“For me, prayer is a movement of the heart; it is a simple glance toward Heaven; it is a cry of gratitude and love in times of trial as well as in times of joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus. . . . I have not the courage to look through books for beautiful prayers…. I do like a child who does not know how to read; I say very simply to God what I want to say, and He always understands me.”
– St Therese of Lisieux
At church on Sunday, one of the points in the homily was an exercise Fr. Joseph had completed in college. It was what each individual wanted to have written on their tombstone. He said that one classmate wanted “Found a cure for cancer”; another wanted “Visited all the countries in the world”; and a third wanted “At Last. At Last. I’m Home At Last”. The ensuing homily centered around the notion of “home”.
I got to thinking about my home. I have had several in my life. Homes that I lived in with my parents, homes I shared with my husband, places that felt like home, even though I didn’t live there. When you are away from home, it is a struggle to to feel centered – to have a place that you can go to and be accepted, a place that is a refuge.
Lately I have been thinking that (re)finding my faith is like finding a home. The Church has always been a constant in my life – even when I was away from it. It was always in the back of my mind and heart. Even though I came back a few years ago, I wasn’t really back. I had issues that I needed to address. But through the combination of various people I have met, the priests in my parish, and the reflection I have been doing, I think I have begun to find my way home….home to the faith community that means so much to me; that has meant so much to my family; that has allowed me to experience the beauty of the Mass again.
I had a priest tell me yesterday that “God is easy, it’s the people that make things difficult”. I think that helped solidify my notion of home. I know that I have a home in my faith, in my belief of God. I also know that I have a home on earth with those who love me and with those who support me. My home isn’t necessarily limited by the four walls holding up my house, but it is built by the hearts and hands that are there to hold me up when I am struggling. To those people, I say thank you.
- Be watchful for Jesus.
- Be watchful for opportunities to minister to others.
- Be watchful for others ministering to us.
- Be watchful for the movement of the Holy Spirit
Be watchful for Jesus. To Christians, we are in a perpetual season of Advent, waiting for the coming of Christ. This is amplified annually during the Christmas season as we wait for the birth of the Christ-child. Our readings, our reflections are about watching…watching those around us for the joy of the season.
I am seeing this daily in our home. This is the first Christmas that our youngest actually understands that there’s something going on. She is sooo excited about Christmas – sure, it’s the excitement of Santa and of getting gifts, but she is enthralled by everything Christmas-related. She was so happy to help me set up our small Nativity scene the other night. We talked about each piece and what they were. Now whenever she walks by it, she says that it’s her “special thing” that she did with Mommy. For her, Advent is taking “too long”; but for us, it’s not long enough.
Be watchful for opportunities to minister to others. The holidays are a time that donations spike. People are in a giving spirit and they are called upon, whether by others or by their conscience, to give of their time, money, or talents. Ministering to others doesn’t have to be formal affair…maybe it’s as simple as holding the door for someone who is burdened with items, or a kind smile when you see someone who is frazzled. It may be volunteering for a task at work, your church, or other organization that would stretch your comfort level. It’s amazing how ministering to others can influence your everyday life.
Be watchful for others ministering to us. I tend to rush through my day always playing catch-up. I don’t always notice others as I go about my tasks. I tend to want to do things on my own, and I will struggle through a task even though someone else may have offered to help. My challenge in the coming years is to learn to accept others who are ministering to me. To accept that smile, to accept that offer to babysit, to accept that little girl’s hand in mine and not to rush through my day. Accept each person ministering to you as a gift and say “Thank you” with a spirit of thankfulness and grace in your heart.
Be watchful for the movement of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves in unexpected ways. Stories of people who made a serendipitous connection with a stranger abound, or how the non-answer to a prayer was really the answer to the deeper prayer. Be watchful for how the Holy Spirit moves in your life and the lives of those around you. For us, we struggled for years with wanting to have a child. We decided to become foster parents so that we could help others, but we still wanted to have a child of our own. We were finally blessed with the gift of two little girls who fit perfectly into our lives and our family. God heard our cries and even though we weren’t blessed with a child of our bodies, we were blessed with children of our heart. The Holy Spirit moved in mysterious ways.
How have you been watchful this Advent season?
- The Meaning of Advent (growingapologist.wordpress.com)
- The Fullness of Advent (apologus.wordpress.com)
- Great Advent message – Parents turn back your hearts to your children… (catholicjournaling.wordpress.com)
As our church prepares to change to the new Roman Missal on November 27, one of the prayers that is changing is the Act of Contrition, or the Confiteor.
I confess to almighty God
and to you, my brothers and sisters,
that I have greatly sinned,
in my thoughts and in my words,
in what I have done and in what I have failed to do,
through my fault, through my fault,
through my most grievous fault;
therefore I ask blessed Mary ever-Virgin,
all the Angels and Saints,
and you, my brothers and sisters,
to pray for me to the Lord our God.
The above text is the new version. They have been practicing it at Religious Ed classes with the kids so they become familiar with some of the new prayers. One of the things that is changing back to pre-Vatican II is that during the mea culpa, there is the option of striking one’s breast as a gesture of sorrow. For me, even if my parish doesn’t adopt that option, I will probably take that option. To me, it is a way to internalize the prayer and to remind me that it is truly my actions that I need to watch. No one can ask forgiveness for me except me.
What does this mean for me? When we said it this morning during Mass, it struck me as being something that should be said every day. In the last few days, there were several instances where I have had to ask forgiveness for my actions. It is a humbling experience, to be sure. This prayer brings it to the forefront and reminds me that although I can and should seek forgiveness from the person I wronged, I also need to seek forgiveness from God.
I have been every type of Catholic you can be…the ardent church-goer, the lapsed Catholic, the C&E (Christmas & Easter) Catholic, the angry Catholic, the cynical Catholic, the questioning Catholic, and now I am trying to rediscover my faith. The Catholic Church is where I want to be, I just need to learn more. I have been on this journey for about a year. I am stumbling my way through, but I hope to be successful.
- Missal Moments VI: “I confess…” (hughosb.wordpress.com)
“Let us not become weary in doing good,
for at the proper time we will reap a harvest
if we do not give up. ”
Paul the Apostle
Thanks to Sam Parker (www.givemore.com) for the quote this morning. This has stuck with me all day. Too often, I stop trying to do what I know I should do because it gets to be too hard. This has made me realize that I need to keep pushing through and do what needs to be done. The effort will be worth it, even if I don’t see the end result for a number of years. I need to stop giving up.