Welcome to The Open Door

April Reflection for Open Door – Patty Huffman

open-arms

As the days of Lent, the experience of Triduum lead us to deep embrace of the Paschal Mystery and the Joy of Easter, memories of the cherished days and weeks and years shared with Fr. Michael flood my soul with thanksgiving.  I know of no other whose life more nearly followed Jesus and served as His witness. “The Paschal Mystery”, he said, is with us always, the cycle of birth-death-resurrection experienced again and again in the stages of our lives.  Fr. Michael embodied that mystery fully and encouraged his students to embrace both life and death, with the certainty of new life to follow.  The enthusiasm that wrapped him in God’s love so dearly, he gave to all.  I loved the times when he would get so excited about our human potential to make the world better, our participation in creation, to grow new life and new love in the world with our actions, our prayers, our hopes and our dreams, born of our life in Christ, Jesus.  His face became radiant as he spoke about blessing!  Everything! Everywhere!  Our participation in that action is part of God’s plan, our action adding new energy to the world!  He writes about it in “A Christian World View”:

“Creation continues by our actions.  Every act of love is a step toward the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth.   Thus we are in the process of creating the new earth, the new Jerusalem, the new Kingdom of God.  We have the power to harness for God all the energies of love.  Our task is to divinize the world and we do this through our activities.” (p.193)

As I read those words, I see him in my minds eye, driving down the highway, blessing everything in sight.  He did that, on the day of his ordination, and the joy of new life and love that could not be contained inside the boundary of his car!
In my quiet post-Easter Pause this Octave, I remember Fr. Michael with great thanksgiving for the passion he had to teach, and to bring others to embrace the great mystery of God’s love.  I think too perhaps even Pope Francis might have been his student in some way or another! (Kindred spirits at least),
Pope Francis echoes similar enthusiasm for our mission as followers of Jesus in these words,

“I invite all Christians, everywhere, at this very moment, to a renewed personal encounter with Jesus Christ, or at least an openness to letting him encounter them; I ask all of you to do this unfailingly each day…The Lord does not disappoint those who take this risk; whenever we take a step towards Jesus, we come to realize that he is already there, waiting for us with open arms… Let us not flee from the resurrection of Jesus, let us never give up, come what will. May nothing inspire more than his life, which impels us onwards! Evangelii Gaudium (1.3)

May this beautiful season of Easter surround us with ever growing love for the Lord, and heightened awareness of our gratitude for all good teachers.
Blessings all around,
Patty Huffman


Monsignor Chester Michael (1916-2014) RIP

We know that in everything God works for good with those who love him, who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) RSV

(favorite Bible quote of Fr. Chet’s)

 10498207_10204416414319929_1052966899565092963_oPhoto by Dr. Tim Short of Fr. Chet who loved to hike in the Shenandoah Mountains

It is with great sadness that we report that Monsignor Chester Michael peacefully passed away on Thursday at 3pm on July 31, 2014 at age 97 while in hospice care. Rev. Msgr. Chester P. Michael, a retired priest of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, was born in Berkeley Springs, WV, in 1916, ordained to the priesthood at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in 1942, and was a faithful priest of the Diocese for 72 years. Please remember Msgr. Michael and his family in your prayers.

Remembering Monsignor Chester Michael (click for more stories and photos)