by Lorretta Nemeth
Here’s a riddle for you: What do a rock, a clock, a loaf of bread, a grain of yeast, a pair of glasses, a half-full – or half empty – jar of water, a scale, a shoehorn, an embroidered towel, a TV remote control, a therapeutic belt, a bell, a running shoe, a shirt that doesn’t fit and a red bag all have in common? The answer: Father Stephen.
This has been a very special year for the students in the summer program. Not only have we been the beneficiaries of the gentle wit and wisdom of the Institute’s new director, Father Stephen, we have been blessed with the presence and personalities of our two instructors. Father Michael has enlightened us with the canons that ensure our rightful place in the church and the world and enriched us with his homilies. How wonderful it was to hear him say that we are “the joy of God!”
And that joy of God is certainly reflected in Father Maxym. His holy presence among us is surely an embodiment of one who has acquired a spirit of peace. Our prayer is that we be counted among the thousands around him who will be saved!
One of the messages of all three of our priest companions this month has been to use what the world has to witness to Christ – whether it is the tangible reminders pulled from Father Stephen’s red bag or as Father Michael said to see the miracles in everyday events and point out that they are the hand of God at work in lives, or as Father Maxym said to practice poverty through the responsible stewardship of the things we have.
Whether we came from across continents or oceans, older generations or younger, we quickly bonded into one family – the family of Christ. As we now go back into the world, we humbly accept our vocation as monastics of the white baptismal habit and with renewed vigor strive to live out our mini-martyrdom through interiorized poverty, chastity and obedience.
And by so doing, at our own judgment may we hear a joyous voice welcoming us with: “Nice going, faithful servant! Hoorah!”
Lorretta Nemeth is editor of the official newspaper of the Eparchy of Parma, Horizons. She is a long-time participant in our summer intensive program.