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A Rough Week

March 19, 2021

Dear Friends on the Journey,

Some weeks have more pain than others. Or as someone once said, “Life is hardly more than a sawdust sandwich out of which we take a bite a day.” This was a rough week for at least two reasons:

1) On Monday, our Catholic Church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) issued a document with commentary repeating traditional teaching about Catholic blessing of same-sex couples. The document answered a particular question with a succinct answer. The question was,
Whether a Catholic could pray a blessing over a same-sex couple. The answer was “no.”

Some wondered why the CDF issued this declaration at this time. A consensus of speculation was that it was a response to a few German bishops who had raised the possibility of, while not officiating at a same-sex marriages as such, can we Catholics not find a pastoral response by way of a simple blessing for a couple, whether from a priest or other Catholic? It was to that query that the CDF said “no.”

But some of the language of the declaration was particularly harsh. It struck many of us, both LGBTQ+ and straight, as a cruel punch in the stomach. But in some places in the same document, the CDF seemed to be straining to express their affection, acceptance, and care for gay/Lesbian Catholics. Indeed the document even speaks of “positive elements” in these relationships.

All that said, reading these documents really pained me because they brought up, again, our Church’s clumsy and heavy-handed efforts at coming to grips with real people in real situations, in love and commitment, feeling their commitments denigrated. My first thoughts therefore went to our LGBTQ+ ministry and to so many other treasured members of the Paulist Center Community. I knew they would be hurting because of this document AND how it is being reported in the press (not the same thing).

On Tuesday night, our Pastoral Council met for its monthly meeting. It quickly became clear that the Council strongly wishes to support our LGBTQ+ community and to continue to foster a community that welcomes them. The Pastoral Council was very strong and clear on this. With them, I think that it is critical to maintain our open and welcoming posture vis-à-vis LGBTQ+ Catholics here at the Paulist Center. And the most important signal in all this is their faithful witness, leadership, and presence among us. Not as a side issue, but as embedded in our life.

What do I mean by “embedded in our life”? I mean that we as the Paulist Center Community not simply “welcome them,” but cherish the moments when they are among the welcomers. Let me give you two recent examples that brought me much joy.

When the schedule for the LGBTQ+ Ministry’s “every-other-Wednesday prayer service” fell on Thanksgiving Eve, I asked their leadership to open up their prayer service to be our community Thanksgiving Prayer service. When the schedule likewise indicated that “their Wednesday” would be Ash Wednesday, I asked theirs to be the Paulist Center’s Ash Wednesday prayer service. We would move all our community to that service, with their LGBTQ’s able leadership and prayer.

I expect that there are some who will be uncomfortable, upset, and even hurt by what I have written. Maybe you think I’ve veered too far from Church teaching. Or perhaps you wish that I had called out Church leadership or the CDF in vociferous and strident terms. But I have to admit that I was so very deeply touched by one participant in the LGBTQ+ listening session on Wednesday night who invited us to pray for our Church leadership. I thought to myself, “Yes, I think he’s right.” That’s part of what I hope we can all agree to do.

Part of what enables us – despite the difficulties—to be a place where “all are welcome” is that we can have conversations, even/especially when it’s hard and it hurts. So, if you unhappy with this from any angle – as I have the time and opportunity, I hope we can be a community of engagement and welcome…no matter what. Walk with us, talk with us, tell us how we can make all feel more welcome, both those who were relieved by the Vatican document and those who were so hurt by it.

2) The rampage against a number of our Asian-American neighbors cannot go unnoticed. Indeed in downtown Boston over the last year, there have been incidents of Anti-Asian American discrimination. Blessed as we are with many Asian American members in our Paulist Center community, we pledge ourselves to work in our anti-racism initiatives against all exclusion or prejudice targeted against our Asian-American brothers and sisters.

I know what I have said is inadequate to the pain and exclusion which many of our LGBTQ members are feeling at this time. To say nothing of the fear that many Asian Americans are feeling. As I began, this has been a painful week.

