Bl. Sister Elisabeth of the Trinity

Just something I found in my notes from seminary that is appropriate to share today.  Sister Elisabeth was a French Carmelite nun known for her spiritual life of abandonment.  Born in 1880, and dying in 1906, she was beatified by Pope St. John Paul II in 1984.  Her writings focus on the experience of the Three Persons of the Trinity inhabiting her soul.  This is her prayer to the Trinity:

O my God, Trinity whom I adore, help me to become utterly forgetful of myself so that I may establish myself in you, as changeless and calm as though my soul were already in eternity. Let nothing disturb my peace nor draw me forth f from you, O my unchanging God, but at every moment may I penetrate more deeply into the depths of your mystery. Give peace to my soul; make it your heaven, your cherished dwelling-place and the place of your repose. Let me never leave you there alone, but keep me there, wholly attentive, wholly alert in my faith, wholly adoring and fully given up to your creative action.

O my beloved Christ, crucified for love, I long to be the bride of your heart. I long to cover you with glory, to love you even unto death! Yet I sense my powerlessness and beg you to clothe me with yourself. Identify my soul with all the movements of your soul, submerge me, overwhelm me, substitute yourself for me, so that my life may become a reflection of your life. Come into me as Adorer, as Redeemer and as Saviour.

O Eternal Word, utterance of my God, I want to spend my life listening to you, to become totally teachable so that I might learn all from you. Through all darkness, all emptiness, all powerlessness, I want to keep my eyes fixed on you and to remain under your great light. O my Beloved Star, so fascinate me that I may never be able to leave your radiance.

O Consuming Fire, Spirit of Love, overshadow me so that the Word may be, as it were incarnate again in my soul. May I be for him a new humanity in which he can renew all his mystery.

And you, O Father, bend down towards your poor little creature. Cover her with your shadow, see in her only your beloved son in who you are well pleased

O my `Three’, my All, my Beatitude, infinite Solitude, Immensity in which I lose myself, I surrender myself to you as your prey. Immerse yourself in me so that I may be immersed in you until I go to contemplate in your light the abyss of your splendor!

 

Homily for Trinity Sunday

Ah, Trinity Sunday.  Quite possibly, this is the hardest Sunday of the year on which to preach, because it gets at the inner nature of God, and God is, of course, an ineffable mystery.  Remember what Saint Anselm said – God is that of which nothing greater can be conceived.  If you can understand it fully, it’s not God.  And yet here we are, trying to preach on the Trinity.  They say that today more heresy is inadvertently preached throughout the world than on any other Sunday.  (Does that presuppose that on some Sundays heresy is preached on purpose?)

The easy solution, of course, is to make the deacon preach.  But I am merciful.

Bernard Lonergan, a Canadian Jesuit priest and longtime professor at the Gregorian University, said that

“in the Holy Trinity there are 5 notions, 4 relations, 3 persons, 2 processions, 1 nature, and 0 problems.”

Cute.  It would take us days to unpack all the theology in that statement; and since he says there are 0 problems, I’m tempted to just walk away.  We’re done, right?

Saint Augustine offers more hope.  About halfway through his work on the Trinity, which is appropriately called De Trinitate, he encourages his readers with these words:

We are indeed seeking a Trinity, but not any trinity at all, but that Trinity which is God, and the true, the supreme, and the only God.  Keep waiting, therefore, whoever you are, who hear these words.  For we are still seeking, and no one rightly blames him for engaging in such a search, provided only that he remain firmly-rooted in the faith, while he seeks that which it is so difficult to know or to express.

In other words, Augustine is telling us that we can in fact speak in a meaningful way about the Trinity, but that our attempts to do so have to be motivated by faith.  It was either Pope Francis or Pope Benedict XVI that said that theology is only fruitful if it’s done on one’s knees, that is, in prayer.  It’s in prayer that we can learn the Trinity, and it’s in a prayer we all know.  We say it every week.  The Nicene Creed.

