A Letter to Francis

October 4, 2021

My Dear Brother Francis,

You are quoted as saying, “Let us begin, brothers, to serve God. Let us begin and let us make progress, because up to now we have made too little progress.” This little phrase has been running through my mind, my heart and even my soul over the past few weeks. You said these words near your death challenging your brothers. Now some eight centuries later I sit with them, listening to your wisdom and they challenge me.

Let us begin to serve God. Yes, let us here and now in this time and place. Francis, this is hard to do in this time and place. Our world is so topsy-turvy as of late and I’m not sure if I have the right words or actions in my serving God. I know that I must continually come to see God in my sisters, my brothers and in all of creation, but it must be more than simply seeing, it must involve action. I feel my words are weak and my actions inadequate. How do I serve God? I ask myself this question because your words to your brothers “we have made too little progress” is a truth I ponder.

Our sister Mother Earth is calling out in pain, and I don’t know how to respond. I desire to make good steps to help be part of her healing. I desire to again simplify my living so to seek the beauty she offers me each day as means of connecting with God. I feel if I can honor her, I will indeed see glimpses of the divine and in turn serve God. My progress here has been too slow. I heed your wisdom in seeing creation as our sisters and brothers. How did you do it? How did you see their divine nature beyond their temporal substance? I’m no scientist, and I know you were not, so this must mean wonder and awe was your navigator. Francis, my brother, tell me again about the wonder and awe you lived with so that I can bravely begin again to serve God by living in tune with creation.

The church is at a crossroads, and it seems that the word progress makes its members squirm with uncertainty and frustration. We the people of God called to be the body of Christ seem to be getting stuck in unnecessary details where we choose division over unity. I sometimes feel trapped like I’m walking a tightrope in how to respond. I desire to be an advocate for those who feel separated and alienated from the beauty of this community. My heart breaks for those who have been left out in the cold or hurt by the church. I think that we will only move forward if we acknowledge each other’s pain by listening to each other, so as to strengthen the bonds of humanity. Francis, my brother, tell me again about the ways you challenged the church with your simplicity and your desire for people to encounter the love of God so that I can bravely begin again to serve God as a herald of hope in the church.

 

Then there are the many relationships we live in and encounter. Like with you what began as a small band of brothers grew, the relationships changed and were tested, I too find this in my relationships. It seems that over the past few months I have had to evaluate my relationships, reviewing how I am in them and what they need or mean. I am reminded that in some ways I must begin again with each encounter for we are constantly growing, changing and seeking. Francis, my brother, tell again about the ways you were present for your brothers and for those beyond the circle of your brothers, how you were present for the lepers and the poor so that I can bravely begin again to serve God in the relationships of my daily living.

Finally, dear brother Francis, I ponder this vocation that I continue to journey in and grow in. The ever-changing world around me is making me more attentive to the authenticity my vocation demands. To be present for people, reminding them of God’s deep love and mercy. To listen well to how God is speaking to my heart. To listen well to how God is speaking in the heart of others. To continually address the false power that I try to hold so that I can freely be who I am before God. This is the authenticity my vows demand. Being a religious brother in these difficult times can sometimes feel like I’m out of touch; in those moments I can hear your voice whispering, “it is time to begin again.” Francis, my brother, tell again about beginning again and making progress, for I think I’m starting to understand that this has more to do more with my heart than anything else. It is time for me to bravely begin again, I choose to do so knowing I have you as a companion walking with me in the footsteps of Christ.

Peace, my brother. May peace and goodness bless us all.

Happy Feast!

Your brother,
Michael

******

4 octobre 2021

Mon cher frère François,

Tu aurais dit : « Commençons, mes frères, à servir Dieu. Commençons car jusqu’ici, nous avons à peine ou très peu fait de progrès. » Ces courtes phrases ont habité mon esprit, mon cœur et même mon âme ces dernières semaines. Tu as prononcé ces mots à l’approche de ta mort, remettant tes frères en question. Aujourd’hui, quelque huit siècles plus tard, me voilà habité par tes paroles, écoutant ta sagesse; et tes mots me remettent en question.

