"New Translation Thursday" has come around once again.
Many of you visit Fr. Anthony Ruff's blog Pray Tell regularly, as do I. Undoubtedly you have read Fr. Ron Raab's post concerning the new translation: "The new Roman Missal Among Those Surviving Poverty."
Fr. Raab was a keynote speaker at the recent national convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians. So many were moved by his words, which challenged us to see real connections between what we celebrate at the liturgy and the paschal mystery as it is played out in the world; not just our own little worlds, but in places where poverty, mental illness, homelessness, and hopelessness abound.
Fr. Raab has written two books that WLP publishes. He begins his book The Work of Our Hands: The Art of Christian Mission with a brief section entitled "Our Story," which begins with his own personal reflection, "his story," if you will:
I hear the gospel with a bruised heart. Our parish community is formed in the midst of people who live outside, who live among the briars of mental illness, who suffer the complexities of long-term addictions. The gospel of genuine service radically transforms my heart, my ideas, and my prayer. The bruises on my heart come from realizing we cannot shortcut people into sobriety or provide adequate housing or even offer sufficient medications. I rely on the healing power of the gospel proclaimed in the Eucharist not only for people who are jailed and naked, but also to heal my own life of prayerful searching. I not only hear the word of God, but I also proclaim it with the same bruised heart and often with tears in my eyes. The challenge- and hope-filled gospels give me courage to work diligently today for the lonely prisoner, the person with physical and emotional disabilities, the person in need of clothing and a cup of coffee.
This perspective, this "story" challenges me deeply. When I think of the service that my own parish provides to the poor and needy, I feel like we are rising, in a small way, to the challenge of relying "on the healing power of the gospel proclaimed in the Eucharist." I support my parish's efforts in whatever ways I can, but it always seems to me that my efforts fall short; there is always more to do.
I have volunteered at my parish to be a part of a working group that will draft a new mission statement for Saint James. The group is quite diverse. I have been a part of this kind of process several times in the past and it has always borne fruit. I am looking forward to discussions that center around the relationship between our liturgical life and our work for justice on Chicago's near South Side. I plan to re-read Ron Raab's book as a part of my own preparation for the parish work.
Please say a little prayer for Saint James.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.