Monday, March 26, 2012

What does a grain of wheat have to do with me?

It is a fact of life; from the time we are born we are destined to die an earthly death.  This is something that we cannot change.  The fact that Jesus says in the gospel this week “unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” is an awareness of this fact: since we all will die, that we all have the opportunity to produce much fruit. Just like Jesus, we know that we will die someday but are also aware that we have the potential to live in the process, thus producing much fruit along the way. 

But are we truly aware of this potential every day? Even some days?  I know at times, that I am not aware of my living or dying, but it seems as though I am going through the motions of day to day living.  Something occasionally does call me to this awareness; such as the death of a loved one, the loss of a cherished possession, or feeling an emptiness or longing for something inside that just seems to be missing. 

Lent (which means spring) is a perfect opportunity to look at one’s own personal dying and rising.  Watch the bulbs and trees coming into bloom.  They’ve lain dormant all winter, ready to burst forth and bloom. Take a ride in the country and watch as farmers plant their fields.  Think about the potential of each and every one of the million seeds that are planted.  God does!

Take a two and one-half minute retreat by clicking here to watch this video clip:
Consider where are the opportunities of seeds already planted in our lives?  Consider where do we need to plant more, so as to produce much fruit? 

Because “If today is about dying a little, how am I living to produce much fruit, today or for the future?”    

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic Church

Last week, as the media spread the news about the tragedy and sadness in Chardon, what interested me most was the amazing sense of our catholic community that exists in our world.  On the first night of the incident, I followed the shock and sadness not only on the TV listening to the heartfelt stories of children who were personally affected, the first responders, and the community, but also followed my friends on the social media sites of Facebook and Twitter, of those closely connected to the families in Chardon, as the offers of support and prayers which were overwhelming.

People expressed the need to gather in community and students looked forward to being in their faith youth groups that evening.  It was impressive to see our Catholic Churches, first Holy Angels in Bainbridge and then many others throughout Lake, Cuyahoga, Geauga and Summit counties open up their doors for those who wanted to join in community to pray throughout the week that followed and the mentions of prayer and support from Pastors throughout the diocese through social media posts, street signs and bulletin notices. 

Bishop Lennon called to the people of the Diocese of Cleveland to join in a communal action of prayer for healing.  It was awesome to see people bring their personal faith and families to church in this way, whether they knew anyone personally in Chardon, or just to be the pillars and pray-ers of our church. 

The Youth Group of St. Ambrose created a beautiful video called LEAP, echoing the sentiments of Catholic youth (many of whom had specially called meetings this past week to share their thoughts, feelings and prayers) with a call to the actions of loving, encouraging, accepting, and praying.  The pictures in this video demonstrate the bonding and love within the communities gathered.  It is in community where our greatest strength, love is shown. 

The extended community showed great love and support in the fortress of love that surrounded St. Mary’s church in Chardon for the funeral.   At Eucharistic celebrations on Sunday throughout the Diocese of Cleveland people prayed together prayers of intercession for the needs and healing of the Chardon community. 

With great faith-filled strength, I watched the witness of the three families reflecting on their lives and the lives of their children from Captain's Stadium.  With the grandfather of Danny Parmertor saying “people were drawn to Danny,” and brother Dominic’s expression of love saying “Danny was going to change the world.”  I believe Danny has.  I loved the personal witness of forgiveness from Demetrius Hewlin’s mother, Phyllis Ferguson, while the mother of Russell King Jr. also paid a loving tribute of her son.  All were powerful witnesses to the strength and love of God and others in their lives.

In reflecting and praying throughout this week, and contemplating the events of this week, I sensed a new connectedness in our Catholic community and with the communion of saints as the last few lines of the Nicene Creed were professed at Mass Sunday morning:

I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.

I confess one baptism for the forgiveness of sins

and I look forward to the resurrection

of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen.

It is good that we belong to a loving Catholic community that professes its faith through prayer and with open hearts in love, mercy, and action.

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