Ignatian spirituality is constantly calling out to me to notice the presence of God in everything and to seek the face of Jesus in each person I meet. I am able to begin my day in this mode and as the day progresses it can be a waning thought. Today I opened a notebook where I jot down things I want to remember (if I can remember where I placed the notebook) and low and behold I find that I’d written that “presence” is defined as all three centers awake at the same time: heart open, mind receptive and body aware. How absolutely true. But sometimes I’m not firing in all three centers.
So just how “awake” am I? Awake enough to know that in the last 2 days I’ve been bombarded with the following questions: “Where did you find Christ today, Where did you hear Christ’s call, How will you respond? “ And if that wasn’t enough there was Monday’s gospel of the calling of the 12 Disciples. Okay, I think I’m supposed to learn something.
Reading Monday’s gospel revealed a couple of thoughts I’ve continued to ponder. First Jesus went away to pray. Good for Jesus! I have a “to do list” of things to accomplish, but then I guess so did Jesus. After all there were people to heal and forgive and miracles to perform. So what does Jesus reveal to us in this act of taking time to pray? It’s his need as well as ours to remain connected to God. Where does our ability come from? Okay point taken.
Then there is the calling of the 12 disciples. This was a rather motley crew to say the least. The number 12 can represent the whole church when it is used in scripture. So Jesus isn’t just calling a selected few, he’s calling all of us. However, he didn’t wait to call them until they had their acts together he “called” them with their faults and failings and unchecked to do lists. He called these people from their boats, their fishing nets, their tax booths. So it is with us. What might Jesus be calling us from - to do? Their formation and transformation began because they lived “with” Jesus. They learned what it meant to live in love and service to and with one another. They learned what it meant to trust God and rely on God instead of just knowing about God. He’s vying for our attention now. Maybe they were searching or restless or were finally firing in all three centers. Whatever the case, they listened, heard and responded. Can we?
Coming together in community reveals Christ present in our midst and helps us to live with Jesus instead of just learning about Jesus. I hear wonderful examples through the ARISE Together in Christ small groups, of members from our parish becoming Christ present to one another by sharing hope when another expresses doubt; of compassion being shared when hurts are revealed. Recently when I was struggling to pray, a young man simply reminded me to invite God to this space and then invited me to pray aloud with him “Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit as it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be world without end”. Wow!…such a wonderful reminder. And, gathering together this past weekend with couples from our parish to honor and enrich our marriages blessed me in knowing that we are united in our joys and struggles and strengthened in our relationships with one another.
So as it says in Ephesians,
“Awake O Sleeper”….. And we might add, “that I might fire in all three centers”.
Witnesses and Workers in the Kingdom
What does it mean to be a witness? Miriam Webster defines it as “testimony: one that gives evidence specifically.”
To be called upon as a witness results often times in a conviction of sorts. Well in the past days and weeks what I have witnessed challenges and hopefully convicts me to live more like a disciple than a bystander.
I have been witness to complete and unceasing service and compassion. How does this look? It’s in the moments of observing Tessa with awe, in her ability to communicate with a Venezuelan family, becoming part of our parish community. Language may have its barriers, but love sure doesn’t.
Then there is Diane, who has reached out in care by giving generously of her time to make Adoration time a possibility for a friend unable to get here on her own. Each week she sets aside the time so that a “Jesus date” can be kept.
Tammy is our hub, she keeps us all connected internally and externally. Her finger is always on the pulse of what’s happening and because of that continues to challenge us to extend our ministries beyond the walls of the Church. Tammy extends kindness to everyone who walks into the office.
And each Tuesday Pat lovingly prepares the chapel for Adoration. She works quietly replacing and cleaning the votive candles to assure a “holy space” for which we are all invited to come and to spend some quiet time with Jesus.
Now in fairness I need to be clear that these are only a few of the examples that I’ve been witness to; we all have opportunities to be Witnesses and Workers in the Kingdom. I know that there are many things that happen in a day when we are in the midst of God’s handiwork and pray that awareness leads us to recognize these moments.
So my invitation to you is this….in the next few days or weeks, ask God to make you aware of God’s work being accomplished through others; making you a witness to the workers in the kingdom. And as this happens, drop a note or text or a comment to the person, letting them know you’ve observed their kindness. In doing this we become a Eucharistic people, joined together as the mystical Body of Christ.
And we can be pleased in knowing it is then that we will hear our pastor say: “They got it right, they got it right!”
Connect the Dots!
Do you remember as a kid the “connect the dot” color books and worksheets, you might have worked on in school or at home? It was so much fun to see what image would appear as you connected the lines to the dots. However, sometimes making a “wrong” connection would result in a not so recognizable image, resulting in eraser marks, crossed out lines and even sometimes ripped paper.
I imagine all of us as part of a “connect the dot” image formed by the Divine Author of Creation. I even permit myself to engage in this masterpiece as a co-creator. Awaking each morning I pray to be mindful of the situations where I might become a line or the dot. Will I turn out to be the connecting point or the resting spot? What prompted me to think about this is that recently there have been just too many occurrences of being in the “right place at the right time”. Like walking into a place and unexpectedly running into someone I’ve been thinking about but hadn’t reached out too, and there they are. As I walk away from an encounter like this, feeling “heart full” and knowing I couldn’t have planned it any better if I’d have tried, I’m moved to the possibility that I’ve been in the midst of a Divine encounter. We’ve all been given these moments; sometimes recognizing them on the spot, or after we’ve taken the time to look back and reflect.
The take-away from all of this for me is a continued prayer for awareness. I want to be ready and open to receive these moments with gratitude and assuredness. I read once somewhere that we are all part of this great tapestry of life. God sees the whole image; the finished product. We see only the underside with knots and thread and color changes, giving us a faint depiction of this masterpiece. However each line and stitch and dot, helps to reveal the full image, and no matter what, there are no slip ups when we (as Saint Mother Theresa so humbly prayed) “to become a pencil in God’s hand”.
Take and Easter Walk. Over the next few days and weeks take a walk outside in the park, garden, woods, mall, wherever and look for new life. Notice the buds on the trees and the smell of the earth coming to life. Look for the presence of God which is all around us.
Rediscover your Baptism. Look at the pictures of your own baptism or of your children. Take out your baptismal candle and other items to display during the Easter season. Pick up some newly blessed holy water from the baptismal font and sign yourself with it each morning as you make the Sign of the Cross. Remember your Godparents and drop them a note or say a prayer of thanks for them.
Wear White. For the next weeks wear a splash of white to remind yourself that on the day of your baptism you were “clothed in Christ.
Light Candles. Light candles at dinner time or in your main living space recall that Jesus is the light of the world. As you light the candles say: “Christ our light”.
Dress up your table throughout the Easter Season using your prettiest table cloth and finest dishes. Make at least one meal time each week special. Before each meal say the words: “Jesus Bread of Life”.
Make bathing a time of Renewal. As you shower or bathe, remember your baptism and say “Christ the water of Life”. When you use oil or lotions, remember that you have been anointed with the spirit of Christ.
Let each day be a little Easter. As you begin each day, start by saying “This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad”. That is the traditional Easter psalm; Psalm 118. Give yourself a few minutes of quiet, coffee time and consecrate your day to God.
Write a thank you note.For the next 7 weeks write a note each week to someone you appreciate but maybe don’t share with them enough. Before you hit send or seal the envelope, say a prayer of blessing over it.