Sunday, September 2, 2012
Just Another Sunday
My Sunday started with midnight adoration, with some time to read and meditate on the book: The Gift of Faith, by Tadeusz Dajczer. I read with interest his description of the use of Penance either as a conscience aspirin for my guilt, or an opportunity for reflection and conversion, to grow in faith and realize just how much your sin hurt God --- using Penance not to pacify your hurt, but His. I like Tadeusz, for he always makes me think.
On the ride to mass in the morning, I popped in a Patrick Madrid apologetics CD. The Q&A format had him responding to questions about why not communion for non-Catholics, and why must we confess to men/priests and not God (?). More food for thought. Perhaps these thoughts set the mood of my mind as I began my usual entrance “ritual” to the church: the lighting of a single candle at the foot of the statue of Mary. Usually I stop a few moments and pray for her intercession to Jesus for the long list of people and things I worry about, but for some reason, this morning I stopped before praying. After my pause, these words came to me:
Mary, I thank you this day for acting as my mother, for your actions on all the prayers I know you have heard me say, and on others you know I should have said. You have loved me; thank you. Today I ask you to intercede forME, that I might be a better child of God. Too often I choose to do my will. And even when I ask to do His will, I am not content unless I understand it. So this morning, dear Mother, I ask that I might choose to do neither, but rather just accept where He tells me to go, and what He tells me to do. Help me to be more like a child, listening to what my Father wants, or a servant looking for any indication of His will. Help me, in faith, to just do it.
As I sat down in the pew, I noticed the words on the back of my Sunday collection envelope: “And he sat down and called the twelve, and he said to them: “If anyone would be first he must be the last of all and servant of all.” (Mk 9:35) A servant, hmmm. Thoughts on Faith seemed to be in my heart this day.
Unlike most Sundays, I decided this day to try to really listen to the Word proclaimed, not following in the misselette as I usually do, and getting distracted, but really listening. I heard the Responsorial Psalm: “The one who DOES justice will live in the presence of the Lord.” And I heard the reading: “Be DO-ERS of the word, and not hearers only.” And then I heard how the Jews criticized Jesus and the apostles for not following the many rituals of Moses, but then Jesus chastised them in response, saying that these outward rituals are not from their hearts. The Gospel words were re-enforced by the priest’s homily, as he chastised us for living out our lives as if going through checklists, just going through the motions, not acting in love. Not acting in faith.
I titled this “Just Another Sunday,” and indeed it easily could have been, if I did not leave my heart open to the workings of the Holy Spirit, if I wasted time listening to listening to music radio, or if I did the same old rituals upon entering church and again followed along the readings in the misselette, and let my mind wander anywhere but on what was happening --- or what should be happening, this Sunday, this day dedicated not to me, but to God. Every Sunday is a day of rest, yes, but it should primarily be a day to rest in God. He was, in Jesus, a teacher. He still is --- if we pay attention in the classroom we live in.
The mass continued. As on any other Sunday, I heard the priest pray the words of praise, thanksgiving, and petition, but this Sunday I PRAYED THOSE WORDS, from the bottom of my heart. As any other Sunday, I sang the words printed in the hymnal, but this Sunday, WE sang and prayed those words, as I felt the union of myself and my brothers in praise.
This Sunday, I rose and walked down the aisle to receive Our Lord, but even before I reached the front of the church the tears began. As any other Sunday I was coming to Him, but this Sunday my heart told me HE WAS COMING TO ME.
Back in the pew, we spoke to each other; my heart knew His presence. And it was my heart that spoke to Him these words of Padre Pio’s Prayer After Communion: Stay with me, Lord, for it is You alone I look for. Your Love, Your Grace, Your Will, Your Heart, Your Spirit, because I love You and ask no other reward but to love You more and more. And we both cried.
No Sunday should be like any other Sunday, because each is an opportunity to grow in Faith. Dajczer, in his book, explained that “Faith is experiencing God’s life within us which allows us to see ourselves and the reality surrounding us as if we were seeing it through the eyes of God. … Faith is sharing in God’s thinking.”
There is much to learn each Sunday, opportunities to grow in faith, if we pay attention, and listen, focused not on the stories of our life, but like a child in the lap of his Father, listening to the stories of His life.