Properly called, it’s the Niceno-Constantinople Creed, because it was formulated at both those councils.  The Nicene Creed ultimately explains the Church’s teachings about the Trinity, but it also affirms historical realities of Jesus’ life. Even though the creed does not directly quote Scripture, it is based on biblical concepts. I’m not going to break down the entire creed line-by-line, but I want to point out a few things.  I hope you’re ready for a relatively intense, albeit brief, theological and philosophical lecture.

I Believe in One God

Christians, like Jews and Muslims, believe that only one God exists. The creed states the assumption of the ancient Shema: Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. The former English translation of the creed began with “we” believe, while the Greek, Latin, and current English translation begin with “I” believe. The latter is more accurate, because reciting the creed is ultimately an individual confession of belief, although the creed also expresses the collective beliefs of the Church.

The Father Almighty

Jesus frequently calls God “Father” in the Scriptures, and this usage tells us that God is a loving God active within His creation. God the Father is the first person (Greek hypostasis, “individual reality”), or distinction, within the Godhead. The Father is the “origin” or “source” of the Trinity. As such, God the Father is often called “God Unbegotten” in early Christian thought.

Maker of Heaven and Earth of All Things Visible and Invisible

Catholics believe that God created the visible world (created matter) and the invisible one (spiritual world of angels, etc). Thus, God created everything. Some early sects, the Gnostics and Marcionites, believed that God the Father created the spirit world, but that an “evil” god (called the demiurge) created the similarly evil material world. The creed dispels such a notion.

I Believe in One Lord Jesus Christ

Jesus Christ is the Lord of all. The title Lord means that Jesus is master of all, and has connotations of deity, since the Hebrew word adonai and Greek word kyrios (both meaning Lord) were applied to Yahweh in the Old Testament. However, unlike earthly rulers, Jesus is a friend to the oppressed and a servant.

The Only Begotten Son of God

Jesus is in a unique relationship with God the Father. While Hebrew kings were sons of God symbolically (see Psalm 2), Jesus is the only Son of God by nature

Born of the Father Before All Ages

Begotten has the meaning of born, fathered, generated, or produced. God the Son is born out of the essence of God the Father. Just as a child shares the same humanness as his or her parents, the Son shares the essential nature of God with the Father. Since God is eternal, the Son, being begotten of God, is also eternal. The Son is often called the “Only-Begotten God” in early Christian literature, including in John 1:18 in many manuscripts.

God from God, Light from Light

God the Son exists in relation to God the Father. The Son is not the Father, but they both are God. Just as a torch is lit one to another, the Father and Son are distinct, but both light. Some Christians, called Sabellians or Modalists, said that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were one God who changes roles. So when God creates, he is Father, while on earth, he is Son, and so forth. However, the Scriptures have all three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, interacting at the same time, as shown at Jesus’ baptism. The language of Scripture also suggests that the Father and Son are somehow two as well as one. In John’s gospel, the Father and Son testify as two witnesses, not one (John 8:17-18). Related to this, St. Athanasius, writing during the Nicene era, reportedly said that the Father and Son are one as “the sight of two eyes is one.” Another illustration is the musical chord. Think of a C-chord. The C, E, and G notes are all distinct notes, but joined together as one chord, the sound is richer and more dynamic than had the notes been played individually. The chords are all equally important in producing the full, dynamic, sound of the chord, but the sound is lacking and thin if one of the notes is left out.

True God from True God

God the Son is not a half-god or inferior to God the Father. God the Son is fully and utterly God, distinct from the Father, yet not divided from the Father. The ancient Arians believed that Jesus could be called “god” but not true God. In other words, they believed the Logos (the “Word,” a popular title for Jesus in early Christian literature) was the first creation of God, necessary to mediate between the unknowable distant God (a concept borrowed from Platonic thought) and creation. Because God knew that the Logos would be perfect, the title god could be bestowed upon the Son “by participation,” but “true God” was a title reserved only for the unknowable Father. This is the Ante-Nicene “Logos Theology” of St. Justin and Athenagoras taken to an unintended extreme.

