In Your Midst

Joy and Hope in Christ

May 2012

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council and of Seattle’s World’s Fair,
parishioners meditate on what gives them joy and hope

Here in Seattle, this year marks the 50th anniversary of an event that looked to the future: the Seattle World’s Fair, “Century 21.”  In the Church, we mark the 50th anniversary of another event that looked to the future in a much more profound way: the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  The great vision of John XXIII is as relevant today as it was 50 years ago.  In his address at the opening of the Council on October 11, 1962, he said: “Sometimes, much to our regret, we have to listen to people… who can see nothing but calamities and ruin in these modern times.  We feel that we must disagree with these prophets of gloom who are always forecasting disaster, as if the end of the world were imminent.”  We invited Cathedral parishioners to share what gives them “joy and hope” for the future.  As you will find, they are not “prophets of gloom” but rather, prophets of joy and hope.  They remind us of how much we have to be grateful for in this parish community.

Father Michael G. Ryan

I was born and raised in a small, mostly Italian-American community in the Blackstone Valley, 32 miles southwest of Boston.  I took the Church for granted as a normal and acceptable part of American life, until I went away to college in 1959.  There I found that some professors, but especially my fellow students, considered that persisting in being a Roman Catholic branded me as an irrational, superstitious and gullible relic of the Middle Ages.  My response to those accusations was to emulate my then-TV-hero Bishop Fulton J. Sheen and go on the defensive, spending my time re-hashing arguments from Catholic apologetic tracts.  So, understandably enough I suppose, I ended up in the seminary, by God’s grace just as preparations were being finalized for the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

Those were confusing and hope-filled days.  I and my fellow seminarians struggled with unfamiliar ideas about the evolving reality of the Church that John XXIII had renewed.  Our contact with the outside world, as it was called, was limited during my Novitiate year – no newspapers, radio, television only for a hour after dinner and no magazines except Catholic publications, Time, Newsweek, and, miraculously, The New Yorker.  Above all others, we prized Xavier Rynne’s articles in The New Yorker, with his insider’s view of the development and conduct of the Council.  We all finagled to be among the first to read his articles and report on them to each other during our Community Recreation time.

By the time I left the seminary in 1963, my life and life in my Church had changed irrevocably.  I was no longer fearful of the world’s sullying my faith and no longer looked only to people like me for support.  Vatican II gave me my neighborhood, my country, my culture, and the world as the arena in which I could live my life and work out my salvation.

We all have our own perspective on the most meaningful gift the Council gave to us.  For me it is this:  the Council made me realize that the people of God are the Church.

What power I have found in that simple phrase.  We are not only a flock or a congregation.  We do not simply follow and get taken care of.  We are God’s people as were the Israelites of old and what we do in our lives is the working out of God’s love in time and space, here and now.  The priests, nuns, bishops, the Pope, me, you, all of us are in this together.  This is our church—the Church is us.

This Vatican II church is where I was married, raised my children, encountered my neighbors and where I grow old.  I believe sincerely that I would not still be a Catholic if it were not for Vatican II.  And so with the spirit of Vatican II, with its wisdom, courage, openness and grace-full forgiveness, may we help our Church to flourish!

Dan DeMatteis

I have been at St. James Cathedral for as long as I can remember. I was baptized at St. James and this year I will be getting confirmed at St. James. Also, I am an altar server at the ten o’clock Mass. To say St. James is my parish is an understatement.  St. James is more than a parish but part of my extended family.

This year we are celebrating 50 years since Vatican II. We are also celebrating 50 years since the World’s Fair was hosted in Seattle. Vatican II and the World’s Fair both brought joy and hope into the lives of those impacted by these events. This joy and hope still lives in all of us today.

The World’s Fair was all about looking to the future. No longer was the sky the limit, space was the new frontier. The monument that can be seen from almost everywhere in Seattle; constantly reminding us of our history is the Space Needle. I have never been to the top of the Space Needle, but I do not need to in order to see the beauty of our city. Seattle hosting the World’s Fair was just the awakening; this great gathering of people helped us come alive. As Seattle began to change, the Church began to change also. The congregation would now profess their faith in their native tongue, enhancing their understanding of the liturgy. The clergy would now face the congregation, praying with them and including them in the worship. Going to Mass every Sunday is like the World’s Fair, it is our gathering of people. When you walk into the church you can feel the unity. When we sing together the joy surrounds you. When we pray together, you can hear the prayers and hopes for a better future. These communal acts strengthen my belief that the Holy Spirit is truly among us, helping us spread joy and hope to the world.

