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Let It Go, Let It Go!

Bob Bordone, Pastoral Council Member
March 22, 2024


For those visiting the Paulist Center on Palm Sunday – a warm welcome! We are so glad you are with us and hope you return for the Easter Triduum!

For those who are members of the Paulist Center Community – what a Lenten season this has been!

During these days of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we learned that the Paulist Fathers in New York had entered a discernment process that would result in the completion of some of their national foundations and ministries. News of possible parish closings is always hard. But for many in our community, already alienated by a Church that has not lived up to the Gospel message of radical inclusion, especially for women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and divorced persons, hearing that our community of welcome and refuge might be closed hit especially painfully.

I’m not prone to think that the Facebook algorithm is inspired by the Holy Spirit (!), but within an hour of hearing the news that Boston might be among those ministries to be shuttered, this excerpt from Mary Oliver’s beautiful poem “In Blackwater Woods” showed up in my scrolling:

To live in this world

You must be able
to do three things:
to love what is mortal
to hold it

against your bones knowing
your own life depends on it;
and, when the time comes to let it go,
to let it go. 

Immediately, this became the focus of my Lenten prayer. As I joined with many in our community to make the best possible case for why the Paulist Fathers should remain in Boston, I prayed that God would prepare my heart to let the Center go if that was where the Spirit was leading at this time. I prayed to see and understand what spiritual growth and lessons, what callings and promptings, might come if I learned that it was time to let the Paulist Center go.

Soon my prayer turned to other things I loved, that were mortal, and that need to be shed:

Prepare me, O Lord, to let go of the habits, routines, and rituals that offer me comfort but which might also hold me back from where you are leading me – from what is immortal, everlasting, and true.

When I learned the news that the Paulist Fathers will continue their missionary work here in Boston, I breathed a sigh of relief. At the same time, the focus of my prayer intensified:

“When the time comes to let it go, let it go.”

 There remains an urgency in my prayer around this. And as I prayed about this pastoral message, I want to share with you my belief that there should be an urgency in the discernment of each of us in our community around this question of “letting it go.”

It would be a mistake, it seems to me, for our Boston Paulist Community to interpret the discernment of the Paulist Fathers in New York as an indication to ‘proceed apace, doing what you have always done.’ Worse than a mistake. It would dishonor the grace and opportunity we’ve been given in the decision to continue a Paulist presence in Boston.

After all, even as I write this, there are Paulist foundations – some over a century old — grappling with bringing their work to completion. For them, for ourselves, for the Paulist charism of outreach and reconciliation, and for a world desperate for the love of Christ, we have a solemn obligation to do the hard work of examining what we need to let go of to make space for the possibilities of ministry and mission that await us as we build a renewed faith community here in Boston.

As I prayed over today’s Palm Sunday Gospel, this line struck me in a way that it never has:

“Are you still sleeping and taking your rest?”

Though we are tired, this is not a time for sleeping or taking a rest.  As Jesus continues in the Gospel, “The hour has come!… Get up! Let us go!” In this final week of Lent, I invite you to a prayer of discernment: What are the things that you love, that you hold on to, but that, in the end, are merely mortal?

With renewed energy and zeal, with an awareness that the hour has come, let us not sleep or take rest.  As we journey forward as a community, transitioning to a one-priest ministry with the assistance of senior Paulist fathers, let us ask with humility, for the grace and courage to let go of that which we must let go – and to act boldly to envision a vibrant, inclusive, and energized community full of eternal Easter joy.