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Gratitude for Family

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The Feast day of the Holy Family is one of my favorite days to celebrate. There is just so much to meditate on this day. I find myself enthralled thinking about what the life of the Holy Family was like in that hidden town of Nazareth. I think of my own family and how we can imitate Mary, Joseph, and Jesus more fully each day. This year, I found myself surprised by a new meditation I had not experienced before: gratitude for my spiritual family of St. Dominic.

When I was growing up my family went to Mass at the Basilica of St. Josaphat in Milwaukee. The beauty of that building continues to inspire my heart to become a majestic dwelling place for God. As commuters however, I never felt at home. My family and I would show up for Mass on Sunday and leave right away, rarely were we there during the week. Because of this, I never felt part of the family of the Basilica community, there were people I connected with for sure, but I was more attached to the building than the people.

From my first days at St. Dominic, I encountered a different experience. Each one of you welcomed me more than with a simple hello, you welcomed me into your family. This has not been my experience only, many new parishioners mention that it is the family atmosphere at St. Dominic which led them to join. I have learned in my  short 2 1/2 years here that St. Dominic is much more than a building, it truly is a family.

It is a family I am most grateful for. In my early years of priesthood you have raised me with love and support and have helped me grow as a priest in all avenues of my life. You have invited me into the joys and sorrows of your life and I have felt each within my own heart. While Brookfield may not be as quiet as Nazareth, you have shown me glimpses of the Holy Family with your joy, faith, hope, perseverance in trial, trust in God, and most felt by myself, love.

On this feast day of the Holy Family, my heart is full of gratitude for you, my family of St. Dominic. You will never know the full impact you have on your priests and I hope you know how much you are loved by Fr. Dennis and myself. Thank you for your imitation of the Holy Family and for filling my heart with joy and thanksgiving to be a part of this incredible community.    

It may sound strange coming from a 29-year-old young man who has only been a priest for under 3 years, (it does to me) but I am proud and humbled to be called father of this family, my family, the family of St. Dominic.

May the Holy Family continue to guide us all to be more like them each and everyday. 

Asking for a Sign

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“Lord, send me a sign!”

I can not begin to tell you how many times this phrase has left my mouth.  It usually occurs when I need to truly understand what God wants of me or for me during a moment of fervent and passionate prayer. It usually has a special ending of my own, “Lord, send me a sign—and make it really clear!” An example was when I was deciding what course to take with my career, namely my shift from classroom teacher to principal. The opportunity to do so at the school where I was employed didn’t exist so I needed to pursue the opportunity elsewhere. I applied and interviewed at a few places, but ignored the position of principal that was open at St. Dominic, even though I was asking for signs throughout the whole time. I received a “poke” from a respected friend to apply. Ignored it. I received a second “poke” from a trusted confidant to apply. Ignored it. A third “poke” occurred from someone with tremendous authority. I did not ignore it. The power of three was too much to ignore. I applied. I interviewed. I accepted. The signs became unmistakable. The  signs continued to inform me that I was doing what the Lord intended. There was no denying it. God certainly made it really clear.

In John 1:6-8, 19-28, John is reacting to this basic need for a sign to know and be assured of God’s presence. He is sharing what he has experienced as the sign from God that itwas now time to shift focus from himself to Jesus. John tells his disciples about the dove, and the light, and the words of God – all magnificent signs, bright neon arrows pointing at Jesus, the long awaited Messiah. It couldn’t be more clear. Yet, it is remarkable how slow people are to shift focus away from John to Jesus, if they ever do. The entirety of Jesus’s ministry is all about signs and wonders to move the hearts of those who seek. Those who saw the signs were open to seeing them. Those who didn’t see the signs, simply didn’t want to. They didn’t see it right up to the very end.

Do you find yourself asking God for a sign? Do you also ask him to make it really clear like I do? Do you see the signs even if the signs aren’t exactly what you thought they would be? People didn’t think the sign about the Messiah would be coming from a crazy desert dweller dressed in camel’s fur that ate locusts and honey. Those who do see the signs are open to seeing them. They understand that God works in amazing ways. He gives signs all the time. So the next time you find yourself asking for a sign from God, make sure you are open to the message He is sending or you just might miss it.

Posted by Jill Fischer
Tags: signs

A Ripple Effect of Love

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My heart has been really heavy for a while. With the wars raging around the world, the continuous onslaught of devastation, and what seems like an endless stream of family and friends experiencing great suffering, there is simply too much to pray for. Too much to care about. Not enough personal agency to do something about all of the needs.

I took this to prayer one evening after having watched a particularly horrific news clip of the Israel – Hammas conflict. I felt helpless. I had donated money to relief organizations. Contacted my congressional representatives. I was praying. I was fasting. I was doing everything I could think to do and it still felt like it wasn’t enough.

And ever so gently Jesus said to me: “My child, you are right. You cannot stop the war in Israel and Palestine. You cannot hug the children who have been left without parents. You cannot go there and physically effect change. But what you can do is look to those around you, love those around you so well that it inspires them to do the same. In this way, you can create a ripple effect of love that reaches all the way across the globe.”

It isn’t our job to fix all of the problems of the world. Absolutely, we should do what we can. But we aren’t the Savior. Our job is to love those around us so well we create a ripple effect of love and kindness that reaches every corner of the world.

Look around you. Who can you reach out to with love and kindness? How can you help create a ripple effect? 

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