By John Thomas J. Lane SSS
Highland Heights, Ohio, USA – Province of Saint Ann
A project for the 40th Anniversary of the Rule of Life for the International Theological Commission and SSS International
At the 50th anniversary celebration of the Province of Saint Ann’s being in the Diocese of Cleveland, Ohio, in 1981, Saint Paschal Baylon Parish (SPB) in Highland Heights, Ohio (founded by the SSS in 1953), hosted an extraordinary celebration with the premiere of a musical piece entitled Unless You Become, by the famous liturgical composer Alexander Peloquin. While waiting for the performance in the church, I noticed copies of the “ad experimentum Rule of Life” (ROL) in the pews. I read with such excitement this document, saying to myself, “Lord, you are drawing me to this vocation and religious Congregation, aren’t you? This is beautiful, and for me?!?”
I read with interest ROL 40 and 41 – I still remember. I had been involved in liturgy with my parish since I was an altar server and musician (at age 8). I loved the active ministry of the parish and my parents’ involvement – they were part of the Pastoral Council (my mom was secretary and authored the guidelines), involved in Christ Renews His Parish retreats, lectors served as Communion ministers, and were the founders of the Liturgy Commission. The Liturgy Commission in our parish met in parishioners’ homes since there were not enough meeting rooms. Many times, our meetings began with a “home Mass.” I would play and sing the music for the Eucharist and enjoy the potluck following.
Having had a scripture course in high school about the Eucharist, I felt that we were living this as a parish through the vision of the new ROL. So, when I read these back-to-back numbers of the ROL, I felt God was calling me strongly to live the life as an “Apostle of the Eucharist” with this ROL and to join the Congregation that was living this ROL in my parish. Subsequently, we all know how the ROL has guided our ministry, our various talents and gifts, and called us to see our parishes and shrines as Eucharistic centers, living all mysteries of the Eucharist.
These two numbers guide me still! It’s hard to believe that almost 25 years ago, I completed my degree in liturgy for the service to the Congregation and the Church. This ROL inspired me to study, write and continue to share the gifts of liturgical and Eucharistic theology in varied ways. These numbers of the Rule of Life guide the members of the Congregation to embrace current liturgical and Eucharistic theology and incorporate these elements wherever we serve.
It’s hard to believe that for 31 years, I have been a priest serving in parishes and, for 25 of those years, a pastor. Based on ROL 41, I have been guided by and mandated to make our SSS parishes “places of proclamation and the living of the Gospel, places of prayer, eucharistic adoration and festive celebration, places of sharing and fellowship, places of freedom and human development.” ROL 41 has guided me to collaborate with the people of our parish; just as a parishioner growing up at Saint Paschal’s, I saw these values in action.
Over my years as a pastor, I have shared selections of the Rule of Life in our parish bulletin. They have enjoyed, been inspired, and seen why we, members of the Congregation, serve the way we do. It inspires me still over 40 years later from that first read that night in the pew:
We look for expressions better suited to the needs of the faithful so that every celebration may become an experience of faith and a source of commitment (ROL 40).
We will make our parishes into authentic communities shaped by the Eucharist, source and center of their life (ROL 41).
Saturday, July 29, 2023
Memorial of Saints Martha, Mary & Lazarus