Sunday, December 1, 2013

Stick Together: God Will Provide

It has only been a couple of days since we learned that our parish (Church) building burned down. I have always believed that Sacred Hearts Catholic Church has been my second home and the parishioners have been my extended family. I come from a broken family. My biological parents to my knowledge do not practice any faith tradition. To be honest I do not even know if they call themselves Christian. Since my childhood the parishioners at Sacred Hearts Church have greeted me with open arms and hearts before I even became a member through Baptism (I was nine-years-old). 

 I do not know about you but every time I awake I think I am dreaming. It does not seem possible that my second home, my parish burned down on Thanksgiving Day. I ask myself did this really happen? Or I say, certainly our Church is still there but then I tell myself, wake up Katie. The harsh reality is we are not dreaming, our building really did burn, our Church BUILDING is gone. When I received a phone call from one of my Church mothers I was devastated. I really thought I was dreaming. It was not until I was driving down State Route 42 until I realized that this was really happening. I cried. I was upset, frankly I was mad. My first instinct was to revert to my childhood ways and ask why would God let this happen? All of these thoughts were running through my mind. Then I realized that I was being selfish. I was thinking about how I received all of my Sacraments in this building: Baptism, First Reconciliation, First Holy Communion and Confirmation. Then I flashed forward ten years. I thought how I would not be able to celebrate my final vows profession with my parish family in my beloved Church and how could I do this because it is gone. Yet again I realized I reverted back to being a child and I cried.

After all of these thoughts, tears, and my initial shock, I finally came to my senses. I realized that I was crying over a building, a place that felt like a home.I was missing the most important piece, the building is a thing, not a person. The church building itself does not make or brake our Church. The Church building is just a bunch of materials. In hindsight, Thanksgiving Day was not a complete disaster. I really do have something to be thankful for. One, no one was hurt. Two, I still have my parish family. Three, I can be hopeful for the future, as we are expecting to rebuild. Despite this tragedy we are facing I believe we have the will power to move on and become bigger, better and stronger because of it.

First, we need to look for OPPORTUNITY. 

As Kurtis Kiesel already addressed, (those of you who follow him on Facebook) loosing our Church building will give us the opportunity to live out our faith. While we are welcomed into unknown territories, non-Catholic Churches and halls, we have the opportunity as missionaries to share our faith with our non-Catholic sisters and brothers in Christ. Similarly they have the opportunity to share their faith with us. What are our commonalities? Our differences? Perhaps this is a time we can explore this. Is this not something the Church has called us too? I do believe this is a little thing called ecumenism. This is one thing that Pope Francis is working at, by being a driving force of this movement and hoping to close the gaps. 

I think this is a large piece of our mission that we have a lot of work yet to be done. Jesus welcomed the outcasts, sick, rich and poor alike. Pope Francis has been echoing the words and actions of Jesus certainly well before his election to the papacy. Recently, however, we saw Pope Francis embrace a man who suffered from a disfigured face. This action speaks louder than words. We read about similar actions and gestures in the Bible performed by Jesus but now we are seeing them with our own eyes. 

Secondly we STICK TOGETHER. 

As a smart man continuously tells me to "hang in" when I tell him life is getting tough so I too ask you to all hang in there, lean on each other, as we all grieve the loss of our church building TOGETHER. It is just a building. Matthew 18:20 reminds us, "For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." It is in our gathering together that makes us Church not the building in which we gather. Remember, Jesus is the head and we are the body. As Catholics we have the wonderful opportunity to go to any Catholic Church for mass on any day. At any given time, there is a mass being celebrated somewhere in the world. This gives great meaning the word "Catholic" which means "universal." With that being said, despite our many opportunities to worship elsewhere, due to the wide array of Catholic Churches in surrounding counties and cities: Marion, Delaware, Sunbury, Mansfield, Mount Vernon, and Galion we need to be supporting our own local parish. Simply if you live in Morrow County you should be supporting Sacred Hearts Parish. Supporting does not simply mean financially it also means being present together as Church, no matter where the Church gathers. During this time of transition especially we need to come together to celebrate the Sacred Mystery. We should not look for other "more convenient or steady" parishes. Let us unite with our ancestors and travel like missionaries to new territories. We can all be Francis' to the disfigured men and women all around us. Let us go and live out the message of the Gospel one day at a time. Alleluia, alleluia. Amen. 

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