Monday, September 9, 2013

Work began this morning on the first phase of a prayer path on the parish campus, an Eagle Scout project of parishioner Jacob Saar. Now I've done my work for the day. Whew! The prayer path will consist of two circles, one 30 feet in diameter, the other 20 feet, connected by a 60-foot path. In the larger circle will be a six-foot statue of Jesus welcoming people to our parish campus. Thank you to the many donors who made this project possible, and to young Jacob Saar for the idea and for the hard work that will bring it about.

Another scout has spoken with me about an add-on, which if it happens will allow us eventually to add the Stations of the Cross to the prayer path.
September 9, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
Luke 14: 25-33 — It was a hot summer afternoon in July 1861 when the Union army rode 25 miles south of Washington, DC, to meet the army of the Confederate States of America. Many citizens of Washington followed the army, most in carriages or buggies, some on horseback, and some walking. Most had packed a picnic basket, and when they arrived near Manassas at a little slip of water called Bull Run, the observers laid out their blankets and opened their picnic baskets to watch the unfolding battle from a nearby hill. The women sat beneath parasols to protect them from the sun. Some were fortunate enough to have looking glasses. Most squinted in order to observe what they could, hands covering their eyes from the sun. Every now and again an officer would send a messenger on horseback to report to the onlookers the news from the battle. As interested as they were in the battle, none of the onlookers were part of it. They were spectators, not warriors.

A number of years ago, when basketball legend Larry Bird retired from the Boston Celtics, Sports Illustrated magazine published an interview with him. He was asked a question something like this: “What is the one thing about fans that bothers you the most?” His answer came quickly, close to this: “After a long and grueling game, when I’m leaving the arena and fan yells out, ‘Hey Larry, we sure gave ‘em a great game tonight,’ I want to say to that fan, ‘we? – *WE* gave ‘em a great game? I didn’t see you hustling up and down the court. How many points did you score tonight?’”

The passage from Luke's gospel is striking. We have to wonder what prompted Jesus to turn suddenly to the crowd following Him and give them such a sharp message: “Unless you hate family and friends, unless you take up your cross, unless you sell all your possessions, you cannot be my disciple.”

Perhaps He saw a crowd watching from a distance but only that. Perhaps He wanted to remind them that to be His disciple is more than watching: “If you’re going to be my disciple, realize that you’re part of the battle, not an observer, and that you’re part of the team hustling up and down the court, not on the sidelines.”

There are those who treat Christianity as spectator sport. Entertained and inspired by the words of Jesus, edified by the charities of the Church, they seem to spread out their blankets and open their picnic baskets and watch as things are said and sung on Sunday morning, and then they go home and wait to be entertained and inspired again next Sunday morning.

Perhaps it is to those people that Jesus turned with sharp words: “That’s not enough.” No, the words and message of Jesus are not meant to be inspiring, they are life-changing, and unless one’s life is changed by those words, one is not a disciple of the Lord. How so? Unless the message and person of Jesus have an impact on decisions made every day, on social relationships and friendships, on personal and business ethics, on use of time and resources — well, unless one’s life is transformed by the power of Jesus, His grace, His astounding mercy, His teaching, one is not a disciple but just an observer.

To them, Jesus has another startling word: “Many will cry out ‘Lord, Lord’ and I will say, ‘I do not know you.”
September 8, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
The Church has proclaimed the "new evangelization" of a world that has grown accustomed to hearing about Jesus Christ without really allowing the Good News to pierce the human heart or the social soul. There have been books and blogs and conferences and workshops and speeches and exhortations and outlines and programs and, all in all, a lot of churched people talking to other churched people about the "new evangelization." As much as a lot of people are very busy talking about it, as near as I can tell, the only thing that isn't being done is actual evangelization!
Today the Church celebrates the Memorial of Pope Saint Gregory the Great, who midway through the first millennium of Christianity actually DID do something about evangelization. He sent missionaries to all parts of the globe to announce the Gospel of Jesus Christ and convert souls and lives to Our Savior. He also sent legates throughout the Christian world to learn how the local churches were praying, especially how they celebrated the holy sacrifice of the Mass, and when the legates returned Pope Gregory commissioned a missal that would gather the liturgical "best practices" of the world in to one common book of prayer. The Latin Catholic church has used this "Roman Missal" ever since. Indeed it is called the Roman Missal because it is the compilation undertaken in Rome of prayers from throughout the world.
Gregory the Great is a marvelous example of surrender to the loving will of God. He trained to be a lawyer and entered the service of the State. When at the peak of his career, he left public life to enter a monastery, but even there the finger of God charted the course for him: he was elected Pope and reluctantly accepted the office in abandonment to God's will. Perpetually decrying how much time was taken by the administrative details of office, he nonetheless accomplished much out of love for Christ and His Church.
September 3, 2013
Msgr. William J. King
A good reminder to us all.
August 29, 2013
Msgr. William J. King