Stories for the Right Column of the Columns Page
Today's readings hit me in a very personal way. One week before writing this column, my wife and I lost our baby. So many thoughts assail you at a time like this - why did God allow this? Why was her precious life so short The fact of the matter is that all lives are short, but we often trick ourselves into forgetting this. Today's psalm cries out to God, "Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain wisdom of heart." Remembering the shortness of our lives, like the fear of the Lord, is the beginning of wisdom.
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The story of the prodigal son is well known to us perpetual old sinners who walk away from God, starve and return to him with the regularity of the tide. No retreat, no major homecoming confession takes place without it. It contains the essence of Christ's message - the never-ending, patient love and forgiveness of God faced with human weakness and ingratitude. Seemingly, our civilization was built on this story. Robinson Crusoe meditated on it on his lonely island; little Heidi in a well-known children's book pondered its beauty and felt comforted. Great painters strained imagination to show the moment when father embraces the kneeling son.
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in an important conference in Winnipeg. The annual Directions in Indigenous Ministry conference is co-sponsored by the standing committee on indigenous affairs of the Assembly of Western Catholic Bishops and Newman Theological College. The title of the conference was Decolonizing Pastoral Ministry. This title is significant because it implies that a decolonization approach itself needs to be taken in pastoral ministry and in the life of the Church itself. About 60 of us participated, about half indigenous and half non-indigenous. People came from very different church roles, including bishops, pastors, deacons, women and men religious, elders, diocesan staff, parish lay leaders, teachers, academics, and committed individuals.