Weekly pastor’s post (August 27)

This Sunday we offered our goodbyes and thanks to Deacon Kirk Altenhofen as he celebrated his last Masses at Saint Mark parish. As I mentioned in last week’s pastor’s post, he has served faithfully at nearly every liturgy, coordinated our faith formation programs, and offered himself in ministry for the last several years. We have been blessed to have him. Please join me in praying for him as he discerns how God is calling him in his vocation as husband, father, and deacon.

This last week also saw the last of our ‘Ask Me Anything’ summer series. Thank you to Dane for leading the conversation on suffering, as well as fielding the many questions that were offered across a variety of topics. Despite it being the final session, we had 30+ folks come to share in food, fellowship, and faith sharing. This is definitely something we hope to revisit in the future.

There was one question asked that comes up with some regularity in parishes: ‘why don’t we more frequently use Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion’? As you might imagine, this is especially relevant given that I will be the only cleric at Masses starting next month! The short answer is that that the name of such ministers gives away the intention of the Church: that they are extraordinary (ie, out of the ordinary).

In 2004, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacrament (now called the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments) released a document called Redemptionis Sacramentum. Among many other things, it explicitly speaks to how Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion (Redemptionis Sacramentum, 154-160) may only assist at Mass for sufficient reason. The teaching document even goes so far as to name brief prolongation of the Mass as insufficient reason for their use. If you’re interested in learning more about this, I highly recommend reading the whole section of the document – it is just a few paragraphs and is both enlightening & edifying.

This is not to say we don’t need help at our parish – especially at Mass! As the summer comes to an end, we are in real need of assistance for a number of ministries in & out of Mass: lectors, ushers, confirmation (youth) and RCIA (adult converts) teachers, in particular. And if there is some other way you’d like to be involved at the parish, please give us a shout!

Finally, please keep our parish and our archdiocese in your prayers, especially in the coming weeks. As you know, Partners in the Gospel is rolling out – we will be having our own input session on the draft family configuration on Thursday, September 28. As we discern how God is calling us locally and beyond, may we be sure to entrust ourselves to His loving will.

Yours in Christ,

Father Maurer

Monday, August 28 – Bishop of Hippo and a Doctor of the Church, Saint Augustine not only had great influence during his lifetime but continues to provide inspiration & wisdom to modern Christians. One of the greatest Catholic minds of history, his works are cited throughout the Catechism, Church documents, and by Christians worldwide.

Saint Augustine never failed to credit his faith, rooted as it is in Christ, as having been placed in his heart through the intercession of his mother, Saint Monica (whose feast day, August 27, is not celebrated this year because it lands on a Sunday). Despite his wanderlust – and oh how he wandered! – it was his mother’s faith that ultimately brought him to Christ. Finally sharing the faith here on earth, they yet looked to heaven – one such conversation is recorded by Saint Augustine in his book, Confessions (you can read about it, and them both, at Aleteia). May we ask the intercession of these two faithful saints, and pray for our own conversion, and that of the whole world.

Tuesday, August 29 – Though he famously said ‘I must decrease, he must increase’, we nonetheless celebrate Saint John the Baptist in the liturgical calendar – on the feast of his birth (June 24) and today, the Passion of Saint John the Baptist. Though he was known on earth for his prophetic lifestyle (and wardrobe!) and his role in preparing the way for Christ, perhaps his greatest triumph was offering his life for the Lord – first in stepping aside when his role as “the voice of one crying out in the desert, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord'” (John 1:23), and lastly in his martyrdom at the hands of Herod.

May we, like Saint John the Baptist, humbly embrace our own vocations! Though we are small in comparison to the Lord, He no less treasures our part in His plan. Let us witness to Christ in our words and our work – perhaps asking along the way for the gift of humility in all we do.