Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
As I write to you the Church has recently celebrated the Solemnity of the Annunciation which was preceded by the Solemnity of Saint Joseph, Spouse of Mary, and the remembrance of the great missionary Saint Patrick. How symbolic these festivals are of the essence of Lent.
When told that she was to be the Mother of God, Mary of Nazareth responded through Faith to the will of God with a resolute “Amen”. Despite the tremendous change, such a response would bring to her life and relationship to her espoused, as well as to her family and community. She remained undaunted and unafraid to let the Holy Spirit overshadow her and lead her into a profoundly new relationship with God. We too are called through grace to a deeper awareness of God in our lives. Our responsibility is to better know, love and serve the Lord even when it means we must carry His Cross and continue the completion of its victory with sacrificial love. This may hold us up to misunderstanding and ridicule or even rejection, but we are commissioned to go forth and give witness to the way to fullness of Truth and Life in Christ.
Saint Joseph was also challenged to accept the seemingly improbable circumstances and consequences of his beloved’s complete cooperation with God’s salvation plan for every soul in every place and time. He had to set aside any plans or expectations he may have entertained in order to so completely accept the Truth revealed to him by the angel. Once again, in good times or in bad; in sickness or in health; with confidence or great concerns, he welcomed his wife and his savior into his heart and home. What welcome can we give within our hearts and in our homes to the Lord? How have we made ready the way for Him in our daily lives. How like Saint Joseph do we trust in God?
One need not be of Irish decent to appreciate the life and ministry of Saint Patrick who, with courage and conviction, witnessed willingly to Christ. The prayer associated with this missionary reminds us that we must let the Lord leads us; be the pathway beneath our pilgrim feet; be the One who protects us and accompanies us as we journey, and is the most welcomed guest in the recesses of our hearts. Not being afraid of Christ, nor to venture forth in His name which is above all other names, is Patrick’s hallmark.
It seems then that there are two basic ingredients to each of these Holy Witnesses’ profession of Faith: intimacy with God that leads to making radical choices for the salvation of souls and the building of the Kingdom; and fearlessness in sharing the will of God in the face of disbelief, disinterest or rejection. Our Lady says, “Do whatever He tells you”. Saint Joseph responds with loving obedience to the angelic counsel he receives. Saint Patrick goes forth to baptize in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In making and living our profession, may we never forget that we are each children of God and may we never fear the call of our name. We are in such great company with the holy women and men of so many different times and circumstances who walked with Faith, responded in Love and engendered Hope! Let us go forth and live our lives in Christ to the glory of the Father and through the Holy Spirit this Lenten Season and all the seasons of our hearts and minds and souls.
Msgr. Kevin O’Neill