With the sounds of a storm in the background, the heavens are calling us to justice. In this 10-minute 30-second video recorded on June 11, 2020, Sr. Marla Clercx, ANG, reflects on racism.
With the sounds of a storm in the background, the heavens are calling us to justice. In this 10-minute 30-second video recorded on June 11, 2020, Sr. Marla Clercx, ANG, reflects on racism.
Jesus Christ, you traveled through towns and villages “curing every disease and illness”. At your command, the sick were made well. Come to our aid now amid the global spread of the coronavirus, that we may experience your healing love.
Heal those who are sick with the virus. May they regain their strength and health through quality medical care.
Heal us from our fear, which prevents nations from working together and neighbors from helping one another.
Heal us from greed, which can make us concerned only for ourselves, and hoard beyond what we need.
Heal us from our pride, which can make us claim invulnerability to a disease that knows no borders.
Jesus Christ, healer of all, stay by our side in this time of uncertainty and sorrow.
Be with those who have died from the virus. May they be at rest with you in your eternal peace.
Be with the families of those who are sick or have died. As they worry and grieve, defend them from illness and despair. May they know your peace.
Be with the doctors, physician assistants, nurses, researchers and all medical professionals who seek to heal and help those affected and who put themselves at risk in the process. May they know your protection and peace.
Be with the leaders of all nations. Give them the foresight to act with charity and true concern for the well-being of the people they are meant to serve. Give them the wisdom to invest in long-term solutions that will help prepare for or prevent future outbreaks. May they know your peace, as they work together to achieve it on earth.
Whether we are home or abroad, surrounded by many people suffering from this illness or only a few, Jesus Christ, stay with us as we endure and mourn, persist and prepare. In place of our anxiety, give us your peace.
Jesus Christ heal us. Amen.
We have more leisure than any people before in the history of the world, and we need it because, for many of us, our lives are so hectic and tiring. Fortunately, for most of us, there’s a different pace in summer. Many of us take breaks from our usual routines. We tend to enjoy more hospitality in summer as our spirits are especially receptive to God’s deep desire for us to know divine love. We see long-lost friends, go to family reunions, and may even travel. We see how beautiful life can be, and how God breaks into our world with signs of love for us.
Keeping Sunday holy throughout the year is a good habit to cultivate. Like summer celebrations and special occasions, Sunday can be used to take a break from the daily grind, worship God, relax in his presence, and find refreshment as we prepare for the week ahead.
Instead of thinking it a duty to keep holy the Sabbath (Sunday), view it as a gift from God. Treasure it as a source of renewal and restoration. Jesus wants to spend unhurried, leisurely time with us so that he can minister to us. Let him provide you with the grace you need to accomplish all that he is calling you to do in the next six days. Sunday is an invitation to celebrate Jesus’ resurrection with our parish family at Mass. It’s also an invitation to reconnect with family and friends, enjoy some recreation, or to just curl up with a good book. Embrace the gift of Sunday.
In early September, Bishop David Ricken published an “action steps to accountability” report in which he listed ways the Diocese of Green Bay would commit to addressing the clergy sexual abuse crisis. Since that report was published, Bishop Ricken attended a series of listening sessions across the diocese. He’s responding to questions from those listening sessions via open letters to the faithful. Herewith are those letters.
In follow up to the *present crises facing the church, Bishop David L. Ricken, Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, reaffirms his full-hearted commitment to ensuring that all people will be safe within our church. He has issued “Action Steps to Accountability” plus several departments of the diocese have followed up with their procedures and processes, i.e. Vocation Director, Safe Environment Coordinator, Chair of the Independent Review Board, and Victim Assistance Coordinator. Those documents follow herewith.
“Jesus, as our life, is calling us to this moment of conversion, cleansing and purification in our church so that disgrace may be transformed into the grace of a new heart, new beginnings and, especially to those harmed by sexual abuse, abundant life…We ask the assistance of the Holy Spirit to bring healing to victims and survivors, and to bring health to the entire church.” ~Bishop David Ricken
In light of the call for more accountability on the part of bishops, Bishop Robert Morneau voluntarily withdrew from public ministry. His letter, and Bishop David Ricken’s acceptance letter, follow herewith.
