1680 Dixie Highway, Fort Wright, KY 41011

Dear Parishioners,

HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!This Sunday is Mothers Day. We show a special appreciation for our own mothers, and the mothers of our children… and for motherhood in general. The most important work any generation does is to beget and prepare the nest generation for adulthood. Motherhood is a very special and very important vocation. We should strive to never take it for granted.

National Nurse Day was this past Wednesday, May 6.

International Nurses Day is this Tuesday, May12.

We have had one administrative staff person in the parish office for a half-day each day this past week to begin to get things caught up administratively. So we are starting slowly, along with our diocesan offices.

Regarding Masses, I don’t really have any more specific information than I did last week. Bishop Foys is consulting with various groups and I anticipate some sort of plan to be announced in the next couple of weeks, but cannot say anything for sure right now.

At least it appears we are not sure. Some experts caution that the worst is yet to come. As I write this (May 8) the death toll is nearly 78,000. That’s more than enough by over 13,000 to fill Paul Brown Stadium, if that’s a helpful measure or image. This is all very serious and it is taking real discipline to stay “steady I the boat” during this uncertainty.

As announced in this email last week, we are in the process of arranging for live-streaming from Saint Agnes to become a reality. We have ordered much of the rest of the equipment needed as well as making the necessary plans for our website and Facebook page to accommodate this live-streaming. Ron Lawson of our parish, who has a background in video and video production has been very helpful regarding the equipment we need. Also, most of the “infrastructure” that needs to be in place in the church (running ethernet cable, etc.) was accomplished this past week by our maintenance staff, Rick Wolking and Dan Lee. A “thank you” to all of them.

Several parishioners have talked about how they watch the live-streaming from other churches in our area, or from Bishop Barron or even the Vatican. So I am hopeful that this will be a very important addition to our parish life.

I was very impressed with the clarity of the picture and the sound of the service for the Consecration of our Diocese to Mary from our Cathedral last week. This makes all the difference in a production. So we are going to make this a quality live-streaming. We are looking to get cameras that are high definition and that have zooming capabilities so as to make the video more interesting. The cost of these cameras will make our final cost higher than the $2,500 for the entire project that I mentioned last week. Right now, it looks like it will be around $5,500.00.

If you would like to contribute specifically to help pay for this equipment, please clearly mark you donation and send it to the parish office.

Again, this capability should make our Masses and other worship services in our church accessible to anyone who has a computer or Facebook access.

It is something to consider, that we as Catholics are worshiping each Sunday, and even each weekday, in churches all around the world, using the same Scriptural readings and prayers. WE all observe the same Seasons and Holy Days throughout the year. We truly share “One Lord, One Faith, and One Baptism” and One Eucharist.

I hope to have something more specific to say about this in the next couple of weeks.

This Sunday we will be celebrating the Mass for Fifth Sunday in Easter Season at Saint Agnes, along with all Catholic Churches around the world.

∙ This Mass at Saint Agnes will not be open to the public.

∙ Unfortunately, we do not have live-streaming capabilities at Saint Agnes, but hope to soon. See the article above.

∙ There are many parish websites that do have live-streaming, including our own Cathedral Parish, as well as Saint Peter’ in the Vatican.

During Easter Season, the first reading always comes from The Acts of the Apostles. We read about the early, post-resurrection days of our church. The second reading in Cycle A years is from the First Letter of Peter. On the Fifth and Sixth Sundays of Easter, the Gospel reading is always an excerpt from Jesus’ discourse and prayer at the end of the Last Supper in John’s Gospel.

Gospel Reading: (John 14:1-12) The first verses of this reading are often chosen by families for the Gospel reading at a funeral. Jesus assures his disciples that in his father’s house there are many dwelling places and that he will “Come again and take you to myself.” Jesus goes on to say that he is “the way and the truth and the life.” This saying of Jesus is quoted very often and included in artwork depicting Jesus. In this reading Jesus also teaches about the unity that exists between him and his heavenly father, which is a theme, very prevalent in the Gospel of John. As a whole, the Gospel of John gives a strong Scriptural basis for belief in the divinity of Jesus. A belief that has been re-affirmed many times in the Church’s history, particularly through the first 400 years. It is also reflected in the Creeds.

First Reading: (Acts of the Apostles 6:1-7) In this reading we hear of the pastoral need that lead to the institution of the order of deacons. Elements of the ordination rite for deacons used today are found in this reading, as candidates for the deaconate are presented to the Apostles who “prayed and laid hands on them.”

Second Reading: (I Peter 2:4-9) In this reading we are encouraged to allow ourselves to be built into a spiritual building, with Christ as the cornerstone: “a living stone, rejected by human beings but precious in the sight of God.” We are also reminded that we are “‘a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises’ of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.”

Father Jason and myself are continuing to say Masses daily, including Sundays, though privately. We may live-stream those when we get the capability.

