Weekly pastor’s post (September 24)

This last Saturday (September 23, 2023), we had our informal parish townhall Q&A in preparation for our formal feedback session this Thursday, September 28 at 6:30 pm in the school gymnasium. This Thursday will be our opportunity to give our feedback about the proposed parish family configuration of which Saint Mark parish is a part: parish family 13 – Saint Catherine parish, Saint Matthew parish, and Saint Mark parish. Parishioners are especially encouraged to come with their response to two questions: What does or doesn’t work with this proposed parish family configuration? and What alternatives do I suggest? It is my hope that every parishioner takes part in this crucial feedback to the archbishop and those helping him in his final decision later this year.

But enough about that, and back to the townhall! As the day got closer, I found myself more and more anxious about how it might go. As much as I feel capable of handling expressions of strong emotions, conflict – especially angry conflict – is something I just dread, every time.

I needn’t have worried. About sixty parishioners showed up, all with intelligent & insightful questions – and kind dispositions. We talked for over two hours about the what, why, and maybes of Partners in the Gospel. If you’d like to check out those questions & answers, there is an extensive summary available online on our website.

An Android logo made out of an apple – make of that what you will!
Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On the geeky side of things, that summary was largely enabled by my Google Pixel 7’s Recorder app, which transcribed the entire session for me! Though I had to do some heavy editing (it really likes commas), it saved me a boatload of work by doing the heavy lifting of turning what was said into text. I’m not telling you what kind of phone you should purchase – but if you’re going with an Android phone, Google’s Pixel line is pretty amazing (and honestly, can a Christian in good conscience buy hardware whose logo is a sign of original sin? 🤔😏)

A takeaway from Saturday – as well as a planning meeting during the week for our adult catechesis classes – is how enjoyable it is to just spend time together talking about what we love. Sharing our faith, enjoying each other’s presence, sharing our joys & sorrows – this is at the heart of the life of community for which God created us! It is easy to forget how wonderful it is to simply be with others, especially in light of all the technological barriers to doing just that.

Whatever may be in your schedule this week, I hope it includes some time with family, friends, and those around you. Rest assured of my prayers for you throughout.

yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

September 26 – This day is the memorial of Saints Cosmas and Damian. If you listen closely the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I), they are both mentioned before the consecration. They were twin brothers who became doctors, legendarily not charging for their services. During the persecution of Diocletian, they were tortured and eventually executed for their faith. Devotion to their veneration spread quickly, leading to their inclusion in the commemoration in the Roman Canon. Read more at Catholic Culture.

September 27 The memorial of Saint Vincent de Paul holds a special place in Catholic communities around the world, not least because of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul – conferences of which are found in parishes everywhere. These conferences, though their own non-profit organization, are manned by members of the parish community and serve the most needy in their local area. These ‘Vincentians’ go out two-by-two to meet our neighbors, offering a helping hand. Read more about their mission at the official SVdP website. And if you’d like to support their work, you can donate online to our Saint Mark Saint Vincent de Paul conference.

September 28 Saint Lawrence Ruiz & his companions – whose memorial is today – stand as witnesses of how ordinary people can make an extraordinary witness. A simple parishioner, husband, and father, he found himself fleeing his home when falsely accused of murder. When he and the Dominicans who helped him escape landed in Nagasaki, they found themselves caught and tortured under the persecution of Christians there. Their torturers explicitly desired their renunciation of the faith, but Saint Lawrence and the three priests refused, holding fast to their faith to the end. The Vatican News website has more about their inspiring story.

Aartsengelen Michaël, Gabriël en Rafaël aanbidden Maria met Kind, Diana Mantuana, image courtesy of Rijksmuseum

September 29 – Of all the angels, the archangels Saints Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael are the only whose names have been revealed to us. Though each is mentioned at several points in Scripture, they are particularly known for their appearance in the Book of Revelation (Michael), at the annunciation (Gabriel), and in the Book of Tobit (Raphael). May we regularly call on them – and all the saints & angels – to pray for us! And if you’d like to pray to them, consider learning each of their prayers:

For further reading, you may enjoy Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 homily on their feast day at the ordination of new bishops.

Saint Jerome Writing, Caravaggio

September 30Saint Jerome, whose memorial is today, famously said that “ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ”. As Catholics, we’re blessed with many opportunities to reflect on Sacred Scripture – not only in regular reading of the Bible (that too!), but in the Liturgy of the Hours, at Mass, and in devotional prayers such as the rosary. Read more about Saint Jerome at Ascension Press – and take some time to pick up your Bible today, and every day, to draw closer to the Lord.

