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To Revitalize the Spirit

As the end of the summer comes around I always find myself in a wonderful spiritual mood.  This is especially true in a year such as this when we have just recently come through the week of Convo 2018.  For a week at the end of July, I, together with the other bishops and some clergy of the Church, had the wonderful opportunity to be with a number of youth and adult chaperones who are passionate and excited about the work and ministry of the Polish National Catholic Church.  It is truly a time that is uplifting.

One of the most frustrating things about the work of ministry is the fact that oftentimes many people are not all that excited about attending the celebration of Holy Mass and the worship of our Lord.  I certainly feel that the hour I set aside for worship is the best hour of my day.  And as Prime Bishop, this is something I have the opportunity to do most every day.  It is the time where I feel my strongest connection to Almighty God and it is the place where I find strength to go about all of the other work of the day.  It is something that is so vitally important to me and yet, I see that in a regular parish setting, not that many people join in that feeling with me.

But during the week that I spend at Convo and all of the other youth events of the Church something entirely different occurs. At Convo 2018 at the end of July, as well as the Kurs Encampment at the beginning of July and this year’s Eastern Diocese Youth Retreat this week in Massachusetts, the youth, and the adult chaperones with them, are excited and passionate about being a part of God’s Holy Church.  This partaking includes the celebration of Holy Mass, but it is also so much more.  We all spend time learning about God’s ways in the world, we celebrate prayer services and throughout the day we are joined together for many different types of activities, meals and service to others.  For these few days, be it at Convo or Kurs or a Diocesan Youth Retreat we are truly one body in Christ.

I am reminded of the words of St. Paul given to us in his letter to the Romans: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.  For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of yourself more highly than you ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned.  For as in one body we have many members, and not all the members have the same function, so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” (Romans 12:1-5) These words of the letter of Saint Paul are so powerful because we lived them out very strongly, even if only for a short time.

St. Paul tells us to present ourselves as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God.   He tells us not to be conformed to this world.  We do this by taking some time away.  Away from our so-called normal lives, to get away with our friends and others we know and love, to spend a week, or at least a few days in spiritual worship.  This worship goes beyond just the fact that we will gather for Holy Mass and moments of prayer during these days, but it is rather that in and through this time away our attitude will change.  Everything that we will do for this time, the Celebration of Mass, the prayers, the learning, the times of togetherness, the joy that we will share, are all about living our lives in a way that is holy and acceptable to God, not because of any particular action that we might do, but rather just because each action is focused on the knowledge and worship of God and service to His people.  These days away at Convo, or Kurs or a Retreat are truly special times because of all this, but then unfortunately it comes to an end and we must each go back to our daily lives.

The thing is though that if we really take an examined look at our lives we see that a whole lot may not really change when this occurs.  Yes, a week of activities planned by others is over, but when we look at the actions that we have done for the week, much of it might be very similar.  There are still moments of worship and prayer, and of course if these times are diminished we can always resolve to keep a more aggressive regimen of prayer.  There will be the moments that we will spend with others working and learning.  There will time of leisure, when we have a bit of fun or share meaningful moments such as meals or other time together.  So we can ask again, what truly has changed?

Maybe the only thing that changes is our attitude and view of what really is occurring.  St. Paul reminds us that “we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually we are members one of another.” We know that we can live out these words because we certainly can do it for some time away on retreat.  Maybe we need to think a little harder about how we live all of the other seemingly mundane moments of our lives as well.  Maybe we need to focus a little harder on living as St. Paul told us to in his letter to the Ephesians. St. Paul says: “I therefore, a prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”  And while some may say that it is too difficult a thing to live like this, everyone who spent some time away at one of these events will say that it certainly is not, because they witnessed it, if only for a short time.

And we know that God continues to give us the strength to accomplish the good things that He intends for His people.  We know therefore that this attitude can certainly be extended into every moment of our lives.  So again we ask the question, why not?

My dear brothers and sisters, there is important work that must be done, in each and every one of your lives and within our Holy Church as well.  And God is calling us to change and reform our lives so that we can accomplish the work that He has set before us.  That work is to build up the Kingdom of God, and to accomplish it right within our own lives and this means within our families and within our parishes.  I encourage all to take seriously the words of St. Paul, to live in humility and gentleness, to make every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit, to seek to bond our lives together in peace.  It can be accomplished in your life if you choose to follow the way of Jesus Christ, not just for a moment, not just for an hour on Sunday morning, or even just for a week away on retreat, but for a lifetime.  It can also be accomplished within our parishes, if we will band together, as one in body in Christ, and as this one body, witness to, love and serve the Lord.  Again, I suppose the one question is, what is stopping you?

 

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Phone: (570) 346-9131
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