Tuesday, November 29, 2011

More, Not Less

What I find so beautiful about today's Gospel is that when the Lord invited Andrew and Peter to follow, "at once" they left everything and followed him.  Was Andrew being impetuous or unreasonable?  Quite the contrary!  So often, when people speak about vocatations to the priesthood, they immediately begin to recount the things that a man would have to "give up" in order to be a priest.  But this is entirely the wrong approach.  Is it true that a man must be prepared to sacrifice certain things?  Sure.  But, we are talking about Christ here!  The man who chooses Christ possesses everything else more, not less.  Pope Benedict XVI often reminds us that when we follow Christ, we lose nothing of what makes life true, and beautiful, and good.  In fact, we gain everything a hundredfold.

Andrew left that boat and his nets because his heart leapt in the presence of Christ.  He saw in Christ the answer to his heart's deepest desires.  He saw in Christ an invitation to more, not to less.  Was it a sacrifice to leave something behind.  Absolutely.  But, what is the alternative?  To say to my heart that is leaping with the joy of discovering Christ, "No, not if it means giving up these things"?  If Andrew had opted for the boat and nets, he would have acted against his own heart and his own happiness.

Let's pray for the great men in the seminary. May they never be deluded into going back and looking for the boat and nets that they left behind.  Andrew's boat and nets have long turned to dust.  But, the souls who came to believe in Christ because of his preaching, they eternally give glory to God.  Cling to Christ.

To those considering a vocation to the priesthood: Look at the image above.  Christ is so close!  In Eucharistic Adoration, you come to see that Christ is near to you.  Spend time with the Lord in the Eucharist.  And, don't be afraid.  The one who has Christ, has everything.  When you possess Christ, you possess everything else more, not less.

All of us have an opportunity to bear witness to Christ.  Ultimately, Andrew offered a lot more than a boat and nets.  He offered his life.  In return, Christ gave Andrew the power to preach the Gospel.  To any man considering the priesthood, I can assure you that the joy of preaching Christ is reason enough to get out of the boat and follow.

Do You See What I see?

Dear Friends in Christ: Every week, I write to you in our parish bulletin, but perhaps it is time for me to try something new and get on the blog circuit.  We'll see how it works.  Now, up front I have to admit that I decided to start this blog this afternoon when I was trying to find a way to avoid preparing for my Finance Council meeting this evening.  Nonetheless, I find that when I write to you each week in the bulletin, our communion in Christ is strengthened.  So, perhaps a more frequent opportunity to do that might be a good thing.  Let's give it a go.

Last Sunday at Mass, I was really moved by what I saw.  Isn't it great to have a full church? Whenever you think about missing Sunday Mass (besides that whole issue with the Third Commandment . . .), remember that your absence deprives somebody else of experiencing the joy of a full church.  Allow me to tell you about some of the people I saw at Mass this weekend.

I saw four seminarians.  These men have heard the voice of Christ calling them to become priests.  One is assigned here for the year and three call our parish, home.  When they are here, are not our hearts filled with joy?  Doesn't their presence compel us to remember Christ calling Peter, Andrew, James, and John?  Christ is still calling and young men are still responding to his invitation.

I saw a couple who are mourning the loss of their friend, a 38 year old mother of four.

I saw two adults preparing for baptism at Easter and four other adults preparing to be received into full communion in the Catholic Church.  There were couples who were recently married and couples preparing for marriage.  There were people who drive long distances to be here each week.  There was the man in his nineties who often tells me that he hasn't missed Sunday Mass since he came home from World War II.  There was the college kid who goes to school nearby, always comes in late, but always makes it to Mass.  There was the woman whose mother is gravely ill in the hospital.  There was the person who has been away from the Church for a long time who looked around nervously, her face almost posing the question, "Does God want me back?"  (The answer, of course, is "yes!") 

I saw parents who are doing their best to raise their children Catholic in a culture that isn't quite so cooperative in that regard.  I saw beautiful families--lots of beautiful familes.

I saw many persons who became Catholics later in life. 

Because each of these persons worshipped God last Sunday, they helped me to worship God.  Because they were at Mass, I was moved by their example and drew closer to Christ. The more we are obedient to Christ and his commands, the more we become signs pointing to Christ.  This is the Communion of Saints. 

I don't share these things with you in order to boast about our parish (though, I do that as well).  I share them with you in order that perhaps you too might be encouraged.  I just wanted to hand on to you what I myself have seen from my Shepherd's Post.