September 16: A Note of Gratitude from the Pastor

As many of you know, my personal struggle with cancer started in January of this year. Who would have thought that this year, nearly every day since January, would be marked by Covid-19 and all of the societal and personal distress and difficulty that have followed? Nonetheless, after nearly nine months, after radiation and chemotherapy, and also after contracting the Coronavirus, I now find myself within hours of the long-awaited cancer surgery. Thank you for your loving and generous support over these months. As you will see below, I couldn’t have done all of what has been asked of me without you. Please know how deeply grateful I am.
The priest Fr. Henri Nouwen once wrote: “Nobody escapes being wounded. We all are wounded people, whether physically, emotionally, mentally, or spiritually. The main question is not ‘How can we hide our wounds?’ so we don’t have to be embarrassed, but ‘How can we put our woundedness in the service of others?’ When our wounds cease to be a source of shame, and become a source of healing, we have become wounded healers. Jesus is God’s wounded healer. Through His wounds we are healed. Jesus’ own suffering and death brought joy and life. His humiliation brought glory; His rejection brought a community of love. As followers of Jesus we can also allow our wounds to bring healing to others.”
If you think about it, the stories of the Saints are replete with wounded healers. St. Paul drew on his own struggles to deepen an understanding of moral battles. St. Thomas More battled fear and depression as he struggled to speak his conscience. Even St. (Mother) Teresa acknowledged struggles with the darkness of doubt. The honesty of these and other Saints deepens their credibility, especially to those among us for whom doubting is an ongoing part of the journey. Thus, when we encounter a Saint who faced sickness, struggle, or even inner darkness and tried to create from those experiences, by the grace of God, a rich life of compassion we cannot help but find inspiration.
Over months of preparation for surgery and more recently during an extended quarantine, I have often thought and more often prayed with this in mind: God didn’t just dump us into this world with a pat on the back and a wish of “Good luck!” Rather, God, knowing how challenging life can be, equipped us with everything we need to cope, to heal, and to grow. Your love, your prayers, your words of kindness, and on occasion a meal delivered to the rectory have all lifted my spirits, given me courage, and offered me the hope I have needed to take one more step on the journey, each day. For all of that, I am eternally grateful – to you and to God.
After my surgery, God willing, I will remain at home for at least three more weeks, and then I will return to Mass here in the parish and a somewhat limited schedule. I will continue to have a good amount of time, not exactly a quarantine, but a good amount of time to continue to pray for you and to God, in gratitude that He has equipped me with everything I need to cope, to heal, and to grow – and He has used you to do that!
A closing sentiment to carry us through the days ahead: “I find joy in every day, not because life is always good, but because God is!” 

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