With the reception of Holy Communion for the first time this weekend by a number of children in both St. Mary and Resurrection Parishes, the season of structured religious formation for many of our children concludes. We are also approaching the end of another school year. Both the school year and the year of formal religious formation begin in late summer and conclude during the coming Spring.
Both academic and spiritual formation provide content that is vital to master. Tests and essays indicate progress that is being made in regard to developing academically and spiritually. Academic and spiritual formation both play a vital role in our lives as the Lord’s People in this world. The Lord wants each of us to discover, to develop, and to use the abilities with which we’ve been blessed to promote the well-being of all persons.
Spiritual formation offers the setting and motivation to do this. Apart from the influence of God in our lives, we can relate to differences between ourselves and others in ways that are divisive and hurtful. On the one hand, we can feel that we have value because of that which makes us different from others. On the other hand, we can feel down on ourselves as we discover that we are not gifted in the same ways as are persons around us.
Spiritual formation challenges all persons to realize that as differently as we are gifted from one another, we are all in the same boat in ways such as the following: 1) We each participate in the painful reality of broken relationships: within ourselves, with one another, with the environment and with the Lord. 2) In Christ, all persons are redeemed. The forgiveness of sins, reconciliation and healing are offered to all persons. 3) As we take to heart and make our own the forgiveness and reconciliation that Christ has gained for us, we are set free to relate to that which makes us different from one another in a manner that promotes the well-being of others.
What a blessing it is that both of our Parishes have persons who work hard to promote the spiritual formation of our children and youth. We can express our gratitude and support for the formation that is offered in ways such as the following: 1) by continuing to gather each weekend and special Holy Day to celebrate God’s love for us in Jesus Christ at Mass. We can never graduate from or outgrow the need to celebrate God’s unconditional love for us in Jesus Christ. Unlike the academic year, which normally runs for nine months, the invitation to celebrate Mass is extended to us all twelve months of the year. 2) Hopefully, the religious formation that children of all ages receive whets our spiritual appetites to want more of this for ourselves. The goal of spiritual formation is to relate the Faith that we celebrate at Mass to all facets of our lives in this world. This is a process that is on-going. 3) A vital aspect of relating Faith to life is that we will want to embrace a life of on-going service to others as an expression of our love for the Lord.
It is at this point that academic and spiritual formation converge. Spiritual formation offers the motivation and enthusiasm to develop academically. From the vantage point of our Faith, the goal of all academic formation is to equip those in the education process to discover, develop and use their gifts and abilities to promote the common good.
I hope that we will grow in the ability to appreciate the importance and the proper place of both spiritual and academic formation. These vital facets in our development complement each other. Both are on-going.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Nelson Beaver – Pastor