‘Catholic Month’

I have relayed to my parishioners that this June is clearly “Catholic Month.” Think about it for a moment. The first Sunday of June, the seventh Sunday of Easter, the Gospel takes us to the Upper Room. This past week was Pentecost, this weekend the Solemnity of the Holy Trinity, followed by the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. The last Sunday of June is June 29, the Solemnity of SS. Peter and Paul, the first pope and the greatest evangelizer in our Church’s history. Everything about our identity as Christians may be found in these five Sundays of June, hence, “Catholic Month.”

Remember Grover from “Sesame Street”? He teaches an important lesson for us as Catholics on why and how we do what we do (As you can see, I have never been accused of being the intellectual one among my brothers!). The sketch that always comes to my mind when I think back to those days is the explanation of far and near. He would come right up to the camera and say “near!” and then run (or whatever it is that Muppets do) across the room and yell back, “far!” We quickly get the point. 

It is a concept that we learned even before Grover taught us. A toddler may not know what the words “near” or “far” mean, but you better believe they have an understanding of it! They want mommy and daddy near. At a Baptism at Mass when I was first ordained, I called up the parents and the newborn from the first row. The older brother, maybe two years old, did not like the fact that his parents were so far away. In our lives we want our loved ones near. We don’t like it when they are far from us. Likewise with God, we want Him near.

I think the greatest struggle we have in life is thinking that God is far. He is out there somewhere, beyond our reach, beyond our sight, beyond our understanding. It is a struggle in that we attempt to then live life without God. 

The celebrations of this month address this. God is not far, He is near. He has made His dwelling among us and continues to dwell within each of us and His Church. Why does God dwell among us? Simply, to love us and through that love to empower us and guide us.

We are drawn into the mystery of God, to become a friend of God, to be intimately bound to Him. We don’t go into the world by ourselves. We are not alone when faced with difficult problems or tasks we have to deal with. The Scriptures challenge us to open our eyes, to remind ourselves of His love and presence and to seek His help. The “Catechism of the Catholic Church” tells us that through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the mission of Christ becomes the mission of the Church, of all of us (CCC#730).

It is the working of the Holy Spirit within us that motivates us to seek forgiveness, to restore us to friendship with God, to be true to ourselves, that we may then become instruments of this God in drawing others to Him, letting those we interact with know that God, the Creator of the universe, of our world and all that is good, is indeed near us.

When we are in a seemingly permanent state of stress, angry, frustrated, annoyed, etc., we are not living in union with God. In those times it is all about us, we are seeking to live life on our own and eventually even for ourselves. Peace and happiness cannot be secured by working more hours, spending more money, etc. It only comes when we are able to walk with God in our daily lives, the good days and the bad days.  That is the example St. Peter and St. Paul taught us through their words and the example of their lives. Their belief and their way of life were inseparable.

This union of belief and action happens when we take the time to connect with the Lord daily, when we are nourished with the Eucharist weekly (or more), when we go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation to allow Him to remove the clutter from our hearts.

We are then tuned into Him and are able to live our days knowing He is near.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and Chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Cape Cod Community College.

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