Pope Francis responded on August 20, 2018, to recent reports of clerical sexual abuse and the cover-up of abuse. The letter is addressed to the People of God. Click here to read the letter.
I enjoy watching and feeding birds and have come to realize we have so much to learn from them. (Which is true of all of creation – everything has a lesson to share.) I’m sure people have heard the lessons from the geese. I offer two additional ones to reflect upon.
Eagles have much to teach us. The eagle is the only bird that loves a storm. While most birds hide in the branches and leaves of trees, when the weather turns and clouds gather, the eagle gets excited. Once it finds the wind of the storm, it stops flapping and uses the pressure of the storm to soar above the clouds and glide, giving it the opportunity to rest its wings. They can do this because the eagle is the only bird with the ability to lock its wings in a fixed position which enables them to be at rest as it soars. The eagle soars until it is above the storm and rests there until the storm passes.
Reflecting on them can help us look at how we react to the storms of our lives. Do we withdraw, wait it out and hope for the best? Or do we reach to the sky, knowing we can rise above the storm, lock our wings, and rest in the heavens? A powerful saying I try to remember is: “Don’t tell God how big your storm is; tell the storm how big your God is.”
An important lesson on community building is seen in the developing eggs of the meadowlark. The adult meadowlark lays four eggs, each one two hours after the last. If left to their own corner of the nest, with no physical contact with each other, the eggs would hatch just as they were laid, at two-hour intervals. If, however, the eggs move so the shells are touching one other, an amazing change takes place. By somehow reading one another’s heart rates, the developing embryos adapt to one another. The eggs laid earlier slow their heart rates, thus slowing their development. The eggs laid later speed up their heart rates so that a developmental common ground is reached. All four eggs now develop at the same rate and hatch only minutes from one another.
Within the nest of the meadowlark, there is no competition to see who comes in first or who gets the most attention or food. Instead, the effort is made by all to see that there is no ranking of order. Unfortunately, competition can sometimes invade our lives. We can quickly want the best or most for ourselves, letting others fend for themselves. While we can be grateful for what we have, we can forget to work for the betterment of others. We can try to go it alone, seeing only our view of life, or we can allow the ideas and views of others to add their piece of the truth. Rather than allowing this competitive nature to enter in, perhaps we can pool our collective “heart rates” and once again get in touch with our call to community and with our responsibility to see that no one is left behind. For this is what Jesus meant when he spoke of God’s kingdom coming to fullness. It doesn’t happen piece by piece with a ranking of first, middle and last, but only when we are all equal in helping bring God’s presence to our world.
Let’s be attentive to the lessons that we can learn from nature.
A friend of mine gave me the test kit for 23 and Me for Christmas so I could determine my ancestry. The results were exactly what my parents had said all these years. What was new, however, was to be able to attach percentages to the nationalities. Basically, I am Northwestern European – 96.9%. Of that, I am 37% French & German (my dad’s ancestors are from French Netherlands), 31% Irish (my mother’s side), and 8% Scandinavian. I like knowing this. There is a certain sense of belonging when you know where you are from and know a little more of who you are.
The same was true when I found out I was named after my parents’ best friends – Marlyn and Ella. I was to be named either Marla or Ellyn using parts of each of their names. Once I knew this, I felt an even stronger connection to them. They were people of deep faith, integrity and hard work, and I wanted to honor them, as well as my parents, by taking on these attributes myself. It is important to me to strive to live up to my namesakes and ancestors.
Hopefully, we have a strong sense of security in knowing where we are from. In addition to our personal ancestries, we are, more importantly, from the hand of God. St. Ignatius of Loyola summed up our faith in these few words:
“We come from God. We belong to God. We return to God.”
