Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Change of World

Father John J. Lombardi

Chaeli Zik went to Africa and recently wrote in a Collegian Scholars essay: "In Tanzania, we helped at schools and hospitals. Our visits were met with smiles and laughter, showing us that a simple visit was an opportunity to connect with another person. The simple possessions that we brought as gifts for them, such as clothing, shoes and candy, were treasures in their eyes. We truly saw that happiness was attained through serving others. Serving in Africa was not only an experience of a lifetime, but it was an experience that was to last a lifetime. One person at a time, I was able to impact the world. Following my return to the United States, I began to yearn for those days of exhausting service. I realized that the children in Africa were the same as the children in the United States; we all need support for we are all interconnected." …Yes, you can change the world-one breath at a time, one person at a time: the point is not to have a "messiah complex" or be disappointed when things don't change!

Now consider these Lifestyle Changes of some pilgrims:

+Jim: is a salesman who now attends daily Mass-he makes that his priority even though it is certainly tough!

One family embodies the "small is beautiful" theme-not buying a big house for their rapidly expanding family just because they can, but remodeling their present house to embrace simplicity. A pilgrim mother of many realized she's just doing too much and decided to cut out some activities. Go on girl: easy as that! I recently read a New York Times article, which questioned and answered (from an expert Silicon Valley tech type) "Too Much Information: Just Ignore it". One family I know is growing their own food and trying to embrace a better diet and lifestyle…All of these are making changes-are you?

When we talk of LIFESTYLES-for better or worse, we may think of the following proverbial ones: Surfer-beach bum=relaxation…Materialism="born to shop"…Going Green=everything's organic…Peacenik: anti-war/free love…Technophilia: computerism/ wired-up and dowloaded and internetted…Hyperkinetic/Workaholisim… What about your LifeStyle-Spirituality?

Recently a parent pulled his son out of school for a dentist appointment and the next day the boy was invited to serve Bishop Perrier of Lourdes at Mass, so they pulled him out for that too thinking: If I did it for the dentist, why not the Bishop of Lourdes, and for Our Lady? Point: lifestyle decisions - sometimes thinking or going outside the box: fear not!

Remember in today's American world: SOS=Stress or Serenity? You make the choice! Which one are you choosing? I once saw an excellent, sad movie, called: "El Notre" which illustrates dramatically how a Latin American couple come to the (allegedly) USA/streets of gold and find many trials and become like fish out of water: they don't last-one gets killed and they find out the grass isn't greener, the lifestyle change too drastic: beware!

MIND, BODY, SOUL-this will be a continual refrain of our retreat: how balanced am I-in these three crucial, God-given areas of my life? We will also be constantly asking: How does my lifestyle glorify God, and help me growing closer in union to Christ and others?

A holistic balance of life includes:

Mind: healthy psychology and thinking; Body: taking care of the temple of the Lord

Soul: spiritual, supernatural aspect of yourself…How balanced are you in these areas-are you overly head centered? Too much heart-emotionalism? Too much spiritualism where there is no healthy human aspect? We must integrate all three into our lives…Are you a balanced person, holistic in your lifestyle? That is our main question in this retreat.

Do you live the LEISURE of St Francis deSales-not rushed but hushed in your soul-able to enjoy honey and relax?...Do you have the FAMILY LIFE of the Martin family-St Therese and sisters and parents? Do you embody the INTENSITY of Padre Pio-focused on the Passion of our Lord? Do you have the LOVE of St Therese of Lieseaux-sweet and simple? Do you have the INTERIOR LIFE of a mystic like St John of the Cross or the EXTERNAL-ACTIVE lifestyle of a Dorothy Day and the balance of both like Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa? Do you have the ADVENTURE of North American Martyrs in discovering new lands? Do you have the HEROIC COURAGE of Mother Seton in founding a new lifestyle, religious order and homeland? Do you have the FUN of a Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati-in hanging out w/ friends drinking a beer and climbing a mountain?...

Now prepare for Christmas with the following Advent Acronym…

ADVENT=Anticipation of the Celebration by Preparation

A=Ask for Grace

Allow Jesus to fill you. "Be it done to me according to your word" (St. Lk.1:38) -we need to develop active passivity for our Lord -esp. thru meditation

D=Divinity: Come, Let us worship Him, adore Him, love Him-remember: this is the most important thing in life!

V=Virgin-virginalize your life-clean and purify yourself and surroundings of unneeded things and burdens and entrapments. Pray a decade of the Rosary each day until Christmas (and then after too!)

E=Emmanuel: extend yourself into places of service-get out of your comfort zone

It's all about Jesus = God among us

N=now-practice God's Love and your own be-ing now! Learn to unlearn bad habits of obsessively living in the future (pining) or in the past (nostalgia) and, rather be in the present moment. Negate frenzy of Christmas rush season: If you don't turn off the treadmill, who will? T=Thanksgiving -live a life of gratefulness in a continual conscious Attitude of Gratitude

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi