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A Number of Different Griefs

August 21, 2020

Dear Friends on the Journey,

A number of years ago, I attended workshop for priests. The leader observed: “Men are not very good at grief.” Gender generalizations aside, I thought long and deeply about that observation: Is that true of me? Of men I have known? Have I seen women “do grief” better? If so, what can I learn from them?

In the early weeks of the lockdown, when we were livestreaming Evening Prayer, I quoted from a widely read article entitled: “That Discomfort You’re Feeling is Grief.”* Many of you reflected back to me how that statement resonated in your own life. But do we do grief well?

Further from that article was the observation that we are feeling a number of different griefs: that the world has changed; we’ve lost normalcy; our economic life, for so many, has gone into a tailspin; ruptured relationships; significant events disappear from the calendar; and, for some, literal deaths of loved ones. As a consequence, many are finding little taste for things which formerly excited them and gave life its tang.

And wondering about the future: this the author called “anticipatory grief” and this usually centers on death. We’re feeling a loss of safety. The future looks bleak.

So what to do?

As Christians, we believe Christ has conquered death and He is the anchor of our life. So I’m going to repeat a few things from April, both because they still may be life-giving and because some of us men don’t do grief very well. (And maybe some women as well.):
1. Laughter: make sure there is some every day;
2. Control: know what you can control and what you cannot: then say the Serenity prayer**;
3. Gratitude: reflect on gifts you have, notice them, write them down and be grateful;
4. Negativity: be careful of spreading this around;
5. Regular sleep and exercise; and
6. Read straight through, in a week, the Gospel of John, which is the Gospel of life. It is the Gospel of the Wedding Feast at Cana, the Woman at the Well, and the Resurrection. You will find therein the Christ who wants to fill you with life, who shares the tears of your grief, and who allows your emotions to have motion.


* Google the article “That Discomfort You’re Feeling Is Grief”; it’s worth pondering it its entirety.
** Reinhold Niebuhr, “The Serenity Prayer”: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” (Some of his descendants said that Niebuhr actually wrote “the things I should change,” for not everything that you can change, should you change.)

A Few Reentry Items (imperative if you will be worshiping with us) …

We continue our “slow roll” reentry into the Paulist Center Chapel. For the Masses on August 29 and 30, please reserve a place for either the 5pm Mass on Saturday or the 10am on Sunday.

How to reserve a place?

Call the Center (617.742.4460) during business hours (10am-5pm) Wednesday through noontime Friday. Sal, our receptionist, will take your name and contact information (either email or phone number. We need this information so that we can contact you should we become aware, after the liturgy, of a person with Covid who attended your Mass).

Again, please read the Procedures carefully and watch the video [both links below]).  Of special note:

  • The doors open 10 minutes before the service.
  • Masks must be worn at all times in the Chapel.
  • Please follow the directions of the hospitality ministers when entering, exiting, and at communion.
  • Once seated, please stay in place.
  • We invite you to hum along with the songs (no singing).


1) Here are the expectations and requirements: Procedures

2) A wonderful YouTube Video:

We are in pretty good shape for number of Ministers of Hospitality the next two weekends of reentry…until Labor Day weekend. So if you can assist with welcoming, seating, and directing people into and out of the Chapel, we would love to hear from you! If you are not in a vulnerable group with regard to COVID-19 and are willing and able to assist in this very important ministry, please contact Peter Ghiloni at

1) 21st Sunday in Ordinary Time, August 23rd, Live Streamed Liturgy/Mass from the Chapel, at 10am:

Here’s the link:

2) Paulist Center Families Prayer Service, 10 am, Sunday
Please click here to join us:
Meeting ID: 972 5247 4747, Password: 037026, One tap mobile
+16465588656,,97252474747#,,1#,037026# US (New York)

Please note that this service – to which all are invited – is only live. That is, you can join only at 10am. The recording of the live-streamed Mass can be viewed anytime: “live” at 10am or recorded any time after 11:15am, same link.

3). Connect for a Chat.  Patty Simpson <> will be offering an hour a week for any Paulist Center members who might want to connect. Patty has in mind especially those who aren’t connected into any other small groups. This August 27th, 7-8pm. Also if anyone wishes to connect with Patty either on phone or video session, use this link.  Alternatively. just email her or leave a message on her phone (617.948.2428) and she will get back to you ASAP.

Ways of Giving:

Our “Community Gift” is our tradition of giving away 5% of our weekend offerings, averaged out over the whole year, to a group outside of ourselves. This week, we lift up the Share Foundation. Share strengthens solidarity with and among the Salvadoran people in El Salvador and the United States in the struggle for economic sustainability, justice, and human and civil rights. Here at the Paulist Center Community, Share helps us Hacienda Vieha, our sister parish in El Salvador.

(In addition, perhaps some would like to give directly to help our brothers and sisters in Lebanon. I recommend Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Go to their website, to donate.)

We are so very grateful for your support during this time of uncertainly and financial peril. Here are two ways to give:

  1. To make a one-time or recurring donation using your bank account or credit card, click on the following link:
    Giving by text: Text 844-899-7511 with the amount you would like to donate (whole dollars only). Donations collected this way will be designated as part of the “Weekend Offering.”
  2. Giving by text: Text a whole dollar donation amount to 844-899-7511; this will be designated as your “Weekend Offering.”
An idea: Recently a few folks have made special contributions to help cover expenses for our live-streaming equipment. How thoughtful, how generous. What a great idea!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I conclude with the wise words of St. Teresa of Avila:

Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
Those who seek God shall
never go wanting.
Nothing can trouble,
nothing can frighten.
God alone fills us.

And let us pray for/with one another.

Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center

Along with Patty, Chuck, Susan, Peter, Dorothy, Barbara, Rob, Alvaro, and Sal. Please feel free to call upon your Pastoral Ministers if you wish.

I will be sending out something every Thursday or Friday as the “shut down” continues.