From the Pastor's Desk

Fr. LeRoy Scheierl
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Week of November 16th

Message from Deacon Dave... The last Thursday Morning Mass in October was followed by the Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick which was administered by Fr. Leroy and Fr. Al Stangl. It was heartening to see so many people in attendance and so many people of all ages participating in the Sacrament. If we pause to imagine the Sacrament of Anointing, I think many Catholics picture a priest standing at a hospital bedside with a person close to death. This hopefully is a diminishing image of the sacrament. Indeed, for an increasing number of Catholics, particularly those born after Vatican II the mental picture is different. They picture a parish gathered for Sunday or Weekday Eucharist with 50 or so people—some visibly ill, some apparently perfectly healthy—coming up the aisle to be anointed, some with their spouses or caregivers. And, while still celebrated individually, the Second Vatican Council expanded our understanding of the sacrament and placed it once again in the context of mutual prayer and concern described in the Epistle of James. Anointing "is not a sacrament for those only who are at the point of death" (Liturgy, #73) but is intended for all those who are seriously ill. Consequently, what we formerly called "Extreme Unction" or “Last Rites,” is now more properly called "The Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick" (see #73). The practice of administering Extreme Unction to those who were at the point of death brought with it a certain privatization and exclusivity to the sacrament. While we have become accustomed to the sacrament's new name, many Catholics still think of it as a private sacrament, administered by a priest to a single individual. The Sacrament of Anointing does not remove the mystery of human suffering. Yet its celebration gives us a window into the mystery of a God who, like the story of the prodigal son, rushes out to meet us where we are and walks with us every step of the journey home. Pastoral experience of the revised rite reveals a loving God who is not exclusive, but inclusive... a God who is more generous with grace...not less... a caring God who is more abundant in love, not less. Deacon Dave

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