Ramblings from us as we strive to live a holy life in the world, not of the world.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

5th Sunday of Easter 2017

Diaconate – Much to be done.

Mother’s Day – A lesson from Mom.

One of the themes to today’s readings and Gospel is that we cannot do this alone.  The establishment of the diaconate was for the apostles to be able to concentrate on their most important work (evangelizing and teaching) and not having to do everything themselves.  In 1 Peter, we hear Peter describing Jesus as the cornerstone of the Church (people) and of our faith.  Through our common faith, we have Church, really, we ARE CHURCH, because Our Lord did not want us to take our spiritual journey all alone.

But I’d like to focus on three things Jesus tells us in the Gospel today that we really need to digest, that demonstrate that we really are not alone.

One, “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”  Here we’re in John Chapter 14, before the passion and resurrection, Jesus is telling the disciples to not let their hearts be troubled as things were about to change dramatically.  We’re reminded of this today, after Easter, because in our journey things will change, sometimes dramatically, and there will be many times when things will get difficult.  Jesus wants us to know “He’s got this, we are not alone.”  One of the most difficult things we face in our relationship with Jesus is letting go and trusting in Him completely.  Our hearts can be troubled with many things, the stresses of paying the bills, the stresses of holding down a job, the stresses of family life, and we may find ourselves tempted to wonder where God is as we seemingly face of our troubles alone.  Jesus reminds us that He goes to prepare a place for us, and He tells the disciples this, because He wants them and us to realize that our focus should be on our eternity, the certain future of our life in heaven if we allow Jesus to be the center of our lives.  No matter what we may face, Our Lord is there for us, He never leaves us, and wants us to know that the temporary troubles of this world are something we’ll leave far behind when we reach the glory of heaven.  “Having faith does not mean having no difficulties, but having the strength to face them, knowing we are not alone.” -Pope Francis
Two, “I am the way and the truth and the life.”  Jesus as “the way”, gives us direction.  In the resurrection, we see our future.  Our future can only be a reality if we fully commit to following Jesus, to being a “complete disciple” and finding that “way.”  That “way” is our direction to heaven and eternal life.  In that “way” we find the truth.  Certainly, we realize God is the source of all truth.  One of Jesus’ main missions was to bring that truth to us in a form we could understand.  If we look back at the problem of the Pharisees and the Sadducees’, it wasn’t that they weren’t doing what God wanted them to do in the law, they were very good at carrying out all that the law commanded, the problem was, their hearts were disconnected from God, from truth, and ultimately from love.  The truth Jesus so dearly wants us to realize is how much we are loved.  And when we choose to enter into the love of God, we can then see as God does and this changes our perspective.  We don’t just see the world and others as something to be used for our pleasure or satisfaction, we see the world as created by God, and we see others as children of God fully deserving of our love.  And when we come in contact with the love of God, here is where we find our life.  In my six years of being a Deacon, I’ve experienced great highs, like knowing I’m loved and appreciated by my parish, and I’ve experienced tremendous lows, like sitting in a four by six cell trying to give hope to a young man facing a prison term of many years.  One common theme of all my experiences is that the love of God was with me every step of the way, helping to keep me grounded during the highs, and not be overwhelmed during the lows.  It’s those highs and lows, the “roller coaster of life” if you will, that makes this life worth living.  Knowing Jesus as the way, leading to the truth, which gives us that full life is what makes all the difference, is what makes this life worth living.  Again, we were meant to live in relationship, we were not meant to be alone.

Three, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do and even greater ones that these.”  When we think of miracles, very often we go right to Jesus walking on water or feeding 5000, and those are great, great miracles, not to mention how many other miraculous works Jesus did in his time here on earth.  It’s our human nature, we’re drawn to the spectacular.  But we fail to see the miraculous going on around us every day, those miracles performed by mothers and other people that make extraordinary efforts to take care of others.  Someone who works hard at her job all day and then comes home and cares enough to make the extra effort to make a nutritious dinner for her family, that’s miraculous.  Someone who does her best to maintain a nice home for her family but finds the time to run her children to sports, or dance, or karate, or play dates, for what might seem like the 100th night in a row, that’s miraculous.  Someone who, no matter how stressful her day has been, still finds the energy and takes a few precious moments to pray and read a bedtime story to her children, that’s miraculous.  These are “greater” works that Jesus spoke of because when we live in love, we can go beyond our human capabilities and perform miraculous acts.  And it’s through these loving acts, the kingdom of heaven comes here to earth, we give others the experience of the risen Jesus and we let others know that they are not alone.  

