Under the leadership of our Diocesan Women’s Commission we had two celebrations this week around the theme of hope. The first of these two was held at St. Mary Our Mother in Horseheads April 4 and attracted about 125 participants. The second was held the evening of April 6 at Sacred Heart Cathedral.
The celebration in Horseheads April 4 was peaceful and prayerful. To me it seemed a wonderful way to gather for prayer during Lent. Our Scripture for the evening was the account of the presentation of Jesus in the temple by Mary and Joseph, and the reactions of Simeon and Anna to what they experienced in the event. Following the Gospel, I shared a few reflections on the reading.
When all present had a chance to reflect on the Word of God, we were invited to join two or three people near us to share our thoughts and experience around such questions: what are the "things" that often interfere with your own ability to live in hope? When in your life have you had to wait, like Anna, for something? How were you able to sustain your hope through this time?
I joined a group of three women for that portion of the program. One I had known for years; the other two I met only that night. But, as is usually the case when people have time to share about things that really matter to them, I was deeply moved — even inspired — by the faith of the three of them. Their comments were direct and uncomplicated and reflected on the part of each a deep and abiding faith and hope rooted in the faithful love of God.
We concluded the prayer part of the evening with a brief time during which participants were invited to develop an action plan. That plan was simply to identify one element or circumstance in their life that is a roadblock to hope; to think of a solution to that roadblock (that is, one that’s within their control); and to identify a specific action they could take to work on it. There was no sharing about the plan that evening. Since then, I have been intrigued by the thought of those great people all around the beautiful Southern Tier of our diocese working on their plans to grow in hope.
I am most grateful for this imaginative and fruitful initiative of our Women’s Commission. They did a great service to all of us who participated that night, and, I am sure, planted some good seeds that will bear much fruit in the future.
As I write, I remember that the letter I received informing me of this program and inviting me to participate was signed by Sister Ann Miller, RSM, a member of the commission. Between the writing of the letter and April 4’s celebration, Ann was afflicted by cancer and is now extremely ill. I commend her to your prayers during this holy season. Circumstances call her to live in hope in a particularly powerful way these days. She will be consoled to know that she does so buoyed by your prayers.
Peace to all.