Tuesday, April 25, 2017
As I began my rosary last night, I realized something about my prayer intentions that I hadn’t considered before. Often in the past I’ve said prayers for this thing or that, this person or that --- things which came to my immediate attention. In effect, I was praying for some quick fix of the situation which concerned me. Over the years, however, that fix I prayed for has gone from a prayer for “this solution” to one of “in Your mercy,” as I matured enough in faith to recognize that often --- perhaps most often --- any particular solution I sought to a problem probably wasn’t the best one. I mean, the problem existed because I and people who asked me to pray about that problem couldn’t fix it that way, so I gradually accepted that probably God had some better solution, even if I couldn’t see it --- or if I did, I didn’t understand how that was better. But I learned that God is truly a loving God, with loving solutions to problems, so I began praying for His solutions to the problems I prayed over. My prayer became “not my will, but Thy will be done.” And I perceived my prayers were in fact answered more often --- even if I didn’t fully understand the answer: like my prayers for mercy on this country, and the unexpected election results last year. The whole world is still trying to figure out that answered prayer --- but I still trust, even as I accept that I can’t understand all of God’s ways.
But back to tonight, my rosary prayer intentions were for an end to abortion, a cure for autism, and for God’s mercy on our country and the world. I can’t begin to imagine how any of those things could come about, even if I wanted to pray for some particular solution. But again, I trust God can bring those things about, because I am confident He loves His little children and the poor who are at the heart of those intentions. I recognized, tonight, that solutions to these things would be big miracles --- really big --- yet I prayed for these things with a confidence that God can and does do really big things. I trust in Him.
And I recognize that God also has a confidence in me --- that I will seek out, as He directs me, and do the little things H puts before me. I trust that God will show me the little things, the people He puts into my life, to love them as He would. He will show me the way to make this world a better place, to live out my part, one person at a time. All I have to do is trust, and act, and this world will be a better place.
And He will love me for it.
I begin my rosary prayer each night with a kind of conversation starter: “Lord, here’s the big things I worry about, what plans are You making?” And I think He then asks me to consider: “What progress are you making on your tasks?” And I respond, “Well, let me tell You, …”
And that’s how my prayers go, a conversation with God, an exchanging of love, in trust. It’s taken me years to reach this point, but I like our conversations, and I don’t worry about big miracles any more. They’re in good hands. And I like our time together.
Sunday, April 23, 2017
What was different about this year, this Holy Week, this Easter Week? I don’t know, but a light has shined in my heart throughout these days.
Yesterday, breakfast with my friend was most pleasant; the time passed quickly, and I almost didn’t notice the repetitions of his words and thoughts, the signs of his Alzheimer’s disease. I found pleasure as I watched his face smile as he described the small pleasures of his day, and then again as he watched the video screen in front of the little girl seated next to us: “It’s Mickey Mouse,” he said, and he seemed fascinated by the screen’s action. He was happy, and so was I.
In the afternoon, I called friends to have them join me, but no one was home. I think that was a blessing too, and so that evening I watched the DVD titled Credo by myself --- but I never felt alone. It is the story of Pope Saint John Paul II’s life, and burial. As Andrea Bocelli sang out with his beautiful voice, I watched the scenes unfold of Pope John Paul II’s wonderful life, and the celebration of his death, twelve years ago this very day, on the eve of the feast of Divine Mercy, the feast day which he initiated in the Church. Three million people came from around the world, standing many hours in line, to file past JPII’s body as it lay in state at St. Peter’s in Rome. And as Bocelli crooned, scenes of JPII’s world travels shone on the television screen, and I saw the huge crowds: at Mexico, Africa, and the various World Youth Days --- where they showed the millions of youths chanting: “JPII, we love you,” and then his smiling face responded: “JPII, he loves YOU!” And I watched the millions gathered around him in his beloved Poland, and then many of those same people at his funeral. Many youths filed past his body; some cried uncontrollably. I did, too. I watched the many times JPII stopped to bless and hug babies, and the one little girl in her First Communion white dress who received the host reverently from him, and then rushed forward to hug him, as he smiled and hugged her back.
And after these scenes of millions of people from around the world who flocked to see him, it showed him now being carried to his funeral mass --- in a simple pine box.
Last evening in the chapel I prayed The Luminous Mysteries of the rosary. JPII wrote those meditations. So many thoughts came to me as I prayed the mysteries of Christ’s greatest blessings to us, and as I recalled one very personal one to me this day.
Divine Mercy. It was one of the things JPII preached throughout the world: we need God’s mercy, and it is there for the asking. No matter how long we’ve been away, no matter where in the world, God waits for us. JPII preached it in his living, and in his painful dying: Jesus, I trust in You.
JPII, --- we miss you.
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
Father reminded us this morning that the masses this Easter Week treat the week as but a single day. All the Gospels words speak of the events or Resurrection Day. “It takes the Church eight days to relate and consider all the events of that day --- and an eternity to understand and appreciate them.”
It came to me that the mass itself has a continuity to it, related to this Easter time; it is the Last Supper of Good Friday, celebrated over and over again, not as a re-enactment but a participation in it. The daily readings of each mass are as if the apostles are sitting ‘round the Good Friday dinner table discussing the events of Jesus’ life. Then when the Gospel starts at the mass it’s as if He arrives and speaks. And in the sermon, we and the priest can participate in the family dinner discussion. And we do.
“We” is the operative word of the mass. The priest never says “I” am leading this meal preparation, rather he always says “WE” are talking to God; WE are sitting at the table and giving thanks, together. The mass is a community dinner; we are not called to sit dumbly around the table, but to participate with friends and family. At a point called the Consecration, however, the priest does assume the persona Christi, and speaks as Christ: “This is My Body,” he says, and “This is My Blood.” And it happens, because the Lord said it was so. And when the priest raises the Host, now the Body of Christ, for our adoration, he says: “Behold the Body of Christ.” And we adore. But then, in obedience to His command “Take and eat,” we do. And then, as He said: “I will be with you always.”
This morning was one of those rare mornings when I sat at the right place in church, at the right time. And so as I stood to say The Lord’s Prayer with my neighbors, the morning sun shone directly on my face; my eyes closed to the brightness, but they were nonetheless penetrated by it --- even as His Body would shortly penetrate me entirely. The warmth of the sun on my face warmed my prayers, and I perceived His presence.
The Good Friday meal may have been His last supper before His death, but unlike our Easter Day celebration which only lasts for eight days, we will continue to celebrate that Last Supper at each mass each day, until the last of days.
He is risen! He is risen, indeed!