A truly Christian life involves a journey like that of Christ, filled at times with sorrow and joy, work and rest, agony and peace, tears and laughter. A Catholic realizes that in both good and bad experiences, God works in strengthening us and sharpening us so that we are purged of sin, thus allowing us to be in His presence for eternity – if our free will is properly disposed.
This journey is not only in our personal experiences but in our our public life as well, reflected in our actions and reactions to the daily tumult of human existence. The Church realizes this in a profound way – aiding us with the examples of saints and urging us to live out our faith with others. God demands that we not shy away from hardships and blessings but embrace them for his greater glory. Furthermore, we are required, if we wish to be good members of the Church, to help each other on the path to eternity with Christ. We must pray for each other and support each other with both spiritual and physical works. Food, money, and other basic necessities are donated to others as every person is an infinitely valuable creation of God.
So it is with the trials and tribulations foisted upon Father Matthew Cowan. After 18 months of unjust persecution, his release from banishment was celebrated in a way that could only be described as supernatural. It was a textbook example of grassroots organizing. A group of individuals, unknown by many in attendance, spontaneously announced an open house for him this past Friday. For many attendees, it was only known a few days before the event; that was no deterrent. An abundance of food and drink poured in; all of it donated by sincere faithful people. For over two hours, a receiving line inched slowly as a smiling and exuberant Father Cowan greeted each individual who came to offer him good will, prayers, congratulations, and best wishes. He was thanked for his perseverance and encouraged to continue the fight for the honor of the priesthood. Many petitioned him to help them with his prayers and Mass offerings.
The Church is made of many parts – the Church Triumphant are those in Heaven. The Church Militant are those on earth who plod through life trying to stay on the path toward eternity with the saints. This farewell for Father Cowan was an expression of the Church Militant in its finest form; the mystical body of Christ, coming together to support a good shepherd, with joy and commitment for what is right. How fitting it was that this gathering met on the weekend we celebrate Corpus Christi. In these times of uncertainty and destruction both inside and outside of the Diocese, this gathering was an expression of the Holy Spirit’s message of hope to the Church and the world.
We can proclaim with confidence what is said in the Church when someone is baptized:
This is our faith.
This is the faith of the Church.
We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord.
We wish Father Cowan nothing but goodness and Godspeed as he begins his work in Kansas. May Mary, Mother of God and St. John Marie Vianney, Patron of Parish Priests, be with Father Cowan, united with our prayers for his soul and the souls he touches through his ministry. May we rejoice in his commitment and may he always remain a holy priest.