Clare County Review & Marion Press Columns


One of the most beloved saints is St. Francis of Assisi. I like St. Francis, not only because he loved animals, was simple, lived quietly, and gave up his earthly wealth, but because he could also misinterpret what God was telling him. The story goes that one day while praying he heard God say to him, “Francis, go and build my Church.” What does Francis do? He starts gathering stones and rebuilding the physical walls of the church! Only later to discover that the Church God wanted him to rebuild was the spiritual life of believers. God seems to have wanted St. Francis to lead people to a greater, deeper, and more intimate life with their Creator. This happened in the twelfth and thirteenth century.
Currently, Our Lady of Hope Parish is in the process of remodeling St. Cecilia Church in Clare. Years have been spent in planning meetings and fund raising, doing all the things necessary to finally move forward with beginning the project. Within a month it is hoped that the demolition phase will begin. Halleluia! Its time has come. I’m excited.
At the same time, however, I need to remind myself that the real renovation that needs to happen for me is my life with God. I am reminded of a movie I once saw as a kid. A priest was showing someone what the people had done in building wonderful church buildings and a school and seminary and park-like grounds. How proud he was of all that was done! The visitor had only one question, “How many souls have you saved?” The priest was silent.
As we move forward with the renovation of St. Cecilia Church in Clare, I think it would be good for all of us to reflect on our own spiritual renovation. When was the last time you went to confession? Do you attend mass regularly? Have you been praying every day? Do you take the time to read the Bible? Have you taken a class in the faith recently? How is your charitable giving going? How are you sharing your faith with others? Do you live your Christian life publicly? Have you read other spiritual books? Could you make improvements in your personal life by forgiving others and giving up resentments? Could God be asking you to spend some time in adoration? How about visiting the sick? What about enrolling yourself and children in family faith formation (religious ed.)?
I am a deer hunter and fisherman. It seems that I put a lot of time and preparation into those things. I wonder what my spiritual life would be like if I spent as much time reading a religious magazine as I do with American Hunter. I can’t wait for fish camp and opening day of rifle deer season. I don’t have the same enthusiasm for a spiritual retreat! Oh Lord, help me! I need to “renovate” my spiritual life. I need more renovation than just the physical structure of my church. How about you?
“May the Lord bless and keep you. May he let his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you his peace.”

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