Dear friends in Christ:
What a wonderful week! Words cannot express the joy felt by so many in reaching this milestone with the dedication of the altar and the celebrations connected to it. The absolute “icing on the cake” was having Fr. Patrice, the Curé of Ars Sur Formans, with us! What a privilege and delight! There are so many to thank for everything that to begin naming them all would be impossible, so we humbly say Thank You to all who worked so hard and with such love.
The job is not done however. Obviously, we still have a little way to go with the buildings, but the most important work that we have is our vocation to live our Christian discipleship with zeal and joy! Our job is to get to heaven and to take as many people as we can with us! That means loving God above all and knowing His love for us in every situation of our lives. It means that we share of our love and joy of knowing and serving God with others. We should never be bashful or ashamed to speak of Jesus to others. Every day we should strive to become closer to the Lord and to the saints, his friends and our friends.
As I was speaking with Fr. Patrice this past week, I was simply captivated as he shared with me so many wonderful stories of St. John Vianney. He was likewise interested in us and our parish community. It was so wonderful to hear of his most favorable impression of our parish. He had many questions and I was delighted to share with him my stories about YOU! I relayed to him what we strive for each day, Living Faith, Changing Lives, Making a Difference! I tried to show him how we attempt to live this out in our parish through the liturgy, formation for youth and adults, parish life and through the charity we extend through social service ministries.
For those who were able to hear Fr. Patrice on Tuesday evening, it was wonderful to listen to how our beloved patron saint sought to live and to share the Mercy of God with the people of Ars and to all those who came to him “thirsting for the waters of salvation.” This trust in God’s merciful love is truly something we so need in our lives today. It is something so needed in our families and world. How often we become discouraged and overwhelmed simply because we forget to place our cares in the hands of the Lord. How often we allow little hurts or failures to grow into bitterness, grudges and antipathy because we fail to accept God’s mercy and forgiveness and extend that same mercy to others. How often we allow ourselves to doubt the love of God and the love of others for us, because we close our hearts and instead concentrate or remember only the bad.
One of my favorite phrases of the Holy Curé is when he refers to the Lord as “Le Bon Dieu”, The Good God! St. John Vianney knew the goodness of God in both its intensity and in its tenderness. God is all Goodness.
God is Beauty beyond compare. God is the Fullness of Truth. God is One and there is no other! Like the psalmist, our hearts joyfully sing Give thanks to the Lord for He is good and his mercy endures forever! (Psalm 136) We are indeed blessed to live in his goodness and mercy every day and every moment of every day. As we reflect on these days of celebration and the coming days of our Lord’s Passion, Death and Resurrection, we can see that God’s love for us in Jesus is beyond compare. Our response is simply to take this wonderful gift of God’s merciful love, let it fill our hearts and share it with others as our gift of mercy and love for them. And when we live in God’s love and mercy our lives are really and truly changed.
Have a holy Lent.
In Pace Christi,
Fr. Troy Gately