Monday, September 16, 2013

Week of September 15

Dear Friends,

I mentioned at most masses last weekend that starting this weekend and for the following six weeks, the second reading will come from St. Paul’s First and Second Letters to Timothy.  During those weeks, the homily will focus on the second reading, giving us the opportunity to hear a more comprehensive message than perhaps we have had the experience of before.  I invite you to bring in your bibles to Mass, a practice that I encourage even if we weren’t having this focus.  The Scriptures are the written Word of God and the Church reminds us that it is a Living Word, meaning that it still teaches us in our current day situation.  The Church over the last 50-75 years has been trying to encourage all of the faithful to make scripture reading part of our everyday practice and incorporate it more into our prayer.  Lectio Divina, a practice that is quite common in monasteries, is becoming quite popular for those outside of the monastery.  There are various versions of lectio.  The one I like to utilize is from the Sulpicians.  In reading a verse or chapter from scripture, you ask yourself three questions, taking time to sit in quiet reflecting on each question for a period of time before moving on to the next.  The three questions are:  1. Jesus before my eyes: What is the teaching found in the passage? 2. Jesus in my heart: what stirs within me when I hear this passage? Is it excitement, enthusiasm or anxiety? Is it speaking to a part of my heart I have been avoiding? 3. Jesus in my hands: what is it from this experience of prayer that I can implement in my life today?
In the beginning of First Timothy, in verses before today’s reading, St. Paul tells Timothy “I repeat the request I made of you when I was on my way to Macedonia, that you stay in Ephesus to instruct certain people not to teach false doctrines  or to concern themselves with myths and endless genealogies, which promote speculations rather than the plan of God that is to be received by faith.
St. Paul would agree with many critics of religion today.  Often they characterize religion as superstition or the stuff of folklore or myth.  St. Paul is calling on us to avoid a religion of fluff, myth and crazy stories that arise in folklore or “religion without reason”. Christianity isn’t about any of this; it isn’t about magic or narrow thinking or about protecting human traditions. It is about Jesus Christ, the Son of God. It is about returning to God—living in wholeness, holiness, peace and joy.
Our faith is a response to the One who created the heavens and the earth. Our desire for God spurs on our search for truth, justice, beauty and love. God has placed the desire for Him deep in our hearts. The more we feed our desire to know, the more we discover who we are, what we are about and how this God is active in our world.

If we seek God in the fluff, mythology and legends, we will eventually find ourselves grasping at a notion of God or reject Him outright. In either case, we will be unable to satisfy a hunger that is found within us.
A special request: There is a lot that is happening in our parish and hopefully that will continue and even more will occur.  In many respects we are still adapting to having an office back in the parish and running the office with a largely part-time staff.  There will be some growing pains and we are hoping that we will be able to increase our first collection over time so that we may have more full time staff and be able to have the office open all week long.  Currently, Claudia is in the office on Mondays, Wednesdays and Friday mornings.  Please refrain from calling St. Elizabeth Seton Parish on Tuesdays and Thursdays to reach Claudia.  This causes some confusion and disrupts the work going on there.
We have had couple of unexpected expenses arise over the last three months.  Prior to the Bishop’s decision to name a new Pastor for St. John’s, Fr. Arnie had ordered a statue of Our Lady of Fatima.  Our Lady (and her bill) arrived in July.  After spending some time hanging out with us, she has been moved to a temporary location in the Church.  I am hoping to create a more permanent home for her with some votive candles for those seeking her intercession. 

Also, when I arrived, one of the amplifiers in the Organ died.  Originally built with four amplifiers, we are now down to one working unit.  This has a negative effect on the quality of the sound from the instrument and putting such a strain on the remaining amplifier that it is predicted it will also shut down within the year.  The options: by a new organ, replace the amplifiers.  We are replacing the amplifiers.  I have had some organists come to St. John’s and look over the organ and tell me it is an excellent instrument and well built.  The new amplifiers will allow it to be used in a manner it was built for.  

If anyone wishes to help with the financial aspects of these two improvements, either as a gift of a memorial gift, please give me a call in the office or sent me an email.

Fr. David

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