May 10, 2014 – Sacrifices

Well I’m going to have to reach into my bag of excuses again to explain why I missed yet another weekend of blogging last week.  I really didn’t do anything exciting or creative, nor was I nauseated over the Cubs winning 2 games over the Cardinals – I just didn’t get to it.  I did spend part of last Sunday evening with the ladies.  No, it’s not what you think!  I attended the Ladies’ Appreciation Dinner last Sunday that the K of C puts on annually for the ladies of the parish.  I showed the slideshow I prepared for Fr. Gene’s 40th Jubilee and also a slideshow of photos from the Jubilee Mass itself.  Our parish certainly owes a huge debt of gratitude to all of the ladies who graciously give of their time and talent for various purposes.  And to those who had other thoughts when I mentioned spending the evening with the “ladies”, it is said that everyone has a period in their life when they sew their “wild oats.”  Well, I fear my oats have become caked and moldy.

Speaking of appreciating the ladies, we of course take the opportunity this weekend to honor our mothers for all of their sacrifices.  We know that the vocation of being a mother is fulfilling, but certainly not easy.  It takes a toll physically, mentally and emotionally.  But a mother is willing to endure all of this for the sake of her children.  A good role model for all of us is St. Gianna Beretta Molla, who made the ultimate sacrifice for her child.  Gianna Beretta was born in Magenta (near Milan) in Italy, on October 4, 1922, the 10th of 13 children born to Alberto and Maria Beretta. Her parents instilled in their children a deep faith. In fact, two of Gianna’s brothers became priests and one of her sisters became a nun. And while Gianna was a very pious child and considered a religious vocation, her holiness would be found as a working mom.

Gianna found her life’s calling in medicine. She earned degrees in medicine and surgery from the University of Pavia in 1949, and opened a medical clinic in Mesero a year later.  In 1955, Gianna married Peter Molla. They subsequently had three children.  During her pregnancy with her fourth child, however, Gianna’s doctors discovered she had a tumor in her uterus. They encouraged her to terminate the pregnancy and undergo a complete hysterectomy. Gianna refused, but did allow surgery to remove the growth—fully aware of the danger that continuing the pregnancy presented.

Prior to the surgery, Gianna told a priest, “I have entrusted myself to the Lord in faith and hope, against the terrible advice of medical science, ‘Either mother or child.’ I trust in God, yes, but now I must fulfill my duty as a mother. I renew the offer of my life to the Lord. I am ready for everything, provided the life of my child is saved.”  In the final weeks of her pregnancy, she reiterated that if a decision had to be made between her and her child’s life, they should save the child. On April 21, Gianna gave birth to her fourth child—daughter Gianna Emanuela. Seven days later the mother died of complications from the birth.  We again thank our Moms for giving us life.

Changing topics now, it has been a little while since I have addressed the Diocesan Plan for Restructuring and Renewal.  It is still an ongoing process, and in the near future when the assignments for clergy are decided, I’m sure we will see more shake-ups.  We are certainly not the only ones going through such a process.  Cardinal Timothy Dolan wrote this past week about the planning process in the Archdiocese of New York called “Making All Things New.”  He made the point that Pastoral Planning is something that has been going on since the very beginnings of the Catholic Church.  We are reminded of this in the Easter readings.  His viewpoint sounds much like the attitude we need to have as we go through this time of change.  He states that  “we’ve stressed from the start of our present round of planning that it’s more than a question about buildings, addresses, closings or merging.  Yes, some of this will be called for, and the sound recommendations from our pastors, clergy, religious, and people are now “on the table,” to be further prayed over, refined, and finalized.

But, driving all of this is the same set of values we sense in our Easter readings: is the invitation of Jesus, and the truth of His message, being extended effectively in our preaching, religious education of the young, faith formation of adults, and our schools? Are the poor and rich being served?  Are the “fallen away” being welcomed back?  Do God’s people have available to them the spiritual sustenance of prayer and the sacraments? Are the offerings of God’s People being spent well, or squandered?  Some are tempted to observe (and the press readily reports it!) that this strategic pastoral planning is all the result of a new, unprecedented crisis in today’s Church, caused by such things as mismanagement and stupidity by bishops and priests; the stubbornness of the Church to change settled teaching (woman’s ordination) or discipline (priestly celibacy) to correct the shortage of vocations; the loss of money paid to victims and attorneys due to the sex abuse nausea; or the mistakes of past bishops and pastors in overbuilding and over-expansion.  Baloney!  There’s not much radical, dramatic, or crisis driven in sound, patient, prayerful pastoral planning.  It’s been going on since Pentecost.”

Some of you may have received a letter from a group that is attempting to raise funds to maintain the buildings and property of St. Leo’s in Modoc, which is now a suppressed parish.  I do not want to tell you that you should or should not contribute toward this – that is a personal decision on your part.  I personally have decided not to make a contribution toward this.  I can’t justify pouring tens of thousands of dollars into property that 99.9% of the time would be sitting idle.  Yes, we certainly become attached to our home parishes, but our duty as Catholic Christians is also to leave something for the future for our children so they can experience church in the best possible way, which is why I would rather donate to something such as the Seminarian Education Fund.

That’s all I have for now.  Have a great week!  Peace.

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