The View From Home

by Jackson Saunders 

Nothing beats home!  Though I am second guessing these words now, as many of us would love to be able to go to places other than home at the moment.Jackson SKPresbytery 350

I have now been back in Australia for five months and we are still in the midst of restrictions, which have ebbed and flowed. I miss the interaction with people and being able to gather with the people of God for public Masses, home visitations, social gatherings with family and friends, sporting events and so on. I know that most, if not all, would echo similar sentiments.

That said, however, I am grateful to be home and there is lots to be grateful for, including a roof over my head, plenty of good food, internet access, a comfortable bed and so on. Personally, I am grateful for all of these things, as well as the opportunity to conclude my seminary formation in Australia.

As I write my monthly column, I am looking across at St Kilian’s Church from my study space inside St Kilian’s Presbytery. I am filled with gratitude to be back in my hometown of Bendigo, after eight wonderful months in the eternal city of Rome in Italy from July last year, which is an experience I will always cherish.

I am now seven weeks into a Masters of Theology, which I am studying online via Catholic Theological College. Each week I join online lectures through the university, as well as connect with the priests and seminarians of Corpus Christi College in Carlton for formation meetings online.
Each day here at St Kilian’s, my days are filled with private prayer, study and exercise.

We also do our best to continue to connect with parishioners with daily reflections, live-streamed Masses and Rosaries on the St Kilian’s Parish Facebook page. It is a privilege to be part of these and, each time I gather with others in the house for these celebrations, I think of all the people watching online, as well as others from across the Diocese, St Kilian’s, my home parish of St Monica’s, my family, my friends and others, who would like to be able to attend. Like you, I too, long for the day when our Churches will once again be open for all and sundry.

Another personal mission has been to ring one or two people a day to say hello. I have found that people have appreciated the contact and that people have missed having people to talk to. I thoroughly enjoy these conversations. Some are very light-hearted, while others are more serious.

As I think about these more serious conversations where people have shared struggles of recent months, I am thinking about a conversation I once had with my spiritual director. He once told me that even the act of listening to someone’s worries is a way of sharing in the suffering of Christ on the cross, and bringing some comfort to others. I hope that each of us, myself included, is able to continue to be a supportive, reassuring and friendly ear to those who may be homebound, anxious or lonely at this time.

While these days are difficult in various ways, there is hope for us in many ways.
I am thinking of a 21-year-old man, who visited St Patrick’s Church in Wangaratta for private prayer when I was stationed there recently, and soon afterwards enrolled in the RCIA program to become a Catholic.

I am thinking of the Church’s increased online presence as a positive, because the front doors of our parishes are now closed, social media has become the bulletin board in the church foyer.

I am thinking of surveys reported on in the press, which have shown that more people are praying.

I am thinking of those who have said that they are more prayerful because of a less busy schedule.

I am thinking of the many parishioners I have spoken to across the Diocese, who have asked when public Mass is returning, or indicated that they will be back as soon as it returns.

I am thinking of those who have expressed a yearning to receive Jesus in the Eucharist.

I am thinking of Scripture I prayed with today from St Paul.

May these words of St Paul offer some inspiration to us, as we wait earnestly for the time when we can all gather around the Eucharistic table once again in our parish Churches.

You are part of a building that has the apostles and prophets for its foundations, and Christ Jesus himself for its main cornerstone. As every structure is aligned on him, all grow into one holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit”. (Ephesians 2:20-22)

Picture: Don Pena.

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