|“For everything, there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)|
The season of summer, which follows spring’s bursting forth of new life and growth, brings to mind nature’s strength. July is filled with warm sunny days (except in northeast Ohio), summer fun, family vacations and camp. Graduation parties are winding down and thoughts of the new school year are slowly making their way into the conversation. As these events come and go, those who are suffering a loss are reminded that life continues regardless of the broken heart they carry along the way.
The renewal and strength that is associated with summer can also bring hope. Let us try to accept the responsibility of bringing that hope to our neighbors. As we continue the steady march toward some level of normalcy, we are called to renew relationships and to open our hearts to each other. As we renew our relationships, let us place an emphasis on renewing our relationship and devotion to Jesus. Our Lord and Savior became Man to renew our relationship with God, and with the shedding of his Precious Blood, He opened the door once closed. Jesus willingly gave Himself over to shed His blood in a supreme act of love. This love He has for each of us, most evident as we celebrate the sacraments, is the true roadmap we use to find Him in paradise.
Throughout the season of summer, while we slowly return to the ordinary lives we enjoyed pre-pandemic, we find ourselves reconnecting with friends and loved ones. We realize that many will be dealing with the pain of loss. At those summer parties, we smile despite the pain from the death of a loved one, but it is in the Precious Blood, shed for us, that our relationship with God is renewed and the path to paradise established. By accepting that His death and the shedding of His Precious Blood renews our relationship with God, we gain the gift of hope and the peace of knowing that paradise is within reach.
June, the beginning of summer, vacations, graduations, weddings, and other events that bring family and friends together. As we celebrate all these events, it seems almost contradictory that this month falls within the liturgical season of Ordinary Time. There is nothing ordinary about Ordinary Time when it comes to our Catholic faith.
Ordinary Time is when we celebrate Christ’s life and death and June is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. In this time of the liturgical year the Church is donned in the color green as a symbol of hope of the resurrection. We celebrate Christ’s life and death and through the image of the Sacred Heart, His love for each of us. These symbols of new life and love inform us of Christ’s conquering death giving to each of us the gift of salvation and the hope of eternal life with Him in paradise.
Many find it difficult to celebrate the events that are a part of the beginning of each summer. Loss makes any celebration difficult. In this month dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, find comfort in knowing that God’s love for each of us is boundless. Seek refuge in His pierced heart of Christ as it is in His suffering that He understands your pain and it is in His sacrifice that we find the gift of paradise.
Andrej N. Lah
President / CEO
|“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”|
|We know that these were the words of our Lord and Savior as He approached the end of His human existence to enter the Divine. These words can be confusing when we look at our caring and loving God and wonder why He allowed His only son to die in such excruciating pain. This is also a question many of us ask of God when a tragedy occurs in our lives. When death takes someone we love we ask God, “why?”. Because He is all knowing and all powerful, it is natural for us to place the blame on God during the hardest seasons of our lives. However, our faith tells us that God does not wish us pain in any form (including the loss of a loved one). Rather, it is through Him that we can find hope and comfort in the midst of our pain. |
As we reflect on this Easter season, we know that God did not forsake His beloved Son. Rather, He allowed Jesus to experience humanity and its suffering so that Jesus could emerge as the Divine Savior of Humanity – the ultimate example of how suffering can lead to some type of greater hope and purpose.
God is a loving Father who we can go to with all of our struggles. He does not cause the tragedies that befall us, but He does allow life on Earth to move on a natural course. He does not forsake us, but saves us. In days when we can’t help but ask God “why”, remember the hope that Jesus Christ provides. His story did not end on Good Friday, but on Easter Sunday with His Joyous resurrection. It is through God and through Jesus Christ that we can find hope.
May God bless you and your families during this Easter season, a season of hope.
A few Sundays ago, our Pastor gave an amazing homily on the meaning of Lent. I never knew that Lent actually means “Spring” and as such, we are called to use these 40 days as a form of “spring cleaning for the soul”. As I continued to reflect on this message, I found it important to share with all of you. After losing a loved one, it’s common for all our prayers, thoughts, and intentions to be for those who we’ve lost. However, Lent is a special season for us to focus on ourselves and on our relationship with the Lord.
This time in the Liturgical year encourages us to look inward. Upon self-reflection and practicing some spiritual self-care, we can face our imperfections – the things we try to hide most from God and from the world. Through prayer, we can uncover places of anger, hurt, confusion, or sadness. We can begin to heal wounds left from life’s most challenging moments. Through all of this, we can find Christ loving us unconditionally.
Life on this Earth is a challenging journey, but we are blessed to have the Church as a guide. By seeking out the sacraments, spending time in prayer, and finding Christ in all we do, we better prepare ourselves for the life that awaits us in paradise.
During these remaining days of Lent, I encourage you to spend some alone time with the Lord. Focus on yourself and how you can better prepare your soul for the Resurrection that we will joyfully celebrate in just a few short weeks.
A room left with memories intact, a home that now reminds us of what we have lost, our phones with so many photographs and videos that bring tears and smiles. As we begin our Lenten journey, many are confronted by the challenges of the loss of someone we loved. How do we focus on celebrating Easter when our loss can be so consuming? The Lenten season is an opportunity to reflect; marked as a time of fasting and of self-denial, it is a time to remember our connection to Christ and His journey toward our Resurrection. We enter the desert with Him to reaffirm our relationship with God.
The devastating loss of someone we love is like entering your own personal desert – one you may not want to journey through. It is in these moments of despair that we must remember that we are walking in the footsteps of Christ. His journey toward the Cross guides us through the darkness toward the promise fulfilled on that first Easter morning.
God sent His only son to become fully human – to know, and feel, and experience humanity in all its forms, including great suffering. However, Jesus was not sent to suffer in vain, but to help us grow closer to God through our suffering. When you reflect on Christ’s life starting with His 40 days in the desert through the time He was nailed to the cross, you’ll find that His journey was filled with great pain. He could have questioned God’s will, but He instead accepted it fully, knowing that God’s plan is perfect. One need only look to the empty tomb as a sign of this truth. We must trust in the Lord just as Jesus did. While we will endure much suffering in this world, we cannot let that overshadow what we believe; that our souls will be welcomed into paradise.
During this Lenten season, I encourage you to bask in God’s love. Bring your suffering to Him. Understand that the suffering you experience on this earth is preparing you for the hope of eternal life with God in paradise. Death is not the end.