October 2013

October 27, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

Well, last weekend’s GRAND Day certainly was grand! The 12 noon Mass was full, the children cute, the grandparents beaming, the weather perfect, “St. Francis” holy, the camel real, the food and drink delicious, the petting-zoo crowded, the face paint colorful, the balloons long-lasting, the pony-rides popular, the ice cream cold, the caricatures amazingly accurate, and the music toe-tapping! Thanks to everyone who came out to make our annual event such a fun time! I really do need to single out for special appreciation Mrs. Bobbie Carey and the great team of folks on the Development Committee which she chairs: as usual they divided up the work and got it all done with smiles on everyone’s face! Special gratitude also goes out to the Ladies of the Cathedral and to our Knights of Columbus Council No. 13632 – and our maintenance man Willie Rhines – who take care of most of the decoration, setup and then cleanup!

With the GRAND Day festivities now behind us, the attention of our Parish family is being overwhelmed by the impending renovation and expansion of our Parish Hall. We’re due to open the bids of the six invited contractors this coming Tuesday. After that, the process of signing the contract and breaking ground will be a swift one. The first phase of the project will be putting in the new air-conditioning tower and hookups for both the Cathedral and the Hall, which will involve accessing the church basement, abating the asbestos down there, and tearing up a few sidewalks and the rectory’s back yard. Once that’s installed, the old cooling-tower – which is right where the Hall expansion goes! – can be torn down. Yet I anticipate demolition in the Hall’s interior to begin right away also. So please try to “channel your inner child” a bit and remember how much fun a big muddy mess can be! Perhaps that will help us get through the inconvenience of it all!

In fact, the inconvenience has already begun. We’ve gone through our maintenance shed and storage areas, throwing out the junk that’s accumulated and organizing those things we have to keep. Most of the kitchen equipment has been packed up (a super thanks to Nan Nowak for spearheading this!), and the KCs have relocated most of their cooking equipment elsewhere. The last big portion of the Hall to be boxed up for storage is the choir’s music library … and we’re still looking for a place to store our “practice” baby grand piano for the upcoming year (hint! hint!).

Sincerely in the Lord.

October 20, 2013

As many of you know, Mr. Chris Redden is once again helping us out in the Parish Office as a Pastoral Assistant. With Fr. Paul away this past week, it seemed a good idea to invite him to share a few thoughts with our Parish Family.

Our Catholic Faith is comprised of many aspects from liturgy to love of others, from collections to catechesis, and from history to hermeneutics (the study of the interpretation of Scripture text), just to name a few—but regardless of what aspect of Catholicism we look to at any given moment, it’s all about life and the manner in which we navigate what goes on inside and around us.

One of the lenses through which we can look at life is the Church’s teaching on Social Justice. The Church gives us seven Principles of Catholic Social Justice to help guide our interactions with ourselves and the world. Reflection on these themes can inspire us to look carefully at our interactions with our families, our friends, our environment, and our society to better illustrate our faith.

The seven principles are:
Life and Dignity of the Human Person, which speaks to the sanctity of all life, regardless of the value that individual humans may ascribe to it. This principle addresses such issues as capital punishment, euthanasia, abortion, human trafficking, modern day slavery, and cloning among others.

Call to Family, Community, and Participation, which concerns itself with the idea that each individual person is part of a greater structure. We are social creatures, and it is within our nature to be communal—each doing a part that makes the whole greater than it could be without us.

The dignity of life and the success of our community cannot thrive unless we understand our Rights and Responsibilities. We all know of the rights that we have. We have the right to be alive, and the right to an education, and the right to love, among many others. Existing inside those rights are also the responsibilities that come along with them. A good question is to ask ourselves “what is our responsibility for those things to which we believe we are entitled?”

Jesus is always reaching out to those who seem less fortunate, and Scripture urges us to do the same by focusing on an Option for the Poor and Vulnerable. How we show this preferential option can be as varied as we are ourselves, but it is vital to living our faith that we not discard others regardless of socioeconomic status or poor health.
The Dignity of Work and the Rights of Workers is another way that we participate in the creation begun by God. It is concerned with fair wages and treating those who work in all industries respectfully, both as consumers and employers. This principle guards us against such travesties as sweatshops, harsh working conditions, and wages that are disproportionate to the work done.

We are all one family, daughters and sons of God, and therefore we enjoy a certain sense of Solidarity—meaning that we are not unaffected by the atrocities that go on around us or geographically far from us. We are connected through the love of God, which is evidenced by our communal nature.

Care for God’s Creation is the principle that guides our relationship with the physical world around us. God has given us a great gift in our earth. It is our challenge to find balance in how we use that gift so that the cycle of creation can continue.

