The Month of September 2017

My Friends,

“…the God of surprises”
Every Wednesday, for many years, each of the recent Popes have gathered all who wish for a prayer service and a reflection.  Thousands of people regularly join him.  When the weather permits this audience is held in the Square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica where tens of thousands of people regularly assemble.  When the weather is inclement the gathering is held in an auditorium, The Paul VI Audience Hall, which is behind and to the left of St. Peter’s Basilica.  There several thousand people are accommodated.  

For several weeks our Holy Father Francis has offered, during these prayer services, a reflection on Christian Hope.  In his most recent reflection, after the proclamation of a Scripture Reading from chapter 21 of the Book of Revelation, the Pope’s reflected on hope using an image of God as “the God of surprises”.  These are his words:

“Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue to explore the virtue of Christian hope, we discover in the final pages of the Bible that the ultimate destination of our Christian pilgrimage will be the heavenly Jerusalem. And on this pilgrimage we encounter the God of surprises who treats us with infinite tenderness, like a father welcoming his children home after a long and difficult journey.

“Even if many experience life as a prolonged period of suffering – think of the fearful faces of those haunted by violence and war – still there is a Father who weeps with infinite compassion for his children, and who waits to console them with a new and very different future.    “We believe that neither death nor hatred have the last word, for we Christians see, with great hope, a larger horizon, the Kingdom of God, where all evil is banished forever.

“It is Jesus himself who is the light of this new future, and who even now accompanies us on our way. Creation, as it is recounted in the Book of Genesis, did not stop on the sixth day, because God is continually looking after us, always ready to pronounce his blessing: ‘Behold, I make all things new! (Revelation 21:5)’”.

“…a virtual sleeping giant, just waiting to wake up…”
Archbishop Carlson has written an extended reflection on a theme he never tires of repeating.  In his eight years as Pastor of the Church of St. Louis, over and again, he has challenged us, individually and collectively, to be “Alive in Christ”.  His extended reflection is entitled “Partakers in the Divine Nature”.  It is provocative.  It is challenging.  He means it to be a catalyst transforming us to be “Alive in Christ”.  One section is captioned “Our Current Situation”.  Give what follows a thoughtful reading.  It is timeless counsel for all who, by Baptism, are “Partakers in the Divine Nature”.

“Vibrant Christians are made, not born. They are formed, not produced.  Spiritual formation is a life-long process. The journey to intimacy with the Lord begins with our Christian initiation but does not end there. We are summoned and equipped at every moment by the Holy Spirit to receive more deeply the Trinitarian life imparted to us in our baptism, confirmation and first Holy Communion. It is not enough, even, to receive the Eucharist regularly in order to attain the depths of holiness God desires for us. Intentional discipleship involves much more than simply keeping the commandments and sacramentally doing our duty by God and the Church. Simply going through the motions in our Catholic faith is not ‘being transformed from glory to glory into His very image that the Spirit makes possible.  God wishes to make us ‘partakers of the divine nature.’ This, indeed, is our call and purpose!

“I have, on other occasions, laid out some of the obstacles that have anesthetized the desire for God in the lives of many of the faithful. These include the post-Vatican II confusion, secularization, and poor personal choices driven by our culture of death. Did you know that only about seven percent of parishioners in any given parish can be considered ‘dynamic Catholics,’ defined as those who pray regularly, study their faith and give generously of their time, talent and stewardship gifts? Did you know that only about seven percent of registered parishioners contribute 80 percent of the volunteer hours in a parish, as well as 80 percent of financial contributions? Imagine what our parishes, what our nation, what our world would look like if we doubled this percentage. What would happen if we tripled it?

“The Catholic Church already feeds more people, houses more people, clothes more people, cares for more sick people, visits more prisoners and educates more students than any other organization on the planet. And this with a mere seven percent of our faithful!  Is it too much to suggest that our Church is a virtual sleeping giant, just waiting to wake up? By opening ourselves to the graces of the Holy Spirit that make for deification — through deep and lasting spiritual formation — I believe we could change the world.

“What would it take to increase the number of dynamic Catholics in our Church? What would it take to expand and deepen the impulse among our people to give generously of their time, talent and treasure, and to naturally and spontaneously share their faith with others? What would it take to move our Catholic vision of life and love out of the margins and into the marketplace?  

