Dedicated to the Class of 2013
The Parishioners of Sacred Heart, Rich Fountain, MO
The Parishioners of St. Clement, Bowling Green MO
This weekend, St. Clement School and Bowling Green High School have their graduations. This weekend, the parishioners of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Rich Fountain, Mo. celebrate their 175th anniversary of the foundation of the parish. I love the fact that these happen this year on the Feast of Pentecost.
The Feast of Pentecost is among my favorites. It is considered the birth of the Church. It happens as the apostles, the Blessed Mother, and the disciples are waiting in prayer for the promise Jesus made of an advocate who would be sent to continue the mission that Christ had started and entrusted to those gathered in the Upper Room and to those who would come to believe as a result of their witness. The previous couple months must have been rather trying for them. They had triumphantly entered the city of Jerusalem to shouts of Hosannas! At last, their belief that Jesus the Messiah was now going to establish the earthly kingdom they had so longed for looked like it would happen. Within a week, those hopes would be completely shattered as one of their own would betray Jesus to the religious authorities who in turn would hand him over to the cruelty of Roman justice. Their king would be put on a show trial, scourged within an inch of his life, brutally put to death by crucifixion, all while they ran and hid. As fear enclosed them, within a few days, they hear stories of an empty tomb, and see the resurrected Christ. One can only imagine what they felt, but one could assume that they were astounded, hopeful, perhaps a bit confused. For 40 days Jesus is with them, then without much warning they watch him ascend. Now they wait. What would happen? On Pentecost, they find out in such a powerful way. Once the Spirit comes they become aware of what lays next. Fear is replaced with courage. Confusion is replaced with wisdom. From there, they begin the proclamation of Christ; not allowing anything to get in the way. Pentecost assured them that their best days lay ahead of them. They were to take what they had learned in the school taught by Jesus and now apply it powerfully to the ends of the earth. There was no looking back...only ahead with what they had learned.
To those who graduate from their schools; be it from 8th grade, high school, college, or graduate school: You are at a juncture. You leave behind that which is known for that which is not. It is easy, I suppose, to think your best days are now done. Nonsense!! Your futures have yet to be written. How it unfolds is more your decision that anyone else. You have a choice to take the best of what you have learned, the best of your talents, and the best of your gifts and apply them to the next level. No more that Jesus expected the apostles and disciples to move to the next level without any help, so He gives you that same gift of the Spirit to help you transform to something truly great. It does not mean you will not have difficulties and setbacks...you will..I promise you will. The early Church had to do its job in the face of internal dissension and external persecution. She still does. However, she still carries on powerfully because she is given the gifts of the Holy Spirit. For most of you, those gifts were deposited within at Baptism and Confirmation. It is up to you to use them. Use them and no adversity will hold you down. Use them to write the next chapter of your life! William Shakespeare called the future the 'undiscovered country'. Use your gifts and God's gifts to explore that new land and see how it allows the next chapter to unfold.
To my former parishioners at Sacred Heart: you celebrate 175 years as a parish. As I often reminded you when I was pastor, you are the current caretakers of a great legacy started by Fr Helias and your ancestors who settled the area. You stand on the shoulders of giants. Consequently, you are the giants on whose shoulders others will stand. I would imagine there will be much looking behind and celebrating of what once was. While that is nice, so much of the story of Sacred Heart parish is yet to be written. The Holy Spirit is given to you as well to continue the work of Christ to the peoples of the Rich Fountain area. I cannot emphasize enough the task at hand, especially in the formation of the next generations of parishioners. Use well those talents, charisms, and graces in their formation! Into their hands will be given the stylus which will write the next chapters. May their great grandchildren be able to look back as the celebrate future milestones in the parish at the giants who cooperated with God is continuing the mission of Christ at Sacred Heart.
Finally, to my own parishioners of St Clement. What holds true for Sacred Heart, holds true for us as well. Whether it be the great advances we have made with youth, with getting the new building going, with the new areas we have expanded into; all of it is forging with God's grace into the 'undiscovered country' that is our future as a parish. In 8 years we will be celebrating 150 years as a parish. What we look like in such a short time from now is dependent on the choices we make now. This parish has so much more to be written...this Pentecost, let us God for the grace we will need to forge ahead. Let us ask God for the same courage and wisdom that drove the apostles and disciples from the Upper Room and onto the streets to live lives that proclaim Jesus. Our undiscovered country awaits and God will give every grace necessary to rise to the coming horizon of hope, faith, charity, and courage!
A Blessed Pentecost to All!!