On May 12, I will be confirming that in my future the Church will always have a place. I am so excited I almost feel at the Laying on of the Hands there will be an electric shock. As I embark on the next stage of my life, I am hopeful that the Church’s teachings will lead me to my final destination. For the past seventeen years of my life I have had my family and my St. James family there to help guide me on the right path. Next year I will be a senior at my high school, Bishop Blanchet, and I will need to decide on college. My two older sisters have gone to college already, and I wonder how they have survived without visiting St. James. I realized, the community at St. James has meant so much to me, I will never actually leave. My spirit will always be with this congregation, and I am positive St. James feelings of comfort, joy, hope, and love will travel with me where ever I go.

Mairead Corrigan

Our lives—to put it very simply—are a pursuit of some kind of happiness. When today isn’t happy, we keep going because we believe that tomorrow will be happier. “Joy and hope” is a nice encapsulation of the whole premise, isn’t it?

The challenge with Joy seems to be to finding the right kind to pursue. There are, after all, personal joys that soon become meaningless. There are joys that hurt other people. As for Hope – one wants it to satisfy the heart and mind at once. A Hope that the heart just knows is right while the mind concurs.

Over the years I’ve come to see Faith, Tradition and Community as my support system in this balancing act. Faith in the message of Christ – it’s something completely human and completely Divine at once. The Tradition of the Church that has survived the ages—expressed in its liturgy, its music and its fascinating history, sometimes its very physical presence. Faith and tradition can’t exist in a vacuum though. Not for me anyway. The community of my friends and family within and around the Church ties it all together. People that I love, respect and identify with. It’s their choice of Joys and their means of preserving Hope that makes it all real to me as much as anything else.
Reflecting on Hope at the 50th anniversary of two monumental events celebrating hope is indeed a privilege. The 1962 Seattle World’s Fair expressed the hope of this City—and the Second Vatican Council was an affirmation of Hope in our Faith and Tradition.  Of course, someone did say that if you could remember the 1960s you weren’t there. So we can take it on Faith that 1962 was quite a year—regardless of whether or not we were there. How true.

Jijo Jose

As a little girl I loved being in church. I memorized my favorite prayers, collected holy cards and said the rosary. I started Catholic school in third grade. But by 14 or 15 I was seriously questioning my faith, and more than that questioning the church’s rules and dogma. As soon as I left home I stopped going to church. It seemed the best way to stop feeling like life wasn’t worth living was to get away from a religion that kept telling me what a bad person I was.

Fast forward 30 years and I was going to Mass with my parents whenever I visited. It was a way to feel connected to them after a long time of feeling disconnected. Vatican II had happened in the meantime. I didn’t know when to stand or kneel or what to say, but I watched and followed along. Sometimes I went to communion, mostly I didn’t. I didn’t feel like I belonged or fit in but that wasn’t why I was there anyway. I already knew I didn’t want to be a Catholic.

I didn’t want to be a Catholic, but I did miss the peace I felt as a child when I still loved the church and felt God loved me. Cal Anderson’s funeral was the first time I thought there might be room for me, a lesbian and feminist, in the Church. I started going to Mass at St James on days I needed comfort and consolation but was still on the outside looking in. I stopped going to communion because I felt like an imposter. I wanted to belong but didn’t know how. Then I found a Welcome Back card in a pew.
TerryAnn and the Welcome back team were patient as I came up with every reason I could for why I wouldn’t be accepted as a returning Catholic. When I exhausted my reasons and made my first confession in 40 years I knew I’d been welcomed home. I’ve never felt so loved and accepted. I didn’t think I came back for community, but I’ve found (and herein lies my joy and hope) a spiritual family I never imagined. My partner of 20 years and I have been completely welcomed and taken in as members of St. James, both as individuals and as a couple. Telling the story of our welcome into St. James has brought joy and hope about the Church to friends and family who’ve had nothing good to say about the Catholic Church for years. I never thought I’d be spreading the good news.