Begotten, Not Made

Some Christians today (Jehovah’s Witnesses) and in the past (Arians) have suggested that Jesus was a creation of God. The creed tells us that just as when a woman gives birth she does not create a child out of nothing, being begotten of God, the Son is not created out of nothing. Since the Son’s birth from the Father occurred before time was created, begotten refers to a permanent relationship as opposed to an event within time.

Consubstantial (Greek: homoousia) with the Father

God the Father and God the Son are equally divine, united in substance and will. Father and Son share the same substance or essence of divinity. That is, the Father and Son both share the qualities and essential nature that make one in reality God. However, sharing the same substance does not mean they share identity of person. While certainly an inadequate example, think of three humans: they share a common nature, the essential qualities and essence of humanity, but are not the same person (although unlike the persons of the Trinity, humans do not share one will).

I Believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the Giver of Life

The Holy Spirit is also called “Lord.” The Holy Spirit sustains our lives as Christians, illuminating us after the new birth. The original Creed of Nicaea simply ended with “We believe in the Holy Spirit.” The other additions were approved at the Council of Constantinople in AD 381. However, most scholars believe that the text of the full creed dates prior to this council, and that the bishops simply gave their approval to a local creed already in use. The reason these additions were included in the Nicene Creed is that some Christians of the 4th century denied the full divinity of the Holy Spirit. The names given to these heretics were Macedonians (named after a heretical bishop) or pneumatomachi (“fighters against the Spirit”).

Who Proceeds from the Father and the Son

The Son is said to be begotten, while the Spirit is said to proceed. Both words convey that the Son and Spirit are in special relationships to the Father, yet also fully divine. The phrase “and the Son,” in Latin, filioque, was not in the original text of the creed, but was added in many Western Churches. The addition likely developed over time as a tool against Arians in the Gothic lands. There are theological and historical justifications for the addition or exclusion of the filioque. The Eastern Churches oppose the addition of the filioque, while many Western churches accept it. Actually, despite current division on the matter, the issue has been pretty much theologically resolved. The Catholic Church acknowledges that the Father is the sole source within the Trinity, and admits that “proceeds from the Father and the Son” means “proceeds from the Father through the Son.” Catholics also acknowledge that the procession through the Son is not metaphysical, but economic (i.e. describing the Spirit’s actions). Also, Eastern Catholics (those Eastern Churches in communion with Rome) do not say the filioque, and remain in full communion with the Catholic Church. The Eastern Orthodox Churches seem willing to allow the interpretation “through the Son,” because it does not destroy the monarchy of the Father within the Holy Trinity. However, the filioque remains a major division between Eastern and Western Christianity, mainly because the Western Church added the filioque to the Nicene Creed without Eastern input. It is hoped that this issue will be resolved in the future, as the current environment is far less political than in the past.

Who With the Father and Son Is Adored and Glorified

Since the Holy Spirit is fully God, like the Father and the Son, He is worthy of the same worship and adoration.

Who Has Spoken Through the Prophets

The Spirit inspired the prophets of old, and inspires the Church today.

Well.  That’s quite a bit, isn’t it?

It all boils down to this.  God is Love, and the Trinity is a relationship of Love.  God has always loved His people, and loves us so much, that even when fail and sin, He continues to call us into relationship with Him.  The reason I, and Father Tom before me, end the weekly email by reminding you that you are loved is because you really are – and because your life must be a reflection of that reality.

 

The Shepherd’s Voice, May 27

This week’s column isn’t necessarily On Mission for the Church Alive! Related, but you could say it’s inspired by On Mission.  What I mean by that is, at the time of this writing, I don’t have any new information to share with you, but I do have a couple things for you to think and pray about.  Maybe these apply to you; maybe they don’t.  All I ask is that you give them your consideration anyway.

We know that when implementation happens in October, things are going to change.  The most immediate impact will be to the Mass schedule.  What the finished product will look like has yet to be determined, but we know it will be different, and that’s going to force some people to change their Sunday routine.  This will be true throughout the Diocese, not just here.  The second biggest change, I think, will be the change in clergy staffing the parishes.  And while it really shouldn’t matter who the celebrant is, or who the homilist is, I’m not naïve enough to think that is the case.  Those changes, too, could make an impact on people’s Sunday routines.

