Thursday, October 22, 2015

Field Day

My high school didn't do traditional homecoming festivities. Instead we had Field Day. I loved Field Day! Once a year, the entire class would join together. We'd all dress alike, we'd learn a masterfully choreographed march to a catchy beat and on that fall day we'd line up along the road next to the high school. Each class had their designated area. In my class, there were nearly 600 of us. Impressive! Powerful!

The beat would commence, and we'd begin to march, all in sync, along the road and into the gym. It was great fun. What made it even more special was that everyone mattered. No longer were we the rich, the poor, the jocks, the greasers, the nerds, the burnouts, or whatever in between. On that day, we blended into one class with one common goal, to defeat the other classes. Field Day was the great equalizer of my high school days. If anyone was missing we were less effective, we'd show less of a united force and we were less likely to WIN!

As I was growing up, I also loved my parish. I found sanctuary there and a true sense of belonging. I was aware that I was part of something big and I mattered. Today, I understand why. In the Body of Christ everyone matters, all the time. No one is insignificant. It is in this communion that we are formed as leaders and discover our giftedness, our effectiveness and the mission to which we are sent.

Leadership development in the parish is important. It is different than in the secular world where leaders are often associated with authority, power and a spirit of competition. In the parish, leadership is developed with a sense of the sacred. We learn how we can lead others to the Word of Life in a spirit of complementarity and we constantly seek to develop more leaders. One way in which we lead is through our charisms. God has empowered his faithful with charisms so He can reach “the many” for whom Christ died. When we gather for the Liturgy, hear the message to be taken out, are fed with the energy from the Resurrected Body, we become a powerful force to be reckoned with. At the Liturgy, we get in sync, we pay attention and we get our marching orders. But are we even aware of this?

Pope Francis referred to the Church as a Field Hospital. He said “ the thing the Church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful.” He said we are to be “ministers of mercy” and announced a Jubilee Year of Mercy to begin on the feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8, 2015.

It occurs to me that every day in the Church must be like a Field Day. Everyday the leaders (AKA disciples or apostles) must show up for the mission to be accomplished. Every day we must be ready to make our contribution, to say “yes” and to lead through our charisms which are destined
to accomplish great things.

Field Day needs everyone. No charism is insignificant as each works in harmony with the others. Let us get in the line up, let us be lost in the crowd. Let's let mercy lead! We can do this, together!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Make Believe

It has been said that the greatest nation is our imagination. I'm not sure who first coined this phrase, but I like it. In a world that often seems bleak, it is our imagination that can transcend the bleakness and take us to a better place. At least for a little while.
I am lucky to have a grand daughter. She has reintroduced me to the land of make believe. We go there all the time. It is populated with mermaids, unicorns, butterflies, owls, the royal family and of course, the bad guy named Hans. Hans causes a lot of trouble and is constantly in need of forgiveness and of another chance to get it right. In this land of make believe, living the virtues still doesn't come naturally. Fallen human nature is still a problem.
Pope Francis just paid a visit to the United States. I, like so many, were glued to the live stream of his addresses to the White House, Congress, USCCB, The United Nations and finally to the World Meeting of Families. His words helped me to imagine a better world for my grand daughter. If we, like Hans, can overcome our fallen human nature, we have a chance at putting an end to fighting, caring for the land, welcoming the stranger, feeding the hungry, ending poverty, upholding all life as sacred and learning to forgive and to start over. For those of us chosen to be Catholic Christians, our hope in a better world comes from our faith in Jesus. It is Jesus who summons us to leave behind our old ways, who teaches us the ways of heaven and with great confidence entrusts us to pass on to our families the beauty of the Christian life. In Jesus we find revealed all we need for our imaginations to take off.
Pope Francis said that our families will be strong edifices of love if they are built on beauty, goodness and truth. He said beauty is the path that leads to God. Where there is beauty, goodness and truth are close behind. These three transcendent qualities of God are always present together. 
The imagination is the receptor of beauty. So maybe that's why the imagination is the greatest nation.
Not too long ago I heard an interview with John O'Donohue, the Irish poet. He spoke of the imagination and the landscape of beauty. He said that often times people comment that they have no imagination. Not true, O'Donohue replied, we are all ex babies. 
Let's activate our imaginations and go to the land of make believe often. Let's fill it with acts of love and paint the landscape with the living words spoken by our Holy Father. Maybe, just maybe, we shall experience a bit of heaven on earth and more importantly, we will find a way to contribute to the creation of a better world for our grandchildren.
Mary Garlow