Be Still and Wait for God

September 4th, 2020 Posted in writing | No Comments »

These few words in Psalm 37 hold a lot of importance for me.

Be Still…During the first weeks and months of the Covid virus, the world became more quiet because people stayed home and there was less traffic. I wish it had stayed quiet just a little longer. I appreciate silence. I try to make sure I can find a quiet place to pray, and even if I go to a coffee shop, I often bring ear plugs. For me, Be Still isn’t hard.

Wait for God… This takes more effort. I know God wants us to ask for what we need, and Christ assures us that when we ask in faith, God will answer. But I tend to be impatient, and sometimes I want God to answer my prayers right away. It can even sound like I am demanding rather than asking. I need to remember that “God can do infinitely more than I could ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20), and trust that God knows the right time to answer my prayers.

Just six words. But they have the power to help keep our faith strong if we take them to heart.

The Colloquial Examen

August 2nd, 2020 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Saint Ignatius of Loyola was convinced of the value of what is called the Examen, a way of searching one’s day in order to become aware of where God was operating and ask how I could improve my praise, reverence, and service of God.

The Examen can be made in a very formal and organized fashion, starting by putting oneself in God’s presence, invoking the Holy Spirit, reviewing the day, looking to the next day, and ending with an Our Father.

But Ignatius suggested other ways to pray, for instance using our imaginations by imagining ourselves in a situation or gospel story often ending with making a colloquium with God. A colloquium is a way to pray in which a person would speak to God in a familiar way, like friends talk with each other.

Last summer I was working at a parish in Omaha, and almost every day for six weeks a very good friend of mine and I would either meet for lunch or take a break in the day to sit outside at a coffee shop, enjoying the day, a cup of coffee, a roll or ice cream, and talk — often starting out by one of us asking the other something like, “So, what’s been happening in your life today?”

I wondered if my Examen could be done in a similar way, and I have found that imagining God and I meeting up like that, asking each other what we’ve been doing or thinking about, is a good way for me to pray the Examen. And since (no surprise!) God and I and seem to be not always thinking about the same things, it helps our relationship grow.

If you practice the Examen, you may prefer the more traditional and formal way; but you might also want to try what I’ve come to call the “colloquial Examen.” I’ve never been disappointed when I pray the Examen that way.

Commands and Desires

July 3rd, 2020 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In third grade religion class, we memorized the Ten Commandments, which contained the “do”s and “don’t”s we were supposed to follow if we wanted to go to Heaven.

The “do”s were to worship God alone, honor our parents, keep holy the sabbath and rest on it. The “don’t”s slightly outnumbered the “do”s: don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t murder, don’t use God’s name in vain, don’t bear false witness, don’t covet things that aren’t rightfully yours, and don’t commit adultery (we weren’t quite sure what adultery was until the later grades, just that we shouldn’t do it).

We learned the things to do and the things not to, but that was about it. We didn’t know that what we were learning were not God’s orders for us but his desires for us and the world he wanted us to live in, where God was respected, people were cared for and kept each other safe and people could be trusted to keep their word. Thus, the Ten Commandments are, at heart, not so much a matter of obedience but love: God’s love for us and our love for God.

Faith Hope and Love Today

May 17th, 2020 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

These three are linked together as virtues that mark a Christian’s life. They are virtues of heart, mind and soul that we need in order to make it through the challenges of life

Faith is not just about having a correct understanding about God’s existence and attributes, but also about putting our trust in God, in effect saying to God, “We believe it when you say you love us and will hold fast to your promise to always love us.”

Hope is depending that God’s power and care can “do infinitely more than we can ask or imagine.” (Ephesians 3: 20-21). Even when we do not know precisely when or how that will happen, we know that it will.

Love, according to St. Paul, is the greatest of God’s gifts, opening our hearts to love God, our neighbors and ourselves. It lets us see that we are all brothers and sisters to one another and that we are one family.

Truly, we need to ask God to continue to bless us with faith, hope and love. But we also need to practice “doing” them by consciously and frequently entrusting our lives to God, putting our hopes and desires into his hands, and being patient and kind, not being inflated, pompous or rude.(1 Corinthians 13:4-6)

Then, even in difficult times like our own, we may live gracefully and with peace.

In the Darkness…Pandemic 2020

April 13th, 2020 Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments »

In the book of prayers and readings a priest reads each day, i sometimes run across a phrase or sentence that catches my attention. I lately came upon these words from the Book of Exodus: [on Mount Sinai] Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.

But what struck me were the words “where God was.” Moses stepped into the thick darkness, encountered God there and was given the Law that would define define Israel’s identity and destiny.

We can certainly resonate with the notion of “thick darkness” for it describes our days living through the present pandemic with all its suffering, fear, uncertainty and mourning of the dead.

Though few of us, whether individuals or families, cities or nations, look forward to being in darkness. But if we trust that God can meet us in our darkness, then we can, perhaps, find the darkness becoming less dark, and we may even emerge with a clearer sense of who and what we need to do and to be in the future

So, may our future days be brighter, and may we continue to look for God in all our days with faith, hope, courage and love for one another. We may have to look hard, but God is there for us as he was for Moses.