Saturday, June 20, 2009

Uniting our Prayers with the People of Iran

Below is a letter a wrote today to the Order regarding the moral and civil crimes against humanity perpetuated this weekend by the Iranian Leadership:

Sisters and Brothers,

The unrest this week in Iran has turned from hopeful protests to bloody crackdown. A government's role in the name of Faith and Humanity is to provide security, organization, protection, public service and peace to its people. There are many forms of government that are morally good, even forms of theocracy or monarchy can fit these definitions.

This letter is written not to condemn the form of government in Iran, but to question the moral actions of the current government and leadership. Civilians have a legitimate human right to organize and protest. The weekend crackdown by the Iranian government on the vastly peaceful organizing of the civilians is reprehensible and deserved condemnation by all people and leaders of faith.

Let us unite our prayers with those of the Iranian people and ask God to grant them freedom, courage, and peace. Eternal rest on the brave martyrs who have already given their lives this week. Please make it your special intentions tomorrow, Our Lord's Day, at Mass and Hours.

I will offer a Mass for the same intention uniting all of our prayers from the altar.

Yours, one in mind and heart,

Joseph Augustine+

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

St. Mary of Grace Parish Fifth Anniversary

May 31, 2009 marked the fifth anniversary of the founding of the parish, the feast of the Visitation of the BVM and the Vigil of Our Lady of Grace, the patronal feast of the Parish. Our Lady of Grace is the oldest of the Augustinian devotions to Mary remembering the woman who so filled with God's Grace she said yes to God's call for her to give humanity to Christ. This anniversary marks in all of us in the parish, order and jurisdiction, a reminder of what God's tremendous Grace can accomplish in us as well. God has given us all that we need to bear much fruit in advancing our own life with our God and God's reign in the world.

Below is the address Bishop Timothy gave to the parish at the Eucharistic celebration of the anniversary on Saturday, May 30.

"My warmest congratulations to St. Mary of Grace Independent Catholic Church. I have had the privilege of being associated with the parish for four years, beginning with the first public Mass in June, 2005, and it became part of the Independent Catholic Christian Church in September of that year.

When I think back over the history of the parish, the key quality I see is that of faithfulness. Faithfulness to Augustinian values, as a parish that started and has continued as a ministry of the Order of Augustinians of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Faithfulness to the Augustinian value of fostering a spirituality of serving Christ with all of one’s heart and all of one’s mind, and faithfulness to the Augustinian value of community, as is taught in the Rule of St. Augustine. The parish has also shown faithfulness to the values of the Independent Catholic Christian Church – adhering to the Christian faith as taught in the historic creeds, proclaiming that the world was created by the Triune God, that God became incarnate in a human being in the person of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus Christ has won victory for us over sin and death through the Atonement made by his death and Resurrection. Faithfulness to the values of being deeply prayerful and joyfully sacramental, fostering the life of prayer in its members by offering a number of opportunities to pray together, with the Eucharist at the center of its life. Faithfulness to the value of being radically inclusive, opening its doors to all who seek God or a deeper knowledge of God regardless of race, ethnicity, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

The parish has been faithful in good times and in bad. There were times when we did not have a home for our Sunday Mass and had to meet in each other’s homes. In the beginning, it was often just Fr. Joseph and I. But we didn’t give up. We continued to be faithful to the vision, knowing that God could do through us greater things than we could ask or imagine. There have also been times of great joy and celebration – but we did not use those as an excuse to coast, but continued to focus on the values and vision that we hold dear, believing it to be the mission that God has given us.

And so, here we are today, celebrating this wonderful anniversary, and rejoicing in the many great things God has done in our midst. It is my prayer that the parish may continue serving God faithfully in the coming years, decades, and centuries! Ad multos annos!