Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Fear and Uncertainty

It has been a month and a half since the passing of Fr. Norbert.  The Archdiocese of Detroit immediately clustered St. Colman with St. Fabian, a parish which is less than 3 miles away.  Fr. Jeffrey Day, the pastor at St. Fabian, was named the Administrator at St. Colman.  Fr. Craig Giera was named Associate Pastor at both St. Fabian and St. Colman to help with the workload.  Also supporting Fr. Jeff and Fr. Craig is Deacon Jene Baughman.

Seeing someone preside at Mass other than Fr. Norbert isn't unusual, as we frequently had other priests to give Fr. Norbert a little break now and then.  However, there is something different seeing Fr. Craig and Fr. Jeff presiding, knowing Fr. Norbert is not coming back.  That isn't to say the difference is bad, quite the contrary.  There have been many positives in my humble opinion.  It is to say that St. Colman isn't quite the same.

There is an air of concern among parishioners as to the future of St. Colman.  One would have to have their head buried in the sand not to, at the very least, ponder for a moment that the AoD might close our parish.  Yet, to a large degree, the future is in (and isn't) in our hands.  Ultimately, it is God's will as to what happens, but it may be God's will that the parishioners of St. Colman put forth an effort to demonstrate the viability of our parish.  In seeking out the inspiration and guidance of the Holy Spirit, maybe the parishioners and the Parish Pastoral Council devise and implement a plan that makes the cluster arrangement with St. Fabian viable on a long-term basis.

While the passage focuses on food and clothing, I find the lesson from Matthew 6, verses 25 through 33 reassuring.  In it Jesus tells us, 

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat [or drink], or about your body, what you will wear...  ...Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?...   ...If God so clothes the grass of the field, which grows today and is thrown into the oven tomorrow, will he not much more provide for you, O you of little faith?...   ...Your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.  But seek first the kingdom [of God] and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides.  Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself."

But to highlight our part in all this, Jesus also tells us in Matthew 7, 7-8, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks, receives; and the one who seeks, finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened."

I am confident that with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the St. Colman parishioners, the Parish Pastoral Council, along with Fr. Jeff and Fr. Craig will seek, ask, and knock, rather than worry.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

God's Plan?

This came up during a conversation with a friend tonight.  We were debating the value of petition prayers in light of God having a plan for us all.  I mentioned that even Jesus petitioned his Father in the Garden of Gethsemane.  "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me; yet not as I will but as you will." Mt 26, 39.   To my friend's point, where is the value of Jesus' prayer here?  Wasn't God's plan already set in motion?

If God has good things planned for us, do we need to request them in prayer?  Can we sway God's mind with our petitions?  If so, does that mean God's original plan was flawed, or can God simply change his mind?  Toss a little "free will" into the mix and it really starts you thinking (though I'm certain all of this has been debated, dissected, and documented over the centuries and it is just a matter of me finally covering it in a future class - but in the meantime it sure is intriguing to think about on your own).  

Maybe God has a decision tree, or a risk mitigation plan, or a contingency plan, you know, for those times when I throw him a curve ball and exercise my free will in a way not consistent with his teachings.  Maybe it is a contingency plan that gets executed when we don't petition our Father as he wants us to do so.

My friend and I ended our call somewhat where we started, him still wondering the value, and me not having an answer - yet.


Saturday, May 19, 2012

God Bless You Father Norbert

Three weeks ago our pastor finally went to the hospital after feeling poorly for weeks (actually months, but we didn't know it).  All during Holy Week he looked and sounded awful, laboring to breath while reciting prayers.  He told us it was bronchitis.  During his two weeks in the hospital we were told he had pneumonia.  A week ago Friday we learned he had cancer.  This morning the parishioners of St. Colman of Cloyne in Farmington Hills, Michigan lost their shepherd when Fr. Norbert V. Kendzierski passed away in the arms of a close friend.

We celebrate the Ascension of the Lord this Sunday.  It is the second time we hear of Jesus physically leaving his disciples, the first being with his death and burial.  In a certain way, with the passing of Fr. Norbert, I think I have a better sense of what the apostles were feeling when Jesus left them. I was hit with a deep sense of loss, loss of a spiritual leader, loss of a friend, with the news this morning.

In 2001 when Fr. Norbert came to bless our house after we moved to the neighborhood from Atlanta, my wife wasn't Catholic and I was just another parishioner, attending Mass a little more frequently than just Christmas and Easter. Not long afterwards I started attending Mass regularly.  Over the years I began to humbly serve the parish through a variety of roles.  I got to know Fr. Norbert better as a result of this service.  Fr. Norbert also became my wife's first pastor when she joined the Church a few years ago.  In 2010 Fr. Norbert presented me with a prayer book with daily prayers similar to, but not as daunting as the Breviary.   The inscription reads, "Michael, Perhaps this will guide your way. With affection, Fr. Norb"

I open the church tomorrow.  Although it will be dark and empty when I first walk in, like all the other times over the years, tomorrow will be different.  In a way it will be like the apostles seeing the empty tomb of Jesus.  Our spiritual leader and a friend will be gone from our midst.

God bless you Fr. Norbert.  You will be missed.

Eternal rest grant unto him, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Work Reflection

I'm not sure where I came across this, but I've since printed it out and have it posted at work.  From time to time during the day I'll read this to myself as a reminder.

When your ordinary work or business is not specially engrossing, let your heart be fixed more on God than on it: and if the work be such as to require your undivided attention, then pause from time to time and look to God... So doing, God will work with you, in you, and for you, and your work will be blessed.  S Francis de Sales

Each and everyone of us has a job to do, with the talents given to us by God, as part of God's plan. No matter how grand our work may be, or how menial it may seem, it is all part of God's plan.  We honor God by using his gifts wisely and to the best of our ability.


Monday, April 9, 2012

All Work, No Play

What can I say; it has been far too long since I last posted to this blog.  The work, life, school balancing act went wildly out of kilter, with work consuming much of my time.  The project I have been managing for a client required weekly travel out of state since last November.  It had a huge impact on the last three weeks of the fall classes at Sacred Heart.  I had a feeling it might, and seriously considered not registering, but did so anyway.  It wasn't easy, but I did pass both classes, Introduction to Sacred Scripture and The Theology of Ministry, with considerable contribution from the Holy Spirit.

I did take the winter semester off.  The last thing I wanted to do was start a new semester the way I finished the previous one – sending in assignments via email from a hotel room in Virginia.  Based on when classes are offered in the upcoming spring semester, it looks like I won’t be hitting the books again until next fall.  Classes starting at 4:00 PM twice a week tends to create a little scheduling conflict with work.

I did find time to read two books about the diaconate – 101 Questions & Answers on Deacons and The Deacon at Mass: A Theological and Pastoral Guide, both by William T. Ditewig.  They are fairly easy reads, both about right around 100 pages.  I highly recommend them for anyone just beginning to discern the diaconate.