The Month of March 2023

My Friends,
“Protect us from all anxiety…”
            You might recognize the name Father Chris Martin.  He is the vicar for pastoral planning in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the coordinator for our All Things New planning process.  He writes the following reflection about it.  His insight is timely.
            “I am a big fan of the revised translation of the Roman Missal we use for Mass. The prayers are simultaneously poetic and precise. There is, however, one word that I miss from the former translation.
            “After the Our Father, we used to say ‘Protect us Lord from all anxiety, as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord, Jesus Christ.’ The new translation is ‘by the help of your mercy keep us free from sin and safe from all distress…’ While there is nothing wrong with the new, more precise translation, I always appreciated that the Church knew that her children were intrinsically anxious.
            “The American Psychological Association defines anxiety as ‘an emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.’ Close to 40 million Americans have a diagnosable level of anxiety that they experience. While a certain level of anxiety is natural (helps with the whole self-preservation thing), anxiety can become oppressive when we focus too much on future possibilities that we cannot control.
            “’Protect us from all anxiety’…can you even imagine? What would an anxiety-free life look like? How is that even possible?
            “As we continue to journey through the All Things New strategic planning process, I can sense within myself, and I hear from others, a lot of anxiety. A lot of ‘what if this .. or that’ conversations taking place tend to leave people feeling more anxious. The truth is that we don’t know what the future will look like in our archdiocese.  After all, you and I don’t know what tomorrow is going to look like.
            “Anxiety is one way to respond. Trust in God is the other. Anxiety’s deadly spiritual relative is discouragement, which means to be disheartened — to have your heart taken out. Trust’s spiritual relative is encouragement — to have your heart placed within you. In the Old Testament, when the Israelites were journeying from Egypt to the Promised Land and encountering all sorts of obstacles along the way, they became anxious and discouraged. Joshua reminded them of where to place their hope: ‘Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’ (Joshua 1:9).
            “The world is full of things that the devil can use to rob us of peace and to increase anxiety and discouragement within us. So what should we do when we sense these things growing inside our hearts? We can heed the words and the admonition of St. Paul who writes:
            ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.’ (Philippians 4:6-7)
            “Protect us Lord from all anxiety. Amen.”
“Purify my desires…
(A prayer during Lent)
God of Love, through this Lenten journey, purify my desires to serve you. Free me from any temptations to judge others, to place myself above others. Please let me surrender even my impatience with others, that with your love and your grace, I might be less and less absorbed with myself, and more and more full of the desire to follow you, in laying down my life according to your example.
Inspired by mercy
            The three pillars of Lent well lived are prayer, fasting and almsgiving.  About almsgiving Bishop Erik Varden offers this perspective:
            “Almsgiving is aid given to the less fortunate inspired by mercy. A crucial aspect of almsgiving is hollowing out that capacity for mercy in myself and touching that vulnerable core where my heart is touched in compassion by the need and the misery of others. It’s another very good thing to be aware of during Lent.
            We are faced with so much misery through the media. We’re exposed to it relentlessly. And so quite naturally, we become hardened because we can’t take it all in. But Lent is a time to stop, take a step back, and just allow my capacity for compassion to defreeze.”
All Things New
            In the second draft models for the Archdiocesan All Things New pastoral planning process, St. John's is no longer slated to be "closed".  Rather, the territorial boundaries of the parish will be merged with those of the Old Cathedral.  The church at St. John's will be retained as a "chapel" in the heart of center city for prayer and the celebration of Mass.  The pastor of the Old Cathedral parish will be responsible for St. John's. 
            Specific details about any of this, including both the timetable, and the staffing, and any schedules, have not yet been determined. These will be the competence of the new pastor with his people. 
            This is the proposal being given to Archbishop Rozanski for the All Things New leadership.
            Going forward, now, I want to encourage you, as we have at every Sunday at Mass from the outset, to pray that God give wisdom and right-judgment to Archbishop Rozanski during this period of his discernment prior to publication of the plan.   It is to be made public on Pentecost Sunday, 28 May 2023.  
            It is well, I think, to pray for ourselves, and for all who will be impacted by this historic reconfiguration of this local Church.  There is, among some, I know, disappointment, anxiety and even anger.  This is not surprising.  I pray for the grace to understand this in light of the paschal mystery -- the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in which we are partakers by Baptism, and in every Eucharist that we celebrate.  We know no dying except in the rising of Jesus from the dead.  That is His sure and certain promise.  That is our sure and certain hope.  So it is at this moment in our journey of faith individually and all together as one body, one spirit, in Christ.
In Brief
            As they do each year, “the Irish are coming.”  On Sunday, March 12th the Downtown St. Patrick’s Day Observance leadership, with their families, distinguished guests and friends will join us for our 10 o’clock Lord’s Day Celebration of the Eucharist.  We welcome them each year on the Sunday after the Downtown Parade.
            The Sacred Paschal Triduum is the turning point of our lives and of our worship.  In our celebration of Holy Thursday, Good Friday and the Easter Vigil we are drawn into the saving mystery of our redemption in Jesus Christ.  The schedule of our Triduum celebrations is detailed on page three of this bulletin.  I encourage you to plan to participate as fully as you are able!
            I am grateful to Aidan Donovan for the enthusiasm and creativity that he brings to his service as Director of Sacred Music for our parish family. A revised format for our worship aid and an expanded selection of hymns are among his early contributions to our worship. Ours is a long tradition of excellence in the music of our liturgical celebrations. We are blessed that it continues!
            Murry Velasco was a vital part of our parish family for many years.  More recently she had been with family in Shreveport and caring for her mother.  While there Murry suffered a stroke and on February 10th succumbed to its effects.  We pray that now she sees God face to face.

                                                                                    Faithfully, Monsignor Delaney