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Fr. Mark’s Desk - October 15, 2017
Twenty-Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time
“Behold, I have prepared my banquet…everything is ready, come to the feast.”

Dear Parishioners,

When I was in my early 20’s and just out of college, a friend of mine and I made an excursion out West. One of our stops was Zion National Park. Standing at the foot of a rather large canyon, we both decided to follow the path that would take us to the top. The walk was several hours long and rather tiring for two people from the Midwest flatlands. Arriving at the top, I was mesmerized at the vastness of the terrain and the silence surrounding us. I stood in awe for a few minutes, taking it all in, when suddenly my friend said, “OK, let’s go down now!” I was stunned. I was certain I could stand there forever, but figured at least 45 minutes. I asked why he wanted to go down so quickly, and his response was, “Well, we climbed it!”

At that moment, I learned something about myself. When I chose to climb this ‘mountain’ I chose it with the idea of having an encounter. I was going to enter the experience and hold on to it for as long as I could. I didn’t simply want to climb a ‘mountain’ but wanted to be part of the ‘mountain’. My friend climbed, went down, and never looked back. I still think of the mountain today.

Sometimes in life, we do things to get them done. Some things I do to get done are my annual taxes, morning exercise, eating fruits and vegetables and when I taught, grading papers. Some things I do, to have remain with me, are quiet walks, conversations with good friends and believe it or not, preparing homilies. When one enters into a deeper experience, it is always more satisfying than simply accomplishing a task.

This weekend’s Gospel begs the question, “Is our experience with God, a task to simply ‘get over with’ or is our experience one which strengthens our soul? Is God a duty, or is God an encounter?" “Many are invited, but few are chosen” are the words intended to challenge us. We are all invited to the banquet, but the ones who get to stay are the ones who want stay and enjoy. Sometimes this takes a commitment of time, energy, and faith. Sometimes it is easy to climb a ‘mountain’ and not notice the beauty and the silence.

“Come to the feast of heaven and earth, Come to the table of Plenty”.

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Last week, I mentioned the Renew My Church groupings and how these groupings will influence the Church of Chicago and its parishes. Essentially, the Church is asking that we develop a sustainable model of Parish life for the next generation (or 2) in the midst of a reduced number of clergy. Developing such a model of parish life can be life-giving, but only if we understand it will require change on all of our parts. In the midst of fewer clergy, can the Church still be alive and vibrant? Of course it can!! The groupings will give us the opportunity to see and explore new possibilities.

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October is Respect Life month. The greatest gift God provides us is our own humanity. As Christians, this is especially important since we believe the Word became Flesh. Please continue to pray for all human life, especially the unborn.

Have a great week!
Fr. Mark Walter

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