Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 07 June 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- June 7, 2020

    Dear Parishioners,

    It's really important that we read and reread this short first reading from the Book of Exodus.  Let it form our mind.  Let it help our understanding of God.  We need this proper knowledge of the Lord if we are going to navigate the complexities of our moral and spiritual life.

    Moses returns up to Mount Sinai and Yahweh reveals another title by which he can be called: Lord.  I don't know about you, but I like using this title, Lord, for God.  Yes, I certainly use other titles when I pray and when I'm in relationship with God: Jesus, Father, friend, brother, Spirit.  'Lord' doesn't give me a sense of fear or servility in a bad way.  I like 'Lord' because it emphasizes for me that God is the one in control, not me.  He is guiding my life, he has a plan for me—a plan that is better than anything I could concoct—and that it is to my advantage to simply surrender to him.  Remember that "Surrender Novena" we prayed a few months ago?  The title 'Lord' is all wrapped up in that.

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23 Feb

A.R.R.R.

Anyone who has been in a position of authority—parent, manager, pastor—can relate to Saint Peter in this 17th Century painting from the School of Rubens.  The Fisherman, grasping firmly but gently the keys given to him by Christ, looks upward to God.  He is not 'white-knuckling' the keys, nor is he loosely holding them, about to let them slip out of his hands.   They are part of his identity. 

Peter's countenance entails anguish and pain.  But there is also hope and trust in his eyes.  He desires relief; relief not for himself, but for his flock.  He knows this relief will come, even if it is on the other side of eternity.

23 Feb

You Are the Temple of God

Back by popular demand! Fr. James with his niece Addy (2) and nephew Sebbie (3)

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 23, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Paul's letter is pure gold.  First, he gives the monumental line: "Do you not know that you are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?" (1 Corinthians 3:16).

This is key for the spiritual life.  This reality—that we are temples—is the foundation for all prayer. 

I'm big into prayer, as you know.  To me, it's the center of a priest's life.  If a priest isn't praying, his life is meaningless.  It's a train wreck.  Why?  Because prayer is relationship with God.  Think of being married and never communicating with your spouse.  Your life would be a contradiction.  Same with a priest.

23 Feb

Conscience is a Gift - Vox Dei

The conscience is connected with the Vox Dei, the voice of God, within us all. Victor Hugo recognizes this connection in his great novel, Les Miserables. St. John Henry Newman wrote essays on this wonderful truth of our being. Conscience is a gift. It directs our Will to what is truly good, beautiful, true, lovely and excellent for our flourishing. We know all too well, however, from our lives that we can have some serious wrestling matches with our conscience. This too is part of the human experience: our inner deliberations over what is good and what is evil.

23 Feb

Gospel February 23, 2020

The First Reading is from the Book of Leviticus. In this brief passage, the writer reminds his fellow Israelites of their call to live a holy life. This is the command given to us by God through Moses: “Be holy, for I the Lord, your God, am holy.” A life of holiness is manifested through acts of love, mercy and kindness, particularly towards those who have hurt us. It also shows us the way to share in God’s holiness: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

16 Feb

New Tabernacle, New Location

A New and Relocated Tabernacle for the Church

Friends,

I would like to propose for the parish obtaining a new tabernacle and relocating it to the center of the church, behind the altar and recessed into the wall.

First, the Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The tabernacle is to be situated ‘in churches in a most worthy place with the greatest honor.’ The dignity, placing, and security of the Eucharistic tabernacle should foster adoration before the Lord really present in the Blessed Sacrament of the altar” (CCC 1183).  

16 Feb

We Always Have A Choice

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 16, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

All the priests of the Archdiocese gathered together with the Cardinal a couple weeks ago for an all-day seminar.  We do this about three times a year.  In the afternoon we heard a talk on forming good habits, and the speaker mentioned "mindfulness training." Basically, if you can pause mentally when you are in the midst of a certain habit (smoking, eating, compulsively checking your texts, etc.), be mindful of what you are feeling and experiencing (something that is actually not that satisfying), you'll begin the neural re-networking process to break the bad habit.

16 Feb

Gospel February 16, 2020

The First Reading comes from the Book of Sirach. In today’s verses, Sirach instructs the people of Israel to trust in God and keep his commandments, for they will be saved by doing so. Before man are life and death, good and evil, Sirach says, whichever he chooses shall be given him. Our salvation, and life itself, are certainly blessings from God. Choosing to follow the ways of the Lord leads to these blessings. In other words, obedience to God’s law as the road that leads to life, and rejection of his commandments as the way that leads to death.

16 Feb

So that He may continue to walk with His people...

After years of going to Mass, learning to actually say Mass presents it in a completely new way. It is indeed familiar, but it carries a whole different weight to it. It is a good and holy weight. In Hebrew, the word for “weight” or “heaviness” is kavod; it is also used to describe, “the Glory of God.” Think of a rich dessert, after one bite you say, "woah, that is too rich for me."

09 Feb

Freedom from Confession

Going to confession can be a harsh experience.  It is painful to recall our sinfulness and shortcomings, and even more painful to articulate them aloud.  But we are healed when we do this.  And the alternative—remaining in our sin—is worse.  If we hold onto our sins and are not absolved from them, we will deteriorate.

To what can we compare this reality? Well, I just finished a book on the history of Australia, so how about the 'land down under'? 

09 Feb

We Are Salt & Light

Letters from a Pastor to His People- February 9, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

Jesus, when he calls us salt and light, is saying that we are necessary. He doesn't call us honey; he doesn't call us a neon light—things that are nice, but not necessary.  Salt and light are necessary for the world to function.  There is no life without light (think about how the dinosaurs died) and salt, especially back in Jesus' time, was essential to preserve food.

Now, when I say the Lord needs us, what I'm really saying is that he relies on us to spread the faith.  (By the way, in baptism, we give the newly baptized a candle and say, "receive the light of Christ." In the old ritual, salt was sometimes put into the person's mouth and salt was also sprinkled in water.) Christ has us evangelize: that is, introduce people to God and bring them into Catholicism.