What a crazy adventure the last month and a half has been. Through it all the biggest things that stick out in my mind are hope and love. It has been a world wind of emotions and excitement. Through it all though I can’t help but reflect on Christ’s enduring promises and love.
August brought the beginning of school. Every year is a new beginning. Every year brings new challenges and adventures. This year we have been blessed with a pretty incredible new chaplain, Fr. Ben Sawyer. I cannot tell you how blessed I am to be working with him and have him join us at Carroll. He is young, energetic, laid back, funny, and full of love and zeal for the faith. I can see the kids are already warming up to him quite well. I am teaching Catholic Social Teaching and Faith and Reason again. It is really great getting to have the students who are seniors for a second round and getting to know the new juniors has been great. They are a really great and talented bunch. Every year I am reminded of how much I am called to love the students that enter my classroom. While many of them are easy to love some are not so easy and so I begin everyday with a prayer asking God for the grace to love my students more that day than I did the day before. Teaching the youth also gives me hope. While there are many who struggle and have some serious issues and struggles I also have quite a few who are incredibly bright, talented, and faithful. The seniors especially give me great confidence that they will be great lights and examples at whatever University they end up at.
With the beginning of the school year also came the exciting news that Mary Beth and I are expecting our first child! I couldn’t be more thrilled about this. But somehow I don’t think it has really become a reality for me yet. Aside from Mary Beth dealing with “morning” sickness all the time not much has really changed…yet! I don’t think I’ve ever experienced anything quite like this before. It is just this weird abstract reality rather than a concrete one yet. In my head I know my life is going to drastically change but I don’t think I can quite grasp this yet and probably won’t until I’m holding that baby in my arms. Regardless my prayer everyday is that God would continue to form me into a good husband and make me into the loving father my kid needs. Once again I am brought to reflect on the reality of the love of God that brought Mary Beth into my life, and the love I have for Mary Beth that has brought forth this other life that is growing within her womb. Love can do powerful things. And of course there is the hope and anticipation of all that life has in store for us as we continue our journey together now as parents. This is such a gift and my heart is profoundly grateful for this opportunity. I just HOPE that I can LOVE this child enough that he or she may encounter the love of Christ through me in this life and so seek to build God’s Kingdom on this earth and so strive for the glory of eternal life in Heaven.
This brings me to the last big event of the last few weeks: My brother’s wedding in Illinois. For the first time in 10 years my entire side of my dad’s finally minus a few cousins was together. My mom’s side of the family was almost all there. It was an amazing weekend filled with love and family. There were moments that were hard for me however. It was tough not to have my brother married in the Catholic Church. On the one hand I actually respect him for not making a joke of the sacrament and getting married in the Church even when he doesn’t believe but its hard to not be able to share the most important thing in my life in common with him anymore. It is also tough knowing that so many of my family members no longer believe or practice the Catholic Faith. But I will say this there was so much love present at that wedding that whether my brother believes it or not God was present. He was in that room. While in many ways there is little agreement about faith and Catholicism with my family the common ground that is there is love and I know that when it comes down to it everyone of them in some way reflect the unconditional love of Christ to me and to each other. I think one of the big things that can be said about my family is that they love passionately. My heart overflowed with joy many times throughout the weekend at seeing my family interact with one another and at the sight of my brother’s happiness on his big day. All of this far outweighed feelings of sadness or frustration over not being able to share my faith with my family. I will say that anytime those feelings emerged I was quickly drawn to focus on the hope that Christ offers. There is hope that they will all come home one day. I know many of them including my brother think that there is no way that will ever happen. But they have no idea what they are up against. As I heard said in a talk by Abby Johnson, “We believe in a God who is in the business of miracles!” And that is some pretty powerful amazing stuff. No matter how far some of my family members stray the fact that they get the essential feature of Christianity, which is love, gives me hope beyond all hope that God is still working in their lives in ways they can’t even begin to imagine or admit. I love them so much that I want them to see the absolute fullness of truth that is found in the Catholic Faith and I know that Christ will answer that prayer. However my love for them will never be contingent on whether that happens or not. I may not ever get to fully see it or it may not happen until many of them are close to death but I can say that I have great hope that it will happen. I gave up trying to change my family by preaching to them a long time ago because that simply won’t work. But I do know that God is in control of this one and there is tremendous peace in knowing, that as witnessed by my brother’s wedding, whether my family knows it or not the love and power of God is present and working in their lives!
I pray that love maybe the driving force in my life as I minister to my students, interact with my family and get ready to bring a child into this world and through that may I always have hope in the promises Christ has given us.