Sunday, March 30, 2008

Divine Mercy Sunday

So today is Divine Mercy Sunday and my Confirmation class's(I'm the teacher not a student) service project weekend. We had a diaper drive for a local pregnancy recourse center at our parish. I spent most of my day at church and managed to get two homilies today, Fr. Brian and Fr. George. Both homilies have combined into one in my head as they had similar themes.

Fr. Brian started his homily by mentioning the decree that made the 2nd Sunday of Easter, Divine Mercy Sunday, continuing with love and mercy as his topics of choice. Father spoke about his own life, about how he felt as if he was/is always behind everyone else in many aspects of life. Some of the things he mentioned were repeating first grade, starting college a year later than his friends because he took a year off after high school, and how he was ordained at ago 40 and now 5 years later looks at the other guys his age and sees that they have been ordained for 15 years. I'm sure many of us can tell a similar story, and I know I saw much of my life in Fr. Brian's life, I kept thinking about how most of my friends are married and have kids, and of course I thought about my graduation from SHU. Talk about not being with everyone, long story short I didn't graduate on time, see my faith journey part 3 section for the full story.

Fr. Brian spoke of how Thomas must have felt left out, and that he gets a bad rap. Fr. George had a similar theme. Both priests spoke about how Thomas was out doing stuff whereas the disciples were hiding in the upper room. They both spoke about how we are each like Thomas in our lives. Fr. George spoke about the loss of someone, and how it's often the tragic losses or the losses that we think come to early that make us doubt our faith. I thought at this point of Fiona and Bernadette, my little saints, but their deaths didn't make me doubt my faith, they actually helped me realize that Heaven is our ultimate goal no matter what our age is.

Both Fr. George and Fr. Brian mentioned that Thomas was the only one to leave the room, Fr. Brian told us that he's wants to know what Thomas was doing. Fr. George said Thomas was courageous for actually leaving the room and doing the normal everyday things like taking care of having food. He also mentioned that we are called to do the same, that when things happen in life that we should turn to God's love and mercy and get back out and do the everyday things, and that we should bring peace to one another. Fr. George managed a way to tie all the readings, Divine Mercy Sunday and baptism (there was one at our Mass) into his homily. In his section on the second reading he spoke about gold being tested in the fire, and about how gold has a very specific point of purification. Gold that is taken out a few second too early still have some impurities and gold that is left in the fire one second too long is destroyed. The goldsmith needs to know exactly when to take the gold out, Fr. George of course tied this into God in our lives and mentioned how God knows exactly how much to give us and when to take us out of the fire.

Fr. Brian mentioned "suffering being a whole other ball of wax" I don't remember what was mentioned before it, it might have been about life not going the way we want it too. All I heard was suffering and thought, that's my topic Father. I just finished reading Amazing Grace: Stories of Suffering by Jeff Cavins and Matthew Pinto and in it are 10 stories of different forms of suffering, most of them being the classic losing a child or other family member or both a child and significant other, and being physically disabled, but some were not the normal ones you hear, one was about a man who was falsely accused of something, a person who had terrible migraines. Besides suffering there was a common theme of each person being chosen to more closely be like Jesus. I took a graduate course in suffering and literally suffered through it, I remember picking quietly suffering for my topic and having my professor (a doctor) tell me that no one suffers quietly. The topic of a dark night of the soul was mentioned, but I honestly think that no one in that class knew what a dark night feels like. I can't even say I have, but I can't think of anything else to describe what I feel like, nor can I explain what a dark night entails.

I look to St. Therese, Cardinal Cooke, Cardinal O'Connor and I see examples of quietly suffering, and also in Fr. Eugene Hamilton, whose story of being ordained literally minutes before he died of cancer in his early 20s brings tears to my eyes every time I read it. I look back to this class and on my life and on society in general and notice that there is not a whole lot out there on suffering and that suffering is barely mentioned or looked at in a way where one would want to suffer. I remember a homily given a few years ago on the Feast of Christ the King where the priest said, "without the Cross there is no Glory, there is no King." It's true without the suffering of Good Friday, Easter Sunday never happens. We speak so much on the Risen Christ and on Easter, but we over look Good Friday and the gruesome death of Jesus. Suffering can be beautiful, look at what God did with it. He took tremendous suffering and turned it into the greatest gift ever, Eternal Life.

Maybe it's time for me to actually write my book, Quietly Suffering and use my life as an example. No I have not suffered physically, or through the lose of a child, but I have been trough enough to know that life is not easy, and that you are allowed to question God's actions, you have to accept them, but you can question Him, as Fr. George said, God knows when to take us out of the fire, He only gives us what we need to be purified so we can be with Him.

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