Last Saturday 11/12/16, I attended a Faith Formation Day organized by Erin McGeever from the Diocese of St. Augustine. This particular event took place at Queen of Peace Catholic Church in Gainesville, Fl. This was a great event, and I was especially lucky to be in the “Scripture” classes taught by a very talented and knowledgeable lady – Pat Cook. Thank you all involved in making this event possible.
As usual, for me, I got to the church grounds well before the starting hour and this provided some time for prayer and reflection (a relatively new habit). God did not disappoint and helped me use this time constructively.
To begin with, the physical structure is indeed beautiful and the church grounds aid prayer and reflection.
I had this quiet time all to myself and spent it trying to understand some dilemmas and confusions I was working on in my personal growth in Faith. I’m pretty sure God helped me with some new insights, or at least better understanding of the concept of forgiveness and the folly of believing in earthly perfection. To set the mood, I walked through the doors that reminded me that this was the YEAR of MERCY as declared by our Holy Father in Rome.
The next catalyst to thought was this statue that on first glance made me feel this showed “The Perfect Family”. This is what our families need to look like.
Here we see a strong husband (maybe St. Joseph) lovingly holding, comforting, and protecting his wife. Wow… cannot get more perfect than this. His wife (presumably Mary… if this represents the Holy Family) is indeed comforted and secure in the arms of her husband. Utter Bliss, one might say. Two loving parents sharing their love and wisdom with their child – destined to grow up in a secure, loving, nurturing environment. THIS is the IDEAL we strive and pray for. In reality, here on earth, we will not see complete perfection in any person or family. Here we make mistakes. We hurt those we love. We fail our children sometimes – especially by not providing for their emotional support and protection from the outside world. We so often let our children down with the same weaknesses and wounds passed on to us from our parents and their parents before them.
Our failures continue by not showing Christian love and understanding to our neighbors. We hurt our friends’ feelings. We become selfish. When we demand (and fail) to be perfect ourselves, we become angry when we see imperfection in others. We treat family and friends as disposable objects when they fail to meet our impossible standards. We are all failures! Impatient with ourselves and impatient with others. As an individual, how can I exist being so imperfect? What can I do to become a better person? How can I help my family function in this imperfect world. As a FRIEND, how can I help others, especially the young, learn to function HAPPILY in this dysfunctional world? This statue is the ideal to work towards, but NOT the reality to expect.
I enter the next door with anxiety having been reminded of all the suffering we impose and have imposed on us. What do I do with this seemingly hopeless situation? I look forward and see the only real answer…… PRAYER.
We do not pray to God for Him to change his mind and make earthly life perfect. We pray to God that we will learn how to respond to these imperfections according to His will….. what ever that is. Then as I walk closer to the alter I see His Will.
“Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” – Jesus I see this as a good start. I pray for more understanding and patience. I pray for more love and more Grace. I pray to remember we are all children of God and we all belong in His community.