The slow change in temperature and the sudden surprise of color in the tips of leaves lately signal a change in season, a transition to fall.  Most of us have a favorite season, and this just happens to be mine! What is it about the changing seasons that seems to captivate us? Is it the promise of change…something new, anticipation for all that goes with “that time of year?”  Is the fascination something deeper than that, something primal almost, that taps into the very “seasons” that we experience as human creatures–being born and then slowly working through the stages of life? Or is it something even greater than that–built into our very spirits where seasons often have an order all their own?

In what season is your spirit? Is it in the rebirth of spring?  The active, growing season of summer? The peace and contentment of fall?  Is your spirit sitting dormant in a state of winter, waiting for some light to begin renewal?

The Diocesan Assembly of the past weekend was designed as a rebirth, a time to grow, a place of refreshment, and, even, a chance to “thaw.”  As one of the main speakers, Deacon Oney, said so well, “We are not the frozen ‘chosen’!” And Bishop Boyea seconded this when he referenced the words of St. John Chrysostom, “There is nothing colder than a Christian who is unconcerned about the salvation of others!”

So back to the earlier question, “In what season is your spirit presently?”

Much of that depends on your idea about happiness.  As Fr. Mike Schmitz explained, “Most of us feel we’ll be happy when we’re done with_______ (fill in the blank:  “…work today.” “…my college degree.” “…remodeling the house.”) The list goes on—and for just that reason those things that we think will bring us happiness never really do.  Something new always fills in the blank; we chase happiness.

The only way to achieve true happiness (JOY) is to “be done” with ourselves: our wants, our desires, our plans.  Fr. Mike gave us a four word prayer to help with this tough task:  “Thy will be done!” The more God’s desires and plans become our own, the more happiness (joy) we experience!  The more acceptance we feel, the more we know, “It is well with my soul.”

Being “done with ourselves” not only allows us to experience this true happiness, but it guides us in the work of becoming “Missionary Disciples,” bringing the source of true happiness to others.  This is the very thing for which we will pray during this Year of Prayer: “Teach us how to hear Jesus, to love Jesus, and to share your gift of salvation with everyone we meet.” To help ourselves in this formative process, we have to be done with the thoughts of, “I don’t know enough to lead others to Christ,” or “I have too much woundedness and/or sin to help others get to know Jesus.”  Bishop Boyea reminded us that Jesus chose simple fishermen and sinful tax collectors to be His disciples, that truly we are “not too poor in ability and resources to save others, and that we can help others see that they, too, were made for happiness.”

Deacon Oney emphasized this point:  “God says, ‘I can use you IF you avail yourself to Me.’”

Let us avail ourselves to God, let us be done with ourselves, finding true happiness in this.  As we become stronger disciples (followers of Christ), we will naturally become missionaries (leaders to Christ), MISSIONARY DISCIPLES, announcing the Gospel of the Lord.

No matter what season you find yourself currently, the life of faith is always one of conversion and reconversion.  If you’re feeling “frozen” by fear, by hurt, by uncertainty, remember that you were made for happiness and “that [God] invites each of us to share in the life and ministry of… Jesus.”  If you feel that your faith has been blossoming, send out deeper roots, reach for more. It is a season of change for all of us…and with it comes anticipation, hope, and joy.

Assembly Follow-Up…

Join us!  As a follow-up to the energy, ideas, and Holy Spirit-driven inspiration of the Diocesan Assembly, we plan to have an October get-together, inviting all those who attended the assembly to gather for a chance to process, share, and learn more.  This invitation extends, as well, to those who weren’t able to attend. We are all called to be Missionary Disciples, and our prayer is that our parish will grow as an intentional community, sharing the source of true happiness with those around us.  Watch the bulletin, announcements, and Facebook for further details.

And, finally, thank you!

So many of you have commented on the impact the Assembly had on you and offered your thanks to those who worked to help make it happen!  I’d like to give a special thank you to the Knights of Columbus and everyone else who helped contribute to our delicious lunch: Hometown Convenience, Dawn Foods, Heather Herndon (Howard Hanna), the O’Brien family, and Gary Schweda Tree Farm.  The wonderful team members that I was blessed to work with all summer to help advertise, invite, and organize for the event included Todd Gale, Therri Oberdick, Jill Robert, and Joseph Gruber. Thank you! Along with their efforts and those of the Parish Reps, we had an awesome showing at the Assembly.  Thank you to all who attended, wishing to Grow and Go in their faith lives! Finally, thank you to the Diocese of Lansing and Bishop Boyea. We are blessed to have such a vibrant diocese! Thank you, Jesus.