Sharing our Spiritual Blessings

My dear friends,

On this day when we gather together to celebrate our 175th Anniversary as a parish, how can we find better, more fitting words to express our gratitude and joy than those given to us in St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens!” The “spiritual blessings” given, received, and shared in this parish over its 175 year history would be too numerous to count, and even now, praise God, this Church continues to be a place where New Life is continually celebrated in Baptism, where our spiritual hungers are fed by Word and Sacrament, where our children are formed and confirmed in the Faith, where couples are united in Marriage, where hearts have found healing and renewal in God’s mercy, and where there is community fellowship and support that overflows in various charitable works to our community and beyond.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ . . .” Today we want to give thanks for all these blessings. As Bishop Cozzens wrote recently in an article that appeared in The Catholic Spirit:

“Gratitude is perhaps the highest movement of the human heart. It is a sentiment that is right at the heart of Christianity. The first Christian prayer in the New Testament, Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), is a prayer of gratitude to God for his deliverance of his people through Jesus the messiah. The heart of our prayer as Catholics is the Eucharist, a Greek word that means “thanksgiving” because, in the Eucharist, we give thanks to God the Father for the gift of new life we have received in Jesus, a gift that is given and renewed every time we celebrate holy Mass. Gratitude is the recognition that what I have received comes to me from the overflowing goodness and love of God. It is also a recognition that I do not deserve to receive this love. It is an unmerited gift. To be a Christian is to live in profound gratitude for the unmerited overwhelming love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.”

As I count the blessings I have experienced since my arrival here in late October, your beautiful faith and commitment to Christ and one another ranks high on the list. As I get to know you and your families, especially some of the unique hardships and challenges some of you face, your “yes” to God continually inspires me. Your “yes” helps me to renew my own “yes” to God, especially my “yes” to the Cross. How beautiful the Cross of Jesus, which all of us are called to share and carry in our different vocations. The Cross is the triumph and victory of love, the “yes” to continue loving through all the pain and heartaches of growing in the likeness of Christ. This Agape love of Jesus that has been poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit will continue to bond us deeply together, sooth and heal our wounds, and safeguard our unity and peace as a community of disciples.

As we celebrate this special year together, what are some of the spiritual blessings for which you are personally grateful? In these times when it is easy to focus on all the negative, it would be good for us to count our blessings and share them with each other. I would love to hear from you what some of these blessings are. Please share them with me sometime.

So together, let us “bless the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens! He chose us in Christ, before the world began, to be holy and blameless in his sight. In his love he predestined us to be his adopted children through Jesus Christ, such was his will and pleasure, that all might praise the glorious favor he has bestowed on us in his beloved. In him and through his blood, we have been redeemed, and our sins forgiven, so immeasurably generous is God’s favor to us” (Ephesians 1:3-8).

God love you,

Fr. Steven

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