Letters from a Pastor to His People- October 27, 2019
John Henry Newman was canonized a saint two weekends ago by Pope Francis. Newman was an English priest from the 19th Century. Originally an Anglican, he converted to Catholicism and was later in life made a Cardinal in the Church. He was (and still is) an intellectual giant, writing very influential texts such as Essay on the Grammar of Assent and his spiritual autobiography called Apologia Pro Vita Sua. For a few years he was rector of the Catholic University of Ireland, which led him to write The Idea of a University. Catholic student centers at various universities around the country are called "Newman Centers" because of this. I'll be forever grateful to the Newman Center of my alma mater, which helped my faith and ultimately led me to the priesthood.
Newman's motto as a Cardinal was cor ad cor loquitur (translated: heart speaks to heart). This is the essence of prayer, and the fact that Newman selected this as his motto testifies to his sanctity. When we are praying, whether it's silent, contemplative prayer, the rosary or even the Mass, the goal is union of hearts. We are not looking to simply 'get through it' so as to achieve the desired result of our prayer, as if prayer was some magical formula. No. Prayer is relationship, and authentic relationship involves the exchange of hearts.
The Pharisee from the Gospel parable prays, fasts, and tithes, but his heart is never activated. He does it all impersonally. He does it all to feel good about himself. The tax collector, on the other hand, though it is a very short prayer (that's all it takes sometimes!), opens his heart: "O God, be merciful to me a sinner." Notice how he even "beats his breast" to emphasize his prayer from the heart. The tax collector's heart spoke to the Lord, and I'm sure the Lord's heart spoke back to him. The Lord's heart probably said something similar to what he said to the repentant thief from the cross: "Today, thou shalt be with me in paradise."
Saint John Henry Newman, please pray for us that we may have authentic prayer and open our hearts to the loving God.
This Friday, November is the All Saints Day, a holy day of obligation. The 7am, 8:30am, and 7pm Masses will all be in the church. Because this is a First Friday, we will also have Eucharistic Adoration all day in the church. What a great way to celebrate this great solemnity--spending quiet time with Christ in our peaceful church. Please consider signing up for a half-hour time slot or more as a Eucharistic Adorer. I think you'll find this a very worthwhile endeavor.
Saturday, November 2nd is the Feast of All Souls. This is not a holy day of obligation, and so there will be the usual Saturday 8:30am Mass in the church. The Saturday 5pm Mass, per instruction, is a celebration of the 31st Sunday in Ordinary Time (that is, not technically "All Souls"). However, we will be doing a sort of joint-All Souls Mass with this evening Mass. At the 5pm Mass, therefore, we will read all the names of the deceased from this past year and light a candle in their memory. Family members of the deceased are welcome then to take a candle at the end of Mass for their loved one.
The Cub Scout spaghetti dinner is next Saturday, November 2nd. As you are going down to the school hall to eat some spaghetti and sausage, feel free to take a look at the new elevator (and even use it if you need to!) and courtyard through Door 3 if you haven't seen it already.
Happy Halloween on Thursday! Rumors have it Saint Juliana School might be receiving a new student that day, a student whose name perhaps is Jimmy...
Finally, enclosed in the bulletin this week is our annual report. You can read my comments in that report for more information.
Yours in Christ,