Saturday, March 14, 2015

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, March 15

I would like to bring you up to date on a few things. Two Sundays ago, on March 1, we had an incident in the church between the 9 and the 11:30 a.m. Masses. A man from our area, against whom we had a “criminal trespass order,” ignored my request to not go into the church and then refused to leave. Because he is known to us and we have had some problems with him in the past, I called the Austin police. He refused to listen to them, and by the time it was over, he had an altercation with the officers and was arrested. He is a very large man, fell under the pews, and it took about 8 to 10 police officers to get him out. Hence we had a large number of police vehicles parked out in front of church on Guadalupe Street between the Masses. If you saw or heard of this, that is what was going on.
The man was charged with resisting arrest and at last report was in jail. I have since heard from a relative of his that he had been spiraling downward for the last several months, primarily because he refused to take his medications for mental illness. I have since heard from his attorney that they are having him evaluated by a psychiatrist and trying to get him some mental health help, which would be the best outcome for him and his family.
It is all too common that someone who needs medication begins to function well, and then once they feel good, they think that they do not need the medication and stop taking it. Then the mental illness again takes over.
This person and his family definitely need our prayers. Our community, too, needs prayers. We are an urban church with a good number of homeless in our area. The incidence of mental illness in the homeless population is unfortunately high. We welcome all kinds of people who come through our doors, and we try to do the best we can to both help and also keep everyone else safe and protect our property. It is sometimes a difficult balancing act. On the whole, I think we as a parish generally do pretty well. If you have questions or comments about this, please let me know. Thanks.
On a totally different subject: you may see that we have gotten some more hymnals. These are a generous donation from St. John Vianney Parish. Thank you! They have gotten new hymnals and gave their old hymnals to us. We needed new hymnals since some of ours are worn out and falling apart, but we cannot afford a whole set of new hymnals, which are expensive. Given our tight budget for ministries, we are very happy to make do with these hand-me-down hymnals.
One thing I particularly like about these hymnals is that they do not have the Sunday readings in them. We are fortunate to have good lectors here at St. Austin. The experience of “listening” is a little different than “reading along.” Listening is more a communal stance, whereas reading along is more of an individual approach. I am fully in favor of the more communal approach. The Word of God is proclaimed to us as a community, not as a collection of individuals. Just as you miss a lot if you have your nose buried in the libretto if you go to an opera, so I think you miss out on something in the proclamation of the Word if you are focusing on reading a book rather than the experience of hearing the Word proclaimed. So I, for one, am glad the readings are not there.
If you need the readings because of hearing difficulties or for any other reasons, then know that we are attempting to keep the hymnals with readings in them at the front of the church. If you want to read along, your best bet is to come to the front of the church.

God bless,

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