When I think about being a Permanent Deacon, a job comes to mind. A Waiter! He is preparing the Lord's Table, working hard to make sure everything is just right. His mission is to take care of the guests by helping them go through the menu and make just the right choices. How can I help you today!!
I finally got a chance to meet again with my Spiritual Director Fr. Mark. He is such a busy Priest and I wanted to get some time in with him before lent. We opened up with a statement that he made...."I heard that you were on a high from your retreat!" I smiled and said "you bet!" I guess the enthusiasm is pouring out of me, as I'm sure someone that I shared the information with, passed it on to him. These last two formation weekends are just what we all need to continue on our journey together. So much of what we discussed Fr. Mark reinforced in me. We talked of balance in life and he felt I was going in the right direction in that respect. One thing that came out of our discussion was Hope! Fr. commented that the people of Berlin are a people of hope. He mentioned an elderly woman came up to him and thanked him for his ministry. She told him that Our Lord has always provided Berlin with very good priests, including him, and that she believed that God would always continue to provide us with good priests. Fr. Mark reminded me that Berlin has always been the strongest community with vocations to the priesthood. I left with that word ringing in my heart, HOPE! We are and must continue to be a people of Hope and Light!
I pray that we all become like this woman, a people of Hope!
I have been beating myself up for over a week now trying to figure out what I will be writing my final reflection paper on for the New Testament course. I don't think at any time in my life I spent so much time just reflecting on what to write about. It really should be easy right? Well I could go on and on about the wonderful, and inspiring things I learned from this course. I pretty much knew from the start that it would be something about St. Paul. I think his letters have always had some message that caught my attention.
So as the title of this latest episode on my blog states, I will be writing about letters. Before the advent of the computer a letter was always something to be treasured and the audience always got excited about reading one. I remember my days in Indiana at St. Meinrad, when a simple little letter from either a family member or friend would brighten even the cloudiest day. I fondly remember the excitement, and anticipation I would experience when I would go to the school's mail room and check my box to see if this was the lucky day.
The same feeling came about in July of 2010. I was forever checking out the mailbox, to see if the letter had arrived. Each day brought about a little frustration and disappointment until that eventful day. Terry and I were on a camping trip and I even asked my buddy to check the box and unfortunately it didn't arrive yet. I even tried to tell myself it's no big deal, don't worry about it. I gave up looking and when we returned from our trip, I just couldn't wait and had to check the box. There it was the letter I had been waiting for. I opened it up and the answer was exactly what I was looking for, acceptance as an Aspirant for the Diocese. A simple little letter that brought about so much emotion inside of me. I still keep the letter and treasure it with great pride and humility.
Looking back I can only imagine that the early Christians who anticipated and eagerly looked forward to a letter from St. Paul were sharing the same emotions that I was feeling. Someone whom they loved and respected was sending them a letter just because he loved them and wanted to share the Good News with them. A simple little way of communicating hasn't lost at all the opportunity to impact someones life. The ideas are flowing and the words will soon be put on paper and eventually to my computer. I will wrap up this project by Saturday, and prepare for the next class Christology.
Distractions, a simple little word that has been an important part of our lives as Aspirants lately. This past weekend Br. Jack asked us, "Are you distracted yet?" Our lives are full of distractions some we can turn off and obviously many that we just need to deal with. I happened to be reviewing the blog I published prior to our formation weekend, and ironically I jotted down that I turned off the radio to avoid distractions on my trip home. Wow, did I just get an Epiphany or what? A little late coming to me but I guess that's how it can work sometimes. I'm finding out a little more how to filter out the distractions that I have control over, and really enjoying quiet time all over again. Hopefully dealing with distractions will open up the three Epiphanies I should be enjoying every day.
I'll share one that occurred to me yesterday. My daughter called me yesterday and talked about how people can be so rude and totally preoccupied with their lives. Danielle works at a food service company and she mentions that the part of her job she hates is how most of the customers are just indifferent, and seem to be uncaring. She then was excited to tell me of an incident that really inspired her. She was so nice to a customer that, the customer asked someone else who she was, and gave her a nice compliment. The following day that person called her by name and it startled Danielle at first and then she explained the whole situation to Danielle. My daughter was so moved by this that she was really excited to share this with me. What an Epiphany! Being nice, friendly, and smiling can change our little corner of the world. Today I pray that you all may be open to experience an Epiphany or create one for someone today!
