Pastor’s Keyboard: I recently received this from a directee who returned from a retreat and felt all of you could benefit from it.
Your father and brother in Christ, Fr. Scott
You will see it!
As my retreat drew to a close, I found myself sitting at the window looking at the trees with all their vibrant colors and looking up at the mountainside watching the water running swiftly down the hill and joining with the brook below which was moving much faster than when we first arrived because of the storm that had passed through during the night.
The Lord used this moment to speak to me ever so gently. He said, “You see how much swifter and abundant the water flows in the valley during the storm. So does the movement of my Holy Spirit when life’s storms pass your way! In those dark valleys, my grace increases during those times even though you may not see it.
But if you are quiet –
You can hear it!
And if you wait for the morning light –
You will see it!
Recently, Bill Merritt (a St. Peter Claver parishioner) came to me to tell me that he was having some health issues and would need surgery. He said the recovery would be long and involve a lot of pain. I immediately knew that the hardest part for Bill was not going to be the pain that he was experiencing prior to the surgery or the pain that would come after. It was going to be his inability to do all the many good works he was accustomed to doing for so many in our county and parish.
Years ago, Bill came to me after the death of his Godmother, Miss Ida, and said he felt called to take over her very active ministry to the sick. As many of you know, he runs a very active business that keeps him busy seven days a week (though he always makes it to Mass, unless rescuing someone), yet Sunday and some week days, he and Ann are on the road visiting the sick in their homes and at hospitals all over the county and beyond.
We need more people like Bill and Ann Merritt who minister to those who are home bound. In recent years many who use to visit the sick (Ida Briscoe and Mary Catherine and Hammett Stone) have gone home to the Lord or have had to step down. In the old days, the priest had lots of time to visit all the sick on his own. Those days are gone, and we need your help. Some can’t help with this ministry by visiting the sick, but you can daily pray for them and lift up sacrifices for them. Others can help, so please volunteer! The days of Father doing everything are gone. Who will be willing to step into the breach?
Your Father and Brother in Christ,
Autumn Stirs Interior Reflection
By Denise Gorss
Autumn brings with it changes in weather, sending many of us indoors more regularly. We experience bright, sunny days that are quickly followed by torrential rains, cooler temperatures, and even the first flakes of snow. As we move to the interiors of homes and workplaces for refuge from these weather events, it’s a good time to consider the interior of our hearts.
God is present with us at all times, of course, but autumn invites a new look inside to see where God stirs. As the leaves fall from the trees, I am prompted to watch their slow descent to the ground, knowing that at other times, a burst of strong wind can blow off half the leaves from a tree in an instant. How well do I watch the movements of my interior being, reflecting on what the slow breezes or strong gusts of wind signal?
Ignatian spirituality counsels that we pay close attention to the movement of spirits within us. Can we find the quiet time this season to make a new effort to attend to the movements within and discern where God calls us to go?
This weeks recommendation is to read about the history of the Rosary. And you are encouraged to pray the Rosary daily for this month. Who knows maybe it will be the beginning of a habit for a lifetime.
Fall is the time of year when most people begin to feel the start of life getting more and more hectic and busy. It’s a time when you know the holidays are just around the corner. Already, the stores are selling Halloween candy, costumes, and decorations. In a week or two I’m sure I’ll see a Christmas tree arise in some store nearby. The temptation is to already begin to stress over that which I need to get done before the big days ahead. Certainly, we should plan, we should prepare. But if we should always live in the future we would forget to live today.
After all, we have all been given the gift of today and it may not be granted to us tomorrow. The fall leaves remind us of this. Today, many of the leaves are shinning bright and beautiful in full stereo color while others have died prematurely and have fallen to the ground, never to arise in this life again. Does this not happen every day? We arose today and have the opportunity to appreciate the beauty and goodness of life today, while others have been called away and did not arise today.