You and I are all in need of Resurrection, in need of Easter. I am grateful that another celebration of “Christ is risen,” is on the horizon.[

Holy Week at the Paulist Center:

There are no longer any places available for either Palm Sunday weekend or Easter Sunday Mass. That means that only livestream services are available for Palm Saturday/Sunday through Easter Sunday. (This schedule and links will be included in next week’s Missive as well.) Here are the Links:

  • Sunday, March 28th, Palm Sunday, 10am: YouTube link (available as a recording after 11:15am);
  • Wednesday, March 31st, 7pm Prayer Service, led by our LGBTQ Ministry.  Zoom link.
  • Holy Thursday, April 1st, Liturgy of the Lord’s Supper, 7pm. YouTube link.
  • Good Friday, April 2nd, 12:05pm, Good Friday Ecumenical Seven Last Words Service. Zoom link.
  • Friday, April 2nd, 3pm, Good Friday Celebration of the Lord’s Passion. YouTube link.
  • Friday, April 2nd, 7pm. Social Justice Stations of the Cross led by our Young Adult Ministry. Zoom link.
  • Saturday, April 3rd, 7pm, Easter Vigil Celebration. YouTube link.
    Sunday, April 4th, 10am Easter Sunday Mass. YouTube link TBD!

In discerning how to celebrate the this most holy of weeks, as we have for the last year, we start with everyone’s safety. This is not the time to let our guard down. While we have invested in better filters for our air circulation system, length of time in an enclosed space is a major factor affecting our decision. That is, the services on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday are longer than an hour. Currently, we try to keep our in-person worship to 45-50 minutes (sometimes this windy preacher does go on!). But by their structure, the Liturgies of Holy Week always go more than an hour. So we are doing all these livestream (in addition to our Ecumenical Seven Last Words and Stations of the Cross).

Improving Our Livestream Worship…

In order to improve our camera angles during our celebrations we are going to provide an order of worship with the music selections (rather than posting them on the screen). Here is the Fifth Sunday of Lent. (This link will also be available on the YouTube broadcast and our website. You will also be able to scan a QR Code from your screen.) We continue to ask for your feedback as to how this is working for you. Here is the link for the Survey. Thank you for your participation. Also some additional information about split screens for the Worship Aid.

From our Care for Our Common Home Ministry: “We Catholics share a strong tradition of embracing Lent with prayer, repentance, self-denial, and generous action. This year our Common Home ministry encourages us to use the Laudate Si “lens” the cry of the earth and the cry of the poor’ for our Lenten practice. Each week, this message will include one practical suggestion for action.

“Our Lenten practice this week is to consume energy more efficiently. Consider running laundry and dishwashers only when full. Here’s how to calculate your household carbon footprint.”

Worshiping In-Person at the Paulist Center Chapel
(imperative if you will be worshiping with us)…

How to reserve a place?

Please call the Center (617.742.4460) Wednesday through Friday during business hours (10am-5pm). 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).

Note Carefully: If you are experiencing ANY symptom that would indicate that you are ill (not just for Covid), please stay home. If in doubt, please stay out! Also, please read carefully the Procedures and watch the video (both links below). Of special note:

  • The doors open 10 minutes before the service;
  • Since there is no singing, we invite you to hum along with the songs.


1) Here are the expectations and requirements

2) A wonderful YouTube Video Link

If you can assist as a Minister of Hospitality 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) For the 5th Sunday of Lent, Sunday, March 21st, Live-Streamed Liturgy/Mass from the Chapel, at 10am (available as recording at same link after 11:15am):
To use the Order of Worship, you may wish to
1.   Print it out to have in hand as you tune in; or
2.   Use a second “tab” in your browser for the Order, to alternate with viewing the Mass; or
3.   Bring it up on a second device (e.g., smart phone, iPad) while following the Liturgy on the Desktop.

2) Paulist Center Families’ Liturgy of the Word, 10am, Sunday:
See Fr. Mike’s Email Missive for the link details.

3) Paulist Center Rosary Circle. 7:30pm every Monday.
Here’s the Zoom Link:
Meeting ID: 487 503 158; Passcode: 021078

4) All are welcome to a half-hour prayer gathering with/from the Paulist Center’s  Pastoral Council led prayer next Wednesday, 7pm. See Fr. Michael’s email missive for the link.

Ways of Giving:

Our “Community Gift” is the Paulist Center’s tradition of giving away 5% of our weekend offerings, averaged out over the whole year, to a group outside of ourselves. A few exceptions to this pattern arise each year, and this week is one. This week we lift up MissionSAFE which works with high-risk youth that face challenges to gain the confidence and skills to achieve their full potential   Thank you so much for your generosity!

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.”

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

I conclude now with the Prophet Micah 6:8:

Our Faithful God has told you, O mortal, what is good;
   and what does the Lord require of you
but to do justice, to love kindness,
   and to walk humbly with your God?

And let us pray for/with one another.
Michael McGarry, C.S.P.
Director, the Paulist Center

Along with Patty, Chuck, Susan, Peter, Dorothy, John, 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 COVID-19 restrictions continue.