Dear Friends in Christ,

We recently had a presentation to the leaders of our various ministries and organizations in the parish. More than 100 parishioners came and spent a Saturday listening to John Poitevent of Parish Catalyst speak to us about discipleship and growing volunteers. It was a great day! One of the points that John made in his presentation was that for most churches “Change” is a four letter word! In many instances, I think that is certainly true. Without a doubt, there is some of that here at SJV. However, I must honestly say that our parishioners, staff, and parish leaders, are pretty open to change and new ideas. As a staff and, in our ministries, there is a desire to always make things better and the fear of change that cripples many parishes and organizations is not a characteristic of our parish. As Catholics we belong to a Church that has changed in many ways over the course of 2000 years. At the same time, there are some things about the Catholic Church that are simply by their very nature immutable. We are not going to change the teachings of our faith for the truth is by its very nature unchanging. That leaves a lot of room left for change. Experience shows that change for change’s sake is not always very healthy or prudent. But there is a great deal in our personal lives, our families and the life of our parish that can benefit from change. Part of being a disciple of Jesus is conversion, which is nothing other than change. We can always be better and every day is an opportunity for us to become better.

Many people think that conversion (change) is a singular event in the life of a Christian. Conversion is not merely a change in the life of a Christian, conversion for a Christian means a life of change! We are called to continually be changed by God’s grace. Following Jesus is to be on a path of conversion by seeking to grow holier each and every day. We can never reach a point in our life where we feel that we have reached the pinnacle of holiness or goodness or love. God always wants more for us and He wants us to want more. St. Ignatius of Loyola encouraged that we do a daily examination of our lives. The beginning of our daily examination is Thanksgiving. Each day, we look and see the blessings God has bestowed upon us and we thank Him for these gifts of His love. This is followed by a Prayer for Enlightment. Here we ask God to see ourselves and the world around us as He sees things. We pray to honestly see our sins and our blessings. We pray to see what needs to be changed in our lives. We pray to be enlightened as to what needs to be let go of and what needs to be embraced. Next is our Examination where we look specifically at ourselves, and our actions, thoughts, and words, of this particular day in the light of God’s grace and call to holiness. Having examined our day and how we have lived it, we then express our Contrition and Sorrow for those particular actions, thoughts, and words, where we have failed to love and serve God as we should. Lastly, we make a Resolution of what we need to do or do differently and ask God to help us. This is how we can change and grow. This change/conversion helps us to become happier people and have more joy in our lives. This change is not an instantaneous or complete overhaul of who we are. Rather, it helps us to grow and be transformed from the inside out. It is a change of our way of thinking which in turn changes our way of acting.

What change do you need to make in your life? What change is God calling you to make?

In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy