Hello St. Francis,
So, we have made it. It's almost time for the Easter Bunny to come and relieve you for your Chocolate deprivation...or whatever else you gave up for Lent. I hope that these few weeks have been ones filled with digging deeper into your faith and finding God more clearly in all things. Lent is a time of preparation that allows us the time to discern what Jesus' gift of the Eucharist, his passion and death, and resurrection mean to us and how seriously we take our call to discipleship and to carry our crosses with grace and dignity. We know how the story ends, triumphantly!!! But, the only thing that makes a happy ending better is when we understand the struggle that had to be overcome to reach that ending.
We have been so blest in many ways at St. Francis. As I think about what we enter into this week, my thoughts turn to the example we have been given in the person of Fr. Neil. At St. Francis, we had the opportunity to grow in our faith by participating in Fr. Neil's witness, but, we also got the great privilege of walking with him on his road to Calvary. It was our mission to comfort and strengthen him as he carried his cross of sickness. The only thing is though, even though we all knew he was sick, weak and struggling, you would never know it when you engaged him in conversation or celebrated liturgy with him. That voice filled with such power and that faith that just spilled over and enveloped each person he celebrated with. This week we will hear about the suffering Jesus had to endure on his road to the cross. For many years, I thought of this story in a pretty dark and dim way. There was guilt, sadness and a real sense of disconnection from God. Now, having thought about this and having experienced the powerful witness of faith given to us by Fr. Neil, I see the cross, I see Fr. Neil's cross and I see my cross as a wonderful privilege. One that will lead me and hopefully others by my example to the revelation of God's unending love for all of us.
So, this week, make a real effort to come to your parish home as we remember this story. The story of Jesus' cross, the reality of our own crosses and the faith of Fr. Neil which lead him, and us to resurrection. Let the words, the scriptures, the music and the community itself open our minds, and our hearts to know how much God really loves me and you. Really know it!!! Because, it is when we realize how much God loves us, that we will truly realize the purpose, the vocation and the ministry of Fr. Neil. A vocation fixed on love. A mission that brings to reality the ultimate truth. God Is Love.
Blessings!!! Pray for someone this week!!!