Commençons à servir Dieu. Oui, faisons-le ici et maintenant, en ces temps et en ces lieux. François, c’est difficile à faire en ces temps et en ces lieux. Notre monde est tellement sens dessus dessous ces derniers temps, et je ne suis pas certain d’avoir les bons mots ou de savoir trouver les bonnes actions pour servir Dieu. Je sais que je dois continuellement arriver à voir Dieu dans mes sœurs, mes frères et dans toute la création. Mais cela doit être plus que simplement voir, cela doit impliquer des actions. Je sens que mes paroles sont faibles et que mes actions sont insuffisantes. Comment puis-je servir Dieu? Je me pose cette question, car tes paroles à tes frères, « nous avons à peine ou très peu fait de progrès », comportent une vérité à laquelle je réfléchis.

Notre sœur, la Terre Mère, lance un cri de douleur, et je ne sais pas comment y répondre. Je veux agir pour participer à sa guérison. Je souhaite à nouveau simplifier ma vie, afin de rechercher la beauté qu’elle m’offre chaque jour comme moyen d’entrer en relation avec Dieu. Je sens que si je peux l’honorer, je verrai effectivement des manifestations de la présence du divin et, en retour, je servirai Dieu. Mes progrès ici ont été trop lents. Je m’inspire de ta sagesse pour voir tout ce qui compose la création comme étant nos sœurs et nos frères. Comment as-tu réussi? Comment as-tu pu reconnaître leur nature divine au-delà de leur matière temporelle? Je ne suis pas un scientifique, et je sais que tu ne l’étais pas, alors cela doit vouloir dire que tu te laissais guider par l’émerveillement et l’admiration. François, mon frère, parle-moi encore de l’émerveillement et de l’admiration dans lesquels tu as vécu, pour que je puisse courageusement recommencer à servir Dieu en vivant en harmonie avec la création.

L’Église est à la croisée des chemins, et il semble que le mot progrès fasse frémir ses membres d’incertitude et de frustration. Nous, le peuple de Dieu appelé à être le corps du Christ, semblons nous enliser dans des détails inutiles où nous choisissons la division plutôt que l’unité. Je me sens parfois pris au piège, comme si je marchais sur la corde raide, ne sachant pas comment réagir. Je désire être un défenseur de ceux et celles qui se sentent séparés et exclus de la beauté de cette communauté. Mon cœur se brise devant les personnes qui ont été laissées pour compte ou blessées par l’Église. Je pense que nous ne pourrons avancer que si, en nous écoutant les uns les autres, nous reconnaissons la douleur des autres, afin de renforcer les liens de l’humanité. François, mon frère, parle-moi encore de la façon dont tu as remis l’Église en question avec ta simplicité et ton désir que les gens rencontrent l’amour de Dieu, pour que je puisse courageusement recommencer à servir Dieu comme témoin d’espérance dans l’Église.

Puis il y a les nombreuses relations que nous vivons, tous ces gens que nous rencontrons. Comme pour toi, ce qui a commencé comme un petit groupe de frères a grandi, les relations ont changé et ont été mises à l’épreuve, c’est ce que je trouve aussi dans mes relations. Il semble que ces derniers mois, j’ai dû évaluer mes relations, revoir comment je me situe dans ces relations, examiner ce dont elles ont besoin ou ce qu’elles signifient. Cela me rappelle que, d’une certaine manière, je dois recommencer à chaque rencontre, car nous grandissons, changeons et cherchons constamment. François, mon frère, raconte-moi encore comment tu as été présent pour tes frères et pour ceux et celles qui se trouvaient au-delà du cercle de tes frères. Redis-moi comment tu as été présent pour les lépreux et les pauvres, afin que je puisse courageusement recommencer à servir Dieu dans les relations de ma vie quotidienne.

Enfin, cher frère François, je réfléchis à cette vocation dans laquelle je continue à cheminer et à grandir. Le monde qui m’entoure, en perpétuel changement, me rend plus sensible à l’authenticité qu’exige ma vocation. Être présent pour les gens, en leur rappelant l’amour profond et la miséricorde de Dieu. Écouter attentivement la façon dont Dieu parle à mon cœur. Bien écouter comment Dieu parle dans le cœur des autres. M’attaquer continuellement au faux pouvoir que j’essaie de détenir, afin de pouvoir être librement qui je suis devant Dieu. Voilà l’authenticité exigée par mes vœux. Être un frère religieux en ces temps difficiles peut parfois me donner l’impression d’être déconnecté; dans ces moments-là, je peux entendre ta voix qui me chuchote : « Il est temps de recommencer. » François, mon frère, parle-moi encore de recommencer et de faire des progrès, car je crois que je commence à comprendre que cela a plus à voir avec mon cœur qu’avec autre chose. Il est temps pour moi de recommencer courageusement. Je choisis de le faire en sachant que je t’ai comme compagnon et que tu marches avec moi dans les pas du Christ.

