Pastor’s Pen – November 4, 2022

The spiritual dimension of current events

This Sunday marks the opening of the UN Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP 27, Nov. 6-18) in Egypt.  The Jesuits internationally have named Care for Creation as one of our top four apostolic priorities – but we are aware it is probably the one on which we have made the least progress. Pope Francis continues to call us and the whole church – indeed the whole world – to care for the environment as the most pressing moral and religious imperative of our times. While COP27 reminds us of the urgent need for action at the highest levels of government and public policy, there is much more we can do at the level of our parish and our individual lives. The Vatican’s Laudato Si’ Action Platform will help guide our efforts in the coming years.

Here in the U.S., next Tuesday is Election Day. Climate change is sadly not much of a priority on the agenda.  But the issues that are on it certainly demand our careful consideration. I already spoke about this at Sunday mass a few weeks ago: get out and vote, and do so informed by thoughtful, prayerful study of the proposals and the candidates’ positions.  Our Jesuit “way of proceeding” demands intellectual depth and rigor at times like this.

This month of November also brings us two themes for our spiritual reflection and growth. In the Church, it is the month for remembering our deceased, beginning with All Saints (Nov 1) and All Souls (Nov 2). At this Sunday’s liturgy, we will have a special remembrance of our own loved ones who have died in the last year. As we prayed with the Sunday Scriptures at our Team meeting this week, several were moved to tears remembering our own family members who have gone home to God, even as we spoke of our conviction about their sharing Life Eternal with us.  To me this is emblematic of our life together as a parish community: we share in the grief of those grieving losses, and we also share our hope and faith in the Risen One who will bring us all to Life. We give witness to our experience of communion with those who have gone before us, of their ongoing presence in our lives. St. Ignatius speaks so much of Christ’s ministry of consolation – and indeed it is our way of life to bring His consolation to one another, in sharing our joys and sorrows, our grieving and our Hope.

November is also Native American Heritage Month, an opportunity to grow in appreciation of our indigenous peoples and their contributions to our society and culture. But another timely spiritual aspect of the month is the need – as evidenced by recent actions of Pope Francis, the Jesuits, and the US government’s Indian Boarding School Initiative, among others – to acknowledge the past and present sufferings of Native Americans, for the church, government, and other cultural institutions to repent of the harm their actions caused, and to make meaningful reparations. This is challenging spiritual work; we all have a part to play in these processes, and our parish will do its own small part in our 175th Anniversary year programs. I will say more later in the month about the presence of the statue of St. Kateri Tekakwitha in our sanctuary.

Finally, let me mention that this month launches our invitation to partake of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius in early 2023. Based on the good experience many of our parishioners had with the Exercises last year, we hope now to offer them both to parishioners and to those outside our parish.  More about this in the weeks to come!