I can't believe it's already been 2 months since my last post... and I thought that I "was back". Well, I was back from a wonderful sabbatical experience in Chicago, and back into the amazing adventure of pastoring a parish here in the Archdiocese of Montreal. There is so much to engross a pastor and completely fill his time. I mean, everyday I awaken to life as a Christian, let alone to that of still being a pastor in a parish full of vitality and activity, where people gather to be strengthened weekly or even daily on their pilgrimage to the "Lord's House" and their life as Catholic Christians in the world.
As Christians, we observe and bump into so much that is not true, evil, or ugly, in life around us and even within us, and we are to refuse no battle. However, we have limits and at times must learn to choose our battles, or engage in those in which it is clear that we must. We ever seek the Lord's guidance, and He most often speaks to us through our loved ones, those to whom we have committed ourselves in a loving relationship, or one of caring and responsibility. Our God is ever helping us to be the best child, sibling, spouse, parent, godparent, friend, employee, or employer that we can be. We give glory to God by doing even small things well, with excellence, and with great love.
The thread that runs through my previous recent blogs going back to the sabbatical experience in Chicago last Fall continues to occupy me daily. Every day, what is of the utmost importance is that I remain awake and relate in a lively way to our Beloved "tri-personal God", in whom I can also remain awake, attentive, and available to others, my neighbor, in my personal family and in the family of faith, in which I live out my Christian calling as a father, a shepherd, in the Lord to his people.
As a priest, I certainly don't need to do extreme sports or drugs in order to have the impression that I'm still alive. I do find it odd that so many today need to ride the edge of death in order to feel even a bit alive or to get a rush of adrenaline in order to feel they're not dead yet. It's a sad and dangerous thing to allow oneself to become so desensitized by the brash noise and strident posturing of the fringes of our culture that ordinary living seems somehow unreal to people. It's becoming increasingly true for many that if they could see themselves on T.V. they would finally know that they are alive and that their life is real or worth living, because all through the day, as they are actually living their life, they do not feel alive, or their life doesn't seem real or of value to them.
I am in the thick of my own "reality show" every moment... most especially when I come before the Lord to entertain his marvelous presence and be entertained by Him - which is what prayer is about - and when I go to people or receive them here in my office or in church, but also when I am alone with my thoughts and a wave of new thoughts comes in like the new tide, and I just know that some of these are a gift from the Lord, shedding so much light on many things.
I shared a wonderful moment of fraternity with a close priest friend today... we chatted and shared what's happening in our lives, then we prayed together, had some breakfast, and then went out into the arctic cold and did some cross-country skiing for an hour and a half, came back chatting, and had some lunch together, before going our separate ways. Because we share the great adventure of the priesthood, we once again reflected very deeply on what we are going through, what we see the Lord doing for his people through us, and where the tide of God's grace seems to be leading us.
Once again, it was my great privilege this weekend to hear the confessions of many, older and younger, and witness the faith journey of those for whom our Beloved Jesus suffered and died, that they too might have eternal life at the heart of God, beginning even now, and lasting into eternity. We live in a culture indifferent to hostile towards God and the values He has given us to live, and we really need to "be astute or cunning as serpents and innocent as doves" in order to realize what's going on in the world and not be taken in by the lies and deceit, the lust and the greed, and the power games.
I continue to work on my research project on pastoring in the parish setting, and have also written some reflections on intimacy in married couples and prayer for them and engaged couples. I am still learning to "upload" documents to my website so I can link them to his blog. I'm not as fast as the younger generation, but with time I know I will be able to do this. It's a wonderful thing to be involved in this new mode of "instant publishing".
In addition to the ongoing seasons and tasks required in the preparation of the Sunday Liturgy, faith education for all ages, sacramental ministry, and personal guidance, there is the oversight of the various ministries and ongoing renewal of leadership, as people eventually leave one thing to do another or spend more time with their families. As well, as we approach my final year as pastor, it will be both useful and necessary to call the faith community into a spiritual exercise of good discipleship by reflecting on and giving an account of our stewardship as members of this Parish and in the various roles we have each undertaken.
These reflections and reports will become a historical record which will compose an ongoing Parish History. Our webmaster can already see interesting possibilities for posting elements of our history and activity on the web. So many things... important and exciting activity... Like I said, I don't need to take anything to know that I'm alive. Just being a priest and trying to do my best with God as my partner is an incredible ride! Reality in spades!
To be continued....