In All Circumstances Give Thanks
“In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
That brief passage from the First Letter of St. Paul to the Thessalonians is part of the readings for Thanksgiving Mass this year. Over the past couple of weeks, across the diocese, I have been blessed to witness reasons that we all should heed these words.
Father Chris Forler, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Daylight, framed things well for me in his homily for the Veterans Day Mass he celebrated at St. John Daylight on Nov. 11.
He answered the question “What makes a good soldier?” by saying, “I believe good soldiers embrace and practice obedience, unity, steadfastness, courage and conviction.” We all either have served our country or have family members and friends who have served. Reflect for a moment on your own experiences or those of soldiers you know, and I believe you will agree with Father Forler.
Veterans Day falls in the U.S. on the Church’s Feast of St. Martin of Tours, himself a soldier. Father Forler noted that from the battlefield to his days as a priest and bishop, St. Martin made a priority of serving “his Commander, Jesus.”
I am grateful for that sermon because of the perspective it has provided.
The day after that special Veterans Day Mass, I stood with a camera around my neck at the back of a totally full sanctuary in Mount Vernon’s St. Matthew Church. The parish family and the greater community gathered to celebrate the 150th anniversary of St. Matthew School. As parish Administrator Father Jim Sauer noted, parishioners made their dream of a Catholic school reality only a couple of years after the Civil War ended; and their descendants have continued to support this special ministry through many generations.
I was driving back to Evansville after the Mass and reception when the Holy Spirit “connected the dots” for me – showing me that something I had heard one day manifest itself the next.
Obedience, unity, steadfastness, courage and conviction – all played parts in what has become the rich legacy of St. Matthew School and all of our diocesan Catholic schools. They all have played parts in all of our parishes since they were founded.
I suspect that you have never considered yourself a “good soldier” when it comes to our Church … but I have little doubt that you are, indeed, a good soldier.
Time and time again since arriving in Southwest Indiana in July 2013, I have visited parishes, met people and covered events – all influenced by obedience, unity, steadfastness, courage and conviction. Today, the Diocese of Evansville can boast parishes that serve as outposts for thousands of good soldiers serving their Commander … Jesus.
I am truly grateful to call the Diocese of Evansville home – and to be serving our Commander, Jesus, with you.
Wishing you and your family a Blessed and wonderful Thanksgiving!