Pastor’s Perspective – October 10, 2021

*Parish Leadership Night Tuesday October 12

Please join us for the Parish Leadership Night this week on Tuesday. It begins with prayer at 6:45 p.m. in the church. If you cannot make it in person, you can livestream the opening part by going to our website and clicking on the livestream.  These gatherings happen three times a year, as a way for all the active councils, commissions, committees and parish groups to provide input and help create a shared parish vision. The opening part is done as a larger group and then people break into their specific area of interest or involvement—Christian Service, Faith Formation, Worship, School, Finance. It is a great way to see what is happening in parish life and to connect to one of the active commissions.

The common focus for the first part of the evening will be two-fold. We will have a prayerful reflection on the theme that will be guiding our work for the next eighteen months—“Our Journey Continues.” Then we will look at the basic outline of how we plan to celebrate our 60th anniversary as a parish. June 19, 2022 is the sixtieth anniversary and we plan to kick off our celebrations on that day. But we want to do so in a way that does not just look nostalgically at the past and wish things could be that way. Rather, we want to celebrate the past, and all who have made St. Regis the parish it is, in a way that positions us for the next phase of Family of Parishes.

Join us on Tuesday, ideally in person or at least livestream. Please go to the stregis.org website and click on the Parish Leadership Night Event.

*Laudato Si’ and Catholic Social Teaching on Care for Creation

Please see the previous bulletins for earlier remarks on this topic. Chapter Five of Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si’ is titled “Lines of Approach and Action.” It could easily read as a series of suggestions (dialogue on international, national, and local levels) that really have no chance of happening. But out of this encyclical the Pope appointed a commission to implement these ideas more concretely. A Vatican website has been set up to help this happen and I would encourage you to peruse the website and its resources (https://www.laudatosi.va/en.html). If there was energy and leadership from a few of us in this parish, I would love to see us start a Laudato Si-inspired circle of support, which would explore these ideas more fully and offer educational and outreach opportunities to the parish.

For me the real gift of this encyclical comes in the sixth chapter on “Ecological Education and Spirituality.” Pope Francis encourages a type of education parallel to how we try to form our young people in the responsibilities of citizenship. He uses the term “ecological citizenship” as the goal for this kind of education. Instead of raising children and young adults to consume more and the newest and the latest, such an education can show the value of choosing less and only what is necessary, recycling and re-using what we already have: “A person who could afford to spend and consume more but regularly uses less heating and wears warmer clothes, shows the kind of convictions and attitudes which help to protect the environment. There is a nobility in the duty to care for creation through little daily actions, and it is wonderful how education can bring about real changes in lifestyle. Education in environmental responsibility can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us, such as avoiding the use of plastic and paper, reducing water consumption, separating refuse, cooking only what can reasonably be consumed, showing care for other living beings, using public transport or car-pooling, planting trees, turning off unnecessary lights, or any number of other practices. All of these reflect a generous and worthy creativity which brings out the best in human beings. Reusing something instead of immediately discarding it, when done for the right reasons, can be an act of love which expresses our own dignity. We must not think that these efforts are not going to change the world. They benefit society, often unbeknown to us, for they call forth a goodness which, albeit unseen, inevitably tends to spread. Furthermore, such actions can restore our sense of self-esteem; they can enable us to live more fully and to feel that life on earth is worthwhile.”  [# 211-212].

So many of you who are our oldest generation grew up with that awareness after the Great Depression. You integrated a type of frugal lifestyle into your daily habits. You developed an aversion to wasting anything needlessly, a desire to recycle what can be recycled, a satisfaction with buying things of quality that can last a long time rather than constantly replacing things, and so forth. The generations after that (Baby-boomers and their children) were the beneficiaries of that older generation’s hard work and frugal lifestyle. Some of us embraced the same virtues and focused on what we needed, but many of us simply took the availability and ease of obtaining whatever we wanted for granted, without thinking about the future costs to the environment and to human well-being on this planet. The current generation coming of age is now faced with the challenge of leading the way to a new embrace of the virtues that can help protect and heal some of these devastating consequences. It is not accidental that many of those organizing national and international gatherings calling for limits in use of non-renewable resources and penalties for damaging the environment are precisely this youngest generation. But all of us, especially my generation of Baby-boomers, can be part of the solution, if we are willing to embrace what Pope Francis calls an ‘ecological conversion’: “This conversion calls for a number of attitudes which together foster a spirit of generous care, full of tenderness. First, it entails gratitude and gratuitousness, a recognition that the world is God’s loving gift, and that we are called quietly to imitate his generosity in self-sacrifice and good works…. It also entails a loving awareness that we are not disconnected from the rest of creatures, but joined in a splendid universal communion. As believers, we do not look at the world from without but from within, conscious of the bonds with which the Father has linked us to all beings. By developing our individual, God-given capacities, an ecological conversion can inspire us to greater creativity and enthusiasm in resolving the world’s problems and in offering ourselves to God…. We do not understand our superiority as a reason for personal glory or irresponsible dominion, but rather as a different capacity which, in its turn, entails a serious responsibility stemming from our faith.” [#220].

How is each of us called to better practice such an ‘ecological spirituality’? We can look to those who already do so and join them in simplifying our lifestyles, choosing quality over quantity, and resisting the market’s lure of the newest and latest when we have no need of it. But it really needs to be a conversion, something that becomes habitual and lasting.

Pope Francis ends his letter with two prayers. Here is the first one:

A Prayer for Our Earth

All-powerful God, you are present in the whole universe and in the smallest of your creatures. You embrace with your tenderness all that exists. Pour out upon us the power of your love, that we may protect life and beauty. Fill us with peace, that we may live as brothers and sisters, harming no one.

O God of the poor, help us to rescue the abandoned and forgotten of this earth, so precious in your eyes. Bring healing to our lives, that we may protect the world and not prey on it, that we may sow beauty, not pollution and destruction. Touch the hearts of those who look only for gain at the expense of the poor and the earth. Teach us to discover the worth of each thing, to be filled with awe and contemplation, to recognize that we are profoundly united with every creature as we journey towards your infinite light.

We thank you for being with us each day. Encourage us, we pray, in our struggle for justice, love and peace. Amen.

I invite you to pray this prayer with me through the rest of October, our month of Respect Life. To conclude these reflections, I will try to integrate the Pope’s ideas into what I would call a “spirituality based on Catholic Social Teaching.” More next time.

*Archdiocese of Detroit Priests’ Convocation

Every two years the Archbishop gathers with his priests for a four day convocation. It is a chance to relax together, get some insights from speakers (this year Bishops Flores from Brownsville and Boyea from Lansing, who used to be auxiliary bishops in Detroit, will be the main speakers), sit down and talk with priests we might not otherwise see or interact with, and hear from Archbishop Vigneron his vision for the diocese and for priesthood in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The priests’ convocation will go from Sunday night October 17 through Thursday morning October 21.

This means that the regularly scheduled Masses for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday will not take place that week, nor will they be replaced by Communion services.  Instead, please use the time to visit the church for prayer and include the priests of the Archdiocese of Detroit in that prayer. It would be great week to stop in and pray in the chapel during the Adoration Hours (Monday – Friday, 12:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., to 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday). I have heard that not all priests will be attending the convocation (at Boyne Mountain) and so some neighboring parishes might still have Masses those days. If a funeral comes in during the week, please give the parish time to find a priest who is available and not going to the convocation. You might have to have a little flexibility in the day/time for the funeral. The regular Mass schedule will be back in effect by Friday October 22. Thank you.

Fr. Buersmeyer

Additional / Related Content