Sunday, 20 February 2011
Father Ignatius had been tendering to his flock at St Vincent Church for years. He knew them all, the young, the old, the not-so-young and the infants still in their prams and push-chairs. He visited them often at their homes and shared their joys, their hopes, their fears and their doubts.
He observed that they all seemed to have one thing in common – they always worried about something or other. And in most cases, it was un-warranted worries about matters which may not even happen anyway.
Some worried about the economic situation and how they would make ends meet, or whether they'll lose their jobs, or be able to find a job even. Others worried about their families, their children, or the state of their marriage and life. Many worried about their health or some other problems - some real and some just imagined.
They came to him, his flock of sheep, day after day, week after week, with their problems and worries. Seeking his advice or sometimes just to unload their heavy weights on someone else. And as ever, he was always approachable, giving advice where he could, and praying with them for God's guidance and enlightenment.
One Sunday, whilst delivering his sermon he acknowledged that times were hard and that it was understandable when people worried about many things. He tactfully pointed out that more often than not, their worries were unnecessary since their fears never materialised anyway.
He reminded them that excessive worry showed a certain lack of Faith in God. A sure sign that we don’t believe He can help us. An insult even to His omnipotent power and His eternal love for us – His children.
Then, as if enlightened himself by a Higher Authority, he suggested something unusual to his congregation.
“Trust me on this,” said Father Ignatius in his gentle reassuring voice.
He asked the parishioners that the following Sunday everyone should bring with them to church a stone or a rock to which they should tie securely a label.
On the label they should describe briefly the nature of their problem or their worries – anonymously of course.
The stone or rock should be the size commensurate to the size or magnitude of their problem.
The following Sunday, sure enough, they all brought their rocks which they left outside the church.
There were small rocks, bigger ones, stones of all shapes and sizes and even a few pebbles tied inside a handkerchief to denote a lot of small problems.
One or two jokers even brought big boulders in wheelbarrows to show how huge their problems were.
During the sermon Father Ignatius said that he had read all the labels tied to the rocks and stones. He added that he had prayed about his parishioners’ worries and problems and that in prayer, God had spoken to him.
Father Ignatius asked the congregation to pick up any stone or rock outside the church on their way home, and in return, with prayers, God would help them, as long as they were willing to take on the problem written on the rock they had picked.
After Mass, they all went out, and after reading all the labels, they each picked a stone or rock and went home.
Each one of them had picked the same rock or stone they had brought with them to church that morning.