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Sunday, September 18, 2011

From the Pastor - Families in Christ

A weekly column by Father George Rutler

Last week's commemoration of the attacks on our nation ten years ago gave many of our parishioners a chance to recall their experiences on that day. Many grieved for lost loved ones. There was the inspiration of so much heroism, and accounts of how the lives of some were saved by some mundane incident such as missing a train or pausing to do some shopping on the way to work. One man's life was saved by his baby, for just before he was to leave for work at the World Trade Center, his wife went into labor.

Everyone has a story, and each is different because no two people are alike. That is true of families, and it is certainly true of each parish, for the local church is the story of Christ lived as a local Christian family. The word "family" as we use it goes back only about six hundred years, but it is rooted in the Latin word famulus, for servant. Everyone in a household in some way is supposed to serve the others. In the Eucharist the Church asks the Lord to care for those of our church family who have preceded us into eternal life:  “Memento Domine, famulorum famularumque.” Familiarity may breed contempt in the proud, but the humble are moved to worship their God, who allows them to be familiar with Him.
Last Sunday a visiting family introduced their fine young son, who has grown much since I baptized him when I had just arrived in the parish. On the tenth anniversary of my installation as Pastor of this parish family, September 17, life is very different from then. Every day in the life of a parish is a remarkable story. As baptized babies grow, we also have in our mind's eye those famuli famulaeque whom death has taken from their customary places in the pews and now are closer to the altar in heaven. On my tenth anniversary here, I celebrated the 548th baptism since I arrived. And, unplanned by us, but a nice favor from Above, that afternoon I celebrated the 400th wedding in our parish since September 17, 2001. Special blessings in our spiritual family have been the young men of our parish called to the priesthood, and right now there are six:  two at St. Joseph's Seminary, two in Rome, one a Dominican novice, and another starting seminary in his native Boston.
In a contradiction of chronology, our parish family seems to have become younger in the past ten years. That is certainly true of the elderly as they grow in grace. I think the most youthful member of our parish family was Margaret Bradshaw, who was very young in spirit when she died gently this past month at the age of 106. "Remember, Lord, your servants for whom we now pray.”

A new video of Fr. Rutler introducing the Church of Our Saviour has been posted to the church website. The video is toward the bottom of the website's home page: www.oursaviournyc.org


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