Today’s Gospel reading is the account of the Pharisee and the tax collector who both go up to the temple to pray. The difference in their prayer is striking. Reread this passage and note the difference not only in their words but in their attitudes. The prayer of the tax collector is every believer’s prayer: “O God, be merciful to me a sinner.” It is an act of faith because only God knows how best to deal with sinners. It is an act of honesty since we know what is in our hearts. And it is an act of humility since it recognizes that it is God and not ourselves who can make us whole again. I am thinking that today’s Gospel invites us to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. What a wonderful way to know again the wonderful healing of God’s love for us.
Traditionally at this time, we begin the parish pastoral council discernment process. Members for the Pastoral Council are selected at a special Discernment Meeting and serve for a period of three years. The chief role of the Council is pastoral planning and visioning for the future and to maintain the integrity of the mission of the parish and its goals and objectives. The pastor, Council, and staff are called to develop “mission-focused” parishes rather than programmatic or financial-driven ones. Of course, these things are good but at the heart of every parish should be zeal for the mission of Jesus Christ. This is a “larger vision” which draws a parish community more to Christ himself and not only having various activities. If you feel that God may be calling you to minister in this way, please see the special announcement in the bulletin. We will be announcing a Discernment Gathering for the Council soon.
This week we are celebrating two beautiful feast days: All Saints and All Souls Day. The Solemnity of All Saints is a holy day of obligation on which we attend Mass as we would on Sunday. It’s a beautiful feast as we recall all those great men and women who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith. Then, On November 2nd, we keep the traditional All Souls Mass. This is an important day for people of many cultures. After our morning Mass, we will process to the cemetery for the blessing of the graves.
As I close this letter, I remember that this Monday, October 28th is the 47th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. I was ordained in Oakland at St. Francis de Sales Cathedral surrounded by family and friends. In a special way, I remember my dear parents Dorothy Jacoba and Vincenzo Antonio who were so proud that day. I can still see my dad in the front pew taking those 8mm movies! I also remember the Italian dinner following when we ran out of wine! I don’t know how he did it but papa came into the hall with huge jugs of good old Cribari burgundy wine! Everyone shouted out: “It’s a miracle!” I pray God’s blessings on my parents and family and all those people just like you who have graced my life over these many years! Pray for me!
Love, Fr. Vince