What I Have Seen and Heard
Published: May 24, 2012
"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
I’ve thought a lot about these words from the poet T.S. Eliot recently, as the events of this time of year are often a combination of beginnings and endings. The graduation of students who leave one chapter of their lives in order to begin a new phase is one such example of an ending and a beginning sharing the same moment. The blushing bride and groom who smiled throughout their entire recent wedding ceremony was but another case where people leave one moment in their lives in order to begin another. Beginnings and endings often share the same stage in a person’s life.
We will soon celebrate the ordination of our new deacons and new priests. Once again, these men will close the chapter on one phase of their lives to begin a new moment of service within the Church.
Beginnings and endings often depend upon one another. It is a function of time in our lives that we observe in a special way during this season of the year.
During the past week, I celebrated school Masses at St. Jude the Apostle and at St. Matthew’s in Tyrone for the second-graders at Our Lady of Victory School who had made their First Holy Communion this spring. They were delightful as they sat in the front pews of those churches just beaming in their still-new Communion attire. They too were transitioning from being little ones in their parents’ arms to becoming participants in the great sacrificial offering of Christ Himself in the Eucharist. Certainly they could not possibly fully appreciate all that the Eucharist means for the Church—who among us can grasp the meaning of that Gift! But they were beginning a new relationship with Christ—one that I hope that they will continue to deepen all of the days of their lives. They are beginning a lifelong journey of uniting themselves with the Lord in the Eucharist. May that journey draw them closer to Christ with each Communion that they receive.
Occasionally we all tend to glamorize or overemphasize the beginnings of life’s experiences. We sometimes falsely believe that the first moments are the best or the summit moments of events that we encounter. The opposite is regularly the case.
Young bridal couples are called to grow in their love for one another and to deepen their union over the years. Newly ordained clerics must continue to mature in their ministry, learning from each experience how best to love and serve the Lord and his people. The first Communion should be only the beginning of a lifelong union with Christ that intensifies with each reception of the Eucharist. The beginnings in our spiritual journeys—as exciting and charming as they might be—are only the start of a venture of faith that must always deepen with time and by God’s grace. The beginnings in spiritual experiences are never the end—but only the first step toward fulfillment.
So while T.S. Eliot might be correct to draw our attention to the close association between beginnings and endings, in the realm of God, the beginnings of our spiritual journeys are only the first steps that we take on our pathways that are intended to lead us to God Himself.