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Thursday, March 08, 2007

A bit of a diversion

This isn't Lenten, per se. But I'm posting it anyway:


When you think about how much we have to be grateful for, it is hard to believe how quickly we become like the “stiff-necked” people that Moses led through the desert. They experienced the plagues brought down on Egypt, they saw the deaths of the non-Israelite first-born, they walked through the parted sea on dry land, and they were given manna from heaven and water from a rock, yet after every miracle - almost immediately -they turned to God and said, “What have you done for me lately?”

Sometimes when we worry and fret about our finances – both our personal finances, and the financial stability of our spiritual home – we sound very much like the Israelites. We focus on the negative, the short-falls, and the areas we want to be better.

Some of us forget the Egypt we came from; failing to recognize the many blessings God has given us. We insist on measuring our material success not against our legitimate need, but against some preconceived notion of what more we need (or want) and comparing ourselves to someone else who we perceive to have “more stuff.”

In my own life, it can be easy to do this. I forget that I lived in a small, rented house, with a single mother who struggled to make ends meet. I forget that I started working at 16 because if I was going to drive, I had to pay my own insurance and gas, and I would be responsible for the bulk of my college education. I forget that for the first six months we were married, Cami and I lived off of less than what we make now in one month, or that we shared one car for several years until we were on our feet.

You would think I would recognize our blessings now that we have two cars, a three-bedroom house in a nice neighborhood, and we eat rice or Raman noodles rarely, and only because we want to. But it isn’t hard to allow the wandering Israelite inside of me to come peeking through; to look across the street at the bigger house, or the nicer car and say, “God, what have you done for me lately!?!”

It is the same in our parish. We have talked a lot recently about the financial needs of the parish. Let me say that those needs are very real, and it is a legitimate topic of discussion for us to have as a community of believers who will only reach our potential as we respond more fully to the Will of God. “Of whom much is given, much is expected.”

But, while we are working to improve our parish – both fiscally and spiritually – it remains important to keep the many blessings we have in mind, and to genuinely praise God for those gifts he has given us. Or, in the words of the Bing Crosby song, “We need to, accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch on to the affirmative…”

We do have a beautiful facility, and we have many people – both paid staff and unpaid laborers – who work diligently to maintain the physical spaces we know as St. Joan of Arc Parish. We have so many opportunities to enrich our faith, and many individuals who serve as teachers, encouragers, hosts, and facilitators. The educational and faith formation opportunities extend from the smallest of our children, through our most seasoned elders. We are given many wonderful chances to have fun, make new friends, strengthen old relationships, and broaden our social horizons through the various social events of the parish. We offer emotional and spiritual support to our members in all stages of life. We are each given many chances to invest our time, our talent, and our monetary resources back into this Spiritual Home, and we have many individuals who – on a regular basis and in often-extraordinary ways – return the gifts God has given them. Most importantly, we have the opportunity daily to meet Christ in the Blessed Sacrament and to receive God’s grace through the sacraments of His Church.

These are important things to remember as we approach the Lord in prayer. We must each make an effort to express our gratitude to God for these gifts. He has so richly blessed us.


At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


kuddos & dittos on your thoughts.

i was reading some poverty stats recently...

- grossing 20k annually places you in the top 10% of world population

- grossing over 50k puts you in the top one percent.


somehow we gotta keep the perspective. reading posts like yours helps.

keep writing.



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