I’d like to update all of you on our first parish council meeting. We will only meet a couple times a year, so the discussion covers quite a bit – as you’ll see. The idea behind a parish council is to facilitate communication between the pastor and the parishioners; to give counsel and input on the direction of the parish with regard to practical details (since the spiritual direction of every parish is the same – holiness!); to be a forum in which to throw around ideas and give feedback; and to represent the needs of the entire parish community. Our first meeting dealt mostly with renovations, improvements, updates, plans regarding the church itself as well as the grounds.
- Many thanks to Deacon Mike, Ryan Anthony, Don Davis, and all the others who put so much time and work into getting our building “up to code” so that we now have a Certificate of Occupancy for our school.
- We will be able to hire one, possibly two, new classically-trained teachers for our school in the Fall. Please keep spreading the word about our wonderful new Academy!
- Work on the parking lot will resume once the Spring weather arrives. As you know, the project was cut short in the late Fall due to the cold weather.
- Work on our custom-built pipe organ seems to be slightly behind schedule, but we still hope to have it installed around Easter. Many thanks again to our generous donors!
- Money left over from the pipe organ donation will be used, per the donors’ request, for further church renovation needs. This will most likely be used for flooring.
- The stained-glass window panes have been removed to accommodate the pipe organ. Also, the stained-glass panes had been damaging the thermal on the clear glass due to excess heat and no ventilation between the panes.
- The stained-glass panes will be incorporated into a landscaping project in the front of the church.
- Our St Ann Shrine (ca 1860) was installed two weeks ago. Many thanks again to Dale Beauchamp, Deacon Mike and Boomer Carl for making and staining the lovely pedestal for it.
- Plans for our outdoor chapel/grotto and the playground are well underway! We hope to begin work in the coming weeks. Please contact me or Deacon Mike if you’d like to help or donate.
- Also, in our list of other outdoor to-do projects are: Stations of the Cross along our nature trail, and a garden/reflection pool in the front of the church.
- We have had donors come forward to help out with other projects within the church (e.g. a new Baptismal font). If you’d like to help out with something like this, we are hoping to get a new altarpiece/reredos, new Stations of the Cross, a new Paschal candle stand…and more!
Thank you already for your great generosity and enthusiasm with all of these projects.
As always, please feel free to contact me with any questions. I try to be as open as possible with sharing my ideas and plans for our parish, so please do contact me with any concerns. It doesn’t help anything to share your concerns with everyone EXCEPT me!
Today we hear the well-known enumeration of the Ten Commandments. Most people assume these are religious laws which have little relevance nowadays. All of us are aware of the numerous attempts to remove representations of the Ten Commandments from public places such as courthouses. But this is, once again, a misguided and ignorant attempt on the part of our amoral culture.
The Ten Commandments are not considered supernatural revelation in the same way that the mysteries of the Christian Faith are (e.g. the Trinity, the Incarnation, etc). Rather, they are the moral laws which are inherent to human nature, knowable by all, regardless of religion. God revealed them only to reassert what the human heart has always known. In other words, the Ten Commandments are an articulation of what we call “Natural Law” – the moral law that every human being has access to.
Making our way back to this understanding of universal human morality is of the utmost importance now. As a society, we need to be able to explain and defend our moral beliefs not only from Scripture, but also from the universally-accessible foundation of Natural Law. We need to overcome the idea that opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, etc. is always because of a particular religious belief. We cannot cohere as a society if we do not understand and agree upon the most fundamental human goods – life, virtue, mutual charity, and acknowledgment of God.
Bishop Bradley’s full statement on the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida on February 14, 2018:
“Our hearts are heavy with sadness, even as our minds still cannot comprehend the senselessness of the horrendous act of violence which claimed the lives of 17 innocent people, injured many more and traumatized an entire community at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., which should be a safe haven where young people can grow and learn without fear for their lives. Yesterday, on a day devoted to the love we have for those special people in our lives (Valentine’s Day), and a day calling all people of faith in Jesus as our Lord to a conversion of mind and heart as we begin the penitential season of Lent (Ash Wednesday), we were yet again confronted with the tragic reality of another senseless act of violence. We pray for those whose lives were ended in this world, and we commend them to our Merciful God to receive them into His Loving Arms. We pray for the families of those who were killed and ask God to cover them with His comfort and consolation. We pray for all those young students, teachers and administrators who were injured, and the entire community and so many in our nation who have been traumatized by this brutal and purposeless act.
“Lent is a time for special prayer, fasting and acts of charity for the purpose of turning us away from sin—that which divides and separates us from God and one another—so that we can be healed of what divides us, and live in the unity with God and neighbor as we have been designed to do. Yesterday’s violence was horrific and deeply troubling as we realize that it marked the 18th school shooting in the first six weeks of 2018. That statistic is beyond distressing and should be a cause for great concern for all. While the endless arguments about gun control and tighter security will continue, as people of faith, we know that the only solution is for people to change their hearts, and to turn away from violence. Let us pray, fast, give alms and do whatever it takes to change hearts, beginning with our own, and to root out violence from our choices when dealing with conflict.
“I call on all Catholics, Christians, people of faith, and all people of good will to pray, fast and give alms for the purpose of ending violence. I ask all Catholics to make the seven Fridays of Lent days of special prayer, and to offer up our sacrifice of abstinence from meat on those same days, beginning with this Friday, February 16th, for the intention of an end to violence in our own lives and in the lives of all people, with the hope, which is also God’s Hope, that we will live together in peace.”
On this Second Sunday of Lent, the Church places before us the example of Abraham’s faith and trust in God’s Providence. He had promised many descendants to Abraham, and yet asks him to sacrifice his only son. Imagine the incredible amount of faith this required on Abraham’s part. It is akin to Mary’s trust in God’s plan for her to bear a Son, even though she had made a promise to Him of perpetual virginity. Sometimes what God wants of us doesn’t seem to make sense – and yet, when we finally see what He had in mind, it is much greater than we could have imagined.
As Abraham walked up the mountain to sacrifice his son, he almost certainly didn’t know why God was asking him to do this. Perhaps it seems brutal to us – God asking a man to kill another man. But what God wanted to do through Abraham was:
- Test his faith – As mentioned above, consider the humility and trust needed to abandon his own hesitation in the face of such a seemingly terrible request. He knew that God had something planned, he just didn’t know what.
- Foreshadow how much God the Father was willing to sacrifice for us when He sent Christ to die for us.
- Signal the end of human sacrifice – human sacrifice was never a part of the Israelite community, but it was present in the world at that time in other cultures. Abraham’s interrupted sacrifice was one of the most significant events in all of salvation history, and God staying the hand of Abraham was seen as a definitive statement about the end of violent sacrifice.
May we be thankful every day for the great love shown by God toward us in giving His Son for our salvation.
p.s. Since the Gospel mentioned the sacrifice of Abraham, I’m definitely using the Roman Canon (longer Eucharistic prayer). DEAL WITH IT 😉