Twilight Twitches

Twilight Twitches

fetscherDear Family,
Last week I ended my Twitch with the following couple of paragraphs.

“I think if you went to (the sacrament) reconciliation regularly for the purpose of asking yourself, ‘Who has the Lord been trying to touch through me?’, you might be very happy with the experience. ‘Lord, let the grace of this sacrament help me see those people and those opportunities.’ ‘...and thank you for giving me this opportunity to ask myself that question in your presence.’ Aha! True Reconciliation.

Maybe that can help us stop thinking of the Sacrament of Reconciliation as a giant dumpster; the Republic or Waste Management Sin Bin.

fetscherDear Family,
A few weeks ago, I experienced a first in my 50+ years of priesthood. At the regularly scheduled time for the sacrament of reconciliation, NO ONE came. Not one person.

It shouldn't have been a surprise, I guess, because even normally the numbers each week are low.

A hundred thoughts began to germinate. Why are so few sharing in the sacrament? Are we teaching badly? Was there a bad experience with some priest and his less-than-pastoral approach? Have we succeeded in stressing God's mercy so well that when we mess up, we don't think it matters much? Are the hours for the sacrament inconvenient? Sometimes I think we already do good imitations of 7-11's trying to be the convenience store for all. We say you can come anytime.

fetscherDear Family,
Advent! Ad venire, literally 'to come to.'

Last Sunday I spoke about the Aramaic word, maranatha. Depending on how you pronounce it, marana-tha, or maran-atha, it can have two meanings; "Come, Lord" or "The Lord is come." Our on-going challenge is dealing with what theologians call the 'already' and the 'not yet.' (It's something like, I already have my bills but the money to pay them is 'not yet' in my bank account. Bad joke. Nevermind.)

Many years ago, I remember one of our seminary profs talking about trying to communicate. He said, "Tell them what you're going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them." I think he was also the one who may have told us that someone had to hear something eight times before it really stuck.

I know he wasn't saying people are dumb. I think he was saying that our attention span sure can be short, and that was before a world of 24/7 news cycles. This morning's crisis is this afternoon's old news.

I don't know if those ideas are true, but I'm going to use them as an excuse for repeating some things I know I've said in the past.

fetscherDear Family,
The name of the feast challenges us if we were to think of the Lord as some great earthly potentate. This potentate reigns over hearts!

Listen to the words of Pope Pius XI when he established the feast on December 11, 1925, the end of the special Holy Year he had called. The language is sort of 'churchy' but there can be no mistaking the fact that Pius' underlying concern was the fate of the world as the likes of Hitler and Mussolini were com-ing onto the world's stage. What could with-stand that?

fetscherDear Family,
On Thursday, once again we celebrate the national Day of Thanks. The history of the event is worth a trip to Wikipedia if you're a history buff. From the Pilgrims in 1621, through various shapes and sizes over time, the day worked its way into our national culture. You wouldn't think there would be so much discussion surrounding a celebration we all take for granted.

I read in one place that the head of Federated Stores (Macy's among others) urged President Franklin Roosevelt to push the date a little earlier so the Christmas shopping season could start sooner. It used to be that it was in poor taste to start the Christmas selling before Thanksgiving. Imagine that. I saw Christmas stuff out this year before Halloween. It certainly begs the questions, "Thanks to whom?" and, "For what?"

fetscherDear Family,
One hundred years ago today, World War I ended with the Armistice (literally, "stopping arms.") In 1938 it became a formal holiday and in 1954 President Eisenhower signed the bill to make it Veterans Day, a day to honor all who have served in the military. (Memorial Day honors those who died, and Armed Forces Day in May honors those currently serving.)

I spent (probably too much) time reading the history of not only the day but of the personalities and the accounts of so many of the battles and wars since 1918. Many of us have lived through so much of it all. I was born four months before Pearl Harbor and as I've told you before, one of my early memories is the uproar of Bayonne refinery sirens from New Jersey and boat horns from the Kill Van Kull and cars and trains rolling past me as I stood on my grandmother's front lawn watching it all. It was V-J day.

fetscherDear Family,

Neighbor, someone who is a 'near-dweller.' SO, the question of the day might be, "Who is my near-dweller?" As I thought about it, it seems like that means anybody, from my great pastoral assistant to the person I find myself standing next to when I'm checking out of Publix. It seems they all qualify; folks who are near.

It's one thing to be nice to Annie. Even then, I can be oblivious to her presence, because sometimes it's so easy to take your closest friends and co-workers for granted. That's the danger of being around someone so much you run the risk of not seeing them.

fetscherDear Family,
My mind is in a swirl. (So what else is new?) I'm writing this Twitch on Tuesday the 23rd. Hope is a great way to start out, because I'm hoping all the preparations that are underway for Oktoberfest will bear fruit (or brats and sauerkraut in this case.)

I'm hoping that we don't totally wear out all the folk working. I'm hoping that the light-stringers will teeter safely on their ladders and the cleaner-uppers will make the task look easy and that it WILL be easy because there are so many of them.

I know at some point I'll probably find Elli hand-grating something. I'm hoping she doesn't scrape a knuckle.

I'm hoping that people who waited until the last minute are going to be able to get tickets.

I'm hoping that the cool evening breezes that I experienced last night (Fall finally got the memo) will waft around our spaces on Friday night.

fetscherDear Family,
One good thing about this unending hot clammy summer: it will be a great excuse to have a very cold beer (or two) on Friday night as we gather for our brauts and good stuff for another Oktoberfest. (Just don't drive!)

I think we should use the some of the proceeds to help with relief for the people and parishes affected in the hurricane Michael's path. We can add those proceeds to our special collection for them. The Archbishop told me the whole archdiocese will join to help and we'll be part of that effort. In advance, my heartfelt thanks to the Oktoberfest team who prepare the "fest." They will help us extend our hearts and hands in Christ's name to afflicted folks in the panhandle.

fetscherDear Family,
Do not be afraid of holiness. It will take away none of your energy, vitality or joy. On the contrary, you will become what the Father had in mind when he created you, and you will be faithful to your deepest self. Grace is multiplied among people. (Pope Francis Gaudete et Exsultatae 1:32)

Those words appear on the top of the certificates that each of the honorees received last Sunday as representatives from 110 parishes gathered to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our Archdiocese.

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