Feast Days and Forgiveness

May 19 is our feast day. Our little town, San Jose, is celebrating (or already did, since they’re ahead by a day) in an exciting way. Our 200+ year old parish church has been conferred as an Archdiocesan Shrine of Saint Joseph.

As I was doing my homework (I’ve joined a group of women in our parish, we go through the Bible, pray together, and yes, have homework), I felt so inspired to pray and reflect – because it’s fiesta. And I even if I am far, I wanted it to be meaningful.

One of the questions I had for reflection was on this: Generational sin. Pick one it said. I almost fell of my chair. This is what I get for wanting my prayer time to be relevant to San Jose. So many sins to choose from.

We are a family of sinners, many of whom try again and again to be saints. And always, the giant doors of the church are open, allowing us in, allowing us to experience God’s love, mercy, and charity.

Even the most pious in our line had moments of weakness – some made “bigger” mistakes than others. Most of us accomplices to the structural sin that continues to hurt those in the peripheries, even if we don’t mean to.

So I picked my favourite family sin – and at the same time, picked my favourite sinner.

Today, I say a special prayer for the man who built our church, and who I am sure, loved his faith. He clearly made mistakes, although I would be the last one to “regret” and wish he had not. Knowing who he is, and what he has done (both good and bad), has been a blessing to me. It’s a reminder of how fragile we all are, how easy it is to stumble – especially in positions of power. It is a reminder that God’s love is all encompassing, and that there are second chances, if we are willing to reconcile.

I do not know how his story ended. What kind of father he was, what kind of shepherd he was. I don’t know how the earlier generations coped, and healed. I don’t know if there was love, forgiveness, a sense of family. Or on the darker side – abuse, pain, rejection. Maybe all of the above.

But I do know this – I will pray that the sins that continue down the line end with my generation. And also be thankful for the faith that has been shared 9 generations down, and the legacy of being part of a beautiful church.

So on this feast day, I will remember him. And pray for him. That he be at peace, (and although I have millions of angry questions) I truly hope he had reconciled with all those he needed to reconcile with. And that he be happy, knowing what he has started has grown to what it is. #sjforever