From his fullness we have all received, grace in place of grace…

Is there a better line in the Gospels to end 2020 with? To say the least this has been a challenging year. Riots in the streets, political unrest, Covid 19 and all of the death and isolation that it has brought. This year has brought many challenges to each and everyone of us and being that I’m a “glass half full” kind of guy, it’s time to starting filling the glass again.

It was close to a year ago that my Aunt went into the hospital and quite frankly, I wasn’t very confident she was going to come out. But she did, and in a year as crazy as 2020, not only did she make, she is doing much better and her outlook on life – enjoying not just the day, but the very moments that make up the day, is one that should be emulated by all. God Bless you Aunt Jackie for being such a beautiful child of God.

My daughter in law lost her father David this year. It was a very sad day for her to say the least but his example of strength, his example of complete trust to the will of God, his deep love for his family left her – left me – with a beautiful example of what a loving husband, father, brother – MAN – should be. God bless you David and may your soul be at peace.

A childhood friend of mine lost both of her parents in a very short period of time. Although it was a hard thing for Julie and her family to go through, it was through her parents death that brought life back to our relationship. I was given the honor of doing the readings at her father’s funeral Mass and then again given the honor of leading the music at her mother’s. God bless the Schallert’s family and all that they endured over the past year +. Your parents were wonderful examples of a life well lived in the faith of God. Thanks to God for bringing Julie back from being a “long lost friend”to being a friend again.

In year like this, when there is so much to bring our spirits down, God blessed our family with new life too. Megan and Jerome had a son in February and honored her father by naming him Nicholas David. The irony of all of this…Jerome Francis the III is the spitting image of David; Nicholas is the spitting image of his father Jerome. God bless Nicholas, Jerome, Megan and the III for their wonderful trust in God’s plan for them and their young family.

Not one grandchild added but two. Cecilia and Garrett had their first baby, Skylar Grace, in August (holy smokes, another August birthday). She is a beautiful girl who has a lot of her father in her. God’s blessings on Sarah came at Garrett’s expense on this birth. Sarah had gone out to be there for the birth and help the three of them when they returned from the hospital. Due to Covid restrictions, Sarah was “stuck” in the apartment once they left for the hospital and until they returned. The evening of the birth, Garrett suffered from his recurring kidney stones and had to be admitted into the hospital (he swears he had a two for one coupon that was about to expire). This was the blessing a blessing in disguise because that freed up a spot for Sarah to go to the hospital to with her daughter and new granddaughter. God bless Garrett, Cecilia and Skylar.

I have had one more year to be with my beautiful wife Sarah, our beautiful children, their spouses and our grandchildren. One more year with our close friends; one more year doing a couple of jobs I still love dearly – project management and an organist/pianist for St. Mary Magdalen. One more year loving my “faith” family at St. Mary Magdalen. One more year with my beautiful mother and my siblings; my beautiful mother-in-law and my wife’s siblings. If I had nothing else to be thankful for, God’s blessings to me with faith, family and friends would suffice. I love all of you more than you could possibly know.

I could share many more stories of hope and light from this past year. As you take some time today to reflect on your year, do so after reading our Psalm for the day…

Responsorial Psalm

PS 96:1-2, 11-12, 13R.  (11a) Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Sing to the LORD a new song;
sing to the LORD, all you lands.
Sing to the LORD; bless his name;
announce his salvation, day after day. 
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice;
let the sea and what fills it resound;
let the plains be joyful and all that is in them!
Then shall all the trees of the forest exult before the LORD.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!
The LORD comes,
he comes to rule the earth.
He shall rule the world with justice
and the peoples with his constancy.
R. Let the heavens be glad and the earth rejoice!

The Psalm says to sing a new song to the Lord, Sing to the Lord all you Lands, Sing to the Lord Bless His Name. So I’ll share with you today as my final “gift” to you a beautiful hymn of praise sung by Twila Paris.

Do something great for our Lord today – look back on your year and think about all that has happened to you – good or bad. Then think about this wisdom from Job – it is the Lord that gives and it is the Lord that takes away. Blessed be the Lord. May you have a blessed day…let’s do this again next year.

God’s will, not mine, be done.

Be not afraid; just have faith.

Jesus, I trust in You.

He must increase; I must decrease.

Lord, if You wish, You can make me clean.

But you man of God chose righteousness, devotion, faith, love, gentleness and patience. Compete well for the faith.

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