Twice a month the staff of St. Gregory the Great Church send out a spiritual reflection to all parishioners for whom we have an e-mail address. What follows are the most recent of these reflections. If you would like to have your name added to our e-mail reflection list, please e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will add your name to our listing.
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – FR. BRIAN FISCHER – JUNE 20
‘God is light; in him there is no darkness.’
1 John 1:5
Just before midnight tonight, Chicago will reach the summer solstice, the ‘longest day’ of the year. Not only does the solstice provide us with the longest hours of sunlight, but due to the shallower angle at which the sun’s rays strike the earth at this time of year, at the solstice we also experience the longest hours of ‘twilight;’ that is, the hours before sunrise and after sunset are also brighter than at any other time of year.
It’s all due to the angle at which the earth spins on its axis. At the summer solstice, the northern hemisphere ‘leans’ towards the sun, as the southern hemisphere appears to crouch in the earth’s shadow. At the winter solstice, it will be the reverse. On the summer solstice we receive nearly fifteen hours of sunlight; on the winter solstice, only about nine. It’s much more extreme, of course, at the north and south poles. Above the Arctic Circle now, they’re in the days of the ‘midnight sun.’ I suspect that it’s disorienting --- literally. If the sun never rises or sets, how can one tell which way is east?
The light of God can be disorienting, too. Shadows, which help us to perceive depths and distances, vanish before God’s light. As in an airplane, when you climb through and above the storm clouds, and in an instant rise into sunlight; it can momentarily blind you. My hunch is that waking in heaven is the same.
A few years after I was ordained, I met some friends at Ravinia on a beautiful summer evening. We’d come to hear the great Sarah Vaughn. In the hour before the performance, we bumped into more people we knew on the great lawn, as the sun began to sink in the sky. As a rosy pink sunset developed, picnickers and frizbee players and two boys flying a kite were all gently silhouetted against it. Magical. As we sat down on the blanket we’d brought, one of my friends leaned over to whisper, “If the kingdom of God is anything short of this, I’m going to be very disappointed.”
Savor the sunlight of summer. Hours and hours extra over the next few weeks. If you have fair skin like me, wait until evening and savor only the extra. But remember to say thank you. Because the long evening hours of summer ---(forgive me) ---‘foreshadow’ the joyful ease of eternal life.
~ Fr. Brian Fischer
SPIRITUAL REFLECTION – FR. PAUL WACHDORF – JUNE 6
This past Sunday, Pentecost Sunday, marked the end of the Easter Season. Monday, June 5 marked the beginning of Ordinary Time. Ordinary Time will run until December 2 – a period of about 6 months. The challenge that we face in Ordinary Time is how are we called to live out our lives of discipleship in the midst of our ordinary, everyday lives when we don’t have the seasons of Advent/Christmas or Lent/Easter to motivate us. What might discipleship look like in Ordinary Time.
To answer that question, I would like to offer a simple suggestion of something that is easy to do and that won’t take much time in the midst of our ordinary lives in Ordinary Time. I would like to suggest that every day we seek to put into practice the Commandment of Love. Jesus commands us to love God and to love our neighbor as ourselves.
Every day during Ordinary Time, can we make a conscious and intentional decision to love God. That could mean going to Mass not only on the weekend but also during the week to worship God. It could mean making time every day for a period of personal prayer to deepen our relationship with God. It could involve doing some spiritual reading or reading a short section of the Bible.
Every day during Ordinary Time, can we make a conscious and intentional decision to love our neighbor be that family, friends, co-workers or total strangers who may come into our lives. Every day can we look for a single opportunity to love someone through a personal encounter, a call, a visit, a text, an email, a card or a letter. Our love can be an act of service, kindness, gratitude, support or encouragement. Can we really listen to someone who needs someone who will listen to them without trying to fix them. Can we make a charitable donation to an organization that works with the poor, the homeless, the hungry. There are many different ways in which we can concretely express love to a neighbor.
The key words in doing this are conscious and intentional. Can we not just leave loving God and neighbor to chance. Can we decide every day how just once during that day we can love God and love our neighbor. I hope that you have a productive and loving journey through Ordinary Time.