None of us entered this world alone.  In God’s act of creation, we obviously need our fathers and our mothers.  That in and of itself is a sign that we were created to be a people who live in common.  So today, as we recognize our mothers, let’s be sure to thank them (if you can), thank God for them, and take a moment to remember all the things they did for us, and the lessons they taught us.  We are not alone, we never were alone, and with the love of Jesus, we never will be alone. 

   

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Homily from the 3rd Sunday of Lent, March 19, 2017

3 Golfers get struck by lightning and next find themselves in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates.  St. Peter tells the men that they’ll be able to pass through to heaven if they can answer one question.  “What is Easter?”  The first man says, “No problem, I got this.  Easter is when families get together in late November, have turkey, and be thankful.”  The second man says, “No, no, that’s no right, Easter has to do with Jesus, when he was born, in late December and we exchange gifts.”  Before St. Peter can answer, the third man jumps in “Eh, you’re both wrong!  Easter is when we remember Jesus at the Last Supper, how he endured the Passion, was crucified for us and was buried in a cave with a huge stone rolled in front of it.  Every year the stone is rolled away and Jesus comes out.  And if he sees his shadow, it’s six more weeks of winter!”

Believe it or not that joke actually relates to today’s Gospel, because today’s Gospel is all about knowledge, but more specifically knowing.  If you’ll recall, when I gave the homily last month it was about us getting to know ourselves, today it’s about Jesus knowing us and our response.

Let’s start with our first reading from Exodus.  Complain, complain, complain.  Here we find the Israelites unhappy with their current situation.  I imagine it’s just a vocal minority, but someone implies that they were better off back in Egypt.  We do that in our own lives don’t we?  I’m embarrassed to admit this in front of my wife, but there are some days, when the things of the family can try one’s patience, where I say to myself “Boy, I wish I was single.”  In that moment, am I stupid or what?  Our struggles can cloud our vision and our thinking where we wish to go back to days that were “better”?  The lesson here is that we should KNOW that God is with us.  We don’t need proof.  Love transcends all that, and our journey towards Jesus is going to take us to places we don’t necessarily want to go, oh like that crucifix back there.  But, it’s in those struggles that we become holy.

In our second reading, St. Paul tells us that it’s our faith that gives us hope, for a better tomorrow.  I love to give St. Paul as an example of faith and hope.  We think we have bad days?  St. Paul was scourged, beaten with rods three other times, and survived a stoning.  He was shipwrecked three times and nearly drown in one of those.  St. Paul was always on the run trying to stay ahead of those who wanted him martyred.  Did he have it easier before or after his conversion to Jesus?  Before, sure.  Yet, here is St. Paul telling us about a faith that brings us, hope, love, and peace, and never disappoints.  Almost every time I visit the jail, one of the young men or women will come up to me and ask for prayers because they’re having their hearing either the next day or sometime that week.  When we pray, I tell them we’re not praying specifically for their release, we’re praying for God to work through the courts and lead us to what’s best.  Through many of those times of prayer, I get a vision of Jesus standing before Pilate, having his hearing, if you will.  Jesus stands there innocent.  But, He completely puts His trust in the Father and accepts that the decision handed down is what’s best.  The question we should ask ourselves is, do we really trust God with our lives?  Do we really have faith to accept the difficult things that enter our lives and place our trust completely in Jesus to lead us to what’s best?  Again, the lesson here is do we KNOW that God is with us, no matter where we go or what happens to us?

