||Deacon Joe Hulway
||December 23, 2010
|Merry Christmas! And Happy New Year!
Merry Christmas to all of you and your families. It is a special time to praise and adore Jesus who humbled
Himself to share in our humanity so that we can share in His divinity. Let us model our lives after the humility
and obedience demonstrated not only be Jesus, but also by Mary and Joseph. Let us be people of joy and
give thanks for all our blessings.
2010 has been a quite a year from many different perspectives, and I am sure it has affected each of you in
unique ways; highs and lows, triumphs and defeats, joys and sorrows, new lives born and loved ones passed
on. We put our trust in God to help manage and level our journeys as we confidently look to the future, knowing
that our sometimes difficult journey will end in our true home in heaven, if we have true faith in Jesus
I have decided it is time to make a few changes to the newsletter format. After twenty issues, it was becoming
more difficult to keep the "Jesus Asked:" section fresh. I have a list of many more questions that Jesus asked
in the gospels, but felt that trying to make them the focus of each newsletter was artificial and getting somewhat
contrived. Additionally, it was contributing to my case of writer's block. When I stumbled with the first section of
the newsletter, it caused me to walk away from the rest as well and not share other thoughts and information. I
might bring this feature back periodically as I feel inspired by the Holy Spirit, but it will no longer be a regular
Another change is to eliminate the "Homilies" section. It used to be the "Homilies and Bulletin Articles" section.
With the changes in leadership at our parish, I am no longer writing articles for our parish bulletin and I only
preach once a month instead of every week. I will now simply include a link to the homily of the month.
The "Status of the Book" section will also be dropped since the book is complete and progress on the second
book has stalled as I struggle to get my thoughts together and conduct additional research.
In summary, the newsletter will become a lot more free-form. Hopefully, that will eliminate one of the obstacles
that prevents me from writing more often.
Response to comments on the last newsletter
In the last newsletter, I mentioned that I felt duped by the Lord into writing my book, referencing Jeremiah 20:7:
"You duped me , O Lord, and I let myself be duped." I think some may have taken this the wrong way; that I
was making this statement in a negative way. This was not my intention. It was simply a reminder that we do
not, and cannot, know God's will, the big picture. We can only do what we feel God calling us to do and then not
get discouraged when it does turn out the way we expected. We do not know God's plan or how we fit in, but
we must be sensitive and open to letting the Holy Spirit guide us each day to do our little part in the master
plan. As Mother Teresa said: “God hasn’t called me to be successful. He’s called me to be faithful.”
The problem was not that God duped me into writing the book. It was that I duped myself into thinking I could
anticipate the outcome and how God would use my efforts and my willingness to follow His will for me.
Just Leading my Donkey: a Retreat Report
It's been a busy time the last five months. I took two separate 10-day trips early in this period. At the end of
August, Jenni and I travelled to Seattle to visit our one-year old granddaughter and her parents. It was an
enjoyable and relaxing time. Five days after our return, I packed up and went to Paradise, MI (in the upper
peninsula) for a ten-day wilderness retreat at the Companions of Christ the Lamb Retreat Center. They have
1000 acres and offer retreats in small rooms by their main community center and chapel, at tent sites, or at two
cabins in the woods they call postinias. The community stresses a simple way of life and regular times
throughout the day for prayer and for mass. There is no electricity on the sites, and of course no television,
radios, or computers. A cell phone is available for emergency communications.
My previous two retreats had been 4-day tent experiences--camping out in the woods with no human
interaction. For my 10-day retreat, I opted for one of the postinias which was about 1-1/2 miles from the center
of the community. My home-away-from-home for ten days was an 11' x 11' log cabin with a bed, a desk with an
oil lamp, a wood stove, a rocking chair, and no running water, but an outhouse next door. I was glad for the
cabin because the weather was cold and wet with very blustery winds out of the north.
Before my trip, I communicated with Fr. Jack, who founded the community, to find out how I should approach
the retreat. He told me not to bring too many things to read. He said it was not a time for thinking, but a time for
listening. Thinking would only muddle my retreat. It's probably a good reminder for most of our prayer time as
I spent a lot of time trying to listen as I walked the trails though the woods. On the first day I hiked out to the St.
