There's a song called “Love Song” by the Christian band Third Day that I always think of at this time of year. The opening verse of the song says:
As part of our ongoing engagement process, we have come to realize the importance of parishioners sharing their personal stories of how they have connected with Saint Clement as an important factor in their lives. As a feature twice a month, we share the stories and reflections of our engaged parishioners who are living a stewardship life of prayer, service, and giving. This week we hear from Brian Christ:
Set in the lovely landscape of Wisconsin lake country, St. Benedict’s Abbey was an ideal host for the Saint Clement Young Adult Community as they embarked on their annual winter retreat. The theme for this year’s retreat was “Be Bold: Living with Faith and Courage,” and many participants jumped at the chance to get out of the city and recharge.
“That weekend was everything I needed it to be and more,” said parishioner Grace Ahlering. “A good getaway, time to refocus my faith, and an opportunity to make some great friends."
LIKE SO MANY, I struggle with the concept of mortality. Yet as I sat down to reflect and write upon this Sunday’s Gospel from John, I was surprised how deeply it affected me. Initially, one of the parts that struck me most is how “deeply troubled” Jesus is over the death of his friend Lazarus, “…the one you love…” as Martha described. We hear Jesus is “perturbed.” Most notable to me, that Jesus wept. A man who felt, as we feel. A man who loved, as we love. A man who grieved, as we grieve.
Today's Gospel version by John, the man born blind, starts with disciples and Jesus encountering him. The disciples wanted to know who sinned (resulting in his blindness), him or his parents. Jesus told them neither. In Jesus’ time, illness and handicap was looked upon as being from God as a punishment for sin, either personal sin or the sin of ancestors. We see remnants of this in today’s society. I can’t tell you how often I’ve heard “Why is God doing this to me, why is God punishing me?”
As part of our ongoing engagement process, we have come to realize the importance of parishioners sharing their personal stories of how they have connected with Saint Clement as an important factor in their lives. As a feature twice a month, we share the stories and reflections of our engaged parishioners who are living a stewardship life of prayer, service, and giving. This week we hear from Victoria Retelny:
Dear Friends at Saint Clement Church,
It is my honor to have been named as pastor of Saint Clement by Cardinal Cupich! Saint Clement is one of the “gold standard” parishes. I am excited and hopeful that we will all work together closely to bring God’s joy to a world aching for good news. As I study the Anchors of Saint Clement, it is clear that this is a community on the move, anxious to dig in, serve those in need, and teach the Gospel, all in a spirit of discipleship in Jesus. God has amazing things in store for us!
Over the next three Sundays, we will hear particularly captivating gospel stories of encounters with Jesus. These “greatest hits” from the Gospel of John are touching accounts of people who not only encounter Jesus, but are forever changed as a result. In these stories, we are invited to find our own story and to identify our own need for Christ. I’d like to suggest a few potential parallels for reflection below: