Father’s Letter-31st Sunday

Dear Friends,

This Sunday’s Gospel raises a common objection to something we do as Catholics. Our Lord tells us to call no one “Father”, and yet we do this very often when referring to priests. Many of our non-Catholic brothers and sisters see this as evidence of our ignorance of the  Gospels. Yet, is this a fair criticism?

Notice that our Lord also tells us to call no one on earth “teacher”, yet we do this without thinking much of it. Furthermore, each of us calls our biological father “Father”, so why don’t we have a problem with this? It is clear that there is more to what our Lord is saying…it is not as clear as it seems. Indeed, even St. Paul refers to himself as the “father” the faithful in Corinth: “I am not writing this to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. For though you might have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers. Indeed, in Christ Jesus, I  became your father through the    gospel.” (1 Corinthians 4:14-15). Priests are fathers in the sense that they confer spiritual life on the faithful through the sacraments.

So what is our Lord warning us against when He tells us not to call anyone Father, Teacher or Master? It is a reminder that we have only one true Father, Teacher and Master, one from whom all other Fathers, Teachers, and Masters get their name. God the Father is the model for all fatherhood, and He is to be seen as our true source of life and truth.

In Christ,

Fr Marotti

 

Father’s Letter- 30th Sunday

Dear Friends,

“You shall love the Lord, your God,

with all your heart,

with all your soul,

and with all your mind.

This is the greatest and the first commandment.

The second is like it:

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

The whole law and the prophets   depend on these two commandments.”

This is a pretty simple set of commandments, and Christ says that everything depends on just these two. So what’s the deal with all of the other “rules” that we have as Catholics? Are we complicating something that’s supposed to be very simple? Are we imposing rules that Christ didn’t intend us to impose?

Well, the two great commandments sound simple…but are they really? To love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul…is that really something any of us do easily? To love your neighbor just as you love yourself…is that something that any of us do at all? These seemingly simple laws are incredibly profound and need to involve our whole being. It’s not just being nice, doing our basic duties toward God and man – it is orienting our entire life around our love for God. Every thought, word, and action is to be aimed at loving God more.

So all of the other “rules” that we might have a problem with…all liturgical laws, moral laws, dogmatic teachings of the Church – these are all taught with one aim in mind: to help us fulfill the two great commandments. May we always humble ourselves and listen to our Lord speaking to us through His Church, and may we always be obedient sons and daughters of Christ and His Church.

In Christ, Fr Marotti

 

Father’s Letter: 29th Sunday

Dear Friends,

This weekend’s Gospel includes the well-known principle “render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and to God what belongs to God.” I’d like to make two points regarding these words.

  1. It is not an affirmation of “separation of Church and State” as is often claimed by secularized Christians and atheists alike. Christ is not making a simplistic point about our modern-American secularism which desires to eradicate any integration of religion and society. It is, of course, always taught by the Church that we ought to respect legitimate authority – in whatever does not conflict with truth and goodness, we ought to follow the law of the land. But our Lord is pointing out further that our earthly duties and our duties to God should not conflict – they are simply different. Our duties to earthly authority is subordinated and related to our duties toward God. The pharisees testing Jesus in the Gospel are hoping to put him in an impossible situation: Do we choose Caesar or God? Our Lord wisely responds that it is not an either-or decision. Our duties to earthly authorities are simply of a much different kind from our duties to God. It is also true that, if someone is justly placed in authority, then there is a certain sense in which we should see in them an image of God’s governance of all of Creation. This is why people in power should only be the most excellent and virtuous of people.
  2. What doesn’t belong to God? If we are commanded to render to God what belongs to Him, we need to remind ourselves that everything belongs to Him – our lives, our wealth, our time, our talents. Our obligation to tithe is very serious, this is something that other Christian denominations recognize more profoundly than we do. We are blessed with so many generous parishioners here, may God bless all of you! But are we rendering to God what is justly His due? I understand that the constant appeal for financial support becomes tiresome, but it is something that really tests whether or not we are willing to give even if it hurts. I also understand there is often suspicion about how money is used no matter what institution you’re giving to, but let me tell you – we are doing everything to cut costs, keep spending to a minimum. I have even made a significant reduction to my own compensation, since I found it unnecessary. So please be generous with your giving – it is what allows this great parish to continue to thrive and provide all of the wonderful things it provides.

Another way we can better render to God what belongs to Him is being more active and involved in parish life. I mentioned at the beginning of my time here that this is an exceptionally active parish – but we can always improve! The parish should be the center of our spiritual lives. So please be open to volunteering for the many programs and opportunities that arise here at St. Ann. God bless all of you!

In Christ,

Fr Marotti

Father’s Letter: 27th Sunday

Dear Friends,

Taking a break from the catechetical  columns for a moment, I’d like to   update you on a few things that will be taking place soon here at our parish home:

  1. The parking lot will be soon completely redone. You may have noticed that there are certain areas that are really falling apart and crumbling, and repairs have been in discussion for a couple of years now. We have weighed all of the options and a complete redo is the most financially responsible option in the long run, rather than repairs on-the-fly as they arise.
  2. Fr. Fleckenstein had already mentioned a number of times in his column that, due to the generous financial gift of anonymous donors (given for this specific purpose), we will soon have a beautiful pipe organ installed in the back of the church. This is an incredibly generous gift, as pipe organs are quite an investment. We are blessed enough to receive one without any cost to the church! Why would we refuse such a gift?  The Church tells us that the pipe organ, second only to the human voice, is the proper instrument of the Catholic liturgy. I know some have expressed concern that a pipe organ does not “fit our style”, but friends, let me caution all of us about having a “style” that would exclude something the Church exalts as the ideal. We have one style: Catholic. This beautiful instrument will allow us to not only do the lovely music we already have become accustomed to, but also expand into some other beautiful musical possibilities! Many blessings upon our generous donors.
  3. Related to the exciting prospect of having a pipe organ, we also have the possibility of redoing the church and sanctuary floors without any cost to the parish. Since having a pipe organ in a carpeted room is akin to muffling it, we will have the aisles and sanctuary space redone to better promote the sound of the instrument. More details on this are forthcoming. By beautifying and improving our worship space in any way we can, we remind ourselves of the sacred realities taking place at Mass!

If you have any questions on the above, please feel free to contact me. God bless you all!

In Christ, Fr. Marotti