Going through the list of e-mails reminds me of the many great experiences that have come my way through the autumn season. One such memory was the retreat in Cape Girardeau, Missouri on September 18--20, 2015. This gathering with the deacons and their wives, as well as deacon candidates, from the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau was a phenomenal weekend. (At least it was for me. I hope they feel the same way.) It is hard to believe that three months have already passed since that gathering. I was deeply touched by this group of dedicated and faithful men and women serving the Church across southern Missouri. I took some time to reflect before hitting "delete" on the corresponding e-mail conversations. I also offered a prayer for these men and women as well as their whole diocese as they await the appointment of a new bishop.
Taking time to give God thanks and praise for the many blessings is probably something I don't do frequently enough. In the hectic pace of life I can easily find myself taking things for granted. That is not a good thing. Two different hospitalizations this year have reminded me of the gift of life and health. It also reminded me of the value of family, friends, encouragement and support.
A number of deaths have impacted my life this year. My mom's death on October 30 has obviously changed the holiday picture this year. A number of friends have died this year including one just last week. "Dot" has been a dear friend for almost 30 years and will be missed. A brother-in-law died in September. This impacts the whole family but especially his wife and kids and grandchildren. A former co-worker lost her dad earlier this year. Please know of my prayers Pam. A parishioner here at the Cathedral lost his son and a grandson in an accident back in January. How devastating that was. Christmas will certainly have a different feeling this year for his family. A friend of mine from southern Colorado died back in January as well. I had the privilege of preaching the homily at his funeral on January 30, 2015 at St. Benedict's Parish in Florence, Colorado. I know that these days before Christmas are a challenge for his wife and kids as they prepare to celebrate Christmas for the first time without him in the midst. Even though nearly a year has passed since his death, the first Christmas will still be tough.
As I look through the e-mails and my calendar, there have also been many joys during 2015. One of these memories is my daughter's wedding in May. Next week will mark seven months since that wonderful day.
Bottom line--look back and give thanks. Look ahead and give praise!