Sunday, June 29, 2014

Out in the Weather

You can find a full schedule of events for Forty Hours and Foundation Day for St. André's Parish at our new website:

And please do join me in praying to Sts. Peter and Paul (or whomever you might choose) for good weather on Tuesday...

   Solemnity of Saints Peter & Paul   

Among the Germanic peoples of Europe,
for reasons lost to history,
Sts. Peter and Paul have long been considered
heaven’s “weather makers.”
Peter’s considered to be the one responsible
for sending both rain and sunshine,
for hanging out the starts at night
and taking them back in again in the morning.
Legend says that when there’s thunder, 
St. Peter is bowling,
and when it snows 
that he’s “shaking out his feather bed.”
(Fr. Justin will soon enough learn
just how many feathers Peter has in his bed!)
St. Paul, on the other hand,
is invoked against lightening, storms, 
hail, and extreme cold;
it seems he’s been given the task
of constantly persuading St. Peter 
to actually get the weather right.

As we now come to the end of June,
we ought to thank these two Princes of the Apostles
for a month that has been pretty exceptional weather wise—
especially by our North Country standards.
But this has been a rather special June in other ways, too.
On the yearly calendar,
it’s been noteworthy for having five Sundays.
On the Church’s calendar,
it’s been noteworthy that all five Sundays
have been observed as important feasts:
the Ascension of the Lord
(kept on Sunday in Canada, where we went on pilgrimage June 1st),
Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, Corpus Christi,
and now Sts. Peter and Paul.
And here in Malone,
as we’ve made the final preparations
for the foundation of St. André’s Parish on Tuesday,
June has been noteworthy in the way it has taught us
what in means to be Church:
to be “one, holy, catholic, and apostolic.”

At his Ascension, Jesus returned to the Father
but did not abandon us:
he remains vitally present in and through his Church.
The Church is not a closed circle,
where we stand around focusing our attention on one another;
no, the Church is a people on pilgrimage:
a people on the move—and moving forward together—
following where Christ has gone before us;
supporting and encouraging each other
on the journey to heaven.

At Pentecost,
we were reminded of what it means
to believe that the Church is one.
Creating communion is the Holy Spirit’s specialty:
uniting people with one another
across differences of race, culture, or tongue;
even more, uniting the human with the divine—
uniting people with God.
In a world marked by so many sad and painful divisions,
the witness of unity among those who follow Jesus—
whether locally or globally—is as important as ever.

we were reminded of what it means
to believe that the Church is holy.
We have been made and remade
in the image and likeness of the all-holy God;
God has made us all to be holy—
calls us all to be saints.
Making saints is the Church’s primary mission.

we were reminded of what it means
to believe that the Church is catholic.
The very same Eucharist is offered, received, and adored
in Fr. Justin’s native India
as it is here in the Diocese of Ogdensburg—
with great pageantry at the Vatican
or in secret wherever the Church is forced underground.
Ours is a truly universal church,
and the Holy Eucharist helps us to see that big picture:
to keep from being too parochial, too limited in our vision,
and instead to be authentically catholic.

And on this Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul,
we are reminded of what it means
to believe that the Church is apostolic.
The Church is apostolic in several ways.
1. The Church was founded on the Apostles:
those men uniquely chosen by Christ
as witnesses of his Resurrection
and ambassadors of his Kingdom;
and the Church continues to be taught, sanctified,
and guided by the Apostles
through the direct and unbroken line of their successors:
the Pope, the Bishops, and the priests who assist them.
2. The Church guards as a priceless treasure
the teaching of the Apostles—the apostolic faith—
handed on from one generation to the next:
the precious memory of Christ’s own words and deeds,
instructing us still across the ages.
3. And the Church, like the Twelve,
is continually “sent out” into the whole world.
(The word apostle literally means, “one who is sent.”)
Since Vatican II,
there has been a multiplication of ministries in the Church:
liturgical ministries, ministries of hospitality,
catechetical ministries, and the like.
But something of which we seem to have lost sight is the apostolate.
Ministry is inherently about the Church taking care of herself;
it concerns members meeting the needs of other members.
The apostolate, however,
is by its nature turned outward;
it's all about mission,
about what happens beyond these four walls,
and most often concerns giving witness and works of charity.
Is it any wonder there are fewer people in our pews
if so many of our efforts have been aimed
at preaching to the choir?
We must go out!
The Apostles Peter and Paul—who preached the gospel widely
and were both martyred in Rome, far from their homeland—
remind us of the urgency of this task.

What a powerful and timely lesson this June has been
for a parish about to be founded!
As we now come to this month’s end,
as we quickly approach a new beginning for the Church in Malone,
may Sts. Peter and Paul not only provide us
with good weather on Tuesday
(and I sure pray that they do!),
but may they also ask of God every grace we’ll need
to be a community that is genuinely one, truly holy,
faithfully catholic, and deeply apostolic.

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