Which brings us to our Gospel. Jesus encounters the Samaritan woman.  The first thing we should take note of is that this is a Samaritan woman.  Here Jesus is showing that he has come to save everyone.  As we know, Samaritans were as “loathsome” to the Israelites as Baltimore Ravens fans are to Steelers fans.  Jesus shows that love of God transcends “what” we are and loves us for “who” we are.  Because Jesus sees who we are, in truth, the child of God that we are, He is able to go where no one else can.  He is able to touch the soul, the God inside of us, and help us to change in very profound ways.  Jesus KNOWS us.  Yes, better than we know ourselves.  Now the question here is, do WE KNOW who we are? 

Let me share with you a little story about a Deacon friend of mine from Philadelphia.  Really, the man who introduced me to the Diaconate and helped me to hear my call.  To protect the innocent, let’s just call him Deacon Ray (he was always a ray of sunlight to me).  I met Deacon Ray as part of a small faith group back in 1998, and he and I became good friends.  In 2002, we came back to Pittsburgh and in 2005 I entered the diaconal seminary.  Not long after I entered seminary I had to take a business trip to Philadelphia and I contacted Deacon Ray to see if I could visit him.  He said, absolutely, that he was thrilled to hear I was in seminary and that he had a story for me.  So I was able to meet Deacon Ray for dinner, and he told me this story.  Deacon Ray had grown up in Argentina, in a relatively poor section of Buenos Aires, and from the time he was a young man, he felt this gnawing need to “be somebody.”  So he threw himself into sports, specifically soccer.  So he practiced and practiced and practiced and became the best player on his high school soccer team.  He actually got some offers to play professional soccer right out of high school.  But at his graduation, despite his success, he felt like a nobody.  So he thought maybe, it’s not sports by academic success where I can be somebody.  So he went to university, worked very hard and graduated at the top of his class with an engineering degree.  Again, after all that, he still felt unfulfilled.  Then he thought, perhaps it’s my career that will lead to me being somebody.  And he worked very hard to get to the top of his profession in Argentina and got an offer to work and live in the United States.  He was sure he had found it now.  But after a couple years here in the USA, he still had that same feeling that he was nobody.  Finally, he thought, maybe the answer lies in the Church.  So he applied for seminary, was accepted and worked very hard to become a Deacon.  After a couple years as a Deacon though, he still had not found his answer.  Then one day, while ministering to the underprivileged, a young women he met, who, because of her addiction, had lost everything, and said to Deacon Ray that she felt like she was a loser, a real nobody.  Deacon Ray then told me that the answer he gave wasn’t his, it was the Holy Spirit most definitely at work.  He told her she could never be a loser or a nobody, because she was loved by God.  As soon as he said it, he knew he found the answer to his own fulfillment.  No matter what he did or where he went, his fulfillment would not be found in the world.  He was a somebody because God loved him.  That’s what our Gospel is all about today.  The Samaritan woman at the well was probably feeling like a real nobody, having had five husbands and all.  Yet, Jesus knew exactly who she was, what she was feeling, and was able to touch her so deeply, her life was changed immediately.

Jesus calls to us right this very minute.  He is telling us He loves us right there on the cross and right here in a few minutes in the Eucharist.  When someone says they love us, no matter who it is, it could be someone that just comes up to us in Walmart, we don’t ignore them, in fact we may not know what to say, but we respond.

So, what should our response to Jesus be?  Jesus knows us, we need to get to know Him.  No better way than the Discovering Christ series coming up here at St. Frances Cabrini starting right after Easter on April 19th.  I’m actually using a shorter version of this at the jail, and the response has been stunning.  You will not regret it.


We need Jesus.  We cannot do this alone.  Our spiritual development and growth relies on our prayer, fellowship, and study.  We most certainly owe it to ourselves to get to know Jesus so we can really find out what He means to teach us and truly follow Him.  So, when our time comes in front of St. Peter at the gates of heaven, we’ll really know what Easter is all about.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

It's Coming!



So Lent is less than a week away. Yikes! I mean I'm ready for it to begin. I just haven't thought about what we are doing for it. Looks like Sunday I will dig out the purple fabric, crosses, guides, and other assorted items that I use during the liturgical season and give some thought to how I will make it meaningful.

