Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Words from Fr Ed (From July 15th, 2012 Bulletin)

                            He instructed them to take nothing for the journey but a walking stick…

        Do we trust the Lord? That is something Jesus is asking of His disciples as He sends them out two by two. Do we realize who is doing the asking? If we knew we would trust.        
        Jesus is God. This fact of our faith gives us a radical freedom to trust absolutely. God is infinitely trustworthy. Often we see Jesus in the Gospels rebuking His disciples for a lack of faith or a lack of trust. Remember Peter walking on water, then losing sight of Jesus and beginning to sink. We too, like Peter, fail to trust at times when the waves of our lives begin to intimidate us.
        One of the meditations in the second week of the Ignatian Exercises is the passage about Jesus sleeping in the boat. A storm has come up and they are taking on water, about to sink by all reasonable standards of experience, especially for fishermen. How come Jesus is able to sleep?
        In Ignatian meditations, one imagines the scene, as vividly as possible, even placing one’s self into the scene and dialoging with the participants. What was Peter doing? And John? And James? Who got the assignment to wake Jesus up? What would I have done? What ought I to do given Jesus’ rebuke upon being woken up? Jesus rebuked them for their fear and lack of faith. They didn’t realize yet who they had in their boat. If the Son of God’s not worried, who are we to be afraid?
Applying this to our poverty of faith in daily life is a work of prayer. We must ask for what we do not have or have to a small degree. Jesus called the disciples men “of little faith”. He didn’t say “no faith”, but rather “little faith”. The Scriptures say, “All have been given a measure of faith”. We have to act on what little we have to obtain more. “I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief.”

To wish for nothing more than need demands, Is rest supreme, with simple food and dress
To feed and clothe our bodies and to seek, no more than is prescribed by nature’s wants.
When going on a journey, take no purse, nor of a second tunic think, and be
Not anxious for the morrow, lest for food. The belly lack. Our daily bread returns
With every sun. Does any bird take thought. Of tomorrow, certain to be fed by God?

                                        Prudentius, The Spiritual Combat    Ignatius, Pt. IV

        As I write this I’m entering Week Three, the Passion of Christ. I’ve just read the Entry into Jerusalem and will begin the Temple narratives tomorrow. The Second Week closed with the Three Levels of Humility and the Making of an Election (A Decision). The Election is especially relevant as it either deals with discerning and choosing a vocation or improving on one already committed to. While I’m in the second category, I still read through the material on the first and wanted to share it with you. St. Ignatius begins by reminding the reader of the purpose of life, ‘to praise, reverence and serve the Lord and to save my soul.’ All choices ought to support that end. He warns,

        “I ought not to order or drag the end into subjection to the means, but to order the means to the end. In this way it happens, for example, that many choose firstly to marry, which is the means, and secondly to serve God our Lord in marriage, although the service of God is the end. Similarly, there are others who first seek to possess benefices (Church offices/benefits like lands that make money), and afterwards to serve God in them. Thus these persons do not go directly to God, but desire God to come directly to their disordered attachments. As a result they transform the end in to a means and the means in to the end; and consequently what they should fasten on in the first place they take up in the last.”

        This can happen in big decisions like whether to marry as well as smaller decisions, like what job to take, where to live, or simply how to spend a free hour. Too often we can place our will in the driver’s seat and then ask God to bless our direction. Are we really going to change our direction once we’ve made that decision? Not so easily. Putting God first can be as simply as saying an Our Father before we make a decision. We say in that prayer, “Thy will be done”. If we mean it, it will affect our choices. As I finish my retreat by the 20th of July, I hope to see you next weekend. Thank you for your prayers and know that you are in mine daily.

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