Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
Queen Esther lived in a time of grave peril for the Jewish people — and let’s be clear: That is not our situation! Still, we can draw inspiration from her story. This is a time of great transition in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It’s probably not a time any of us would have chosen for ourselves. But, like Queen Esther, God has chosen this time for us! Like her, we need to move forward with faith, boldness and creativity.
St. Augustine wrote a letter to a woman named Proba on the nature of prayer. The Church includes selections from it in the Office of Readings this week. One of St. Augustine’s main points concerns the relationship between desire and prayer. He says that the purpose of opening our desires to God in prayer is not so that God can be informed about what we want. God already knows what we want! Instead, St. Augustine writes, “He wants us rather to exercise our desire through our prayer, so that we may be able to receive what He is preparing to give us.” What God wants for us is even more than we can imagine. When we open our hearts to God, God starts to work and transform our desires.
I think that’s an important lesson as we engage in the listening sessions of All Things New. I believe God is preparing to give us something great! But in order to receive it, we need to open our desires to Him in prayer.
We celebrate the feast of St. Luke this week (Oct. 18). He was a companion of St. Paul — so he received something important from St. Paul. But Luke didn’t simply stay in the background, content with what he had received. Rather, at a pivotal point in Church history, St. Luke had something powerful and beautiful to contribute to the Church’s mission: the two-volume work of the Gospel of Luke and the Acts of the Apostles.
That’s a lesson for us, too, I think. Like St. Luke, we have received much from others. Like St. Luke, we stand at a pivotal time in the history of the local Church. Like St. Luke, we need to open ourselves to the powerful and beautiful things God wants us to contribute to the Church’s mission.
The week concludes with the feast of St. John Paul II (Oct. 22). I want to recall two things he said, from which I think we can draw inspiration.
First, in his inaugural homily as pope, he said: “Be not afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!” That message has not gotten old!
Second, in his apostolic letter “Novo millennio ineunte,” which was meant to launch us into the new millennium, he said: “Duc in altum — set out for deep waters!” Listen to his words, which I think speak directly to our moment:
“Duc in altum! [Set out for deep waters!] These words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence” (“Novo millennio ineunte,” #1).