Why Pray for Preachers?
If you were here for any of the Triduum services, I imagine that the numbers in attendance amazed you as they did me. When the great feasts bring non-churchgoers to church they offer us a heaven-sent chance to connect. To me this year’s Holy Week gave our whole parish community, laity, religious, and clergy, a singular chance to testify that Jesus lives and calls us to life. Succinctly put, the days were beautiful and they were effective; one could catalogue aesthetic successes, but one could also feel the conviction behind them. In this lies the difference between celebrating mysteries and executing ceremonies. Thanks go to the Holy Spirit for having gathered us all in such marvelous fashion and for having woven so many personal gifts into a fabric that is “revealing” in a whole new way. Certainly, I will never express adequately my gratitude to Him for including me in your company.
Perhaps Holy Week 2017 can teach us about our capacity to bear effective witness all year long. To that end, I invite you to participate in eight days of prayer for a new Pentecost.
Consider some things so deeply implanted in us that they often go un-named. If you are reading these lines, faith probably makes a significant difference in your life. On the Cross you recognize your Savior, and in the Eucharist you experience His support and companionship. It is a fair bet that you have persevered in parish life because you are reorganizing your life around the truth of the Resurrection. Simply, you have the Easter Faith.
From this gift we derive comfort and enlightenment, challenge and nourishment: faith gives confidence in believing. But why is this gift so hard to share in our times? God is allowing you and me to live in a society that finds it difficult to believe. That which gives coherence and direction to our lives, eludes our contemporaries. So I ask: how do we react to living with secular people who do not “get it”? We could become defensive and circle the wagons against our age, or we could become angry and belligerent toward it. We could resign ourselves to being old fashioned, or we could decide that every age does its own thing and worry no longer.
But from the very frustration of not being able to share belief, we might also discover a whole new avenue of growth for ourselves, and find the depth of believing that shines forth in the Saints. When the Saints recognize the doubt, indifference, or error of their neighbors, they love all the more, and longing for the belief of their companions deepens their life of prayer. Standouts in this category are the two patrons of our parish, St. Vincent Ferrer (1357-141) and St. Catherine of Siena (1347-1380) were Dominican preachers who lived in a plague-ravaged Europe and sharply divided church. Both burned with desire that others would come to know the God who brought them so much joy and fulfillment. God responded to each with a singular gift of communicating the Gospel to their contemporaries.
I feel we have the task of begging God for the words, images and insights that will help the people of this time connect with the timeless content of what Christ reveals. I am inviting you to join me in prayer for this intention during the eight days that connect the two feasts of our patrons. We can ask these two holy preachers to pray that we share their zeal for truth, their love of souls, and their empathy with their contemporaries.
Mass will be offered each day for your intentions, starting on April 28, the Vigil of the Feast of
St. Catherine of Siena, and concluding on May 5, the Feast of St. Vincent Ferrer in the calendar of the order. (We also celebrated a feast day for St. Vincent Ferrer on April 5 according to the traditional calendar.) Prayers for this intention will be said at all our parish Masses and a sermon related to this octave of prayer will be preached daily in both of our churches. Please make use of the envelopes available at the shrines of St. Vincent and St. Catherine to let us know of your personal intentions. Please know also that the Friars in our community will be joining in eight days of pleading for the spread of the Gospel, so that more and more people may live serenely on the foundation of Christ’s promise of life.
I believe that when, from the gut, we desire others to have what we have, we have it all the more.
These days of prayer will open our Parish Jubilee, connecting the 150th anniversary of Dominican parish ministry in New York with the 100th anniversary of St. Vincent Ferrer church.