Fr. John Gerritts - December 16, 2018
Over the past few weeks we have experienced several deaths in
our parish. Among those who died was our oldest parishioner, Pauline
Kobylarczyk. Pauline moved to Hudson in 2011 to be closer to family, living
first at Wintergreen Senior Apartments and the last few months at Christian
Community Home. Pauline never missed a Wednesday Mass at CCH. Her funeral was held
in Thorp, WI, where she grew up and had returned following her retirement. Eternal
rest grant unto Pauline, and God’s blessings upon her family – and all families
grieving loved ones’ passings.
I was recently speaking with some guys about the Hallmark
television Christmas specials that have become very popular the past few years.
It would seem that “their wives” are watching these specials. The network
advertises these as original movies, but I tend to question that since each one
is essentially the same:
A man or woman moves from their
sleepy Norman Rockwell type town to the big city and gets caught up in the busy
corporate life. For some reason they return to their hometown at Christmas time.
There they meet someone who loves the peaceful life of rural America, or perhaps
rekindle a friendship from their youth; they fall in love. Something happens
that causes them to break off their relationship, then another something happens
which brings them back together. In a period of two hours they decide to leave
the busy corporate life and pursue a life of happiness with a husband or wife
in the peaceful setting of one’s childhood dreams.
The shows all portray a person experiencing tension in his or
her life, but end with a loving relationship. The tension may be from the
stress of a job, an illness or death in the family, or a breakup in a
relationship. While we may enjoy seeing the tension and resolve in a movie (as
much as the guys knew about the shows, I don’t think their wives are the only
ones watching them), in real life we often do everything possible to avoid
tension. But tension is a reality and in fact an essential part of our lives if
we are to grow in our relationship with Christ.
Saint John of the Cross, a sixteenth Spanish mystic, writes
that we are like green logs tossed into a fire. Green logs don’t immediately
burn. They are young and full of moisture, thus sizzle for a time. Only when they
finally dry out do they burst into flames and participate in the fire that
surrounds them. Like the logs we too are green, immature, wet, selfish, and too
self-contained to fully participate in the love and warmth that surrounds us.
Our dampness extinguishes the flame.
What changes us is the tension in our lives. Experiences of
illness, death, broken relationships, and struggles at work all have the power
to dry us out. We can then burst into flames and be ready to truly experience love,
a love that is divine.
This is the Advent season, a season of acknowledging the
tensions that have been a part of our lives this past year or that we are
currently experiencing. But we also must acknowledge that all hope is not lost
because there is tension in our lives, for it is only this tension that can
give way to the warmth and love, the burning flame of Christ growing within us,
and a new light filling the darkness. This is what we hear about in this week’s
Gospel: the pathways made straight, valleys filled in, mountains and hills made
low, the winding roads made straight, and rough ways made smooth. The
difference between our Gospel and the Hallmark Christmas specials is that it
doesn’t usually happen in two hours. The prophets spoke about the coming of the
messiah for hundreds of years – Advent also teaches us patience.
Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Church
Our Parish Council formed a task force to investigate ways Saint Patrick Parish can respond to the issues of clergy sexual abuse within our Church, including hosting a Mass of Healing in October and a listening session in November. Please click here
to learn more about the Task Force's recommendation to Bishop Powers.