Do Not Be Afraid: Weekly Message for
Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:
A new year, a new liturgical season (Ordinary Time). What do those means mean, from God’s perspective? At the very least, they echo God’s eagerness to give us as many chances as we need for a fresh start. This is why New Year’s is a joyful time, or why it’s supposed to a be joyful time. We complete the past year, offering all its blessings and all its shadows and failures into the merciful hands of God, and we set out on another annual journey of faith. Like Bilbo Baggins setting off from Bad End, we feel a pep in our step as we go out on a new adventure.
That’s one reason why we thought it appropriate to release our new Retreat Guide now. It is called: Do Not Be Afraid: A Retreat Guide on St. John Paul II, now. He truly was a man who lived his life to the full, because he lived it as the adventure of faith that it really was. The phrase “Do not be afraid!”, which he used in his inaugural homily as pope, and which he repeated many many times throughout his pontificate, resonates with the hope that we instinctively feel at New Year’s, or at any new beginning.
For me personally, working on this Retreat Guide was a true gift. My conversion to the Catholic faith, the discovery of my priestly vocation, and my ten years in seminary all unfolded in the bright and warm light of St. John Paul II’s papacy. Before joining the seminary, I studied for a time in Krakow, Poland, and felt the impact of his presence there. Then, as a seminarian, I had the grace to serve his Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica more than once. Along with my other priests of my generation, I feel like JPII was a true spiritual father to me. Going back over those experiences as I researched and wrote this Retreat Guide was a true pleasure.
So, as the new year and the new liturgical season get into gear, let’s take St. John Paul II’s advice. Let’s cast aside our fears and renew our faith in the Lord, who has great things in store for us in the coming months, because his love for us is true and total.
God bless you!
Peace in Him,
Fr John Bartunek, LC