God Bless you all and shower you with an abundance of Love and at least one Epiphany!
This past weekend's retreat we dealt again with a recurring issue. Our lives are much too busy, and how are we going to deal with this? For the very first time in my life there are two things that I am maintaining, a journal and a calender. The journal part is going much better than I thought. Looking back, the great days far outnumber the so so days and the really lousy days. I rarely forget to post anything and when I do it usually is within a day or so and it quickly comes back to me. This has become so much a part of my life that I got a little freaked out when I thought that I had lost my journal. For anyone that hasn't tried it yet I would say, "give it shot, I think you'll like it!"
Now with that dreaded calendar issue, that I forced myself into. Even though I have given up a major distraction in my life (school board), I still have to write things down and say, "hold on while I check my calendar!" Yuk! I'm going to be 51 this year and even though I think I have a very good memory, I can't seem to function without it.
Yesterday was an extreme calendar day, one that got me rolling very early in the morning. I was ready to head to the Church to do Morning Prayers and I got a call that one of the guys was on the road and the other was very sick. I did my Morning Prayers alone and then left for a trip to Laconia. My boss asked me last week if I could share a day with a new assistant manager in the company. I was humbled by the request to do this, and of course I gladly accepted. It really worked out well to go to Laconia and then head to Plymouth for the final New Testament class. The day in Laconia was beautiful in many, many ways. Great weather, a day to share my business thoughts, a chance to meet new people, and believe it or not a chance to share my faith. My boss told everyone there that I was studying to be a Deacon and they all asked questions about it. A very nice young lady told me she goes to Bible study and she said she was a Christian. I told her that I was one too! She looked a little puzzled by that. I guess she thought Catholics aren't Christians and I ended up explaining the Deacon's role in the Church.
The trip to Plymouth was a very short one, and I'm really glad I planned it that way. I had time before class to do my Evening Prayers and do some journal time. The class dealt with the Pauline letters. I was just overwhelmed and in awe of what we learned last night. I had one problem that took away from the class. I was so tired from the day that I should have taken a cup of coffee before class. I had trouble staying awake even though I was so moved by what I learned. After class on the silent ride home, all I could think of is the Agony in the Garden, when the Apostles couldn't stay awake. I wasn't as bad as they were but I had to struggle through the battle. I didn't have a problem riding home, the radio was off, and my co pilot was at my side. I was asked how do you like traveling alone, and I answered "I don't, I have my co pilot always guiding me!"
This week I also have a full calendar, and I guess it is something that I still need to work on a bit. I can't think of anything else to drop, so I guess time management is the next option. I'll work on that issue starting today. Anyways, I hope you all had a great week and I wish that Jesus showers you with his Love.
I'm staring out the window and looking out at the mountains in the distance and seeing a rose colored mountain top. The beauty of creation of our God. Another Epiphany, remember we should be witnessing at least three a day, according to Br. Jack. I really liked that and realized that some of life's distractions are actually quite beautiful and pleasant. Whenever I seem to participate in events, such as this weekend words seem to jump out at me. I would like to share some of the words that caught my attention.
Distractions, of any kind are just a part of life!
Hesed, unconditional Love!
Breathe, breathe in the breath of God!
Busy, trying to free up things, finding the right balance in life! Am I too busy? How will I keep from being too busy as a Deacon?
Silence, finding the comfort in silence!
Prayer, Lectio Divina
These are just a few of the words that made me stop, reflect, and at times feel incredibly at peace. I really want to try two things during lent this year. One comes from this weekend. I will do everything possible to have one day per week to have a no social media whatsover: TV, computer, radio, newspaper, etc. The second will be to reflect on the Passion of Christ in the Gospel of John. This comes from our New Testament class that Fr. Biron asked us to consider. I'm up for the two of them. This being my first Lent as an aspirant I want to deepen my relationship with God and the these challenges I hope will bear fruition.
