This week I am in New York City attending the Annual Summer Meeting of the National Association of State Catholic Conference Directors. Each summer nearly forty State Catholic Conference Directors from across the nation gather for a few days to study and discuss the public policy issues facing the Church and our society. The meeting is held in a different location each summer and this year is the 50th Anniversary of the group.
It is a chance to learn from experts and discuss our own experiences advocating for the Catholic Church. It is always a helpful and constructive time to listen and learn about the many public policy issues facing us on both a state and national level. Among the topics we are slated to discuss are immigration and refugee services, threats to religious liberty, restorative justice, physician assisted suicide, abortion, poverty, and election year activities. Experts in these areas present to our group, followed by very lively and helpful discussions
When we are not behind closed doors in a meeting room there is time to see the local sights and socialize with colleagues and their families. We are to celebrate Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral with Cardinal Dolan. Also, there are trips planned to the September 11th monument and museum, Ellis Island, and a visit to the Modern Museum of Art. I am planning a trip to Yankee Stadium as well!
I always look forward to this meeting as it is a time to learn from the men and women who advocate on behalf of the Catholic Church in nearly every statehouse in the United States. Sometimes the work of advocating for the Church at the statehouse can be a lonely place and it is always encouraging to be with colleagues who face the same challenges. They come from as far as Hawaii and Alaska, and as close as Massachusetts and Connecticut. It is a diverse group of people from various backgrounds, but each one committed to advancing the common good and promoting human dignity and the sanctity of human life. Please pray for us this week that it is a fruitful time for our work of advocacy and education.
Fr. Connors was on retreat at St. Benedict Abbey in Still River, Massachusetts last week. Priests are required to take a retreat each year. It is a time of spiritual renewal and a time to “rest in the Lord.”
At Masses last weekend, our very talented musicians, Henri St. Louis and Deirdre Donovan, played “O Rest In The Lord.” It is a delightful aria from the oratorio Elijah by the great composer Felix Mendelssohn. "O Rest in the Lord" are the words of an angel, who speaks to Elijah after he has run into the wilderness for a whole day. In this scene Elijah lies under a tree exhausted. He asks the Lord to take his life, because his suffering is too much to bare. Then he falls asleep.
An angel appears twice, first to wake him and give him water and a loaf of bread. Elijah falls asleep again. The angel appears for a second time to wake him again. This time the angel gives Elijah enough food so that he can survive for forty days in the wilderness. This aria refers to the second appearance of the angel. The angel is encouraging Elijah here, so that not only will he have enough food for his forty days of travelling in the wilderness, but that he will also have the spiritual strength to persevere in his suffering.
The lyrics of the piece are: "O rest in the Lord, wait patiently for him and he will give you your heart's desires..." How true these words are for our lives as disciples. There is always a great need to rest from the busy and often chaotic pace of our modern lives in order to renew our relationship with the Lord and refresh our spiritual lives.
We don’t have to go far to find a place to rest in the Lord. We only have to make the time to do it. Start right here at OLM with Daily Mass at 7:30am, spend some time praying the Rosary, stop by and visit the Lord truly present in the tabernacle here at OLM or any Catholic Church you find yourself near. But take the time to “rest in the Lord, to wait patiently for Him and find your heart’s desires!”
We say “Farewell” to Patrick Ryan, our Summer Seminarian. Pray for him and for his perseverance in studying for the priesthood.
Do good. Be well. God Bless. Go Sox!