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Growth, Family and Spiritual Families

Dear OLPH Family,

Did you make any New Year’s Resolutions? Why not consider some spiritual resolutions? Of those presented in the link, two could be accomplished with one fell swoop. Resolve to Read one chapter of Rediscovering the Saints each day. This one promise will meet (#2) more time for spiritual reading, and (#8) make a new saint buddy. In fact, anyone who reads the whole book will likely have made several saint buddies! In Rediscover the Saints, Matthew Kelly brings the saints close to us in short chapters with practical lessons. How beautiful it is to connect with those who share in heavenly glory!

On this Feast of the Epiphany (meaning manifestation), the Gospel tells the story of the Magi, wise men or astrologers from the East who follow a star to pay our new-born king homage. They arrive with gold, frankincense and myrrh, gifts which recognize symbolically who Jesus is: gold for his kingship, frankincense for his priesthood, and myrrh for his sacrifice and burial. Hence theophany: the divinity of Christ is revealed or manifest in the presence and gifts of these visitors from afar.

Have you heard the one about the wise women? “Three wise women would have asked directions, arrived on time, helped deliver the baby, brought practical gifts, cleaned the stable, made a casserole… and there would be peace on earth!” Not deeply symbolic presents but eminently practical!

This tongue-in-cheek joke suggests not only the complementary differences between men and women, but also makes plain that each person has her or his own gifts to share with the world. Just like at our holiday parties, not everyone brings seven layer dip (yum!), so too everyone created by our good and loving Father has personal, unique and unrepeatable gifts to share with the world...many more than seven layers!

As we continue to meditate on family life during these weeks, we recognize family resemblance: a laugh, smile or sparkle in the eye that reminds us of a relative. We also recognize that each family member is unique! Over these past two years I have witnessed many family resemblances in our OLPH family, and marvel to see how the little ones take after their parents and relatives. 

Time with family is good for us, since we cannot pretend to be other than who we are. They don’t permit it! But it is the role of family to encourage and assist us to become all God created us to be, the best version of ourselves -- a Matthew Kelly phrase. Sadly, this role is sometimes unfulfilled by our families, and we can find ourselves retreating from harshness even criticism.

Kelly writes, “God created us with certain needs and he provides for the fulfillment of these needs. In his plan our need for loving community is first met by our family. But the selfishness of men and women often leads families into dysfunction, and God's vision for family is destroyed. God also desires to fulfill this need we have to belong through dynamic and loving Christian communities," (Rediscover the Saints, 55.)

The Saints became the best version of themselves by responding to God’s gifts of grace within the concrete reality of their lives, each situation less than perfect. Still the Saints blossomed and grew into the best version of themselves in and through loving communities. As Kelly remarks, “The local parish is the heartbeat of the Church around the world,” (56). I hope and pray this year, each of us in our OLPH parish family will strive with God’s grace to grow in holiness, in accord with the unique path He has marked out for us, that we may take steps to become the most complete version of ourselves.

May God bless us on our journey in 2020!

Fr. Wilson

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