Walking in the Footsteps of Christ

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.

God bless,

Andrej Lah

February 2021

Celebrating the “Year of Saint Joseph”

Pope Francis has dubbed this new Liturgical year the “Year of St. Joseph”. When I took time to reflect on this decision, I tried to place myself in Joseph’s shoes. He was an “ordinary” man. He came from humble beginnings, he was born with sin (unlike his wife, Mary), and he was a faithful man who tried to live in accordance with God’s word. Now I imagine him discovering that his wife Mary is with child – a child he did not conceive. His whole world shifted in that moment. He uprooted his entire life to serve and protect a child that was not his by blood. He made sacrifices every day to ensure the safety of Jesus and Mary, all the while accepting the unpredictable path God laid for him. 

Joseph is a reminder to us all that, while we may be “ordinary” people, we are called to love others just as God the Father loves us. Sometimes it can be hard for us to comprehend who God the Father is. Yes, we can see glimpses of Him through art, in the Mass, or in our personal prayer. However – we must remember that God is everywhere, which means He dwells within each of us. Just as Joseph was called, we will all be called to make great sacrifices in our lives. God understands this form of suffering, as He sent His son Jesus to experience every human thing. He knows we are broken. He sees our weakness and our temptation toward sin. He knows how hard some sacrifices are to make. However, just like Joseph, we can find strength through God to carry us through these hard times.

So as we celebrate Joseph this year, let us remember and acknowledge the sacrifices he made. May we embody the same strength he carried with him – and let us be ever grateful for the guidance he provided to the man who would become the Christ – who now leads us to paradise. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah

January 2021

Opening Our Hearts to Joy

For many, the holidays bring a mix of sadness and joy. While we anticipate the coming of Christ, the family traditions, and the warm holiday greetings, this time also reminds us of those we’ve lost. Whether we remember them through photographs, include them in toasts, or share memories of them over Christmas dinner, there is a sense of sadness that cannot and should not be denied.

It is not a bad thing to feel sadness over the holidays. However, amidst that sadness we must also turn to our faith and recognize that, while our loved ones may not be with us, they have begun a journey that was started over 2,000 years ago. Christ laid down His life for us, and opened the door for us to experience eternal joy with our Heavenly Father. Though we miss being with our loved ones physically, there is so much joy to be found in their hopeful reunion with the Lord.

While our world is filled with many tragedies, and while this year has certainly been one of great difficulty, I’ve witnessed time and time again how faith can lift someone out of deep despair. There is no way to avoid suffering in this world, but by allowing the Divine to enter into our hearts, joy can pierce through the pain and give us glimpses of hope and peace. 

My prayer this Christmas is that we may all open our hearts to God’s love and take comfort in knowing of the abundant joy He wishes to share with us.

God bless,

Andrej Lah 

December 2020

Drawing Strength from Our Faith

November is a special time in our Catholic faith when we the faithful take time to remember and honor those who have passed away. In fact, the church has acknowledged All Saints Day and All Souls Day for centuries. As we celebrate those who have entered Heaven on All Saints Day and pray for the souls in purgatory on All Souls Day, we are reminded of what it means to live and die by our faith. Reflecting on the times in history when these holy days were established (609 AD for All Saints Day and 993 AD for All Souls Day) I can only imagine the challenges posed in daily living.  

While some challenges have been eradicated over the years by evolvements in technology and medicine, times are no different now than they were back then. Emotional and physical suffering, political contention, grief, and violence are challenges our ancestors knew all too well. I reflect on their lives and am reminded that we are connected to our ancestors in our Catholic faith. It is our faith that has withstood so many trials and much tribulation throughout the centuries. Today, we are called to connect with those who came before us, as we look to our faith to guide us through these modern-day storms. We are called to turn our eyes toward God in hope of what can be and what is to come. We are called to ground ourselves in faith when the world around us seems chaotic.

It’s very curious that All Saints and All Souls Day fall so close to Thanksgiving. As we acknowledge death, we are also called to be thankful for the blessings God has placed in our lives. Even more so, we are called to be thankful for Christ’s sacrifice, as He opened the door for us all to enter into communion with Him in Heaven, further assuring us that the trials of this life will not follow us into the next.

As we continue to navigate the final months of this turbulent year, let us look to those who have gone before us. May we embody the same strength and faithfulness they did to find glimpses of hope in even the most uncertain of times.

God bless,

Andrej Lah 

November 2020

Reflecting on our Blessed Mother

In this the month of the Most Holy Rosary, I’ve taken some time to reflect on our Blessed Mother and her journey here on Earth. I imagine a young woman quietly enduring the judgment of others as she carries a miracle in her womb. I envision her giving birth in humble manger, only to be rushed away in the night, in fear of Herod’s soldiers. I see a mother’s smile as Jesus grows from a toddler, a mother’s anguish through His teenage years, and her pride as He becomes a young man. I can imagine the grief she felt upon losing her husband, Joseph, and the anxiety she must have felt when Jesus left home to begin His ministry. We often forget that this very human mother watched as her son went out into a world where humanity faced the same sins and temptations we endure today. While Jesus went about sharing messages of kindness, hope, and mercy, those in power at the time chose to reject those ideals. Mary knew that Jesus was there to change the world forever, but she must also have known that His ministry would lead to His death. I can only imagine the torment of knowing her son must honor the purpose for which He was born, while also experiencing real anxiety and grief for what was to come for her son.

When we mourn the death of someone we love, we are connected to our Blessed Mother through her humanity. Just as all of us today, Mary had to put her full faith in God during times of hardship. Faith is a critical part of our ability to traverse the path toward acceptance, whether we’re accepting a deep loss or just a change in our life. Keeping the faith can be hard at times, but God sends us our Blessed Mother as a source of strength and love to help us. Whether at Fatima, Lourdes, La Vang, Guadalupe, or Medjugorje – Mary comes to us in difficult times to remind us that we are called to an eternal life beyond our imagination. She reminds us that God is the map to paradise, and we must follow wherever His map takes us.

During this month of the Holy Rosary, let us call on our Blessed Mother. May she bring the comfort, hope, and peace that this world needs during such hard times. 

God bless,

Andrej Lah 

October 2020