Paix, mon frère. Que la paix et la bonté nous bénissent tous.

Bonne fête!

Ton frère,
Michael

Post written by Michael Perras, OFM for the Feast of St. Francis

An Invitation Towards Hope -Around the Well Retreat 2021

Fr. Tony Bidgood, CSsR

In these times of COVID-19 , practically everything is virtual; thus, from August 8-13, 2021, a group of approximately 26 younger religious from across Canada (or connected to Canada) virtually gathered ‘Around the Well’ for an annual retreat. The retreat is sponsored by a group called Religious 55ish and Younger, started in 2017, which has a blog aroundthewell.ca.

This was my first time attending this retreat and I found it refreshing (as one would when they gather around a well!). First of all, it was wonderful to meet other religious and get to know them and hear their own stories, struggles and joys. Secondly, we were all keenly aware that our retreat was happening in this time of pandemic, after the revelations from residential schools and the tremendous cultural changes that are happening in our society right now that makes living the religious life both a rich opportunity and a sobering challenge.

Our retreat director Sister Mary Rowell, CSJ, led us in thoughtful reflections during our days that invited us to see our religious life – in both its contemplative and active dimensions – as not just a way of life, but an actual response to the challenges of this time in our history. Her reflections were peppered with poetry, music, art and wisdom.

I think it is safe to say that many of us are looking forward to our next gathering around the well, in the summer of 2022!

UNE INVITATION À L’ESPÉRANCE – RETRAITE AUTOUR DU PUITS 2021

Tony Bidgood, CSsR

En ces temps de COVID-19, pratiquement tout est virtuel ; ainsi, du 8 au 13 août 2021, un groupe d’environ 26 jeunes religieux de tout le Canada (ou liés au Canada) se sont réunis virtuellement ” autour du puits ” pour une retraite annuelle. La retraite est parrainée par un groupe appelé « Religious 55ish and Younger » (Religieux de 55 ans et moins), créé en 2017, qui a un blogue aroundthewell.ca.

C’était la première fois que je participais à cette retraite et je l’ai trouvée rafraîchissante (comme ce serait le cas en se réunissant autour d’un puits!). Tout d’abord, c’était merveilleux de rencontrer d’autres religieux et d’apprendre à les connaître et à entendre leurs propres histoires, leurs luttes et leurs joies. Deuxièmement, nous étions tous très conscients que notre retraite se déroulait en cette période de pandémie, après les révélations des pensionnats et les énormes changements culturels qui se produisent dans notre société en ce moment et qui font que vivre la vie religieuse est à la fois une riche opportunité et un défi qui donne à réfléchir.

Notre directrice de retraite, Soeur Mary Rowell, CSJ, nous a guidés dans des réflexions profondes au cours de nos journées qui nous ont invités à voir notre vie religieuse – dans ses dimensions contemplatives et actives – non seulement comme un mode de vie, mais comme une réponse réelle aux défis de cette époque de notre histoire. Ses réflexions étaient parsemées de poésie, de musique, d’art et de sagesse.

Je pense que l’on peut dire que beaucoup d’entre nous attendent avec impatience notre prochain rassemblement autour du puits, à l’été 2022!

Together Yet Alone, Alone Yet Together

Together Yet Alone, Alone Yet Together – Br. Michael Perras, ofm

Together yet alone, alone yet together. This phrase never caught my attention until midway through this past year of pandemic living. The challenge of being together in community all the time and trying to live as a fraternity can indeed have its challenges and graces. Each of us comes to the table with different perspectives and limited encounters with the world. We hear the same news over and over again and try to share it as if it’s breaking news. We bring our prayers, although they may be flat we raise up our words together. Yet we are alone in this togetherness, aren’t we? When our togetherness becomes an obstacle for honest conversations or continual conversion of the heart, we may feel alone even though we are surrounded by others. This was true before the pandemic and not just for religious communities but for so many people. Stuck in this togetherness and yet not truly seen or heard. So many in the world can feel like just a number or a statistic. I would like to think that we in religious communities don’t feel like a statistic however we can feel alone although we are together in community. What can we do about that? How can we mend this gentle tear in the fabric of our communities? I think this is where the advantage of alone yet together can come into play.

