DAILY CATHOLIC for March 27-29
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no. 62

Getting to the
Heart of the Matter

by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto

INTRODUCTION: "Getting to the Heart of the Matter" is what Sister Mary Lucy Astuto pinpoints in every issue when she takes a common sense approach to living our faith with her practical columns. In this issue she brings us the second of a two part enlightenment experience by a priest who realized the error of his parish's ways and restored Jesus to His proper place in the Sanctuary.

     Her column, along with columns by Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. and Father Stephen Valenta, OFM Conv., provide effective, vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. You can visit Sr. Lucy at her web site for Heart of Mary Ministry at http://www.heartofmaryministry.com or you can reach her at Srmarylucy@aol.com by e-mail.


      On June 24, 1997 a Chicago priest, Pastor of St. Thomas of Canterbury Church, sent out a letter to all of his parishioners, concerning reverence for the Holy Eucharist which I was able to share with you last week. In that letter Fr. Simon expressed his desire to place Our Eucharistic Lord at the center of attention in his Church. In other words, Father wrote about a personal conversion he had experienced.

      Three months later, Father Simon again wrote a letter to his parishoners. I wanted to share it with you, as well. It is as follows.


    St. Thomas of Canterbury Parish
    4827 North Kenmore Avenue
    Chicago, Illinois 60640
    (773) 878-5507
    September 16, 1997

          Dear Friends,
          You cannot imagine the response that I got to the letter I addressed to my parishioners on June 24. I have gotten so many calls and letters that I am reduced to saying thank you in a form letter. Still, I simply have to write to say thank you for your support and prayers. So many people thought I was brave to do what I did.

          Brave!? I simply read the Catechism and moved a few pieces of furniture. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. In the parish, some people even wept for joy when they saw the change. I am still kicking myself and asking why I didn't do this years ago. The response has been so supportive. Many wrote and expressed their sense of loneliness in the battle for Catholic orthodoxy. Well, you are not alone, neither among the laity nor the clergy.

          Perhaps you have heard the definition of a neo-conservative: He is a liberal who has been mugged by reality. That certainly describes me. I was in college in the late 1960s and went the whole route--beard, sandals, protests, leafletting for feminism, and all the rest. I was nursed back to sanity by some Trappist monks and by genuinely Catholic charismatics. All my ministry has been in the inner city and mostly in the Hispanic apostolate. I teach in a seminary, part time, I am the diocesan liaison for Spanish-speaking prayer groups, and the pastor of an inner city parish. Our very poor parish in Chicago's Uptown gives away food and clothing about 4,000 times a month through a soup kitchen, a pantry, and a clothing room. We use six different languages in the liturgy: English, Spanish, Vietnamese, Lao, Korean; and we have a monthly Mass in the Coptic rite, in the Gheez language for the Eritrean community. When I arrived here, the parish was controlled by feminists and radical leftists. So I had pretty good liberal credentials.

          My point in all this, is that if a parish like this and a person like me can be turned from foolish liturgical experimentation, it can happen anywhere to anyone. Don't give up! For instance, if they have taken the kneelers out of your church, go to the front and kneel on the hard floor. You'll be amazed how many will join you. That's what happened here. If your pastor tells you to stand, respectfully ask the bishop for permission to kneel. Let your light shine and pray unceasingly, and as you do pray for me and my little parish of faithful poor. I have leaned so much from them.

                          In the Lord,
                          Father Rich Simon

      People have asked if they might share it or copy it (These letters June 24th, and Sept 16th that are reprinted with permission here and in my column last week). Please do! As Pilate said, "What I have written I have written." Should I be ashamed to hold the faith of two thousand years? I not only don't think so, I know so! Reproduce it and share it with all. May God bless you.

March 27-29, 1998     volume 9, no. 62
Sister Lucy Column

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