Chris Galloway

A couple of years ago when my partner told me she was thinking about returning to the church, I was happy for her.  Though she hadn’t been a practicing Catholic for decades, Chris had never lost her sense of the sacred.  On our first trip to Italy, where I used to live, I saw something happen to her when she walked into a church or sat before paintings of Mary or the Passion; the church was important to her.  The church was important to me too, but for different reasons.  I’d been raised a sort of generic Protestant, but as a fan of European art and literature, I had a rich, if eccentric, relationship with Catholic culture.  However, given how rigid and exclusive the church appeared to me, and how oppressive of women and gay people, I could never imagine joining.  So, supportive as I wanted to be of my partner, I was also a little worried that her return to Catholicism would require a return to dogma that condemned our relationship.  

 When she registered at St James, however, the welcome letter the parish sent was addressed, I was surprised and pleased to see, to both of us as a couple.  I was similarly surprised and pleased to experience how warm people at church were to us both as individuals and as a couple.  The more time I spent at St. James, the more convinced I became of its true inclusiveness.  This church did not merely talk about love and compassion, it actually practiced it.  This church was a place where I was welcome to worship alongside people of different ages and incomes and colors, languages and life patterns and family configurations, as we gathered at the table to try to see and love and serve one another better.  This church was a church I could think about joining; about a year ago I started RCIA.

Sixty years ago who could have imagined that the Mass would be said in our own language?  Or that laypeople would participate in it so fully?  But Vatican II opened wider the church’s doors and brought in fresh air and light and spirit.  Thirty years ago who could have imagined our Vatican-II-inspired church would try to open its doors even wider still by welcoming gays and lesbians?   When I see the efforts toward this real agape I feel hope.

Rebecca Brown

As Blessed Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council “to open the windows … and let in some fresh air” our church was called to be a sign of joy and hope in the world. This joy and hope was surely rooted in the goodness of God, but also in the radical goodness of humanity.

What gives me joy and hope for the future is seeing us love and serve one another as Jesus taught us.  For me, many examples are found right here at St. James Cathedral, our family’s parish home since the late summer of 2011.

When my husband and I drop our three kids off for faith formation or choir rehearsal, I see the smiling faces of the staff and volunteers that work so hard, yet effortlessly, with our parish’s children and I am filled with joy and hope for the future. Hearing how much our children love their faith formation classes at St. James and watching their learning flow into our daily lives has been a  blessing.  As the children participate in the ministry of music, they find joy in songful prayer and service.

Throughout the vibrant community of St. James there are many ministries that reach out to our brothers and sisters who need to know they are loved: the homeless, the sick, the marginalized, the lonely, the oppressed. I see this outreach done in the spirit of joyful hope and selfless giving. I appreciate that this is a servant church and I look forward to getting more involved myself.

When I listen to Fr. Ryan’s relevant and insightful homilies, I am drawn closer to God’s unconditional love for each and every one of us, and I am filled with joy and hope. There are no hardened hearts here, only open arms. There is no doubt in my mind that this parish community welcomes, accepts, and celebrates the differences we all bring here. How refreshing this love and unity is in a world that can often be divided.

Just as the Second Vatican Council took the world to its heart in a spirit of love and compassion for all, I see that life-giving spirit working at St. James and it truly engages me with great joy and tremendous hope for the future!

Tami Kowal

When I was a little boy in 1962, my father was one of the contractors at the World’s Fair in Seattle.  Weeks before the Fair’s official opening, dad took me up to Space Needle’s observation deck.  Plywood served as the flooring and electrical wires hung from the unfinished ceiling .  I was six years old.  Seattle, like me, was fresh and new, full of possibilities as an army of workers transformed it to welcome the millions of visitors that would soon flood the city.

