Fr. Jeffry W Belger, Pastor
St. Mary Catholic Church
We all celebrate, in one way or another, the New Year beginning January 1st. But we recognize many different years or seasons, many calendars and schedules that compete for our time and attention. The new school year has begun with academic calendars- sport, music and drama schedules. As I type this out, the Hawkeyes and the Cyclones are busy preparing for the 2nd weekend of the all-consuming season of college football. Well, I have another calendar for you to consider: The Year of Faith.
The Catholic Church has promulgated The Year of Faith to be celebrated from October 11, 2012 to November 24, 2013. The significance of the dates are important to Catholics. Fifty years ago on October 11, 1962, the first session of Vatican Council II opened. Bishops from around the world gathered to discuss the renewal of the Sacred Liturgy and the relationship the Church has with the modern world. The most spectacular innovation of the council (compared to earlier councils) was the invitation extended to Protestant and Orthodox Eastern churches to send observers. Representatives attended the meetings from many of those churches. Another obvious feature was the diversity of national and cultural origins shown among those who attended from all over the world. The end date, November 24 is the Liturgical celebration of the Feast of Christ the King.
The upcoming Year of Faith is a “summons to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the One Savior of the world” (From Pope Benedict’s letter: Porta Fidei 6). In other words, the Year of Faith is an opportunity for Catholics to experience a conversion – to turn back to Jesus and enter into a deeper relationship with him. The “door of faith” is opened at one’s baptism, but during this year Catholics are called to open it again, walk through it and rediscover and renew their relationship with Christ and his Church.
Why do I bring this to the attention of the larger Pella community? I’ve got two good reasons. Let me try to explain. First, I am encouraging St. Mary’s parish to view this celebration as an opportunity for a spiritual retreat. Unfortunately we cannot all go away to a nice quiet place for a year. If you can, God bless you (literally). But within our hectic schedules, it is good to take some time to be grounded in something of eternal significance.
We are called to conversion each and every day of our lives. But occasionally we need to take a step back and assess how we are doing. Some times it is a forced experience: through sickness, or an accident, or even the death of a loved one; we are reminded of the importance of our faith. These experiences place our time here on earth in stark perspective. We know (even if we do not want to think about it) that our time on earth is short. Other times this reflection on our lives happens by chance: an opportunity suggested by the prompting of a friend or relative to get away for a weekend. What simply starts as time away turns into renewal and inspiration. But, there is another way: purposely taking time: an hour, a day, or a weekend (or yes even a year) to spend in prayer and reflection, intentionally asking God to pour his grace over you and your family. And this is my invitation and challenge to you: intentionally and prayerfully define your own retreat. You decide the length of time and invite God to meet you there.
And yes, the second reason… recognizing the power of prayer within this community, I ask you to keep St. Mary’s parish and indeed the whole Catholic Church in your prayers.