Alone yet together is the space we need to be able to see with new eyes, approach the common table with fresh stories and truly hear what is being said within us and outside of us. Alone yet together provides the sacred ground for our souls to breathe and delight. For it is here that the soul is given space to be and explore alone yet knows the support of togetherness. The together doesn’t become suffocating, rather it creates space, holds space and encourages the beauty that will arise in the struggles of this grace filled aloneness. Our society has caused us to fear being alone on any level but especially alone yet together. This fear escalates in us and causes us to doubt, to question our contributions and to constantly compare. This can impact us as religious too as it could blind us from our mission and being centered in God. 

This pandemic has not been easy for any of us. We have faced challenges and set-backs, we have stumbled along and have tried to rise up again and again. Hope has been our constant companion even if it has felt miniscule or unnoticed, it has never left us because our hope is in Jesus Christ. If you are feeling the need for some fresh air to breathe into your lungs but are uncertain how to make this happen may I suggest a retreat. A retreat is the grace-filled moments of alone yet together where your soul can soar, your vision can become clear and your hope can be restored again. Ideally in person retreats can foster body – mind – heart and soul, but even a virtual retreat can be this needed gift. I found this to be the grace I encountered last summer in the midst of the pandemic with the 55ish and Under Summer Retreat. I was awakened to deep truths; I was able to sit with story and was able to hear with opened ears the story of others. I was also able to laugh, pray and celebrate the gift of being alone yet together and together yet alone in a deeper way with other religious sisters, brothers and priests. 

This retreat opportunity is being made available to you again this summer. We all need to take “time away” so we can hear the voice of Jesus again or maybe hear his message of hope more clearly. A summer retreat is a perfect gift for anyone but maybe even more so for youngish religious in this ever changing and challenging world. Why don’t you join us this summer? Invite a religious sister, brother or priest to come along with you for this together yet alone, alone yet together time of grace.

An Invitation Towards Hope

Virtual Retreat for Religious 55ish and Under who minister or are associated through their community to the Church in Canada. 

August 8-14, 2021

Retreat Leader: Sr. Mary Rowell, csj

– bioethicist – spiritual companion – facilitator – ecological leader – educator –

Cost: $150

Registration Deadline: June 1, 2021

AroundTheWellRetreat@gmail.com

The Fullness of Being Brother: Religious Brothers Day 2021

The Fullness of Being Brother: Religious Brothers Day 2021                   – Br. Michael, ofm

A common question asked to a religious brother is: Why didn’t you go all the way?

To which a Brother will often respond with: Pardon me?

To which the questioner expands:

Why didn’t you become a priest? Why did you stop at Brother?

To which a Brother will respond with all kindness:

This is not a stepping stone to priesthood or a lesser than vocation.

I didn’t stop at Brother; this is the fullness to which I am called. 

To which the questioner will stare blankly or change the subject:

How about those rosary beads? 

These questions really do get directed to us Religious Brothers or so as I’m also learning to other members of the fraternity. It can easily leave a Brother feeling frustrated or misunderstood. I like to take it with a grain of salt and as an opportunity to celebrate the vocation of being a Religious Brother. 

Life as a Religious Brother is indeed a full life. I have never been made to feel lesser than or that my vocation is not as worthy as that of my Brothers who are priests. I may not have the same functions as a priest but that does not mean that I don’t contribute to the life of the church, fraternity or society. I have other opportunities that priests do not have and can contribute to the life of the church not simply in a sacramental way.

The fullness of my life as a religious Brother comes with ever changing roles and responsibilities. Some days I may be in full service to my fraternity, other days I may be serving the greater community and still on other days I may be journeying with an individual. Whether I’m cleaning the toilets (which is not a favorite task) or preparing the chapel I try to serve with a joy-filled heart. Whether I’m preparing a retreat or presenting one I approach it with an awareness of who I am in relationship with those on the retreat. Whether I’m companioning someone in spiritual direction or praying with an individual the dignity of that person is my focus.

The fullness of my life includes the privilege of praying for so many people and also creating space to listen for God’s voice not only in my life but what God is calling us to do here and now. My prayer life is woven into the relationships I have with so many people whether that is family and friends, or those I journey with on retreats or through spiritual direction or those who simply stop me and ask for prayers for themselves or loved ones. 