Fifty years later, Seattle is older and wiser, but it still has that feeling that change is in the air.  We are once again rebuilding:  light rail stations are popping up all over Seattle, the Viaduct will soon disappear, and South Lake Union hums with activity.  The city is becoming a place for people, not cars, as we return to urban friendly living.  Our citizens are more accepting and respectful of diversity in all its forms, and realize that we must do what we can to help the less fortunate in our society.  

What gives me joy and hope for the future is that St. James is in the vanguard of our city’s vitality.  Through outreach programs to the poor and disadvantaged, St. James staff and volunteers try to live the Gospels of Christ everyday in our community.  From the pulpit, Father Ryan and Father Brant remind us, Sunday after Sunday, to evaluate our actions in light of God’s teaching, and that we honor God by serving others.  I am grateful that Saint James is here to give each generation a chance to discover the power of the Gospels and be guided by them.

My dear old father who helped rebuild the city for the fair is gone, but the fair’s message of hope for a better tomorrow remains alive and well in Seattle.  In five months, I will become a grandfather for the first time.  I plan to take my grandchild to the top of the Needle, and look out at a great city that is becoming better, and dream about what the next fifty years will bring.

Charles Kastner

I was a little girl in West Seattle when the Space Needle was being built – I remember thinking it was the most futuristic and exciting building I had ever seen and wow, it would be even taller than the Smith Tower!  I was confirmed during Vatican II and didn’t really understand its impact on the way liturgy was conducted.  I noticed there was more English and less Latin and didn’t think too much about what was going on so far away in Rome.

It doesn’t seem like 50 years have passed since the World’s Fair and Vatican II.  I’m still fascinated by architecture of all kinds, old and new, and have been lucky enough to visit Rome several times where the important events of the Council took place.  My own future it turns out, after those early years in West Seattle, included living in different states, college, marriage, grad school, two children, owning a business, starting a new career, a marriage ending, and finding myself back home in Seattle where now the Columbia Tower is even taller than my beloved Space Needle!

So what gives me joy and hope for my future today?  I would have to say it is very close to what the Council was all about: it is the joy and hope I find in Christ.  This joy is manifested in the community of faith I’ve found among my sister musicians in the Women of St. James Schola and my fellow choristers in the Cathedral Choir.  I see the face of Christ in all these wonderful people who love me, and who prayed so steadily for me during my recent illness and recovery.  I experience the hope in Christ in my grown son Tipton, and daughter Kate, who are working hard at creating their own bright futures every day. 

With good friends and family, a job that is engaging, and a future filled with the promise of more travel and new adventures, I want to be a reflection of the joy and hope of Christ for others.  Can the future get any better than that?

Michelle Power

Fifty years ago, I was a junior in high school living in Whiting, Indiana and dreaming about a World’s Fair in far off Seattle.  Monorail and Space Needle were mystical creations I longed to see.  At the same time this Catholic boy was struggling to lay aside Ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam and pray the Mass in English.  Pope John XXIII breathed new life into a listless Church.  Sixteen years later I finally rode the Monorail and saw the glorious view from the Space Needle.  It was another 21 years before I moved to Seattle.

I joined the parish community at St. James in the summer of 2005 and became a member of the Cathedral Choir shortly thereafter.  I was married for 33 years and lost my wife, Linda to cancer seven years ago.  I have two grown daughters who are seeking their place in the world.  I am also involved in the Cathedral’s AIDS Care Team Ministry.  Our team of four to six volunteers works with one or two people who are living with HIV/AIDS, helping them with day to day needs, running errands, and ministry of presence.

What gives me hope and joy for the future?  After singing and praying with you through Lent and Holy Week, and arriving triumphantly at Easter Sunday, there is much to be excited about.  Every Sunday the Cathedral Choir has the privilege of sitting in the East Apse, observing as we pray, young parents with their beautiful children: babies, toddlers, grade schoolers  and older, all learning the meaning of the Holy Mass.  As these children mature into young adults, I am thrilled to see a new generation of enthusiastic Catholics finding their place in this great parish family.

The second Sunday of Easter particularly stirred my soul.  Our prayer was, I won’t say accompanied by, but rather, elevated to its highest level by our glorious youth choirs.  They are marvelous musicians and give me great hope that our excellent musical programs will live on into future generations.

