SASKATOON — Water as an image of the grace of God and the presence of the Holy Spirit, even in the most difficult moments of life, was the focus of a parish mission held on a cold January weekend at St. John Bosco Parish in Saskatoon.
“Just Add Water” was the theme of the mission led by Leah Perrault of Emmanuel Care, a health ministry owned by the Catholic bishops of Saskatchewan. Perrault had stepped in at the last minute for scheduled speaker Christy Dupuis, who was unable to facilitate the Jan. 12 - 13 retreat because of illness.
In Scripture and story, Perrault described how we are called to be attentive to what God is doing, and how our life story connects to God’s story — in particular the Paschal Mystery of life, death, and resurrection.
“In the fullness of time we will be redeemed by that Jesus who came to live in the mess with us,” she said, sharing everyday experiences and struggles where she has encountered the love and presence of God.
“God didn’t show up to fix all our problems, but he shows up and is radically present to us in our suffering,” said Perrault, describing her own struggles to accept that truth in moments of pain, grief, and loss. She pointed to Jesus Christ as the model for how to “walk willingly into the mess of it.”
In moments of suffering, sickness, depression, loss, or death in her own life, she has not always wanted to give space to the Holy Spirit, she admitted. “But the Spirit points us to Jesus as the Way, as the one who showed us how to open our heart just a little bit more.”
Like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, we pray that we will be spared our particular cross, she said. But if that is not possible, then, like Jesus, we are called to “trust that the Spirit is indeed at work in our lives — that God is there, whether we see it or not.”
Perrault encouraged participants to take time to check back, to reflect, and to try to see in retrospect where God has been at work.
“Grace expands our cup,” she said, using the image of water pouring out more than can be held, and urging her listeners to be attentive to the “Holy Spirit hovering over our lives.”