Midweek at Midtown – July 20

In the Archdiocesan plan that I started to describe in my last letter, you found out that the Archbishop is working to create Parish Families. Our parish Family, now called Midtown Catholic, is well on its way toward fitting into that goal. A parish Leadership Team that Fr. Lorig set up to coordinate staff activities between the two participating family members of SJA & STM is one part of that goal. The second part is the combination of the two Parish Councils into one Council. I am happy to tell you that these two parts have been accomplished. However, additional steps are necessary to comply with the Archdiocese’s process, each with an accompanying deadline. The first deadline was in June, when Pastors and Teams were to familiarize themselves with the process. Fr. Lorig ensured that the Leadership Team and the Parish Council were aware of that process. This July, we are to take the next step of showing the Archdiocesan Journey of Faith Coordinators where we are with this process. With the change of pastors, we have been given a little extra time for that,  I was not in the loop on implementing most of the changes, but I did keep myself aware of the work, so I will be writing out a summary of what I know to help in moving forward.

Much work needs to be done, but we are well on our way. One of the things that I wanted to reaffirm with you is that your prayer and understanding are critical to this process. Last year Fr. Lorig and the Leadership Team worked to help set up a bunch of small faith-sharing groups. Some of you felt okay with helping with this process. Many of you did not. That is not surprising. Many of you have been a part of various kinds of groups in your life in your respective parish. Those might simply have been card-playing groups, bowling teams, dinner groups, etc. You might not have thought of them as faith-sharing groups, but I would guess that you did talk about your faith during those times. It might not have been formal, but it surely happened. It might simply have been a matter of talking about the last sermon you heard.

But now, many of you may feel as if this is not going to be happening in your life. Your age and health may make it unlikely. I understand that feeling, but I ask you to do just what you used to do. Please talk about your faith and your thoughts about it with whomever you are around. In the meantime, pray for the success of your conversations and the conversations of others. I also realize that some of you might be a little shy because you are wondering what you said or did not say that kept your children from holding onto the faith they were taught. We will keep having classes on that subject, so do not give up. Many things were fighting against you these last years. But now, we pray we can all make a difference in bringing some of our children back.

Two other bits of news. Fr. Jindra did come up with a plan for Mass sharing. He and I will be trading each month. This month he is having all the Masses at STM, and I am having all of them at SJA. Each month that will switch. This includes weekend and daily Masses. The only exception is on Thursday when he will usually have both Masses at SJA. The other bit of news is that the tour I am leading through France in October now has about a dozen people signed up. I consider 12-20 a perfect size group, so you still have a chance to be a part of this.

God bless you all,

Fr. Frank Baumert

Looking Forward to Pentecost

I’m looking forward to Pentecost.  

One morning after Mass this week I was looking at the Mass attendance sheet. While our attendance numbers have been steady since Easter, they are still far from the numbers we had prior to the pandemic. But that’s not really the point of my writing this week. The thought that occurred to me is that it was last Pentecost 2021, when the archbishop resumed the obligation to attend Mass. While a little longer than a calendar year, it’s been a liturgical year since things started to get back to “normal”. The new “normal” is that a lot of folks haven’t come back to Mass with any consistency. So why am I looking forward to Pentecost? When I was looking at the attendance sheet that morning, I thought, “What if we celebrated Pentecost like we celebrated Easter and Christmas? What if we really made a big deal about it like we do those other holy days?” Pentecost, in my estimation, seems to be just as big of a deal as Christmas and Easter. The early Church was floundering until they received the Holy Spirit and since then, the world has never been the same.  

I know I’m jumping ahead a bit, but the weekend of the 7th Sunday of Easter, the week before Pentecost, we hear in the 2nd reading from the last chapter of the Book of Revelation, the last book in the Bible, it says…. 

“The Spirit and the bride say, ‘Come.’ Let the hearer say, ‘Come.’ Let the one who thirsts come forward, and the one who wants it receive the gift of life-giving water.” 

These are the last words uttered by humanity in the entire Bible. It’s not a person per se, but the Church, the bride who speaks. The Church, we the people of God, are the bride of the bridegroom, Jesus Christ. Filled with and animated by the Holy Spirit, we long for the coming of Christ, like a bride pines for her bridegroom on their wedding night. 

Many of us might find it strange that God uses nuptial language to describe not only His relationship with us, but to describe the communion we will experience on the Last Day. We shouldn’t find it that strange though, since every human being ever born has thought and, in some way, desired marriage. Marriage, the longing for communion with another, is as natural to us as breathing. While not all are called to the vocation marriage, all sense a longing for communion. 

Go to the first book in the Bible, Genesis. What does God say about marriage? “It is not good to be alone.” So, God creates a suitable partner for man. “This one at last is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh.” 

These are the first words uttered by man in the Bible. They are also nuptial words expressing the longing Adam has for his bride, Eve, on their wedding day. 

As we prepare for Pentecost, let’s not make it just another Sunday. Let’s notice the longing in our own hearts for communion. It is the Spirit who animates this longing. May we who thirst come forward and receive the gift of life-giving water. Come, Lord Jesus! 

Peace, 

Fr. Jeff Lorig, Pastor