Friday, February 03, 2017

My How Time Flies

I've been wanting to put something out on this blog for a while now but haven't been able to come up with any coherent thoughts about what specifically to write about.  There's plenty going on politically, but I don't want that to be the focus of this blog.  There's plenty of other places on the internet for that.  There have been a few interesting things going around in my brain, such as the spirituality of cycling, but I think I'll save that for another time.

I decided to instead provide an update on my spiritual journey so far since starting the diaconate program.  That was my original intention with dusting off this blog, and I haven't taken the time to do an inventory of my faith in a bit, so I thought now is a good time.  It's been just over a year since I started formal diaconate formation and nearly two years since I attended the first informational meeting about the diaconate.  Where did the time go?

I must say, looking back, I had no idea I'd end up where I am right now.  That's the beauty of walking with God.  You never know where you're going to end up.  I've learned a lot academically about my faith, both from a spiritual perspective and from a theological perspective.  I've learned things about Catholicism that I never knew before (and, to be fair, Ellen, who went  to Catholic schools her entire pre-collegiate educational career, is marveling at all the things she was never taught but perhaps should have been).  But I don't think that's the real change in me.

Honestly, I think there have been two things that have made a big difference: prayer and Reconciliation.  I had a prayer life prior to starting the diaconate program.  But it was kind of haphazard.  I was praying in whatever way I felt like doing.  Not that this was a bad thing.  But I'd begun to realize a yearning for something more.  My class last semester on spirituality helped me a lot.  There are some spiritual practices that I really should make more time for, particularly meditation.  But the big thing I've been doing is praying the morning and evening prayers of the Church each day.  For those not familiar with Catholic practices, there is a book of prayer that priests and religious utilize that calls for prayer about every 3 hours of the day, formally called the Liturgy of the Hours.  Deacons are asked to pray from this daily and I'm starting my practice now.

I'm coming to treasure that time.  It's about 15 minutes, twice a day, that I get some quiet time with God.  It gives me an opportunity to listen to God and see what Scripture is trying to tell me today.  I don't always see or hear something that resonates, but I look for it.  Lately, you'll probably notice I'm tweeting (and posting to Facebook) a little line each morning and evening.  This is from the book of prayer.  I started doing it because I thought it was important there was another message going out over social media instead of a lot of what I was seeing.  I think it struck a chord with some people as I've gotten positive feedback on it.

And this ties into the other thing that's been germinating in me as of late: the notion of vocation and calling.  Being a deacon is about more than just saying prayers and helping out in the Mass.  It's about service and vocation.  God calls deacons to serve the community in some way.  I don't know yet exactly what I'm being called to do, but I sense the call all the same.  And I think it begins with being a voice of reason and even hope at a time in our nation where there is division and fear.  I know this fear is real because I see it in my own household.  My children are genuinely afraid right now, for many reasons.

But we don't need to fear if we believe God is with us.  And that's the message I feel I'm being called to give right now.  Sure, our world is turbulent.  Many are angry, afraid, reactionary,  We point fingers at each other, are quick to jump on each others faults and label each other as whatever.  Where is the love of God and neighbor?  We are all each other's neighbor, whether we agree with each other or not.  So many people seem to think our recent election was a referendum to be free to alienate others.  But that's not what Jesus taught us.  It was just the opposite.  Jesus taught us to love our neighbor, pray for our enemies, and to turn the other cheek.  How many of us are doing that these days?  How many of us are fighting all the hate with the weapon of love?  I know I have a hard time doing that but I need to try.

I still have a long way to go before I get to ordination.  But I look back on the last year and see all the ways God has blessed me and I can't help but be thankful and hopeful for the future.  I especially thank God for my wife and children.  I now also pray that God gives our leaders wisdom in guiding our nation.  I pray we all ask for God's wisdom as well.