Upcoming events serve to boost our spiritual lives - Catholic Courier
Matthew H. Clark Matthew H. Clark

Upcoming events serve to boost our spiritual lives

Sometimes events just come together perfectly, offering us unique opportunities to grow in our faith and move further on our journeys toward deeper relationships with God.

I speak of the confluence of three special times: the Easter season we are in the midst of celebrating, which always stirs our hope and our faith, our new Spirit Alive! spiritual renewal, and the exciting visit of Pope Benedict XVI later this month.

Each of these is special; each a boost in its own right to our spiritual lives as Catholics. But together, the synergy — and potential — they will create is just marvelous.

We chose to begin Spirit Alive! during the Lenten season even before details of the Holy Father’s trip became firm. There is a beautiful rhythm to Lent, which never fails to draw us like a magnet to deeper thoughts of the Lord, to more meaningful sacrifice, to more frequent and even fervent prayer. Just as spring stirs our world outside, Easter stirs us inside.

We are cleansed by Lent, and we begin anew at Easter, “washed as white as snow,” as one of the old hymns says. What better time, primed as we are, to fill our hearts and minds with the hope of a “spirit alive,” a spirit on fire with love for the Lord?

I both sense, and am hearing good reports, that the movement of the renewal is building now. Hundreds of people throughout the diocese took part, for example, in our services of reconciliation and hope. Our parish leaders and people are buzzing about the renewal, planning events around the DVD retreat I was privileged to record as a resource for you, and visiting our new Web site, www.rochesterspiritalive.org. We have much more ahead of us, including a special “Catholic Call-in on April 22 from 2 to 8 p.m. to answer any questions you have about your faith. The phone number, appropriately, is 1-888-4-SPIRIT.

What I hope for Spirit Alive! is that the unspoken yearning I have heard for “something” to anchor, focus and heal us will be met as the renewal unfolds over the next three years. I pray that it will make us a stronger community of faith and of prayer — that we will emerge with a deepened awareness of ourselves as sisters and brothers in Christ, and of the abundant presence of Christ in all our lives and in our community.

So, too, is my hope for the visit of the Holy Father to Washington, D.C., and New York City April 15-20.

My experience with these wonderful moments of presence when previous popes have come has been of not only a tremendous outpouring of support and thanksgiving, but of renewed interest in and spirit for the church — including our young people, to whom we must continue to reach out.

The visits always serve to inspire and teach us, and ignite new souls on fire for God. The Holy Father’s presence, too will remind us of the universality of our church in the world. And Catholicism truly will be in the spotlight. The news media will be in full force, which will help to carry the pope’s message to every nook and cranny of our land. It will be a time ripe for renewal.

Pope Benedict has chosen for the theme of his trip, “Christ Our Hope.” In the midst of our local renewal efforts and in the dawning of a new Easter season, he could not have chosen better for us.

Let us, then, keep the Easter fire burning in our hearts. Let us experience fully the power of Spirit Alive! and the historic visit by our Holy Father to our shores.

Let these events generate new excitement about the mission of the church and spark in us a desire to invite others, as Jesus did, to “come and see.”

Together, let us seize in joy our corporate responsibility to pass on faith to generations that come after us, to be good disciples and good stewards, to answer with shouts of hallelujah the words, “Christ Our Hope.”

Peace to all.

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