Pastor’s Perspective by Fr. Buersmeyer

Pastor’s Perspective is Fr. Buersmeyer’s weekly column. It appears in the parish bulletin and in this space.

November 19, 2017

*Interfaith Thanksgiving Prayer Gathering Sunday November 19


St. Regis, in conjunction with several area Christian Churches, Jewish synagogues and Muslim mosques, will be participating in an interfaith Thanksgiving event this Sunday. Called “The Feast of Faiths,” it will include a prayer service at 5:00 p.m. followed by a light dinner. First Presbyterian Church, Birmingham (on Maple Road) will be hosting the evening. I will be sharing the Christian-based message for the evening on behalf of all the Christian communities. A Jewish and Muslim leader will share their own reflections. There is no charge, but people are encouraged to bring canned goods and other non-perishables which will be donated to The Welcome Inn, a winter day shelter. It will be a great unity builder, and I would love to see St. Regis well-represented. I am in need of several desserts to bring to that dinner. If you are coming to the event and could bring a dessert or tray of cookies, I would appreciate it. Thank you.

*Prayer to “Unleash the Gospel”

With the start of a new liturgical year we will place a prayer insert into the new hymnals so that we can pray the “Prayer to Unleash the Gospel” which comes from Archbishop Vigneron’s pastoral letter of the same name. That pastoral letter sets out a vision for changing the culture of Catholic parishes in the Archdiocese by centering us on the new evangelization. In effect, this means being an intentional, committed Catholic Christian. We are invited to claim our identity as joyful missionary disciples of Jesus, willing to share our Catholic understanding of that faith in our daily lives. We will use the Prayer to Unleash the Gospel as the closing prayer to our intersessions at least once a month. The prayer is as follows:

God our Father, you have called us
to be witnesses to Jesus
and have commissioned us
to lead all people to encounter Him.

Send your Holy Spirit
to enlighten our minds
so that Your will may be clear to us
and that we may accept it.

Dwell within our souls
and make our hearts Your own.

Transform us into a band of
joyful missionary disciples
eager to share the good news of
Jesus Christ in Southeastern Michigan
through evangelization and service.

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

St. Anne, pray for us.
St. John Francis Regis, pray for us.

*Preparing for Mass by Reflecting on the Sunday Readings

With our new, permanent hymnals we will no longer have the Sunday readings within the hymnal. Instead, the readings will be in a separate soft covered booklet in carts at each entrance. We ask that after you use them to please return them to the carts for someone else to use. Or, take a copy home and use it at home to reflect on the readings ahead of time. I would love every household to do this. We will continue to replenish the supply so that there are enough for those who use them at church. The ideal is for all of us to have read the readings ahead of time, so that at the proclamation of the Sunday readings we can listen not just with our heads (trying to understand it for the first time), but with our hearts as well.

 *Eucharistic Adoration in the Chapel and the Blessed Sacrament We Consecrate

St. Regis Parish has committed itself to Eucharistic adoration each weekday in the parish chapel. The chapel is open for this from 12:30 – 6:30 p.m. each evening, and till 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday evenings. Many of the hours have at least two or three committed adorers so that we know the time is well covered, no matter who else shows up. But there are certain times that struggle to have at least two adorers—something that is essential if we want to responsibly maintain this wonderful prayer practice. Consider taking on one hour a week. Or, if that is not possible a half hour. Or start with an hour a month and see if that does not draw you into more regular prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. If you are interested, contact the office, and your contact information and time you can commit to will be given to the leaders of the group.

In order to better connect this adoration to the whole community and what we do as a parish community, at one of the weekend Masses each week we will begin consecrating an extra mid-size host (the size that fits in the luna, a small glass and metal container used to protect the host, which is then placed in the monstrance for adoration).  That consecrated host will then be available for adoration during the week. Each week a new host will be consecrated and placed in the luna. We will rotate at which Mass we do this so that the whole parish has a role in what happens during Eucharistic adoration. In other words, the presence of the Blessed Sacrament at such times of adoration will have come about through the whole community’s faith and our participation in the weekly Sunday liturgy.

