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Attention to, and distraction from, the pain

Dear Friends on the Journey,

Attention to the pain, distraction from the pain. Both are needed. I begin with the former and conclude with the latter.

Up until the Black Plague which ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages, it was the rare Christian cross that carried the body of Jesus on it. But as the plague’s death march overwhelmed Europe, the faithful’s intuition came into play. Across Europe, both artists and ordinary folks superimposed the Corpus, Jesus’ body, on the cross as a vivid signal of one dimension of their faith: while we suffer in this life, Jesus also suffered. We join our sufferings with his, great or small, knowing that He walks with us in our suffering. Displaying a crucifix in our homes might be a singular, faith-filled way of reminding us of that fundamental Christian insight: Jesus walks with us in our suffering. He does not gaze down on us from a lofty perch; He accompanies us, day by day. And we each in our hearts know what pain we endure: worry about a vulnerable aunt or uncle; frustration with a six-year-old who cannot understand why she can’t go out; the perceived selfishness of a spouse as we try to make everything good; a frustration with civic leadership; the despair of a failing business. He walks with us amid them all…

What pain, great or small, am I carrying that I now ask Jesus to share with me to lighten my burden? And a crucifix is a visual way of reminding us of Jesus’ positive answer to our prayer.

* * * * *

As a community, we of the Paulist Center continue to be grateful to the volunteers at our Food Pantry (about a hundred bags went out this week, up from about 15 the week before) and at our Wednesday Supper Club (see pictures below). Our Wednesday Night Supper Club makes National Press; see

Our Sunday Evening Prayer was a spiritual balm for many of us: about 75 connections, representing many more individuals. Our Family Retreat Group met virtually on Sunday morning, as well, as are many of the Young Adult Small Prayer Groups.

We are planning on Sunday evening prayer on this Sunday, March 29th. Watch for instructions and links on Saturday Constant Contact letter from me. We are improving the experience with some tips from you. Thank you!

Sadly, but predictably, we announce the cancellation of the Lenten Penance Service, Holy Week Services at the Paulist Center, and the Auction (later plans still TBD).

We are currently developing plans for an electronically-delivered Holy Week (Holy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Vigil). Stay tuned…

The Auction — our coordinators have asked that we announce that no raffle ticket or auction-related checks received from this past Monday forward will be deposited until we know what will happen and when. Checks received prior to that have been deposited. When we know what direction we will take, we will be in touch with those donors to ask their wishes for their donations at that time. If anyone would like their donation returned sooner than a decision is made, please contact Patty Simpson and we will process a refund as possible.

Family Religious Education: Susan Rutkowski has developed some ways for the families to connect through the FREP program. Please contact her for more information.

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. Join the meeting by clicking on this link. (For more instructions about how to use GoogleMeet, see our last email!) The first time? This evening Thursday, March 26th, 7-8pm. Also if anyone wishes to connect with Patty either on phone or video session, just email her or leave a message on her phone (617.948.2428) and she will get back to you ASAP.

Well, what can I do in lieu of Sunday Mass?
1. Consult the Paulist Fathers’ omnibus website page

2. The publishers of Give Us This Day, with its meditations and Sunday and Weekday
Scripture readings, is a wonderful resource: To support our community’s prayer, Give Us This Day has made available at no charge a digital file of our periodical, which
includes daily Mass texts. Visit and select “Digital” in the upper

right of the screen. While it is not a replacement for community worship, this resource
will support you during this challenging time. Please share this resource with friends and

3. Similarly, Magnificat ( is offering the same: “During this
challenging time, many of the faithful may be unable to attend Mass. Magnificat is
honored to provide complimentary access to our online version to help people pray from home.”

Pardon me this indulgence (this is the “distraction from pain” part), I recommend taking four minutes (do this by taking three deep breaths, clearing your mind, and trying not to have the swirl of things-to-do distracting you). I know I’m a Baby Boomer, but, hey, we had the best music (“Ok, Boomer!”). So give yourself four minutes, three deep breaths, and play this:

I conclude again 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, Kristin, Dorothy, Alvaro, Barbara, Rob, Sal, and Chris.
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.

Please remember Fr. Bob Baer, C.S.P., who died at Marian Manor, S Boston, on 20 March, age 94. May he rest in peace.