– Chris Redden

October 13, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

This weekend’s Gospel (Lk 17:11-19) recounts the famous episode of Christ’s encounter with ten lepers. Leprosy (now known to medical science as Hansen’s Disease) and similar skin disorders were greatly feared in Jesus’ day since they were disfiguring, mysterious in origin, quite apparently incurable by ordinary means, and presumed to be an indication of moral fault. On a symbolic or poetic level, does the external decay of the skin prompt wonderment about a possible parallel, of some kind of similar internal decay of the soul?
In verse 14, Jesus’ command to the ten is very conventional: “Go, and show yourselves to the priest!” According to Jewish law, it was a priest who had to verify the cure, and so confirm that purity was regained by the former leper (see Lv 14:1-32).

What I find noteworthy about the lepers’ response is that it revealed no little faith on their part! They had to go off to the priest before their bodies were healed yet. They had to risk embarrassment, at least. But they trusted in the Lord’s word, and along the way the cure took place. They were purified. That they were people of faith is confirmed!
But it was not enough. The Lord Jesus rightly criticized nine of them in vv. 17-18 when only one – in fact a non-Jew, a Samaritan! – returned to give thanks to Him. Apparently the others’ lack of gratitude cancelled out their faith, or rendered it ineffective: only the thankful Samaritan heard the wonderful, consoling words, “Your faith has saved you” (v. 19)!

This Bible passage, it seems to me, has a clear message for us. We’re believers, after all. We go to Mass. We say our prayers. We contribute to the support of the church, and we give to the poor. In other words, we have faith. Yet Christ reminds us that faith alone is not enough. What is needed is something more than faith, and certainly something more than the good works we accomplish because of faith. Yes, if faith is real but it exists apart from gratitude for the blessings we have received, in the long run faith won’t be enough.

So be sure to ask yourself, now and then: “do I have faith?” And then go on to ask: “is my faith being cancelled out by something, like selfishness, or ingratitude, or some other sin?” The answer to the second question is important!

(Incidentally, this is also where the object of faith is important, too. It’s not okay to believe in just any old thing! In classic paganism, unbelievers wrongly thought that Zeus, or fire, or the spirits of one’s ancestors, or some such thing could save them from disaster and death. So-called “modern” folk – no less pagan even if they wear Brooks Brothers shirts instead of togas! – often foolishly believe that power or pleasure or money can work the same kind of magic. Again, there’s a real faith present, but it’s the wrong kind of faith! But that’s a topic for another day, in another column!)

There’s only one more week to go before we celebrate our annual “GRAND Day” here at the Cathedral! It’s next Sunday, October 20, at and after our 12 noon Mass! Grandchildren and grandparents are the special focus, but our “St. Francis of Assisi” theme this year will add to both the grace and the fun. Please make sure all grandparents and grandchildren in your family – and everyone else “in between”! – know about GRAND Day and plan to be with us!

Sincerely in the Lord.

October 6, 2013

Dear Parishioners and Friends,

This week is one I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. During the first full week of October each year, almost all of our diocese’s priests go on retreat together at Manresa in Convent, on the River Road. It should be a wonderful time. Especially if the weather cooperates, Manresa and its grounds are a wonderful venue for prayer. But it’s not only the quiet, and extra prayer and spiritual reading, that are attractive. We also enjoy the fraternity and support of one another.

And this fraternity is important. We priests share a precious, but hardly popular, vocation. Only other priests really know what the life of a priest is really like. It’s a full daily routine – trying to do the required prayer and study, as well as organization and predictable work that parish ministry entails. But unscheduled events often get added to the priestly calendar (like funerals and counseling sessions, sick calls and so forth). Most diocesan priests also serve alone: most of our Parishes are “one-man” assignments, and interparochial ministry is both infrequent and usually takes place at special events like Masses and penance services that don’t allow for much fraternity. Our retreats and “continuing education” programs give us a chance to reconnect and support each other in our priestly commitment. The re-focusing on prayer that we do is likewise vital for our spiritual lives. Thank you for understanding why the Church insists on the priority of a priest’s retreat so much that we occasionally must absent ourselves from daily Mass at the Parish and other more usual ministry.

Our retreat master this year is the rector of St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana, Father Denis Robinson. He’s a Benedictine priest with years of experience in priestly formation. He’s actually come down and spoken to our priests before, for shorter presentations, and he impressed us so much we’ve asked him to share at more length some of his insights on how we can be holier and more effective ministers. Tell you what: you can be the judge – eventually – as to the job he did!

Our Parish’s fifth annual GRAND DAY is almost here: it will be on October 20, at the 12 noon Mass. As we rejoice in the love shared between grandparents and their grandchildren – with the parents smiling alongside! – everyone should have a big smile on their face! I know I will; will you?

Sincerely in the Lord.