Bulletin (February 18, 2001)
Thank you for your generous response to the two-bit collection last weekend for San Miguel Parish in Ilave, Peru. Fr. Narciso Valencia's talk must have struck a deep cord because a total of $3,696.82 were given! I saw him and Fr. Faustino this week up at St. John's. They were most grateful for the support from our parish to the theirs. The donation has been sent via our Archdiocesan Missions Office to be deposited in the account of San Miguel Parish.
Besides using this to assist some of the most needy and carrying forward their apostolic programs, they are working on repairing their church. As mentioned last Sunday, the tin roof is beginning to leak quite a bit and will need some fixing. The donation from Holy Family, along with those from St. John's and contributions of San Miguel parishioners will go to that project. The church repairs will also have the effect of providing jobs for some men of the town. A dignified job of course is the best help one can give to the poor.
The struggle for human dignity is very much a part of our mission here in Holy Family. We not only do what we can to fight against the scourge of poverty, but also the even worse scourge of abortion. Fr. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, has this to say about abortion:
"Abortion not only takes a life; it makes a statement about life and not only about the life it takes, but about the lives of all of us. Abortion says we are disposable. Abortion says our value is determined by others. Abortion says their is not intrinsic human dignity in human life that requires its absolute protection and no destiny that reaches beyond this world or even beyond the Supreme Court."
How do we restore that lost sense of the dignity of each person? That question brings us to the heart of the liturgy - above all, the Sacrifice of the Mass. I am convinced that only when we begin to truly reverence God will we recover our reverence for each human person.
As I mentioned last week, the workshop by Monsignor Irwin addressed the issue of restoring the true meaning of our liturgical celebration. It is not so much a question of techniques, but of inward disposition. Cardinal Ratzinger, Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has written a powerful book titled The Spirit of the Liturgy. I hope to quote some sections of it during the season of Lent. Cardinal Ratzinger expresses concern that we have shifted our focus from Christ to the congregation, that instead of being God-centered our liturgy has become man-centered.
Recently I was discussing this with some friends, particularly the phrase "finding Christ in ones brother" or "seeing Christ's presence in the assembly." I asked my friends if they would worship Christ in the Eucharist. They responded, "yes." The next question was, "If Christ is also present in us, would you worship me - or ask me to worship you?" They quickly said, "no."
It's worthwhile to ask ourselves what the difference is between Christ's presence in the Eucharist and in ones neighbor. In us human beings Christ's presence is always mixed. We each have in us aspects not completelly given over to Jesus. That applies to even the most saintly person, say Mother Teresa of Calcutta. But in the Eucharist the bread and wine are totally transformed into Christ - body, blood, soul and divinity. In the Eucharist we can indeed worship God in a visible, humble form.
Worshiping Christ in the Eucharist does not detract from our reverence for other human beings. Just the opposite. We see in Christ the one who gives meaning to the existence of each person. Mother Teresa is herself a good example of that. She spent an hour each day in Eucharist adoration - and her sisters continue that practice. That time each morning helps them see the dignity of people whom others turn their faces from. By worshiping Christ in the Blessed Sacrament we discover our value - and that of each person we encounter.
Darcy Hemstad, R.N. will be with us the last Saturday of February for those who wish to learn the Billings Method of Natural Family Planning or to review their charts. Please come to the rectory between 10 a.m. and noon on February 24.