‘God is absolutely longing for us,’ says Father Hogan
Photo Caption: Father Joseph Hogan speaks at a recent day of recollection sponsored by the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society.
By: By Jennifer Willems
All relationships are two-sided and that’s especially true when it comes to God, who longs for us, Father Joseph Hogan told the women and men who attended the recent day of recollection hosted by the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society.
“What’s amazing in adult spirituality is when you are praying, you begin to realize that God is absolutely longing for us,” said Father Hogan, pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Urbana and St. Mary Parish in Champaign. “So it’s not a one-way relationship. It is a two-way relationship and God is trying to get at us.”
About 90 people came to the Spalding Pastoral Center in Peoria to hear reflections by Father Hogan and Father David Whiteside, the commission’s spiritual director and pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Havana and Immaculate Conception Parish in Manito. The day ended with a Holy Hour, the sacrament of reconciliation and Mass at St. Mary’s Cathedral.
In welcoming participants to the cathedral’s 4 p.m. liturgy, Bishop Daniel R. Jenky, CSC, offered them his thanks and noted how much the Bishop’s Commission on Women does for the Diocese of Peoria. After Mass he greeted each of them personally as they left the cathedral and posed for photos with members of the board.
That board grew by three during the day. Chairperson Deena Pavinato of Holy Family Parish in Oglesby welcomed Michele Dorbeck of Sacred Heart Parish in Rock Island, and Ellen Ehrgott of St. Rose Parish in Rushville, and welcomed back Joan Weber of St. Jude Parish in Peoria.
Adults run the risk of getting so involved in “survival issues” on a day-to-day basis that their prayer life becomes superficial, Father Hogan said. He encouraged them to go deeper and offered help from St. Clare of Assisi.
Father Hogan said that Clare, a contemporary of St. Francis, started by gazing on the image of the crucified Christ. For her that led to consideration of Christ, then contemplation and finally imitation.
“When we stand before God without demands and open hands, when we gaze upon the cross and see the God of infinite love bent over to try to embrace us off of the cross, then I begin to understand who I am in this world,” he said. “I begin to understand more what the world around me is all about.”
For Clare it is not enough to follow Christ, Father Hogan explained.
“The goal of union with God is imitation of God, imitation of the Crucified One,” he said. “It’s much more beautiful. It’s much more of a challenge.”
Prayer is the key to the adult spiritual life, he said.
“If you are not praying every day, if I am not praying every day, it’s not going to work,” Father Hogan said. “If you’re not praying every day, start. If you are praying five minutes a day, challenge yourself to go to 10. If you are doing 10, go to 15. Prayer is the key to understanding who we are, who God is and where we’re trying to get to.”
Father Whiteside gave participants ways to gaze on Christ, consider his life and contemplate his great love for us by taking them on a “Journey through the Holy Land.” Using photos from a pilgrimage he made with parishioners, he told his listeners that 90 percent of what they read in the Bible happened in a place no bigger than the state of New Jersey and shared significant moments from the trip with them.
Formed in 1985, the Bishop’s Commission on Women in the Church and in Society acts as an advisory group on women’s concerns to the bishop, seeks to help women of the Diocese of Peoria become holier and closer to God, and encourages them to teach their families and the community consistent Catholic doctrine.
For more information or to apply for membership, write to Commission on Women, Membership Committee, 419 N.E. Madison Ave., Peoria, IL 61603, or call Pavinato at (815) 883-3202. The group can also be found on Facebook (Bishop’s Commission on Women).