Weekly pastor’s post (July 30)

Welcome to the first of what I hope to be a weekly post here on Saint Mark’s parish website. I’m still workshopping the name, so if you think of something catchy – bonus points if it is geeky too! – please feel free to let me know.

Hopefully the geeky stuff doesn’t get out of hand…. but no promises ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

The purpose of this post is to be an informal way to connect as pastor and parishioner. Unlike the pastor’s notes in the bulletin or a formal letter, these will be more lighthearted, less prepared, and will include more off-the-cuff thoughts, observations, and reflections. My intention is to have these go up on the website at the start of each week (Monday mornings), so feel free to stop by then or use the RSS feed to get alerts via your preferred feed reader.

Speaking of off-the-cuff thoughts, I want to share how much I enjoyed last week’s AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) session, led by Deacon Kirk and attended by many of our parishioners. The topic was ‘Catholic Social Teaching’ – both the presentation & handout from Deacon Kirk were super impressive (and set the bar high for any of us who will follow him in coming sessions 😬).

Perhaps the greatest highlight were the conversations that kicked off after the presentation. Those included questions about property and labor, the differences between the Apostle’s & Nicene Creed (and when we might use them), and a deep dive into the theology of the Eucharist (if you – like me – are unsure of how to explain ‘transignification’ and ‘transfinalization’, this EWTN article might help!). Whether it was a fervent sharing of a person’s perspective on faith or a piercing question that weighed heavily on their heart, it was a blast to be part of such a fun back-and-forth. Our next one is in a couple of weeks (August 10 at 6pm in Sullivan Hall on marriage in society & the Church) – come join in the fun!

Finally, I want to offer a word of encouragement around prayer. In talking with some parishioners after Masses or at various social events, the topic of discouragement around both the world and the Church comes up frequently – perhaps more frequently than in the past. I myself often struggle with cynicism or despair when reflecting the brokenness of the world and/or the shortcomings of the Church & Her members. As I put it recently to one parishioner, ‘I know that I’ll feel worse afterwards, but sometimes I want to take a couple laps in the pool of bitterness!’ It’s a dangerous temptation and one with which I daresay we are all familiar.

In addition to regular confession – and you know I love promoting the sacrament! – I want to heartily recommend the Liturgy of the Hours as a way of opening ourselves to God’s love and His gift of hope. As a cleric, I promised to pray the Hours each day, but I’ve come to love the ebb & flow of each of the Offices, whether it be in the morning to start my day or after nightfall before I go to sleep. We’ve been praying Night Prayer after our movie nights (by the way, we should have a monthly movie night – who’s with me!?!), and parishioners have reported how nice it is to have these simple prayers as a way to cap the day.

If you’re struggling to pray – or just looking for a way to renew and re-invigorate your prayer life – consider exploring the Liturgy of the Hours. For those so inclined, there’s an app (available for Android and iOS), as well as a website where you can begin praying right away. Whether you do one, some, or all of the Hours, I think you’ll find great consolation in joining so many others in this wonderful prayer of the Church.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. Let us continue to lift each other up to the Lord in prayer – rest assured that you in my prayers, daily.

Yours in Christ,

Father Maurer

Some neat Catholic tidbits from the week ahead:

Monday, July 31st – Today is the memorial of Saint Ignatius of Loyola. An enthusiastic soldier, Ignatius was wounded by a cannonball and knocked out of combat status. While he was recuperated – disappointed that he couldn’t pursue his own goals & ambitions – Ignatius realized that he felt more fulfilled reading holy things than when he read worldly things. This simple observation kicked off a life-long effort to pursue God’s will and help others do the same. Founder of the Society of Jesus (also called the Jesuits) and author of the book The Spiritual Exercises, his impact on the Church continues to be felt today. Read more about him at The Pillar Catholic.

Tuesday, August 1 – Some time ago, Saint Mark parish was blessed to have one of the Redemptorist priests serving the archdiocese here for a weekend. You may have noticed that the priest’s name was followed by the initials ‘CSSR’, which stand for Congregatio Sanctissimi Redemptoris (Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer, or simply, the Redemptorists). Today is the memorial of their founder, Saint Alphonsus Ligouri! Let us pray for all the Redemptorists, serving in our archdiocese and beyond, as we thank God for their presence & ministry. Check out the Redemptorists’ blog at CSSR.news.

Friday, August 4 – You’ll find many parish priests who profess an affection for Saint John Vianney, whose memorial is today. I count myself among them, not least for his great devotion to the sacrament of Reconciliation. But my favorite story is of how a neighboring priest, jealous of the Curé d’Ars, started a petition to have him removed. Catching wind of the petition, Saint John Vianney signed it himself before having it sent to the bishop! May we all have such devotion and humility!

Click the image to view the full-size version

Saturday, August 5 – In Rome, there are four major basilicas, the memorial of one (its dedication) we celebrate today: the basilica of Saint Mary Major (as in Mary, Mother of God). All of the basilicas are amazing, but this one took my breath away when I first saw it while on pilgrimage to Rome.

Of the many photos I took while I was visiting, these are two of my favorites (please pardon the poor resolution & flawed angles). And if you’re interested in seeing it in person, I highly recommend making plans to make your own pilgrimage to the Eternal City to see this and many other extraordinary places of prayer and homage to the Lord and His saints!