As you can see the fullness of life as Religious Brother comes with variety. This would be true for any Religious Brother you meet. Our charisms and ministries impact the way we serve the church and the world, but at the heart of any Religious Brother is a heart of fraternity, service and hospitality. Every religious male or female, ordained or not claim these characteristics which is worthy and good and they should. I would like to think you can see them specifically exhibited and lived out with a fullness in the life of a Religious Brother. I believe it is what makes us approachable and relatable to so many people from all walks of life.

When I began my studies in Spiritual Direction, once the fascination of me wearing a habit wore off, it was the fact that I understood the stories and welcomed my colleagues from all walks of life. This is the reality of my vocation as Brother something real as fraternity, service and hospitality was not exclusive rather it was inclusive. Brother is not just a title; it is an embodiment of who I am and how I live my life. It is an embodiment of what a Brother is as one who strengthens connections between people and of being a companion, of being present and serving others. As a Brother, the value of relationships is so important for they foster a fraternity beyond the walls of our friaries bringing fraternity to the community, to creation and the whole world. Hopefully a compassionate, strengthening and healing bond of God among us.

I am I called to be a priest? The answer is no. Do I have some skills that I could use as a priest? You bet. Many people do (both men and women), but we do not all become ordained priests. In discernment I listen and pay attention to what is stirring in me. This was true when I began my journey to the Friars and continued through my formation years to my Solemn Vows and continues today. In the listening, in the quiet, in the sitting with God the word Brother continues to surface. I believe I continue to learn new ways of being a Brother for our fraternity, ministry and for our world. A world in desperate need of Brothers and Sisters who will listen and will encourage others to also build a more fraternal world.

To go back to that question:

Why didn’t you go all the way?

I respond with:

I did go all the way and every time I put on my habit, it’s not about being acknowledged or standing out, it is about humbly living out my vocation as Brother. Each time I put on my habit I am reminded that I put on Christ. I am also reminded that Christ is a brother to all and calls me to do the same in the specific vocation of Religious Brother.

And it’s not how about those Rosary beads? It’s do you know where I hide my rosary beads? haha!

May 1 is St. Joseph the Worker Feast Day and Religious Brothers Day. St. Joseph serves as a witness of working for the kingdom of God in hidden and even unknown ways. In this year dedicated to St. Joseph, I humbly ask for your continued prayers for Religious Brothers from all walks of life.

Much peace and all good!

Top photo credit: Emily Morter

Vocation: Confidence and Endurance

“Do not, abandon that confidence of yours; it brings a great reward. For you need endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.” Hebrews 10.35-36

These two verses from scripture caught my attention. I see them as speaking to each of us in our call to live out our vocation. Regardless if we are married, single, a religious sister or brother or a priest we need a confidence to endure the journey of a life and stay in tune with God’s will. All of us are consecrated at our baptism. This gift is embedded with confidence and endurance to “run and not grow weary” (Isaiah 40.31), to “shine our light”(Matthew 5.16) and “bear much fruit” (John 15.5). Each of us are called forth in baptism to be heralds of the good news and the way we live our lives is the greatest witness of this. I am mindful of my baptism as I reflect on my life as a religious brother. It is in this being incorporated into Christ at baptism that then calls me to live my vows and vocation in this specific way.

February 2 is the Feast of the Presentation of the Lord and also celebrates World Day for Consecrated Life. This year being the 25th Anniversary of this designation. A day marked in the Catholic Church to pray for and be mindful of women and men religious – sisters, brothers, priests and hermits along with those who belong to secular institutes and those who make private vows. It is in professing the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience that we live out the promise of our baptismal call in these specific ways.

In living as a religious brother, I am constantly called back to not abandoning the confidence which is mine. This is not about being prideful and boasting, it is rather an anchoring in Christ. My confidence is found in Him whom I pattern my life after by living the gospel. It is this same confidence in which St. Francis trusted when he heard his call to go and rebuild the church. He didn’t set out to become a founder of a religious order rather he was expressing this confidence and living with an endurance the will of God the best he could. St. Francis is quoted as saying near the end of his life, “I have done what is mine to do, may you now do what is yours.” This conviction is established in a confidence that Christ was at work in him, that he was a vessel of the Holy Spirit for his time and place and that the promise of life eternal was at the heart of how he strived to live his consecrated life.