Fall is a great time to appreciate even more this beautiful world the Lord has given us. The opportunities we have to live lives that shine forth with charity, love, kindness, and all the other virtues that makes a soul and a life radiate God’s Goodness. In this way, we prepare best for the time when we will not arise in this world but in the world to come. The world tempts us to focus so much on tomorrow we miss today, so much on preparations for future holidays that we forget present blessings. Let us not miss the gift of today, given to us by God Our Father, that we may live it with purpose and allowing His light and grace to shine out in all we think, do, and say. In this way the world becomes even more beautiful and we are made ready for the journey home whenever we are called.
Your Brother and Father in Christ,
Pastor’s Column: Good news from St Mary’s College of Maryland!
This past Sunday was the first 7:30pm Sunday Mass at the college, and we had the largest turnout of kids that I’ve seen in my almost 12 years as Chaplain to the Catholic Community (nicknamed “The Catholic Seahawks.”) A lot of freshman and returning students came out for the Mass. We also had a good number of students singing in the choir and playing instruments. It was good to see the church feel so young!
Our new campus minister, William Bolin, spent a lot of time preparing and reaching out to returning students over the past month in preparation for their return. This week they had Bible Study, a catechetical night, and Eucharistic Adoration on campus! We have already had two students who attended the Mass express an interest in becoming Catholic.
After the Mass, we planned a pizza social and reception in one of the lounges, which most of the students stayed for. The returning students were shocked to see such a large turnout, and the freshman were happy to see so many others on campus also take their faith seriously. Of course, this was just the first of many Masses, and many of the students live in state, meaning they can easily go home on weekends. Yet, at least they know the many opportunities to receive the sacraments and receive formation through our ministry. Our ultimate goal doesn’t just lie in mass attendance or pizzas eaten; rather, the ultimate goal remains to lead the students to a relationship with Christ!
This year, we will see your Archdiocesan Appeal dollars at work in a particular way, for it is the appeal which funds William Bolin’s full-time position as Campus Minister! As a priest with five ministries, I cannot do nearly the work that is required, but William can be there most of the week planting and watering the seeds of faith. Please pray for the students at St Mary’s College and CSM; please pray for William and the good work he is doing; finally, please pray for me as I seek to minister to these young disciples of the Lord, meeting them where they are at– but not leaving them there.
Your Brother and Father in Christ,
Pastor’s Column: Years ago, as a young priest still in his twenties I was asked by a young husband and father if I would be his spiritual director. This meant meeting with him one on one once a month to help him grow his prayer life, so that he could grow in closeness to the Lord. I hesitated having received little training and because I knew my own fears and weaknesses. I was always a talker and struggled to listen well, this would require a lot of time and patience and I was already lacking in both. Later as more people (men and women, old and young) came to ask me to be their director I saw how God used this call to stretch me in areas where I too needed to grow, and he continues this in all the many ministries he has called me too.
Some years ago, at the height of my spiritual directing, Fr. Mark Ivany came to me and said we needed to recruit more laity to be directors. After all, most priests have not been trained and lack the time to direct. I was against it at first believing only priests were called to this particular ministry. Then I went on a silent eight-day retreat (I highly recommend silent retreats to all of you) and I was feeling overwhelmed by all the requests for spiritual direction coming to me.
The Lord had me meditate on a passage of scripture in the Old Testament where Moses was feeling overwhelmed and his father in law Jethro came to him and said, “What you are doing is not good. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone. Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. “. He then instructed him to recruit people who could help him. The Lord made clear that is what he wanted me to do. He then started to show me people he wanted to use in this ministry who He had already placed in my life. It was beautiful and I was given Peace and Joy! The two signs of the working of the Holy Spirit.
This week Fr. Ivany will run a program to train lay and clergy spiritual directors. He already did one in DC. He was hoping for 15 or so people and got about 50. The same program is now going to take place this week at St. Mary’s Ryken and the numbers are near 50 again. Pray for those who are generously taking three days out of their schedule to train and who will help share this beautiful transforming ministry with us priests and deacons in the coming years. The Harvest is indeed abundant, and the laborers are few. Pray that God sends us more!
Your brother and father in Christ,