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Father Muench Says...

Recognizing the presence of the Lord

April 25, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I have been thinking today of the many ways the resurrected Jesus enters into my life. 

The Easter Season gives us several weeks to prayerfully celebrate the Lord’s Resurrection.  On each day of this season the scriptures at the Masses remind us of all the resurrection stories in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles.  Jesus interacted with his disciples in the time after the resurrection.

I am certain that you know the stories.  These resurrection stories are the tenderest of all the Gospel stories.  I think of Jesus’ conversation with Mary Magdalene at the tomb, and of course, Jesus entering the lives of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. 

Jesus enters my life and yours just as he entered their lives each day.  I still pray for a stronger faith that I will be open and aware to the presence of Jesus in my life.  I know only too well that if I remain open I would become a much holier person, a holier priest.

Recently, Pope Francis published an Apostolic Exhortation “Gaudete et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad).  In this formal letter, he extends a call to holiness in today’s world. 

In the beginning of the letter, Pope Francis writes this: “What follows is not meant to be a treatise on holiness…my modest goal is to repropose the call to holiness in a practical way for our own time, with all its risks, challenges, and opportunities.  For the Lord has chosen each one of us “to be holy and blameless before him in love.” (Ephesians 1:4)

This Apostolic Exhortation is quite extensive – and quite good.  Pope Francis writes a great deal in the letter about all we should learn from the saints.  Pope Francis mentions our saints as models of holiness.  I have discovered many books written about holiness and I have attended many retreats and conferences based on personal holiness. However, I want to tell you that I continue today to discover most about holiness from the many people and the many experiences that the Lord places in my life.  They have helped me to recognize the presence of the risen Lord in my life.

Let me to tell you of one. Each week I bring Holy Communion to one of our home bound parishioners, Each week it is a uniquely peaceful moment. There is something special about each visit and I know that I find a special recognition of the presence of God in my life.

In addition, once a week I celebrate Mass at the Motherhouse of the Sisters of St. Joseph for the retired sisters.  Again, it is a spiritually peaceful, holy experience. The Sisters are wonderful holy women who have lived their lives dedicated to the Lord.  The Mass with this group is truly a celebration of God’s love.

I know the Eucharist is always a time of gratitude for God’s many blessings.  With the Sisters, the spirit of gratitude is a reality.  The Lord’s present is truly with us.

I do want to add that the celebration of Mass is always a special moment for me.  The Mass has become my time to recognize the Lord’s presence guiding and supporting me.  Every time I celebrate Mass something special is part of the experience.

In addition, my road to holiness involves experiences other than prayer – even, social occasions.  I am thinking of gatherings of the family and times with friends. They are often opportunities for me to discover the Lord reaching out to me in a special way.   I believe that the Lord knows when I need such a gathering in my day.

By the way, when I think of family gatherings, I also think of the many wonderful families I have known in the various parishes I have been part of. These families have been an important part of my life and have brought the Lord’s presence into my day.  The have been part of my road to holiness in my life.

You never know who or what may uniquely guide you or give you the opportunity that guides you to the Lord and show you the path to holiness.

So pray often that you will recognize the presence of the Lord in your life.

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