One of the regular joys of my life is to pray and celebrate with the people of this lively diocese. Never is that opportunity more abundant than it is in the Easter season. People want to get together, to remember, to celebrate the gift of life.
My calendar these days reflects that trend quite clearly. For example, since you received last week’s Catholic Courier, I have enjoyed Mass and dinner with the Catholic Community at Nazareth College, confirmed three times (twice at Sacred Heart Cathedral and one at St. Patrick’s in Seneca Falls), presided at the commencement of St. Bernard’s School of Theology and Ministry, and spent an evening with participants in the Muslim-Catholic Alliance. And, this lists accounts only for the evenings! Significant daytime events during the week were a meeting with our campus ministers and a diocesan Stewardship Day held at St. Patrick’s in Victor.
I mention the events of the week to remind you of the wonderful ways in which the people of our diocese are receiving and sharing the gift of Easter life. Of course, the list I offer is but a sampling of the events and celebrations that are happening these days in all of our parish communities.
What impresses me most about such gatherings is the generosity of the people I meet at them. They are always ready to give and eager to serve one another. That disposition, as best I can read it, rises from a sense of stewardship that rests deeply within them. They may not use the word stewardship; they’re more likely to say, “Well, it’s just my way of thanking God for the good things God has given to me.” I don’t think we can be truly grateful — or happy — unless we share freely with others what God has freely given to us.
What fascinates me is the way in which that kind of giving mentality changes people. I mean those who share who they are and what they have with others. I mean those who are beneficiaries of such a disposition. And, I include all who are privileged to observe such interaction and have a sense of what is happing.
In all of this week’s events I mentioned earlier — the confirmations, the commencement, the convening of the Muslim Catholic Alliance — I could see that kind of giving dynamic in action. At confirmation, for example, parents take enormous delight that their children are anointed in the power of the Holy Spirit. I cannot help but think at such moments that the joy of the parents has deep roots in their giving of self to their children from the moments of their births; and, in the parents’ awareness at such special moments of how their children have enriched their lives.
In similar ways, one couldn’t miss evidence of that kind of giving mentality in the other events I mentioned. People do not achieve what the new graduates of St. Bernard’s have achieved without a disposition on the part of the students to make their time, talent and treasure available to others. But, the fact is that even their wonderful achievements would hardly have been possible without a similar kind of generosity on the part of faculty and administration, of supportive family members and of benefactors of the institution. In some fashion all gave of time, talent and treasure to make possible such a joyful moment. That is why all take such delight in the celebration of the reality. To share our God-given gifts with others — and for their sakes — inevitably is a source of peace and joy.
Remembering the events of the week leaves me with a sense that I have truly been fed, nourished and given strength by the generosity I have been privileged to observe. As I see things, I understand that generosity to be rooted in an awareness — even if it is an unspoken awareness — that because God is so generous with us, we must be generous with others.
Peace to all.