The Month of May 2021

My Friends,

Real Change

          The Fifty Days of the Great Season of Grace of Eastertide soon conclude on Pentecost Sunday. The Holy Spirit is released in the world and in the hearts of all who believe.  The Church, the Body of Christ, is born.  We are enlivened with Christ-life that makes us Christ-like.

          Pope Francis reflects this way on the meaning of the mystery of Pentecost:

          “The Holy Spirit in the Scripture Readings for Pentecost is compared to ‘the rush of a violent wind.’  What does this image tell us?  It makes us think of a powerful force that is not an end in itself, but effects change.  Wind in fact brings change, warmth, when it is cold, cool when it is hot, rain when the land is parched.  This is the way it brings change.  The Holy Spirit, on a very different level, does the same.  He is the Divine Force that changes the world.  The Spirit enters into situations and transforms them. He changes hearts and He changes situations.

          “The Holy Spirit changes hearts.  Jesus told His disciples, ‘You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses.’  That is exactly what happened. Those disciples, at first fearful, huddled behind closed doors, even after Jesus’ resurrection, were transformed by the Spirit and as Jesus said, ‘they bear witness to him.’  No longer hesitant, they were courageous.  They went forth to the ends of the earth.  They were bold because the Holy Spirit changed their hearts.

          “The Spirit frees hearts chained by fear.  He overcomes all resistance.  To those content with half-measures he inspires whole-hearted generosity.  He opens hearts that are closed.  He impels the comfortable to go out and serve.  He drives the self-satisfied to set out in new directions.  He makes the lukewarm thrill to new dreams.  That is what it means to change hearts. 

          “Plenty of people promise change, new beginnings, prodigious renewals, but experience teaches us that no earthly attempt to change reality can ever satisfy the human heart.  Yet the change that the Spirit brings is different.  It does not revolutionize life around us, but changes our hearts.  It does not free us from the weight of our problems, but liberates us within so that we can face them.  It does not give us everything at once, but enables us to press on confidently, never growing weary of life.  The Spirit keeps our hearts young. The Spirit gives us a renewed youth.  Youth, for all our attempts to prolong it, sooner or later fades away.  The Spirit instead, prevents the only kind of aging that is unhealthy; namely growing old within.  How does he do this?  By renewing our hearts.  By the working of the Holy Spirit joy is reborn and peace blossoms in our hearts.

          “Today, then, let us learn what to do when we are in need of real change.  And who among us does not need a change?  Particularly when we are dispirited, dejected by life’s burdens, disillusioned by our own weakness, at those times when it is hard to keep going and when loving seems impossible. In those moments we need a powerful jolt: the Holy Spirit, the power of God.  Let us never tire, then, of welcoming the Spirit into our lives, of invoking him in all that we do: “Come Holy Spirit, change us within, and renew the face of the earth.’”

Returning to normalcy

          You might know that in some Dioceses around the country Bishops have rescinded the dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday Mass that was granted at the time of the pandemic-time stay at home orders.  What, then, about the Archdiocese of St. Louis?

          Archbishop Rozanski has written to all pastors about this.  In short, the Archbishop indicates that it is still too early, in the metropolitan area, for him to feel that it is safe to lift the dispensation.  The dispensation here remains in force for the foreseeable future.  He encouraged pastors, though, to encourage parishioners who are ready and able to participate, in person, at Sunday Mass to do so.  I do encourage you.  We best better become "one body, one spirit, in Christ" when we celebrate the Eucharist together, share the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, and become what we eat, so then to be the Body of Christ in the world.

          There have been some inquiries about resuming our Saturday evening 4:30 Vigil Mass of Sunday.  At present, with our pandemic time safe-distance capacity limit of 150 people in the church, we average between 20 and 30 people gathering for Sunday Mass.  I anticipate, then, the possibility of resuming the Saturday 4:30 Vigil Mass to coincide with the restoration of the Sunday Mass obligation.

Gratitude for Your Stewardship Contributions

          I want to express my gratitude to the many of you who have continued your regular stewardship contributions to St. John's throughout these long and challenging months.  It has been a sacrifice, I know, for some of you to do so. 

          To this point we have been able to meet our financial obligations without drawing on our parish reserve funds.  Thank you for providing this stability!  It is vital for evidencing parish viability. 

“You did it for me”

          Each year the Archdiocesan Annual Catholic Appeal funds people programs that serve over one half million children, women and men in our metropolitan community.  People of all faiths, and of no faith, benefit.  The homeless are provided shelter.  The hungry receive nutritious meals.  Women and children at-risk are afforded safe-haven and necessary care.  Senior citizens receive a continuum of needed services.  Disadvantaged children and teens are educated.  Those are only a few of the people programs made possible by the Appeal.

          You should have received a letter from Archbishop Rozanski, along with a pledge card, asking your generous support for the 2021 Annual Catholic Appeal.  I have written to you, too, with specific participation details for our parish family. 

          The Appeal is now in its concluding phase.  To date, your gifts total $18,733 toward are challenge goal of $22,600, the total of our gifts last year.  Our first time donor goal is three. We number two first time donors.

          We know these continue to be extraordinary times.  For the Appeal we ask that you be as generous to God, and the words of God, as God has been generous to you.  Your gift, then, will be the right one.  And we are grateful.  All those who benefit from your generosity are most grateful!

Our Demisemiseptcentennial

          It is not too early to begin looking forward to November of 2022.  We will mark then the 175th anniversary of the founding, by Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick, of the parish of St. John, Apostle & Evangelist.  That anniversary is formally known as the demimsemiseptcentennial!

          After the Old Cathedral on the Riverfront, St. Mary of Victories on Third Street, St. Vincent de Paul on Ninth Street, and St. Joseph on Eleventh Street, we were the fifth parish established in the City of St. Louis.

          The definitive history of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, by Father John Rothensteiner, tells us that: “In November 1847 Father Patrick O’Brien was charged by the Archbishop with the organization of a new congregation in what was the West End of St. Louis.  The neighborhood was as yet a forest and farmland.  Washington Avenue ended in an orchard on Seventh Street and devout worshipers had to plod their way along the woodland paths and unpaved streets to attend Mass at St. John’s.”

In Brief

          We share the joy of Mark and Laura Phillips on the arrival of their second-born, Jocelyn Leighann Phillips, baby sister to Ethan.

          We share the joy, too, Andrew and Abby Hartnett on the birth of their third-born, Matthew Edward, baby brother to Peter and Catherine.

          With Kenny and Rebecca Brandl, and David and Adrienne Mazar we await the “blessed events” in their families, in coming months.

          We keep in prayer Sandy Morris.  After a life threatening bout with Covid19, and after a first hip-replacement surgery in April, on July 15 Sandy will undergo a second replacement surgery.  God keep a careful eye on her.

 

          Faithfully,

          Monsignor Delaney