The Family and the Church
The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. Psalm 18:2
A blessed and a glorious New Year to you and your family. Everyone at the OCN sends you their prayers for health and abundant faith in the days ahead. The above verse from Psalm 18 is one of my favorites. We as priests recite it each time we venerate the Holy Gifts prior to the Consecration and the receiving of Holy Communion. No matter what is happening in my life, the life of my precious family, or in the lives of my blessed parishioners, I know every time I read this verse from the Book of Psalms that our Lord holds us in His hands and gives us life, hope, and healing.
Do you think of this each day? You and your family, the people you love most, are in God’s hands. Have you ever imagined those Hands, infinitely powerful but also infinitely tender? What can you do to be sure you remember Who is holding you? What can you do to help your family feel close to Him?
In these days of facing the fiscal cliffs of our economy, I believe we also need to realize that we face the spiritual cliffs in our lives that threaten to destroy us and our families each day. Don’t get me wrong; there are many things happening in parishes across this nation and around the world that bear telling. There are priests and parishes who offer soup kitchens to the homeless, parishes that have an active prison ministry where they visit and support those who are incarcerated. There are parishes who reach out with visiting angels programs, such as the one in my own parish, where faithful visit the homebound each month. There are groups of ladies, like the one in our parish called Loving Stitches, who knit blankets and small hats for the preemie children in the intensive care units of hospitals, and then there are those who knit blankets, have their priests read prayers over them, and then send them to those who are sick. I received one when I was suffering and fighting for my life in the hospital. I lay in bed each night during my hospital stay, covering myself with this hand-made blanket of Christian love for support and healing.
So what spiritual cliffs am I speaking of? Do you really need me to tell you? I don’t think so, but here goes. What about the decline in the sanctity of marriage and the effort to redefine it so that it no longer appears as God ordained it to be, between a man and a woman? The large numbers of families who are choosing as a source of birth control an abortion. What about the fathers and yes, the mothers who are walking out on their families because they just can’t take it anymore and want to start a new family, only to find out that the new family carries with it the same struggles and challenges? We have several generations now of young people who never had a father and a mother figure in their lives to guide them. Shall I go on? What about the many conflicts around the world that are taking countless lives each day, young and old, rich and poor? Think of the temptations of the flesh that appear in pornography and in just about every movie made today. We are so impressed with the sensual that we forget the spiritual. We need to come to the realization that the sensual is fleeting while the spiritual gives everlasting life.
Now, while there are so many good things going on, in our churches and among those of goodwill everywhere, we also have those who wish to do good with their New Year’s resolutions. Have you ever made one? I certainly have! Have you kept one? I have kept a few, but I must confess I have broken more than I have concluded to success. How about you? What I would like us to do this year is to make a resolution to come into more communion with God through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is only this way that we will truly understand the scriptural reference for the month, that The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer. Psalm 18:2 Then we can receive from the cup of life, Holy Communion, which is the perfect Body and Blood of Christ that nourishes and strengthens us. To receive this saving message we need to be prepared. And we need to bring our families into the church, to receive this precious gift, and to feel the loving hands of God around them.
In His Service,