Art pieces created by students at St. George Episcopal School were featured as part of the Episcopal School Art Show at the 112th Diocesan Council held in McAllen, Texas this past week. This gallery was viewed by hundreds of parishioners, clergy, and fellow students from around the Diocese of West Texas.
“…and he went out, bearing his own cross…”
Every time I read this passage I am struck by these words: “bearing his own cross.” Yes, Jesus may have physically carried that cross, but it was not “his” cross he bore. It was ours. We’re taught this from a very young age, that Jesus died for our sins, but then when I read the scripture, I can’t help but notice the word play; not “ours,” but “his.” He died for us. He chose to die for us.
Reflecting on this passage, it is all too easy to go over the laundry list of regrets that I may have, or mistakes that I may have made in life. In our secular society, we tend to focus on how we messed up rather than what we learned. We hear from society how we’re falling short, and not living up to our potential. We all mess up. We all have moments in life that can be seen as failures. We all fall short. These can easily weigh us down and burden us, just as the cross burdened Jesus as he carried it to Calvary Hill.
Instead of seeing these life-moments as failures and short comings, I choose to see them as opportunities to learn. I choose to live a life without regretting mistakes I’ve made. I choose to live a life celebrating who I am, including all my flaws. I choose to live a life based on the Arabic phrase “Haiatek saiedah,” which means “Your life be happy.” Every experience in our lives shares with us a lesson in how to be a better person, and it is our Christian duty to take those lessons and offer them as solace and aid to others when we can. I often falter and get caught in the downward spiral of self-doubt and human inadequacy, but then the scripture centers me and reminds me of my call in life.
Jesus took on our burdens and died for our sins, not so we could be free from care and responsibility, but so that we could take our burdens and use them to help and care for others. Our burdens and trials are nothing compared to what he endured, no matter how much they hurt us. He taught us that it is possible to rise again on the other side of hardship, to live life in a way that shares the burdens of our fellow man, and to come together as a community of faith to support and love one another through our imperfections.
Station 1 – Jesus is Condemned to Death
The world is full of many beautiful sights. In my own travels I have seen the beauty of the mesa in New Mexico, cathedrals and castles in England, and historical sights in the Boston and Washington DC. I have seen the brightly lit streets in Times Square in New York City and the quiet night of the Pacific Coast. And in each of those beautiful places I have sensed the awesome presence of God who has given me the blessing of seeing so much of his world.
I have also seen places less than beautiful. I have seen places where fresh drinking water is non-existent, where cardboard serves as the walls that keep out the wind and rain, where one meal a day is all one can manage, where life is not at all like any of the other places I have seen or experienced. And I have also sensed the powerful presence of God in these rougher edged places.
Journeys are spiritual. Journeys reveal to us the God who lives among his very own people – not inside buildings of our own making or in the books of our libraries. Jesus embodies all, both the lovely and the not so lovely aspects of our humanity. Jesus experiences the highs and lows of life, the victories and the struggles, the joy and the sorrow. All of which make up our human journey through life.
Jesus’ final journey – to the cross of suffering death – is marked by false accusations and the unjust judgment which emerges from those lies. Jesus endures with us the pain of betrayal, the empty feeling of loneliness and, finally, the sting of death. The story of Jesus’ passion and death on the cross leave us no doubts that he indeed knows the heights and depths of human life and embraces it fully in Divine Love. Jesus’ final journey to death on the cross leaves us no doubts that he indeed knows each one of our very complex lives and embraces us fully in Divine Love.
The Scriptures tell us that if we die with Christ then we shall be raised with Christ (Romans 6.8). Jesus invites us to take up our own cross and follow him (Luke 9.23). This Lent walk with Jesus. Walk the way of suffering and death on the cross. Hear once again the magnificent story of the amazing depth of God’s love for us that to redeem sinners he sends a Son (Galatians 4.7).
-Fr. Ram Lopez
Over 40 Episcopal Youth from around San Antonio participated in the “Equipped” youth lock-in at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church during the last weekend of January. The youth enjoyed a night of worship, a trip to Thin Air Jump House, and some pizza from Pizza Patron. On Saturday, the youth spent the morning serving Daily Bread Ministries by sorting canned goods for needy families. Later that afternoon, the youth headed to Hardberger Park to perform another service project by cleaning up the park. All had a great time and St. George’s Rishan Edussuriya and Sully Wilson were participants.
On January 23rd, St. George hosted the Cursillo “Day of Deepeer Understanding,” with approximately 75 people from various parishes attending. Eleven of those in attendance were from St. George: Steve & Susan Alwais, Stuart & Leigh Saunders, Molly Miller, Margaret White, Meg Grant, Carol Molina, Wes Hiatt, Jane Ahuero, Paul Warner.
Molly Miller notes, “Attending Cursillo is a spiritual high. However, as many past attendees have discovered, maintaining that high can be challenging. Day of Deeper Understanding provides an opportunity for new Cursillistas to join with the body of past Cursillistas and share their experiences. As with all lessons, unless the learning is applied soon and frequently, the learning can be lost. Day of Deeper Understanding helps attendees to refocus on their Christian walk and the principles of Cursillo. Although Christ is always with us, Cursillistas are reminded that so too are their Brothers and Sisters in Christ. Accountability to God and to each other helps us to grow our witness to others.”
Steve Alwais, who served as the lay rector for Cursillo #270, writes, “The ‘Day of Deeper Understanding’ is a day designed to rekindle the fire within all of those who have attended Cursillo. There have been 270 Cursillos with the Diocese of West Texas. It is a weekend experience designed to bring to mind and heart the elements of our daily walk with God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit.
During the event on January 23rd the Cursillistas heard talks from Steve Alwais, the lay rector of Cursillo #270, and Molly Miller, a participant on that weekend. Both truly reflected the spirit of the weekend. As everyone who has ever attended a Cursillo would tell you, it truly is a weekend well worth taking part in it. If you have any questions or would like to attend Cursillo, please contact any of them or Fr. Ram.
Two of the many groups that St. George serves thanked us for recent donations to their organizations. Thank you all for helping us to help others.
Diana Pelaez, Family Specialist at Larkspur Elementary thanked us for our donation, which was made possible by the generosity of the Kahlig Auto Group. With this donation, Larkspur was able to buy school uniforms for families who can’t afford to buy uniforms for their children.
St. George also donated to Magdalena House, a transitional home in San Antonio that serves mothers and children who have fled dangerous and abusive lives by providing transformation through education, nurturing community, and programming.
To learn more about Larkspur Elementary, Magdalena House and other ways to serve, click here.