Saturday, May 24, 2008

Parish Assignments

Tis the season for new parish assignments. I have recieved a new addition to my current assignment. In addition to my current assignments as Pastor of St. Rose of Lima in Garretson, Associate Director of Vocations, and Chaplain to St. Margaret's Fellowship Homeschool Association, Bishop Paul J. Swain has appointed me as Administrator of St. Joseph the Workman parish in Huntimer.

Please pray for me, and the parishioners of St. Joseph the Workman and St. Rose of Lima, as I take on this new assignment.

From the Desk of the Pastor

I haven't posted one of these for awile, so here is this current weeks installment:

Today I will again answer a question from the Liturgical Question Box. The question is this “I have noticed that the Pope has been wearing older style robes. Does this mean we are going back to the old ways?”

That is a very good question and one that I think has been on minds of a lot of people lately. Yes, the Holy Father has been wearing some styles of vestments that we have not seen for quite awhile; vestments that many associate with the Extraordinary Form of the Mass. These styles of vestments are one style of many styles that we have had throughout the History of the Church. As times change so do vestments, and sometimes for very practical reasons. For instance, before air conditioning was common vestments tended to be smaller and not so heavy so that the priest wouldn’t become so hot during the summer months. The thing to remember is that all the various styles and forms of vestments are acceptable. A priest is able to choose from all styles that have been approved over the centuries, and that is what the Holy Father is doing. He is showing that there is continuity between the past, the present, and the future. He is showing us that was holy at one time in our history is certainly still holy now.

So, as warmer weather approaches, and I begin my usual excessive summer time sweating, don’t be surprised if you see smaller, lighter vestments. And if you do see them, please don’t think it is some sort of sign that we are going to start celebrating Mass in Latin or in the Extraordinary Form, rather see it as sign that I am hot and trying to stay cool. Nothing more, nothing less.

The Their Joy May Be Complete

His Excellency, Bishop Paul J. Swain, recently released a Pastoral letter commemorating his 25th anniversary of being recieved in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. The document comment on seven particular joys that have come to Him in and through the Church. Here is the intro to wet your whistle, to read the whole thing (in PDF form) click here.

That Your Joy May Be Complete
Reflections on 25 years as a Roman Catholic

To the Clergy, Consecrated and Lay Faithful of the Diocese of Sioux Falls
The Convert

After one moment when I bowed my head
And the whole world turned over and came upright,
And I came out where the old road shone white,
I walked the ways and heard what all men said,
Forests of tongues, like autumn leaves unshed,
Being not unlovable but strange and light;
Old riddles and new creeds, not in despite
But softly, as men smile about the dead.

The sages have a hundred maps to give
That trace their crawling cosmos like a tree,
They rattle reason out through many a sieve
That stores the sand and lets the gold go free:
And all these things are less than dust to me
Because my name is Lazarus and I live.

-G. K. Chesterton

Twenty-five years ago, on March 31, I stood before the sacred altar in Holy Redeemer Catholic Church in Madison, Wisconsin and professed faith in the Roman Catholic Church. That humbling Holy Thursday I was also confirmed, offered my first confession and received my first Holy Communion. It was the turning point in an unpredictable journey that has been filled with great blessings and humble lessons, with pride challenged and mercy granted. It was a day of joy. Like the author of the poem above, a fellow convert, my world turned over and came upright, and I live. Deo gratias.

“I tell you this that my joy may be yours and that your joy may be complete,” Jesus prayerfully told the Apostles (cf. Jn. 15:11). It is my prayer for each of you. Our Lord Jesus Christ not only wished and wishes you joy, but He offers it. On my own faith journey I sought that joy in ways that did not fulfill. Thankfully, God is persistent in offering His love to us. When we own up to our distractions and seek His mercy, His love can transform us. He allowed me to exercise my freedom to stumble but also allowed me to recognize where true peace is found, in Christ alive in His Church. It has resulted in the joy that I experience as a priest and your bishop, appointed by His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, who himself is a source of joy.

In this Pastoral Letter, which is in truth a personal letter, I share with you several sources of joy I have discovered in the Roman Catholic Church. Through the Catholic Church, we can discover joy, because it is precisely in and through the Church that we encounter Christ. The Church is the Body of Christ, and therefore, if we wish to find Christ and the joy that He brings, we must look to the Church. This letter, then, is addressed to you the faithful active in your parish, and it is addressed to you who are struggling in faith or in your personal life from fear, from wonderment, from doubt or from confusion. It is especially addressed to you who are seeking purpose and meaning in your lives in the secular world, as did I. And it is addressed to any who have “fallen away” from the Faith yet remain searching. I pray for you and wish for you to return home. As one who has “fallen in”—in love with Christ and His Church—the joy I have found I wish for you all.

The joy I speak about is not an empty happiness that protects us from the realities of life. Such vacuous happiness is soft and fleeting; joy in Christ touches our souls and sustains. It is a joy that offers perspective in times of challenge and hope in times of trial. We all yearn for that peace that comes with resting in God. We all need encouragement to continue our journey of faith in a world full of division, violence, loneliness and mystery. We all seek the strength to be open to God’s will and God’s way every day, but especially when it is hard. The Church, one, holy, Catholic and apostolic, instituted by Christ, offers us that strength and encouragement. Through the Catholic Church we can know Christ and experience lasting joy.