And peter began to say unto him: Behold, we have left all things and have followed thee. Jesus answering said: Amen I say to you, there is no man who has left house or brethren or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, who shall not receive an hundred times as much, now in this time: houses and brethren and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions: and in the world to come life everlasting.
NOW IN THIS TIME
I have recently received a letter from a fellow parishioner, and brother of ours, Ivan Cermak, at St. Patrick of the Forest Mission concerning the retirement of Father Harry Holwell. After reviewing the contents of the letter carefully, I’ve decided that many elements of “Father Harry’s Retirement” are troubling to me–and if found to be true–should be troubling as well to each Christian soul whos faith, trust and salvation are found hidden deep, as the saints teach us, within the birthplace of the Church: the Sacred Side of Our Divine Redeemer and Savior, Jesus Christ, the Holy and Righteous One of God.
The troubles we face and the power to overcome
In the Church of our days, as is obvious dear brethren, this same faith and trust in our salvation whether corporate (within the Church) or domestic (within our families) is seemingly being put to a hard test. We find ourselves under attack in some terrible manner or another by the guile and cares of this passing world, the weaknesses of our own flesh, and the reality of the Devil with His intelligent tactics set against the plan of salvation.
On this Divine Mercy Sunday, I am reminded of the Power which has loosed me from my bonds to sin and death and brought me, quite unexpectedly, into the Life of the Catholic Church. This day recalls both a terrible and marvelous reality within my life–the first, unspeakable, as from the deepest valley of human sorrow and despair no one heard my cries except that of a Woman, and the last, ineffable, in that from the very highlands of divine consolation in God a poor man was raised from the ground and my enemies were put to flight. It will be the same for the Church.
Through this victory of love and mercy I have received the gift of faith, hope and love. I have followed love and love has led me to discover that in every way, and time after time, as Catholic history proves–this faith and salvation of ours is the work of God in the world, it is the will of the Father, and thus, the Redemptive Love of Jesus Christ in submitting Himself to the will of the Father within the souls of men will always prove the stronger in its unity than all the forces that threaten to divide.
The way of the Holy Spirit
By way of the Holy Spirit the Power of the Redemption of Jesus Christ comes to us. He acts to constantly remind us of the Power of His Love which helps us to overcome the triple threat spoken of above. The important things and cares of the world which bind our souls to earth through blinding our eyes to the things of heaven dissolve away in instant awe at the presence of the divinity, the weakness of the flesh is vivified, convincing us of sin and its opposition to the holiness we are being drawn toward at the final perfection, and finally, in regard to the Devil and all the unclean spirits which harass the temple of our heavenly souls, we too can repeat in the Spirit along with Jesus…,
‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.’ Luke 10:18
It is here, in the Holy Spirit that we realize the power given us from above, which we must own, and then use in overcoming the trevail of these days–within the Church, within our families, and of course, within ourselves…,
‘Behold, I have given you the power to tread upon the serpents and scorpions and all the power of the enemy: and nothing shall hurt you. But, yet rejoice not in this, that spirits are subject unto you: but rejoice in this, that your names are written in heaven.’ Luke 10:19-20
Where we are today
I will speak plainly here, if anyone does not believe that the situation surrounding Father Harry’s retirement does not grieve the heart of Jesus, that person is mistaken. The way of the Holy Spirit does not include inspiring that which is contrary and opposed to the unifying principle of holy love and divine charity shared among the members of the one sacred body. Dissension, anger, lack of communication, name-calling, power struggles, and failure to repent and forgive one another constantly is not the will of God. Yet, despite all this garbage dear Brethren, the way in which the Holy Spirit helps us all along this narrow road will not fail, that is, He can only be deterred and rebuffed by the hardening of our hearts to His Love, and similarly, by our failure to love one another in every situation, including this one.
What must we do?
First, and foremost, we must allow the Spirit of God to create a new heart within us. We must not shy away from allowing Him to instill within our souls a steadfast will to avoid the threats to charity and unity we face. This, in turn, will reawaken that which needs to be strengthen–our will to live in peace and true fraternal care for one another in accord with the spirit of the Gospel and its mission, and specifically here, our need to follow obediently the new law of love, which Our Lord commands of us…
…’love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.’ John 13:34
This, the law of divine charity and mercy, is the supreme law by which all the circumstances surrounding the retirement of Father Harry should be addressed and actions on his behalf be undertaken.
For the sake of discernment and clarity concerning Father Harry’s retirement according to the letter I’ve received, I resubmit its major points below for the reader:
1.) Father Harry has been commanded (involuntarily) to retire by the end of June 2007.
2.) There has been no consideration of how (financially) Father will retire.
3.) There has been no consideration of where Father will live (a home) after he retires.
4.) The claim is made that Father is being fired at the urging of a few parishioners without consulting or notifying the rest of the faithful at St Patrick of the Forest.
5.) The claim is made that the diocese has arranged that Father Harry not be qualified for any kind of Church-based retirement program because of his part-time status.
6.) The claim is made that Father Harry must retire because of the Diocesan rule of retirment at 75 years of age. Yet, there is evidence that at least two parishes in the diocese employ “retired” priests past this age.
7.) Father Harry has been paid by our mission half-time minimum wages for nearly ten years, yet Father has been working at substantially more than half time during this period of time.
8.) Father Harry has health problems, and recently has been diagnosed with prostrate cancer. The claim is made that life-saving treatment of his cancer would not be available to him if he returned to England.
9.) The claim is made that there will no longer be a priest during the week after Father Harry retires, and that the best solution for all concerned would be to have Father Harry “retire” right where he is, in the house he lives in now, and where he desires to stay. The advantages are that the mission would benefit from weekday Masses, annointings and other priestly support. He costs very little and Father Harry is more than willing to do it.
In closing, I believe in the Lord’s Words to provide all those things which He has promised to those who have left all things for His sake and that of the Gospel. And so, I trust in His Church, this Diocese, and the brethren of St. Patrick of the Forest Mission to follow the inspiration of their hearts in accomplishing His will on behalf of Father Harry.
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James Mary Evans – Divine Mercy Sunday
O’Lord I am your servant, the son of your handmaid, you have loosed me from my bonds