Pastor Letter | January 24
Dear St. Joseph Parish Family,
This week is Respect Life Week and this Friday is the March for Life (held virtually this year). Please pray for an end to the scourge of abortion in our nation and the world.
One of the most common issues I see people dealing with is anger. And fatigue from a constant state of anger. We are enveloped by an endless news cycle, indignant commentators, and partisan narratives. It seems like years since there has been anything resembling peace and calm. This constant agitation within each soul, this continuous trench warfare between citizens, this inferno of resentment and bitterness poses a great spiritual danger. Especially as Christians we must not be enthralled by the tyranny of the moment or the news cycle. We are called to look not only at the winds of current events but also the eternal truths of the Gospel and our calling to be the salt of the earth. We must not let the raging storms of this world shut out the voice of God in our lives but must listen for that small still voice beckoning us to hear God anew.
We must create space in our lives to hear God. If we fill our lives with social media and streaming entertainment, news and commentary, podcasts and blogs, how then can we discern God's voice? And if that noise of the world agitates in our soul's anger and bitterness and resentment, how can the divine message find root in our souls? We must have moments of quiet and peace in our lives where we are receptive to God's voice.
That means prayer. Make sure to spend time each day hearing God speaking to you. Jesus said that we are the branches and He is the vine – if we are to grow as children of God we must have that foundation where the vine strengthens us the branches, or we will not have the spiritual nourishment to grow and flourish. We will find ourselves separated from God's grace and subject to all the rushing winds of the world, tossed wherever we are blown. We must remain in Christ, where the wind cannot blow down our houses. That means making sure to spend time every day in real prayer. Spend time praying the rosary or reading the Gospels prayerfully, or whatever devotion speaks to you.
Also, as Christians, we are called to see the world not only in the light of the current moment but in the light of eternal truths revealed to us in the Gospel. It is important to keep learning your faith through Scripture, the Catechism, watching the videos on our parish Formed account (call us for details, everyone in the parish can use it to stream Catholic content for free), or reading good old-fashioned books. We have more access to materials about our faith than ever before – let's take advantage of that!
It's also helpful to read books and watch movies not centered on this current moment, in other words, older books and movies. Read old books where we can more easily discern those perennial truths that transcend the present moment. I enjoy Dostoyevsky, Sigrid Undset, Flannery O'Connor, Robert Louis Stevenson, and many others. Find what speaks to you – older books, movies, music, art, etc.
We must strive to see more than the tempest that is always present; we must look at divine and eternal truths and realities. We must be centered on what is eternal – God and His Gospel call to each one of us. Otherwise, the tyranny of the present will envelop us and we will fall into internal chaos, losing our inner freedom, peace, and joy. Let us recenter ourselves on Christ and find the inner strength to strive amidst the raging winds of current culture.
Here's the story of Elijah learning to hear God's voice. It's worth meditating on.
"There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the Lord, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the Lord.” And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper. And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him." (1 Kings 19:9-13 ESV-CE).
on Sunday, January 24 at 10:00AM