Letters From a Pastor to His People

  • 05 July 2020 | By

    Letters from a Pastor to His People- July 5, 2020

     

    Dear Parishioners,

    If you missed my bulletin letter from last week, I explained how I am away currently and will be for the entire month of July making a 30-Day Retreat.  Just a reminder, I will not respond to any messages, so if there is an emergency, please contact the parish office or Father Emanuel. I wrote this week’s letter, and the upcoming letters, ahead of time, just to offer a little spiritual reflection on the readings.  I would also, however, like to provide some wisdom from St. Ignatius of Loyola.  Perhaps you could do a little "30-Day Retreat" with me.

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29 Mar

Death from the Sky

A string of tornadoes ripped through Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania on May 31, 1985, killing eighty-nine, injuring over one thousand, and causing more than $600 million worth of damage.  "Death from the Sky" read the headline of the Erie Times newspaper the following day. 

Albion in Pennsylvania was particularly devastated by this storm.  An F5 tornado cut a two-block wide path through the town, killing twelve and injuring dozens more.  The local Catholic parish, St. Lawrence, was literally sliced in half.  The pastor, Father Robert Reilly, survived by holding on to a window frame as the rest of the rectory was blown away. 

29 Mar

Death from the Sky

A string of tornadoes ripped through Ohio, New York, and Pennsylvania on May 31, 1985, killing eighty-nine, injuring over one thousand, and causing more than $600 million worth of damage.  "Death from the Sky" read the headline of the Erie Times newspaper the following day. 

Albion in Pennsylvania was particularly devastated by this storm.  An F5 tornado cut a two-block wide path through the town, killing twelve and injuring dozens more.  The local Catholic parish, St. Lawrence, was literally sliced in half.  The pastor, Father Robert Reilly, survived by holding on to a window frame as the rest of the rectory was blown away. 

22 Mar

Courage to Walk the Road with God

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road, by Cormac McCarthy is a very Lenten book.  In a post-apocalyptic world, a father and son journey through a desolate landscape in which ash inexorably falls, seeking food, shelter, and survival from cannibals.  The world is completely evil and fallen, and yet the love between father and son, and the innate goodness within the boy--the "fire within"--provides hope.

15 Mar

Prayers and Preachers

To be great preachers—and everyone, not just priests, are called to preach—we must be great prayers.  Only from our prayer life and our intimate communion with God does the conviction to follow the Gospel proceed.  Read how often our Lord "went off to a deserted place to pray."  He feeds the multitude, he delivers his sermons, he amazes the crowds, and still he retreats to his cave to be alone with God the Father.  The more we pray and the more quiet time we spend with God, the more we become like God and the more attractive our words and our witness become to others.  Then we preach effectively and make disciples.

08 Mar

Lenten Disciplines

Lenten disciplines require mindfulness. We need to attune our brains to work whenever we feel the urge to do a certain thing: drink, check email, bite our nails.  We feel the urge, we are mindful of what sensation that particular habit gives us, we wonder if this sensation is really actually helpful (we realize biting nails does not relieve stress and is painful), and we begin to rewire the neural firing patterns of our brain so we do not fall automatically into that habit.

The same goes for feelings of shame, anxiety or even distractions in our prayer.  If we can be mindful of why are feeling shame, we will begin to see that the shame is not rooted in reality (God is not ashamed of us) and reject that negative way of thinking.

01 Mar

In Our Suffering We Are Never Alone

There are two portraits fascinating to compare.  The first is Ecce Homo by Philippe de Champaigne.  It is also titled, "Christ Mocked," and, of course, is a depiction of the scene when our Lord is clothed in scarlet and given a reed and crown of thorns by the Roman soldiers.  The second painting is Napoleon at Fontainebleau, 31 March 1814 by Paul Delaroche, depicting the emperor after his first abdication following the surrender of Paris to the Allies.

Both figures appear to be at their low-points.  (Napoleon looks like me after a Bears game.) But there is a profound difference between the two.  Napoleon is alone.  Christ is not.