Cruz, Jesus, Christianity, Lent, ChurchThe kids know the drill, and all of them, even the adult ones, look forward to it. We try to prayerfully discern what acts of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving that we will do. Sure, we give up stuff, but we also try to remember the reason is to ultimately grow closer to Christ.

For as many years as I can remember, I've made a lenten calendar for the children. I've also done that with my CCD students when I taught religious education. Catholic Icing has such a cute calendar that we've used for many years. Actually, Catholic Icing has many great ideas to make Lent come alive for little ones.

As I still try to discern what I'm planning to do, I've compiled a lists of blogs that have some suggestions. I'm listing them here for me as much as for anyone else. It will help when I cement my ideas this weekend. 😉


All of the above links come from wonderful, faith-filled bloggers. Check out their blogs which are chock-full of inspiration.

May you be filled with God's presence in your life this Lent!

Blessings,
Joanne

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Homily, 7th Sunday Ordinary Time, Matthew 5:38-48 by Deacon Joseph Basko

Some Gospels don’t require much explanation on the surface, often times the words of Our Lord are enough and it’s the job of the homilist to help find the deeper meaning.  That’s not today.  This Gospel, needs explanation, some exegesis or bible study if you will.  Let’s set the stage.  We are still in Matthew Chapter 5 which is…The Sermon on the Mount.  Jesus taking His rightful place as the new Moses.  These are the “new” commandments.  What Jesus is doing here, is moving from the law, “you have heard that it was said…”, and showing us how to love “…but I say to you.”  To understand this passage, we need to go back and understand the Israelite culture at that time.  The Israelite culture you just heard, was “eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.”  When we stop for a minute to think about that, it doesn’t take us long to see that it can get out of hand in a hurry.  Let’s say after Mass, I give…a punch on the arm.  Perhaps my “punch” to…was my way of telling him/her that he/she did such a great job on the 1st reading today.  But…doesn’t take it that way and feels that they’ve been wronged.  Under the “eye for an eye” rule, …is entitled to take a whack back at the Deacon.  Now the Deacon feels wronged and is going to take his entitled shot back at…  You can see where this is going.  In old Israel, it got to the point where whole families were being wiped out over nothing.  Jesus came to stop all that.  But He does it in such a subtle, yet masterful, way.  When He says to turn and offer the other cheek, He is now taking control of the situation.  If someone strikes again, the one who’s been hit now holds all the cards and may be owed some measure of justice, which, by the way, comes not now, but in heaven.  But also notice what Jesus does NOT say in this Gospel and He does not say to offer a third cheek.  The world likes to translate this passage in that way.  In no way does Jesus condone anyone being abused at any time.  If the other cheek is offered and struck, we have every right to leave the situation and if we can’t leave the situation, we have every right to defend ourselves.  At the same time, we can’t be afraid to be “struck”.  We have to tell the truth to the world and there will be times that people will strike us because of that truth, because we’re upsetting their world.  We cannot retaliate.  Jesus asks us to stop the violence and to love our enemies.

The key to unlocking today’s Gospel really lies in our second reading from 1st Corinthians.  “Let no one deceive himself.”  We really need to have a sense of where we are in journey with the Lord.  To be able to love our enemies we have to have that self-awareness, we cannot deceive ourselves.  But we do deceive ourselves don’t we?  Case in point.  Toward the end of summer last year, I was a little beat up physically and maybe mentally (no pity please) and I decided to take some time off from working out to heal.  Now feeling a little on the fat side around Christmas, I decided to start working out again for the new year.  One day, just recently, I was in the basement lifting weights, feeling pretty good about myself, pumping iron, a little sweat going.  In my head, I’m Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime or maybe the Steelers’ James Harrison, all pumped up.  When, my beloved three-year-old daughter Maria comes downstairs, sees me working out and says, “Wow!  Dad! Your belly is getting bigger!”…God’s little messenger...The vision in my head instantly went from a bodybuilder to the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.  But, I needed that.  I’ve since gotten a little more serious about what I’m doing and started a better diet.