How wonderful to know we existed in the presence of God before our birth and that we head home after this part of life’s journey. Charles Dickens knew this when he wrote about children, “I love these little people; and it is not a slight thing when they, who are so fresh from God, love us.” We were all born fresh from the hand of God. A challenge as we age and grow is to not lose the freshness, nor lose our memory of what it means to be made in God’s image and likeness.
It’s spiritually a good practice to take stock of our lives and look at things God might be calling us to leave in the past in order to prepare us for new life. These could also be those things that have caused us to lose some of our “freshness” or God memory. These may have included our quest for power, materialism, or popularity; our need to be right; our apathy or indifference; the burdens we place on ourselves or others; our comfort in staying where we are; our old views of God, others and ourselves; our lack of hope; our relationships we have allowed to die. Letting go of those things that are not of God or are not life giving can be difficult, and yet to do so returns some of the “freshness” of coming from God.
May God continue to open us to new life and memories of coming from Him. Let us commit ourselves more fully to living up to God as our namesake and His presence as our ancestry.
My first real time away from home was at the age of 10. My parents drove from Jasper, Minnesota, to Sioux City, Iowa, so I could babysit my 2-year old nephew. I stayed with my brother and sister-in-law for a week while they worked. I remember feeling very grown up. I was proud to be trusted with such a responsibility and took it very seriously.
I felt the same the first year I taught a room full of fourth-graders at Holy Rosary School in Medford. I was in heaven. The students were engaging and I was enthusiastic. Then one day, about a month into the school year, it suddenly occurred to me – I was entrusted with these young souls. Their parents hoped / prayed / trusted that when their son or daughter went to school, they would be well cared for. It was up to me to teach them, yes, but more importantly, to care for them. It left me in awe, and a tear came to my eye as I promised to never take the responsibility or the trust for granted.
When we talk about trust as an action of our faith, we might first define it in light of the trust we have in God, and rightly so. Whether it be from Proverbs, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, on your own intelligence rely not,” or Isaiah 26:4, “Trust in the Lord forever! For the Lord is an eternal Rock” we learn from early on, our God is worthy of trust. We might even have heard from parents or teachers to trust God that things will work out, our lives are in God’s hands, or trust that God has a plan for you. Trust is indeed an important basis for our relationship with God. I also think it is a two-way trust.
Bishop Bob Morneau shared, “Belief is believing in God. Faith is knowing God believes in us.” I also hear that as, “Faith is knowing God trusts us.” Often in prayer or when reading the scriptures, it occurs to me just how much God trusts us. We are entrusted with the faith of our parents and grandparents; of carrying the baton as it were, of all who have gone before us in faith, from Abraham on. God trusts us to allow this faith to fully take root within us. As Paul states in his letter to Timothy: “God saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus… Take as your norm the sound words that you heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. Guard this rich trust with the help of the Holy Spirit that dwells within us.” (2 Tim 1:,14)
I’m not sure how often we think of God’s trust in us, but perhaps it could become part of our prayer and reflection. As we are aware of all of the ways God has blessed us, there is the trust that we will use those blessings well. As God has given us influence over creation, there is the trust we will do what we can to care for all of creation. As God has created us with the gift of faith, there is the trust we will deepen that faith, share it with others, and pass it on to all we can. Friends, let us be grateful for the trust God has in us, seeing it as a privilege and a responsibility, and never taking it for granted.
To me, the best music of the liturgical year is our Christmas songs. I often wish the Christmas season was as long as our 40 days of Lent, giving us plenty of time to sing through the repertoire. Many of us can probably name a carol that is a personal favorite. For me it is “O Holy Night.” It became my favorite song, believe it or not, on a hot and humid June day in Juarez, Mexico.
I had taken a group of high school students down for a work camp. The “house” we were assigned to work on was 10 feet by 12 feet and in a very desolate area outside the city. Parts of three walls were constructed with cement block. There was no roof, door or windows. Houses around it were mainly constructed of cardboard and tin from old traffic signs.
