Fr. Greg's Pastoral Letter-January 27, 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers –

Last fall, our Director of Faith Formation, Mark Diamond, and our Coordinator of Worship, Maggie Warner, spent some time with our Confirmation students discussing the Eucharist: what it is, their understanding of it, how we worship together and why we do it the way we do, and much more.  Mark and Maggie reported that it was at once an engaging and somewhat discouraging conversation.

It was engaging because our youth were frank with their thoughts and feelings, and they revealed their deep desires for connection with God.  It was somewhat discouraging because our youth, in their frankness, said that they don’t understand the Mass, and it isn’t all that meaningful to them.  The ray of hope is that our teens are interested in learning more.

To that end, in two weeks, on Sunday, February 10, the 9:30 am and 5:00 pm Masses will be “teaching” Masses.  Concretely this means that as we proceed through the Mass, we’ll explain the various gestures and symbols, as well as the structure of the liturgy and some of the underlying reasons for why we pray as we do.

There are two key concepts we want to underscore.  The first is that we must be active participants; the liturgy is not intended to be a passive experience.  If we show up expecting simply to be “consumers,” we risk having a fairly empty experience.  However, if we take to heart what we say we believe, that the Scriptures are the living Word of God and actually can speak to us and to me in our/my lived experience, and then really listen to discover how that is true today, we then become active participants and open up the possibility that the liturgy will speak to our hearts.

To this end, I invite you to participate in an experiment over the next two weeks.  Prior to coming to Mass each week, take just ten minutes and read the Sunday readings; you can find them at www.usccb.org. Notice what images, words or phrases touch your heart or pique your curiosity.  Ask yourself, “Do these apply to my life?”, “What insights do these offer me?”, or other, similar questions.  Please, give it a try.  It will cost you just a few minutes each week.

The second key concept we’ll be talking about is that at Mass we both experience and practice the mercy of Jesus, so that when we walk out the doors of St. Ignatius Church, we embody the mercy and compassion that we practice inside.  This can be summed up in the words of St. Augustine of Hippo (354–430 AD): “Behold what you are, and become what you receive.”

Please plan to join us on February 10.  And please pray for our Confirmation students who are approaching the reception of the Sacrament, on May 3.  Also, let’s remember to

Oremus pro invicem,

Fr. Greg