Fr. Pawel - Letter of Encouragement - April 20th, 2020

Dear Parishioners,

I hope you are healthy and in internal peace.  I would like you to use this time of “self-quarantine” to renew your relationship with God. The common excuse for not praying at all or not enough usually goes like this: “I am too busy”. Well, now this excuse too many of us does not sound very convincing. I will suggest a few forms of prayers.

 It is always good to start the journey with the rosary or divine chaplet.  Both forms of prayers are repetitive, which has few benefits. First, they contain a certain rhythm that may put one in the peaceful meditative state of mind and spirit. Secondly, sometimes we complain that we do not know how to pray, or even where to start. There we go! If you are a beginner or spiritually advanced, the rosary and the chaplet fit all spiritual sizes! Start or continue with those simple but powerful prayers.

Another form I recommend is “lectio divina”. The term comes from Latin and literally means “Divine lesson” or translating it into more an understandable term in English as a “spiritual reading”. So what is it about? More or less pick a spiritual book. Not the book of the history of the church, politics of the church or the social teaching. Not even the heavy theological discourses. They are important readings that may enrich you intellectually, but they may not be the exact spiritual food that you are looking for. The good book for spiritual reading is the one which focuses strictly on the spiritual matter. From my experience I can recommend, from the top of my head, anything written by St. Francis de Sales, bishop Fulton Sheen, and some of the writings of Thomas Merton. Then we have Frs. Lorenzo Scupoli and Thomas Keating. The list goes on. I just mentioned those authors simply because their writing has been my spiritual food for the last few months. You can search for old, solid, and classic Catholic spirituality of the Jesuits, Benedictines or Trappists. I would recommend staying away from the spirituality from the highest shelve such as Carmelite school of spirituality of St. Sr. Theresa of Avila or St. John of the Cross. At this moment it could be more than we can bite.  If you are still undecided about your choice, please remember the one book that is pretty spiritual, and you cannot go wrong: The Bible. You can treat the Bible, especially the New Testament, as your spiritual reading, or as an addition to your new established habit of reading spiritual books. The bottom line is to choose with your heart, so you can read, think, meditate on it, and then apply it to your life, first on the spiritual, then emotional level. We do not ignore the intellectual aspect of the reading, but it is just not a priority during the “divine lesson”. It is not called the “intellectual lesson” for a reason, but it is a spiritual encounter with God on the spiritual level.

Finally, since we have no access to the sacrament of reconciliation, I would like to encourage you to say the act of contrition every night before you go to bed. Make the effort to examine the course of the day. It may take you a minute or two. Name the good things that happened to you during this time. And be grateful to God for them. Then name the things that you fail to accomplish or simply you put God as a second one: in your words, thoughts and deeds. Ask Him to forgive you for your infidelities. Do it not because you are afraid of the punishment, but because you are sorry that you hurt and disappointed Him and yourself. Then say the act of contrition. Then you are ready for a peaceful sleep because you know you made it right, as much as you could, with yourself and your Heavenly Father.

P.S. I would like to thank you again for staying in touch with the parish. Thank you for your letters, calls, prayers and continued financial support of the parish. I am proud of being your pastor. I am proud of you, my dear parishioners. And I am proud, just as you are, to be a part of St. Catherine of Bologna, the family of the families.

Pax Christi,

Your Pastor,

Fr. Pawel Szurek

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