Each day we were given a bag of cement and told to do our best to pour part of the floor. With old shovels we dug a few pails full of the surrounding sand to add to the cement. Some neighbors came over, giving us water to add to the mix. I was struck by their silent generosity. They were sharing what little water they had. Three times a week a water truck would come by to fill a large, plastic open-topped barrel near each home. This water was used for their drinking, cooking and bathing.
One day I noticed two small children peering at us from behind a barbed-wire fence. There was a wire strung from their house, holding a few worn pieces of clothing. The poverty they lived in was shocking. Looking at their innocent eyes the line,
“Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth”
came to my mind and heart. I cried. I knew I was looking into the face of God. I fully believe that each one of us is made in God’s image and likeness and it broke my heart to see some of God’s image struggling to live. I prayed that in the midst of their reality, they knew how loved and important and valued they were. I prayed they knew the worth of their souls. I tried to speak to them, but they laughed and ran behind their house, offering me a special moment of a child’s joy; joy even in the midst of poverty.
Christmas is about celebrating with family and friends. It’s about sharing joy and love and peace. It’s about allowing the blessings we have been given to lead us to the generosity of sharing those blessings with others. It’s also about recognizing the gift we have been given in Christ, who came to remind us of the worth of our souls. And it’s to lead us more deeply to recognizing and responding to the presence of God in the souls of all people.
Unlike our Christmas music, which will soon be put away for another year, Christmas calls us to live the reality of God with and within us every day of our lives.
My wishes to you for a very blessed and holy Christmas. May you feel your worth.
When you say the word “Advent,” what immediately pops into mind? A feast of color, a traditional manger scene bathed in soft candlelight, glistening snowflakes falling on festive trees, a yearning for the One who is to come, and so on.
But sometimes, the season brings other images: crowded stores, treats that tempt us to too many calories, limitless to-do and to-buy lists. Yet in the back of our minds, we hear the call to conversion. Christ is calling us to be good caretakers of all that we have and all that we are. How can we keep our Advent focused on spiritual growth and preparation for the coming of Jesus Christ as well being good custodians of our gifts from God? Here are a few suggestions, not meant to be another to-do list, but rather a way to remind ourselves daily of our call to prepare a way for the Lord in our lives.
The Feast of Christ the King marks the end of the church’s liturgical year. It anticipates the time when Christ will be all in all. It reminds us to place Christ at the center of our lives and to live and love in a way in which it shows.
We begin the new liturgical year by celebrating the First Sunday of Advent. There is beauty in the cyclic nature of our liturgical year. Wrapped in the power of the Paschal Mystery (Christ’s life, death, resurrection and ascension) we celebrate once again the retelling of our Christian story. It is a retelling that is meant to connect our lives more fully to Christ’s. We are not the same person we were last year at this time. Much has happened in our lives: there have been moments of sorrow and joy; new people have come into our lives, and perhaps some have left; something new has touched us in the scriptures; God has been revealed in nature in a new way. Large or small, things are different in our lives. We keep this in mind as we enter into a new liturgical year, and hear the scriptures with new ears and hearts.
The season of Advent (a word which means “coming”) invites us to look at the ways our lives were open to the presence of Christ in the past year, and reflect upon those areas where we still need to say, “Come Lord Jesus.” Advent is also about learning to wait. It is a season that teaches us to wait for what is beyond the obvious. It trains us to see what is behind the apparent. Advent makes us look for God in all those places we have possibly, until now, ignored. It is about not having to know exactly what is coming tomorrow, only that whatever it is, something challenging, or something uplifting, is a sign of the work of God alive in us. We are becoming as we go. We learn in Advent to stay in the present, knowing that only the present well lived can possibly lead us to the fullness of life. Clearly then, learning to wait is an essential dimension of spiritual development. It is waiting that attunes us to the invisible in a highly material world. Advent relieves us of our commitment to the fast-paced world. It slows us down. It makes us think. It makes us look beyond today to the “great tomorrow” of life. It is while waiting for the coming of the reign of God, Advent after Advent, that we come to realize that its coming depends on us. What we do will either hasten or slow, sharpen or dim our own commitment to do our part to bring it about.