As I continue on in this consecrated religious life, I like St. Francis, continue to adjust my focus to see and profess more clearly “My God and My All” in my daily living. If I make my vows and not live them out well, they become empty promises. If I squander the confidence I have in self-sustaining ways, then I am forgetting that my vows call me into relationship with others. If I trust in my will forgetting that God is at work in me, I am out of step with my heart. These are the challenges I face as a religious in making my living authentic, honest and true. The reward is not earthly treasures – although tempting. The reward is not even in trying to live like St. Francis. The reward is in listening and being present to God who dwells in me. It is in doing this that I can live my vows well, walk forward in confidence with endurance knowing that God’s will is at work in me and the promises God makes to me are always kept.

How do you see yourself as consecrated?

Who calls forth this gift in your life?

“The life of the body is the soul; the life of the soul is God.” – St. Anthony of Padua

Reflection by: Br. Michael Perras, ohm

Tiny Home Takeout Anyone?

By: Toby Collins, CR

We’ve all read the story about our true home in heaven being like a mustard seed or the yeast we add to dough. In both cases things grow exponentially and everyone is provided for.

Recently at St. Mary’s Church in downtown Kitchener a Tiny Home Takeout window was opened for everyone in the community to “Grab a bite, and give if they can.” The idea was planted 2 years ago when leadership and lay people at the parish saw a need for quality food in parts of the community that were struggling to pay rent and eat well – if shelter was even possible. Fundraising lead to hiring an outreach coordinator, renovating a kitchen, and adding a chef. All of which have given the leaven to the the dough that provides an average of 140 personal pizzas per night. And if pizza isn’t your thing there is always a meatless soup, chili or pasta on the menu.

It is with gratitude to God for the scriptures from which this seed was planted that we at St. Mary’s give thanks. And, of course, we also give thanks for the opportunity our charism of hope has given to the 3 Resurrectionists who live here to remind everyone that with God’s love things grow exponentially and everyone is provided for. For more information please visit tinyhometakeout.com. Photo by: Michael Messner

Seeking Emmanuel in the Traffic

When I was a child, there were a couple of times that I found the waiting time of Advent to be too much to bear.  I had to know the identities of the colourful packages and so I found time, late in the evening, to secretly and carefully pull at the scotch tape holding the wrapping paper together on each of my gifts.  Knowing the trouble I’d get into if the presents actually disappeared, I returned them carefully re-wrapped to the Christmas tree, and so there were a couple Christmas mornings that held no surprises for me.

I’d like to think that I’ve improved in my ability to wait as an adult, but I’m regularly reminded that I’ve a long way still to go.  There are occasions when I’m sitting at yet another red light on my way home from a long day at work that I find myself bemoaning why it’s so difficult for city workers to synchronize the lights on a street when humanity has managed to put a person on the moon!  In other words, waiting is not always my strength.  As I see the struggles that we as a province and country are living through these days of Covid 19, I know that I am not alone in this.

Perhaps the toughest struggle in the waiting is the inner dialogue that happens, dialogue that illustrates to me how the truths of my Catholic faith sometimes sit up in my head as “interesting” knowledge, without somehow making the trip down to my heart to transform and permeate the way I live.  The interior moaning might go something like this:  “Why me?  What have I done to deserve red light after red light?  I mean, yes, I could have been more generous to this colleague and I was a bit sharp with that student today, but really, does that really mean the world has to be against me now?”

Two thousand years ago, the Jewish people were having a similar dialogue with themselves and God.  They had a fair amount more to concern themselves with than city traffic:  a Roman occupation that many Jews struggled to abide at the time.  “Why us?” they asked themselves.  “Why should our region be run by the Romans?  Yes, we could have obeyed the laws of our God more faithfully, we have been untrue and thoughtless at times.  But is Roman rule really justified?”

The birth of a child was God’s response to years of agonized waiting.  The birth of Jesus, the Messiah, is also God’s response to me today. It is a truth that is simple to know, and yet utterly profound to understand and live.  Emmanuel, God is with us.  

Every frustrated encounter with a traffic light can serve as a call to me from the depths of my heart, a reminder that I need God’s grace to help permeate my very being with this truth:  God is with us! God is with me!  It is God saying: “Red lights can’t take away from your worth.  Unkind words and acts, pandemics, corrupt politicians, these can neither add nor take anything away from your preciousness to me.  I give you your worth.  God is with you!”

As we hear the Christmas story again at Mass this year, let us pray that its wisdom moves a little more from our heads, working its way ever deeper into our hearts.  We are extraordinarily precious.  We are profoundly loved.  God is with us!  Let us know it, live it, and breathe it!

Written by: Michelle Langlois, fcJ