To fully comprehend how to love our enemies, it takes change.  A large part of our formation, our change, our movement from the human to the divine, becoming (all together), that best version of ourselves is to understand and embrace the loving of our enemies, which allows us to fully experience the true love of God.  Let us remember our four pillars of formation; the human, the intellectual, the spiritual, and the pastoral.  But today, I’d like to look at these in reverse order, to get to the foundation of our formation as they relate to our spiritual growth, namely our growth through prayer, scripture, and fellowship.  This is where we’ll understand the need for love for others.  First, our pastoral formation, as you all remember is the sharing of our faith with others.  However, that can be very difficult to do in an adversarial relationship.  Do we do nothing then?  Certainly not, and inaction was assuredly not Jesus’ example.  To get to the answer we have to go deeper. 

Our spiritual formation relates to our spiritual growth in prayer.  Jesus says as much today, “pray for your persecutors.”  It’s prayer that plugs us into God, and it’s our communication to Him, and His communication to us where He can plant the seeds of change, where we start to love.

But let’s go further, our intellectual formation relates to our spiritual growth through our study of scripture.  It is through scripture that understanding what it means to be a follower of Jesus, where Our Lord teaches us how to love.  But, we still need to keep digging. 

Our human formation is the foundation of our spiritual growth.  To come to know God, we must come to know ourselves first.  St. Catherine of Genoa was quoted “My Me is God, nor do I recognize any other Me except my God Himself.”  How do we get to know what we look like?  We use a mirror, we go outside of our own vision to see ourselves.  We need to do the same thing spiritually.  How do we do that?  Deacon, are you advocating some sort of Zen Buddhist outer body experience?  Not at all. 

To get outside of ourselves we need others.  We go beyond ourselves in two ways.  Service and fellowship.  When we interact with others through our service, no doubt we help them, but we also help ourselves.  By putting ourselves at the service of those in need, we interact with Our Lord himself, who in turn, gives us a vision of our interior life, we become able to see inside and discover how well and how much we love others.  Remember, we’re not trying to earn heaven through our service, we give our service to love. 

We also interact with others in fellowship.  Any time we come together to share Our Lord, we have the opportunity to share, and have others share their experience of Jesus.  It gives us a unique look at our own spiritual development alongside that of our brothers and sisters.  It helps us to love and support, and to be loved and supported.  The best look at ourselves really comes here and now in the greatest fellowship our world can offer in the Mass.  Here in our Eucharistic celebration, we join with all the angels and all the saints and we get a glimpse of ourselves in the light of heaven.  One of the excuses I hear all the time, from people of all ages “oh, Mass is so boorring.  It’s saaammmmee thing eeeevvery weeeeeek.”  What they fail to realize is the beauty of liturgy.  A beautiful sunset, a majestic landscape, the brightness of the stars in the sky on a clear night, no one ever complains that those things are boooring.  Mass is boring to some simply because they lack the appreciation of seeing beyond the natural and to the supernatural.  Not to pick on my beautiful little Maria, but I wouldn’t pay for a ticket for her to go to the symphony.  She’s simply not educated enough to appreciate the beauty of the symphony.  We can appreciate the beauty of our Mass, and when we do, we can see the beauty of heaven.  Here we can embrace the vision of who we really are in our humanity, and it is then we can embrace our enemies and truly love as God loves.  So, the next time God sends a little messenger your way, I hope you’ll hear “Wow, the God in you is getting bigger!”

Monday, January 16, 2017

Deacon Joe's homily for the 2nd Ordinary Sunday, 1/15/17

I still don't know what I was waiting for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets
Every time I thought I'd got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I've never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I'm much too fast to take that test.

