My thought today concerns my amazement when noticing how our parish acts like a mirror to my own spiritual development or growth. I believe that this must be true for us all. All of our relationships can act in this way of course, but nonetheless the parish seems to act this way in a more powerful manner. After all, the parish is a place with quite a few people; we visit it frequently for many reasons; we intentionally encounter God here through our Sacraments. Add these points up, and I believe that as a result, they indicate that we are going to feel strongly about our parish. But are our feelings positive or negative? Probably, like most folks, our feelings will vary; we will feel positive at some times and negative at others. Please note that this variance of our feelings will act as a gauge or a mirror for us. Consider this variance of feelings as a blessing, which it is. Consider that when we feel good about our parish, we are feeling good about ourselves, our prayer life, and our overall spiritual development. Consider that when we feel bad, we may want to use that moment to look inside of ourselves first, and to notice where we may need to be healed. Is there some healing practice that we can engage which would in tum heal some scar inside of us? Can we offer a kind word to ourselves; be more patient with ourselves; perhaps we can pray more? Is there something within us that needs to be forgiven? As a general principle, how we feel about that which is external to us reflects our interior nature at that time. It is as if our inner frustration with ourselves is projected outward onto other people. At the least, such a reflection as this is where we ought to begin at least, for it gives us the best foundation to look honestly at the outside world, seeing what needs to be healed there. By healing ourselves first, or being more open to God to heal us, we are far more likely to be successful in healing anything “out there.”
I will pray for each one of you in this New Year. I pray that all of you would experience all of the Blessings that God wishes to give to each of you. There are so many Blessings that we could have had and experienced if only our hearts were open to receive them. May all of us be more open in this coming year. May we have more open hearts. May we truly open our hearts and keep them open through a deepening prayer life. May we receive the sacraments frequently. May we forgive easily; be more understanding and more patient.
May we rejoice in God’s Presence in our families, in our relationships; and above all, in our Parish.
Blessings, Fr. Walter