I have great joy and hope living in a community such as this that gives love and support to people who are shunned by many.  St. James is a community of love and service. This Church is more lively than Good Pope John could have ever imagined.  Thanks be to God!

Chuck Reichert

“Why are you smiling?” we asked.

My wife, five children, and I were on pilgrimage to Lourdes and we were walking along the River Gave one bright day in June when we encountered some religious sisters. This was one happy group of nuns!  The sun reflected brightly off the surface of the cold clear mountain water but it couldn't compare to the joy that radiated from their faces.

The response of one of the sisters has stayed with me.  “We smile all day long as we serve the dying in our hospices throughout Europe and India.  Even though we often may not feel like smiling inwardly, we offer it up as a sacrifice, obeying God's call to love in action at all times.  The power of the Holy Spirit takes it from there and through hope, bears fruits of joy.”

Back then, as fresh converts to the Catholic faith, this was a new concept to my wife and me. Could there really be a connection between sacrifice, obedience, hope, and joy?  That's not the way we were used to seeing things. Like most people, I imagine, we equated ease and doing what we pleased with happiness.  Even in our Christian lives, most of us have a tendency to look for the comfort and healing that Christ offers without listening to the rest of his words to the woman taken in adultery:  “go and sin no more.”

Looking up, I saw the basilica that had been built above the grotto where Mary appeared to St. Bernadette. Above the door I noticed a beautiful mosaic of a palm tree.  A passage from Jeremiah 17—words on which Lauris and I had founded our marriage--filled my mind: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose hope is in the Lord. He is like a tree planted beside the waters that stretches out its root to the stream: it fears not the heat when it comes, its leaves stay green; in the year of drought is shows no distress but still bears fruit.”

Now suddenly the sister’s words made sense. When we choose to do acts of love, not as a calculating gesture looking for a return but out of sacrificial obedience to Christ, we are planting seeds.  The palm tree, growing in the desert, takes thirty years to produce its fruit.  The sisters struggled hard in the deserts of life to draw from the healing waters of God.  Through years of sacrifice, joy is one of the fruits they harvested.  We could see it radiating in the faces of the nuns, and we could see the same joy radiating off our children's faces—the fruits of our marriage, founded in Christ.

As we look to the future with hope, let's gird ourselves fearlessly with a new determination to follow Christ’s commands no matter the personal cost. The result will be not dry religion… but joy.

John Joosten

A recent homily of Father Brant really resonated with me.  Perhaps it was because I had been pondering the question “what gives you joy and hope for the future?” for a few weeks.  It seemed as if he and I had both come up with the same answer to that question: the turning of each new day truly is a blessing—one for which we should really express our gratitude and not take for granted.  I gain joy each morning when I wake up and discover that what is most important to me is still here on this planet. 

Now, I realize that may sound a bit ‘Pollyanna.’  Please allow me to elaborate.  My husband Rob and I are new parents.  Our son is almost 9 months old.  Observing his development in the past 9 months, and the preceding 9 months, has truly changed us.  He is a small, but growing by the minute, miracle!  One of the parenting books I am currently reading referenced scientist Lewis Thomas, who pondered how a single cell (during in the embryonic stage) ultimately forms the human brain.  He said “The mere existence of such a cell should be one of the great astonishments of the earth.  People ought to be walking around all day, all through their waking hours, calling to each other in endless wonderment, talking of nothing except that cell.” His comments made me chuckle, but reinforced my belief in the miraculous nature of life.

I go to bed every night with a simple prayer in my heart—asking for another day with my son.  When I wake up in the morning to the sound of his crying, I realize that my prayer has been answered.  Admittedly, there are those mornings in which I hear his cry and think “aw…please just five… more… minutes of sleep.”  But, in large part, I am grateful for every new day and each additional adventure that comes along with the early days of parenting.

In a strange way, the occurrence of unfortunate and tragic events also turns my heart to gratitude.  Life is sacred.  Sometimes reading the news, or hearing about the untimely death of a loved one, breaks my heart - but also reminds me that every moment on this planet is precious.  My evening and morning prayer is my small way of recognizing the fleeting, sacred nature of our lives.