Joseph campsite to visit and retrace my steps from my first wilderness retreat ten years earlier. It caused me
to reflect on my patron saint and how he obediently followed God's will in some very dramatic and courageous
ways: accepting a pregnant wife into his home; travelling with Mary to Bethlehem; fleeing to Egypt to escape
Herod's persecution; and then returning to Nazareth when the angel instructed him that the coast was clear.
Joseph was obviously open to hearing God speak to him, and it was a reminder to me to increase my devotion
to him; and to try to better model myself after him to become a better husband and father. And so, I tried to
listen more attentively to what God was calling me to do.
But as i continued walking, I didn't hear much more. I tried to listen as I meditated in my rocking chair, but
usually fell quickly asleep. On the 5th night of my retreat I began to wonder if this would be a meaningful retreat
or simply a boring 10-day camping trip. I considered the possibility of spending a night in the chapel in prayer.
The next morning, the gospel reading at daily Mass was Luke 6:12-19 which started: "Jesus departed to the
mountain to pray, and he spent the night in prayer to God." And so I decided to spend that entire night
listening, from sundown to sunrise, in the chapel with Jesus present in the tabernacle. But I was frustrated when
I heard nothing. I seemed to be in a time of spiritual dryness. I knew the presence of Jesus with my mind, but
struggled to sense that presence with my heart and soul. I had seen the action of the Holy Spirit manifest itself
when I would sit in the chapel in prayer before writing a homily or working on the book, and it would be followed
by new insights and clear thoughts. I knew but I couldn't sense. I want to better sense God's presence in my life--
to be more tuned into the spiritual world--but maybe that is not God's will. And so my prayer intention became
to receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit according to God's will, not mine.
I prayed with this new intention to St. Joseph and reflected on how he accepted his role. Obviously his
spirituality was different than Mary's and different than that of Jesus. I should be willing to accept that my
spirituality will be different from Fr. Jack and the Companions of Christ the Lamb; different from Jenni's. I
stumbled upon a book in the chapel: Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade. It
provided me with some insights regarding the concept of abandoning ourselves to God's will; a concept which
is very central to the Companions of Christ the Lamb community. It is about seeing all of our little actions and
sacrifices of everyday life as part of God's great plan. And this is the key to St. Joseph's greatness; all those
actions he performed quietly to raise his family that were never recorded and acknowledged. And as I
wrapped up my retreat, I came to the conclusion that this is the area I needed to concentrate on for
improvement. I have been willing to accept some of the more dramatic calls that I have heard from God: taking
my family to Medjugorje; becoming a deacon, writing a book; retiring early. But I struggle with accepting my
everyday duties with joy instead of grumbling. The community in Paradise live a wonderful example for me to
After Mass on the last morning of my retreat, I gave my retreat report and summarized my experiences and my
conclusion. After Mass, one of the gentlemen in the congregation came up to me and expressed my
complicated thought much more simply. He said that to be like St. Joseph that you have to be willing to "just
lead your donkey."
|Claire Evelyn - A New Grandchild
Adding to the recent excitement was the birth of my fifth grandchild just four days after my return from
retreat--I'm glad she waited for me to get back home! She is adorable. She was born again with water and the
Holy Spirit as I had the privilege to baptize her. She is my granddaughter, but now also my sister in Christ.
While we were in Seattle, we attended daily Mass on August 24th, the feast of St. Bartholomew, Apostle.
There is not a lot known about him and his actions. During Mass we sung the hymn: "By All Your Saints Still
Striving". It has different specific verses for different feast days. The verse for St Bartholomew's feast was:
Praise for your blest apostle surnamed Bartholomew;
We know not his achievements but know that he was true,
For he at the Ascension was an apostle still.
May we discern your presence and seek, like him, your will.
For some reason that verse really struck me that day; partly because it seemed that Bartholomew was being
dissed a little, but partly because it was a wonderful message for us to be faithful, but humble. In retrospect, it
actually ties into my retreat experience. It is a call to be true, to seek God's will in all the little things that aren't
acknowledged or recognized.
While I am now only preaching once per month now, I have five new homilies posted at the Web site since my
last newsletter many moons ago:
Web site Hosting
Once again Yahoo has blown away my new newsletter distribution list. I am getting very frustrated with their
service and lack of response, and am thinking of changing to a different company for hosting the Orthoscopy
Web site. Has anyone had any good experiences with other web hosting providers that I should consider?