My point is this: you’re very likely going to encounter new people at your Mass come October.  Already, there are people doing some church-shopping in advance of what’s to come.  This, then, is an excellent time for us to work on our hospitality.  Please don’t think I’m accusing anyone of being inhospitable – that’s definitely not the case.  I’ve always found this parish to be very open and inviting, as have many, many others.  But we can’t allow ourselves to get complacent, and we can always improve.

Remember, going to Mass on Sunday is the most important thing you or anyone else is going to do that week.  So don’t let people feel like outsiders doing it.  When you get to church, move to the center of the pew so late-comers don’t have to climb over you.  If you can’t do that, step out of the pew and let them enter.  (The church seats roughly 750 people; I assure you, there’s room.)  Smile.  Greet people.  Smile.  Turn off your cell phones so they don’t disturb other people’s prayer.  Smile.  Be patient in the parking lot.  Smile.  Consider becoming an usher or lector or Eucharistic minister so you can interact with more people.  Smile.

On Mission is going to be hard for a lot of people.  As I’ve written before, I don’t think it will be that hard here, because this parish is strong, dynamic, and faith-filled.  Those are all gifts from God.  So let’s use those gifts to be models and examples of hospitality, and to help the bishop fulfill the vision of On Mission for the Church Alive!

Oremus…

The Conway Communiqué, May 25

“But above all, my brothers and sisters, do not swear, either by heaven or earth or with any other oath, but let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No,’ that you may not incur condemnation.” – Jas 5:12

Saint James is, perhaps, setting a high standard here, but he’s justified in doing so for two reasons.  The first is that this command is not new.  Jesus also commands that our yes mean yes and no mean no, because anything more is from the evil one (Mt. 5:37).  The other reason is that we can achieve this.  We don’t have to be people that are afraid to take a stand or worried about what others will think.  We can be people that are bold in their proclamation of the truth because of how we are made.  Remember that we were all created in the image and likeness of God.  Our intellect, then, has a natural inclination towards the Truth, and if we seek it, then we can preach it.

What are you preaching this week?  What do your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ mean?

Some news and notes…

PRAYERS:  Your prayers are requested for Avery and Olivia Bishop, who will be baptized tomorrow, and for Lincoln McDade, who will be baptized on Sunday.  And, as it is Memorial Day weekend, please pray also for all those who have died in service of our country.

MEMORIAL DAY:  Speaking of Memorial Day, the parish offices will be closed on Monday.  There will be Mass at 9 AM.

RUMMAGE SALE:  Maybe you’ll be using the long weekend to do some spring cleaning.  Maybe you’ve already done it.  Either way, you probably have some stuff around the house that you know you don’t need or want anymore.  Why not donate it to the Rummage Sale?  The drop-off period continues all next week (starting Tuesday) from 10 AM until 4 PM.  May 30 and 31, drop-off will be open until 9 PM.  The sale itself is June 8 and 9.

APPALACHIA:  Our Appalachia Mission team will be collecting donations in the narthex after all Masses this weekend.  Please be generous.

MARRIAGE PREP:  Engaged and soon-to-be engaged couples, join us for ‘Joy-filled Marriage’, a lively, insightful, and resourceful weekend experience.  For more information, visit www.renewtheido.org

K OF C FLAG COLLECTION & RETIREMENT:  The Knights of Columbus are collecting unserviceable and discarded flags between May 26th  through the July 8th Look for an appropriately marked (red, white, & blue) Drop Box (for Flags only) in the Narthex.  Please dispose of your flagstaff or pole separately.

SAVE THE DATE:  On June 23, Seminarian Ming will be ordained a deacon at St. Paul Cathedral in Oakland.  The parish will be arranging for a bus, so that we can all be part of the celebration.  More details to follow.

