Weekly pastor’s post (January 28)

Dear friends,

Maybe not quite as dramatic a return, but still ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Thank you for your well-wishes and prayers while I was away on vacation. I had a grand time with some other priest friends on Shaw Island. We stayed at the guest house of the Religious Sisters of Mercy on Shaw Island. They were most gracious hosts and a delight to meet & get to know. And, as it turns out, they are celebrating the 50th anniversary of their founding (September 1, 1973) – there is even a plenary indulgence available for those who wish to make a pilgrimage to their chapel. The sisters would be delighted to welcome you – and I can attest to their hospitality. We were blessed to spend the week there.

Board games have been around for a LONG time!

Of course, you might be wondering what we did the whole week! Before I left, I mentioned that it was a ‘board game retreat’ – which I hope to clarify was NOT so much a spiritual retreat (though we did offer Mass and pray together daily). No, this was a week of tabletop games – some a little more common (Catan, 7 Wonders, Love Letters) and some a little more complicated (Twilight Imperium, Eldritch Horror, and Cthulhu Wars). I must admit that although we played games every day of the week, I didn’t win a single one. Ah well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – it was a good time nonetheless!

All that said, its good to be back home. Can you believe that Ash Wednesday is just a couple of weeks away? Don’t get caught off guard – consider taking a little time each day to prepare for Lent. I recommend this article for Aleteia about the practice of ‘Pre-Lent’. Let us pray for each other was we look forward to the holy seasons ahead.

yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

January 28 – This week kicks off Catholic Schools Week. Across the country, we celebrate Catholics schools. I’m proud of Saint Mark Catholic Classical school – the dedication of our principal, faculty, and staff to faithful Catholic teaching, quality education, and a fun & safe environment for students is deeply inspiring. In a world where being faithful is not only hard, but often actively discouraged, our school is not only a refuge but a place where faith is found & strengthened daily! Please pray for our school and those who support it – and come to the Multicultural dinner & auction this Saturday, February 3rd after the vigil Mass! Bring a dish representing your own culture and enjoy that of many others – it looks to be a blast!

January 31 – Today is the memorial of Saint John Bosco. He is most known for his care of orphans. After a series of dreams about the plight of orphan boy, he was convicted to do something to help them avoid a life of destitution and depravity. It was hard going – the boys he attempted to house and teach often took advantage of his kindness, stealing the very supplies he acquired to assist them (such as blankets) and even emptying a hayloft. But he continued on and eventually started a ministry that spread beyond the borders of his own influence, housing and teaching boys far & wide. Read more about him and the mentorship he embraced at Word on Fire.

February 1

February 2 – Today is the feast of the Presentation of the Lord. Those who pray the Liturgy of the Hours will recognize the prayer of Simeon in today’s Gospel as one we offer daily at Compline or Night Prayer. Traditionally, this is the day when parishes and the faithful have all their candles blessed at Mass. As Christ, the light of the world, was made known in the temple, so we bless those candles which will illuminate our churches and our homes. The Vatican News has a lovely set of reflections for this celebration.

February 3 – One of the more popular devotions among Catholics is to Saint Blaise, whose memorial is today. Catholics around the world will go to Mass, looking to receive the special blessing of throats with candles. How fitting that those candles were blessed the day before, at the feast of the Presentation of the Lord! Read more about Saint Blaise at Aleteia – and plan on coming to Mass this Saturday (9:30 am) for the blessing of throats!

Weekly pastor’s post (January 15)

Dear friends,

Well, here we are – well and truly into 2024 and Ordinary Time! I hope you had wonderful Christmas and New Years celebrations. Despite a lingering sore throat, I sang ‘Joy to the World’ as happily as anyone at all of the Nativity Masses! It was a wonderful couple of weeks, both at the parish and with family & friends.

Now that we’re out of the holiday season, I’ve been turning my attention – and hopefully yours too – to the coming implementation of Partners in the Gospel. Though its not super close, change is clearly on the horizon. On July 1, we will be joined in our parish family (currently planned to be Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, and Saint Pius X parishes) and a new pastor & parochial vicar assigned to lead the joined communities & schools.

Though there are many unanswered questions (who will be our priest? what changes will all of this bring? – to name just a couple!), there ARE things we can do now. Most of those involve looking around our community and simply pitching in! As I mention in my letter in this week’s bulletin (see the last page), there are several areas I’ve identified as needing help right away. Please prayerfully consider how you might help with these – or other! – areas in our parish life. Now more than ever, our parish – and later, our parish family – can benefit from your gifts & talents.

yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

January 15 – Today in the United States, we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. This federal holiday marks the birth of its namesake. Though it is held on the third Monday of January, this year that lands on his actual birthday! May we take a moment to praise God in pray for his good work – and that of so many whom he inspired – and ask God to continue to change hearts, so that all might recognize the dignity of every person, regardless of race, color, or creed.

January 16 – The 9 Days for Life novena starts today. Though Roe vs. Wade was overturned in 2022 – a year before its 50th anniversary – the work of building a culture of life remains. Until human life is recognized and revered from conception until natural death, we must continue to pray and work for the support of human life & dignity. Consider joining in the 9 Days for Life novena and inviting others to do the same. Check out the daily prayer & reflection for more details.

January 17 – Saint Anthony the Abbot often takes second fiddle to the patron of lost things – but this Anthony came long before him….almost a thousand years before him, in fact! Born in the third century, Saint Anthony eventually embraced a life of asceticism – one that eventually attracted others to embrace his example. He is credited for the establishment of monasticism in both the East and West. Read more about him at Word on Fire.

