In his January 1, 2012 column, Fr. Eduard Perrone, pastor of Assumption Grotto, pitched a rather interesting resolution for 2012 to parishioners. His pastoral guidance, spoken from the heart of a shepherd, helps those burdened with various worries these days. He puts before us a spiritual response to adversity that is time-tested and one familiar to the saints. You can read it here, copied from the Pastor's Descant column in the Grotto News for January 1, 2012.
Listening in on many a tabletalk conversation in recent weeks I’ve noted some apprehension over the prospects for this new year. Though there are
indications that there may be an economic upturn (calculated just in time
to sway votes) there is concern over what may befall us in the aftermath of
that surge. (I speak here about economics, a subject I would best keep
silence about, no doubt.) The fears I hear expressed however have not so much to do with financial security as with things of greater concern. While there has always been talk of how deserving we are of God’s chastisements–doubtless true–there is worry that we now may be reaching the limits of God’s patience and headed for a time of real trial.
I have never been a proponent of panic, of conspiracy, or of the immanent consummation of the world. The reasons for my reticence to advocate such positions are reasonableness and confidence in Divine Providence. It’s clear however that we, as a people, seem to be ever more capable of outdoing ourselves in wickedness. For those who delight in being at peace it’s not a good time to be living. There’s altogether too much to cause us to be disturbed. The agitation of the world is threatening to invade the serenity of our souls. Being deeply grounded in faith and hope, with a solid spiritual regimen of life, is the way to counteract these unsettling menaces to our Christian life.
There is a proposal I would like to make to you this new year. Being your pastor, your spiritual guide, I should protect you, teach you and give you goods for your souls. I therefore would like you to take on a practice this new year as a means of imploring God’s blessing on our parish and on you, my parishioners. It is this: that everyone elect to do one act of penance every week during the year 2012–an act in addition to any penitential acts which may already be one’s practice or which the season (viz., Lent) may dictate. This would mean that, if everyone cooperated, there would be fifty-two penitential deeds done by each person in the parish by the end of the year. The motive for these would be exactly what they have always been historically: to avert God’s punishments and to obtain the divine favor.
What I mean here is not that everyone should do some strenuous, excessive penance (which would appeal subtly to pride and thus be harmful), but something every week that may be rather simple but yet pleasing to God. I’m thinking of something of the kind of making a one hour adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every week; or, of eating at one meal during the week only half portions; or, of denying oneself the purchase of something, directing the savings as alms. I have in mind acts that are of their nature penitential, that is, which cause a little voluntary discomfort, rather than some other good deeds, because the purpose of these is to be spared of what our sins rightly deserve. Also, I am not asking that in every week the same penitential deed needs be done. There’s a great variety of these which can vary on different weeks, and they could be done on a different day of the week, from one week to the next.
You may recall that when the people of Nineveh, from the rulers down to the beasts, did penance God was favorably disposed to them and averted the punishment He had intended to inflict on them. The biblical expression is that God “repented” of the evil He had planned to do to them. Our Lord Himself admonished us, saying that if we would not do penance we would perish. These words suggest to me the program I am asking all my parishioners to adopt this new year.
But, can I bind you, that is, obligate you to do this? I can bind you–to borrow Saint Paul’s expression–only by the bounds of charity, that is, by the pastoral concern I have for your good. I do not want to impose on you any obligation other than to work diligently for the salvation of your soul. What I am suggesting is a means to that end. But I have a hunch that since I, your pastor, am the one doing the asking, it carries the weight, if not of strict obligation, of serious deliberation.
In brief: I am asking every parishioner to do some one secret thing (speaking about it would rob it of merit) every week for this entire new year in reparation for sin–something in addition to whatever disciplines he may ordinarily observe. The reason for this is to beseech the Almighty to protect us, each and every one, this new year and to withhold His “avenging hand” (that too is a biblical expression) from meting out to us what our sins deserve. Will you be “with the program”?
Happy New Year!
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