I just made an appointment with my spiritual director and I have quite a bit to share with him. I would like to end by saying that being with all of you is very special. The name tags are needed only to remind us of each others name, but I really don't need to see a tag to know who is in my family. I feel that each and everyone of you are family to me and I Love spending time with you to know you and be a part of your life also.
We had another awesome weekend of formation for all of the aspirants. I was kindly reminded at the end of the weekend that Cupid dropped a little hint to get something special, for my special Love. We did stop at Dunkin Donuts and I picked up her special order of coffee and I was hoping to get her the Valentines Day special donut. My luck they were all out. Terry was still happy with the Boston Creme that probably is her favorite donut. We talked quite a bit about the weekend. I will be sharing some more in depth thoughts of the weekend later. Two things came out of this weekend for Terry. First she really felt that she was being called on to forgive, undoubtedly an Epiphany for her. The second issue was the role of wives in this journey. She told me she has made many discussions with other ladies and it seems to be a topic that probably needs addressing. She is unsure even though Fr. Dennis stated that her role was to support me in my journey. She has been great throughout this process. Today we both came up with a possible answer. The role will probably be undefined, because it may be up to her and all the ladies how much more they want to participate in. I think Terry is establishing her own role by setting up a grieving ministry in Berlin. She is on the path that she is choosing, and it probably is defining her own role in the Church. This Ministry that she is so passionate about is definitely needed here in Berlin when we are averaging over 200 funerals a year. The discussion we had reminded me of my favorite song. I asked her what it was and she thought it was one from my favorite band Queen. I told her that it was a good guess but the song was also the name of a movie I liked. She then got it right away! Stand by Me! I am so bless to have such a wonderful partner to share my life, hopes and dreams with. So on Valentines Day I offer a special song to my Valentine! Thanks Terry for Standing By Me!
Last night our discussion in New Testament was the Gospel of John. Fr. Robert described it coming literally out of left field, there is nothing else quite like it! I agree! Parallelisms, dichotomies, symbolism....ah the symbolism's. Three hours, only three hours, a shame! Like a great movie we all seemed to leave wishing there was so much more. All of us seemed to leave with something that captured our attention.
And what captured mine? Well the use of the word woman. Woman in Genesis began with Eve, and in John the word or name Woman is being used again. In the Wedding at Cana, Jesus calls his mother Woman, "Woman how does your concern affect me?" John 2:4. We then move on to the Crucifixion where Jesus says, "Woman, behold your son." and then to the beloved disciple "Behold, your Mother." John 19:26. Amazing is about the only word I could think of. We talked about Mary the new Eve, the one who is our true model of Faith. Oh, it doesn't end there. When Christ appears to Mary Magdalen the word Woman, "Woman why are you weeping?" John 20:13, is used again. Of course not in the same context as Jesus Mother, but as of one having an intimate relationship with Him.
Yesterday, when I read the Word Among Us reflection, it dealt with relationships and the precious gifts they are to everyone.We have all been blessed to have that someone special to Love, a parent, a child, a friend etc.We Love them dearly because of who they are, faults and all. Our Lord is looking for us to capture that with Him. A prime example of that is the relationship that Jesus had with Mary Magdalen. It's amazing to me as I get closer,I find these links that seem to tie in together and capture a glimpse of who Our Lord is. I was being primed (yes this is a play on words) early in the morning for what was going to be revealed later. Don't you just Love that when it happens? I know I do!
Well I hopped back on the highway last night for that long trip home again. I turned the radio on to WHOM to listen to John Tesh and the light music. I didn't get too far that I had to turn it off and silence the distractions. I needed the silence to absorb more of what happened last night. So much was coming into my head, and I didn't want a mindless journey back home. Again, I like the quiet reflection time I had alone with my co-pilot. The road to Berlin is a long, long road, and many a winding turn that leads me home to those I Love. Yes, I know that there are some of you old enough to recognize the words from a song by the Hollies. He ain't heavy he's my brother! This is just one of those songs that can stick inside your head,obviously this one has been stuck inside of me for a long time. I learned that we are people of senses and music is a very strong part of me.
