Dear Friends of St. Anne's Shrine,
Every three years we hear proclaimed in September three stories about God's mercy and forgiveness from the Gospel according to Luke. Jesus shares these stories to demonstrate the forgiving and compassionate nature of our God. The narratives of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son are all structured in a pattern of losing, finding, and rejoicing. A sheep goes astray, a treasured coin is lost, and a son leaves his father to squander his inheritance. In each case what was lost is found and there is great rejoicing. These stories illustrate that God never gives up looking for us whenever we stray and get lost in the complexities of life.
The details of the prodigal son narrative provide the most dramatic story. It captures the family dynamics of a father and his two sons. The father is concerned with the younger son who ran off. At the same time the father works to sustain his relationship with the elder son who remained faithful. Impulsive decisions, ingratitude and resentment are all operative as the unconditional love of the father is revealed by his outreach to both sons reassuring them that they are both loved. This story reminds us that we can never earn God’s love and that despite any sinful actions we might commit, God will always be there looking for us in the distance to welcome us back home. Like a welcoming parent, St. Anne’s Shrine offers pilgrims opportunities for such reconciliation.
Queen Elizabeth II, who recently passed away, said these words in a Christmas address in 2011: “God sent into the world a unique person—neither a philosopher nor a general (important though they are)—but a Savior, with the power to forgive… Forgiveness lies at the heart of the Christian faith. It can heal broken families, it can restore friendships and it can reconcile divided communities. It is in forgiveness that we feel the power of God’s love.”
Your support of the Shrine helps us continue the transformative ministry of healing and reconciliation. The private conversation we Edmundites have with individuals is a sacred and privileged experience. The Christian journey is not meant to be traveled alone and we all need spiritual companionship along the way. The Shrine provides such opportunities for companionship as we all strive to live as followers of Jesus.
Please consider making a generous gift as we approach the end of our pilgrimage season. Your financial support helps us continue this important ministry of accompanying those who feel lost to rejoice in being found by our loving God. Be sure to send us the names of your deceased relatives and friends so we can remember them this fall, especially on All Souls Day. Thank you for your support of the Shrine and God bless you!
Rev. Brian J. Cummings, S.S.E.