Here we are …. the last week of 2018 …. and I completely forgot one of the things I was going to dedicate my preaching to for the year of 2018. It was on the first Sunday of January 2018 I announced that I wanted to spend time preaching, talking, and teaching about family. Somehow this past year took my attention off the ball. 2018 was like a bull in a China shop for me! In a way it fits my personality. I am good with ideas. I’m great coming up with ideas. It is just the implementation of those ideas where I am usually lacking. And perhaps my inability to carry through is a good example of the virtue needed most in family life: fortitude. I let so many other things cloud my vision this past year.
I know family life is very difficult. Many times I hear parish families tell me how hard it must be to be a priest. It has its challenges, but often I look at our families and I don’t know how you all do it. How do you find time for yourself, for your spouse, for your children grandchildren with all the other work you have to do? While I have the parish family to take care of, I do not have a family at home waiting for me. This allows me some flexibility. I look to many of our St. Mary and St. Margaret Mary families and I am in awe. Many of you seek to find the right balance between God, family, and work.
Balance is not something our world cherishes. Just as easy as it was for me to get sidetracked in dedicating my preaching this year to God’s idea of family life, it is even easier for us all to get sidetracked in those things we must truly do so that we grow in holiness in our relationship with God and lead our families to eternal life. The truth of the matter is the Evil One desires us to fail. He desires me to fail as a priest. He desires you to fail in your role as Christian husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. He wants us to pull apart from each other. How can we fight this?
Each of us has two families: our biological family and the family that is the Church. Each of us must foster a priority in our lives for these two families we are part of. It doesn’t begin with me trying to be a better priest. It doesn’t begin with you trying to be better husbands, wives, fathers, and mothers. It begins with us seeking the strength from God. The Sacraments of the Church are how we receive that strength of God. For the Sacraments give us grace, and grace is none other than the indwelling of the Holy Trinity of God’s love within us. Once we receive God’s grace in the Sacraments then we must turn our prayer to God and ask Him to make us better priests and parents.
As 2018 comes to an end I certainly cannot lay claim to being a perfect priest anymore than you can lay claim to being the perfect spouse or parent. With God’s grace from the Sacraments though, 2019 can be a time of growth in holiness. May this year – for you and for me – be a time of growth in holiness. May the end of 2019 find us holier and ever-more committed to Christ than we were in 2018. May God bless you and keep you! -Fr. W.