Messages from the Pastor
June 23, 2013
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
This week we welcome back a dynamic young priest of our diocese, Father Matt Dupré to our Catholicism 101 adult religious education series. In the hour-long session on Tuesday, June 25, he’ll be speaking about that most fundamental Catholic sacrament, the Most Holy Eucharist. Last week’s session was an introduction to the Mass, our liturgy of both Bible and Holy Communion, but there’s lots more about the Eucharist to know and appreciate. This week he’ll speak about “The Other Important Stuff About The Eucharist.” It’s maybe not the most catchy title, but it accurately frames the subject! Please try to make it this Tuesday evening in the Parish Hall at 6:30 pm!
Another diocesan priest, Father Miles Walsh, has been appointed pastor of our neighboring Sacred Heart Parish, as of July 1. I thought I’d “pass on” a favorite message of his, recasting it for our Parish family, for it captures not only some essential important truths, but practical helps toward self-improvement:
In a small booklet entitled, Ten Steps to Priestly Holiness: Our Journey Into Joy, its author Msgr. Stephen Rossetti makes the point that for many people the word holiness “conjures up images of a dour, joyless existence.” Yet this is not true. To be holy is to be filled with God’s life. No less an authority than Saint Paul testified that God’s presence in us is evidenced by the following external, positive signs: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal 5:22-23). To be holy, then, is to be filled with joy – not just pleasure or emotional happiness, but a spirit of deep and abiding joy and fulfillment.
Msgr. Rossetti then outlines a number of steps to holiness, applicable to any follower of Christ. Here is an abridged, adapted list of these steps which will lead to the kind of holiness that brings deep happiness:
1. Cease Any Serious Sin. You simply cannot move ahead in a relationship with God and with Christ unless you are willing to remove, with the help of divine grace, the obstacles (that is, all serious sins) that stand in your way. Many people try to avoid this step, but it’s the only way. It is impossible to progress in spirituality by leading a “double life” of serious sin on the one hand and Christian faith on the other.
2. Renew Yourself through the Sacrament of Penance. This step necessarily follows upon the first. Christ instituted sacramental Reconciliation as the ordinary means for forgiveness of serious sins committed after baptism, and He expects us to use this gift. Confessing one’s sin to God in the heart is not the same – or as good – as asking His forgiveness in the way He established for our benefit.
3. Pray More. It sounds simple, but fidelity to prayer requires self-discipline and effort, aided by God’s grace. It should be Biblical, and can be devotional (the Rosary is both!), and is best when it’s regular, but it needs to be daily.
4. Immerse Yourself in the Eucharist. Just as confession is the ordinary means given by Christ to enable forgiveness of our sins, so Holy Communion is the ordinary means Jesus has given us for our spiritual nourishment and spiritual union with Him. The ordinary Catholic makes weekly communion at Sunday Mass a priority, and soon turns into an extraordinary Catholic who values communion with Jesus at daily Mass as well.
5. Love the Church. No one goes to God alone. The Church is the visible Body of Christ on earth, and as Bride of Christ, the Church is our Mother, too. She deserves our respect and love, and our active participation in her faith community. We should trust her wisdom, and the rightness of her teachings.
6. Nourish Good Relationships with People of Faith. Again, no one goes to God alone. The people we surround ourselves with have a tremendous impact on our spiritual growth, for good and for ill. If our friends are upright people of integrity and holiness, just being around them will help us be similar.
7. Practice Gratitude to God. Being grateful is a choice we make in life. We can choose to be grateful for all that God has given us or we can choose to be ungrateful, envious and miserable.
8. Embrace your Crosses. This is one of the most difficult steps, but when we do so we reassure ourselves of the maturity of our faith. We must strive to embrace our crosses in life as the path to true holiness.
9. Trust in God. Our ultimate goal in life is to do God’s will. We can only do that by allowing God to work through us, and He can only work in us if we learn to trust Him. In fact, in the end we come to the greatest leap of faith:
10. Abandon Yourself to God. In the end, true holiness means surrendering yourself – your whole self – to God. A half-hearted or partial regard for God and a faith that holds back will always be frustrated, and prevented from achieving the fullness of Christian joy.
Father Walsh suggests that every once in a while we should review these steps as a kind of “spiritual check-up.” I agree! Frankly, just reflecting on them so far is a good start!
Sincerely in the Lord,
Archived MessagesJune 2013