What started out to be a nice 4.5-mile hike out into the Alaskan wilderness this month turned out to be a seven-mile nightmare. I had a GPS flag on my Garmin Pilot App of Mariano’s cabin. Within the first half hour I lost the path for eight hours and started to panic. I almost drowned in a sinkhole.
The other night, in my dream my husband and I were standing in front of our garage door at our old house in Anchorage. As we pulled the door down, we discovered crude swastikas had been scrawled on the door’s panels with black paint. We looked at each other in horror, and that’s when I awakened.
We seldom sense the presence of the sacred in moments of terror, natural or man-made. Nature itself, of course, follows the patterns instilled in the universe by God from the moment of first creation. Of course, we humans sometimes find ourselves crosswise with nature’s powers, but God obviously means no evil intent; nature does what nature was created to do.
It all started when I read an article about Popes Francis’ initiative to provide showers for the homeless. One homeless person reportedly said, “They treat us like friends.” Here in Magadan, Russia, we don’t have many homeless, but we have some folks with handicaps who need care.
Alaska has the highest number of veterans per capita of any state in the union. It is a tragedy to see that veterans experience homelessness at a higher rate than the general population across the country.
“Who is Jesus Christ for us today?” The question popped up for me again as I read the Gospel for this 14th Sunday in ordinary time where Jesus’ family and his neighbors find him: “His wisdom was beyond them. After all, is he not the carpenter’s son? Is not his family living here with us?” Who is this person really?
If a young Catholic reaches adulthood with a poor understanding and personal appreciation of how the sacraments infuse her life with the grace of God, then she will feel little reason to go to regular confession, attend weekly Mass, marry in the church, baptize her children and bury her loved ones with the aid and guidance of the church. The question for many is, “What difference does it make.”
To think that God merely populates seminaries by sheer force of his will, or only calls men in private visions and inner stirrings is a misconception which does not reflect the experiences of the vast majority of seminarians and priests.
Dorothy Day writes: “We cannot love God unless we love each other. We know him in the breaking of the bread, and we are not alone anymore … We have all known the long loneliness and we have learned that the only solution is love and that love comes with community.”
During the month of June, we will conclude another Easter Season with the celebration of Pentecost, followed by some major solemnities (feast days). These are Holy Trinity, Corpus Christi (the Body & Blood of the Lord), the Sacred Heart of Jesus, the Nativity of Saint John the Baptist, and Saints Peter and Paul. That is quite a line-up for any month of the year!