Trinity Sunday and Saint Thorlak

First of all, I am not scheduled to preach this weekend, so I have not prepared a homily. However, if you’d like a reflection on Trinity Sunday, please check out this post that I wrote for a previous Trinity Sunday.  It says pretty much what I would say if I wrote a new one this year!

Secondly, as some of you are aware, I am also the spiritual director for the Mission of Saint Thorlak.  Please check out the link for more information about the Mission. We at the Mission are working with Bishop Tencer of Reykjavik, Iceland, to prepare a formal petition to ask the Holy Father to declare Saint Thorlak the Patron Saint for people with autism and related conditions. We are now gathering testimonials as part of this petition.

Anyone can, on their own, choose Saint Thorlak (or any saint) as their personal patron. It would be a great affirmation of the dignity and the place of autistic people in the Church, however, if the Holy Father were to declare someone a Patron Saint for autistic people.

Okay. Fair enough, you say. So, why Saint Thorlak?

Saint Thorlak, in his lifetime, exhibited a number of traits that are characteristic of people on the autism spectrum. I could easily relate to him in a number of ways as I read his story. Other autistic people have had similar experiences. We recently heard from a psychologist who states that, in his assessment, Thorlak did exhibit a number of personality traits typical of autistic people, and may very well have been autistic himself. We have received  a number of testimonials from autistic people who tell us how Saint Thorlak has inspired them and helped them with their anxieties and other challenges.  I personally have come to know Saint Thorlak as not only an intercessor in time of need but also as a dear friend who shows me his love in many ways and who helps me feel connected with the Communion of Saints.

If you or someone you know is autistic and has benefited in some way from the intercession of Saint Thorlak, we would love to hear from you! Please send us your testimonial at mission.of.st.thorlak@gmail.com or by using the Feedback feature of this blog.

If you are autistic but have not known about Saint Thorlak, I encourage you to check out the Mission website for more information, to read the biography Thorlak of Iceland, and, most importantly, to pray and ask for his intercession when dealing with the many challenges of life on the spectrum.   If you know someone who is autistic, we encourage you to introduce that person to Saint Thorlak.  You can also check out this post from the Mission website for more on Thorlak as a good candidate to be the official Patron Saint of people on the spectrum.

I plan to write a post soon on the place of autistic people in the Church. I want to look at it as a two-way street: how can the Christian community best reach out to its autistic members and their families, and, just as importantly, what autistic Christians have to offer the community as a whole.  If you have any thoughts or experiences to share, please send them to me through the Feedback feature of this blog.

Finally, I ask your prayers as we assemble the items needed for our petition to the Holy Father.  May this all be not only to make Saint Thorlak better-known and better-loved, in his beloved Iceland and everywhere, but also (and most importantly) to the greater glory of God – as more and more people on the spectrum discover how the love of God, so powerfully exemplified by Saint Thorlak in his lifetime, can heal their feelings of isolation and show them how their autism can be a great gift of Divine Love to themselves and to the whole Church!

 

Open To The Holy Spirit

Pentecost (C)

 

Pentecost.  The outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the infant Church. The proclamation of the Gospel to devout Jews gathered for the first major Jewish feast after Passover. Some people scoff and sneer at the proclamation. Others, cut to the heart, ask what they must do, and come to believe and are baptized.

Pentecost is presented to us as not only a beginning, but also as a summary of what the Apostles would do – and the responses they would get – throughout the Acts of the Apostles. Pentecost is also a template for us. It reveals to us the foundations of our own vocations, whatever they may be, and shows us how we are to live out our vocations in union with the Lord and His Church.  It shows us what the Holy Spirit does for us, the responses we are likely to get in living out our vocations, and also how the Spirit helps our faithfulness to Him bear great fruit. Continue reading “Open To The Holy Spirit”

Boldness

Sixth Sunday of Easter (C): John 14:23-29

 

We have just heard Jesus tell us “Do not be troubled or afraid”.  We have heard Jesus say, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you”. We might imagine that Jesus is talking about our state of mind; that He wants us to be calm, untroubled, free of any conflicts.  This sometimes happens to us, but this is not at the heart of what Jesus is saying to us. We need only look at Jesus at Gethsemane to see this.  There, Jesus takes on all our fears, anxieties, conflicts, and sins, and does so out of love, desiring to do the Father’s will.  No, what Jesus is saying to us could also be translated, “Do not be cowardly or give in to fear”. In other words, Jesus is urging us to boldness in following Him. Continue reading “Boldness”

Who Is My Shepherd?

Fourth Sunday of Easter (C):  John 10:27-30

We are His people; the sheep of His flock.  – Psalm 100:3

The Fourth Sunday of Easter is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday. This is because the Gospel reading for this Sunday is always drawn from John 10, where Jesus speaks at length about Himself as the Good (or True) Shepherd.

For us, the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd is consoling and comforting.  We imagine Him, gentle and humble of heart, smiling and tending to His sheep. We picture cute lambs romping in meadows, amid wildflowers of all kinds.  A very peaceful, totally non-threatening image.

There is a great deal of truth in this image, of course.  Jesus is all these things for us, and more. We forget one “minor” detail, however. What was the result of Jesus’ original sermon on how He is the Good Shepherd? What kind of reaction did He get? Were people all starry-eyed and smiling dreamily? No. Read on for a few verses past our Gospel reading for today. They wanted to kill Jesus. Continue reading “Who Is My Shepherd?”