Play hard. Pray harder.

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Here we are at the end of the season of Mardi Gras and the beginning of Lent. It’s been a season of galas and gatherings. A season of sparkle and shine. But now it is time to put away the outward shine and work on the inside, shining up our souls.

The past few weeks have been bittersweet with all the gatherings we have attended. It was great to attend our ball. To see old friends and make some new. Fun to walk and ride parade routes filled with the smiling faces of neighbors.

There were also farewells to dear ones who went on to be in heaven. Mike lost a hunting buddy to cancer and Father Mike lost his battle with the disease as well. A reminder that life is fleeting. As quickly as the parade passes by so does a life. So make it well lived. These men did. I don’t know a lot about Mike’s buddy from the country life in Neely but as for Father Mike he left a huge impression on many. He gave my children and grandchildren their first Communion and first Sacrament of Penance. Gave our kids the tools of their faith to navigate their teenage years. Gave us parents the calm reinforcement we needed for those years as well.

As Lent unfolds before us I’m drawn to a reading shared by Dr Randy Roth at Father Mike’s funeral. Randy shared many thoughts and memories of time spent with Father and assured us that his legacy is living on in the Resurrection School community that he loved so much. Inclusion is the word he used to describe Father Mike, because include he did. Always. This Lent I will focus on attempting to follow the guidelines Randy spoke of in his eulogy for Father Mike.

Pray, don’t gossip.

Lead, don’t follow.

Smile, don’t frown.

Invite, don’t refuse.

Talk, don’t text.

Hold hands, don’t point fingers.

Include, don’t exclude.

Take a chance. Don’t be afraid.

Open the door. Don’t close one.

Play hard. Pray harder.

Be constructive. Don’t criticize.

Love don’t hate.

The one story Randy shared that brought us all to tears was when he knew he had to tell the football team about Father’s illness regressing. The football team was Father’s huge focus and he was their number one fan. In season, Mass lasted a few minutes longer because he had to brag on his boy’s accomplishments. When Randy had to tell the team that Father was really sick he relayed the Padres message. Play HARD pray HARDER. Let’s all apply that to our Lenten journey this year. I love to “play”. I’m sure you do too. Let’s just pray as hard as we play and see if Father Mike won’t make some amazing things happen as a result!

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