Good morning, and welcome to the third pastor’s post! Still searching for a geeky Catholic title for this thing, but I’ve been enjoying putting them up so far – I’ve been delighted to hear from folks now saying they are too. If you’re among that crowd, please take a moment to share this with other parishioners. My hope is that this is a(nother!) opportunity for us to connect with each other as we start each week.
Speaking of hopes, I want to take a moment to talk about dreams for parish life. As a priest and a pastor, there are loads of dreams I carry with me – but at the root of them all is a sense of community, of belonging, of looking forward to seeing friends old & new at Mass, in prayer, in learning together, and at social events. For myself, Sundays are at the heart of my own sense of parish community: greeting parishioners before Mass, praying together in our joint offering of the Mass, catching up afterwards, and enjoying coffee & a snack before going our separate ways. Truly, it is the high point of each week.
By the way, thanks to the work of our maintenance facility manager we have new coffee machines in our school cafeteria where we have our Sunday socials. Come for the fresh coffee, stay for the company!
There was an article from The Pillar last week that caught my eye, featuring the parish of Sts. Peter and Paul Basilica in Chattanooga, Tennessee. They have built a creative example of fellowship & community support, playing out in an edifying and (at least to me) new way. Pope John Paul II was fond of the phrase “legitimate diversity”, perhaps most famously used in his 1995 encyclical on ecumenism, Ut Unum Sint. I find this inspiring not only for ecumenical efforts (ad extra) but for parochial life (ad intra). Though there is a standard definition of what makes a parish (all the Christian faithful of a particular territory), there is no limit to how it might explore how it expresses that community life! What might the Lord empower us to create & build, if we but opened ourselves to His inspiration?
On a different note, I found myself talking music with one of the attendees at our AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) session last night. We were geeking out about – of all things – video game music and how triple-A games (Skyrim, Halo, Breath of the Wild, et cetera) have amazing music composed by professionals, performed by talented artists, and thoughtfully placed within the story & play so as to immerse players in fully conscious, and active participation in the game.
If that phrasing sounds familiar, it should! “Fully conscious, and active participation” is one of the rallying cries of Sancrosanctum Concilium – the first document of the Second Vatican Council. I’m not saying we should shoot for music that energizes congregations for battle with aliens on a ring world against galactic danger – but this level of effort & energy should not be reserved to games; it should be reflected in our prayer, worship, and the general life faith!
For now, I hope this week is full of many blessings, creativity, and perhaps a little excitement (of both the earthly and heavenly variety). As always, know of my prayers for you – especially as we gather an extra time this Tuesday for the solemnity of Mary. May God bless you and your loved ones throughout this week.
Yours in Christ,
Monday, August 14 – World War II brought with it both great suffering & sorrows as well as inspiring extraordinary virtue in those who were caught in so many impossible situations. Saint Maximilian Kolbe, whose memorial is celebrated today (the day of his execution) – and one day before solemnity of Mary, to whom he had great devotion. Read more about him at Loyola Press.
Tuesday, August 15 – We celebrate today’s solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary, of such significance in the life of the Church that it is a holy day of obligation. Be sure to plan to attend Mass today (we’re offering Masses at 9:30 am and at 6:30 pm)! And consider checking out Bishop Barron’s homily ‘God’s Warrior Queen’ on the occasion of this feast in 2021. Let us together honor the Blessed Virgin, our queen mother!
Wednesday, August 16 – In our second AMA (‘Ask Me Anything’) session a few weeks ago, we had some enthusiastic conversation around the societal responsibilities (and culpability) of those who are wealthy. Today’s memorial honoring Saint Stephen of Hungary points us toward a man who took such responsibilities seriously. Whatever our place in our community, may we also seek to use our gifts for the betterment of ourselves and those around us.
Saturday, August 19 – Saint John Eudes, though appearing on the liturgical calendar in the form of an optional memorial today, is perhaps not as well-known as other saints. I must admit that this is certainly true for me, as I had not taken the time to look into his life & ministry. It turns out he was a French missionary who started two different religious communities and was also a member of a third! His particular devotion, it seems, was to the sacred hearts of Mary & Jesus. You can read a little more about his life & piety at Aleteia.