Thursday, January 12, 2012

Merry Christmas 2011

The following was sent in response to my Christmas cards this year.


As Advent tarries on and the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord approaches, I find that the theme of my own prayer and reflection wanders consistently toward the notion of hope.  How utterly audacious it is that as Christians, we announce to the world that regardless of the evil that is perpetuated and the sufferings we must endure, none of these things can approach the glory that awaits us in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Over and over this season, we hear the prophet Isaiah foretell a time when the world will be peaceful and all will live in harmonious accord.  Most striking to me about these prophecies is the fact that as Christians, we know full well that such a vision is not just a happy fantasy.  By faith, we know with utter, absolute, and unshakable faith that such a time will come to pass.  God will make it so.  Indeed, this marvelous work was already begun 2000 years ago when the God of the Universe who holds all creation in existence chose to become a part of that creation and deigned to be born in the poverty of a stable and to take as His undignified cradle, a trough from which cattle were eating.  How glorious our God is!

Life has changed for me over the course of the last year.  In the months following my ordination two years ago, I found myself overwhelmed with the great mystery and power that had been entrusted to me by God and Mother Church as a result of my priesthood.  Everything was new, exciting, and exhausting.  These days I find that I experience very few “firsts” anymore.  The initial sheen and excitement of priesthood has now mellowed, and I find that I can savor the incredible graces I receive in a new way.  As opposed to the red, orange, and blue fireworks of joy that accompanied the first days of my vocation, I am now entering into a period of joy marked by a slow steady burn like the embers of a fire.  These embers promise to sustain me through what I hope is a long life lived at the service of the people of the Diocese of Rapid City.

Not long after ordination, I began to discover all sorts of new things about myself, including a penchant for hunting and fishing.  That period seemed to reach something of a climax last May with a canoe trip in the Minnesota/Canada Boundary Waters.  I would never have pictured myself doing such a thing several years ago.  Now I cannot picture myself not doing those things.  I am
looking forward to making another such trip in the spring.

On July 1, with many tears and a heavy heart, I bid farewell to the Cathedral Parish and took up residence at Blessed Sacrament Parish on the west side of Rapid City.  Now, several months later, I find myself a bit chagrined to realize how quickly and deeply I have begun to love my new family.  I have often advised parents that more children in a family can only multiply love, so it should have been obvious to me that the same would be true for a priest as he became father in a new community.  Suffice it to say that God has placed me exactly where I am meant to be, and even though goodbyes are hard, I discover that there is great joy to be had in new beginnings.

The Lord has entrusted me with the work of preparing forty-four teenaged souls for the Sacrament of Confirmation.  These are largely public school students, which makes for a much different (not better or worse, just different) dynamic than with the predominantly Catholic School students at the Cathedral.  What strikes me most about these students is the deep and abiding goodness each of them possesses as a result of the fact that they have been chosen by God for himself.  As with the whole world, though, the challenge comes with trying to help them see that goodness within themselves.  I find that I am filled with zeal while being simultaneously overwhelmed at the task of helping them to experience the depths of God’s love for them.  I am daily confronted with the knowledge that the most effective thing I can do to achieve this end is to grow in holiness myself, and I shudder to realize just how far I have to go.  And yet, there are moments where the Lord reveals small glimmers wherein I am assured that He is doing good work in the hearts of these young people.  Thus I find myself once again returning to the experience of hope with which I began this letter.

All in all, life is good—exceedingly so.  God gives me more than I deserve, and I thank him less than He deserves.  But the sweetness of hope convinces me day by day, that God’s grace will make me more and more the man and priest I am called to be.  So, I conclude simply by saying thank you.  I appreciate your warm sentiments, and I pray that God will shower you with every good blessing this Christmas Season.  Know of my prayers for you and yours.

Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Tyler Dennis

1 comment:

  1. The wonderfull truth of serving our Lord, is that we never stop growing in his truth and continue to learn more about our peerless God as we grow in wisdom through the study of his word, and in doing his work here in the world in which he has placed us as his witnesses.
    Andy Hope


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