Dear Sacred Heart and St. Mary’s,
Well, some good news amidst so much upheaval. My brother, Fr. Gary, has been named the pastor of St. Joseph Church in Howell, MI. He will be moving there the end of June. He is a little bummed that with everything being closed down, he hasn’t been able to visit the parish or school yet. As pastor, his day off will also be on Monday, so I am very much looking forward to seeing him more often for days off at the farm!
It has been a blessing to have two seminarians with us: Dan LaCroix and Josh Bauer. The seminaries are shut down because of the Coronavirus, so they are completing their studies online. They have been very helpful in figuring out how to record our Masses and it has been good to be able to pray the Mass and breviary with them each day. As an added bonus, since there are four of us here at the rectory, we also have a built in Euchre Game!
I have been struck by the fact that we have celebrated two major feast days during our first week of the lockdown: those of St. Joseph and Mary’s “Yes” at the Annunciation. Both Joseph and Mary are great examples for us to emulate during a time when so many things we have taken for granted are suddenly changed and/or taken away. Such was the nature of God’s call in both of their lives.
The angel appeared to Mary and asked her to be the mother of the Son of God. Not understanding the totality of what that would mean, she said these beautiful words: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” Jesus would take those words and shorten them in the Lord’s Prayer into this four-word phrase: “Thy will be done.” Mary’s yes was a surrendered yes, open to all that God would call forth from her in the ensuing years. I am sure that there were many elements of her life that she could never have anticipated. Yet through it all, her foundation was that request: “Let it be done to me according to your word.” So often my own yes to God is paired not with that phrase but instead this one: “My will be done.” Learning to say “Yes” to God and have that yes really be free of my will is the work of a lifetime for every Christian. Various situations are more adept at providing opportunities for practicing this. This crisis is one of them.
When it comes to Joseph, I think one of the most beautiful aspects of his life is that we don’t have a single recorded word from him in Scripture. That is because Joseph had the habit of being told what he needed to do and he simply did it. At times when I do what God is asking, I might do it, but my actions are accompanied by many words both internally and externally! Are you sure about this? Why do I have to do this? Why is it so hard? (The questions and grumblings can go on for a while.) Joseph was asked to do something much harder than I have ever had to do, and he did it without a word. He moved his family to Egypt without any time of preparation, but with a healthy dose of trust that when they got there God would make a place for them.
In these times when it is easy to be marked by fear, frustration, and the temptation to rely on ourselves, let us instead lean into God. With Mary and Joseph, let us say “Yes” in a surrendered and trusting way. Above all else: Thy will be done!
Mary and Joseph, pray for us!