Dear Sisters and Brothers –
Mother’s Day, 1965, I was in kindergarten. Mrs. Downing asked each member of the class to bring to school some fresh flowers from our home gardens the Friday before the holiday; we were going to make flower baskets for our mothers.
I forgot about the assignment until that morning, when I saw Joey Balestreri walk out of his house across the street with some flowers. In a panic, I told my mother. Calm and wise, she took me out to the front yard carrying a section of that morning’s newspaper, knelt down, and began to pick gently the delicate daisy-like flowers growing among my father’s dichondra grass. She laid them carefully among the headlines. She then told me to get busy. Horrified, I cried, “But, Mom! They’re weeds!” I was even more horrified when I had to lay my “flowers” on the table next to the real ones my classmates brought to share. My horror turned to relief (and a bit of pride) when Mrs. Downing had to ask some of my peers who had taken too many of my “weeds” for their Mother’s Day flower baskets to share them with others. (Did I mention wise?)
I’m sure it wasn’t the first time Mom saw flowers when all I could see were weeds. I am positive it wasn’t the last. From the silliness and ignorance of childhood, through the awkwardness and selfishness of adolescence, and the uncertainties and wonder of young adulthood, and into the joys and challenges of late middle-age, Mom gently helped me pull the weeds, as she did on the dichondra 54 years ago. But she always focused–and focuses still–on the flowers.
Mothers can be profound metaphors for God’s love for us. As God spoke through the prophet Isaiah some 2300 years ago, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you.” (66:13) On this day when we honor our mothers and step-mothers, our grandmothers and godmothers, let us also thank God for the ways we know His (or Her!) love through the love that these women have for us and ask God to bless them as they need.
Today is a great and wonderful day at St. Ignatius because we welcome 30 members of our parish community to the Table of the Lord as they receive their First Communion. In their reception of the Eucharist, they meet Jesus in a new and profound way; Jesus, our Good Shepherd, our Life and Resurrection, who cares for us in our every need.
On behalf of our faith community, I wish our First Communicants every good blessing and a wonderful day with your families. May you always feel part of this family. We look forward to the ways you will bring your gifts to us, that we may be even more authentically the Body of Christ in our world. I also wish to thank all our Children’s Faith Formation catechists, for your dedication to and care for our young people. The greatest gift you have given them as you have prepared them for today is your example of kindness and faith. “Values are caught not taught,” and our children have been blessed by you.
Finally, I’m very pleased to introduce a new essay series for the rest of the season of Easter: What I Hope For Our Parish & What I Am Doing About It; this follows on our Lenten series, Why I Am Catholic, the last of which appears elsewhere in today’s bulletin. (For all parishioner essays comprising the Lenten and Easter series, please visit the Parishioner Essays link HERE.)
Today, Sarah concludes her reflection with these words: “So here we are. Here I am, with all of you. We’re Catholic–and we’re keeping the faith in our Church.”
This faith–our faith–belies a hope that we carry in our individual and collective hearts. I wrote two weeks ago, St. Ignatius teaches us to listen to those hopes, to our holiest desires, believing that they come from God and will lead us back to God. He also teaches that each must share with other disciples what she or he hears, and together we can hear how God is speaking to us as a community. This next essay series is a first step toward noticing together how God is calling us to be Church in this time and in this place.
As in the first series, we provide below some questions for reflection. The questions came out of what we heard in the small group discussions in our Why I Am Catholic series. I invite each of us to bring them to prayer, going deep within to discover what we hope for our parish and the ways that God is calling each of us to help.
* What adjectives describe the kind of faith community I seek? What gifts do I have to help create that parish?
* What would help me to feel deeply that I belong to St. Ignatius Parish? How can I help others feel like they belong?
* What do I need in order to grow in my spiritual life, in my relationship with Jesus? What gifts do I have to offer others to help them in their spiritual lives?
* What can our parish offer that will help guide me toward deeper meaning in my life? How can I help others to find that?
* What do I need from St. Ignatius to be the person that I believe God wants me to be? How can I help others to be the people God wants them to be?
* How can St. Ignatius Parish help me respond more fully to the call of the Corporal Works of Mercy? How can I help others respond to them?
* Are there justice issues that God is calling me to attend to? What gifts do I bring to that/those project/s?
* What are the unarticulated, fundamental human longings that we live with in this 21st century that the Gospel calls St. Ignatius Parish to address? How will I help our parish become a place that addresses those longings?
May God bless our First Communion children; our mothers, step-mothers, and grandmothers; and St. Ignatius Parish.
Oremus pro invicem.