Today, I visited two more missions. Two years ago, I stayed at the ‘cabin’ in Story while I took some time off after Easter, but I did not have the chance to celebrate Mass with the community. Story is a short drive from Sheridan. I’m not sure if you would call it the foothills of the Big Horns, or actually in the Big Horns. (I’m sure someone will answer that question now!)
After dinner with the two priests from Holy Name in Sheridan, who serve these two mission communities, along with our latest seminarian and present DRE at Holy Name, Augustine Carillo, I spent the night in Story. I got there in time to enjoy the wildlife coming out at dusk. There must have been at least 20 white tail deer come out of their bedding areas and make their way past the cabin. Then this morning, early, it must have been the same group moving in the opposite direction, back to their bedding areas after feeding all night.
The fawns still have their spots, and the bucks are still in velvet. Nature is one of those realities that always lead me to belief in God…how else could all this beauty and life come into being? The ‘transcendentals’ are supposed to lead us to God…”whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious, … think about these things” (Philippians 4:8)
And just in case you were wondering, the turkey hatch this spring in Wyoming was also very good! Besides the wildlife, the view of the mountains from Our Lady of the Pines is quite beautiful. This morning’s cool temps and light breeze and clear blue skies made it quite spectacular.
We had a great turnout for Mass this morning at Our Lady of the Pines. Regretfully, I had to leave right after Mass in order to arrive at St. Edmund in Ranchester in time for the 10:00 Mass. The community had a carry in breakfast after Mass to help young Julia celebrate her First Communion. She received First Communion at St. John The Baptist in Buffalo this Spring, but the ‘home faith community’ also wanted to help her celebrate this milestone.
I think we should always celebrate the goodness of God who allows us to share in His divine life through our reception of His Son in all the Sacraments, and especially so regularly through the Eucharist.
After a fourty minute drive to Ranchester, we arrived in time to prepare for Mass with the Mission Community of St. Edmund. This faith community, as so many of our missions, is young, alive, and well. The church was practially standing room only, and I’m told, the community is growing.
This church was built at the time the faith community was established, in 1948…or so the plaque in the back of church said. After Mass, several of the parishioners walked me around the parish property and talked of their plans to build a new parish hall and expand the seating in the church. This is a mission community on a mission! Here in the West, unlike other parts of the country, the Church is growing, and we are looking for ways to expand some of our facilities, rather than close them.
Several ladies of the community provided the music for Mass, and the participation was faith-filled and uplifting. As mentioned in previous blogs, this is the best part of being a bishop, much like being a parish priest – celebrating the Sacraments with the people.
Today’s readings spoke of Christ as the source of our Unity. We are reminded that He is the Good Shepherd, and with Him, we lack nothing. (Psalm 23) We know he sent His Apostles into the world to continue His work, to preach His Word, and to continue the work of establishing God’s Kingdom, until God draws all of us into the everlasting Kingdom.
How often do we think of our ultimate destiny, which is to spend eternity with God? Does this thought inspire us anymore? If it does not, perhaps it is because we do not spend enough time thinking of this mysterious reality. As with acheiving all goals, to acheive this goal of eternity with God, everything we do must be seen as a step towards that goal, or one preventing us from reaching eternity with God.
Just as Christ called His Apostles away from their work to be alone with Him, each of us must regularly ‘come away’ in prayer to allow Christ to speak to the depths of our hearts. Christ established the Church, and gave us the Sacraments to nourish His presence within us. Thus, these are two essential priorities for us to acheive the goal of salvation; prayer and sacrament.
God bless you Church! Keep the faith! Live the faith! Let us strive for that ultimate goal; eternity with God.