October 2016 Pastoral Letter

Would San Francisco force the Chicago Cubs into a game five for the NL Division Series? Many expected that to be the outcome. But, the Cubs won by rallying for four runs in the ninth inning. Undoubtedly, many Cubs fans were earnestly praying for the Cubs to get the job done in San Francisco so that they could then focus on winning the NL Championship series.

In today’s gospel Jesus tells his disciples and us a parable about the necessity to pray always without becoming weary. If anyone knows anything about persistence in prayer, it would have to be Cubs fans. They have been praying for 108 years! And they have not grown weary!

We pray for a lot of things, people, and circumstances in our lives. Often we approach prayer with the hope that God will fix every thing, person and situation that causes us anxiety or worry. Prayer though is not really about changing God’s mind or forcing God’s hand, but rather prayer is more about changing our own hearts and moving our hands to action.

When we pray we speak the language of God. Through our prayer we express our desire for peace, love, and joy. God wants those things for us as well. But, the more we pray, and hunger and thirst for those things, the more our hearts become oriented to them. Cubs fans are a good example of that. Every year for 108 years, Cubs fans have wanted one thing. They speak the language of baseball as they talk about the prospects each year of the Cubs making it to the World Series. They’ll wear Cubs jerseys, shirts and hats, even to work and church! They’ll sacrifice other activities so that they can watch a game (hopefully they’re not skipping Mass). Their lives become centered on the world of the Chicago Cubs! Prayer should work in the same way. For example, the more I pray for peace, the more I become in tune with God’s vision of peace. This then leads me to change those parts of my life that are not conducive to God’s vision of peace. And I begin to orient my life so that I not only pray for peace, but work for it as well by the way I live my life. In other words, like a Cubs fan, I show my allegiance to God by putting on Christ and living my life as his disciple.

This week, I will be on my annual retreat. As I do every retreat I will be praying for many things, people and circumstances. My prayer won’t be that God would fix those things. Recognizing that God blesses us all with a great capacity to do good, my prayer will be that I become an agent of God for those things to happen.

Along with praying for my mother, family and friends, I will be praying for you, the souls God has entrusted to my care. My prayer for my parishioners will be that they establish and deepen their relationship with God and with each other. I will be praying for our children, and in a special way for the eighth graders. My prayer for our young people will be that they may be inspired to always see the value that faith has in their lives. I will be praying for Fr. Matthias and our sister parish in Uganda. My prayer will be that we never tire in our service to them and all the poor. I’ll pray for our country. My prayer will be that we begin to establish some civility in our public discourse. With each of those prayers, I will ask God to inspire me to be his instrument to answer those prayers.

Prayer is an integral component of our spirituality. But sometimes we don’t have time for it, or we’re not sure how to pray. Or, we may become discouraged by what looks like God’s inattentiveness. For that reason our parish has begun various initiatives to promote and teach prayer in our school and parish. I’m very excited about this and I hope many parishioners will take the opportunity to deepen their spirituality through prayer. More information about those initiatives will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead.

While I’m on retreat, I ask that you keep me in your prayers. Being a Pastor is not easy. It is a great joy, but the challenges that are inherent in parish life do stretch me at times. Please pray that God continue to increase my wisdom and my capacity to love. Please also pray for your own families and friends, for our parish and our country. And if you are so inclined, say a prayer for the Chicago Cubs. I know I will!

– Fr. Sergio