The afternoon sun carries the color of the cathedral’s stained-glass windows to the walls of the church. That beautiful and tranquil sight is complemented by the quiet flow of water in the baptismal font.
I am grateful for the peace of this environment. It is a perfect place to pray and to thank God for the beautiful experience of the last three days — the back-to-back celebrations of our convocation and ministerium about which I wrote last week.
They were rich and full days that offered much to think and pray about; some practical ideas to test out in daily living and some directions to explore in our continuing work on spiritual renewal.
Fathers Richard Rohr, OFM, and Timothy Radcliffe, OP, offered what we hoped they would — and more. They shared with us a great deal of what the Lord has planted in their hearts during their long years of teaching, preaching, study, service and prayer. It was a pleasure for me, and I think for the vast majority, if not all, of those present, to enjoy their wisdom, encouragement and humor. They were quite different in their personality and style but both had great things to offer. And they did so in a most engaging way.
As I write these words of appreciation for the presence and gifts of these remarkable men, I am remembering the blessing it was to be in the company of the women and men who participated in these events: in the convocation — all of our priests and pastoral administrators; in the ministerium — a wide range of pastoral ministers who swelled the size of the group to well over 500 people.
I think of such gatherings as sacraments with a lower case “s.” They symbolize much and always yield some wonderful gifts. The dedication and spirit of sacrifice of these men and women always inspire. Their good humor, kindness and delight in seeing one another are great antidotes to anxiety and any sense of isolation that one might carry. Their lively hope renews the spirit calling us beyond any tendency we might have to become stuck in or blinded by the pain or difficulty of a given moment. In short, they bring encouragement and hope and joy with them, and readily share them with others.
Above all, I think, they offer these gifts in a spirit and with a freedom that indicates that they know that they are passing along to others what they themselves first received from the Lord. Their gifts to others are at the same time an expression of their gratitude to God for the Easter life that is theirs. It’s a wonderful thing to experience it all.
Now, after such a special gift, we return to ordinary daily living. I don’t mean anything negative when I say that. It’s just a recognition that every day is not as exhilarating as I have found these days to have been. My fond hope for all of us is that when the excitement subsides, we can still enjoy and share the gifts that made them so special.
I know that I will be helped in that as soon as tomorrow morning when I go to St. Catherine in Addison for the Mass of Christian Burial for our dear brother, Father Andy Kalafsky.
Andy was a warm, generous and faithful priest of our diocese. He was good to people and good for them. Long after he could legitimately have slowed down some, he continued.
For many years, he was pastor to the people of St. Mary of the Lake in Watkins Glen and St. Benedict in Odessa. After his retirement, he continued to serve the people of St. Catherine, Addison; St. Stanislaus, Bradford; and St. Joseph, Campbell. All of those parish communities will miss him greatly. So will his colleagues in ministry. I know that I will, too.
Peace to all.