For today’s stepping stone on the path of our weekly intention, the Holy Spirit lead me back to our monthly retreat guide from early in October. Usually, I use the daily scripture readings for the universal church for meditation (these can be found at http://usccb.org/bible/readings/) but today I prayed the copy of the prayer that Miss Lala, the fabulous, graciously provided for us one Thursday.
An especially effective prayer, I often use this before attempting to blog, or have an appointment to meet a friend to talk, or deal with a difficult situation. For my chatty personality, the part about what I should leave unsaid, seems to be particularly important.
I felt inclined to pick the up the retreat guide for our October retreat, BE NOT AFRAID! A Retreat Guide on St. John Paul II (written and presented by Fr John Bartunek, LC, S.Th.D. and produced by CoronationMedia.com) and literally flipped it open to the section entitled “ACCOMPANIMENT” IN THE EARLY YEARS”, where my eyes fell on the sentence speaking about the early years of St John Paul II’s ministry as “priest, professor, and bishop, he developed a new form of pastoral care that focused on being present to others in the midst of their normal lives.”
Holy Spirit, You. Rock. Every time. I mean, did you see the picture of my socks in the “BE PRESENT” post the other day? That is because He is leading us this week down the path of spiritual presence for those whose lives we have been privileged to touch. One of the members of our group stated (we were all in agreement) that many times when we are “listening” to someone in our home, we are doing things while we “listen” and not really being attentive to what they are saying (guilty). If we ask someone about their day, we should embrace their response. Take a moment to put down your phone, or look up from the work you are doing, and listen. You can really understand a lot about people if you take a moment to concentrate on their face, their stature as they speak about something, and the tone in their voice.
The lesson for today’s meditation rows our “resolution to BE PRESENT” boat a little further downstream with the conclusion of the section: “A POTENT COMBINATION”. Fr. Bartunek identifies the key of why accompaniment with others, or being present to them in their faith journey, requires two oars to row. In order to be truly effective in exercising our charity, or love, which we are focusing on this week (particularly in being magnanimous), we must be the example of our own witness. In other words, we must begin with our own prayer and relationship with God, and then learn how to share that with others; a model which we have seen effective in St John Paul II, St Teresa of Calcutta, and Jesus Christ, himself.
I once heard a priest relate that while teaching a group of people who wanted to join the Catholic church, he asked what was it that drew them to the faith? He asked the people to stand if it was a book they read. One or two people stood. He then asked them to stand if they were attracted to the faith because of becoming married to a catholic, and a few people stood up for this reason. However, the largest number of people stood when he asked if they were becoming Catholic because of someone they met that attracted them to the faith; a person who was the living example of what it was to be a Christian. In the end, it is our witness to love that wins souls for God.
We regular “Joes”, which the church refers to as the laity, must realize the great honor God has gifted us with our own niche in the world to reach those in our midst, especially those who seem to need kindness and meaning in their lives the most. Being mindful that this may not be easy, but for the grace of God which we receive through FIRST praying every day.
Here is what St John Paul II instructs the church on our job as laity;
“There cannot be two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called ‘spiritual’ life, its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called ‘secular’ life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and culture. The branch, engrafted to the vine which is Christ, bears its fruit in every sphere of existence and activity. In fact, every area of the lay faithfuls lives, as different as they are, enters into the plan of God, who desires that these very areas be the “places in time” where the love of Christ is revealed and realized both both the glory of the Father and the service of others.” –St John Paul II (Apostolic Exhortation Christifidelis Laici,59)