Sunday, August 23, 2015

Fr. Chuck's Column, Sunday, August 23

The Diocesan newspaper is the CATHOLIC SPIRIT. All registered parishioners should be receiving this paper at your homes in the mail. If for some reason you are not receiving it, please call the parish business office so we can get the paper delivered to you.  After all, we as a parish are paying for it for all registered parishioners.
If you do receive the paper, then I hope you take a few minutes to look it through. Watch especially for articles written by your fellow St. Austin parishioners.  Mary Lou Gibson has an interesting column on “Saints For Our Times.” It is well written and informative. I always learn something from her column. 
Likewise, every issue there is a wonderful column by parishioner Norman Farmer on Faith Through Art. Dr. Farmer, an Emeritus Professor English and Humanities at UT, delves into the symbolism and iconography of a work of Renaissance religious art, making the piece of art come more fully alive as a statement of faith. It is always interesting. It will also be interesting to see if he stays with the renaissance period, or takes works of art from other periods as well.
And there are other interesting and informative pieces in each issue of the CATHOLIC SPIRIT. This is not to say that everything in each issue is worthwhile. One thing that catches my attention each time is a sixth of a page yellow advertisement for Saint Francis Village. Apparently this is a retirement community. But it also proudly proclaims that it is a “gated community.” I just have trouble holding the concept of St. Francis of Assisi and the concept of “gated community” together in my head at the same time. 
Perhaps I tend to view St. Francis through the lens of Pope Francis, who is always going beyond barriers, encouraging priests and faithful to go out, to mingle with the sheep, to get out into world, to be among the people–especially the poor and marginalize –and to even have the “smell of the sheep.” Pope Francis is not keen on gates. It is hard for me, therefore, to picture St. Francis of Assisi as residing in a gated community. It somehow just doesn’t fit.  Gated communities may all be well and good and have a proper place in the selection of communities, but they just don’t come across as Franciscan. The Franciscans I know, like those at St. Boniface Church in the Tenderloin section of San Francisco, welcome the homeless and have dozens of people sleeping on the pews of the church during non-Mass hours. The Franciscans there are very open and almost the opposite of a “gated community.”  You can read about what the Franciscans do at St. Boniface Church at and also at 
Given that we have a lot of homeless in our neighborhood here, who are often sleeping in the alley behind us, under our gym, in the stairwells of our garage, etc., it probably is a good thing that our parish is staffed by Paulists and not by Franciscans. Otherwise we may want to open the church during non-Mass hours for the homeless to come in and catch some sleep in our pews. Could you imagine that? A bunch of homeless snoring in our pews! Oh my God!
But as it is, when occasionally someone does come in and nap in the pews, we usually rouse them awake and inform them of no sleeping in the church. But if we wanted to be more like Pope Francis, then obviously we wouldn’t. 
So you never know where reading the CATHOLIC SPIRIT will take you!
God bless,

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