FROM THE PASTOR’S CORNER:
A word from Pope Francis ~ “Life is not given to us to be jealously guarded for ourselves, but is given to us so that we may give it in turn.”
We enter into the month of November on the heels of the powerful feasts of All Saints (Friday) and All Souls (Saturday). Celebrating these feasts at this time of year could not be more appropriate. Gone are the summer months and the growing season. As the world of nature around us gradually dies in preparation for winter, we remember those who have gone before us in faith and who now live with God just beyond our reach. We will celebrate our annual Parish Memorial Mass this Monday evening. We will remember our beloved dead and especially our fellow parishioners who went home to God during the past year. We will light memorial candles as the names of each of our deceased are prayerfully read. While we are still connected to our beloved dead through our faith, our community celebration assures us that we do not grieve alone.
Grief is one of the strongest feelings we experience in life. Somewhere I heard grief described as “love not wanting to let go.” That made a lot of sense to me then and even more so during these past few years when I experienced the deaths of my parents. Grief can be expressed in many different ways, often with physical, emotional or spiritual reactions. While some speak of grief as a staircase with steps leading to our goal of resolving it, my experience is that it is more like a roller coaster with a number of ups and downs, highs and lows, and a lot of curves. Some lows are predictable, like the holiday season, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and other significant dates. At other times an unexpected low comes out of nowhere. While time alone heals, there are no schedules. We may experience many slips and spills before our feet are on firm ground again. Often it may be sixteen to eighteen months before we begin to sense that the dips on the roller coaster are less intense.
While we might be most aware of grief when we experience the death of someone we love, grief is the normal reaction to any loss we experience in our lives. Have you ever had a time when you felt that something was not quite right in your life? A closer look may reveal that a change or a loss of one kind or another has happened and you were grieving – without even being aware of it. Besides the death of a loved one, common losses can include a miscarriage or experience of infertility, a separation or divorce, an experience of theft or the loss of a cherished pet. Losses might lurk in personal or family changes like mid-life, an empty nest, selling the home, retirement and aging. Other losses might be in times of transition, like graduation, a transfer or job/career change. Something familiar is no longer available to us. Sometimes our goals and dreams change when we realize that something we hoped for or dreamed of is never going to happen. Losses are all around us and the normal way we deal with them is to grieve. The same dynamics that are present when we grieve a major loss like a death are also present when we grieve the more common everyday losses that we face. The first step in grief, though, is to recognize that we are grieving.
This time of year seems to invite us to be more aware of our losses than others. As our Liturgical Year comes to a close at the end of the month, the Scripture readings remind us about the “end times.” All Souls Day yesterday and Veterans Day on November 11th invite us to remember those in the past. The seasons are changing and nature is preparing for the death of winter. The nights are longer and the days are shorter. As we pull indoors, we are invited to ponder larger matters. If something doesn’t feel just right, look for a loss of one kind or another. Chances are that some are present, and with them, the need to grieve.
Since we constantly face change and loss in our lives, all of us are grieving to one degree or another. Perhaps the most helpful thing we can do is to name our grief for what it is so that we can work through it accordingly. And our faith offers us some good news here – the same Lord who saw us though the losses we experienced in the past will see us through our present ones.
Six years ago we launched our capital campaign, Honoring Our Roots, Cultivating Our Future. That campaign concluded on schedule in December 2018. Many projects were completed through the funds provided by that campaign, including refurbishing the chapel and relocating our parish Youth Center to the chapel building, up-dating and replacing our parking lot lights, repairing and repaving all of our parking lots, and restoring the parish celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation to 8th grade. One of the projects named in the needs assessment prior to the campaign was establishing a 24/7 Perpetual Adoration Chapel. As I write this, we are preparing to hold the Blessing and Dedication of our new Perpetual Adoration Chapel on Saturday, November 2nd. We broke ground for this project on March 2, 2019. Now eight months later, we are thanking God for making this place of prayer a reality for our parish and our neighboring parishes. Thank you to the many donors who have made this blessing to our parish possible. God has been very good to us.
As we mark the seasonal time change to Central Standard Time on Sunday morning, the beauty of autumn is quickly fading as the leaves drop from the trees. The earth is preparing for the death of winter. Our Scripture readings will soon turn our focus upon the end times and our ultimate destiny with God. It is time to focus on the truly important things. May we do so as best as we can. As always, may God continue to bless us with all that we need, and more.
Father Jim Murphy