Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
A great many of you asked about the book I referenced last Sunday in my homily. (Now, don't let the title mislead you – this is no self-help book in the way of our culture!) The title is Humility Rules: Saint Benedict's 12-Step Guide to Genuine Self Esteem by J. Augustine Wetta, O.S.B. Father Augustine is a Benedictine monk who teaches and coaches rugby at St. Louis Priory School in Missouri. He applies parts of the Rule of St. Benedict to everyday life. The "self esteem" he mentions is one deeply rooted in God's will for each of us. He uses extensive humor to make his point in a series of very short chapters that can be read each day. At the end of each, he gives a little "homework" from, "Make sure the last thing you read tonight before going to bed is Scripture," to, "Spare the life of a bug. Bonus points if it's a mosquito."
Get your calendars out and put down our annual Parish Picnic, May 6. Join us on this Sunday for the 11:00am Mass (bilingual – English/Spanish). At the end of Mass, we will make our annual Procession in honor of our Blessed Mother Help of Christians, down Park Avenue and back to the church, where we will crown the statue of Mary to the left of the altar. Afterwards, have fun with an international flair: good food, great music, games, jump castles, and more! As we honor our Blessed Mother, let us learn through her help and intercession to incorporate her total and constant "Yes" to God's will in our daily lives.
So, why walk in a procession? In the basically Calvinist cultural heritage of the United States, many people are uncomfortable with such a public display of faith. But this idea is foreign to the entire 2,000-year history of the Catholic Church. We are actually commanded by Jesus to be public: "Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15; see also Matt 28:19-20; Luke 24:47; Acts 1:8; and many other references). Far from "imposing our faith" on other people, it is an action meant to inspire. In our Jewish heritage, the Ark of the Covenant was carried in procession with music and even dancing (see II Samuel 6). Jesus entered in procession into Jerusalem. God Himself entered our world not in a merely spiritual sense, but in flesh and blood – specifically the Body and Blood of Jesus, which we are most privileged to receive every Sunday, even every day. God's action, which we call the Incarnation (literally, taking on flesh), has transformed our world. God acts to inspire and strengthen our faith through our human senses of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.
Perhaps I am a little biased here since it was the visual and tactile Sign of the Cross that I saw from a fifth-grader that first inspired my interest in the Catholic faith. You never know the impact you might have on someone for the good. Remember, it is absolutely true that we should never pray to be seen; but it's ok to be seen praying.