Pastor's Corner

The dignity of man rests above all on the fact that he is called to communion with God.  This invitation to converse with God is addressed to man as soon as he comes into being.  For if man exists, it is because God has created him through love; and through love continues to hold him in existence.  He cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and entrusts himself to his creator. CCC 27
For about a century now, we at Sacred Heart-St. Mary Parish, have tried to provide a forum, for people who live in Port Arthur to come and converse with Him, commune with Him and worship Him along with their brothers and sisters as the faith community.  We formed a fellowship of believers.  History, circumstance or indeed God’s providence has brought about our two parishes being merged into one in 2006.  We accept God’s plans for us.  As St. Paul says everything works for good.

Yes we are a faith community.  Our faith makes us to see everything from the perspective of God guiding us as he guides history and everything about us as individuals and as a community.  Today our culture demands independence of us.  We are supposed to have everything “under control”.  And yet our faith asks submission of us in matters we do not fully understand.

A famous author of our day once said that the three parts of love are: kindness, encouragement, and challenge.  Kindness tells the beloved: “I am with you.  I am on your side.  I am in your corner.  Whatever I do or say is an act of love."  Encouragement means giving the beloved courage in him or herself.  A common temptation is doing for others what they can do for themselves.  There is always the danger of what is called "co-dependency".  The true lover says, "Believe in yourself, in the gifts that have already been given to you."  The third part of love is challenge: "Find a way to do it!  Just do it."

God seems to love us in all these ways.  In the beginning of my life I sat in God's lap.  God was very kind to me.  God told me in indelible language that I was loved.  I knew that I could accept myself as I was.  Then God encouraged me to believe in myself, in the gifts that he had already given to me.  When things go wrong or at least as I had not planned them I think God is testing me.  God is then challenging me.

Obviously, there is much in life we don't comprehend about faith.  That remains the "blind leap" the absolute paradox.  In such situations, God is attracting us to a deeper and more trusting faith.  Things look quite different when they are transformed by looking through the eyes of faith.  Dag Hammarksjold, the late Secretary General of the United Nations was quoted to have said, "On the day I first believed, the world made sense to me, and life had a new meaning for me."

John Powell in his book, The Challenge of Faith, quoted Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, a man of extraordinary intelligence as saying, "I see and touch God everywhere.  Everything means both everything and nothing to me.  Everything is God to me; everything is dust to me.  Yes, Lord God, I believe...It is not just your gifts that I discern it is you yourself that I encounter, you who cause me to share in your being, and whose hands mold me."
Since God is our source and cause we need that link with Him to be.  That is our relationship with God.  Every authentic and intimate relationship requires communication.  In prayer we communicate with God.  We ask for things.  We praise God for the apparent goodness and lavishness of creation.  The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls it "...the habit of being in the presence of the trice-holy God and in communion with Him.  This communion of life is always possible because through baptism, we have already been united with Christ.  Thus we have faith--the filial adherence to God beyond what we feel and understand.  I is possible because the beloved Son gives us access to the Father.  He can ask us to "seek" and to "knock" since he himself is the door and the way."  The Catechism (2010) tells us that just as Jesus prays to the Father and gives thanks before receiving his gifts, so he teaches us filial boldness:  "Whatever you ask in prayer believe that you receive it."(Matthew 7:7)  Knowledge of the word of God would increase our faith.

Much lament is heard these days about the loss of faith and the decline in attendance at worship.  When it comes to matters of true and false, right and wrong, everything seems up for grabs.  This may be due to what Jesus warned against in the Gospel--the blind leading the blind.

At some point in the distant past, Catholics had a store of common knowledge, which they had memorized.  The store was limited, but it included basic prayers, the Apostles' Creed, the Seven Sacraments, the Ten Commandments, Six Commandments of the Church, including the regulations regarding marriage, worship, Lent, Friday and parish support.  Such knowledge was taught to children and young people in Catechism classes, in Catholic schools and by parents and grandparents.

In the years before, during and after the Second Vatican Council, it became evident that this content was not sufficient.  It did not include much knowledge and/or love of Sacred Scripture, the history and meaning of the Liturgy or the Church's teaching of Social Justice for example.  That is why we have devoted every Thursday evening to the in-depth study of the Bible. to deepen our relationship with Jesus.  We spend an hour of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament before weekday Masses.  Come join our parish life and community.  Increase your faith and knowledge of God in the Sacraments, Scripture and community prayer.  God Bless you as you come.

I leave you with this word of St. Paul to the Ephesians (5:23-24).  May God the Father and Lord Jesus Christ give to all Christians and love with faith.  May God's grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with undying love.

Fr. Sampson Etim, MSP

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