So what we have here is a bunch of priests having a lot of fun. This past week I was blessed to ski for a few days at Copper Mountain in Colorado with some of my brother priests. I try not to take experiences like this for granted. I’m so very grateful to God for the gift.
I skied for the first time back in 1989 at this very mountain. Like any novice skier, taking lessons was essential. I didn’t know how to do anything – put on boots/skis, get on/off the lift, turn, STOP…and get up from the inevitable falls. You can’t learn to ski without falling and sometimes it hurts.
But the good news is that skilled teachers are always at the ready. Having been taught by someone else, ski instructors honed the art through years of experience, constant refinement, and correction of mistakes. For a skilled and experienced skier teaching others is no problem. In fact, ski instructors derive great pleasure in teaching beginners not only because they know how difficult it can be but also because they want others to know the joy of cruising down the mountain.
For those who have never skied there are different grades of slope difficulty.
People start out not just on the green slope but on the bunny slope; a slight incline with enough gravity at play to prevent you from standing still. As you learn to stay balanced, turn and stop in the “snowplow” formation, and recover from a fall, there’s a desire and ability to move up to a full green with a little more pitch. In fact, most folks find that the bunny slope gets boring very quickly. As skill level and confidence increases the pitch of the slope can increase. Along with this comes not just greater challenge but more speed and FUN. However, in order to not regress mistakes must constantly be corrected. Since I ski only a couple days a year I need to spend a good amount of time correcting bad habits.
The ultimate fruit of this sport is great exercise, astounding scenery, fellowship with family and friends, and lifetime memories. But one of main fruits is the ability to teach others how to do it. A skilled skier is equipped and ready to pass along the knowledge to someone else so that they can enjoy it as well.
The Christian life is a lot like this. At first, we don’t know how to anything. We need someone experienced to show us the way. We start with the basics: Who is God? How does He reveal Himself? How do I know Jesus is God? How does He save me? All along the way our mentor is there to encourage, correct mistakes, and help us up when we fall. Then we move up to a steeper pitch. Why not stay at on the spiritual “bunny slope”? Because we were made to go to great heights; to be saints! Once we accept Jesus as our Teacher, the only direction is forward, and upward. As we ascend the mountain there is always more discover and enjoy. Yes, there is more difficulty as belief increases, but also great reward.
So what is the ultimate fruit of being a believer? Most people would say “salvation” or “heaven” and they would be correct. One of the most important fruits of believing is to make other believers. Once we know the joy of loving and serving Jesus it becomes second nature to teach others. In a sense, it would be tragic to keep what we have learned to ourselves. Once something good has been received it must be passed along.
Happily, there were no major injuries this week. Hooray! I came down the mountain with a renewed awareness of what God has given me and a deeper sense of responsibility to help others to know the deep goodness of our Father. There are greater heights to climb…but not without bringing others along.
I’m grateful to be able to share the following news with our community:
February 11, 2016
SACRED HEART PARISHES ANNOUNCES NEW TEEN MINISTER
NORFOLK, NEBRASKA – Sacred Heart Parish is pleased to announce the hiring of Sr. Fidelis Marie Lanowich, OSB, as Teen Ministry Leader. Sr. Fidelis Marie’s role is to advance the commitment of the parish to minister effectively to all teen members as well as adults who minister to teens.
In her work Sr. Fidelis Marie will guide, direct, and support the various teen-related ministry teams including (but not limited to): grade 9-12 godparent discipleship, 7-8 grade youth group, JC Camp, and Norfolk Catholic High School Campus ministry. She will begin work on June 1st, 2016.
Fr. Dan Andrews, pastor of Sacred Heart, said the following about the hiring: “I am overjoyed. Sr. Fidelis Marie is already well known by many of our youth, their families, and our many team members. She brings to the position a joy for Christ, knowledge of effective teen ministry and parish life, and a love for teens. It’s also a blessing for our parish to continue a long standing relationship with the Missionary Benedictine Sisters. Not all missions are far away. Some of the best mission work is right here at home. That’s what I see her doing: spreading the Gospel in our parish mission field.”
Sr. Fidelis Marie is excited to help teens become fully immersed in the life of their parish: “I am honored and humbled to be able to have this opportunity to journey with and minister to the youth of our parish. The parish is the heart of our Catholic Church. I hope to encourage our youth to find their identity in the Catholic Church and at home within their parish as leaders. However, I cannot do this alone and will need the help of all parishioners by prayers, support, and witness. I look forward to getting to know Sacred Heart Parish in a deeper way and for us to journey together and inspire one another to become great saints! May the Immaculata intercede for us!”
Current Teen Ministry Leader Danny Leger, who will be moving to pursue other opportunities in ministry, shared his perspective on Sr. Fidelis Marie’s hiring: “Sr. Fidelis Marie is the exact person for this position. Her professional skills along with her ability to connect with youth will be invaluable, not to mention the relationship she already has with our parish and school. I have full confidence that this handoff will be seamless and fruitful for all the ministries involved.”
Sr. Fidelis Marie earned a Bachelor’s Degree of Health Science in August of 2014, with a major in Social Work and a minor in Criminal Justice. Before joining the Missionary Benedictines, she served as a NET (National Evangelization Team) member, traveling across the U.S. to share the Gospel with young people and their families. Sr. Fidelis Marie made her final vows as a Benedictine Sister on October 24, 2015.
Nourished by the Sacraments, inspired by the Word of God, and guided by the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church, Sacred Heart Parish actively invites all people to make a conscious decision to live as mature disciples of Christ. As stewards we generously use the gifts God has given us for His glory, the good of our neighbor, and the building of the Kingdom.
Your first thoughts when Lent is mentioned? Fish, Stations, purple, hungry, ashes?
Ash Wednesday Masses are usually packed. Praise God. High attendance on this day is an indication of the human desire to live life on a deeper level – to have more. But the gist of our practices usually centers around having less by “giving up” something. This can be very beneficial if what we give up is a form of fasting. But it can very quickly become more about what we’re doing and less how God is filling me.
This can be the best Lent ever if we focus more on what God wants to give us instead of the things we are doing.
INVITATION – Add to your prayer life this Lent. Prayer is simply an encounter with God. The fruit of prayer is communion with him. Sacred Heart Parish has dived into perpetual adoration of the exposed Blessed Sacrament at St. Mary’s. People love their hour with Jesus. Adoration is open to everyone. You don’t have to commit to an hour but you might find after a while that you want to.
The power of prayer is huge. Come and pray for yourself, your family, your school, our community, and the whole world. Make this the best Lent ever not so much by giving up, but by hanging out with your Savior.
Let’s get our Lent game faces on!