SIDNEY — Almost 200 Catholic women from Shelby and several surrounding counties gathered Wednesday, Nov. 9, for the second annual Live the Faith Ladies Luncheon in the Shelby Oaks Golf Club here.
Organized by Fran Holthaus, of Sidney, and a large committee of volunteers, the event featured an address by the Rev. Anthony Brausch, vice-rector and director of formation at Mount St. Mary’s Seminary of the West and the permanent deacon program at the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati.
Brausch is one of 1,000 priests worldwide, 100 of whom are in the United States, who were commissioned by Pope Francis to be missionaries of mercy during the Catholic Church’s Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which ends Nov. 20.
God’s mercy was the subject Brausch chose to talk about Wednesday.
“In any given person’s life, (he is) always given sufficient opportunity to encounter the lord,” he said. “We in hope know that the lord is present, that he can bring good out of every situation.”
Brausch recounted stories about three situations he had recently experienced. In the first, a father had to come to terms with his football-player son’s heart condition. The son had been a candidate for a football scholarship to a major university, but then found he needed a pacemaker. His football participation was reduced to being the place holder for the kicker. The father, who had just been diagnosed with cancer, was devastated.
In the second, three brothers, all in college, became orphans when their mother died at 54 just a year after their father had died.
In the third, a beloved aunt of Brausch’s had been diagnosed with an inoperable cancer.
“You could say, ‘Where is God? Where is mercy?’” Brausch said. He then reminded his audience of the Biblical story of David, who had caused a man to die in battle so that David could marry the man’s wife. The prophet, Nathan, told David that God would prevent the king’s power from passing to his children but that he would let David live out his natural life.
“In that scripture, we see an indication of God’s mercy,” Brausch said. “What we do and not do have unintended consequences. The unintended consequence of sin is the possiblity to experience great forgiveness.”
God’s mercy, he added, accounts for the unintended consequences of people’s actions.
“Whether we sin or make good choices or indifferent choices or no choice, it has consequences in the world,” he said. God makes sure the consequences bring people closer to him.
“The distance that I place between myself and the lord is the very distance the lord is willing to come to meet us,” Brausch said. If we lived only in God’s justice, we’d have to account for all the consequences. God’s mercy allows consequences to be avenues to approaching God and for God to approach us.”
He pointed out that Catholics don’t believe in the popular axiom, “Everything happens for a reason.” Instead, they believe that God makes reason out of everything that happens.
Concerning the football player’s father, “he had wrapped up who the boy would be and who he was as a father. The mercy is that he’ll come to know his son in a whole different way. The three college boys — there’s no way of knowing how the kids will group up and care about others. The way the lord uses death is to draw part of our hearts to heaven. They’ll live their lives that way,” Brausch said.
His aunt, who had been blind since she was 3, had lived her life with such joy that, unbeknownst to her, she had inspired Brausch to become a priest.
“I can give up things for the lord and trust that the lord will expand my heart,” he said. “All paths, those you know and those going the wrong way, are opportunities for God to touch people. The lord can bring good even out of our failures, our mistakes. You can know the joy that’s in this life by walking with the lord.”
Brausch was introduced by the Athaneum of Ohio rector, the Rev. Benedict D. O’Cinnsealaigh, who used to pastor Sidney’s Holy Angels parish. Following Brausch’s talk, O’Cinnsealaigh talked about the programs and enrollment of the seminary, which is at capacity with 75 current students.
“They’re a new breed. They’re tenacious, courageous,” O’Cinnsealaigh said. “We need you to make a difference for them. These men will lead the church and change the world.” He thanked the women for past support and prayers and asked for continued support.
The awarding of more than 40 door prizes concluded the event.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824.