All this from simply saying 'thank you'!

Fr. James with SJS alumni at Regina Dominican High School after saying Mass.

Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 13, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

I shared a quote from author Ruth Burrows last week on prayer.  Allow me to share another one with you.  She writes about how most of the time our prayer isn't authentic prayer because it's more thinking, self-reflection, and just expressing our own desires, which aren't always things that would be good for us (i.e., not God's will).  "We may want a 'spiritual life', we may want 'prayer'," she writes, "but we do not want God." 

She adds,

The difficulty is that we do not want [God]. We want our own version of Him, one we can, so to speak, carry around in our pockets rather as some superstitious people carry around a charm. We can hold endless, loving conversations with this one, feel we have an intimate understanding with him, we can tell him our troubles, ask for his approbation and admiration, consult him about all our affairs and decisions and get the answer we want, and this God of ours has almost nothing to do with God!

Tough teaching.  But she's right.  We can have a tendency to be self-absorbed and not receive God as God is.  This is something akin to what Paul is telling Timothy: "Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering."  Don't just pray to the vague "God", which probably isn't God at all.  Remember Jesus Christ.

One of the ways to avoid this pitfall of inauthentic prayer is gratitude.  The two lepers—Naaman in the first reading and the Samaritan leper in the Gospel—both express thanksgiving, and are ultimately healed.  They are healed because they have a genuine encounter with the living and true God, not some made up image of God.  When we encounter God as God truly is, we are transformed.

Gratitude breaks us out of ourselves.  We recognize that we have received a blessing.  This blessing did not come from within our own being, but was given to us by someone, hence a gift.  We then see the giver as he or she (or God) is truly.  And there follows an exchange of essences.  We truly meet the other.

All this from simply saying 'thank you'!

There will be flu shots offered in the back of church this weekend and Men's Club has its meeting this Monday, October 14th. 

Congratulations Eileen Mitchell, chair of the parish pastoral council, on receiving the 2019 Archdiocese Christifidelis Award.  The Archdiocese established this award to be given to a layperson in each parish that demonstrates faithfulness and dedication in ministry.  Eileen is a faithful woman who has assisted Saint Juliana in so many ways: being a Eucharistic Minister and usher, leading the children's liturgy efforts, chairing the parish council, and much more.  Eileen, we are very proud of you and blessed to have you part of our parish.  Thank you for your faith and your service.  God bless you!

Please pick up in the back of the church a free copy of I Am: Rewrite your Name, Reroute Your Life by Chris Stefanick.  Feel free to grab a few extras for family and friends.  Thank you, Chris Stefanick, for donating these books to our parish.

As I mentioned last week, I'm looking to start small men's and women's faith groups here at Saint Juliana.  If you are interested in being part of a group of 4-6 individuals, please send me an email (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.).  I will then follow up with you about a time to meet to initiate the group.  The general concept is that these groups would meet regularly (frequency determined by the members) and keep the conversation intentional and spiritual in nature.  The group might have a particular topic for a meeting (how to find time to pray, how to juggle a crazy schedule while maintaining your core values, etc.); the members might share their struggles or blessings at work, in their marriage, with their faith; a particular book or article might be read and discussed.  There really is no pre-determined structure.  It's whatever the members of the group find life-giving and helpful.  It's these kind of groups that can help invigorate and deepen your faith, not to mention build life-long, Christian relationships.  Please pray about being part of a group and feel free to let me know if you have any questions or ideas!

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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