As I write this morning we have been back a week from our most recent vacation. Even a week out I can still say that it’s good to be home. It had been four months since I had had any time off from work and I was certainly ready for the break. The week was restful, as I will describe below, but when it was time to come home and get back to work I was ready. I can’t remember that happening in a long time. It’s good to be home!
This morning Charlotte and I worshiped at home: Church of the Good Shepherd. It’s good to be home! While we were on vacation we had many wonderful spiritual experiences. It was our purpose and privilege to take in a variety of worship experiences while away. We started out at the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The first Sunday away we worshiped at Sacred Heart Church in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. From there we spent a couple of days at the Abbey of Regina Laudis in Bethlehem, Connecticut, and had some special moments with our dear friend, Sister Jeanne Paul, a Benedictine nun. In Philadelphia we visited the Shrine of St. John Neumann and in Washington, DC, we returned to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Our final stop took us to Raleigh, North Carolina, to a family wedding at the Sacred Heart Cathedral. The following day before driving 10 hours to come home we worshiped at the 7:30 a.m. Mass in the same cathedral. There was standing room only, and that was one of nine weekend Masses to accommodate the worshipers in the smallest cathedral in the United States. In each place we participated in the Liturgy of the Word and the Liturgy of the Eucharist and had the incredible privilege of receiving the Body and Blood of our risen Lord! But this morning we were back at Good Shepherd and while it was “only” the 12th Sunday in Ordinary Time, the ministry of the Word and the Eucharist was so significant! It’s good to be home!
Since the last time I wrote a blog post here there has been a lot going on of spiritual significance that stands out to me. The denomination I was privileged to serve for more than 30 years had its quadrennial General Conference. The Wesleyan Church celebrated God’s work among them and elected a new general superintendent. Dr. Wayne Schmidt has been a friend since college days and he will lead the denomination for the next four years. At the same time four of my former pastoral colleagues at Trinity Grace Church in New York City were guests, along with several other evangelical leaders, of Pope Francis in Vatican City. Pope Francis invited these leaders to talk, share and pray as to how together they could be an answer to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:21–the very prayer that has been rocking my spiritual and ecclesiastical world. Oh, how I long to see that prayer answered! I rejoice to see these answers to this prayer.
Over the past several weeks I have been reading a book on my way to work on the train. The book is Apologia Pro Vita Sua by Blessed John Henry Cardinal Newman, who in the mid-nineteenth century made the journey from the Anglican Church to the Roman Catholic Church. His journey was prolonged, misunderstood and second-guessed. The book I’m reading was his attempt to explain how God led him to do what he did. A quote from Cardinal Newman written in 1845 after he was received into Catholic Church captures my sentiments twelve weeks in.
From the time that I became a Catholic, of course I have no further history of my religious opinions to narrate. In saying this, I do not mean to say that my mind has been idle, or that I have given up thinking on theological subjects; but that I have had no variations to record, and have had no anxiety of heart whatever. I have been in perfect peace and contentment; I have never had one doubt. I was not conscious to myself, on my conversion, of any change, intellectual or moral, wrought in my mind. I was not conscious of firmer faith in the fundamental truths of Revelation, or of more self-command; I had not more fervour; but it was like coming into port after a rough sea; and my happiness on that score remains to this day without interruption. (p. 155)
There is a lot to flesh out here, and with God’s help and by His grace I will humbly continue to share this journey. It’s good to be home!