Angela Arralde

I was not born Catholic, but catholic. A slip of the finger negated that first sentence and, upon review, it struck my fancy.  How thought-provoking, how profound, how TRUE!  Well, I was born into a Catholic family, promptly baptized and continuously dragged to Mass on Sundays; I religiously donned plaid jumpers, white polo shirts, and knee-highs in Catholic school, but I had to grow into that capital-C Catholic.  I vaguely recall becoming Catholic in sixth-grade.  I do not remember the details, but from then on it was no longer my parents’ choice that I attend Mass and “love thy neighbor” (aka sister), or “honor thy father and mother”.  I wanted to be Catholic, memorize the hymns and prayers, absorb the tradition and be “good” at it, too.  I felt lucky to be surrounded by those who were all too eager to nurture my budding gift of faith.

Any faith journey has its ups and downs.  Going to public school for high school out of convenience was a bit of a test for me.  My parents told me many times that not everyone believed in God and, without a uniform behind which to hide, appearances began to affect me.  In high school, I began to ask, “Am I Catholic enough?”  My Lenten sacrifices during my teen years were unusually extreme.  I wasn’t striving to be Christ-like, but actually Christ!  I would get intensely frustrated by temptation and wonder aloud, “if Jesus can fast for forty days, then so can I and that is EXACTLY what I must do to have a ‘successful’ Lent.”  After repeated failure, my father would remind me that Christ was able to fast for forty days out of His divinity.  I remember confessions where I would go in mortified and announce that I was not worthy of grace and the Eucharist I had received the previous Sunday.  As if that was a sin!  All was well when the priest agreed that was not worthy either and granted me absolution.  God is God and I am not.  “…You are more than the choices that you’ve made, you are more than the sum of your past mistakes, you are more than the problems you create…” (song: You Are More-by Tenth Avenue North) There is probably no such thing as a successful Lent one of the most beautiful things God created was the Fallen Angel, you are indeed adequate and worthy, and there is grace enough to go around.

Of course I was making my own choices by the time college rolled around.  I declared that faith belonged in education and chose Gonzaga University.  I went in pretty sheltered and came out calling myself a “thinking Catholic”, courtesy of the Jesuits.  I was active in my faith now, because four years of philosophy and religion taught me that faith without works is dead and social justice and the poor are worth fighting for.  I became attached to the community and the rich tradition.  People laugh at the unified stand-sit-kneel-stand-sit-bow that we do, but, no matter… it’s just that--unifying, comforting, powerful.  Wherever you are in the world, it is the same ceremony stemming from the same practices.  Small c catholic means universal.

I am still young; I daresay YOUNGER than most with whom I attend Mass.  I am living through only my second Pope, first version of the Creed (since I can’t seem to memorize the most recent one, yet), I am more familiar with Fr. Ryan’s face than the back of his head, and, regrettably perhaps, I know very little Latin and rarely choose Gregorian chant.  Still, I remain in awe.  Even attending Mass weekly, every time I walk in I feel as if I have been gone for ages and an hour is never quite enough to satisfy my yearning.  I believe incense, sacred organ music and candlelight enhance the experience.  I love the majestic processions whether it is “ordinary” time or Easter.  I love how different phrases poke my spirit every time I attend Mass…though I’ve been catholic for nearly three decades, on four continents and in well over a dozen countries.  The Catholic Church is a living institution, yet strong as a rock.  Debate is okay.  She will survive persecution.  Honestly, it is thrilling and invigorating! In an odd, curious way I am thrilled at the reminders that there is room for improvement in the Church. The recent changes were simply textual and they do not scare me or shake my faith.  They served as a wake-up call to become a participant once again and think about what I say each week and begin to live it!

Converts may be more zealous than cradle-Catholics; my new husband is a convert. Jealous is one letter away from zealous.  I spent too much of my past being jealous of those who appeared more Catholic rather than be zealous about my blessings.  What gives me hope for the future is that I still have to fight for a parking spot on Sunday mornings, confession makes my heart beat fast with joy, baptisms bring me to tears, feast days are standing room only, sacraments are relevant, RCIA is popular, and the lines of outstretched hands to receive Christ are ever lengthening.  Personally, I have a chance to raise a faithful family and build a domestic church!  Hope may have been a recent political buzzword, but I have it and I am hoping it is contagious.

