A rare gift is to be the pastor of a parish, and one of its greatest benefactions is a fatherly part in the lives of so many people.
One thinks of the film "Good bye Mr. Chips" when the venerable schoolmaster sees in his memory's eye all the lads he had taught over generations. That is why at each Mass there is a timeless family reunion, when all the departed of the parish are invoked at the altar. I do not envy prelates and other officials who, albeit obedient to their vocation, have not had long experience as a pastor.
This struck me recently when I received a newly published four volume set of a collection of my pastoral letters going back many years, and elegantly bound in leather: "A Year with Father Rutler." Perhaps the bindings are superior to the content. This was not my initiative, and I had little to do with it. Much of what is worthy in the pages is the work of the editor, Duncan Maxwell Anderson. His family is a model of the blessings of a pastor, for I received Duncan into the Church, married him to his super wife, baptized all four daughters and his son who serves often here as an altar boy, married the oldest daughter and recently baptized her first baby. So the generations move on, and during these end of summer days I think of lines from the "September Song" which was first performed on Broadway in 1938 with music by Kurt Weill: "For it's a long, long time,/From May to December,/And the winds grow cold,/When they reach September," Even surpassing the beautiful wistful music are those lyrics by Maxwell Anderson, the distinguished playwright, novelist, and songwriter. Our good parishioner Duncan is named for his grandfather who wrote those words.
Moving from May into September, it may be said without understatement that this has not been an uneventful summer. What we may make of events in the Church as they unfold remains to be seen, but for the faithful, the consideration of corruption and dishonesty in its many forms, can only move one to thankfulness that the Lord who cleansed the Temple of thieves is now at work exposing and wiping away what has sullied the holiness of the Church for which our Lord died to give us. Like resetting a broken limb, the process is not gentle but the result will be of inestimable good. As no one is born without an assignment vouchsafed to God alone, it is a special honor to be chosen by our Creator to live in days of salvation history which by their critical nature require that those alive now be nothing less than what Saint Paul described: "… servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God. Here, furthermore, it is sought in stewards that one be found faithful" (1 Corinthians 4:1-2).
Father George W. Rutler. "A Year with Father Rutler." From the Pastor (September 9, 2018).
Reprinted with permission from Father George W. Rutler.
Father George W. Rutler is the pastor of St. Michael's church in New York City. He has written many books, including: The Stories of Hymns, Hints of Heaven: The Parables of Christ and What They Mean for You, Principalities and Powers: Spiritual Combat 1942-1943, Cloud of Witnesses — Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive, Coincidentally: Unserious Reflections on Trivial Connections, A Crisis of Saints: Essays on People and Principles, Brightest and Best, Saint John Vianney: The Cure D'Ars Today, Crisis in Culture, and Adam Danced: The Cross and the Seven Deadly Sins.Copyright © 2018 Father George W. Rutler
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