I was honored to attend the funeral mass of a friend (Helen) recently, and during his homily, Fr. Gary spoke of her life and passing.  As you would expect, Fr. Gary spoke of Helen’s goodness, accomplishments and challenges, but what struck me was his sharing that she had “transformed” the ministry of welcome within the parish.  By definition, to transform something is to change it completely so that it is renewed and improved.  It’s easy to conclude that Helen must have worked herself relentlessly – without rest – to be remembered as someone who “transformed” her ministry. 

I was thinking of Helen and her ministry today when I read a small portion of the Lenten reflection from  Lisa Brenninkmeyer of Walking With Purpose.  Having written about “our pilgrimage to heaven”, and the costly things that will be asked of us, Lisa reminds us that it is “important to grasp the fact that the real power at work… is not ours, but His…  Unless God is the one doing the building (in this case, transforming) our work is in vain.  He doesn’t ask us to behave as workhorses, never allowed to rest, valued for what we plow and produce.”  “God has provided all the help we need to do this, without losing ourselves in the process.”

I think it’s fair to say that most of us would like to be known for having transformed something in this life.  God fashions us with a pull toward Him and gifts us for the work He has set out for us.  All He asks is that we knock, seek, and ask for His company.  That we dip our toe in the water of discernment to see where He is leading us.  In Helen’s case it was at a funeral five years ago, in the very pews where we celebrated her funeral just recently, that she gave in to God’s pull and was led back to the Catholic Church.   Helen discerned herself to be a soft place to land for parishioners, visitors and those (like herself) returning to the Church.  As God’s instrument she transformed a ministry outside of her own power.  What could have been viewed by some as exhaustive toil, became lifegiving for Helen through God’s grace.

Lent is a time of preparation and reflection, giving us a chance to reassess how we are connecting with God and others, allowing Him to work in and through us.  What might be lifegiving work for you, could be nothing but hard work for the person next to you in the pew, and vice versa.  Sacred scripture reminds us that “there are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit” and “the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as He wishes.”  1 Corinthians 12:1 &11

If you haven’t had a chance to join us for Encounter, a small group reflection opportunity provided by the Archdiocese, feel free to join us in the Church after Mass this Sunday at 10:10 a.m. I hope to see you there!  

With Love,