Renounce and Detach

Father James with Blackhawks CEO, John McDonough at the 2018 Emerald City Gala

Letters from a Pastor to His People- September 8, 2019

Dear Parishioners,

When I decided to say yes to God's call to become a priest when I was in college, I remember one of the impositions of the priesthood that gave me some excitement was poverty.  Whereas I may have been a little afraid or at least uncertain of celibacy or obedience, I looked forward to renouncing the life of wealth and comfort.  And it hasn't disappointed seven years into priesthood.

Jesus says at the end of today's Gospel, "anyone of you who does not renounce all his possessions cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).  The Book of Wisdom reads, "For the corruptible body burdens the soul and the earthen shelter weighs down the mind that has many concerns" (Wisdom 9:15).  Even Paul's letter to Philemon is about renunciation and detachment.  He is basically telling Philemon to not view his slave, Onesimus, as an object, but rather as a brother; to let go of his "property."

As a priest, wearing the same clothes every day and basically owning nothing save books and a car (oh, and some golf clubs), brings me great peace and freedom.  Getting rid of the golf clubs would probably add to my peace. I remember in high school and college how much energy I spent on material things, like clothes.  Not anymore.  I am more available for prayer and service.  The only thing I desire is to be the Lord's and to be his instrument.

That is what poverty does.  It makes us selfless and, ultimately, reliant on God and not on ourselves.  We can disappoint.  The world and its objects can (and will) disappoint.  God will never disappoint.  If we trust in the Lord and abandon ourselves entirely unto him, we will be fulfilled.   

Can we simplify our lives and embrace a spirit of poverty?  Try not watching TV for a week (other than the Bears game).  Don't buy any new clothes this fall.  Give away what you haven't worn this past year.

Be sure, though, you do this/these things in the presence of God.  That is, make these things an act of love to God.  Pray while you are doing this.  That way you won't be doing it for yourself, but for God.  And then, without realizing it, you'll have become a disciple.

The School Board will meet Monday, September 9th at 6:30pm in the parish center conference room.  Men's Club also has its meeting that evening at 7:30pm. The Chris Stefanick Team also has its meeting that evening at 7pm in the Parish Center Gathering Space. All are welcome.  SPRED will have its opening Mass Tuesday evening. 

The Emerald City Gala is next Saturday evening, September 14th.  This is a wonderful, fun event that brings us all together as friends and neighbors to celebrate our faith, our great parish, and the new school year, not to mention the chance to welcome new families and parishioners.  Please consider signing up to attend the event, if you haven’t done so already.  More than just fundraising, this event will add to the strength of our community, making us healthy and vibrant both now and into the future.  If you are unable to attend the Gala, perhaps you will consider a contribution and praying for the event’s success.  Last year's Gala was so successful we were able to build the STEAM Lab for the school and make other improvements around the campus. Thank you again to the Gala committee for their hard work in putting this together.  I look forward to seeing you all there and celebrating! 

Yours in Christ,

Fr. James

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