The Month of October 2018

My Friends,

Can’t Stop at Words
The following is a recent reflection of the Holy Father’s in St. Peter's Square where some 40,000 people gathered to hear his address, and then to pray the Angelus.  Afterwards a gift was distributed as a reminder of the words of Jesus; a 6 inch metal crucifix to each who gathered in the Square.  The crucifix is a copy of the one which surmounts the crozier which the Holy Father carries during liturgical ceremonies.

“In the Gospel for the 24th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the question returns that is found throughout Mark’s Gospel: who is Jesus? However, this time it’s Jesus himself who asks it of His disciples, helping them gradually to address the basic question of His identity. Before questioning the Twelve directly, Jesus wants to hear from them what the people think of Him — and He knows well that the disciples are very sensitive to the Master’s popularity! Therefore, He asks: ‘Who do men say that I am?’ It emerges that the people consider Jesus a great prophet. But, in reality, He isn’t interested in people’s opinion polls and gossip. He isn’t interested either in His disciples responding to His questions with ready-made formulas, quoting famous personalities of Sacred Scriptures, because a faith that is reduced to formulas is a myopic faith.

“The Lord wants His disciples of yesterday and of today to establish a personal relationship with Him, and thus receive Him at the center of their life. Therefore He spurs them to put themselves in all truth before themselves, and asks: ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Today, Jesus asks this direct and confidential question to each one of us: ‘Who do you say that I am?’ Who do you all say that I am? Who am I for you? Each one is called to answer, in his heart, allowing himself to be illumined by the light that the Father gives us to know His Son, Jesus. And it can also happen to us, as with Peter, to affirm enthusiastically: ‘You are the Christ.’ However, when Jesus says clearly to us what He said to the disciples, namely, that His mission is carried out not on the wide path of success, but on the arduous pathway of the suffering Servant, humiliated, rejected and crucified, then it can happen to us also, as to Peter, to protest and rebel because this is opposed to our expectations. In those moments, we also deserve Jesus’ salutary rebuke: ‘Get behind me, Satan! For you are not on the side of God, but of men’.

“Brothers and sisters, the profession of faith in Jesus Christ can’t stop at words, but calls to be authenticated by concrete choices and gestures, by a life marked by love of God, of a great life, of a life with much love for one’s neighbor. Jesus says to us that to follow Him, to be His disciples, it’s necessary to deny oneself, that is, the claims of our egoistic pride, and take up our own cross. Then He gives all a fundamental rule. And what is this rule? ‘Whoever would save his life will lose it.’ Often in life, for many reasons, we mistake the way, seeking happiness only in things, or in persons that we treat as things. However, we only find happiness when true love encounters us, surprises us and changes us. Love changes everything! And love can also change us, each one of us. The testimonies of the Saints demonstrate it.

“May the Virgin Mary, who lived her faith following faithfully her Son Jesus, help us also to walk on her path, spending our life generously for Him and for our brothers.”

Alive in Christ
Each year, at this time, every pastor is required to present a report to the Archbishop detailing all aspects of parish life.  It is called the “Status Animarum” or “State of the Parish”.  This report includes “vital statistics” of parish life, as well as a detailed “financial report” verifying responsible stewardship of parish resources.

A synopsis of our “financial report” for the fiscal year 2018, July 1, 2017 - June 30, 2018, is presented on page 3 of the bulletin today.

The “vital statistics” we have reported are these:  “Registered Parish Households: 65”;  “Regular Contributors: 54”; “Total Baptisms: 2”; “Total Marriages: 4”; “Total Funerals: 1”.  There were no First Communions nor Confirmations in the last year.

This snapshot provides food for thought as we continue to explore opportunities to assure that we are a parish that is vibrant and vital and Alive in Christ!
From time to time I write here about prayer and often cite words from one of the saints or from a contemporary spiritual writer which offer clarity and encouragement for all who are serious about cultivating communion with God which is, ultimately, what prayer enables us to experience.  Often before I have suggested that it is important to distinguish between “saying prayers” and “praying”.

The former is important.  It makes use of formal prayers.  Many have been handed on from generation to generation.  “Saying prayers” has long been a help to many as their relationship with God grows deeper and stronger.  Those prayers become a springboard for prayer which springs from the heart.  What is important is that the prayers do not become “mindless” repetition.  The goal of prayer is not to speak many words.  It is to be in communion with God.

“Praying” can involve words.  It can also be time spent simply being still in the presence of God.  It is a time when we belong entirely to God.  It is a time when God knows that He has us all to Himself.  There are times when a person praying has a sense of wonder or awe.  At other times a person could have a sense of unworthiness or of needed change.  It is not uncommon, too, that a person has periods when praying during which there is a sense that nothing is happening.  Then it is easy to become discouraged.

Perseverance, though, is important.  Daily time set aside for praying is a luxury we all owe ourselves.  And it affords God the benefit of knowing when it is He has us to Himself!

A fourteenth century book entitled “The Cloud of Unknowing” is revered as a classic for all who are serious about praying.  About the times when nothing seems to be happening the author offers wise counsel: “Do not give up.  When you first begin, you find only darkness and, as it were, a cloud of unknowing.  You do not know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple, steadfast intention reaching out toward God.  Reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as is necessary, but still go on longing after God whom you love.”

Archbishop Carlson has asked all pastors to acknowledge the catastrophic revelations of recent publication of details related to the abuse allegations made public, regarding now-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, the recent Grand Jury Report from the Pennsylvania State Attorney General.

You likely know that it was announced on August 20th, that Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley has accepted Archbishop Carlson’s invitation that he review all files “for the purpose of making an independent determination of our handling of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of St. Louis.”

We acknowledged these catastrophic revelations last week, in the first intercession, which I personally composed, of the Prayer of the Faithful.  We repeated it again this week.  Join me, now, as we repeat, this prayer, yet again:
         Rid the Church finally of the scandal & crime of abuse & the lack of effective response to this evil.
         Impel bishops & all church leaders to right past wrongs & protect – especially – the most vulnerable.
         Heal all who have been violated.  Remedy hurt & anger & disillusionment among the Catholic faithful.
         Hasten the day that – soon – the Church will be more credibly Alive in Christ!
         Let us pray to the Lord.

In Brief
Congratulations to Parishioner, Laura Stringfellow who has passed the Missouri Bar Exam. God prosper the new beginning she has begun!
Monsignor Delaney