Father’s Ramblings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

With things on lockdown for a while, we can take a moment to assess how we are doing. There will be more changes coming, I am sure, but hopefully they won’t be happening as quickly as they have been for the past two weeks. This means we can stop chasing our tails for a moment and start to evaluate the past and plan for the future.

President Trump has extended the federal social distancing guidelines until April 30th, but as of the time of this letter the governor has not yet extended the state quarantine measures. Other governors have extended such guidelines. Therefore, whether it happens to us or not, we should mentally prepare ourselves for some extension of them here.

Part of that mental preparation is taking stock of how the past two weeks went. There was a lot of panic buying (especially of toilet paper) because there was a lot of fear and uncertainty. If you found yourself caught up in that, go easy on yourself. Such times of crisis are uncharted waters for most of us. It is easy to lose our balance when the world seems to be going sideways.

Take stock, though, of how the past few weeks went. What did you do well? In what ways did you rise to meet the challenges? Also, what did not go as well as you would have liked? Now that you have a moment to think, what would you have done differently?

This gives us an opportunity to build on what has worked and to make adjustments to what hasn’t worked. Again, this is not about shame or self-recrimination; we are in new territories, facing new challenges.

For all that has changed, though, many things have not changed. As we take stock and think about our next steps, lets also remember there are resources to bolster our weaknesses. Flat River Outreach and other such organizations continue to serve our communities. There are also opportunities for our strengths to shine. There are many brothers and sisters in the parish who want to help. Money might be tight all around, but many hands make light work.

Don’t be afraid to ask if you need something. There is no shame in finding yourself not up to the task. These are extraordinary circumstances.

I have started this letter with these practical suggestions because, as I have said before, the practical is the spiritual and the spiritual is the practical. Jesus called us to evaluate the cost of discipleship (Luke 14:25-33). This is incredibly important because when our emotions run high, we can make decisions that we don’t carry through to completion. Jesus is asking for greater maturity from us so that we can be well-tilled ground where the seed of faith can grow and flourish (Luke 8:4-15).

The everyday elements of our lives are part of our discipleship. Jesus tells His disciples to care for the poor. The measure of our discipleship is the measure to which we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and so on (Matthew 25:31-46). We attend to these practical realities so that we can be ever more faithful disciples.

Taking stock also means we stop and think about what we really need. We fill our lives with many things that we don’t need. (Oreos are great, especially the mint ones, but no one needs Oreos.) We are called to be people in the world, but not of the world (1 John 2:15-17). Where have we let the enticements of the world distract our hearts from what truly matters?

Taking stock also means taking stock of death. The fear of death is driving the world right off a cliff right now. Brothers and Sisters, I am here to tell you that the death of your body is not the worst thing that can happen to you. The worst thing that can happen to you is the eternal death of Hell, damnation.

We should care for our lives and the lives of our brothers and sisters, but at the end there is no stopping death. That is okay. In Christ, death is not the end of the story. In fact, in Christ, death is our entrance into something far better than we could ever imagine (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Now is a time to take stock of death. The Book of Sirach repeatedly calls us to remember our death (Sirach 14:12; 28:6; 41:3). Down through the ages the Church has called us to this. Memento mori! (Remember death!) Sic transit gloria mundi! (Thus passes the glory of the world!) We remember death that we might turn from this world to the glory of the Resurrection that awaits us. Thus we can live in peace and hope, not in fear and darkness.

May Almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

–Fr. Ferris

P.S. For those who wish, and I am by no means asking anyone to come out, blessed palms will be available at St. Mary in the entranceway to the north vestibule. They will be available Sunday morning and throughout the day. Drive under the car port, grab a palm (or two, but please remember others) out of the basket, and keep moving. Keep your distance, wash your hands, and remember those who come after you.

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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