My Dear Friends,

Many years ago, President John Fitzgerald Kennedy made a memorable statement of which we are all familiar. It was, “Ask not what your country can do for you: Ask what you can do for your country.” Those words still echo in our hearts. If that statement can be applied to the country, it certainly can be applied to the church community.

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles presented five models of the Church. Cardinal Dulles said that the Church is (1) a sacrament; (2) a community; (3) a servant; (4) a bearer of The Word and finally, (5) a hierarchy. As a Church, we carry out our mission in and through these different models. Obviously, to carry out this mission, we need people. Years ago, when I was growing up, the Church was clergy and religious-based; in other words, the Church was maintained from within. Since Vatican Council II, there is a great emphasis on Lay participation. Vatican Council II called for a greater participation from the faithful.

All of us in today’s world find ourselves extremely busy. Individuals and families are pulled in so many directions. There is an obligation to our spouses, our children, our work, and school. Activities abound. In order for all of this to take place, one has to set priorities because one simply cannot do it all. Every day, we ask ourselves: what is most important in my life?

Some years ago, I was given a Mason jar filled with rice and walnuts. Upon receiving this jar, I had thought to myself, this is a strange gift, but attached to the jar was a note explaining the purpose of the walnuts and the rice. The walnuts represented what God wants us to do, and the rice represented what we want to do. It invited me to do the following exercise: Take the walnuts and rice out of the jar, and then replace them, putting the rice in first, and the walnuts in second. The outcome is that the rice and walnuts will not fit. However, if you put the walnuts in the jar first (representing what God wants us to do) and then the rice in second (representing what we want to do), everything fits nicely.

The Church will continually ask its members to assist in the mission of the Church. While anyone of us can say, “I would like to, but I am too busy,” then where would the Church be? Each and every one of us should take time to evaluate our life and reflect upon how we are using our time, our treasure, and our talents.

Father Patrick V. Kirsch, KHS