THANK YOU:  As you’ll read in the bulletin this week, Diane Rudolph, our director of music ministry, has decided to retire.  Diane submitted her request prior to Thanksgiving, and has very generously stayed on until now.  A search committee has been formed and has interviewed several candidates, but we haven’t found the right fit yet.  I will keep you posted as the search progresses.  In the meantime, please be sure to thank Diane for everything she’s done to build up the music program at Saint Richard, and wish her well as she begins her very well-deserved retirement.

And I think that’s all.  Enjoy the holiday weekend, be safe, and know that you are loved.  See you at Mass!

Peace,

Fr. Mike

 

The Shepherd’s Voice, May 20

I’m going to indulge my inner Church nerd this week and write about a part of the liturgy today.  That part is, of course, the sequence that preceded the singing of the Alleluia.  I’ve written about sequences before, both in this column and in my weekly email, but the sequence for Pentecost – the Veni, Sancte Spiritus – is too good not to write about.  In fact, in medieval times, this sequence was known as the “Golden Sequence” because of it’s beauty.

The authorship of the hymn is disputed.  Many ascribe it to Pope Innocent III (d. 1216), but other scholars say it was composed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Cardinal Stephen Langton (d. 1228).  Perhaps most likely is that it was ghostwritten for one of these two.  Whomever wrote it was quite skilled in the Latin language.  In each of the six-line stanzas, lines 1 and2, 3 and 6, and 4 and 5 rhyme.  Every third line ends in -ium.  The repeated use of the word veni (come) in the opening stanza aptly expresses the deep desire of the soul for the coming of the Consoler.  Similarly, the repeated use of the verb da (to give or to grant) in the final stanza expresses the deep confidence the author has in the Holy Spirit.  Arguably, the most noticeable thing about this hymn is its brevity – that the author can do so much in 30 short lines.

With enough practice (and a little talent), anyone can write beautiful Latin poetry.  What sets the Veni, Sancte Spiritus apart and gives it such longevity is the sanctity standing behind the work.  In his 1902 work, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Dogmatically, Liturgically, and Ascetically Explained, Fr. Nicholas Gihr writes, “The sequence for [Pentecost] can have come but from a heart wholly inflamed with the fire of the Holy Ghost.  It is an incomparable hymn, breathing the sweetness of Paradise, and regaling us with heaven’s sweetest fragrance.”

Think what we could accomplish if our hearts were inflamed with the fire of the Holy Spirit.  Think of the art we could create that would give glory to God.  Think of the things we could write that would edify others.  Think of the things we could say that would boldly proclaim the Gospel.  Think of the things we could do to build up the Kingdom of God.  Spend time this Pentecost asking the Holy Spirit to set you on fire and drive out your fear, as He did for the Apostles on the first Pentecost.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love!

Oremus…

The Conway Communiqué, May 18

Sorry for the late post…yesterday was a pretty busy day.

“The Holy Spirit will teach you everything and remind you of all I told you.” – John 14:26

This past week, I wrapped up teaching a short course at the seminary.  I was teaching the candidates for the permanent deacon program a course called Introduction to Fundamental Theology, and no, it’s not as easy – or boring – as it sounds.  Hopefully the guys learned something – they’ve started sending their exams back in, so I’ll find out shortly – but I know that at the very least, I learned something.  What I learned is something that those of you who are teachers already know: You can be the world’s best teacher, but if the student doesn’t want to learn, it won’t matter.

Now, to be clear, I’m not throwing my class under the bus.  But it’s hard to do graduate level theology after working all day, and there were plenty of times I could tell they were just checking out on me.  (Theology’s not exactly easy to begin with.)  It was a challenge to keep things dynamic and keep them interested – and this was a generally motivated class.

The challenge for us, then, is to be good students of the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit wants to – and is commanded to – remind us of what Christ taught us and to continue to teach us how to walk in the truth.  But are we willing to listen?  Are we willing to admit that we might be wrong in some of our behaviors or beliefs?  Can we be good students?

Summer vacation’s almost here, but school isn’t out.

Some news and notes:

ADORATION:  Pretty modified schedule today.  Adoration will begin shortly after the 11 AM funeral, and then will take a slight pause at 5 PM for a wedding rehearsal.

PRAYERS:  Please pray for Bob Rivers, whose funeral was Monday; Dot Schuchert, whose funeral is today; Brandon Heide and Nichole Kavala, who will be married tomorrow; and Benjamin Wentz, who will be baptized on Sunday.

CAKE:  This Sunday is Pentecost, which is often referred to as the birthday of the Church.  (This is a fun argument to have with theologians.)  And since it’s a birthday, we have to have cake!  Birthday cake will be served in the narthex after all Masses this weekend.  Stay, have a piece, and make new friends.

FAITH FORMATION:  Also in the narthex this weekend are registrations for returning families for the coming Faith Formation year.  Be sure to pick yours up; if you have any questions, please call the Faith Formation Office.

RUMMAGE SALE:  Just a reminder that drop-offs for the Rummage Sale will be accepted beginning this coming Wednesday, from 10-3 in the social hall.

And that’s it, I think.  A pretty light week ahead.  (Famous last words, I know.)  Enjoy the weekend – hopefully the rains stop.  Know that you’re loved, and I’ll see you at Mass!

Peace,
Fr. Mike

The Shepherd’s Voice, May 13th

Mother’s Day isn’t really a thing in Rome.  They are aware of it – American culture is pervasive, after all – but they aren’t ready to adopt it.  Not because they don’t love their mothers – seriously, look at the respect an Italian grandmother gets form her clan – but because to them, the day seems superfluous.  Isn’t every day a day in which you should give particular honor and respect to the mothers in your life?  (I again refer you to an Italian grandmother.)  This probably says more about the Italian notion of family life than it does the American ideal.

That being said, in the seminary on Mother’s Day, the staff would post signs reminding us that it was, in fact, Mother’s Day…and that Rome was 6 hours ahead of the east coast, 5 ahead of central, and so on; and that to avoid overloading the network, we should plan our Skype calls accordingly.  Just because we were in Rome did not mean we were exempt from this American holiday.

I don’t need to remind you that today is Mother’s Day.  But do I need to remind you that this entire month belongs to your Blessed Mother?  The ancients often had recourse to various goddesses during the month of May, praying for a fruitful growing season.  As paganism came to an end in Europe, the need for prayers for a good growing season and an end of winter remained.  At the same time, as Christianity became more entrenched in the culture, devotion to Mary spread.  A common practice was to devote 30 days of prayer to her.  Eventually, the two practices merged – who better than Mary, after all, to intercede on behalf of those looking for a fruitful harvest?  All she did was give life to the Savior of mankind.  In many places, these practices became very formalized – May Crowning; Marian processions; public recitation of the Rosary, and so on.

In his 1965 encyclical Mense Maio, the prophetic Pope Paul VI included this plea for Mary’s help:

“May she who experienced the cares and hardships of earthly life, the weariness of daily toil, the hardships and trials of poverty, and the sorrows of Calvary, come to aid the needs of the Church and the human race. May she graciously lend an ear to the devout pleas of those all over the world who beg her for peace. May she enlighten the minds of those who rule nations. And finally, may she prevail on God, who rules the winds and storms, to calm the tempests in men’s warring hearts and grant us peace in our day. What we seek is true peace grounded on the sturdy foundations of justice and love—on a justice which recognizes the legitimate rights of the weak as well as those of the strong; on a love which keeps men from falling into error through excessive concern for their own interests. Thus each person’s rights may be safeguarded without the rights of others being forgotten or violated.”

This May, find a way to make Pope Paul’s prayer yours.  And find a way to honor the Blessed Mother each day.  She’s not just our Mother – she’s your Mother.  And she deserves it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Oremus…

The Conway Communiqué, 5.11.2018

One night while Paul was in Corinth, the Lord said to him in a vision, “Do not be afraid.  Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.  No one will attack and harm you, for I have many people in this city.”   – Acts 18:9-10

There’s no wonder Paul was nervous about preaching in Corinth.  It was a very important, wealthy, port city in the Roman Empire, and had earned for itself a reputation for sinfulness.  Would it even be worth it for Paul to preach the Gospel?  Would he be in danger?  Why bother?

