The Month of July 2018

My Friends,

“Father – Bread – Forgiveness”
Recently, Pope Francis celebrated a Mass to mark the 70th Anniversary of the World Council of Churches.  His homily from that Mass provides us with an opportunity to reflect on our faith.

“Father, bread, forgiveness.  Three words that the Gospel offers us today.  Three words that take us to the very heart of our faith.

“’Father’.  The prayer begins with this.  We can continue with other words, but we cannot forget this first one, for the word “Father” is the key to opening God’s heart.  Simply by saying Father, we are already praying in the language of Christianity.  As Christians, we do not pray to some generic deity, but to God who is, before all else, our Father.  Jesus told us to say “Our Father, who are in heaven”, not “God of heaven, who are Father”.  Before all else, even before his being infinite and eternal, God is Father.

“The words “Our Father” reveal our identity, our life’s meaning: we are God’s beloved sons and daughters.  Those words solve the problem of our isolation, our sense of being orphans.  They show us what we have to do: love God, our Father, and others, our brothers and sisters.  The “Our Father” is the prayer of us, of the Church.  It says nothing about me and mine; everything is caught up in the you of God (“your name”, “your kingdom”, “your will”).  It speaks in the first person plural.  “Our Father”: these two simple words offer us a roadmap for the spiritual life.

“Every time we make the sign of the cross, every time we say “Our Father”, we reclaim our roots.  We need those roots in our often rootless societies.  The “Our Father” strengthens our roots.  Where the Father is present, no one is excluded; fear and uncertainty cannot gain the upper hand.

“Let us never tire of saying “Our Father”.  It will remind us that just as there are no sons or daughters without a Father, so none of us is ever alone in this world.  It will also remind us that there is no Father without sons or daughters, so none of us is an only child.

“Bread.  Jesus tells to ask our Father for bread each day.  Nothing else: just bread, in other words, what is essential for life.  Before all else, bread is what we need this day to be healthy and to do our work; tragically, so many of our brothers and sisters do not have it.

“To ask for our daily bread is also to say: “Father, help me lead a simpler life”.  Life has become so complicated.  Nowadays many people seem “pumped up”, rushing from dawn to dusk, between countless phone calls and texts, with no time to see other people’s faces, full of stress from complicated and constantly changing problems.  We need to choose a sober lifestyle, free of unnecessary hassles.  One that goes against the tide. It would involve giving up all those things that fill our lives but empty our hearts.  Brothers and sisters, let us choose simplicity, the simplicity of bread and so rediscover the courage of silence and of prayer, the leaven of a truly human life.  Let us choose people over things so that personal, not virtual, relationships may flourish.  Let us learn once more to love the familiar smell of life all around us.  Let us value the simple things of everyday life: not using them and throwing them away, but appreciating them and caring for them.

“Our “daily bread”, we must not forget is Jesus himself.  Without him, we can do nothing.  He is our regular diet for healthy living. Yet if he is not our daily bread, the centre of our days, the very air we breathe, then everything else is meaningless, everything else is secondary.

“Forgiveness.  It is not easy to forgive.  We always retain a gram of bitterness or resentment, and whenever those we have forgiven annoy us, it rises to the surface once again.  Yet the Lord wants our forgiveness to be a gift.  It is significant that the only really original commentary on the Our Father is Jesus’ own.  He tells us simply: “If you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses”.  That’s the only commentary the Lord makes! Forgiveness is the catch phrase of the Our Father.  God frees our hearts of all sin, God forgives every last thing.  Yet he asks only one thing of us: that we in turn never tire of forgiving.

“Forgiveness renews, forgiveness works miracles.  Peter experienced Jesus’ forgiveness and became the shepherd of his flock. Forgiven by our Father, each of us is born again as a new creation when we love our brothers and sisters.  Only then do we bring true newness to our world, for there is no greater novelty than forgiveness; this is the forgiveness that turns evil into good.  We see it in the history of Christianity.  Forgiving one another, rediscovering after centuries of disagreements and conflicts that we are brothers and sisters, how much good this has done us and continues to do!  The Father is pleased when we love one another and we forgive each other from the heart.  Then, he gives us his Spirit.  Let us ask for the grace not to be entrenched and hard of heart, constantly demanding things of others.  Instead, let us take the first step, in prayer, in fraternal encounter, in concrete charity.  In this way, we will be more like the Father, who loves without counting the cost.  And he will pour out upon us the Spirit of unity.”

"One Body, One Spirit, In Christ"
Since January, I have written frequently in my bulletin “All That Matters” column, about the Sunday Eucharist, and our gathering together to celebrate it, as the center & source & summit of parish life.

I have noted that each weekend, at the three Masses of Sunday obligation here, the combined attendance, other than Christmas & Easter, for close to one year, totals no more than 75 in the congregation.  Of those, regularly, at least one half are visitors.

In order to consolidate our worship together so that we are “one body, one spirit in Christ”, not only in name but in fact, beginning the first weekend of August, we will celebrate  -  here  -  two Sunday
Masses of Obligation.

The Saturday Vigil Mass of Sunday will be at 4:30 pm.  On Sunday morning, Mass will be celebrated at 10:00 am.

This comes with the endorsement of our parish pastoral council & the encouragement of Archbishop Carlson during my 90 minute meeting with him on May 29th.

In coming days I will confirm this to all households of record by email and postal mail.  We will, as well, notify all stakeholders in the condos, lofts, apartments, and hotels in center city.

God make us, then, to be more credibly “one body, one spirit, in Christ”, in the Eucharist we share and by the lives we live each individually & all together!

So be it.  So be it.

In Brief
On 14 July 2018 we will baptize the second-born of our parishioners Adam and Jessica (Dust) Weber, daughter Evelyn (Eve) Marie.  God keep Adam and Jessica and first-born son Theo, and now Eve, growing great in His love in all ways always!

Our gratitude goes to Ben and Eleanor Janson for their second gift to the 2018 Annual Catholic Appeal to get us to the goal of $41,000 set for us by the Archdiocesan Appeal Leadership.  Without their gift this would have been the first year, in my sixteen years among you, that we did not meet goal.  The dollars are not most important!  It is the people programs, benefitting more than one half million children and adults in our metropolitan community, without regard to race or creed, funded by the Appeal, that are most important.  I am grateful to all who made gifts -- in any amount -- to the Appeal this year.  Those who benefit are most grateful!

For some five weeks, the rectory was without air conditioning. There are two units which "tag" each other according to the outside temperature to cool the two floors of the parish house.  The largest of those units, at least twenty years old, failed in late May.  It was beyond repair.  After consultation with our Archdiocesan Building and Real Estate Office and our HVAC provider, a new, commercial unit, was ordered.  The cost, with installation, was $8,708.00.  This was, obviously, not an FY18 budgeted expense.  We are grateful to parishioners Drs. Pat and Christine Durbin who made a gift to the parish covering this expense.  They make the gift in honor of their parents.  The generosity of Pat and Chris is a blessing.

On August 15th, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven, a Holy Day of Obligation, morning Mass here at St. John’s will be at 7:10 AM.

Monsignor Delaney