A Note from our Pastor
A NOTE FROM OUR PASTOR
My dear family of St. Matthew!
Let me first say I am not here seeking sympathy or pining in my own “self-pity party.” But two major moves in four months is just by the nature of the reality tough! Not easy! Thank God I don’t have much furniture, but my boxes of books and papers… that’s a whole other story! And then learning new rhythms of life, people, parishes…
Anyway, I am grateful for a time of vacation. As you are reading this on the weekend of the 15th Sunday in Ordinary Time, I am getting ready for some vacation time with my parents in their home country of Slovenija! I will be back for the weekend of the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time.
Now, as some have heard or remember, I am a first-generation born American, and both of my parents became citizens of the United States after immigrating here from Slovenija, where they were married 52 years ago. What a blessing for me to return with them to their place of birth, the home country not only of my grandparents, but also my Mom and Dad’s brothers and sisters and their families, that is, my cousins and their families. Please keep me in prayer for safe travels and a safe return!
One of my favorite vacation activities is mountain hiking (not mountain climbing, just hiking). I like to head to “the top of the world” (well, not literally, because that would be Mount Everest, but up high) to reflect and contemplate the gift of life – in other words to do the one thing that only is needed in each one of our lives, that is, to sit at the feet of Jesus and contemplate His Word and words.
You remember the Gospel where Jesus says to Martha, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her” (Lk 10,42). All of us have the busy-ness of our daily life, and each of the things we are worried and anxious about are gifts from God. But in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, we NEED to do what Mary did: STOP at the feet of Jesus and listen – everyday! THERE IS NEED OF ONLY ONE THING, Jesus says. All other things will find their right place, when we spend some time every day at the feet of Jesus and listen – contemplation of Jesus, the Word of God, and the words He shares with us: THAT is the only thing NEEDED!
I love to go into high country, mountains and hills, as I have in the picture below, into the Slovenian Alps, to contemplate, to spend time with God. But even when these high places are far from us, we all need to go daily into the heights of heaven to God through contemplation.
The Fourth (and last) Part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, under the Life of Prayer section, three Expressions of Prayer are named and discussed, Vocal, Meditation, and, the third expression, Contemplative Prayer. St. Teresa of Jesus (of Avila) says contemplative prayer “in my opinion is nothing else than a close sharing between friends; it means taking time frequently to be alone with him who we know loves us.” This is precisely what Mary, the sister of Martha did, to take time to be and sit and listen at the feet of Jesus. Contemplation seeks Him “whom my soul loves,” namely, it is Jesus, and in Him, the Father. We seek Him, because to desire Him is always the beginning of love, and we seek Him in that pure faith which causes us to be born of Him and to live in Him. In this inner prayer we can still meditate, but our attention is fixed on the Lord himself.
We do not undertake contemplative prayer only when we have the time: we make time for the Lord, with the firm determination not to give up, no matter what trials and dryness one may encounter. We might not always be able to meditate, but one can always enter into inner prayer, independently of the conditions of health, work, or emotional state. And how do we contemplate? We “gather up” the heart, recollect our whole being under the prompting of the Holy Spirit, abide in the dwelling place of the Lord which we are, awaken our faith in order to enter into the presence of Him who awaits us. We let our masks fall and turn our hearts back to the Lord who loves us, so as to hand ourselves over to him as an offering to be purified and transformed. It is the prayer of the child of God, of the forgiven sinner who agrees to welcome the love by which he is loved and who wants to respond to it by loving even more, knowing however, that always everything is grace from God. Contemplative prayer is the poor and humble surrender to the loving will of the Father in ever deeper union with His beloved Son. The light of the countenance of Jesus illumines the eyes of our heart and teaches us to see everything in the light of His truth and His compassion for all people, the more to love Jesus and follow Him.
May we, every day, do the only thing that is needed every day – to contemplate the beauty of God in Jesus. All other things find their place and make more sense only through contemplation. What we receive in contemplation, whether on the highest mountain or in the lowest valley, we are then called to share. “Con-template” literally means to “temple with” or “tabernacle with.” We enter into the Temple of Jesus’ Body as He enters into the temple of our Body and Soul – from contemplation comes communion, life! Shalom-peace and joy!
In the living, loving Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Fr. Gregor