As I sit here struggling to get all the things in life done, I recognize my own inadequacies in life. I recognize that I am very human and subject to fail. In fact, when I started this magazine almost 8 years ago now, several people told me I would fail. Dear friends of mine told me to not even attempt to do it because it was doomed from the start. And yet, here we are 8 years later still going strong.
Could Convergent Streams be better? Of course. I would love to see us have 25 or 30 authors writing quarterly or even 10 to 15 writing monthly! However, I am very grateful for all the authors who faithfully support Convergent Streams with their well thought-out and educational materials.
And as I focus on the Sacraments, I realize that I have very little I can add to the scholarly work submitted by our great group of authors. They have summed up the great depth and width of what the Sacraments mean to them and what they are theologically.
For me, the Sacraments are simple. They are the life-giving essence of the Divine imparted to us as weak and faltering human beings. They give us the grace necessary to wake up each day to be Christ to the world around us. The Sacraments have been a source of great joy, comfort and love in my life.
When my wife was hospitalized this past January, many people helped support us with prayer, money, and words of comfort and support. Yet, in the darkest of moments, it was the Blessed Sacrament sitting exposed on the altar that brought me the most strength. Sitting before our Lord in the form of the Blessed Sacrament, I wept and prayed that I might have just a little more time with my wife. I prayed and pleaded that she might come back to us whole and healthy. I prayed that her mind might heal.
And in those moments, deep within my heart and mind, I believe our Lord spoke to me and said, “Do you trust me?” My only response was to echo the words of Bishop (Saint) John Parker Jr., “Lord, trust is not an option.” Bishop Parker used to tell us all the time that trust in God is not an option. It is something we must do. We must trust God; we must have faith. Even as he lay dying, bleeding to death because the cancer has ruptured his carotid artery, his faith never wavered. His final act on this earth was to make the sign of the cross before he passed through the veil.
My wife did return to us and in some ways better than ever. For that I will be eternally grateful. And before you think of me as a great man of faith, I am not. I have faith. However, my faith wavered many times. And my brothers and sisters in the OCCI helped to pick up the emotional, blubbery, sobbing mess that I would devolve into after each phone call with the doctors and my wife. Had it not been for their love, support, and faith, I might not have survived the entire ordeal.
My point is that the Sacraments played a large role in the entire healing process. But without the community aspect that I believe is part of the Sacraments too, it would not have been enough to bring us through this struggle and difficulty.
To those that say a priest cannot celebrate Mass alone, that they must have a community with them to properly celebrate Mass, I say you are wrong. Community is a very big part of the Sacraments, but let us not forget the angels and saints that join us at each and every Mass. Let us not forget the community of people who receive the graces imparted by the Mass when we celebrate Mass with them as the intention. Let us not forget the person standing at the altar who receive grace from the celebration of the Mass.
When we refuse to celebrate Mass because we are alone or because people did not show up for them, we rob ourselves and those we offer Mass for of the graces imparted by that celebration. We deny the power of the Holy Spirit to bring healing, strength, grace, love, and peace to those we offer Mass for. And that is a greater sin than to celebrate Mass alone!
Those are my humble thoughts on the Sacraments. Mainly on the Eucharist, but I think you get my point.
Next edition of Convergent Streams marks the beginning of our 8th year of publication. The theme will be education. Many discussions have been had on social media of late about the role of education in the formation of clergy. I think this is a worthwhile topic for us to discuss and to bring the various ideas about what the education of clergy should look like. The deadline for submission is November 22 (because of the Thanksgiving holiday). Any submission after that date will run in the following edition.