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.
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,
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.
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:
- Prayer to Saint Michael, the archangel
- Prayer to Saint Gabriel, the archangel
- Prayer to Saint Raphael, the archangel
For further reading, you may enjoy Pope Benedict XVI’s 2007 homily on their feast day at the ordination of new bishops.
September 30 – Saint 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.