My First Parish Mission – Deacon Eric

The Parish Mission That I Discovered! 

How could I not remember my first Parish Mission?  This occurred during Lent at my family parish, St Thecla, in Detroit.  We had a guest speaker that was a cousin of President John Kennedy, who had once been an ambassador.  She discussed Christian Discipleship and how it was lived out in Africa.  As she was concluding her talk, reflecting on the persecutions of the faithful in Nigeria, she brought out a ram’s horn and began to blow it very loud.  Then she shouted, “Rejoice, Rejoice!  The blood of the faithful is flowing! And by their blood the robes of the martyrs are red again!”

Now this penetrated straight to my heart.  Of course, I was aware of the persecutions of the early Christians as told in the Bible. But these persecutions in Nigeria were not historical, they were happening today!  Today, we have new martyrs.  Today, we too could be called to offer our lives for our faith.  And if Jesus Christ wasn’t alive and supporting them, why would these martyrs die?  And why should I always be looking at Jesus, as a historical figure?  Did he not promise that “I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (MT 28:20)

I like to refer to these moments of enlightenment as the ‘Kiss of Christ.’  A merciful kiss; not deserved, but freely offered by our Lord, making his presence known in our lives.  Yes, always encouraging us to walk intimately with him, and to change our lives, so that we can be a witness to his love, to fulfill our call to discipleship.

Although these ‘kisses’ are received at various times when ministering, I find that I’m particularly receptive to them at Parish Missions.  Indeed, Parish Missions are our opportunity to take a moment from our busy lives and to listen to the Lord’s voice in our hearts.  Our guest speakers are most gifted at making this experience happen for each of us.

This is why I am so looking forward to this year’s Parish Mission, “Your Story, Our Story.”  This year we have the privilege of having Dr Timone Davis, as our guest speaker.  She is very gifted at storytelling, who will surely bring some enlightenment to our spiritual lives.  As we allow our own unique stories to find fulfillment in the story of Jesus Christ.  Not diminishing our stories, but only enriching them.  Never isolating our lives, but always redeeming them through Christ, our Lord.

You see, Parish Missions are an essential part of my spiritual journey.  And as it is with all of our spiritual journeys, we wander.  Nothing straight about our paths.  But every time I wander into a Parish Mission, I find my goals become clearer and my going forth more directed.  I emerge refreshed and uplifted.  And the pains and sorrows in my life are brought into perspective with the wounds and afflictions of our Savior, Jesus Christ, especially during Lent.

I know that it takes a great effort to attend a Parish Mission.  But I have never regretted the time that I have spent there.  Actually, each time I gave thanks and praise for the enlightenment that I had received.  Yes, our Lord is always there to welcome us, and to offer each one of us our own special experience, our ‘Kiss of Christ.’  And how can you not remember such an intimate Parish Mission?

Deacon Eric Sorensen

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