Partners in the Gospel informational update (September 23, 2023)

Below are links to documents that you may find helpful in preparation for this week’s formal feedback session (Thursday, September 23, 2023 at 6:30 pm).

We hope you’ll join us as we share our input with the archdiocese, most especially answering the questions What does or doesn’t work with the proposed parish family configuration? and What alternatives might the archdiocese consider (and why)? See the participant handout for more information.

The combined snapshots of the parishes in the proposed parish family (family 13) are also available. These contain information from the annual reports from the parish and school of Saint Catherine, Saint Matthew, and Saint Mark. Earlier this morning, the archdiocese released the complete draft of the proposed families across the archdiocese, which also helps give us a clearer understanding of other parish families in relation to our own.

Finally, if you weren’t able to make it to today’s informal townhall Q&A, you may appreciate this summary of the questions from parishioners and answers from Father Maurer.

Let us continue to pray for each other and for the archdiocese, as we place our trust in the Lord.

Weekly pastor’s post (September 17)

‘I wish it need not have happened in my time,’ said Frodo. ‘So do I,’ said Gandalf, ‘and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

I caught myself ruminating on this scene from The Fellowship of the Ring. Though the conversation in the movie is portrayed ever-so-slightly differently than is found in the book, the sentiment rings true – especially in the portrayal of Frodo reflecting on the conversation before committing to fulfilling his mission despite the breaking of the Fellowship.

Partners in the Gospel is the opposite of the breaking of the Fellowship – if anything, we are long overdue for a re-forging of fraternity among Catholics in the Pacific Northwest. Even in my relatively short time in the archdiocese (I’m a military brat and have only lived here since 1998), the deep divisions within our archdiocese have always been evident – both within any given parishes as well as between them.

What we could not – or perhaps, if we’re brutally honest with ourselves, would not – achieve by will alone, circumstances are now forcing: we will be forged together by this process into one parish, one community. But there’s still choice in the process. Much like Frodo we must choose between walking the path set before us or turning back.

Frodo’s uncle Bilbo offered some words of wisdom that also ring true: “It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.” But that’s the nature of every great story – what started off as familiar & comfortable turns into an unexpected journey! And there’s great adventure to be had, if we’re willing to choose to walk the path.

Just as Frodo needed reminding that he wasn’t meant to do it alone from his friend Samwise (arguably the true hero of the trilogy!), we do well to remember that we are also not alone. We go together, supported by the intercession of all the angels & saints, accompanied by Christ Himself. May we walk the path set before us by the Lord, confident that He has great things in store for us.

Yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

P.S. Perhaps my subconscious remembered that this Friday, September 22, is Frodo & Bilbo’s birthday (also called ‘Hobbit Day’)! Given how much hobbits enjoy merriment, food, and drink, it seems appropriate to take their lead in our own participation in the celebration!

September 19 – The memorial of Saint Januarius is one that deserves much more attention than it gets this side of the Atlantic. In Naples, Italy, however, this celebration holds great significance – a vial of his blood, saved after his martyrdom, is brought out for veneration. Close attention is paid to this vial, for it has – and almost always does on this day – miraculously liquify. When it fails to do so, it is taken as a sign of some kind of coming trouble. Rather appropriately, Saint Januarius is the patron saint of blood donors! Read more at Catholic News Agency.

September 20 – Today we celebrate a LOT of saints – one hundred and thirteen of them, to be exact! This memorial of Saints Andrew Kim Tae-Gŏn and Paul Chŏng Ha-sang and companions recalls their martyrdom in the mid-1800s. Though Catholics of that time were few in number (a few thousand) at the time, those numbers have since grown to nearly four million. Though we hope never to face martyrdom ourselves, may their fidelity spur us to similarly profess the faith in all that we do.

September 21 – Today’s Office of Readings contains an excerpt from Saint Bede’s homily, in which we are invited to reflect on Matthew’s call by Jesus. Though unworthy of the Lord’s call, Matthew was called nonetheless – and responded in faith! His life and work (not least in his writing of the Gospel of Matthew) have proven to be a model for Christians in every generation. Read about him and his feast day at the National Basilica’s website.

September 23 – Saint Pius of Pietrelcina – colloquially known as ‘Padre Pio’ – was perhaps best known for his lifetime of suffering and for his dedication to prayer. Eight years after his ordination, he received the stigmata in his hands, feet, and side. Due to some questions about their authenticity, his ministry was restricted and he was not allowed to publicly celebrate Mass or hear confessions. Though this was quickly reversed, he never complained or disobeyed, choosing instead to humbly obey. May his example of sacrificial suffering help us to embrace our own crosses. Read about him at the Vatican News website.