Summer offers chance to refresh, build faith

Complete the circle

George Evans

By George Evans
As I write this the calender has turned to May. My grandchildren are anxious for school to end for the year, for the approaching piano recital to hurry up and get here and for the swimming pool to open. Everything outside is green and fresh. We continue our journey on the road of holiness as adults.
What do we do on our journey? We are well into the Easter season. The daily readings in the liturgy excite us with the stories of Stephen, the first martyr of the early Church, of Peter, John and Paul and the other disciples who have seen the risen Lord and proclaimed him despite the punishments and threats of the ruling civil authorities. Our faith is renewed because the risen Lord has touched us again and taken away our greatest fear, death. He has assured us he is always with us. He has challenged us to take the message he has given us to the ends of the earth and promises us the strength to do it through him.
So, what do we do in “the good ole summertime” having been fortified and blessed and called to holiness and mission. We pray. We open ourselves to the Lord of the Paschal Mystery we have recently celebrated. We plead for mercy from the God of all mercy. We acknowledge our sinfulness confident of his forgiveness. We do this every day so that our tendencies to revert to self to the exclusion of others is shielded. We seek summer Eucharist to feed on the sustenance of the Lord himself under the appearances of bread and wine and thereby be strengthened to face whatever trials, tribulations or challenges that come our way. Because prayer allows us to touch divinity our summer journey is on its way.
Related to prayer, summertime is a great time for reading good stuff. We may even find reflection in a way that surprises us. Helpful in this pursuit may be any of the daily books which include scripture and reflections to get us started on our own. Living Faith, Give Us This Day, Living with Christ are my favorites but there are many others. Choose that which best excites your own reflection and be on your way to wonderful daily growth in holiness. Summer is also a good time for reading longer spiritual works. There are thousands. Contemporary authors I find helpful and stimulating on my journey are, among others, Fathers James Martin, SJ, Henri Nouwen, Ronald Rolheiser, OMI, and the last three Popes. Many “secular” authors bring incredible “spiritual” insights to novels and short stories. Anthony Doerr’s Pulitizer Prize Winning “All the Light We Cannot See” knocked me over.
Summer brings terrific opportunities for workshops, mission training, retreats, etc. for help on our journey of holiness. I mention three of them sponsored by our diocese and commented on further on pages 8-9 of this issue of Mississippi Catholic. 1. June 8-9 Liturgical Music: Ministry Encounters Mystery. Alexis Kutarna, director of music for St. Mary Seminary, Houston, Texas, featured presenter. 2. Pastoral Ministries Retreat and/or workshop, “Living as Missionary Disciples” June 5-8. 3. Faith Community Nursing: training specifically for registered nurses. These and other opportunities to connect faith with work, faith sharing or teaching opportunities are valuable avenues to enhance our journeys of holiness.
After replenishing ourselves in all of the above ways (or at least some of them) we are ready to take our nurtured holiness into the marketplace as challenged by the Lord and Pope Francis so to do. We may not be called to bring his message to Africa or the Far East in order to be holy, but we are called to leave self to bring Christ to others every day by the way we treat every one, be they friend or foe, rich or poor, gay or straight, powerful or on the fringes. Whether they are in prison or free, sick or healthy, ugly or attractive, good are bad.
Our journey to holiness leads us to love all as we have been loved first by the Lord. “The good ole summertime” of this type journey will do more than a week at the beach (as important as it may be) to make us whole and happy. It may lead to more members/volunteers for prison ministry, St. Vincent de Paul, Knights of Columbus, Habitat, ushers, etc. Funny how God always works and provides.
(George Evans is a retired pastoral minister from Jackson St. Richard Parish.)