Mass is an experience to embrace with eyes and heart wide open for the tremendous outpouring of grace.  Though I hear the same phrases, my ears still perk up when I hear “for our sake and our salvation He came down from Heaven…protect us from all anxiety as we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Saviour… a death He freely accepted… Do this in memory of me…”  After Communion I feel like I am rushing to my seat to  fervently shout inside my head everything I want God to know about me, my needs, desires, fears…not even pausing to breathe, …. or realize that He knows what’s best for me long before I puzzle it out and put myself through agonizing doubt and over analysis.  He has gone before us, cleared the cobwebs and laid out a fresh banquet for each of us…one that is more decadent and fulfilling than we could ever imagine.  With God, I have no worry for the future. That gives me hope.

Caitlin Ross

Reflecting on the theme of joy and hope I find my primary source for these is unquestionably the love God has for his people.  Knowing that God walks with us through life and that he sent his Son with a message of hope makes it nearly impossible not to experience joy.  That is not to say that we don’t suffer with serious issues from time to time throughout our lives.   I, like many people, have experienced periods of great doubt that God is present, but when I eventually overcame my doubts, I was then able to experience great joy. 

Though it can feel like today’s issues are insurmountable, when I reflect back through my 50 years, I am reminded how much we have overcome and grown.   Somehow through all the injustice, fears, and never-ending problems, we keep moving forward and I believe our perseverance is a result of the innate belief in God.  As cruel as the world can seem at times, with each new generation hope for a better future is born.

God gives us so many great and wonderful gifts. To me, one of the most important is the ability to experience emotions like hope and joy.  Joy for me comes from knowing that God is always with us despite the problems I or the world may be facing.  I only need to look at the miracle of life that unfolds every spring to know that God is present.

My hopes for the future are quite vast but my greatest hope is that eventually, people will figure out a way to justly distribute the abundance that God gave us and that we eliminate the disease of poverty throughout the world.  I hope that I, along with all those who call themselves Christians, will get better at following Christ’s teachings of love for one another.  I hope that our Church continues to be a community of inclusion and a model of social justice.  I hope that there will continue to be radicals respectfully challenging the status quo like there were 2,000 years ago.

The complexities of the world can best be managed if each of us starts with the core message of Jesus:  that we love one another.  From that often forgotten commandment hope and joy can flourish. 

Martin Goodness

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the Lord.”  Psalm 31

In November, we joined the Baptism Team at St.  James.  Being part of this team allows us to meet the newest members to the Catholic Church… children and infants preparing for baptism.  While most infants have a lot to say during baptism classes, we can’t really understand what they are saying.  But we’re pretty sure there is hope in the sound of giggles, cries, laughter, and the first attempts to sing.  We also love the baptisms themselves:  Water, light, white garments, candles, and chrism oil are not just symbols of baptism; they are visual reminders of where we’ve been and where we can go.

During baptism class we enjoy ample opportunities to discuss with parents their personal and family histories in terms of baptism and our faith.  No two families are just alike, and yet there is a common thread among all of them:  the hope they experience in their children.   And this gives us hope, too, as we see how people of different faiths, backgrounds, and lifestyles work, live and pray together.  This eccentric mix of people from all walks of life is what makes the Puget Sound a progressive, inclusive community of believers, full of hope.

Every time you attend St.  James your participation is part of the liturgy.  Whether you are an usher, donate flowers, or simply slide further down the pew to make room for another person, you contribute to the beauty and the passion that is our united belief in hope and goodness.  We once heard it said, “There are no mistakes in liturgy… only good recoveries.” This carries over into life as well.  Our mistakes, in liturgy or in life, allow the opportunity to recover.  We are hopeful that small positive daily actions outweigh our mistakes or stumbles of the past.

It is often easier to become discouraged than to be strong in our faith, to share our faith with each other, and find hope in welcoming and serving those already within our midst.  In life, little things make a big difference.  In Seattle, and at St.  James, there are many little things being done to affect great change.  And that’s exactly what gives us great hope.

