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Pastor’s Perspective by Fr. Buersmeyer

Posted on Wednesday, January 18th, 2017 at 2:15 pm

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

November 26, 2017

*Feast of Christ the King

The Church’s year comes to a close  this weekend with the feast of Christ the King. Where has another year gone?  Have we allowed our lives to be identified with the mystery of Christ’s life, death and resurrection as we have gone through this past liturgical year? If so, then this feast is hammering home to us all the following: Christ is king, and so no power has ultimate claim on us, except God, right? Christ is king, and so we can transcend the barriers of nation and ethnicity, party politics and economic interests, right? Christ is king, thus we know God has so united God’s own self to human history that no evil or death can keep us from reaching for and living for that ultimate communion with God, right? Christ is king, so we can let go of narrow self-interests, isn’t that right?

Christ is king but not through power and force, but through the offering of his entire life for the salvation of the world. We most honor Christ the King when we find ways to “empty ourselves” as he did, to be the servant leader, not the power and status seeker. In that sense, the very last feast of the Church’s year calls us to remember all the other key feasts of the liturgical year, especially Good Friday and Easter. The kingship of Christ comes through his cross, death and resurrection.

*Advent

With the end of a Church liturgical year we begin to prepare for a new one with the season of Advent. Next week notice the change in color and environment in the church. Advent is a season of hope and expectation. Our slightly simpler and starker environment is a way to create an atmosphere of reflection and quiet, hope-filled expectation. Our opening hymn with its rhythmic repetition of “Come, Come Emmanuel” will try to capture our longing for the full coming of Christ. Our banners and four advent candles with their growing light each week remind us of the movement from praying for Christ’s coming at the end of all time to praying for hearts that can truly celebrate the memorial of his birth.

At the Masses next weekend, since we are beginning a new liturgical year at Advent, we will be blessing all our liturgical ministers who have said yes to serving in a liturgical role these next twelve months. The full and active participation and the energy it brings to Eucharist only happens if we have sufficient liturgical ministers. Thank you to all our lectors, communion ministers, choir members, cantors, instrumentalists, ushers, greeters, servers, sacristans, children’s Liturgy of the Word leaders, RCIA catechists, liturgical environment committee, and all who actively make the liturgy a true celebration.

You will also notice the new, permanent hymnals which we have purchased, along with copies of the Sunday readings called “Sunday’s Word Year B”. The hymnals will remain in the pews. We ask that the Sunday Word booklets be returned to the racks at each entrance so others may use them as needed. Even better, think about using one at home and preparing for Sunday by reflecting on the readings from that book before coming to Mass. We will keep replenishing the book racks as needed so that there are enough Sunday Word books for the Masses. The goal is for as many of us as possible to prepare for Sunday by having read the readings ahead of time.

Also, with Advent will come a more intentional, conscious connection of our Sunday Eucharist to our weekday Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Instead of consecrating a host and placing it in a luna (the glass covering that fits inside the monstrance for adoration) and simply leaving it in the tabernacle indefinitely, we will consecrate a new host every weekend, rotating the Mass at which we do so. It is this community’s Eucharistic faith on Sunday which makes possible the perduring presence of the Blessed Sacrament for Eucharistic adoration. It is our time spent in prayer in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament which makes us know our need for and hunger for the full communion with the Eucharistic Lord which we get at Sunday Mass.

Finally, we will begin our new liturgical year with the blessing of our new and newly installed crucifix. We will repeat the blessing at each Mass to highlight and celebrate this vitally important piece of our liturgical space. With this crucifix, in a sense, the renovation begun several years ago will finally be at its completion stage. All that remains is a bit more lighting for the crucifix and sanctuary area and the rails for the baptismal font. Both are in process.

*Our New Crucifix

Yes, finally the crucifix is in place! Thank you for your patience. Two construction managers, several civil engineering and structural steel firms later, at a cost that was surprisingly high (but has been covered), we have this one of a kind work of liturgical art in place. The artist, Carlos Ayala, had a very clear theological as well as artistic vision when he was commissioned to create the crucifix. In his own words: “This is an interpretation of the moment at the crucifixion, right after our beloved Lord Jesus Christ has fulfilled his covenant with us. Jesus gives his last breath and his body dies on the cross. At that same moment, Jesus is revealed to those who have the faith to see it, as the God made man in all his splendor and glory, crushing death and all evil. The Cross, which represents that death and evil, begins shattering into splinters, ultimately blown away to the very corner of the universe. The waiting souls, waiting for their Redeemer, need to wait no longer, as Jesus rescues them. Then, on the third day Jesus will make himself known to the world in a new way, that not even his friends, the apostles, recognized him.”

In order to highlight the unity of Jesus’ death and resurrection but also to emphasize the ultimate triumph of the resurrection, Mr. Ayala deliberately created space between the cross and the body of Jesus. Viewed from the back, center of the Church, it is Jesus hanging on the cross for our salvation. As you walk down the aisle toward the front, you begin to see the depth of the piece and the space between the body and cross, making it appear that Jesus is no longer bound by the death of the cross, but ready to embrace the full love of God the Father in his resurrection. That is also why the cross is made up of hundreds of pieces of splintered wood—Jesus’ death and eventual resurrection are destroying all the sin and death that made for the cross in the first place. In this one piece of art, then, we have the depiction of both crucifixion and death, as well as ascension and resurrection. That is remarkably complex and excellent theology. Even the color of the body in an alabaster tone—some have asked why not have it be painted—suggests a transformation from this world’s reality to the eternal reality of life through death. If you look closely, the only color on the body marks the wounds of hands, feet and side, reminding us that it truly was in his body that Jesus paid the price for our salvation. But our hope is not in our limited, created bodies, but ultimately in sharing in the resurrected body with Jesus.

In any case, as with all art, everyone will have their own opinion. I think it is a very worthy piece of art and a remarkably deep theological statement. The artist, to the best of my knowledge, did not name this piece of art, but I will ask him. Also, we will be painting the steel support structure to blend a bit better into the background. We will also be looking at lighting along the sides which can be used to better illuminate the crucifix as well as add light to the whole sanctuary area. As one person said almost immediately to me: “Now it looks like a Catholic church.” I think it did before as well, but I understand their point. The church space needed a significant crucifix, and now we have it.

 

*Year-End Mailing

You should have received or will receive this week a “Year End/Advent” mailing. It consists of a newsletter highlighting all our Advent and Christmas Mass times, Sacrament of Penance, and parish and school events. It also includes a letter from me and a return envelope, once again inviting parish members to look at the possibility of a year-end gift. Christmas is a time of tremendous generosity to the parish, and I hope people continue to be generous in their Christmas giving. If you are in a position to give a more significant gift, it actually helps us more if it comes through the enclosed Year-End envelope. Such donations are treated by the Archdiocese differently than Sunday and Christmas donations. In fact, if you have not yet contributed to the annual Catholic Services Appeal (school families please remember that is part of being an in-parish family), the most effective gift is the CSA which has no tax taken out and helps the parish 100%. Year-End and other non-Sunday/holyday donations have 7% taken out the following year for the Archdiocese. Christmas does not have the 7% taken out, but is part of the formula (13% of income) for the mandatory CSA amount that goes to the diocese in effect costing the parish 6% more than the year-end donation. We vitally need the weekly/monthly ongoing Sunday/holyday commitment from as many parish members as possible. If you are in a position to help over and above that in some significant way, choose one of the ways mentioned above. Thank you.

Fr. Buersmeyer

 

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