I have looked forward to this holiday weekend, which will be relatively quiet compared to the rest of May. It has been a month filled with wonderful celebrations, significant meetings, and an assortment of events and situations ranging from the delightful to the painful.
So this quiet weekend for me will be an opportunity to absorb what has happened during these busy weeks. It will be a pleasure, for example, to revisit the wonderful celebrations of confirmation at which I have had the privilege of presiding. I’ll think about the tiny ones, the adult candidates and all in between, and be aware of how God lavishes gifts on us through all of our years.
And, I’ll remember the special moments with our priests I’ve had in May — at the Priests’ Council meeting, our Jubilee Mass, our senior priests’ luncheon, the consultors’ meeting. Our priests are wonderful men giving themselves in ministry, season in and out, always ready to help one another, always ready to serve.
Our beautiful young people also will be part of this weekend’s prayer and awareness. The hundreds who were confirmed will be very present to me, of course. So will the great kids who brought such life to the Junior High Youth Rally. And, certainly, the more recent presence of our high school seniors at last week’s Senior Scene at Sacred Heart Cathedral will be a source of inspiration and gratitude.
As I’ve said to you so often over the years, it’s important — I know it is for me — to reflect on what we have experienced. It’s important to do so in a quiet, peaceful way. If we don’t take the time to do this, we miss the richness of what our experiences hold for us. I really believe that we miss the presence of God who is with us in everything that is truly human and real.
My friend Bishop Howard Hubbard recently wrote a column for The Evangelist, the official paper of his Diocese of Albany. His topic was 10 reasons why he is glad to be a priest. The 10 reasons he gave were 10 very concrete, personal moments in his life as a priest in which he interacted with someone in a way that touched both of them in life-giving ways. I loved the column for several reasons — one being Howard’s reminder that life’s stories carry meaning and spark for us as long as we have a memory.
I acknowledge to you with happiness and gratitude that a special internal gathering place and point of focus for these memories will be my awareness that May 27 is the 27th anniversary of my ordination as a bishop. That rite, celebrated so many years ago, is a memory from which I still draw meaning. It’s more than the remembrance of one day and of what happened in that 24-hour period. It’s really a revisiting of a life-changing event and all that has flowed from it on a day-to-day basis over these many years.
I don’t think that I’ll ever exhaust the meaning of it all — no matter how many more anniversaries I’ll be around to celebrate.
My mother was present for my ordination as bishop. My father died about two years before that event. But they will surely be a part of this weekend’s awareness and gratitude as we observe the national holiday that honors our deceased, most especially those who gave their lives in defense of our country.
I hope that you will be blessed with some moments of quiet and peaceful prayer on this special weekend. If you are at all frazzled, I urge you to rest in the Lord. Time so spent will do wonders for your spirit.
Peace to all.