Believe it or not those lyrics were pretty much where I found myself as a young man in my late twenties.  I was chasing my career thinking that the goal of life was to die with the most toys.  But every time I achieved, or got that “toy”, the victory seemed hollow.  My thinking at the time that the answer was that I needed more and more and more.  A “crowning achievement” of mine, or so I thought, was when I got a big raise and a promotion and got to work and live in the mega-metropolis of Philadelphia.  I was going big and my future was so bright I had to wear shades.  But things don’t always go as planned do they.  I thought so much of myself that my arrogance took over and I wasn’t treating people very well.  In reality, most of the people I met while working I was really using to further my own ends.  I wound up not having very many friends and quite a few enemies.  I fell.  Not a rock bottom kind of thing, but my pride took a big hit.  In fact, I was falling for quite some time, I just didn’t know it.  A very wise man once said to me, “While we’re falling, our faces are pointed downward, but finally when we hit, we can change our direction and find God.”  That’s exactly what happened to me.  When I finally took a big hit, my direction changed, and behold, there was God.  That trip to Philadelphia very much served as an Exodus for me, Joanne, and our family, because it really was our journey through a spiritual desert, where we could see things differently and come to truth of our faith in God.
Today’s Gospel is that same kind of wakeup call.  (Btw Christmas and Easter) John the Baptist is telling his followers “Hey!  Him!  Over there!  That’s the guy I was talking about!  Now it begins!”  But there’s really something interesting here in our Gospel as John the Baptist says “I did not know Him”.  At this point you may be saying “Wait a minute Deacon, I remember from my CCD classes that Jesus and John the Baptist were related, so how can John say he didn’t know Him?”  Some scholars believe John says that he did not know Jesus because his father and mother (Zachariah and Elizabeth) were advanced in years and couldn’t travel much.  It was around 90 miles between Judea, where John the Baptist lived and Galilee, where the Holy Family lived and things back then weren’t like they are now, travel was very difficult.  Other scholars suggest that John the Baptist didn’t quite grow up like a typical young Jewish man, as the Gospels suggest John grew up in the desert and scholars trace him to living in the community of the Essenes, kind of like a monk (certainly not like a Benedictine though).  Those theories may hold some truth, but it begs the question why St. John (the author of this Gospel) would mention it.  The more theological scholars contend that St. John brings this up in the Gospel because it was more of a case where John the Baptist was surprised to find that it was his cousin, Jesus, who was the Messiah.  Some of the Bible translations actually use the word “recognize.”  To translate into modern day English, John probably would’ve said something like “we used to hang out together at family picnics and all kinds of other things, I had no clue that Jesus was going to become the Messiah.”  Things changed for John the Baptist.  The reason they changed is because John fully devoted himself to living a life of faith, to living a life in a communal relationship with God.  It was through that relationship that God was able to help John the Baptist change, see through the eyes of faith, see God in the unexpected, and recognize his own cousin as the Messiah.  This Gospel is very much a continuation of the same theme we heard over Advent and Christmas.  Jesus has come, the world, our world, has been changed.
Collectively as a Diocese we’re about to embark on a program of change in the On Mission For The Church Alive.  A little over a year from now, we will be members of a new and different parish.  One possibility is that we may be attending Mass in another location.  Then the changes will be obvious.  But another possibility is that in the summer of 2018 we’re still sitting right here, I may very well be preaching (so you’ve been warned) and nothing will necessarily seem different on the surface.  But it will be.  And even if our surroundings don’t change, we’ll still need to have faith and see beyond and embrace and welcome those whose worlds have been changed.  A subtle message of our Gospel today is to open our hearts and minds in love and to welcome change, because we understand it as coming from God and being an integral part of our journey home to Him.
We may not like it and maybe we try not to think about it, but things are constantly changing for us whether we’re conscious of it or not.  When we stop and think about it, we’ll come to the realization that we change to get better, to become that “Best Version of Ourselves,” we certainly don’t change with the goal of getting worse.  You’ll leave this Church this morning a different person.  Hopefully this liturgy will move you closer to God.  Hopefully this homily didn’t totally confuse you and move you further away from God.  But, we never stay in the same place.  We’ll also be different tomorrow, it never stops.  This year, I’ll hit some milestone changes.  I’ll turn 50 and I’ll have worked 30 years for the federal government.  Please don’t congratulate me, I’m just getting older.  By no means are either of those things an achievement, I’ve mostly just shown up.  But, to be really honest, if it weren’t for my faith in God, I’d probably be going nuts and having a crazy midlife crisis of some sort.  Because without God, this just ends.  What a hopeless thought.  But with God, and with a relationship with the Lord and Savior of the World, there’s always a future, there’s always hope and we know that the best day we’ve had here on earth doesn’t even scratch the surface of what heaven will be like.  But to get there, we need to change.  I’d like to leave you with a little saying I came across:  “There are 3 C’s of life; Choices, Chances, Changes.  You must make a choice, to take a chance, to make a better life through change.”


