A Note From Fr. Timothy
It is the time of year again for our diocese’s annual clergy conference, and many of our priests and deacons will gather together to discuss ministry in the diocese. Rather than a spiritual retreat, this is more of a work conference where pastoral and administrative issues are often discussed. Of course, as clergy we also regularly gather for prayer together and are able to con-celebrate the Mass together and with the bishop. These times of prayer are a great joy to me in part because it is so uncommon that we are able to gather as a group in prayer and worship.
Last year, because of the pandemic, the conference was officially canceled (though some of us went there anyway to spend time together). This year, though there might be a few changes and extra precautions taken, we will be gathering once again. I always look forward to the conference, and that is especially true this year as there are a number of priests that I have not been able to see in almost two years.
I am sure that many, many others are equally glad to be able to socially interact with one another again; to attend sporting events, go out dining, or even visit family. I am aware that the number of positive test results for COVID-19 has risen fairly significantly in the area in the last month or so, and that the Delta variant is constantly in the news as it makes its way across the country. We should be aware of these things and take appropriate precautions in protecting ourselves and others from this virus and other illnesses that can significantly impact our health. But I also think it important that we do not let COVID, or the fear of it, control or consume our lives.
If we are going to give our lives to anything or anyone – it should be to the Lord. When we can dedicate ourselves once again completely to God, we are paradoxically set free from the chains which would bind us. And the fears and concerns of the world can easily be a chain for us that divides and isolates and robs us of the love and joy that God wants to share with us and the world. That does not mean that the things of the world will not affect us or that they cannot cause hardships and suffering, nor does it mean that we should ignore those issues. What it does mean is that we do not have to be consumed by them. Jesus himself has some strong things to say about worry, most notably in Matthew 6:27: “Can any of you by worrying add a single moment to your life-span?” Worry and its associated stress is far more likely to shorten lives, rather than prolong them. [Of course, worry is very different from prudent care and concern which can mitigate risks and be beneficial.]
Placing our trust in Jesus helps counteract that worldly worry which can be so debilitating. Through his passion, resurrection, and ascension he reminds us that there is more to life than this world with all its worries. Our primary concern should be in seeking heaven and eternal life. He alone can give us the grace and serenity to “accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
Fr. Timothy Gapinski