It’s funny how, almost 2,000 years later, we act the same way.  We think that our times, our situation, are so contrary to the Gospel that it’s just better for us to keep our faith to ourselves.  Let’s just keep our heads down and maybe everyone will leave us alone.  They won’t judge us, or make fun of us, or hate us.  But they also won’t be called to conversion, and worse, we won’t be putting our trust in God.  Our response to God needs to be the same as Saint Paul’s was, because God’s message to all of us is the same thing he said to Paul:

Do not be afraid.  Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.

Some news and notes:

PRAYERS:  Please pray for the repose of the souls of Betty Tate and Bob Rivers, both of whom died this week.

GUATEMALA:  Don’t forget to join us in the social hall after the 8:00 and 10:00 Masses this weekend for the Guatemala Mission Breakfast.  You can take Mom to brunch and support the orphans in Patzun, all without leaving church.  What a deal!

GENESIS:  The Pro-Life committee will be in the narthex this weekend for the annual collection for Genesis of Pittsburgh.  Genesis provides services and education to pregnant women so that they won’t be afraid to choose life.  Please be as generous as possible.

MAY ALTAR:  All are welcome to honor our Blessed Mother by leaving flowers at the temporary May Altar in the sanctuary.  Don’t worry if you can’t leave flowers; your prayers will honor her more.  Special thanks to A.T. Merhaut, Inc., for loaning us the beautiful statue.

FAITH FORMATION AND YOUTH MINISTRY:  Formation doesn’t stop just because it’s summer.  Check the bulletin for important upcoming dates in both programs.

VOLUNTEERS:  Without exaggeration, volunteers are what keep a parish moving.  We’re looking for more recruits in two specific areas.  First, we need more assistance with liturgical ministries: lectors, Eucharistic ministers, sacristans, etc.  Please contact Mary Jordan if interested.  Secondly, we need people with green thumbs to help maintain the various gardens and flower beds around campus.  Please contact Ben at the parish office if interested.

RUMMAGE SALE:  Our annual rummage sale will be June 8 & 9.  Drop off begins May 23, from 10 AM – 3 PM.  See the bulletin for complete details.

DIAPER DERBY:  The Pittsburgh Diaper Derby is about babies racing to help other babies.  Children 5 and under will walk, toddle, or crawl their way to the finish line to raise money for single moms and needy families in Pittsburgh.  The event happens at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium on May 19.  For more info, visit www.pghdiaperderby.com or call Jen Schellhaas at 724-816-0849.

And that is, I believe, all the news that’s fit to print this lovely Friday.  I’m going to go back to praying for an end to allergy season.  Have a great weekend and know that you are loved.  See you at Mass!

Peace,

Fr. Mike

The Shepherd’s Voice, May 6th

Now that the dust is mostly settled from last weekend’s announcements, I want to try to unpack them a little bit.  First, just in case there are any rumors out there to the contrary: I did not ask to leave Saint Richard.  All the priests and deacons were asked to rank their top three preferences, and this place was definitely my number one.  However – and this says a lot about this parish – the grouping of Saint Richard and Saint Catherine was the most requested grouping in the entire diocese by a wide margin.  Returning to my previous assignment was my second choice; and I had picked a random parish in the South Hills as my third (just to be closer to my parents).  I had also expressed an interest in doing educational ministry – I didn’t think that would get me three colleges, but I like a good challenge.  But enough about me.

Some folks noticed a line in the Bishop’s letter that caused some unrest: “At this time, no buildings will close.”  They read that to indicate that in the future, one of the two church buildings in this grouping might close.  Frankly, that’s pessimistic and unreasonable.  Given the population of the two parishes, the demographics of the area, the average weekly Mass attendance, and the seating capacities of both buildings, I can’t see a situation where buildings close.  Now, there are groupings within the diocese that will be closing buildings, and in some cases, soon.  I think the Bishop was speaking more to those parishes than to others.

