolation, when we grew, and grew wondrously as human beings, in the silent, all-powerful connection of love.  Our connection to God is as powerful and as intimate as that of an unborn child to its mother -- infinitely more so, in fact.  Let us begin now to live in ever greater awareness of that most precious of gifts!

May our mother's blessing, and the blessing of our loving God, be ours in all its wondrous intimacy, in all the awesome connectedness already there in the womb of human existence, calling out for us to stop, wake up from our frenetic existence that passes for life, and take the time to notice!

Fr. Kevin

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May 4, 2020
Dear Holy Angels!

This unusual period of our life has brought many new elements to our lives, some of them quite difficult for many.  To many, though, it has also brought a renewed sense of solidarity, with the realization that "we are all in this together" and what we do affects everyone around us, sometimes in vital ways.  It is a renewed recognition that we are all citizens of the same planet; the pandemic may be universal, but so are the human experiences, the ties that bind us together.  We are not alone.

From the very beginning of this, I have been receiving countless messages and calls from people in every corner of the planet, the vast majority living under far more drastic restrictions than we have been.  Everywhere is the strong sentiment:  We are doing our part to beat this disease!  It is good to feel that unity, that solidarity with people everywhere.  It is good to feel that we are not alone.

There has emerged in these days another level of tangible unity, and that is the unity with those who have gone before us and have lived through other difficult times.  They are legion.  Particularly powerful is the bond one suddenly feels with those who suffered the devastating influenza pandemic of a hundred years ago.  We feel their pain now in very real ways.  We are not alone.

In those days, of course, they did not have the modern means of efficient communication with which we are blessed.  Their pastors could not send out mass emails or post reflections on a website.  When the churches were closed for the pandemic of a hundred years ago, they used what simple means were available at the time, and often that was the newspaper.  I have found it interesting to read through messages written by the pastors of 1918, and I would like to share with you a selection of their words, in the hopes that their encouragement to "rediscover" will speak to our hearts today.

1918   Rev. S. O. Coxe, Presbyterian
Rediscover the home

"By the wise and necessary action of the City Commission and the Board of Health, on account of the scourge of disease now prevailing, all congregational activities are canceled.  But, while this providence is a severe one, affecting as it does all our plans and programs in this the most opportune season of the entire church year, may we not yet turn this season to best account by accepting it as an opportunity for the exercise of a fuller devotion to God and to the things of His Kingdom?  Necessarily we shall be kept in our homes many hours that would otherwise be spent in recreation and amusement.  Perhaps this circumstance will serve to remind us that in these sacred home-circles there is to be found the very finest of fellowship and the sweetest and most wholesome of all influences.  And certainly if we should improve these hours by prayer and meditation, the seeming curse of this scourge would not be unmixed with blessing."

1918    Rev. Fletcher Parrish, Methodist
Rediscover meditation in this "unique Sabbath"

"Meditation is very profitable for the soul, but the rush of the world is so great at present that very little time is given to cogitation and reflection.  Men think they have no time to walk out in the fields for contemplation, or to sit quietly by the fireside and muse.

"However, we have a God-given opportunity for this helpful indulgence by reason of this unique Sabbath which has dawned upon us.  Out of necessity our churches are closed, and all public gatherings must be discontinued.  We cannot go motoring, and we would not go to business if we could, and even the fields are dangerous lest we should come in contact with goldenrod and ragweed and take influenza.  But we can sit by the fire and give ourselves to thought and reflection which will bring great profit to us."

1918    Father James E. Coyle, Catholic
Rediscover our appreciation for the Mass in its absence

"A situation unprecedented in the history of our State presents itself to you today.  By order of the civil authorities, and by the advice of your religious leaders, you will not assemble in your various Catholic churches to assist at Holy Mass.  That you may have some words of uplift and cheer, [the local newspaper] has courteously invited me to write a few words for its many Catholic readers, and I am thus enabled to address, by means of the printed word, a congregation greater far than the congregations that Sunday after Sunday gather. 

"You are for the first time in your lives deprived of the opportunity of hearing Mass on Sunday, and you will, I trust, from this very circumstance, appreciate more thoroughly what Holy Mass is for the Catholics.  Let us today reflect on the meaning and the history of that great sacrifice at which we may not assist, a sacrifice that links us with the saints and sages of every age from Christ's time till now, and let us beg God in his mercy to remove from us that sickness that keeps us deprived of the great sacrifice, so that soon we may again with glad, worshipful hearts, meet in our churches and assist in offering that sacrifice.

"The vigorous efforts made by the health authorities to stamp out the epidemic is, in one form or another, working hardship and discomfort to every single citizen, and this hardship and discomfort is cheerfully endured for the universal good.  It is certain as good comes from every evil, that a deeper appreciation of the holy sacrifice will result from this necessary legislation. How true it is that we never really appreciate our blessings till deprived of the same for a season!"

In our prayers let us gratefully remember these long-departed shepherds and their flocks, who are interceding for us now in that marvelous solidarity that transcends time and space!

Blessings!
Fr. Kevin

STAY WELL!  STAY SAFE!  STAY IN!

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Please click here to see letters from March and April 2020.