What are you doing today? Working? Having fun? Sleeping? What about faith-ing? Verbs ending in –ing tell us something is in process. For example, I am writing this blog now. I’m actually doing something; I don’t just have the capacity to do it. In the spiritual life, too, I think we should go about our day faith-ing. Faith isn’t something I have. It’s something I’m doing and something I’m becoming. I grow more deeply in love with God, I’m more willing to make a difference in people’s lives, I’m more open to the Spirit’s possibilities. Well, gotta go! I’ve got a lot of faith-ing to do today.
Author Archives: Sr. Mary Valerie Schneider
Am I bothered enough to bother? My to-do list is long, my job jar is full, the laundry basket is overflowing. I have plenty of reasons not to bother with requests for volunteers or donations or letters to congresspersons. But sometimes the requests touch my heart, especially those wanting help to educate children. Putting a book and a child together is enough to make me bother. Most of the doors to curing the world’s ills are closed to me, but I can at least open the world to a child through a book. What bothers you? Are you bothered enough to bother today?
A mother in today’s Gospel for the feast of St. James asks Jesus to let her two sons, James and John, sit by his side in the Kingdom. Jesus responds with a question to the two sons: “Can you drink the cup that I am to drink?” We can imagine the two men affirming that they can, perhaps with a show of bravado. And perhaps the mother added some proofs of her sons’ loyalty and strength.
Switch to another mother, the mother of Jesus. When it was time for Jesus to leave home and begin his mission, did Mary say to him, “Jesus, my son, can you drink the cup?” Jesus didn’t need to respond with words. Their eyes met, and both knew that they would both experience the cup of suffering. And you and me? Can we drink of the cup?
“Ugh! Another bad hair day!” was my thought as I looked into the mirror. Then I tossed back my unmanageable locks and said to myself, “Well, certainly you can find something good in the mirror.”
What if I would write along the perimeter of my mirror, “Looking like Christ”? Or what if I would draw an outline of Christ’s face in the middle of the mirror? I would ask, “How much am I resembling Christ?” The Incarnation of Christ means that Jesus Christ is the perfect realization of what is potentially embedded in human nature, that is, union with the divine. Whatever bears the imprint of the Trinity—that’s us!—also is united with the divine. Now that’s a great look-alike even on a bad hair day!
The Son (Sun) of God shines upon us and through us. The evidence that God is shining upon us is our shadow. We would have no shadow without God’s radiating benevolence. “Shadow” is not used here as a Jungian term, the repressed side of us. No, “shadow” is the residue of God, the stuff of God that “happens” when we are at one with God. Just as Jesus’ shadow fell upon the sick, we cannot prevent our shadows from falling upon the ground on a sunny day. And who would want to prevent our spiritual shadows from falling upon the ground when God is shining upon us?
I’m never so full that I can’t enjoy blueberry pie, coconut candy, lemon meringue, berries and ice cream, or anything else that’s sweet. While some have a sweet tooth, I boast a whole mouthful of sweet teeth. There’s always room for dessert.
In my life of prayer, too, I long for the sweets, and God may set before me dainties. For example, the time of prayer goes quickly, I am moved by a religious song, I feel very loved by God, and I may even hear the voice of God. These mystical experiences are the desserts in our Christian diet. Such spiritual “highs” are God’s way of drawing us closer. Once we experience them, we want more. There’s always room for such spiritual “desserts.”
Today we celebrate St. Benedict. He reformed the way monks–and we–pray the Liturgy of the Hours (Divine Office). He chose the “Lite Psalter” method of fewer psalms and shorter hours (prayers prayed periodically throughout the day). Before his reform some monks would claim “One for the strong!” meaning they would allow themselves only one hour of sleep, giving 23 hours to prayer. In this way they felt they followed Jesus’ dictum to “pray always.” To stay awake they prayed 150 psalms, the whole Psalter.
Another interpretation of “pray always” is to punctuate our day with prayer. I’d much rather do that! Today be like Benedict. Pray fewer prayers, but fully engage in prayer. Also try saying a short prayer before beginning the next activity, or use down times like waiting on the computer or emptying the dishwasher as times of prayer.