Facade of St. Agnes Church, St. Paul, MN
I went to 8:30AM Mass again...can you just hear the lift in my voice like there is something negative to come? But it was very nice as usual. Monsignor has a cold and so came off even older than he did the last time I was there. He had a legion of altar servers again. Fr. Welzbacher had the homily.
As good as Fr. Altier is, Fr. Welzbacher is one I shall truly miss. His homilies and the Pastor's page in the bulletin are always wonderful. He is a very intelligent and knowledgeable man. I always say if one was not fortunate to take any of his classes, or able to be involved in a conversation with him, then his homilies and writings are the next best thing. I also think he is quite holy. His homily this morning was scriptural, and most spiritual of course, while impressing me as rather poignant.
He took from the Gospel of today the image of how the Father trims every fruit-bearing branch. He spoke of Paul being in "retreat" for three years at the begining of his conversion, and how painful it must have been for him to have been "shelved" as it were, for those three years. I wish I had the text of his homily, I can never do it justice with this attempt. However, I felt it was a beautiful homage to Fr. Altier and a lovely explanation of God's will for his life in the next few years. (In three years won't the Archbishop be retired? Now don't focus on the three year time line. Remember how Catholics focused on 1960 and the revelation of the third secret of Fatima? We were all disapointed. God's time, as are His plans, not as ours.) Welzbacher's homily was rather subdued yet illuminated with a certain hope. It helped that he explained how God's will, His "prunning" can be painful at times, things we've all thought about, I'm sure.
Fr. Altier came out for Communion, recollected with his hands in his sleeves as usual. Deacon Peterson was there to assist. I got the impression nothing much will change. The new pastor and his assistant are comfortable with St. Agnes. I doubt that there will be women lectors any time soon. I doubt that Mass will begin and end with a processional and recessional from the back of the Church. Sadly those thoughts rushed through my mind as I approached for Communion - I realized I had been distracted by the sight of Fr. Altier.
It is inevitable that things change - there has been too much controversy over the past few years. We have to re-focus upon the Lord - keep our "eyes fixed upon Jesus". I think everyone must realize by now that things got out of hand at the parish once too often. I don't blame Fr. Welzbacher for seeking the peace of a smaller parish; everyone must be a little battle-fatigued by now, don't you agree?
If I remember correctly the collect for the "old" Mass of St. Benedict Joseph Labre is from Hebrews. It says something like, "Jesus died outside the city walls. Let us go to him therefore, outside the camp, bearing the insult he bore. For here we have no lasting city - we are seeking one which is to come." So lets keep united in prayer and charity, with hope, all the while keeping our eyes "fixed upon Jesus" alone.