Been a long time...

When I started writing this blog, I had the intention of writing fairly frequently. However, life got in the way.

The last post that I wrote was an emotional one and I truly didn't have the energy or the desire to write again. I was going to delete the blog, but for some reason, I couldn't, although I had no intention of reviving it.

Last year brought a busy year of homeschooling my boys and very little time. This year, I found myself in the midst of extensive remodeling and updating of our house. We're still in the process of that and will be for quite some time. Also with parish commitments as baptism coordinator, Pre-Cana coordinator, and serving on the core team of the ChristLife program at our parish as the Evangelism and Registration coordinator, facilitator, and prayer team member, the thought of writing here was the absolute furthest thing on my mind.

Enter the husband. After the election which startled us as to how divided our nation is and witnessing how some people have used Twitter and Facebook as a sounding board to spew hatred and criticizing anyone who disagrees with them while professing that they are tolerant and loving, Deacon Joe decided to start using Facebook the way it should be used: to keep in touch, to offer love and prayers, and to share inspiration. So, he's returned to Facebook and has been posting regularly. Wanting to share some of his homilies, I suggested that he post here or start a blog and post the link to Facebook. Well, this was easier than creating new, so I changed the name of the blog to reflect the both of us and he can post his homilies and if I feel like it, I'll post on occasion.

Here's hoping that we can offer love and hope in this turbulent world.

Blessings,
Joanne




Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A month of sorrow and loss

Last month as I flipped the calendar to view May, I experienced a little trepidation. May is always a busy month for us with birthdays, end of year events, baseball, and a host of other late spring events. But this year seemed especially busy with an added First Holy Communion, meetings and other commitments. What I wasn't banking on, and who does, is having the unexpected events...like death.

Two days after my son's First Communion, I attended the funeral of my uncle and godfather. Although his death wasn't a surprise, the realization that he was the last of my parent's siblings made the event that much more somber.

A week and a half later, my sister's nephew was killed in a car crash. Knowing the family for 40 years, my heart ached for them and what they were going through.

Fast forward to several days ago, I realized that I was experiencing a miscarriage. At my age, people hardly view pregnancy as a positive thing and so my husband and I chose not to tell anyone, thinking that miscarriage was a very real possibility. In truth, when I found out that I was pregnant, I was a little frustrated thinking about carrying another child to term and knowing how hard the last pregnancy was on me. But, I also know that all life is a precious gift from God and I choose to embrace that beautiful life that God had given me, understanding that it may be for the remainder of my life or for a considerably shorter time period. But miscarriage is never easy even when you know that it is very probable. Experiencing a miscarriage is a very painful experience both physically and emotionally but I thank God for entrusting that life to me for even that short period.

The hardest part about miscarriage is society's lack of understanding. In a culture that embraces abortion, there is very little understanding for couples whose child has died before birth. Unfortunately, society also embraces the notion that if you want the baby, it's real and if you don't, it's not real, an indication of a dysfunctional society to be sure. But, since society can't see the baby, then it couldn't have been too real, so you should just get over it and certainly don't talk about it.

As I was dealing with the physical and emotional effects of this on Monday, my daughter and her boyfriend came home to tell me that one of their friends was in a motorcycle accident and not long after they informed me that he died. This young man was set to graduate high school next week. He came from a large family who I've known for the past 12 years and saw regularly as their mother and I often worked on church projects together. So for the second time this month, my heart aches for a family as they endure the unimaginable.

I can't imagine enduring any of these events without faith. Faith is what sustains us. It strengthens and upholds us through all of life's trials.Our understanding of God's love and mercy should comfort us through dark times and give us hope in the eternal.

Please pray for the families that have endured the losses this month.