A number of items draw us into this new season. Our liturgical color changes to blue-purple. Our Advent wreath reminds us we are waiting for Christ, our light in the darkness. May each Advent of our lives be a powerful, prayerful one.
The year 2014 was a very difficult one for our family. Within a six-month period, we experienced three deaths. My brother, David, died sooner than expected from cancer. He had just turned 71. My brother-in-law, Doug, died suddenly from either a heart attack or aneurysm at the age of 59. My other brother-in-law, John, suffered a heart attack and also died suddenly. He was 75. Gathering as family the third time, we were numb. We couldn’t believe three of our family were gone so suddenly and so close together. We were also a little afraid of what might happen next.
A number of things sustained us and helped us wander through those months. First of all, we had each other. Whatever busyness had kept us away from other family gatherings was put on hold as we came together to cry, tell stories, laugh and hold one another up. Secondly, our loved ones had faith. They knew Jesus Christ and it showed in the ways they lived their lives as good and decent people, always ready to lend a hand to others. They lived and died “right” with God. Lastly, we believe in the communion of saints. We know beyond doubt that everyone who dies is still a part of our lives. As our funeral ritual states,
“We believe that all the ties of friendship and affection which knit us as one throughout life do not unravel with death. For those who believe in your love, death is not the end.”
Hard as it was to let them go, we knew their presence was still with us, until we saw them again.
I remember vividly flying out for David’s funeral. My trip had already been planned. It was going to be my final time of seeing my brother and having one last face-to-face conversation with him. He knew how I felt about him, but I wanted to tell him in person and to hear his deep, rich voice as we spoke. He died the day of my flight. Sitting in the plane, I sobbed. I was angry at God for not waiting a few hours for me to arrive. I was frustrated with myself for not taking the trip sooner. I hurt for my sister-in-law and for David’s children and grandchildren. As the plane ascended, I looked out the window to see an orange glowing sky above the blackened, flashing storm clouds. It suddenly occurred to me that I was flying through the same heavens where my brother now lived. I knew it was not too late to have my conversation with him, and so I spent the flight talking to him. I ended by asking David if, when he was ready, he would have his side of the conversation with me. He did a few weeks later in a dream. I thanked both David and God. This, friends, is the communion of saints.
Each time we recite our Creed, our faith belief, we acknowledge the communion of saints. We hold fast to God’s promise that we remain a part of one another’s lives. Hopefully, we hold fast to that belief and allow it to comfort and strengthen us when we say goodbye.
At our annual Memorial Mass in the fall, we process in with our Memory Candles, each with the name of a loved one who died since last year’s All Saints Day. We do so singing, “Jesus, remember them when they come into your kingdom.” Let us take comfort in knowing that our loved ones have now entered the realm of the communion of saints.
Autumn is my favorite season. As a child, I remember the excitement of raking leaves into the “walls” of a house and eating lunch in one room or napping in another. I remember the fun of jumping into leaf piles, walking through crunchy leaves, or trying to catch them as they fell from trees. Even the feeling of frosty cheeks and what we looked forward to as “sweatshirt weather” was always welcome.
A friend of mine posted a saying on Facebook from a site called The Contemplative Monk. It read, “The trees are about to show us how lovely it is to let things go.” Each season has a unique lesson for us. Autumn is a season that invites us to let go.
While many people talk about spring cleaning, which usually involves anything from going through closets and downsizing to a thorough cleaning of the house, I prefer to do it in the fall. It seems to fit well with the house cleaning nature is doing. For the past few years, I have tried to evaluate what needs to be let go of in my life. Sometimes I find I am weighed down by too many possessions. Often, I find it’s the busyness of life inside and out that needs my attention. There is a certain fast pace to summer – a hurry up and enjoy the warm, sunny days; stay ahead of the mowing and weeding; visit friends or take advantage of a variety of summer activities. Now and then, I find something in my heart that needs surrendering in order to become a better person.
