An Opportunity to Share Our Faith Journey Together

09-25-2022From the Pastor's DeskMonsignor Ellsworth R. Walden

Last week I wrote about the upcoming retreat we will have in our parish the first week in Lent next year. I am looking that far in advance because it is the most engaging and enriching retreat experience I have ever sought to offer to the people of the parish. It will not only involve three nights of presentations, it will open the door to meeting weekly during the next year to grow in our faith. Am I trying to open a door that seems too intense or time consuming? One of the common answers we give when people ask how we are doing is: I am busy. That is good. But what can we do in all this busyness that will really enrich us. We are in the midst of Major League Baseballgames, National League Football games, and College Football. Whether you watch sports on TV or attend in person, the games from beginning to end take approximately three hours. There are 162 baseball games for our favorite team plus additional games for teams that make the playoffs. There are 17 regular season games in the NFL followed by the playoffs. College football has about 12 games per team plus the playoffs. Each of these games takes approximately three hours of our time to watch. To go to a game takes much more time than that, plus the expense of tickets and refreshments. To watch 20 games of our favorite teams would consume about 60 hours of our time. That is more time than we would spend coming to Mass and Holy Days in one year.

In the end we are entertained with sports. Hopefully our experience at Mass and in daily prayer is enriching and are experiences that we are faithful to each week in attending Mass and every day when we pray. The more we focus and pray from our hearts, the more we are focused and engaged during Mass and the more we are renewed every time we go to Confession. Experiences that enrich and engage us are far more life giving and nourishing that those that merely entertain us. The retreat I am setting up offers opportunities to go to three nights of talks. The group from Steubenville that will present the retreat will enable us to set up groups called Quads where we can meet in groups of four to share our faith journey for about 60 to 90 minutes a week for 44 weeks. That is not just a commitment but an opportunity to be enriched in the faith we share with one another and in our personal life. The more we grow in our knowledge and love of God and one another, the more full, hopeful, and meaningful our lives become. We are so grateful for those who know and love us for who we are. They not only accept us but inspire, enrich, and encourage us, filling us with gratitude, joy, and purpose.  How good it is for all of us to share our faith journey together. Jesus founded the Church 2,000 years ago with 12 apostles. Today the Church has more than one billion members. And we are far more than just members, we are human beings with the confident hope that our lives are enriched by our faith in Jesus Christ who unites us with Himself and one another. In the Gospel for today’s Mass (Luke 16:19-31) we have the account of the rich man who feasted splendidly every day but ignored the presence of poor Lazarus at his door. He focused on his own well-being and comfort. It is one thing to be comfortable, another to be joyful and enriched. Love enriches and fills us with joy. Our coming parish retreat which I will write about in the weeks ahead will be a great opportunity for us as individuals and as the parish family of St. Patrick’s in Smithtown.   

I offer this passage from Ezekiel 36:24-28 for your prayerful reflection. I pray it in Morning Prayer on Saturdays from the Breviary.

I will take you away from among the nations, gather you from all the foreign lands, and bring you back to your own land. 

I will sprinkle clean water upon you to cleanse you from all your impurities, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 

I will give you a new heart and place a new spirit within you,  taking from your bodies your stony hearts and giving you natural hearts. 

I will put my spirit within you and make you live by my statutes,  careful to observe my decrees. 

You shall live in the land I gave your fathers; you shall be my people, and I will be your God.