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from fathers desk

My Dear Family in Christ,

First, allow me to wish all our mothers, grandmothers, godmothers and maternal figures, a blessed and joyful Mother’s Day. Today is a beautiful day to celebrate the moms in our lives, be they biological, adopted, spiritual or a combination! No replacement exists for the embrace or advice of our dear mother figures. We give thanks to God for the gift they are to us!

All mothers share a desire for the happiness of their children. Our moms want us to live happy, healthy and holy lives. Holiness is the real root of our happiness. Jesus shares this desire with our parents for he tells us in the Gospel, “I told you this that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” But what is the this? “Remain in my love” and “keep my commandments.” The path to the abundant life follows the way Jesus marks out with his own life of sacrificial love. For this reason it is so pivotal for Catholics to raise our children to imitate Jesus and follow the ways of the faith, so that they may walk the narrow road to true joy in Christ. It is not the easy life, but the abundant life we seek.

The abundant life has Christ, his Church and the Sacraments at the center. Over the past two weekends we welcomed children to receive Jesus for the first time in Holy Communion and this weekend we plan for some of our families to return and crown Mary our Mother on Mother’s Day.

Jesus also reminds us that we are chosen. He tells the apostles “It was not you who chose me but I who chose you.” Those words are etched in my mind since the day I found them etched above the door to a monastic cell in an 11th century Carthusian monastery in northeast Spain. Scala Dei abuts a steep chaulk-white hillside in northeast Spain. The monks settled here and brought garnacha and syrah vines from southeast France, giving the Priorat region its most famous treasure: powerful red wines of distinction. There, in the ruins of what was once a beautiful monastery, I read the words above a cell, “Non vos me elegistis sed ego elegi vos.” In the silence of this space it became a powerful reminder of God’s hand. One can think that in a moment of doubt, the monk may come to question his purpose or belonging in this remote place. And while we give ourselves too much credit for our achievements (and probably not enough for our missteps) it is refreshing to be reminded that the Lord God has invited us to this moment. We have been chosen and called for a particular purpose to love God and keep his commandments in this moment, today, as we encounter Jesus’ invitation to follow him.

I associate these words and vocational moment with Mother’s Day and the abundant life because of my own personal calling to serve the Lord. At first, mom did not want me to become a priest. She was of the mind that a life of happiness included a wife, children… happily ever after, all that. Mom could not see her son’s happiness as a priest. Only much later did mom come to accept that a spiritual father has spiritual children and even a bride or wife to give himself to in sacrificial love. Although the details are different, the invitation to the abundant life is universal. God sets aside a path for us and our true joy is found by traveling along it until we finally ascend the “Stairs of God,” unto eternal life.

Your spiritual father,
Fr. Joel Wilson