PASTOR'S COLUMN, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2017

Submitted by St. Mary on Sun, 12/31/2017 - 9:03am

Dear Parishioners:

An extravagance of riches! When I was growing up, I would hear my mom sometimes use this expression. It comes to mind as I consider the days of Christmas. While most households will not have had deliveries of French hens, gold rings and turtle doves, yet in this completed week, the Church has given us feasts of the proto-martyr Stephen, the Holy Innocents (the slaughtered children who were victims of Herod’s crazed hunt to destroy Jesus), St. John the Evangelist and St. Thomas Becket. Any one of these observances could fill a day with a feast for reflection. As if this all isn’t enough, this weekend, we mark the Feast of the Holy Family and immediately following, the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God.

Since January 1 is marked as World Day of Peace, I offer the following reflection from Fr. James Martin, S.J.

The most well-known prayer for peace may be the Prayer of St. Francis, which begins, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace." It’s attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, but it is the work of an anonymous French writer who published it in 1912. St. Francis’s non-authorship shouldn’t deter us from the underlying goal of the prayer, which is peace.

What does it mean to pray for peace? First it means to beg God to bring peace to warring countries, into troubled regions, and in the midst of tense interpersonal situations. Peace is at the heart of the Christian message. And the peace that Jesus envisioned — the Hebrew word shalom — is not simply a cessation of violence, but the highest good for all involved. By praying for peace, we unite ourselves with God’s desires.

Second, praying for peace means putting those hopes into action. It means becoming a reconciler — among individuals, groups, and nations, as well as with those from whom we are estranged. All this brings us into closer relationship with God, for reconciliation with God demands reconciliation with one another. And how can you be in right relationship with God if you hold a grudge against your brother and sister?

Finally, there is a prayer for inner peace. Can you allow God to enter your heart and give you calm? Can you turn over the "warring" factions within you and give them to God? In all this, trust that Jesus, the "Prince of Peace," is on you side.

Reprinted from Give Us This Day, January 2018

On behalf of Fr. Strebler and the entire parish staff., thank you so very much for all the greetings and gestures of kindness extended over these days of Christmas, as well as the amazing efforts of the liturgical ministers. May the new year find us all receiving the graces offered by God, in so many ways, to face the good times and the bad, times of wellness and times of sickness and struggle, knowing that in Christ we can do all things— may we do them for the glory of His name. Amen.

Peace,

Fr. Stephen