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.