Sunday, December 4, 2016

"only say the word"

"Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant shall be healed." 

How often have we said these words (in their slightly modified version) at Mass? Probably pretty often. But how often have we really reflected upon them, *prayed* them? 

At Mass last Monday, Father pointed out that we frequently get too hung up on the first part - "Lord, I am not worthy" - and forget the second - "but only say the word".  

Can you imagine the faith of that centurion?! How often do we doubt that the Lord can answer our prayer? How often do we doubt his divinity, even in little ways, without realizing? 

If by Jesus' simple word, the centurion's servant was healed - by his WORD, not by his presence or the touch of his hand - how much more can our Lord heal us, who receive him in Holy Communion? How much more can the grace and goodness of his physical presence heal us, and contribute to our good? It is no accident the priest's prayers before receiving the Eucharist address his reception of the sacrament for "protection in mind and body, and a healing remedy."

Where do you need healing in your life this Advent? 

We have ready access to the healing touch of Jesus in the Eucharist - one of the many reasons attending daily Mass is a tremendous blessing for those who are able. 

If you can't make it to daily Mass, don't forget "but only say the word"! Make a spiritual communion - heck, make LOTS of them - even if you DO attend daily Mass! More grace is always better, right?  

Spiritual communions are one of those "classically Catholic" things of which I think many Catholics have lost awareness. So, let's bring it back! For Advent and forever. It's simple to do - whether in your own words, making an act of faith in Jesus' presence in the Eucharist and praying for our Lord to come into your heart - or in the words of a "ready-made" prayer, like this one by St. Alphonsus Liguori: 

"My Jesus, I believe that you are in the Blessed Sacrament. I love you above all things, and I long for you in my soul. Since I cannot now receive you sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart.  As though you have already come, I embrace you and unite myself entirely to you; never permit me to be separated from you." 

Lord Jesus, only say the word, and we shall be healed. 

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

in the dark

How often do we grow battle-weary, trying to combat the world's darkness? How often do we feel like we are seeking after Jesus in the dark?

I have struggled to write for months; it seems like an eternity. I've felt that I have nothing worthwhile to say - in a world incessantly jabbering about things of mostly little value - even though I'd try to speak of Goodness/Truth/Beauty - those things of God - it's still difficult to rise above the din. Sometimes, it's just difficult to fight that tiny, grating voice that challenges the worth of your thoughts - and sometimes, that voice doesn't seem tiny at all. 

So I've remained silent for awhile... Perhaps I still should... But here I am.

We had a large power outage here several Sundays ago.

I was on my way to Adoration when it hit, and when I arrived, the windowless chapel was completely dark, save for the sanctuary lamp - which, though beautiful, did nothing to illumine the chapel, or our Eucharistic Lord.

There I was, alone in the quiet darkness - alone with our Lord, but unable to see Him.
Slightly unnerved, I was tempted to leave.
Instead, I pulled out my phone, turned on the flashlight, and propped it up on a pew at just the right angle to illuminate the monstrance.

Being in pitch darkness with our Lord brought many analogies to mind. Of course, the general analogy to the spiritual life, when our Lord is so close to us, but seems so very far away - times which are difficult and deeply trying.

And also, the analogy to our lives in the world today. For those of us who try to follow Christ, who have faith, who try to be faithful - life often feels like adoring Jesus in the dark. The world is pitch black and seems to become darker with each passing day. (Presidential election, anyone?) 

Faith is a real struggle - that "realization of things hoped for and evidence of things not seen". The "hoped for" - my God, how difficult is hope in a world which has none, and for which there seems to be none? The "not seen" - holding fast to One whom we only "see" Eucharistically - and for whom we suffer ridicule?

Yes, adoring our Lord in the dark.

The lights came back on after a little while, and I sat and prayed for all of the people I love, who are struggling against the darkness - the general darkness of the world, the way it manifests in our lives. We try to combat the darkness, but so often, we grow battle-weary - we do not wholly lean on Him in the struggle, and lose our strength.

Jesus, fill us with your light that we may radiate it in this darkness... Lead us into your Heart.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

+ serenity +

"God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can, 
And wisdom to know the difference." 

I've never liked the Serenity Prayer. 
This probably sounds terrible, but it's always felt kind of contrived, even a little silly... Perhaps because - at least in my opinion - it's been overused on coffee mugs and tote bags, and bandied about as some kind of a "spiritual-but-not-religious" mantra. 

Note: AA's use of this prayer certainly does not fall into these categories, and I mean no offense to anyone who values it in that context - or in any other. Just trying to share my own context up to now. 

So no, I've never appreciated the Serenity Prayer. Until last night. 

I had to make a very difficult decision this week, to leave a ministry I've been involved with for several years.

Have you ever experienced a moment when something became utterly, completely, crystal clear - and you know you've just been given the answer to a question you weren't consciously asking, but needed to? While on vacation recently, I was struck by one of those moments, and I instantly knew what I had to do. I knew it would be hard, and I knew it would upset some people I deeply care about - but I also knew there was no other way. 

Despite incredibly poor timing, despite not wanting to upset anyone, after I made the decision to step down, I felt peace. Peace is a difficult thing to live without, friends. 

I was out for a run last night, mulling over all of this, getting lost in my head in the midst of the miles, when the Serenity Prayer came to mind. 

Something finally clicked, and I saw the prayer in a completely new way.

I'd stepped out in courage to change something that was changeable. I thanked God that courage, and for having provided me with the wisdom to know it had to be done.

Grateful for God's gifts of peace, courage, wisdom, serenity - grateful that He is God and I am not, and that He provides in everything, even in ways and at times when we expect it least.