I like Lent. I like the ways that Lent can challenge me to be quiet by spending more time in prayer. As pastor of a busy parish community, quiet is something that can be in short supply at times. Yet Lent forces me to slow down a little bit, becoming more deliberate in my personal prayer time, even as the Church’s liturgy takes on a more deliberate, reserved tone and sense. Having the opportunity to prayerfully rest in the presence of God can feel a bit like resting on an island in the midst of an ocean.
From the Editor
When I was a student in college, Fr. Charlie Irvin, who was my pastor at the time, told me, “Do you want to make God laugh? Tell him your plans!” Little did I know that those words would come true during my third year in seminary, as I made preparations for my six-month parish internship. As I was getting ready to head off to my internship parish, I shared with some of my seminary classmates that the situation that gave me the most anxiety was imagining the first time that I had to handle an emergency at the hospital without the assistance of the pastor or parochial vicar.
During these weeks of Advent and the days of Christmas that follow, we will be speaking and hearing a familiar word over and over: “Welcome!” During these festive times, we will be opening our homes to receive family members, friends, co-workers and strangers as our guests for gatherings and parties. Whenever we receive guests and visitors, we open the door, we greet them and welcome them into our homes, our places of business, all the places where life takes us. During these holy times, we will welcome guests with excitement – perhaps it’s been some time since we last saw them.
During my years as pastor of the Catholic Community of St. Jude in DeWitt, Father Larry Delaney, the director of St. Francis Retreat Center and Bethany House, was my neighbor. Through the years, I’ve been able to attend a number of retreats or parish missions led by Father Larry. I always have found his leadership to be a wonderful blend of humor and faith-filled insight. He has plenty of jokes that can lighten the mood of any room and he also has a collection of well-used, if not memorable, one-liners.
This may come as something of a surprise, but I am not a risk-taker by nature. However, I have also learned that sometimes taking a risk can open the door to an experience I would otherwise have missed, and more often than not, I am the better for having taken the risk.
My brother and sister-in-law were married in 2006. Since that time, they have welcomed two wonderful children, my niece and nephew. Their family life is pretty much what one might expect for a couple with two young kids. There is school for both children with a variety of extracurricular activities. Their mom and dad both have demanding careers and are doing what I consider to be a good job of balancing the kids’ needs with the variety of other responsibilities that are part of family life. The miles are quickly adding onto their minivan’s odometer.