An Unexpected Friday Letter
Burning Ships & Preppers
May 8, 2020| Fr. Matt Bozovsky
Dear Our Lady of Ransom Family,
Until this morning, I had a different letter for you. It was a good one too, if I say so myself, full of wisdom and humor (you’ll just have to trust me on that since you’ll never really know….). But that’s not the letter you’re getting. Instead, I feel
to share something different.
This morning, I was praying in the rectory chapel and thought that the Lord was putting something on my heart. I say “thought” because I try to avoid the presumption of saying, “the Lord told me.” In discerning something like that, only time and fruitfulness will tell, since we humans have a terrible tendency of being easily deceived. So while Jesus will speak with us in that way, I take a cautious approach, investing the time needed to discern which spirit is at work.
Before the Blessed Sacrament this morning, I had a sense that the Lord was telling me that I
urgently need to help you prepare
Some of you have me as a spiritual director (thereby completing your purgatory on earth) and have heard me say, “
the Holy Spirit speaks through repetition
.” If that is true, I have to admit that this prompting has been on my heart for a while.
You’ve already seen that. One of the homilies that people still bring up is where, while associate here, I spoke about the need to “burn the ships.” You can read it
. Add to that the weekends where, as pastor, I preach all the Masses, and I know you can hear a sense of urgency infusing my words.
This may simply be the urgency of a priest who longs for all his people to accept the salvation offered to them through Jesus Christ. It is a poor shepherd indeed who lacks passion and zeal when it comes to the salvation of his people. But I think there is something more, that the Lord is trying to
In recent years, the movement of “preppers” has been on the receiving end of many jokes. Preppers intentionally store food and supplies, making sure they are well
should some societal disruption occur. Some scoffed at them, but it wasn’t preppers who were worried about running out of toilet paper when this crisis began. They were ready and could navigate the situation with relative grace and ease.
To put it in the language of our times: I think the Lord is asking us to become spiritual preppers, to gather all the grace we can in the here and now, preparing for a future where our faith and Church look different. I don’t know what “different” means, but I do know that God is
offering us the grace we need to be ready for it.
Paul makes a similar plea in his 1st Letter to the Thessalonians: “For you are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night…. But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. For you are all sons of the light and sons of the day; we do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then let us not be like others, who are asleep, but
let us be awake
and sober” (5:2,4-6). To be prepared for whatever the Lord has in store for us, we must be awake to His grace in the here-and-now.
The time of being passively Christian is coming to an end. To be passively Christian is to never have thought about or worked on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is when we go through the motions of Mass out of a vague sense of obligation but leave our practice of the faith to an hour once a week. To be Christian is to be radically counter-cultural; anything less is not the faith handed on to us by Jesus Christ.
In the coming week, I invite you to honestly reflect upon and ask yourself the following questions:
What does my faith mean to me?
In what ways must I invest in it?
How much am I willing to give up for Jesus Christ?
Many of you have asked when the Church will open or if we can offer creative solutions such as parking lot Masses and the like. This is a decision that I am not free to make. Pastors have received several communications over the last week informing us we must wait for further instructions from the Archdiocese. I’m sorry, but it is out of my control. For now, I must leave the doors to the Church locked.
Thanks to the work of Paul Matijevic, our Director of Music Ministry, we will soon be receiving a new, updated,
organ for free
. Yes, that’s right - free! Paul has been working to reestablish a relationship with the company that installed our current organ, and that relationship has quickly paid off. This is a $50,000 donation to our community and will elevate our music program. In the future, Our Lady of Ransom will be used for organ demonstrations, meaning we will continue to grow in our reputation for sacred music.
We must be
: The executive branch of the State of Illinois has decreed that gatherings of more than 50 people will not be allowed until a vaccine or treatment is released. They emphasize that religious institutions will not be exempted. This is absurd. First of all, it shows terrible hubris regarding the reality of developing treatments and vaccines. Friends, we are already living in a situation where I have to lock the Church but can go to the liquor store, and pot shops have been declared essential businesses. Shame on the State of Illinois! The government is trying to exercise power over the Church that it has no rightful authority to do. I urge you to send a respectful but honest message directly to the governor by clicking
. To establish guidelines caring for public safety is reasonable and necessary; to infringe upon the free exercise of religion is a dangerous path that many unjust governments of history have unsuccessfully journeyed. Now is the time we must speak out. Many of our brothers and sisters around the world live under repressive governments and do not have the political voice we do, meaning we not only have the right but also the responsibility to speak out. Let us also ask for the intercession of St. Thomas More, praying for the conversion of all politicians.
In the coming years, it will be especially important that we have
direct lines of communication
with you. You’ll notice that, at the bottom of emails like this, occasionally a note will ask you to verify or update your information. Please take a couple seconds to do this. The more accurate information we have, the better equipped we are to provide assistance, resources, and mostly importantly, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A special thanks to those who have responded to my message earlier this week by reaching out for assistance with
. While we still have a long way to go, I am grateful for your response. On Wednesday, I came across an opinion piece that is especially relevant to this conversation. I’d encourage you to read it
As I said in the beginning of this letter, this is not the message I expected to offer today. And maybe, just maybe, it is only for
one of you
. Maybe the Lord has put this on my heart because there is a single person receiving this that needs to hear it. You know that's how He works, right? He loves
so much that a message sent to over 1000 people might be meant for you and you alone.
In that homily on burning the ships, I said this: “Western Catholicism has become too comfortable and has lost its missionary zeal. For too long we’ve had safety nets: We could fall back on the culture that had similar morals, call ourselves Catholic because of our ethnic background, and just pray, pay and obey to punch our ticket to heaven. But no more, because we must now return to a Catholic faith that has no safety nets, that is
uncertain and Spirit-led
. The Holy Spirit is inviting us to light a match and burn our ships. And that is frightening; on an institutional level, and for us as individuals.”
But for we who worship a God who overcame the tomb, fear does not have to be the end of the story. If we become spiritual preppers, allowing the grace of God to equip us to step into a Catholicism full of
, we will find a freedom beyond imagination. Many of you have heard me say that my favorite verse in all of scripture comes from Paul’s 2nd Letter to the Corinthians. With a passion that is born from a transformative encounter with the Risen Christ, he exclaims, “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17). It is time for us to prepare, because the old will
pass away. But the new that has come …. well, that’s a newness that will last for a glorious and joyful eternity.
He is Risen!
He is Risen Indeed!
Fr. Matt Bozovsky
Our Lady of Ransom
P.S.: Need some motivation to burn the ships? Maybe the following video will help.
Fr. Matthew Bozovsky
on Friday, May 8 at 6:14PM