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COVID-19 Updates

from fathers desk

Dear Family in Christ,

It is Superbowl Sunday! Whoot… Whoot!! Doesn’t feel the same when our team has had such a tough year. Not much has felt “the same” this year, and I have been hearing people say variations of “I am not in the mood” for months now. Often when walking Gracie, we will greet someone. It goes like this: “Hey, how ya doin’?” “Oh, hanging in there...that’s all we can do.” Not a lot of roses and sunbeams lately but more grit and determination. Generally, folks are trying to “hang in there,” whether or NOT they are “in the mood.”

Our reality of the unfolding pandemic, the grind of it, is a great analogy for the Sixth Seismic Shift: Just Keep Showing Up (I Heard God Laugh, 83). Much of life can fall into a dull routine. Our work, our relationships, our workouts… all aspects of our life can use some freshening up from time-to-time. In our life of prayer, some days and months will be drab or uneventful, even draining. This phase usually occurs after several of the first stages and would be akin to those years of marriage that can seem to drag on. While in marriage, husband and wife have committed to each other and share a common house and life, with God we can choose at any moment to stop praying, to stop showing up, to no longer give ourselves over in prayer, although it feels dry and quiet. In the spiritual life, these are times of desolation. Saint Ignatius of Loyola teaches us that during these times we are to keep to our prayer routines, even to spend just 2 or 3 extra minutes in prayer each day, and be patient, consistent and dedicated. In other words, “Don’t give up!”

Working backwards, the Fifth Shift in our interior lives is the challenge: Make Yourself Available. Two prayers I have shared with you in the past have been fundamental to this stage of my prayer life. (1) “Father, I abandon myself into your hands ” by Blessed Charles de Foucauld, and (2) “Take, Lord receive…” by Saint Ignatius. In both of the magnificent but challenging prayers, we offer our whole lives, everything we have and are, and in return we seek to do only the will of God. These are prayers of complete availability. Having memorized these as a younger man, I attest to their value. Relying on these words when I have lacked my own, allowed me to set my whole life once again before our Lord. These are prayers we can say often and with a deep sense of renewal.

The Fourth Shift, Kelly calls: Transform Everything into Prayer. It is what many call the Practice of the Presence of God, another beautiful treasure I have shared with you in the past. Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection shared his gift of near constant (and often renewed awareness) of God’s constant presence. Usually this requires me to slow down and take a deep breath, to focus on my rhythm of life. It helps me to remember that every breath is a gift from my loving Father and to cherish each moment as received from Him.

Honestly, in my life these three movements have been less seismic shifts than albums that become favorites in my playlist. Sometimes I live very focused on God’s presence. Other times I am surrendering before Him, for example with the challenging decision to close our parish school. And during the pandemic I am continually reminded to not flag from my prayer commitments despite the many changes to the rhythm of life. So especially in these later stages we move back and forth with what is the most prominent aspect of our interior life at the moment.

There are other stages too in the rich interior life awaiting those who form a habit of prayer.

Yours in Christ Jesus,
Fr. Wilson