From Father's Desk

My Dear Parish Family,

The Easter Season has broken upon us and a sea of newness rushes in. We are in the season of Spring naturally, and the season of newness supernaturally. What new work does God want to do in you? This past weekend at the Easter Vigil, five of our parish members received newness of life in Christ through Baptism, Confirmation, and the holy Eucharist. The work of becoming transformed has begun in them just as it began in us at our own baptisms.

But we acknowledge that conversion is not one-and-done. Conversion (literally meaning turning around) is the process of a lifetime, what we could also call the process of sanctification. If you like, initial conversion serves as the first moment of our life-long calling to be made holy as our heavenly Father is holy. The “new” that God wants to do in us, requires our participation, our effort, but the work is first divine. God is recreating us in the image and likeness of the Son. Saint Bonaventure painted a striking image. He observed that as the Father was creating Adam, sculpting his face from the mud of the earth, He was gazing upon the face of the Son. The Son, the refulgence of the Father’s glory (Heb 1:3), served as the muse for created humanity. Spectacular!

In the modern era, there was a time when we thought that our minds were like computers. Our experiences, memories, and skills were written onto them much like information is stored on a hard drive. Earlier, John Locke had the notion that our minds were tabula rasa, usually translated blank slates. In other words, we were open canvases. Our experiences and perceptions wrote onto us, and we were the result. Thankfully, we have a deeper appreciation today of how our minds shape and are shaped by our experiences and perceptions. In fact, the way we think - how we train our minds - actually changes the pathways in our brains. Our minds are hardware and software combined, being constantly updated by the lives we live, the thoughts we think, the way we engage our world.

Becoming “brand new” in Christ, begins with changing our minds. The power of positive thinking is a real thing, but as Catholic Christians we seek not only to think positive thoughts, but to renew our minds with the Scriptures, to renew our lives with the Good News of Jesus Christ. Paul encourages the Romans this way, “Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect” (Rom 12:2).

On the contrary, sometimes our minds betray us, they subvert us, or even countermand us. We may be seeking the new in Christ, but our minds may be inclined by our habits and well-worn patterns to be more prone to worry, or criticism, or negative thinking. Here are some “stinkin’ thinkin’” patterns that may help us to begin to notice how our minds, over time, have been shaped to move in directions that do not correspond to new life in Christ. With God’s grace, we can begin to “clothe ourselves with Christ” (Gal 3:27), and so to change - little by little - our habitual way of thinking. May the image of God be ever more purely and richly reflected in us!

Happy Easter!
Fr. Joel Wilson