Archives for March 2012
Witnessing the Transfiguration of Jesus as described in today’s Gospel of Mark was probably the most intimate personal experience Peter, James, and John would ever share with Him. For the first time, they caught a powerful glimpse into the Mystery of Jesus’ humanity and divinity, and His oneness with God. They had access to the Mystery of God in their lives in perhaps the most direct way a follower of Jesus could ever expect. Jesus shared this intimate knowledge of His nature with them so they might come to understand this Mystery was actually meant for them.
In this Lent season, our community has been invited to consider the ways each of us can access this Mystery of God in our own lives. God gave each of us the gift of prayer as a means of accessing His presence. The beauty and wonder of prayer for me is that it can be practiced at any time, in any place, and under any circumstances. Prayer can never be practiced too often without exception, I become more aware of my connection to God, others, and myself. Humans need air to sustain their physical life, but prayer to sustain their spiritual lives. One of the purest forms of prayer is to simply ask for God’s will to be fulfilled in everything. Finally, prayer is practiced is both thought and in action.
I am blessed to be a member of such an inspiring group of faith practitioners in the Old St. Pat’s community. Before arriving at Old St. Pat’s, my faith was fragile and I yearned to find a place where I would be challenged and nurtured in my faith life, but I could find no purpose or meaning in any of my experiences. I had dealt with loss and hurt as all of us do in life. I committed to experimenting with my faith by participating in a host of prayerful opportunities, including the Beloved Retreat, Ministry of Prayer, Eucharistic Ministry, and Spiritual Direction. Through the sharing and generosity of spirit freely given to me by this faith community, I came to know on a more intimate level a God of love and mercy. I began to access a mystery that had eluded me for most of my life.
My prayer and faith journey has not been traversed along a straight path. I’ve been tempted to sit idly with some newly found peace or grace experience as if I had reached a final destination. I’ve surrendered at times to the temptation to settle for what I believe is good enough for God as I define it. Invariably, God invites me back into this Mystery by stirring changes that I would prefer to resist. A friend who has recently experienced great loss in his life suggested to me God does not cause our losses, but He does expect us to endure our losses so we can become the person He knows we are capable of becoming. It is only through persistent prayer – and lots of patience – that I have been able to accept the changes that have occurred in my life. Prayer has become the gateway to discovering and accepting the Mystery of God in my life. When I choose to move toward this Mystery and not away from it, I learn the Mystery of God can be boundless and freeing.
My hope in praying this Lent is to build a greater capacity for intimacy – with God, with others, and with myself. It will perhaps give me the kind of glimpse that Peter, James, and John received on the mountain with Jesus. To each of you, and especially to those among you who have helped me discover the Mystery of God in my life (you know who you are!), may Lent lead you to know yourselves and God more intimately as we journey together towards Easter.
Jim Whealan has been a member of Old St. Patrick’s Church for 15 years, and is currently persuing a Masters Degree in Justic Ministry at the Catholic Theological Union.
Isn’t there an expression out there that goes something like this: this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile? I know I have heard those words before and if I am correct in the interpretation, to say this isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile pretty much means that the situation or experience, to which you are referring, is not what you think! The particular situation is, let’s just say, new, exciting, different, and captures your imagination. It is not your father’s Oldsmobile.
Last Sunday after the 5 p.m. Mass, I went up to the Irish American Heritage Center on the north side to offer the Invocation at a concert being hosted by The Keane Machine. Irish musician, Kathleen Keane and about 15 other wildly talented, world renowned musical artists put together one of the most creative, entertaining concerts I have heard in a long time. Though a Sunday night may not have been the best time to attract patrons (especially competing with the Oscars), the concert itself was the most beautiful blending of various cultural instruments and sounds. Let’s just say: it was not your typical concert of Irish music….it was better. Blending the Irish sounds of tin whistle, fiddle and flute with the likes of Latin jazz made for a great mix.
As we get closer to celebrating the patron feast of St. Patrick, I would really like to encourage you to consider attending our sixteenth annual Celtic Celebration Siamsa Na Ngael on Monday,
March 12 at Chicago’s Symphony Center. Not only is this one of our major events which supports the mission of Old St. Pat’s, but the approach to this celebration of Irish music and dance is not your father’s Oldsmobile. This year’s theme focuses around The Journey to Justice. You will not be disappointed. The moving blend of music, dance, and story centered around two great heroes of Justice: the Irish liberator Daniel O’Connell, and the former slave-turned-abolitionist hero Frederick Douglass. Hearing this great story of how these two figures intersected with each other in their own passionate pursuit of freedom and “righting the wrongs” of their worlds makes this a unique, not-so-typical, St. Patrick’s Day concert.
I am so grateful to Bill Fraher, Mary Evers, and the concert choir of Old St. Pat’s for all of the long hours of rehearsing they are doing to make this an extraordinary experience. It is events such as Siamsa Na Ngael that make the mission of Old St. Pat’s unique, vibrant, and creative. Especially if you have never had the occasion to attend this event, please make a special effort to join us. It will be a full week of celebrations in honor of St. Patrick’s Day. We would be honored to have you with us!
A blessed Lent to you all,
Fr. Tom Hurley