“Have pity on me, Lord, Son of David!” - Mt 15:22
Here, in this simple plea of the Canaanite woman, is a prayer that we should all be familiar with. It is one of the sources of the ‘Jesus Prayer’, “Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.” This is a recipe for successful prayer, knowledge of self and knowledge of God. The one who can admit his or her need is more than half way home. Faith tells us who can solve our need. When we cry out to Jesus, He comes. In fact, He is already there; otherwise we would not have the grace to cry out.
To know and admit our need should not make us feel ashamed in front of others. We are all weak sinners. We might feel shame in relation to God, but this should not discourage us from seeking Him. Jesus wants to free us from shame. It is destructive and debilitating. He is all-merciful and does not desire that we shrink back in some false humility. Often I hear, “I am too unworthy” to do this or that. “Yes” I say, “and so am I. We are all unworthy. That’s why we say in the Mass, ‘Lord, I am unworthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed.’”
‘Unworthy’ is not a problem for God. Stubborn refusal to accept His mercy is, however, a serious problem. It can even lead to final obstinacy, which some have said is the ‘sin against the Holy Spirit’. This means that one does not recognize that Jesus has the power to forgive any sin, which is at the same time a failure to recognize and accept His Divinity. St. Therese said that even if she had committed the most grievous sin, she would not hesitate to run and jump into the Father’s lap. Let us pray for that grace to always run to His mercy without hesitation.
The Interim Priests Residence has seen some changes with Fr. Reynaldo Yu moving in. He would be considered “Priest in Residence,” meaning that his assignment is elsewhere though he resides at St. Stephen’s. While Fr. Yu has been substituting around the Archdiocese, he has helped out in many ways here at St. Stephen’s as well. Cliff Macaraeg, our summer seminarian, was also residing here until this past week. Cliff is off to World Youth Day in Spain, which begins on August 16. With other priest guests coming and going, I moved the chapel out of the fourth bedroom and into the dining room. Thank you, Jesus, for being flexible!
The influx of residents makes a review of the Joint Oversight Committee’s Recommendations a topic for future discussion. I hope to share more fully in a future column their recommendations, which included waiting on building a new rectory as the recent recession took hold. The instability of the economy continues to make building a serious challenge. Fortunately, our parish has been healthy financially and has decreased our debt to below $700,000. In the meantime, the Interim Priests Residence continues to be a huge blessing for me and the other clerics who have benefited from being so close to the Church. Thank you for your generosity in providing such a wonderful dwelling.
The New Roman Missal Translation is Coming
As you may have read, there is a new translation of our Mass texts that will be implemented on the First Sunday of Advent this year (November 27, 2011). It will involve several changes, some simple and easy, some a little more challenging. There will be updates appearing in the bulletin that will describe these in detail. We are also free to begin some of the sung parts on September 1, including the Gloria, the Sanctus (Holy, Holy), and the Memorial Acclamation. Please take time to study these changes (see website below). And beginning in the fall, we will take time during the Mass to learn these together.
Change can be difficult, but we continue to be an organic, living Church, which changes over time, but remains true to Herself. I love the analogy of our Sequoia tree north of the Outreach Annex. It continues to grow, to change, to put out new needles, branches, and bark, but we would say it is the same tree that it was yesterday or last year. The changes in the Mass will stretch us individually and as a community; our unity of heart and mind may be tested, but I believe that together we can grow in understanding the beauty and power of the Mass as we study more closely the language we use to praise Our Lord. (Changes to the people’s parts can be viewed at http://old.usccb.org/romanmissal/samples-people.shtml).
- ▼ August (5)