Deacon Blog Sept. 29, 2019
The Little Way
First, I want to thank all of you who commented with me privately about my blog from Sept. 15th. This subject of “Choice” seemed to have struck a chord that resonated with many of you. You have given me many things to reflect on and I consider them true gifts. Please know, for the sake of transparency, that your comments with me are always kept private unless you state otherwise.
As most of you know, Father Andres and the Deacons attended the clergy retreat for our Diocese in Pagosa Springs. It was a wonderful event focused primarily on personal spirituality and an in-depth look at “The Little Way” of Saint Therese of Lisieux, which many of you know is the patroness of our Diocese. Much of our discussions were specific to clergy (mostly priests), but as I listened and reflected on the things said, I realized the topics were relevant to us all and I would like to share some of it with you. I will use inclusive language for this effort although our conversations were aimed squarely at ordained ministers of the Church. The priest who led the retreat was Fr. John Riley of Denver. He was really well-spoken, knowledgeable, and challenging to all of us. I pray you will find inspiration in his message as well.
Father John’s first comments focused on a sort of personal litmus test we should all use…”If you do not experience JOY in your ministry as priests and deacons, you are neglecting something in your spirituality” (Note: the same is true of everyone). We were not created to be miserable”. “If we are (unhappy)”, Fr. said, “It is of our own doing and should be “corrected” as soon as possible. You cannot be effective evangelizers if you are not truly experiencing the PEACE of CHRIST we offer one another at MASS each week”. Key word is experiencing. After Evening Prayer, these were his first comments opening night of our retreat and I couldn’t have agreed with him more. His comment was directed at people who have been at this religion “effort” a long time, so his reference was focused on our personal spirituality and how skilled we are at deepening, protecting, and valuing the most intimate aspects of our relationship with GOD, and not just the “rubrics”. Rubrics are important. They give us structure, they give us unity, and they display authority, but they are not intimate all by themselves. They need the context of relationship to be truly meaningful. It’s like baseball. It is one thing to know the rules of the sport, but another to actually “love” the game. Love it enough to practice and prepare for games. Playing with desire is the key to success. The life of St. Therese is such a beautiful example of this. She loved the MASS, she loved the beautiful music and the ritual, but her Love for Jesus transcended all of these and only fueled her longing for time spent with HIM. For her, JOY was an art and she was an Artist we should all learn from. Her simple trust in Mercy, similar to a child, allowed her to endure all hardship with peace and confidence that GOD would keep her safe and protected. Her book, “Story of a Soul”, is an interesting read. It will take several attempts to get past the language of this autobiography, but it is well worth it. It’s a short book so it doesn’t take long. She writes of low periods of her life, resembling the “dark night of the soul” experiences of Saint Mother Theresa and Saint John of the Cross, but never losing hope or confidence in the FATHER’S mercy and love for her. Like all of us, GOD “hides” occasionally to help us “lean in” a little closer, maybe wanting to whisper HIS desires. Often times, this is a matter of our level of distraction. GOD’s whisper is an effort to help us focus…on HIM. We want to multi-task and HE wants our full attention. HE wants us to notice and understand all the nuance of Divine Spiritual conversation. It’s like talking to your Mom in person or sending her a text. In my life I have come to realize that my so-called dry periods of spirituality are not because the Holy Spirit isn’t communicating, it is because I suffer from occasional “acute busyness distracted listening deficit disorder”… or ABDLDD. At times I fail to create the silence and quiet necessary to receive the voice of GOD into my heart and mind at a level where comprehension can begin. GOD will not shout. Fr. John spoke to us as a people needing, as much as everyone else, to make the time to be quiet, to slow things down and to create silent “space” so we are able to listen. Listen to receive guidance, to be comforted, to be reassured, to be strengthened, to be loved by the Holy Spirit. This is not optional, for without it we will suffer and our relationship with the FATHER will diminish and fade as all “long distance” (a distance we create) relationships do without determined effort. He also made the point that it doesn’t involve huge commitments of time, just starting the process of turning our thoughts to HIM who patiently awaits us. It may be a quick daily decade of the Rosary (3-4 minutes), ten minutes of adoration weekly (just drop by on Thursdays), some sacred reading or a lunch time devotion before a meal (Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be…etc. said slowly and deliberately). It should include some service to others on a regular basis, accompanied by a prayer for their welfare. Anything. We just have to avoid being SO busy that our thoughts struggle to return to the ONE who most deserves our attention. The only ONE able to bring us Peace. These are habits or virtues we must create and acquire. I will leave this discussion for now. In future blogs I will revisit the messages of our retreat and the very practical ways we can grow and deepen the spiritual life GOD has called us all to experience. Our world depends on it.
Finally, I want to express what a blessing it is to serve this community (I speak, as well, for our Pastor and the Deacons here). Many of you may feel attacked by “enemies of the spirit”. It can be experienced in a complacency of faith, a dryness of prayer, a distraction or drowsiness in worship…many ways. Remember this always… For GOD, creation of all that is “seen and unseen” was EASY. He merely spoke and all things came to be. MERCY was HIS toughest and most difficult effort for it involved HIS SON on a Cross… but this is HIS gift to us. Give this daily contemplation, go to confession as often as you can. I don’t care how old we are, let’s “hug” HIS pantleg like a two-year old, stay close for protection, and never miss an opportunity to say Thank You for the gift of HIS SON.
PAX CHRISTI, Deacon Mike
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