Last weekend’s Gospel and homily combo has been one that has particularly stuck with me throughout this week, pondering the idea, as Fr. Brian talked about, of the “four o’clock moments of life.” And as is the case for so many things within our faith, this concept is a truly a “both/and.” The “four o’clock moment” is as John writes in his Gospel that huge, unforgettable event that forever changes the course of your life, as when he himself starts to follow the Lamb of God; it is also, equally, the small moments along the way, in every day, where we choose to enter into the “who and what” the Lord has placed in our lives at that very second.
In desiring to become more aware of my own “four o’clock moments,” I took some time to recall those this week. I found that a very common thread ran through many of them: FOCUS conferences…such as SEEK21 that is coming to our parish at the beginning of February. I’ve been blessed to attend a FOCUS conference the past three years, my first in Chicago, next in Indianapolis, and last year in Phoenix. I walked away from each with something that helped guide me to another level with the Lord.
Many of you are familiar with Bishop Robert Barron. As he spoke in Chicago back in 2018, I was struck by his explanation of the Transfiguration and his recalling Peter’s response of “Lord, it is good that we are here. Let us erect three tents.” Bishop exclaimed as he paraphrased the Lord’s unstated response: “No tents…no resting here…let’s go! There’s work to do!” And so back down the mountain they went. This was a moment of empowerment for me, launching me from my own faith journey where I was simply seeking to draw closer to the Lord personally, and sometimes resting too much in the “highs” (or mountaintop experiences) that came from this personal relationship. The realization that really settled into my being was that I was meant to go beyond that, to respond to the Lord’s call to “work” for His kingdom not only internally but also externally, even amid fatigue or discouragement or doubt or fear or feelings of inadequacy. It’s always refreshing to rest in the Lord, to glory in His majesty, but there’s work to be done, too, and the Lord truly desires and trusts our efforts or response to His calling.
Just this past year, in January 2020 in Phoenix, Sister Miriam James Heidland led a reflection prior to Eucharistic Adoration, and in it she referred to the scene in Genesis where God was looking for Adam and Eve in the Garden and asked them, “Where are you?” She asked us to imagine how the Lord might have asked that question. Was it said with an authoritative voice, condemnation, or compassion? She asked us to imagine the Lord asking us that very question. As she did, the Lord asked me very clearly, “My question for you is ‘where’s the rest of you’?” It wasn’t a question of authority or condemnation or guilt. It was a question prompted by love, an invitation to become more fully His. This particular “four o’clock moment” has led me to deeper conversion over the past year, bringing my will into more full alignment with the Lord’s. And the work continues!
Both of these amazing speakers will be at this year’s SEEK21! They speak to the heart, they speak to the mind, and they speak to our souls. Of course, we never know when those more momentous “four o’clock moments” will come along, but wouldn’t you love to join us for this year’s FOCUS Conference and see? We’d love to share this experience with you!
Here are the details…
There are several small group hosts inviting friends and fellow parishioners to join them in this digital conference at their homes (as guidelines allow), but Todd Gale and I will also host people here at the Parish Center (not to exceed 50 participants in order to maintain proper social distancing). A breakdown of the days here at the Parish Center will look like this:
Thursday, Feb. 4: 7:00-9:45 p.m. Opening Mass (Live or live streamed from SEEK TBD); 8:15 p.m., Keynote Speakers Bishop Robert Barron and Sr. Miriam James Heidland; Group Discussions
Friday, Feb. 5: 7:00-9:45 p.m. Keynotes: Dr. Edward Sri & Immaculée Ilibagiza; Group Discussions
Saturday, Feb. 6: 4:15-11:00 p.m. Mass together, dinner, 2 Impact Sessions & Group Discussions, Keynote Speakers and Eucharistic Adoration
Sunday, Feb. 7: 12:15-2:00 p.m. Final Keynote Speakers: Curtis Martin and Francis Chan; Final Group Discussion
The FOCUS conference experience has been one where I’ve grown each time in new ways! Any retreat requires a level of sacrifice of time on our part… especially this one where the later times are there for us in the Eastern Time Zone (since this is digital and we are watching several sessions live from an earlier time zone). But this giving of time to the Lord will be multiplied as the Lord is never outdone in generosity!
Come, and join us for SEEK21! The registration link is on our St. John website or you can contact us (firstname.lastname@example.org OR email@example.com) to find out more! Todd and I look forward to sharing this experience with you!
Have a blessed week!
Director of Parish Life