In recent days when we have enjoyed warmer temperatures and brighter skies, I have been more mindful of signs of life renewed around us — nature’s way, I think, of preparing us for the Easter feast. I am grateful for such reminders. They call me back to basic, deeper realities that I can easily skip over too quickly in the press of daily activities.
In moments between meetings today, I made an effort to review recent days with a view to remembering sights, sounds, events and encounters that have drawn me to prayer and reflection on life in ways that I have found very helpful. Among them:
1) A celebration of the liturgy with the community at Aquinas Institute. Those 850 energy-filled students bring a sense of life with them that always fills me with joy. They are also living reminders to me that God constantly renews our lives in a variety of ways.
2) The goodness of the members of our Presbyteral Council. At our most recent meeting, we dealt with some challenging issues. They worked hard at it and brought an appropriate seriousness to the several items on the agenda. And yet they brought to the work a spirit and perspective that generates laughter and gave rise to delightful conversation.
3) The goodness of so many in our community who, even in these tough economic times, generously supported Catholic Family Center and Bishop Sheen Ecumenical Housing events designed to generate support for their work on behalf of sisters and brothers in need.
4) Conversations with people who have been pleased with Lenten retreat opportunities in their parish communities. They have really appreciated the chance to pray with friends and to be enriched by the thoughts and experiences of retreat leaders. Their spiritual thirsts put me in touch with my own and led me to efforts to respond to them.
5) The commitment to the Lord and to our faith community of busy, gifted people that I experienced in the women and men who serve on our Stewardship Council and on the diocesan board of Catholic Charities. They generously give of their time, talent and energy in support of our efforts to be good stewards of God’s gifts and to stand with our sisters and brothers in need.
6) Photographs that my niece, Kathleen Grignon, sent me of her daughter, Jennifer Helen, taken on Jennie’s third birthday. Surely, you’ll argue with me and call me biased, but I’m telling you that Jennie is the most beautiful 3-year-old on earth! OK, I do admit to some prejudice. But I know that you will agree with me that the beauty and innocence of children does much to inspire and console the human heart. In the face of such gifts, I can only praise and thank God for endless goodness.
Each of the above has reminded me of the Lord’s abiding presence within us and among us. Each also has reinvigorated me by renewing my awareness of God’s faithful and compassionate love through all of the year of our lives.
If you and I were in conversation now, what might you name as the experiences of life that in recent days have turned your mind and heart to an awareness of God’s presence and love in your life?
Peace to all.