Dear parish family,
As the historic heat wave continues to grip a broad swath of the United States and millions of people across the country are sweltering under extreme temperatures these days. I pray that you have been able to find a cool and comfortable place to be during these very hot days.
Summer months can be a slow time, as the pace of life changes for most people. The record-setting heat at this time certainly slows the world even more. Many families are already enjoying their vacations in different parts of the country or abroad. Here in our parish, however, I notice that many of you also enjoy just being “homebodies” and not getting away at all. Regardless of whether you are at home or away, I would like to encourage you to keep the Lord at the center of your daily activities. Amid the glory of summer, we may be tempted to forget about God. For those who are on the move, it may be hard to find enough time for all the exciting itineraries and fun programs. For those who remain at home, there can be so much to do both in terms of recreation and summer projects around the house and yard. In many households, the summer months can be quite stressful because the children and teens are off from school and constantly demand attention. In these circumstances, we can easily let go of our spiritual commitment.
The truth is, while we sometimes are tempted to forget about God and often fail to keep Him at the center of our life, God never forgets about us. He is constantly aware of the struggles of our hearts, our hopes and dreams, our successes and failures, our joys and sorrows. God knows all our needs and is constantly at work to meet those needs each day. God’s loving attention is always focused on us. He keeps us as the “apple of His eyes” (Psalm 17:8; Deuteronomy 32:10). Thus, as you move through summer know that God is there. As you travel to exotic places, or maybe familiar ones: know that God is there. As you graduate and prepare to begin a new chapter in life: know that God is there. As you face struggles and triumphs, know that God is there. His abiding presence beckons us to draw near to Him.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, has said that summertime is the perfect opportunity “to enhance our commitment to seek and encounter the Lord”. He encourages young people in particular to spend their summer break from school in a good way, such as by spending time in rest, prayer, service, and helping their families: “I encourage you to use well and responsibly the time that is available to you: it is in this way that one grows and prepares oneself to take on more demanding tasks” (Message to Youth, June 28, 2022). When used well and wisely, this so-called “lazy time” of the year can be quite a providential moment for renewal.
I love summer. The glory of God is shown in summer in a marvelous way. This year, while I have chosen not to take a vacation now to be available to you at the parish, I do look forward to taking a few weeks later on in the fall to recharge, re-focus, and be with my family. While Mass attendance at our church has typically declined during these months, it is encouraging to see many of you making the effort to come regularly. I am also edified by the faithfulness and consistence that many of you have shown in your sacrificial giving. The summer months are always a bit challenging for our church as the bills continue to arrive and must be paid. I am always thrilled—like you—to be able to pay the bills on time. It helps our parish keep a good witness in our local community!
I offer a special prayer for those who are unable to take vacation due to age, health, work or financial hardship. May these summer months still be a relaxing time for you, cheered up by good company and happy moments. Commending you all to the protection of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, and wishing everyone a serene and profitable summer, I look forward to seeing you in church as much as possible!
Blessings in Christ,
Msgr. Cuong M. Pham