One of the things I enjoy about nature’s autumn surrender, is that it appears to have fun doing it. There is a certain playfulness to the drifting of falling leaves. (I’m not sure I always feel that playfulness or am as willing to let go.) I think it’s because it knows, that what falls to earth or seems to die is never lost. It becomes the nurturing source for new life and new beginnings. Autumn’s prayer is transformation.
Not all surrenders in our lives feel joyful or freeing. Parents let go of children, entrusting them into other hands. Relationships change or die leaving behind confusion, sadness or loneliness. Letting go of old thoughts or patterns can be painful, as can relinquishing good health. And yet, we believe that new life comes from letting go. Just as autumn can be a season of letting go, it can also be a season of trust — trusting that as we empty our lives, there is more room for God; as we experience dying, the potential for new life enters in.
Joyce Rupp has written a blessing which states in part:
Blessed are you, autumn,
You draw us away from summer’s hot breath.
As your air becomes frosty and cool
You lead us to inner reflection.
Blessed are you autumn,
Season of surrender,
You teach us the wisdom of letting go
As you draw us into new ways of living.
May you have a blessed autumn season!
Happy Labor Day and weekend to each of you! Often this weekend is looked at as a final summer hurrah: the last trip to the lake, the final family picnic, a quick vacation before the busy routine of the year falls back into place. Labor Day we know is so much more. It came into being to celebrate workers and their contributions to society. Its history is an interesting one.
Labor Day originated in the late 1800s at the height of the Industrial Revolution in the United States. During this time, the average American worked 12-hour days and seven-day weeks in order to eke out a basic living. In some states, children as young as 5 or 6 labored in mills, factories and mines across the country, earning almost nothing. People of all ages, particularly the very poor and immigrants, often faced extremely unsafe working conditions. Labor unions appeared and organized rallies protesting these poor conditions and hours.
On September 5, 1882, 10,000 workers took unpaid time off to march from City Hall to Union Square in New York City, holding the first Labor Day parade in U.S. history. The idea of a “workingmen’s holiday,” celebrated on the first Monday in September caught on, and many states passed legislation recognizing it. In 1894, Congress recognized it after the American Railroad Union called for a boycott of all Pullman railway cars, crippling railroad traffic nationwide. It unfortunately led to violent protests and the loss of life. In the midst of this unrest, and to repair the relationship with workers, Congress passed an act making Labor Day a legal holiday, officially placing it on the first Monday of September.
Not all of us can rest from our labors on this day, but hopefully each of us can give thanks for all who labor. Let us pray for those who are unemployed, and for the many throughout our world who still toil in unsafe and unjust conditions. Above all, let us use at least a part of this weekend as a Sabbath rest, to reflect upon and be grateful for the work we do or have done, recognizing the ways in which we are using the gifts God has given us for the sake of others.
It can be daunting in our current culture to raise children with a strong faith. Because of the trappings of our society – materialism, self-absorption, greed, excelling in all manner of sports, academics, music, and the like, many families feel torn between finding time for their children’s activities and finding time to share their faith. We are also up against some pretty bleak odds that our children will practice their faith beyond their high school years.
Ultimately, parents and guardians are responsible for teaching their children about God and our faith. At our parish, we offer tools to help parents such as Faith Formation classes and youth activities. It has been said that if a child is surrounded by at least five positive adult role models of faith, that child will be more successful in every aspect of life.
So, what can we do to be more equipped to pass on our faith besides sending our child to Faith Formation classes at church or a Catholic school?
First and foremost we must engage in practicing our faith. Going to Mass every weekend is a good place to start.
Whether at home, work, volunteering at our child’s school, socializing with friends – the way in which we treat others (and ourselves for that matter) directly influences our children. There are many ways to share our faith in the everyday routine of life (as crazy as it might be at times). How we deal with conflict, hurt, sorrow, and the joyful times in life – this is what our children will take with them into their own lives.
