Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

2005 has sped by at an extremely fast pace. It is hard to believe I have completed two semesters of seminary. I have learned so much in this past year it is almost unimaginable as to how much there is left to absorb.

I am on Christmas break and spending it at St. Bernard’s parish in Tulsa (where I spent may summer assignment). It is good to be “home” again and see so many friendly and familiar faces. I have had a chance to travel to Kansas to see relatives – and that is always a good thing. I am so proud of my nieces and nephews. They are all doing good things and growing so much. Bridget is not in school yet, so I can’t brag on her in that way, but I have a new appreciation for the rest of them that are in school right now or recently. Brian and Jennifer have followed in their father’s footsteps and are teaching. Seth is working towards his Associates degree, Josh is a Senior in High School, Sean is still involved in sports and Luke is rocking along with good grades in his school. They are a good bunch of kids.

I have some work left on my independent study courses, but besides that the break is mostly vacation time. I am doing some things as a seminarian around the diocese (serving mass, helping at a vocation gathering, etc.) and also am going to play a New Year’s Eve gig at St. Benedict’s in Broken Arrow. ‘John the Blessed’ has been rehearsing and we are looking forward to a fun and musical evening. If you are in town, it promises to be a good way to bring in 2006.

A lot has happened this last year – some positive, some negative – and we have so much to be thankful for. I look forward to the road ahead, even though it may have a few bumps and curves, as I continue on the journey of a lifetime. Being in the middle of God’s will for my life – how much better can it get? I can not express the joy, happiness, peace and grace that comes from having a confidence about what I am doing. I pray that all people continue to draw closer to God to find that same inner peace that only He can give. This is God’s gift to us and it comes at times that we don’t expect nor imagine, yet it comes just the same.

Today is the Feast Day of my patron saint, John the Apostle. He is generally considered the “apostle that Jesus loved,” the apostle that Jesus entrusted his mother Mary to, and who is credited for writing 1, 2 and 3 John, as well as Revelation (you know – John the Revelator – kind of my theme song). Here is a man who walked and talked with Jesus daily, who was his friend and confidant, who was his disciple and companion. It is sometimes overwhelming, sometimes amazing, and always humbling to know that we can have that same relationship today – the real presence of Jesus – present in the Eucharist, in the person of the priest celebrating mass, in the proclaiming of the Word of God through sacred scripture, in the praise and worship of his people, and in the Sacraments that we celebrate. The very real presence of our Lord and Savior available to us each and every day – isn’t that incredible!!!! John walked with him then and we can walk with him today. I invite us each day to take a little time and meditate on what that relationship means. As I do it makes me realize the awesomeness of God knowing and caring for me, yet also knowing and caring about every human ever created – he is so big yet so real and close. That thought and realization helps me keep in perspective what and who is important and what just doesn’t merit worrying about or being bothered by. That thought helps me just a little more understand how important the gift of love is that God gave us in the child of Jesus, and that we can then pass to others in Christ’s name – this is the spirit of Christmas that we must hold on to for the entire year.

I pray blessings and success to all for 2006.

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