Reflection Masthead
Issue 146 - Endings and Beginnings - January 2017
       Life is a series of "happenings' - some endings and some beginnings. We welcome 2017 with a new mobile-friendly format - still a work in progress. We welcome your input and suggestions. Most of all, we are grateful to you and your support and generosity this past year. We begin the new year and with hopes of staying in touch more frequently.
       We start with a neutral palette - watch for Soul Windows to open to new beginnings. 
Archbishop Flores ~ Despedida
7/26 /29 ~ 1/9/17 

         It's such a little thing - a memento no larger than a jumbo egg - but gifted by a man with a heart as huge as the moon. Archbishop Patricio Flores gave me the white ceramic medallion at our conversation on June 26, 2001. I interviewed Flores as well as other bishops throughout the U.S. about lay preaching in the Catholic Church, the subject of my D.Min. paper. His parting words were: "If there is anything I can do for you and the word of God, let me know. I will do it."               
       Our working relationship started in 1989 when I was invited to join the Catholic Lay Preaching Guild, a cohort he initiated so that lay people would be spiritually formed, homiletically trained, and ready to preach sermons as needed, per canon law, in the shortage or absence of priests. He indeed was a prophet, making sure that the word of God would be available to all. Our CLPG met with him in his small apartment semi-annually, graced by his warm hospitality. He usually served carne guisada and beans that he had prepared. We were welcome at the same table in the same apartment at Assumption Seminary where Pope John Paul II also stayed during his 1987 visit. It made no difference; Flores was a friend to all, regardless of nationality or status.
       During one of our CLPG visits with Flores, he challenged us to "take the word of God to our incarcerated brothers and sisters." That began my 7-year ministry as volunteer jail chaplain. My weekly sermons and liturgies with the men and women inmates were formative in opening my heart to the real meaning of the Holy Scriptures.
       Archbishop Emeritus Patricio Flores was a lover of people - all people - a humble man who was a friend and a teacher. He had no classroom but his lessons remain written on my heart. In a conversation, shortly after being held hostage for 9 hours (June 28, 2000) by a man with a passport problem claiming to have a hand grenade, I asked, "How did you do it? (Remain peaceful and safe)" to which he replied, "I prayed, I kept my sense of humor, and I told stories."
       Thank you, Archbishop Flores. Rest in peace. Despedida.
--by Jan
We begin this year with deep gratitude to you, our faithful readers. We especially extend a warm thank you to the Benedictine Sisters of Boerne for their generous financial gifts insuring the continuation of Soul Windows Ministries. May God shower you with abundant love and blessings.
New Beginnings
Glory be to you, O God,
for the grace of new beginnings
placed before me in every moment...
- John Phillip Newell
Frankly, I am not encouraged by the start of this new year.  It is the year in which I reach full retirement age (according to Social Security), without a clear vision of what my retirement will look like.  The year in which the new American President fills the whole world with uncertainty, some with great hope, but many with great anxiety.
Nonetheless, the new year has begun. Ready or not, each day brings new opportunities. What will I do with the gift of this year, of this day, of these 24 hours, of this very moment?
I remember a homily I heard years ago.  It was early in Lent, and the preacher said that what he had decided to give up for Lent that year was lethargy. Lethargy. Instead of sitting back and wringing his hands about all the world's problems, he had picked two things, which he named, that he would do, where he would work to make a difference. He couldn't tackle all the world's problems, but he could work for change on two.
The new year has begun. New opportunities lie ahead. As Brian Wren's hymn reminds us, this is a day of new beginnings - this day, and every day.
Glory be to you, O God, for the grace of new beginnings.
- Bill

Bill Howden and Jan Davis
Soul Windows Ministries