The quarantining of the recent weeks has allowed us to get the advanced CCTV (Closed Circuit TV) Security System installed on our property, or nearly so. This is a security/safety issue and we have been working on this since last fall.

We pray for the repose of Robert A. “Artie” Carr, the husband of Trudy Carr who works in our cafeteria/food service, and has for many years. Artie died on April 28.

We pray for the repose of the soul of Emma Louise Ryan, the mother of Shauna Ryan, one of the fifth grade teachers in our school.

We pray for Geraldine “Geri” Sullivan a long-time parishioner and mother of parishioner Kurt Pohlgeers

We also pray for Florence Mackin whose funeral we had this past week.

“All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.” (–Blaise Pascal)

This “saying” found in Blaise Pascal’s book called Pensees has often come to my mind since I first read it years ago. It seems to have a special relevance today.

Some have heard me speak of my experience with the movie, Into Great Silence. I suppose it would be considered a documentary film. It is a movie composed solely of very long shots of everyday activities in the Grand Chartreuse Monastery in France. There is no background music, no graphics, no dialogue or “action” other than the daily activities of this community of hermits. (I know, “community of hermits” sounds contradictory.) The first time I saw this movie, after about 30 minutes, I could feel myself becoming very restless and distracted. Such distractions included boredom, but it was more. I realized I was being distracted by my own conditioning for great stimulation and “action” (stuff to get the endorphin bonbons going in my brain). It was then that I realized that this was the point of the movie (and hence retreats and even monastic life)… or at least could be: to show me just how habituated and conditioned I had become… just how fast my interior “idle-speed” was set… and perhaps through this experience I would learn just how rich the life that was always in front of me was… and I was missing it.

Something inspired me to just pay attention to all of this and not judge it, cling to it nor flee from it… to just sit there and stay with it. After another 30 minutes or so, my inner distractions began to fade away and this movie became one of the most engaging films I have ever seen. Nothing in the movie changed. But my relationship to it had changed. The sounds and colors of the movie became very warm and captivating. I began to see, what I had often suspected, that monastic life could be a very sensuous life (among other things) because of the more singular nature of experiences, even/especially the common experiences. And by being more present to my own life, I could know some of that richness.

I went to see Into Great Silence another time, a few weeks later. It was easier knowing what to expect. And it was amusing but also sad when after about thirty minutes, several people got up and left the movie actually ranting as they left: “I can’t take this anymore!”

I was reminded of this a few years ago when the format of our diocesan high school senior retreat was revamped. It was revamped to include periods of silence. I learned that many, perhaps all, of the participants demonstrated a great restlessness and inability to just be still. Apparently they hated it. Parents were angry and disappointed too. Perhaps it would have been helpful to have let them know to expect all this and to pay attention to it because in fact it contained a great lessen for them to learn about themselves: what they had become and what they were becoming on some deep level. Perhaps in the years to come, they will remember this experience and then cull from it what is in fact a very important lesson. One that we all could be enriched from.

I suspect many of us are being forced to experience this lesson by the quarantine protocols. So take advantage of it. The effects of this lesson can be extremely enriching.

I recently came across an article on the internet entitled The Most Important Skill Nobody Taught You by Zat Rana. It was on a website called Medium. Here is a link to a video-reading of that article. You can also find a written version of the article. It only takes a few minutes to watch or read.

According to Pascal, we fear the silence of existence, we dread boredom and instead choose aimless distraction, and we can’t help but run from the problems of our emotions into the false comforts of the mind. The issue at the root, essentially, is that we never learn the art of solitude. –Zat Rana

An interesting thought…
(Actually, all of Mindfulness in Plain English by Venerable Henepola Gunaratana is excellent, especially the final chapter, “What’s In It For You?”, which is where this passage is from…

Each passing moment stands out as itself; the moments no longer blend together in an unnoticed blur. Nothing is glossed over or taken for granted, no experiences labeled as merely “ordinary.” Everything looks bright and special. You refrain from categorizing your experiences into mental pigeonholes. Descriptions and interpretations are chucked aside, and each moment of time is allowed to speak for itself. You actually listen to what it has to say, and you listen as if it were being heard for the very first time. When your meditation becomes really powerful, it also becomes constant. You consistently observe with bare attention both the breath and every mental phenomenon. You feel increasingly stable, increasingly moored in the stark and simple experience of moment-to-moment existence.

Of course pray in a special way for all of those who are sick with the Coronavirus, and for all of the doctors, nurses, technicians, lab personnel, pharmacists, EMT’s… the list goes on who truly are bravely and professionally “Keeping Calm and Carrying On.”

Pray also for students and teachers and school administrators as they adjust to all of the “Non-Traditional Learning” (NTI) that has to be done.

Continue to pray for our parish! And for all persons, “especially those in most need of prayers.”

Looking forward to the time when we are able to be together again for the Eucharist… until then, we’ll get through this together!

(Keep the green lights burning!)

God bless you,
Father Mark Keene, Pastor