From Father's Desk

Dear Parish Family,

This week we are wrapping up our message series called “8th Grade Faith.” Over these past few weeks, we have been seeking to take a new and fresh approach to our faith. Faith means a personal intimate friendship with God. Prayer is speaking and listening to that same friend. Faith is a living thing that requires nourishment, attention, and a commitment. We grow in faith individually by embracing the Christian life, but also corporately, communally, as a body, we grow by sharing the journey with others, especially in small groups.

Next week, we begin a new series called “Good News” - where we take a big bite at the apple of the Gospel and seek to appreciate that indeed Jesus invites us to believe in the good news (gospel). And we seek to know more deeply what it means to live by this Good News!

People have a lot of questions about our faith. One of the main questions is why do some believe while others do not. Some of my family members struggle with the faith. Others feel rejected by the church because they decided not to follow “the rules.” Some still pray but others really struggle. And when we are on our own with prayer, not coming together to worship on Sundays, not hearing the Good News, not receiving the holy Eucharist, prayer tends not to get stronger but weaker. Often prayer fizzles down to moments when we are in need. And those are not bad moments, but God has so much more in store for us!

Parents and Grandparents come to me with questions about why children and grandchildren no longer practice. Why are so few young people in church? We are living in a time more adversarial to the faith; more things compete with our time and energy - growing up we had no sports on Sunday mornings; and some people feel jaded by their experiences. Those are some real reasons. But often down deeper there is a need for each Christian to own their faith, to receive the gift of faith from God and nourish it in their heart. Often it seems people fade away from the practice of our faith because it has never really become something they choose for themselves. Faith might have high value in the family - and that can carry a person along a great distance - but it is not enough. Each person must come to faith, choose faith, and lean into faith, on their own. God seeks to be the great love of their lives; God is our reason for being, the why of every heartbeat.

Personally, for me, my Confirmation program in the 10th grade really deepened my faith. A two-year program, during the course of that time, I really began to choose to serve God on my own. Before that, my practice leaned heavily on my parents, on the customs of our family. After that, I would go on to lead retreats, and share my faith with other teenagers. It was a beautiful program. Many kids came to believe on their own. We had a thriving youth ministry too. But many classmates were confirmed and just moved on with life. For others, the process involves finding faith in college and deciding to worship God weekly at Sunday Mass with friends from the dorm. It is about choosing to be faithful when Mom and Dad are not watching. For others, preparing for marriage or having a baby baptized can become moments when faith comes alive personally in their hearts. There are many onramps to faith.

God can use any crossroads as an invitation. How have you come to faith? Today we hear about Naaman the Syrian  who came to faith in the God of Israel in an incredibly unique way. I pray his example will inspire more people to come to choose God above all else.

May your faith be as the pearl of great price!
Fr. Joel Wilson