Pastoral Message – September 17, 2023

Pastoral Message – September 17, 2023

Hey Y’all,

You’ve likely noticed that we’ve been going through some changes recently. We bid “adieu” to Fr. Mike Rizzo last weekend – in a French way sending him “to God.” And this weekend we’re saying “howdy” and “welcome” to Fr. Philip Smith. (I’ll let Fr. Philip introduce himself over the next couple of weeks.) Such goings and comings can be either discombobulating or invigorating depending on your point of view. So let’s think about these points of view a little bit.

For those who find change, especially change around our parish discombobulating, I commiserate with you. Change isn’t always easy. There are the challenges of letting go and letting God. There can be grief and sadness. And it takes time to process the implications of change. Many of you have demonstrated that over the last few years I’ve been around the parish. Even just today, someone who introduced himself to me as a staunch, long-time parishioner called me the “new Pastor.” I pointed out that I’ve been here since July of 2020. Even though for me the “new car smell” has faded, for this gentleman the change must still be fresh.

If this is your point of view, I’d like to challenge you a little bit. Being discombobulated on a regular basis is normative for a Christian. We’re constantly urged by the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the truth of Sacred Scripture, and the preaching/teaching of the Church to seek change. That’s what on-going conversion, and thus Christian discipleship, are all about. For example, our Mass Scripture readings today say that we could very-well be unchangeably stuck in anger, grudge-holding, and soul-deadening sin. It’s true. We can often get stuck in a hard-hearted/black-hearted point of view. A whole lot of folks in our world live with such an attitude and never change. Think about that. It’s tragic.

That can’t be us as Christians though. We ask God to change us – to create in us new and clean hearts. Yes, it’s discombobulating to let go of being hurt, angry or hateful. Yes, it doesn’t feel natural to be holy when we’ve been so used to the dirt, guilt and pain of sin. But the change is necessary. Honestly, we need to learn to enjoy conversion. You can get used to ongoing-conversion with enough Christian resolve and practice. Each Saint of the Church has taught us that! Now for those who are invigorated by change, that’s great! Your point of view is flexible and full of possibility. The only problem is that sometimes in embracing change, we forget that we need a foundation that is constant and true.

As Christians, our constant must be our relationship with God which is built on a foundation of prayer, practice and patience. Think about the old fashioned Religious Sisters. They went through the Christian practice of conversion, growth, maturity while putting on the same “habit” each and every day. And while we might look at their uniforms with some humor, their habits represent the tenacity, the constancy, and the patience of routine, daily Christian practice. So even if ever changing fashion is our preference, we need faithful and unchanging practice and devotion.

So welcome Fr. Philip. And for now, I’m your unchanging Pastor. And let God – Father, Son and Spirit be your firm and unchanging Lord of life.
Fr. Reynold

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