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.