“It is me you are supposed to be following, not my work!” –
words of our Lord to Venerable Cardinal Francis-Xavier Nguyễn Van Thuận
October 29, 2020
I recently encountered the life and spirituality of Cardinal Van Thuận, who spent thirteen years under arrest by the Communist Vietnamese government. His life was marked by profound suffering, such as seeing members of his own family be killed, experiencing long periods of solitary confinement, and feelings of helplessness as he was unable to minister to people in the way that he greatly desired.
In the small book of reflections that he composed while in prison, published under the title Prayers of Hope, Words of Courage, he reflects on our call to follow God, and not just the work of God. He writes: “Because of your infinite love for me, Lord, you called me to follow you, to be your child and your disciple. Then you entrusted me with a unique mission […] Still, my experience has taught me that I confuse these two realities: God and God’s work.”
God and God’s work. No doubt many of us are working harder, now more than ever. We can sometimes think this way. If I just work harder, we’ll be “back to normal” sooner. If I just work harder, I’ll finally be able to convince people about my opinion on the virus. If I just work harder, I’ll hopefully be able to see my preferred candidate win next Tuesday’s election. If I just work harder or more creatively, then maybe my ministry will be less dry or more enjoyable. If I just work, work, and work…
The suffering that Cardinal Van Thuận experienced led to a profound letting go of his desire to see his work bear fruit: “Kneeling before your altar, close to the Eucharist, I heard your answer, Lord: It is me you are supposed to be following, not my work! […] It matters little who takes over your work after you; that is my business. Your business is to choose me!”
There is much to pray for in this coming week – the holy men and women that we honor this Sunday on All Saints, all of our deceased loved ones as we celebrate All Souls on Monday, and for a peaceful election on Tuesday. But in all of this, I pray that we choose to once again surrender, to let go, and to choose to follow God and not His work. Know of my love, prayers, and support, always!
All Souls Remembrance Service. The Church, from its beginning, has always honored with great respect the memory of the dead. We believe that the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout our lives do not unravel with death. It’s been our tradition to remember all who have died. Due to the pandemic this year, our parish leadership has decided to prerecord our All Souls Day Remembrance Service. This way we can still come together in prayer and stay safe. You can find the worship aid here. During the service, a special candle will be lit as we remember all of our beloved parishioners who have died within our Family of Four Parishes this year. We remember…View Names of all the Faithful Departed. The on-going pandemic is driving a wedge into how we say good-bye and mourn. A Bereavement Booklet has been prepared for you. This booklet has reflections, prayers, and rituals that might help you move forward in the grieving process. A Bereavement Support Group will be offered virtually beginning November 9th, see the booklet for more information. We also have an online Book of Remembrance this year. All of the above resources can be found on our website at ssppmilw.org/all-souls-remembrance. Please contact Terri Balash at email@example.com or 414-469-6173 if you have any questions.
Video Mass for Sunday, November 1st. Here is the recorded Mass for this upcoming Sunday (Solemnity of All Saints). We provide a worship aid to help you better enter into the prayer of the Mass. Please know that we will continue these recorded Masses indefinitely. We are so grateful to DV Productions, our Liturgists Mary Robertson and Brian Eggers, and our music ministers for their efforts in making our prayer as beautiful as possible.
In Person Mass. Our Mass schedule can be found on the Reopening and Mass Times pages of the parish website. Please be sure to register online to attend an in person Mass. Registration can be found on the Reopening page of the parish website. The link is included every week in the dark blue box at the bottom of this newsletter.
Who Do You Know? Catholic East Elementary is looking for Educational Assistants. If you know of anyone who is friendly, has a warm personality, loves children and would enjoy a school environment, please urge them to send their resume to Principal Tony Gonzalez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Riverwest Food Pantry Thanksgiving Meals. Now more than ever, neighbors in our community will need help to provide a Thanksgiving meal for their families. This year, to keep our entire community safe, the Riverwest Food Pantry is collecting financial donations for food gift cards instead of collecting non-perishable food items. Buy a Thanksgiving Meal for a family in our community by going to www.riverwestfoodpantry.org/thanksgiving-giveaway.
Faithful Citizenship. This is our final installment on Faithful Citizenship before next week’s election on Tuesday, November 3. Please read the attached document highlighting the importance of Catholic Social Teaching regarding the family and care for creation as you form your conscience in deciding how to vote. And remember: Vote!!
St. Vincent de Paul. Six Saints Conference – My name is Sophie Paruzynski and I attend Divine Savior Holy Angels High School. My mom is a member of the Six Saints St. Vincent de Paul Conference. For my service project this year, I will be collecting and packaging feminine hygiene products for the women and teenage girls that St. Vincent serves. Access to these particular products is not easy to come by for low income families. Please consider contributing or donating the following items: deodorant, panty liners, sanitary pads, tampons, and soap. You can drop off the items at the Three Holy Women Parish Office (1716 N Humboldt Ave) on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays from 8:00 am - 3:00 pm. Thank you for helping us help others. To learn more, please contact the Six Saints (THW, OLDP, SSPP) Conference President Laurie Jacobs at 815-861-4645. Contributions to the Cathedral/Old St. Mary Conference of St. Vincent de Paul can be mailed to 831 N Van Buren St, Milwaukee, WI 53202.
Parish Financial Support. We continue to be humbled by your financial support of the parish during these tender and tenuous times. Thank you so much, it has been amazing to witness the generosity of so many! Please mail in your envelopes and contributions to our parish office (SS Peter & Paul Parish, 2491 N Murray Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211), and our parish staff will process these.
Please do not hesitate to contact me (Cell: 414-305-3824; email@example.com) or Fr. Tim (Cell: 414-762-7986; firstname.lastname@example.org) if you need anything! Be assured of our love and prayers.
Sincerely, with love,