Retreat Notes #3

    The view from my window this week

I'm away this week at Eastern Point Retreat House in Gloucester, MA.  I hold you all in my heart in prayer this week so in a way, you're here with me on retreat. To share my experience with you, I'll post occasional notes like the one below.  Please, come pray with me!


It's just a month ago that I became a "senior priest" which means I've retired from assigned ministry but continue to serve by preaching the gospel, celebrating the sacraments and reaching out in prayer through this blog. In becoming a senior priest, many things change but some things, the most important things, remain the same.  My annual retreat is offering me a unique opportunity to reflect on my ministry over the past 48 years and to bring all of that to prayer.

I spent yesterday looking back on he places where I've served since ordination: Saint Ann Parish in Wollaston; the University of Notre Dame (at Moreau Seminary, the Office of  Campus Ministry and Morrissey Manor); Saint Ann University Parish (serving Northeastern University and Emerson College);  Saint Joseph Parish in Medway; as pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish and then Holy Family Parish in Concord; and at Saint Luke and Saint Joseph Parishes in Belmont.
It's been a great adventure, an incredible ride, a beautiful journey, a demanding and challenging path, and a graced and rewarding way to spend my life!

As would anyone looking back on such a stretch of time, I recognize the good times and the hard times; the joyful and sad times; times of conflict - and resolution; and seasons of contentment along with a number of rough patches, too. But what becomes so clear to me in my reflection is how present was Jesus in my life and work over these past nearly five decades.  Ordained in 1973 I was full of energy and enthusiasm but I see now how I often I had no idea of what to do or how to do it - and how I was, at best, often only vaguely aware of the mystery and value of what I was doing - or put more accurately - of what the Lord was doing in and through me.  Hindsight is a great and revealing blessing!  
The more I reflect on my past, the more I see the warm fingerprints of Jesus on everything and everyone who touched my life.  
The more I ponder what I've done with my life, the more I realized it's really the story of what Jesus has done with my life.  
The more I consider what I think of as my successes and failures, the more I understand how gracious and skillful the Lord has been in using the gifts and talents he gave me - and - how patient and kind he's been in pardoning me when I got in his way or fell asleep at the switch. 
The longer I study my own story, the more I see how it's held together, woven through, with the love, the word, the mercy, the strength, the grace, the truth, the Spirit of Jesus - without whom my story would make no sense and my life would be without its meaning.
Well, I've invited you to be part of my retreat so here's a little homework for you...  Find a quiet place and time for prayer...  Consider some portion of your life: perhaps something as recent as the pandemic or something of greater range like your marriage, raising a family, your career, time spent in a place where you lived...  Just begin to sketch out the history of those years (the good times and the hard times; the joyful and sad times; times of conflict - and resolution; and seasons of contentment along with the rough patches, too). Ponder how you made it through that time...  what happy memories still have a place in your heart... whence came your strength when you were weak... how was the Lord with you and how did he keep you together, even when everything seemed to be unraveling... 
Look for the divine thread woven through your story, thank the Lord for how it wove you into the fabric of his life, and give thanks to God, from whom all blessings flow...




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