Dear Friends,

We are coming into that time of year, nearing election day. It has been brought to my attention that someone was placing political fliers endorsing a candidate or candidates on the cars in our parking lot last weekend. I did not see who might have done so, but please understand no permission is ever given to place such fliers on cars on church property. The parish grounds are private property and should be respected as such by everyone. I am not sure what the status of placing such fliers on cars parked along the street might be. But on parish property permission is not given to do this and no permission was sought. Unfortunately, this happens almost every election cycle. I do strongly urge all of us to study the issues, to be fully informed and to vote. I am sorry for any inconvenience.

This weekend, in the Book of Sirach, we hear, “The prayer of the lowly pierces the clouds; it does not rest till it reaches its goal, nor will it withdraw till the Most High responds, judges justly and affirms the right, and the Lord will not delay.” See how merciful and loving is God’s response to those who humbly come before Him with their needs. Turn now to our Gospel parable of the two men who went into the Temple to pray. It’s easy to see the Pharisee is an example completely opposite of humble praying. He is caught up into himself and all the “good” that he is doing. His prayer is not a cry for God’s help ~ he doesn’t think he needs any help. The Pharisee is doing it on his own. In fact, it appears that he thinks God owes him.

It is the tax collector who imitates the prayer of the lowly from Sirach. He knows he is in trouble, that he is a sinner, that he has no standing among God’s people. He sees his situation clearly as it is. But he also believes in God’s mercy, and so he calls humbly upon God to have mercy. And he receives.

In truth, there is a bit of the Pharisee and the tax collector in all of us at times. So, the question for us this week is why do we pray? Is it to earn God’s love, to prove to God we are deserving of His love, to achieve a place in heaven through our own efforts? If so, we are missing the point. As we saw last weekend, prayer is not about informing God about anything, he is omniscient, knows everything. And, it is not about trying to convince God or to cajole God into giving us what we want. He is omni-benevolent; He is all love, through and through. He desires and offers always what is good for us.

Prayer opens us up to God on a conscious level. Prayer keeps us in steady personal relationship with Him. Praying is a surrender of ourselves, our wills, our minds, hearts, bodies and souls to God, allowing God to accomplish within us what is His purpose, His plan, His desire, His dream, His goal for our wellbeing and happiness. He already loves us, He wants to love us into perfection.

God bless you, God love you,

Monsignor McCulken

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