“More important than any program for creating a culture of discipleship is our commitment to undertake a spiritual formation process with discipline and determination.  To enter this mystery of holiness, our ways of thinking about the spiritual life must change. We must learn how to encounter the Person of Jesus as a living subject, not merely as an interesting object — talking and listening to Him at every moment. We must move beyond the model of simply imitating Christ and learn how to be incorporated into Him. Our view of our relationship with God must become both more personal.  We are meant to live ‘in Christ,’ as St. Paul so often puts it: persons experiencing themselves in transforming intimacy with the One who has created us for Himself. We are meant to know God, not simply know about Him.”

Welcome News
Recently I received welcome news from the Archdiocesan Leadership of the 2017 Annual Catholic Appeal.  Our formula goal for the 2017 Appeal was $6,702.  Our challenge goal was $39,500.  Your gifts, as of the formal conclusion of the Appeal, total $41,650.  We have, then, again surpassed our goal!    

Our new donor goal was three.  We numbered five first-time donors.  

I am grateful to you!  The Archbishop & Appeal Leadership are grateful!  Most importantly, the 1/2 million children & adults who benefit from the “people programs” funded by the Annual Catholic Appeal, without regard to race or creed, are most grateful.

Once more you demonstrate that our numbers are small but your hearts are great!  
Thank you!  Thanks be to God!

Labor Day
Every year, in anticipation of the civil observance of the Labor Day Holiday the Bishops of the United States offer a reflection, from a faith-filled perspective, on the dignity of human labor.  These are their words:

“Labor should allow the worker to develop and flourish as a person. Work also must provide the means for families to prosper. Work is a necessity, part of the meaning of life on this earth, a path to growth, human development and personal fulfilment. Work is meant to be for the sake of the family. We do not undertake labor for its own sake, but as a way to grow toward lasting and meaningful realities in our lives and communities. Parents are called to be providers and educators to their children, passing down essential values and creating a home environment in which all members of the family can be fully present to one another and grow. Dignity-filled work and the fruits of that labor nourish families, communities, and the common good.

“Labor is one important way we honor our brothers and sisters in God's universal human family. In the creation story, God gives us labor as a gateway into participation with Him in the ongoing unfolding of creation. Human labor, at its best, is a deeply holy thing that ought to honor our dignity as we help God maintain the fabric of the world.

“This Labor Day and always, let us pray, reflect, and act, seeking to realize and appreciate our work and relationships in light of the honored place God has ordained for them.”
This Old House Update

In the August issue of the parish bulletin I offered an update on the extensive work of repair and restoration in the church, rectory, and on the parish campus, that we have undertaken in recent months.  Some of that work had been long deferred as we addressed other priorities.  All of it was necessary for responsible stewardship of the historic and venerable part of the patrimony of the Archdiocese which the Pro Cathedral of St. John Apostle & Evangelist is.

One element of this work is the repair and restoration work is the surface patching of five areas of the parking lot which had settled or cracked.  That has been completed.  The next phase will be the resealing and restriping of the parking lot.  This is scheduled now take place during the week of September 24th and be accomplished in two segments over a few days’ time.  One half of the lot will be closed and sealed first, followed, then, by the other half of the lot.  The work will be complete by September 28th.
As I noted in the August bulletin, we are blessed.  Because of your regular stewardship generosity in support of our mission and ministry, and because of the generosity of those before us, on whose shoulders we stand, these expenses were paid from our funds on deposit. It was not necessary to draw down any of our reserve funds.

In Brief
We continue to pray for Grace Griffin, mother of Greg Griffin, that following her passing at her home in Florida, she now sees God face to face. On Sunday, September 10th, the 10:30 Mass here will be offered for Greg’s mother.  All are invited to pray for her with us.  Family and friends of the Griffins will join us.  Afterwards Greg and Laura will host an informal reception in the parish hall to express their appreciation for the support and prayers of so many during the final illness and passing of his mother.
Recently, after distinguished and recognized service as a graphic designer at UMSL, Sandy Morris retired.  In addition to that professional responsibility, Sandy has and continues to offer, as a contributed service to us, her gift and talent, providing the beautiful graphic images in our print materials and in other mediums.  God prosper, now, the new beginning that Sandy begins.
On Saturday, October 7th, Mark Phillips, parishioner, member of the parish finance council, and Lector at weekend Masses, and his fiancée, Laura Borgmeyer, will celebrate their marriage here.  God grant them grace abounding to live the truth the “love never counts, love alone counts”.

Monsignor Delaney