Week of 8/13/2017
In planning my life, is the first question I should ask: what will make me truly happy? Actually, no. The first question should be even deeper: what is real happiness? Then comes the question: what can I do to achieve this happiness?
What is that happiness? God. Eternity with the Source of all Love. But how does one achieve that happiness? Putting all trust in God above all things. In Matthew 16 the rich young man asks our Lord “what must I do” to attain eternal life. Jesus’ first reply is: keep the commandments. So that is the fundamental first step. Cultivate virtue and reject sin. Confess our sins with firm purpose of amendment. Then Jesus tells him, if you wish to be perfect, sell all you have and come follow Me. In other words, it is not about a minimal commitment to the commandments, it is about serious detachment from the world, shaped by profound intimacy with God. Everyone must put Christ before anything, be it work, sports, band, and especially convenience. When God is second, then what we do first becomes our god.
But then there is the life path; vocation. Marriage, priesthood, religious life. These are the voca- tions that help one achieve the life God knows will be the most fulfilling path for them. Marriage is a gift that goes back to the very beginning with Adam and Eve. God designed it to reflect the beauti- ful, unconditional self giving love within the Holy Trinity.
Religious life is seen today by our culture as something odd; even “unproductive.” Yet, it has the greatest potential of “real productivity” because it is fundamentally focused on life’s ultimate pur- pose: eternal salvation of all souls. And, we see good things when you look more closely at the situation. An order of nuns in Tennessee has hundreds of members and many novices, with the average age less than thirty. The same for a women’s order in Michigan. Other new orders are growing steadily.
This tells us that even today many who are searching for real happiness are finding it in a life conse- crated to God. Vocations reflect a deep seated thirst for God. A vocation to religious life is a partic- ular blessing from God, one that should always be encouraged. A good question: am I encourag- ing my children to pray to God to see if they have a religious vocation? To simply suggest it or at least talk it up as a blessing from God. Vocations are like anything organic; they need to be cultivat- ed and fed. Our culture encourages us to discourage vocations, making us think that they don’t add to family life and instead deprive someone of the happiness of a family. But if the deepest happi- ness is to be with God, then a life truly consecrated to Him means finding the greatest happiness in the family of Christ.
At St. Theresa’s we are very blessed to have had a few vocations! Last year parishioner Fr. Eric Silva was ordained to the priesthood. In 2013 Fr. John Connaughton was ordained to the priest- hood, as was Fr. Michael Novajosky in 2010. All three of these young men are now working hard and joyfully in the vineyard of the Lord. Also, we have Stephen Hodson from our parish entering his third year of studies to become a permanent deacon for Bridgeport! At our Bible camp in June we had two Dominican Sisters from Mary, Mother of the Eucharist in Ann Arbor, Michigan, an order whose average age is about 28 years old. Please pray for vocations, and encourage your children or grandchildren to answer God’s call to work in His vineyard. A priest or a nun will bring many blessings to family, and be profound witnesses in a world so desperately needing signs of God’s life, mercy and love.
God love you,
Fr. Brian Gannon