Tim & Alana Gately

As I contemplate the question, “What gives me joy and hope for the future?” I think of Jesus’ Easter message to his disciples after his resurrection, “Peace be with you!” In Hebrew, “Shalom” means fullness of life and well-being, forgiveness, courage and joy, a new beginning of their life with the Risen Jesus.

Then Jesus breathed his Spirit on them and gave them power to receive and to give God’s forgiveness.  These were the same apostles who had run away, denied and abandoned him!  It is nothing short of amazing (no, divine), that Jesus not only forgave them completely but believed in them and entrusted to them the continuation of his work on earth.

The same risen Jesus commissions us today:  “As the Father has sent me, so I send you!”  We are sent to be his voice, his Body, his servants on earth in our time. He knows that much will be asked of us, as was true of the early disciples:  patience and forgiveness for our failings and weaknesses, courage to respond to the needs and cries of his people today; wisdom to struggle with our conflicts and differences, to seek truth through respectful dialogue; and above all, the commandment to love one another as our sisters and brothers in Christ—even as Christ has loved us!  A tall order, given our very human weaknesses and fears.

The readings from the Acts of the Apostles this Easter season show us the way. Filled with courage and on fire with the Holy Spirit, the disciples witnessed to Christ with their preaching and their lives. Peter and Paul and the early followers of Jesus had to grapple with serious controversies in their time and they did. Empowered by the Spirit to listen to each other and to the faith and experience of the community, they asked:  “What teachings of Jesus, what examples of his life guide us in the new questions we face?” They did not give in to fear. They looked to the “Great Commandment” of love of God and neighbor as touchstone.

As we face the storms and sufferings of our day,  to whom can we look for hope? for joy? for courage? “Jesus is risen,” we sing and pray!  Jesus feeds us with the Bread of Life.  Jesus pours out his Spirit on our newly baptized, and on each of us who cling to his truth and his vision for the Reign of God.  Jesus is our joy and our hope… now and forever!

Judy Ryan snjm

Perhaps the first time I attended St. James was one of James Savage’s first New Year’s Eve concerts of Bach’s last cantata of the old year followed by his first for the New Year.  My wife had sung with him in the St. Mark’s Choir when first we came to Seattle in 1971 and was pleased to join the group for that special evening.  New Year’s Eve at St. James became a fixed part of our year. 

In the nineties Father Ryan, at Dr. Savage’s suggestion, asked me to join the Arts Committee for the renovation of the Cathedral, convincing me that an Episcopalian might have something to contribute to a Roman Catholic effort.  To my surprise that was true in a small way although what I received was greater than what I could give. When a valued committee member faced a health crisis that made continuing with us impossible we knelt at our folding chairs and had a prayer meeting exactly like one in the Bible Church of my youth.  What I had long rejected in search of the dependable comfort of liturgy was suddenly necessary in extemporaneous prayer for one of us in need.
When, more than a decade later, I spoke with Father Ryan about taking the step of becoming a Catholic, he said, “Bob, you know I could receive you this afternoon here in the office, but I think it would be better for you to know the family you’re joining.  Go the RCIA route.”  He was wiser than I knew.  In the RCIA sessions I met and came to know and value people from outside my normal context, people I would have categorized simply as ‘them,’ not as individuals for whom I came to care.  It became our journey rather than just mine.

Today when I come to Mass at St. James, a ritual which I know will be celebrated with care and artistry, I know that I’m there as part a very large Family.  There are those who, like me, find the music a necessary part of worship and life.  There are also the kids, the Mohawked and ear-ringed altar servers, for whom the dignity of ritual and the beauty of Mozart, Bach, Proulx,  Herbolsheimer, and Stratman praising God are as normal a part of life as iPods and texting.  However unimaginably different from mine their lives are and will be, we share these words and this music in praising God.

The first time I joined the congregation singing “Amazing Grace” I was in tears.  I had sung this hymn as a child, as an adolescent fleeing a Fundamentalist tradition, as an Episcopalian for four decades, and now as a Roman Catholic.  It was then that I realized that the path upon which I have been led is not a line; it is a circle and it will lead me home.

Robert Dahlstrom
  


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