Even though the Church doesn’t “officially” celebrate the Feast of Saint Ann (and Joachim) until Tuesday, our local church celebrates her today on this Seventeenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus teach us what we now know as the “Our Father.” Sometimes, I think we find ourselves asking the same question the disciple asked Jesus today, “Lord, teach us how to pray…” It seems to me that sometimes we miss Jesus’ important teaching here. When we aren’t sure “what” to pray or “how” to pray, we should simply begin by turning to the prayer that Jesus taught us. After all, would his answer change to the question that we heard posed to him in the Gospel? I doubt it. Let’s remember this week… and especially in these final few days of our parish “novena” to Saint Ann… to pray Jesus’ prayer and pray it sincerely and carefully over and over again.
I very much look forward to today’s parish festival. Not only do I like parties (much more than meetings!), I really enjoy seeing any opportunity parishioners have to get together in relationship with one another. You will recall that this was the theme of my homily last week: being in relationship with Christ and each other. I take this opportunity of my column for my first appeal to our parishioners regarding the Eucharistic Adoration Chapel. I think most pastors nowadays will ask right away as their new assignment is announced, “Is there a perpetual adoration chapel?” It’s especially good to know that people are there all the time praying before the True Presence of Jesus. Would you consider spending an hour with Jesus? What can we do to “expand the calendar” and see how much closer we can get to having our chapel “perpetual?” Something to pray about.
This past week I began meeting one-on-one with every member of our parish staff. At our first staff meeting, I gave them all a “homework assignment” to complete. I asked them to each make an appointment with me. At that appointment, they were to have prepared the answers to the following statement and questions. First, I asked them to tell me that if it was a “perfect world” what would their “perfect world” be like at this parish. Second, I asked them to list the three top things they liked most about the parish. Third, I asked them to tell me the three top things they are most challenged by about the parish. I have done this “exercise” every time I have begun a leadership position such as Pastor (and other places, too). It hit me, though, that perhaps this year I could extend this to all of our parishioners. If you are interested in participating, I’d ask you to send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your responses. I’ll read every one of them and pray over them. If you’d like to participate, please send me your responses by July 31. Please understand that this is not a “poll” of any kind other than to help me learn more about the parish.
Speaking of which, last week I wrote in this column about the Church’s teachings about the role of the Pastor. Since I am requesting from staff and parishioners some thoughts about the parish, I thought it would be good to mention what the Church teaches about the role of the parish and parishioners. There is so much I could say here. But I thought I’d quote a few words from Pope Francis for us to consider. In 2014, he said: “…the parishes, especially those visibly tired and withdrawn — and there are many… Tired parishes, closed parishes… there are many… It is about assuming missionary dynamism in order to reach everyone, putting first those who feel distant and the most vulnerable and forgotten people. It means opening the doors and letting Jesus go forth. Many times we keep Jesus closed inside the parishes with us, and we do not go out and we do not let Him leave! Open the doors so He can go out, at least Him! It is about a Church which “goes forth”: a Church which always goes forth.” In my words, be in relationship with the Risen Christ and bring that to others around us. Talk about a dynamic parish!
Have a good week, a blessed feast of Saint Ann, and Praised be Jesus Christ! Now and Forever!