“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.”

The month of November is dedicated to remembering our dearly departed. As I reflect on this month, I cannot help but pause to consider what will happen to me. I do not do this to be morbid or to dwell on dark things, in fact I try to focus on those I will leave behind. I guess that’s one of those habits of a part time genealogist. I also like to annoy my family by telling them the songs I would like played at the post funeral repast. The one song I would love to have played is “Knocking On Heaven’s Door.” Any version is fine: Bob Dylan, Guns N’ Roses, or Eric Clapton. I particularly like Warren Zevon’s version or the Polish version by Babsztyl – “Pukając do nieba bram.” We often feel we are standing just outside heaven’s door. We stand there knocking. This takes two forms. One form of knocking is the kind we do every day – looking for reasons, seeking help, trying to get to an answer. The other form of knocking is the one we anticipate doing. What it will be like when I get there. Will I be left on the porch, at the gate, knocking and waiting? The hardest thing to get in our walk of faith is the sort of confidence that tells us ‘the door will be open.’ Yet, that is what Jesus promises us. The words above, taken from Matthew, Chapter 7, are the start of His promise. Jesus goes on to say: “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened.” He goes on to describe how our Heavenly Father will provide good to those who ask. He didn’t say these things so we would wonder or be fearful. In the Polish version, the singer cries out: Błagam Panie otwórz mi Zanim mrok pochłonie mnie. [I beg You, Lord, open the door Before darkness consumes me.] As we face this month of memory, and perhaps some self-reflection, let us take time to ask Jesus to reinforce our confidence. Let us realize we are never outside the door. We don’t have to knock, He has already opened the door for us.

Our newsletter discusses the month of November, the remembrance of our dearly departed, and includes a memorial for our former Pastor, Rt. Rev. śp. Stanley Bilinski, who entered his eternal rest just as the month began. Taking a simultaneously somber and hopeful approach, our newsletter covers events throughout the month. We prepare for the mailing of our Valentine’s Raffle tickets, the events of Advent, and two beautiful reflections on sharing our faith – plus one positive missionary step each of us can take. We also wish everyone a great Thanksgiving. Consider using the prayer included in the Newsletter.

Check out all this and more in our November 2018 Newsletter.

Time for
doing.

Brothers and sisters: Rejoice always. Pray without ceasing. In all circumstances give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophetic utterances. Test everything; retain what is good. Refrain from every kind of evil.

Today’s message from scripture is one of doing (while rejoicing).

As we listen to Paul’s instructions to the Thessalonians, it sounds much like the instruction of every parent when they drop their children off somewhere. “Always be respectful. Listen closely. Pick up after yourself. Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ Call me if you need anything. In fact, just call me period.” The list goes on. Most of the time those words are not even heard, because our children know them by heart. They have heard them repeatedly. But, like Paul, we have to wonder if they connect. Hearing is different from grasping and doing.

Reading Paul’s list of final exhortations, we are called to tune in attentively. Not only to listen, but to put these easy to remember admonitions into practice: REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS, DO NOT QUENCH, DO NOT DESPISE, TEST EVERYTHING, REFRAIN FROM EVIL.

Like to Letter of St. James, the First Letter to the Thessalonians is thought to be one of the earliest writings in the Christian community. Paul is laying out directions for how Christians are to live. What are we to do every day? These things: REJOICE, PRAY, GIVE THANKS, DO NOT QUENCH, DO NOT DESPISE, TEST EVERYTHING, REFRAIN FROM EVIL.

We do not really hear it in English, but in Paul’s Greek, he laid these out in poetic form, a sort of mnemonic device, with a special rhythm so they would be easily remembered. He wanted the faithful to have this in their ears, on their tongues every day, like a song you cannot get out of your head.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all things! These imperatives are to be our individual response toward God. We are to recognize God as the source of our daily joy and we are to offer Him thanksgiving. We are to do so regardless of what is going on around us or even very close to us. We are to find joy and reason to give thanks ALWAYS.

Especially telling, the Thessalonians were facing tragedies and deaths at the time of this letter. Things that were not joyful were shaking their faith, darkening their hearts. Paul reminds them as he reminds us – If these human and earthly things, which have no power over the person faith, over people with the promise of eternal life, and who look to the immanent return of Christ can shake us, what value is our faith, our devotion, our worship? People of real faith cannot be shaken because we stand on Christ Jesus. We own His salvation.

The next set of admonitions apply to us as a faith community, as the Church. We together are to recognize God working right here, among us. Do not quench the Spirt, do not despise prophetic words, test everything and retain what is good! God is at work here, and we see it daily, weekly. We are to take full part in that and re to do it together. We are to be open to God’s voice through the work of the Holy Spirt while at the same time testing to ensure we are consistent with scripture and Holy Tradition.

We are not to be passive or complacent in this time of waiting. We are to sing Paul’s song of God-centered action – rejoicing, praying, giving thanks, discerning, and testing. We are to live this song, this poem. It is to be the rhythm of our lives – our imperative as Jesus’ people. Let’s be His!