January 20 – When I was a kid, one of my favorite saints book was the Picture Book of Saints by Father Lawrence Lovasik, S.V.D. I still have fond memories of paging through the stories & images – and I’m delighted that it is still in print! Of the stories, that of Saint Sebastian (whose memorial is today) was one of my favorites. Even after a failed execution attempt (being shot to death….by bow & arrow), he tried to warn Diocletian (the Roman emperor persecuting Christians) of his sins. Though the second effort to execute him succeeded, his martyrdom inspired many. That he is the patron saint of archery is a particularly delightful bit of Catholic humor! Read more about him at uCatholic.

Weekly pastor’s post (December 17)

Dear friends,

Well, this wasn’t the weekend I had planned on – but as several folks have pointed out, better now than Christmas weekend! Still, I am sorry to have missed out on Gaudete Sunday and being able to use my rose vestments. Ah well. I am grateful to Father Rob Evenson, who was happily available to substitute for me while I recuperated, and to our homebound ministers, who assisted him as Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion during the weekend Masses.

Speaking of EMHCs, there will certainly be some question as to why we don’t use them more regularly. To answer that I would gently remind questioners of the instruction from Sacramentum Redemptionis (particularly nos. 154-160). While this weekend provided a temporary need (especially when it was unclear if an elderly priest would be available), the document is very clear:

Indeed, the extraordinary minister of Holy Communion may administer Communion only when the Priest and Deacon are lacking, when the Priest is prevented by weakness or advanced age or some other genuine reason, or when the number of faithful coming to Communion is so great that the very celebration of Mass would be unduly prolonged. This, however, is to be understood in such a way that a brief prolongation, considering the circumstances and culture of the place, is not at all a sufficient reason. (Sacramentum Redemptionis, 158)

In short, Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion – at least for the Precious Body – are not something we have a need to use. On the flip side, EMHCs for the Precious Blood are something I would like to pursue. More on that after the new year.

In addition to being Gaudete Sunday, this Sunday was December 17 – the first day of the ‘O Antiphons‘. At Vespers (or Evening Prayer) of each day, the antiphon preceding the Magnificat starts with ‘O’ and then uses one of the titles of the Christ. One of the most popular Advent hymns – O come, O come, Emmanuel’ – uses these antiphons as the inspiration for each verse!

If your interested in doing a deeper dive, my friend Thom Ryng posts on the O Antiphons each year – you might enjoy reading about each antiphon as it comes up, as well as listening to the chanted antiphon. Check it out at his blog The World is Quiet Here.

yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

P.S. Saint Mark parish is offering extra confession times during Advent: Wednesday through Friday, from 5pm to 6pm and on Saturday from 3 pm to 4:30 pm.

P.S.S. This Friday is our last of our December movie nights – we’re watching The Santa Clause. I will admit that I was hoping this would make the list as it is one of my favorites 🙂

Weekly pastor’s post (December 10)

Dear friends,

As we enter into the second week of the new liturgical year, I hope that Advent has been going well for you so far. For myself, I find that even though the season is relatively straightforward the days move too quickly. And with the celebration of the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception on Friday, it certainly was an eventful week!

This coming Sunday will be Gaudete Sunday – taking its name from the first word of the entrance antiphon: ‘Rejoice’! Marking the halfway point to Christmas, we will light the rose candle and use rose vestments. Its use is a neat visual mix of the coming Christmas season (whose liturgical color is white) and the current Advent season (whose liturgical color is violet) – put them together and you get rose.

This lighter moment is meant to be a retreat from the preparatory nature of Advent – but we ought not forget that Advent is a preparation. May we use this time well, both rejoicing at Christ’s coming and examining our hearts & lives, so that when He comes, He may find us ready.

yours in Christ,
Father Maurer

P.S. Saint Mark parish is offering extra confession times during Advent: Wednesday through Friday, from 5pm to 6pm and on Saturday from 3 pm to 4:30 pm.

P.S.S. This Friday we’re watching It’s A Wonderful Life. I hope you’ll join us! Our last movie night on December 22nd could still use your input – if you’re planning on coming then too, visit our online poll to vote on or suggest which movies we should watch.

December 11 – Today is the memorial of Saint Damasus I. He was elected pope in 366 – which was particularly unusual due to the fact that he was a deacon at the time. Moreover, another group tried to select their own pope and violently enforce their selection! Despite the struggles of his pontificate, Saint Damasus I was able to accomplish a great deal, including establishing Latin as the liturgical language of the Church as well as working to preserve & restore much of the physical heritage of the Church. Read more at Loyola Press.

December 12 – Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. During my time in seminary, I had the opportunity to spend two summers in Mexico for Spanish language-immersion classes. While I was there, I was able to visit the shrine of Guadalupe – I am still grateful for having the opportunity to pray there and see the tilma on which Mary’s image was miraculously placed. Though we do not have Spanish-speaking ministry at Saint Mark parish, I hope you’ll join me in venerating the Virgin of Guadalupe! Read more at Word on Fire.

December 13 – Saint Lucy – whose memorial is today – is one of the early Christian martyrs. Executed for her faith in the fourth century, her torturers first removed her eyes – but she refused to give in to their demands. For her faithful witness, she is not only venerated by the Church but included in the Roman Canon (Eucharistic Prayer I). Read more at Franciscan Media.

December 14 – Today is the memorial of Saint John of the Cross. Due to the efforts of him and Teresa of Jesus, the first house of Discalced Carmelites was established – a joint effort to reform the Carmelite Order. Read more at the Vatican News website.