October 18th is World Mission Sunday and comes with a reminder of our mission given us by Christ himself to spread the Gospel to the whole world. We should pray for the missions and all missionaries, but also remember God has sent us to the mission field of our family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers.
As we approach an election we have to decide who and what to vote for. Catholics are not told who to vote for, but are given guiding principles about voting. We are then called to be spiritual and civic adults who research, pray, and weigh out our decisions. It is possible we come up with different conclusions. I encourage you to read “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” a 2007 U.S. Bishops’ Conference document (go to USCCB.org and you will see a link to it on the home page). I include some quotes from it that I think particularly relevant and helpful:
This Sunday, October 4th, is Respect Life Sunday, and October is Respect Life Month. This month always has had a personal “life” meaning to me because it is the month of my birth! I was born in 1976, three years after the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion. Legally, I could have been aborted, so I am so grateful for life, and grateful that abortion was never even a consideration by my parents. But as a man of science and faith (recall my background before priesthood was engineering), I also know my life did not begin back in October of 1976.
This Sunday, September 27th, at the 11:00 AM Mass, Archbishop Naumann will publicly and officially install me, Fr. Greg Hammes, as the pastor of Prince of Peace Parish. I’d like to reflect a little on what this is about. When I hear the word “install”, I, having been a software engineer before becoming a priest, first think of loading a new program onto a computer. However, in this case to have an installation of a pastor means the Archbishop is placing me into a new position of authority with a ceremony.
The Season of Autumn also known as Fall begins this Tuesday, September 22. Many love the change in colors of the trees, the cooler temperature, and the nice weather. On September 22nd we experience the Autumnal Equinox, where day and night are roughly equal in length. School is back in session, and football games have begun. The harvest approaches. There is so much for which to be thankful.
Pope Francis in an interview in America Magazine was asked how he prefers to pray:
“I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day.
Happy Labor Day! Although this is not a religious feast day, we should take time to give thanks to God for the gift of labor. I know that may sound odd, but the ability to work truly is a gift from God. Adam and Eve while in the paradise of the Garden of Eden before the Fall would have worked. They were to “fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28). Also, Adam needed a “helpmate” (Gen 2:18), so apparently there was work to be done and he needed help! It would originally have been a true joy to have engaged in work. Work only becomes difficult and burdensome because of sin.
It is that time of year when students go back to school. Yes, it may look a little different this year. Let us pray for all students, teachers, and staffs that it goes well. In addition, we should remember that all of us are students, our school year is never out of session, and our teacher is out of this world. Of course, I’m talking about that we are always called to be disciples of Jesus.
This weekend I have my “Welcome Mass” so I am thinking about what “welcoming” is all about. I found some Scripture passages of interest:
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for the glory of God. (Romans 15:7)
For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me… (Matthew 25:35)
Whatever place does not welcome you or listen to you, leave there and shake the dust off your feet in testimony against them.” (Mark 6:11)
Did Jesus ever take a vacation? Certainly, He kept the Sabbath and rested on that day, plus He did regularly withdraw to pray, including a 40-day “prayer vacation” in the desert …while fasting. And Jesus to his Apostles after they “reported all they had done and taught… said to them, ‘Come away by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’” (Mark 6:30–31) I write this since I just was on vacation, which is a bit more difficult during this pandemic, but blessedly I did find a quiet semi-deserted place (by a lake) to get away to spend a week.