Some have asked what we mean by “interim” Mass schedules.  Father Steve and I will be meeting with Father Bob and Father Chris to try to figure that out.  Remember, this group can only have 6 Sunday Masses, including any Saturday vigils.  We’ve been ignoring canon law for too long in this matter.  The four of us are going to look at what makes the most sense for everyone and try to schedule accordingly.  We like to think we’re smart guys, and we have a lot of empirical data and personal observations to work with, but we are human and do make mistakes.  So the schedules will be interim – if they don’t work, they’ll be changed.

Finally, someone asked me, “Why does the bishop hate our parish?”  The question was obviously in jest, but nevertheless, let me make it clear: he absolutely does not.  He thinks very highly of this parish and how vibrant and dynamic it is.  Yes, he’s asking us to face another transition after just having to go through one last summer, but everyone’s facing transition at this point.  Furthermore, I think it says something about the confidence he has in the Saint Richard family and the resiliency you’ve shown him that he would ask us to do it again.

I think those were the three biggest things I’ve heard so far, so I hope that helped answer some questions and put you at ease.  There’ll be plenty more updates, I’m sure.

Oremus…

The Conway Communique, 05.04.2018

“This I command you: love one another.” – John 15:17

Sometimes it really is that simple.  If you want to be a good disciple, then be loving to others.  This theme comes up often in John’s Gospel and in his letters, so it’s highly likely that Jesus returned to it often; perhaps we should, too.

There’s a theological profoundness to this statement, too.  If you go all the way back to the days of Abraham, we know that God entered into a covenant with him: “You will be my people, and I will be your God.”  For His part, God made promises to Abraham; Abraham and his descendents, in order to fulfill their half of the covenant, are expected to keep God’s commandments.  Jesus is the fulfillment of God’s promises in the covenant, and He renews it by His commandment to love one another.  Thus, in loving one another, we demonstrate in a real way that we are keeping God’s commandments and are true members of His flock.

Love one another!

Some news and notes:

PRAYERS:  So many people to pray for this weekend.  Pray for all of our young people who will receive Jesus in the Eucharist for the first time at the 5:00 and 12:00 Masses this weekend.  Please also pray for Isabel Jean McKenna and Luca James Casavale, who will be baptized this weekend.

ADORATION:  We need coverage for Eucharistic Adoration tonight from 11 PM-midnight.

MAY:  May is Mary’s month.  You’ll notice that we’ve added a temporary Mary altar in the front of the church, which will remain in place for the entire month of May.  Feel free to bring flowers from your garden or from the store to help decorate and honor our Blessed Mother.  Pray to Mary often and ask her intercession.  Pray the Rosary together as a family.  As St. Bernard of Clairvaux famously said, “De Maria numquam satis!”

BELOVED SERIES:  The Beloved series kicks off this Wednesday, May 9th, at 7 PM in the social hall.  Beloved is a marriage enrichment program that all couples can benefit from, by being spiritually nourished and having a chance to connect with other couples.  See the bulletin for more details.

ASCENSION THURSDAY:  Next Thursday, May 10, is the Feast of the Ascension and is a Holy Day of Obligation.  There will be a vigil Mass Wednesday at 7 PM, and Masses on Thursday will be at 9 AM and 5 PM.  The parish office will be closed that day.

RUMMAGE SALE:  Back by popular demand!  The St. Richard Rummage Sale will be held June 8th and 9th; items can be dropped off beginning May 23rd.  Many volunteers are needed to make this sale another great success.  See the bulletin for more info or call the parish office.

And that’s all the news that’s fit to print.  Or at least, that I can remember to print.  As always, check the bulletin for more information.  This week’s bulletin also contains the letter from Bishop Zubik I read at all Masses last weekend, and more information relative to the On Mission for the Church Alive planning process.  Have a great weekend and know that you are loved!  See you at Mass!

Peace,

Fr. Mike