THE WATERS ARE MOVING—I finally feel that this Lent. It’s from a wonderful Gospel story from John Chapter 5, last Tuesday’s Mass. There is a pool called Bethesda with healing qualities, when its waters were stirring. So a large number of “ill, blind, lame, and crippled” were laying in the porticos around it, “waiting for the movement of the waters.” One man had been ill for a long time, but couldn’t get into the pool when the waters stirred; he had no one to lift him in, and others got in ahead of him. Jesus simply asked him, “Do you want to be well?” When the man said yes, Jesus said “Rise, take up your mat, and walk.” And he did.
Lent is such a profound time, on many levels. I’ve enjoyed the ministry of it—the Sunday Scriptures are wonderful to preach on. And I very much enjoyed giving the talks on Dying and Rising with Jesus. I’m very glad so many took the opportunity to hear them, and have given wonderful comments on them. And we had an Evangelization meeting too, a touching funeral and I did 2 joy- ful Baptism services. But something still felt a bit missing for me, even more personally.
I decided to act on two of the main resolutions I made for Lent, having to do with sacrifice for me. One was to get the last of my things out of St. Rose Rectory. Some of my things have still been there in my old rooms, and elsewhere in the rectory. My friend Fr. John Nickolai, the administrator there about to be named pastor, didn’t need the space, but it’s his house now. I muscled up and asked friends to help, and we got everything out of there.
The other main sacrifice resolution was e-mails. This method has been in use less than a third of my time as a priest. It used to be hanging on the phone all morning. While e-mail can be more efficient for some things, it can take a lot more time. My list had gotten long, making it hard sometimes to make a timely response. Working on it the past couple of weeks, my list is now down to the teens. Already some people have been surprised when I responded more quickly. In these two things I made a sacrifice of time and effort for the sake of others.
With all this having happened, I took it to my spiritual director Monday. He celebrated how busy I’ve been on spiritual things, and that’s just it: I hadn’t yet been feeling the spiritual peace that can come from a good Lent. Seeing these things of the last few weeks, I could see God’s given me ener- gy and insight to do these “works”, and now is the time to enjoy his peace and presence more simply. “The waters are moving.” I’m not looking for the next thing to do—though there will surely be some—but can appreciate Jesus lifting me into new waters for my healing.
And so for YOU. It’s great of course to continue any practices you made this Lent of self-denial or sacrifice, but it’s time to appreciate the benefits in a more trusting, secure connection to God, and loving humility with others. Without dropping your resolutions, take time to sit in peace to feel God’s presence, and be thankful he’s lifted you into the waters.
Next week is Holy Week, and the Easter Triduum. This sense of peace and joyful recognition of God’s work comes just in time for me. I’m easing into a Paschal Retreat, with a priority on reflecting on the Death and Resurrection of Christ more than business as usual. This will be my entire focus starting next Sunday. Please support Msgr. Blood and myself to be where we can be best for you and the parish from here to Easter, let’s begin to hold off the non-essential things and be fully present to the greatest week of our faith.
Fr Tom Wyrsch