Ask your child about his/her day and bring God into the picture. Ask them how they lived out the two great commandments – how did they love God with their whole being that day and how did they show love to their neighbor? And be prepared to answer the same questions about your day!
Striving to truly love – erasing judgment, accepting others and ourselves despite their/our faults, openness to the goodness of others whether it’s on the surface or hidden – is what our children will learn from us. It is how we act (and react) that our children will take with them into their own lives. If we consistently consider the two great commandments in every dealing we have with others, we will be well on our way to practicing our faith and modeling it to our children. Let them see and experience love and they will reflect the same.
For more information about our Faith Formation classes, or if you would like to help pass on our faith to the next generation by being a Faith Formation teacher/catechist, please email us at email@example.com or call us at (920) 499-1546.
Deep thanks to all for the warm birthday wishes. As I enter this new decade of life, there’s no place I’d rather be than here. You have been amazing in your kindness and welcome and I am grateful. I look forward to coming to know you better as we journey together as disciples.
That said, you will find me missing from worship this weekend. I am off to the northwestern parts of Iowa for a Clercx family reunion. My ancestors on my father’s side are from the French Netherlands, with our original name being La Clerqx. A number of years ago my parents traveled to Belgium to search our ancestry. One of the most surprising things they discovered is that we are actually more Dutch than Belgian. In fact, we even have a family windmill!
The older I get, the more important ancestry becomes to me. I like having a sense of where I’m from and the lives of the people who came before me, helping create this life I now enjoy. There is a sense of gratitude and responsibility: gratitude for their courage, family commitment, work ethic, and faith; responsibility to carry on those same virtues. It’s a similar feeling I get when I visit elderly sisters or motherhouses, and feel the strength of the prayers spoken and whispered within their hearts and walls.
There are a number of sayings I reflect upon as part of my prayer each day. One of them states:
“I’m making my shoulders strong for the young to stand upon, stepping lightly on the backs of those who hold me up. It’s a chain of life unending, ever new and ever bending, grateful is the heart for the chance to be alive.”
Friends, we have a strong legacy of faith and virtue within our own families and parish. The time is ours to carry it on.
As one of my good friends likes to say, “Moving is a great adventure!” Though it can be difficult to say goodbye to people and places we have come to know and love, an adventure filled with new people and experiences lay before us. I have found this to be true each time I have traveled on and found a new place to call home. I reflect on this now as God (and the Bishop) have invited me to come live and minster among you. There is excitement and a little nervousness as I say yes, but experience and my heart remind me of the upcoming adventure of it all.
We also open ourselves to a great adventure when we choose a life of following Jesus Christ. Our path of discipleship is not a static one, but one in which we are on the move. God continually calls us to leave behind our former ways, and perhaps places, and follow Christ more fully. There are times when it is a challenge or even frightening. Other times are easier and more joy filled. Through it all, we are reminded of the nearness of our God. We are never left on our own. Not only is God always with us, but others are given to us to share the journey.
And so, friends, I happily welcome this opportunity to walk with you. Thank you for the warmth of your welcome. I look forward to getting to know you as together we continue. Let the adventure begin!
Have you ever anxiously awaited a special occasion in which you knew you would be given gifts? Perhaps you have seen the packages, wrapped with bows, ready for you to receive them. Imagine opening your gifts on that special day, and then simply setting the gifts aside.
For many, this is what has happened to the gifts of the Holy Spirit, which were poured out upon us at Confirmation. We have received the gifts, yet they remain unused and under-appreciated. Some of us may not even remember what the gifts are, and yet, they are with us always. We could say these are gifts that really do “keep on giving.”
Wisdom. Understanding. Right Judgment. Courage. Knowledge. Reverence. Wonder and Awe. Who doesn’t need these gifts in our lives? Think of the impact the gifts could have in relationships with family and friends, in sticky situations at work, the difference these gifts could make in our world! We may not always be aware of it, but the Holy Spirit is with and within us. You’re invited to open and use your gifts.