BEFORE THE CROSS | Small beginnings often are part of God’s larger plan

Before the Cross - Archbishop Robert J. Carlson's Column

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One day in May 1917, Mary appeared to three shepherd children. She continued to appear to them every month until October 1917, concluding with the "miracle of the sun" on October 13, an event that was witnessed by a great multitude. The Church formally declared the apparitions worthy of belief in 1930.

The Church doesn't say that these apparitions belong to the Deposit of Faith — the definitive revelation of Jesus Christ that's essential for everyone's salvation. Rather, the role of such "private revelations" helps us live the faith more fully in a particular time and place. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 67)

How does the message of Fatima help us to live the revelation of Jesus more completely today?

First: Among Mary's central messages at Fatima was to pray the Rosary for peace. In our culture of distraction, we miss many opportunities to do this. We often let our hearts and minds be distracted by the radio, cell phone, internet, social media and television. The distracted quality of our hearts and minds affects our relationships with each other and makes the world less peaceful.

The message of Fatima speaks to that. So, here's a request: When you get into your car, please, rather than turning on the radio, pray a decade of the Rosary. (If you wish, turn on the radio after!) For just a few minutes, lift your heart and mind to God. As the Lord said to me once, "So many people wish for peace, but so few are willing to pray for it." Let's start to change that. In the midst of a culture of distraction let's start to build a culture of peace, one decade of the Rosary at a time. The quality of our attention to God will shape the quality of our presence to each other.

Second: Among the central themes of readings this week from the Acts of the Apostles is "the scandal of particularity." There's a particular person, in a particular time, at a particular place, with a particular message — and all those particulars are caught up into God's universal plan. This theme responds to a doubt that plagues our hearts: "I'm just one small person. We're just one small parish. This is just one small idea. Can it really make that much difference in the grand scheme of things?" That doubt causes us to shrink from the greatness of God's call. We're afraid to start small.

But God has never been afraid to start small. St. Paul was one small person from one small town. He took the message of Jesus to one small synagogue at a time: Phoenicia, Cyprus, Cyrene, Paphos, Perga, Seleucia, Salamis, Antioch, Jerusalem. We see the pattern all week: God begins with the particular and builds the universal from there.

That shouldn't surprise us. So it was with Abraham and Israel: God chose a particular person, nation, time and place to begin a universal mission. So it was with the ministry of Jesus in Palestine. So it was with three shepherd children at Fatima. So it can be with each of us.

Mary wasn't afraid to start small at Fatima. God has never been afraid to start small in salvation history. We can't be afraid to start small in the Archdiocese of St. Louis: one person, one day, one car ride, one decade of the Rosary at a time.

Our Lady of Fatima, pray for us! 

Appointments

Deacon Paul D. Craska, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. John Bosco Parish in Creve Coeur, is granted retirement status, effective July 1, 2017.

Deacon C. Frank Chauvin, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of Ascension Parish in Chesterfield, is granted the status of Senior Deacon continuing to assist the pastor of Ascension Parish, effective June 1, 2017.

Deacon Timothy C. Dolan, a permanent deacon assisting the parochial administrator of St. Gerard Majella Parish, Kirkwood, is granted the status of Senior Deacon continuing to assist the parochial administrator of St. Gerard Majella Parish, effective June 1, 2017.

Deacon Norbert Gawedzinski, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. John Parish in Imperial, is granted retirement status, effective June 1, 2017.

Deacon Edward Raymond Kiely, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of Christ the King Parish in University City, is granted the status of Senior Deacon continuing to assist the pastor of Christ the King Parish, effective June 1, 2017.

Deacon Donald L. McElroy, a permanent deacons assisting the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in St. Charles, is granted the status of Senior Deacon, effective May 1, 2017.

Deacon John F. Meere, a permanent deacon, assisting the pastor of Ste. Genevieve Parish in Ste. Genevieve, is granted retirement status, effective May 21, 2017

Deacon James L. Murphy, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. Dominic Savior Parish in Affton, is granted retirement status, effective June 8, 2017.

Deacon Steven H. Wohlert, a permanent deacon assisting the pastor of St. Anselm Parish in Creve Coeur, is granted the status of Senior Deacon continuing to assist the pastor of St. Anselm Parish, effective June 1, 2017. 

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