Monday, October 29, 2012

The storm approaches

     Who knows what the winds will bring, if the forecast is accurate, if we are to be challenged and threatened by forces beyond ourselves?  All I know is that the dreariness of Winter has descended upon us.  It was only a few days ago that my sister, Janie, took this picture of her blooming flowers in her yard at home.

It does not look like that today
     We are hundreds and hundreds of miles from the Eastern shore, and yet we are experiencing rain and cold already, and they are predicting winds and flooding from this mega storm that everyone is concerned about.  There is nothing that we can do but prepare ourselves and hope that the reality is not as dire as the predictions.  To all in harms way, you are in our prayers.
     There are other storms approaching as well.  We within the Church face challenges that can take your breath away.  Changing demographics, declining number of clergy and Mass attendance (we just finished our "October Count" showing dwindling numbers), scandals within and outside of the Church that are constantly in our face, and even more devastating, a generation or two of laity that does know the Faith and who are not interested in things religious or spiritual.  We have a tremendous need for this "new evangelization" spoken of, not simply as a program but as a reality that touches lives and creates a renewed hunger for God.  We have the challenge of removing the blindness that afflicts us when it comes to seeing a revisioning of the face and structure of the Church with regard to clergy shortage, over abundance of Masses with less than vibrant liturgies, and an awakening within our lives that to belong is much more than having our name on the rolls, it involves life itself - sustained in this existence by the Church but rooted in our eternal existence.  Our souls depend upon our life with Christ.
     We hear the predictions, we see the forecast, but we ignore and turn a blind eye to the reality.  We would rather stay by the roadside begging than crying out to the Lord as did Bartimaeus in yesterday's gospel story.  He wanted to see ... and when he was given sight, the first thing he did was to follow Jesus, for he saw that without Him there is nothing else, there is no beauty or life.  The man was indeed wise.
     And there is also the storm that threatens our spiritual journey, a storm that come from dark forces, from evil itself.  That storm also demands preparedness, that we strengthen that which is vulnerable, that we stock the shelves with those graces that sustain life.  All of us must take the task of being prepared to heart.  Yesterday's scriptures were that reassuring word that even though the storms come, the Lord holds us in his arms, protects us, strengthens us and loves us.  We will survive ... in fact, we will flourish because we are one with him.   Reassuring words, indeed.
     Yesterday in our parish we celebrated our annual Fall Anointing of the Sick in the afternoon.  As always, the opportunity to be an instrument of the Lord's love and healing embrace is such a gift.  As I was anointing, I saw the needs of God's People and the trust in God that each brought with them in their need.  We had somewhere near a hundred for the celebration.
     Following the Anointing of the Sick we also held what has become an annual buffet dinner for our Senior Members of the Parish as a way of the parish saying thank you for all that they have and continue to do for the local family.  A good time was had by all.  Again, about one hundred were in attendance.

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