*An Indulgence for Participation in the Fr. Solanus Casey Beatification Mass

I recently wrote about the Catholic understanding of indulgences and the danger that we turn them into automatic guarantees of grace. Well, lo and behold, Archbishop Vigneron requested an indulgence for participation at the Mass of Beatification for Fr. Solanus Casey and he was granted it by the Pope. It reads as follows:

A plenary indulgence is granted for those who will assist in the entirety of the Beatification Mass, whether by physical attendance or by broadcast of the Mass in same way they would if they were physically present. For those who, for whatever reason, can only participate in a portion of the Mass, whether physically or by broadcast, the partial indulgence can be gained.

The conditions for receiving the indulgence are:

  • The above-explained participation in the Beatification Mass
  • Sacramental Confession on the day of or on the days before or after the Beatification; for those physically present, receiving Sacramental Confession at the Beatification Mass (Confessors will be present) fulfills the condition.
  • Reception of Holy Communion at Mass on the day of or the days before or after the Beatification; for those physically present, receiving Holy Communion at the Beatification Mass fulfills the condition.
  • Prayer for the intentions of the Holy Father; you can join your prayer to that of the Holy Father through praying the suggested prayers of one Our Father and one Hail Mary.
  • Resolution to be completely detached from all sin.

Indulgences have value in that they both challenge us to let go of sin in our lives and allow us to experience a connection to repairing the harm caused by the sins of others who are no longer with us. Of course, the last condition named is the key one, which keeps an indulgence from being just rote prayers or automatic. To resolve to be completely detached from all sin means a true and full conversion of heart; an examination of one’s life and areas where we might have become a bit too lax; a willingness to do penance so that the effects of sin, not just ours but from others as well, can be alleviated and the world repaired to some extent.  For more on what I wrote about indulgences see my columns from October 22 and November 5.

*Sunday’s Gospel

Matthew’s Gospel once again has a parable that makes us as listeners say “Huh?” Recall last week’s Gospel where the wise virgins refused to share their extra oil or the recent Gospel where the person is punished for coming to a wedding feast improperly dressed, even though he was picked up off the field and had no time to dress. Today it is the very familiar “parable of the talents” where three servants are given a portion of the master’s wealth as he departs for a long journey. On returning he demands an accounting, and the one who was fearful and hid the money so not to lose it, is not only stripped of the money but thrown to the torturers. What?! Pretty clearly Jesus wants to emphasize that this person missed something in a dramatically big way. But how did he miss? Granted, fear should not be our motivation when it comes to God. But to pay such a penalty. Is God really going to be that harsh?

In order to fully understand this parable we have to situate it in terms of the community for which Matthew wrote his Gospel. For example, a version of this parable is in Luke (19:11-27). In Luke’s version the one who was afraid loses what he was given but is not thrown to the torturers. Instead there is a subplot about some who wanted to overthrow the king who had handed out the responsibilities to the three people. It is those who are treated harshly in Luke’s Gospel. There isn’t the same “What is going on?” moment in Luke’s version. Moreover, the parable is situated earlier in the Gospel as part of Jesus’ general teaching before he enters Jerusalem for the final days. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus is already in Jerusalem and talking about the end times.

Paying attention to these differences gives us some insight into how Matthew wants us to understand Jesus’ strong words. Immediately after the parable of the talents Jesus will speak about the last judgment, about separating sheep and goats, right and left, good and bad, reward and condemnation, based on how the least of his people were treated. The ones being judged ask “When did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and not minister to you?” And the Lord replies, “Truly, as you did it or did not do it to one of the least of my brothers and sisters, you did it or did not do it to me.” In other words, with the parable of the talents Jesus is already asking us to think about that final judgment. The ones who used those talents to produce more are those who were unafraid to care for any and all who came their way. The one who was afraid to use his talent is someone who hid himself from responsibility for those around him, especially responsibility to the ones in need. He cared only for himself and protecting himself and did not use the largesse granted him by the master to alleviate the suffering or hurt of anyone. Thus his condemnation in the parable. So important to Jesus is the care for those who are in need, especially by those (us!) who have been given so much, that he emphasizes that our very salvation and well-being is at stake in how we share our resources and respond to those in need. Strong words, yes. Very challenging ones, yes. But what goodness flows when we do risk ourselves for the well-being of others, especially those in need.

Fr. Buersmeyer