Again, I know I am a little long winded today, (I took the day off) but the journey home left me with a lot of good stuff to share. Tomorrow, Terry and I are leaving again for our third Retreat. We are leaving the frozen tundra of Berlin, and heading down south to be with our other family. (Aspirants are gathering together tomorrow & Sunday!) Another one of the many gifts and blessings from Our Lord.
My son came home from Ca. on Friday night. We haven't seen him since August. It doesn't sound like a long time away, but it was our first Christmas that we weren't altogether. My daughter brought him up and Saturday evening we celebrated Christmas together. It was such a special night. The toughest part of this all, is sharing him with everyone else who wants to be with him. We had a few hours together on Sunday just to talk.
There was one thing that I noticed while he was here. I really wanted to shut down all outside distractions. I hadn't realized it but, I had been faithful keeping up with my journal except for Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. I was talking with Mike and told him what happened and I could think of only one reason! "Sometimes Life Happens!"
I finished my first paper for New Testament last night, and I got the go ahead by Terry to send it out. Our third class is on Thursday and it's becoming just like all the others. While you start to really get into this, it seems to be coming to an end. I'm so looking forward to this weekend. The only drawback is that my son will still be in Berlin for a few more days. I guess sometimes sacrifices hurt a bit.
We have just finished our second class of New Testament last night in Plymouth. Snow storms have not been a factor so far. The road to Plymouth has now become so familiar to me that sometimes it almost feels like I'm on auto pilot. It was a beautiful drive there last night. The sun was shining and the road was clear. I can't say just yet that I'm getting accustomed to the trip, especially since there was a fairly long break in between the last course and this one. I like to leave Berlin by 4 pm and take a break, read a little bit, and then I wrote in my journal.
Last night we dealt with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Fr. Biron has been such a wonderful instructor. His passion, really comes through in the class. He agrees that we aren't really doing justice to our studies. So much to know in such a small amount of time. Anyways, I'm really fascinated by the Gospel of St. Luke. I personally love the road to Emmaus . That passage reminds me of my own journey. We walk, or sometimes drive along the road looking for Our Lord and wondering where he is. We at times feel alone, confused, and helpless. Emanuel is there and our hearts may feel something, but our eyes deceive us.
And then it happens, Jesus will show up and reveal himself to us. On the road to Emmaus they recognized him by the Breaking of the Bread. Rolling back up 93 last night I was alert, but kind of restless. I turned off the radio, and the silence was peaceful. There was a calm that came over me. I felt His presence being with me and guiding me back home.
At Mass on Sunday I'm preparing myself to recognize Him again. I'll be thinking of all that we went through this past week and how He speaks to me. When the Bread is broken, and when my own eyes behold Him, I want to always have that Joy of knowing He did this all for me!
This is a picture of St. Philomen de Stoke, in Stoke Quebec. This is the church that my mother was baptized in. She then moved to Bishopton Quebec where my grandfather helped build that church. I have a very funny story about this Church. When I was very young my parents brought me to the Church and where I sat there was a hole in it, probably from an old knot hole that fell out. My favorite uncle looked at me and said, "Did you let one go?" He was a great man who always seemed to make every one smile. I'm sure he got that from my grandfather that I never really got to know.
This is a picture of St. Anne's Church in Berlin. My Dad was born in Bromptonville Quebec and he and his family moved to Berlin NH to find work when he was three years old. My Dad made his First Communion and Confirmation in this Church, which ironically is now my Church in Berlin.
This is a very old picture of the Church that I grew up in. This is Guardian Angel Church (L'Ange Guardien). I was Baptized here, my First Communion and Confirmation were made here. I also served as an Altar Boy here for several years. I went to school right across the street at L'Ecole Ange Guardien (Guardian Angel School) Yeah, I still have a soft spot for this Church. It has since been sold when all the parishes were consolidated 8 years ago. Sorry no cute stories to tell you about the other Churches, well maybe if you ask me about them I can tell you some!