By Fr. George Welzbacher
June 23, 2013
In this next-to-last Pastor's Page I have invited a voice from the pews to speak. The voice is that of Theresa (Mrs. Steven) Fischer. Theresa speaks about what St. John's parish has meant to her and to her wonderful family over the years.
* * * * *Spring. A time of all things renewed, a time when we prune the old to encourage and foster new growth. We celebrate Easter, our Risen King, His glorious Ascension and the gift of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. It is a time of anticipation and hope. Springtime presents a different sort of anticipation in 2013. My beloved parish, the Church of Saint John of Saint Paul, will be closing its doors at the end of June. It will be the end of daily worship in the beautiful church which has been a in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood since 1922. [The parish was founded by Archbishop John Ireland in 1886.]
My own journey at Saint John's began nearly 21 years ago. I was 25, newly graduated from nursing school and raising two little girls on my own. Life had assumed a steadier and calmer rhythm compared to the turbulent years of my late teens and early twenties. Raised in the Church since birth, I epitomized a generation that was mostly lost, knowing little to nothing about the teachings of the Church and certainly not practicing my faith in any coherent manner. The spring following my college graduation gave me the opportunity to go on a blind date with a fresh-eyed choir boy from Saint John's. Three years later I was walking down the aisle of this Dayton's Bluff institution, standing before the exquisite altar and vowing to love and honor my future husband all the days of my life.
My marriage vows were not only my beginning as a new bride but where, for the first time, I was able to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit. What did it mean to be Catholic? Was contraception really wrong? Why? Mortal sin, venial sin, confession, our Blessed Mother ... all subjects the Holy Spirit invited me to ponder and study.
Our new family claimed as its own a pew near the eastern windows of the church. Over eighteen years, in the beauty of the light that poured through the stained glass above us, I gazed at Saint Joseph cradling the plump and angelic baby Jesus and marveled at the joy and blessings of adding six little people to our pew. As I sat near the third Station of the Cross I pondered the pain I had caused our dear Lord. I soaked up the richness of the truth preached from the pulpit and the encouraging words of the parishioners seated near me -- the same kind souls who would rejoice with me when I actually made it through an entire Mass without having to step out and walk a fussy baby. My years spent pacing in the vestibule taught me important lessons as well, my own faltering steps of learning to die to self and to accept the crosses God has chosen to send me.
How then to react to the news that my beloved parish would be closing its doors? My first response was filled with fear, sadness and trepidation. Participating in the planning of our final Mass and luncheon seemed surreal, as if I were planning a funeral. Slowly I have felt the Holy Spirit nudging me, pushing me vigorously, truth be told, to frame this painful parting in a new way, not only for my own benefit but especially for the sake of my family. I reflected on the joy that God had formed me and made me into a new creation, that we are all called to be salt and light in the world, to be sent forth.
The parishioners of Saint John's will be scattered like seeds, taking root in new soil, and, with God's grace, continuing to learn and grow in our beautiful Catholic faith. I firmly believe the timing is not coincidental. When the world seems to have gone mad and I need the security of my wonderful parish more than ever, instead God, loving Father that He is, is pushing me out of the nest. I must depend on Him and Him alone and trust that a greater good will flourish as a result.
My gratitude runs as deep as my sadness and my joy. Thank you, Dear Lord, for placing me beneath Saint John's hallowed roof and for opening my heart and mind over these many years. Thank you for the wonderful individuals who under that roof have challenged, encouraged and inspired me . Thank you, Father George Welzbacher, for your wisdom and for the example of a life lived fully for Christ.
Saint John's will never be just a church in the eyes of this wife and mother. It is the place where I fully learned what it meant to be a woman of faith and a Catholic.
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And Now, the Great Marriage Experiment
The Right Side of History surely can't be found on the Wrong Side of Reality
Star Tribune, June 2, 2013
One of the clearest things about Minnesota's new gay-marriage law is that it requires Minnesotans to "play pretend" - to embrace obvious fictions as reality.
For example, the law states that citizens must view the union of two people of the same sex - who can't produce a child - as identical to that of a man and woman, whose sexual complementarity is the only thing that can. The law also declares that, henceforth, "when necessary to implement the rights and responsibilities of spouses or parents in a civil marriage between persons of the same sex," words like "mother" and "father" "must be construed in a neutral manner to refer to a person of EITHER gender" under Minnesota law. But a woman can't be a father, and a man can't be a mother. It's a biological fact Minnesota lawmakers can't repeal, no matter how much they wish to.
Our lawmakers seem utterly untroubled by their vote to impose a regime of "let's pretend." What explains this?
The legislators and their supporters who celebrated the bill's passage on the State Capitol lawn made clear that what they crave is to be in the vanguard of a brave new world. "By your political courage you join that pantheon of exceptional leaders who did something extraordinary," Gov. Mark Dayton proclaimed as he signed the law. "You changed the course of history for our state and our nation." President Obama received similar accolades when he announced his support for gay marriage. Apparently, for some folks, there's nothing headier than to be on the Right Side of History.
But here's a dirty little secret. No one has the remotest idea where our state officials' decision to turn our fundamental social institution upside down will take our society in coming decades. We know the experiment is starting out badly, because it's based on pretending that demonstrable falsehoods are true. We have no idea what ripple effects it will have, how its redefinition of parenthood will affect children, or whether we'll next see a push for marriage as the union of three or more loving people: the logical next step. You would expect our legislators to wrestle with weighty questions like these before deciding to end marriage as we - and all other people on Earth - have always known it. They did not. That's because they (at least the true believers among them) were motivated by a quasi-religious faith that "marriage equality" will inevitably lead our state to the secular equivalent of the Promised Land.
Gay marriage is a crusade, and the driving force behind it is the secular religion of progressivism. This faith's adherents put their hope, not in salvation after death, but in a hazy and glorious future here on Earth.
The journalist Christopher Caldwell has put it succinctly: "The argument for gay marriage is always made in the name of history - not the history we have lived, but the history we are yet to live." Will that future turn out as planned? Progressive dogma leaves no doubt that it must. Those who dare to question this - like gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer or Chick- fil-A president Dan Cathy - are branded heretics, and figuratively burned at the stake by the media, Hollywood and fervent wavers of the Rainbow Flag.
Social commentator George Weigel sees the roots of the progressive faith in an "intense revival" of an ancient religious movement called Gnosticism. This movement has taken many forms throughout history. But it is always an elite phenomenon, and always holds that the key to human flourishing is possession of a special knowledge that allows man to transcend the material world, so he can build paradise for himself on his own terms.
Modern man - at least many intellectuals - chafes under the constraints of reality. He longs to be "as a god," to pretend that there are no givens, that "everything in the human condition is plastic and malleable." In short, says Weigel, he craves to believe that "everything can ... be bent to human willfulness, which is to say, human desire."
Today, Gnosticism is most "powerfully embodied" in the Sexual Revolution and its ideology of gender, writes Weigel. That ideology holds that maleness and femaleness - two elements of the human condition that have always been understood as the essence of "givenness" - are now to be viewed as mere cultural constructs.
Weigel points to Spain's Zapatero government, which passed a law in 2007 permitting men to change themselves into women, and vice versa, by a declaration at a government office - absent any surgery - after which a new national identity card, with the new gender, is issued. "It is hard to imagine a more explicit expression of personal willfulness overpowering natural givenness," he concludes.
The gay marriage crusade is just the latest manifestation of the secular religion of America's intellectual elites. Who knows what new game of "let's pretend" our chattering classes will impose on us next?
Katherine Kersten is a senior fellow at the Center of the American Experiment. The views expressed here are her own. She is at kakersten@gmail. com
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