May 27, 2011 – Thy Will Be Done

WhenI finished my blog last week I thought to myself that my writing seemed to have taken on more of a serious tone recently for some reason, and that maybe this week I could lighten things up a little bit.  But given the events of the past week, particularly the terrible tragedy of the tornadoes in Joplin, MO, it seems neither appropriate nor emotionally possible to do that.  Having been through a tornado and seeing the destruction it can do, I have some sense of what they are going through.  However, I cannot fathom the widespread damage, the massive amount of victims, searching for loved ones who have not been located, and of course the HUGE task of cleaning up and trying to rebuild.  This will not be a process of weeks or months, but a process of years.  It also touched me to see an entire parish plant destroyed and a Catholic hospital rendered useless.  Again I can only imagine losing our church, school, rectory, and other property that have so much rich history and that so much time and resources have gone into to maintain in literally an instant.

Obviously our prayers will be needed for some time to come.  I also encourage you to go to the website of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, which is www.dioscg.org.  It has photos and information about relief efforts and personal accounts from clergy and parishioners.  In particular click on the Facebook tab to see photos and touching reflections.  The photos of St. Mary’s Church in which the building is destroyed but the large outdoor cross still stands is particularly touching.

Disasters such as this of course bring about the obvious question of why God, who is supposed to be a loving and merciful Lord would allow something like this to happen.  My immediate response would be to ask someone who knows more about this kind of stuff than me.  But I think part of the answer lies in the fact that we appreciate those things that we earn more than those things that are just handed to us.  It is not enough to just say “yes, I have faith in God.”  Our faith must be proven over time, and events such as this certainly put that faith to the test.  The pastor of St. Mary’s in Joplin came away from the storm unhurt, however his home was destroyed and parishioners had to remove debris to allow him to get out of his bathtub where he had taken shelter.  When he was interviewed on CNN, the reporter asked him what he was thinking as the storm approached.  He replied that he prayed “thy will be done.”  You know, I think there’s a reason only certain people wear that white collar.

As the weeks and months go by, we will continue to see images of the tragedy and other tragedies will probably occur in other places, perhaps even here.  But as we see tragedy, we have also seen the generosity of people come to the forefront, and we as Christians will continue to be inspired by those whose faith sustains them through these tough times ahead.  As we pray for those affected by the tragedy, let us also pray for ourselves that in the face of our hardships, we will have the courage to say “thy will be done.”

I have a couple of other things to touch on.  Next weekend we will once again have the opportunlty to nominate individuals to serve on our parish council.  If you have never served on the council before or if it has been a while, I hope you consider joining us if you are nominated, or perhaps even writing your own name down for consideration.  I realize that most people cringe when they get one of those “dreaded” nomination letters – “I don’t have time for this,” “I already do enough stuff for church,” “My kids always have ball games in the evening.”  Having been a part of the council for about 15 years now, I can assure you of a few things: 1) You will not be asked to serve 15 years on the council – the terms are one-year or three-year.  2) The time committment to the council is minimal – meeting are once a month (no meeting in June or December) for about an hour or so depending on how much is on the agenda, and 3) These are not the typical blah blah meetings that many tend to be.  As a group that keeps in mind the spiritual aspects of a parish, we pray at our meetings for the parish and other intentions.  We also try to keep things as informal as we can.  We certainly discuss serious and pertinent issues, but we are also not afraid to share a laugh and to celebrate the positive aspects of our parish.  And as an added bonus, we always have something delicious to share at the end of our meetings!  If you have any questions, do not be afraid to contact me or any member of our council, or visit the parish council page on our website.

This time of year brings our focus to a couple of other things.  This is of course the time of year when graduations are taking place.  I congratulate all who are graduating from kindergarten, 8th grade, high school and college as they end an important chapter in their life and begin a new one.  This time of year always brings back memories of my own graduations and the range of emotions that came with them- the sadness and reluctance to leave a place that I had grown fond of and leaving friends behind, while at the same time feeling a sense of accomplishment in earning a diploma and also the anticipation and excitement of starting something new.  Be sure to not only congratulate those close to you who are graduating, but also offer them your advice, reassurance and prayers.

On this Memorial Day weekend we remember those who paid the ultimate price so that we can continue to live as a free society.  In the midst of our barbecues and parties, let us be sure to take a moment to pray for those who lost their lives in service to our country, and for those who continue to be in harm’s way.  Their role in making our country the greatest place to live on earth should never be taken for granted.

Thank you again for reading, and be safe in your travels this weekend.  Peace.

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