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Father Muench Says...

Words of thanks and some saintly advice

May 2, 2018

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

I am going to begin today with a word of gratitude and my wish for a happy retirement to my friend and editor, Mary Lou Kilian.

I want to thank you, Mary Lou, for your efforts to continue the excellence of the North Country Catholic.  Mary Lou, you were great.

The North Country Catholic is an important resource for the Diocese of Ogdensburg – its history is long and extensive.  Mary Lou Kilian has continued that excellence and I am truly proud of the North Country Catholic as a priest of this diocese.  As I offer my congratulations to Mrs. Kilian, I promise to her my prayers as she continues to enjoy her other career as a grandmother.

It was over five years ago that Mary Lou invited me out to lunch.  I was then in Saranac Lake – a bit of a ride from Ogdensburg.  On a pleasant morning in the Adirondacks, she arrived at St. Bernard’s.  During lunch she spent some time offering me this space I have occupied since then.  I am grateful to her for this unique opportunity to be involved with the NCC.

So, I have had this happy experience of working with Mary Lou.  She has been such an excellent editor – always patient with me as I rushed to meet a deadline.  Thank you, Mary Lou.
I would also like to us this opportunity today to encourage you all to find the opportunity to read and study, Pope Francis’ recent Apostolic Exhortation, “Gaudete Et Exsultate” (Rejoice and Be Glad).  Pope Francis describes this letter as a Call to Holiness in Today’s World.I want to guarantee that you will find this a well done and inspiring message.  And let me add – this is not some difficult Papal message – you will understand Our Holy Father’s message.  Pope Francis writes this letter as directed to each person, each one of us, he speaks directly to “you.”
Pope Francis focuses on Jesus’ Beatitudes in one section of the letter.  Let me quote him: “The Beatitudes are like a Christian’s identity card.  So if anyone asks, “What must we do to be a good Christian?”, the answer is clear.  We have to do, each in our own way, what Jesus told us in the Sermon on the Mount.  In the Beatitudes, we find a portrait of the Master, which we are called to reflect in our daily lives.” (63)

Pope Francis reminds us of the model set by so many saints. He mentions many and I imagine they are his favorite saints.

He writes: “The saints now in God’s presence preserve their bonds of love and communion with us.”  (4) He points out to us that they show us and guide us to the way of holiness.

I would like to add to Pope Francis’ saints, the many saints, my saints, who have been part of my life.  They are not canonized by the Church but they have, and by the way continue to have, a profound influence on my life and my priesthood.

Pope Francis begins this letter by making it very clear that holiness is for us all not just a few. He writes this: “We are frequently tempted to think that holiness is only for those who can withdraw from ordinary affairs to spend much time in prayer.  That is not the case.  We are all called to be holy by living our lives with love and by bearing witness in everything we do, wherever we find ourselves.” (14)

Personally, I have thought often of this quest of holiness in our lives as Christians.  So, I am truly pleased that Pope Francis has taken the time to write this letter to us – joining with all who call us to holiness.

I like to point out that it is truly about the little things in life.  Only a few of us will be called to do something great and extraordinary in our search for holiness.  However, each day we all will be challenged by the ordinary.  Someone, I expect it was a saint, gave me this definition of a saint – which I have shared with you often.  A saint is someone who does ordinary things extraordinarily well.

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