Today’s reading from the prophet Jeremiah was one of those “dessert” prayers that Sister Valerie blogged about a few weeks ago. I am a potter — of sorts. Better said, I like to mess around with clay! I seem to fade into the background; time falls away. Thoughts and distractions are minimal; presence to the moment is paramount. Working, watching, wondering: what will this be? What a marvelous analogy for prayer! I hope you tasted a little dessert today as God continued to mold and fashion you!
July 31 celebrates the feast of St. Ignatius of Loyola. Today I’ve been mindful of this dear man of God who made it his quest to give God all the glory and to find God everywhere. Fast forward several centuries and there are tens of thousands of men and women in the world who have made the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius either in the long retreat or amidst daily life. What a treasure Ignatius left for us! Before we drift off into peaceful slumber tonight, we might ask where we found God this day … perhaps in the smile of a young child or an elderly person? in a patient or client’s valiant acceptance of suffering? in the clerk at the store? in a surprise note or gift? in the beauty of a butterfly or summer flower? Let us know where you found God today! And let’s keep our hearts set on deepening our awareness that we might truly come to see God in all things.
I still had visions of yesterday’s eXclaim gathering in my head as I woke up this morning. What a wonderful experience of Church! It was a great opportunity to connect with so many people and to enjoy a day of fellowship.
I was especially touched at last night’s liturgy when we heard the gospel reading of the multiplication of the loaves and fish. While we may not have numbered five thousand (I believe the estimated number for Mass was two thousand), there was the same sense of our being gathered on the hillside listening to the teachings of Jesus. Father Jeff McBeth reminded us in the homily that while we may see ourselves as poor and inadequate and feel we have little to offer, God can do amazing things with us just as he did with the five loaves and two fish. We need only to turn our lives over to Him and watch incredible things happen!
I’m not sure there were twelve baskets of fragments left over after Holy Communion last night, but I do suspect the grace of the day was left in the hearts of those who were present. May each of us go forth to exclaim the goodness and provident care of our God!
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 following conversation was part of our migrant ministry this past week:
Tutor: What is this vocabulary word?
Tutor: And what does “bless” mean?
Student: It’s when someone puts God in your heart.
What wisdom we can glean from children! Who has blessed you recently? How will you bless another in the coming week?
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.”
This morning at Mass, I had one of those “These Scripture readings were chosen just for me” moments. The Gospel from Matthew reminds us:
“Do not worry about how to speak or what to say; what you are to say will be given to you when the time comes; because it isnot you who will be speaking; the Spirit of your Father will be speaking in you.”
As we begin our three days of Province meetings today, I’m hoping I can keep this counsel in mind. How different all of our conversations would be each day if I would only trust God to speak in and through me AND trust that God is speaking in and through everyone else.
How will you allow God to speak in you today?
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.