Backtracking

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Sitting at the doctor’s office Tuesday morning, I revisited the Word among us and took notes on my already marked pages.  When I go anywhere, I always carry something to read, my pen, and, usually, a pad on which to jot fleeting thoughts.

Three weeks earlier I’d read through the articles while waiting nearly six and a half hours for Steven’s vehicle to get serviced at the Toyota dealership.

Recollections

That Tuesday I reflected on the messages from How to Grow in Spiritual Discernment (Jan/Feb 2010) and Hear Our Prayer, O Lord! (Lent: Feb/Apr 2010) until I felt inspired to journal in Segy’s Book of Everyday Miracles.

Vividly, I recalled Segy’s Senior Night.  He wondered what would become of the relationships he’d forged with his high school buddies. 

Segys-book“How will I know who’s truly my friend?”

“A true-blue friend is one that neither lack of communication nor distance nor time can separate from you.  No matter how long you’ve been apart, you’ll pick right up where you left off when you see each other next.”

I smiled at the memory.  May 2001 seemed so recent.

Then, as if transitioning from one lesson to another, I quietly closed the journal and was unexpectedly drawn— just like that into an animated conversation with two bright, engaging women who sat across from me in the waiting area.

Connections

After talking for a while the young woman, Nidaya, a university sophomore majoring in marketing, told us how and why she’d ended up at the Toyota place.

As she’d left campus the day before, her car had been hit from behind.  She hadn’t been upset.  “In fact, I calmed the girl down as we waited for the police.  We weren’t driving fast!” she clarified.  “This was a warning for her to get the brakes fixed.  It could’ve been worse, but it wasn’t.  And she provided the insurance information right away, so everything was fine.”

??????????Nidaya’s story compelled me to share what I’d written to Segy minutes earlier.

Remember that time you came home from a night out with your friends?  You plopped on the cushy brown chair in my room and said, “We’re both builders of people.”  And it’s true. 

The more we talked and listened to each other, the more I made meaning between our conversations and what I’d read that morning.  Even the daily meditation applied! 

“Jesus, my brother, I come to you today to sit quietly with you and enjoy your presence” (the Word among us, Jan/Feb 2010, p. 46).

“We span three generations from different cultures and walks of life, yet we agree on so much,” Nidaya enthused.  “It’s amazing!”

Before long Nidaya’s car was ready.  The fender bender had been repaired, and the oil change she’d meant to have done the afternoon before had been taken care of.  She wished both Betty and me well and encouraged me to keep looking for the special job that would surely come.

Then Betty told me about her life since her husband’s passing last year.  At eighty years of age, Betty is spirited, upbeat, and youthful.  As she spoke glowingly about her best friend’s courageous efforts to overcome many health issues, I could tell that Betty is thoughtful, loving, and other-focused.  She has nothing to complain about, she said, because she’s healthy, lives alone, drives, and has no limitations.  But I also observed a fiercely resilient woman who makes no excuses for herself.  An unsung hero.

When Betty’s name was called she smiled, wished me well, and— before exiting the dealership— looked back to twinkle at me sweetly.

I couldn’t help but think that, even if we were to cross paths again, we wouldn’t recognize each other since we were little more than strangers and that we’d related well to each other as part of God’s master plan for us that afternoon.  I felt blessed.

Messages

Two down and one to go, I thought.  I knew I’d be called next, so I resumed my reading and right away stumbled on a timely meditation.

Lord, give me ears open to hearing you and a heart willing to serve you.  Let your word do its work in me, and make me always faithful to your inspirations! (p. 48).

I’d read for hours, made mental notes, and scribbled on pages.  I’d been gifted with time well spent among two very smart women— one younger, one older— who had much to share about their life experiences and their faith, Muslim and Protestant, respectively.  I’d learned a lot!

Backtracking

Thinking back on my afternoon with Nidaya and Betty, I smiled.  God had set up his classroom so extraordinarily that I’d learned firsthand about prayer in five movements: reading text, reflecting on meaning, responding in prayer, resting in God’s message, and applying that message to daily living.

Then this Tuesday, three weeks later at the doctor’s office, God chose my quiet time as the perfect opportunity to check for understanding, even providing me with a related web link for further reading!

What an awesome teacher to provide such individualized instruction!

Prayers

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Contact information

Holy Spirit leaflets are from Fr. Primo, OFM at Franciscan Mission Associates, P. O. Box 598, Mount Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

May 19, 2013

We all need the Holy Spirit because he alone can enable and empower us to live the life that Jesus won for us on the cross.  We need the Spirit to guide us to the truth….  In the midst of all [the] noise [in our lives] the Spirit continues to speak, telling us every day that Jesus wants to act powerfully in our lives.

But the Spirit doesn’t just speak to our hearts.  He also gives us the words— God’s own words— to comfort those who mourn and to encourage those who falter.  He gives us the wisdom, too, to know when to listen instead of speak.  He offers to teach us how to move ahead in peace, confident in his leading, even when we can’t see where the road leads.

That outpouring of the Spirit in the sight of people from all over the world stands as God’s public notice: “I have not left you desolate.  I will help you.  I will teach and encourage you, empower and energize you to do the thing I call you to do” (the Word among us, May 2013, p. 38).

July 13, 2015

“As I ponder your Word, O God, give me the courage to ask my questions, being open to the full meaning of the passage as it impacts my life” (Sister Maria Tasto, OSB, 1938-2014).

August 12, 2015

In the supernatural order, love leads to light; the Holy Spirit leads us to the Word, and through the Word we go to the Father in whom all life is completed and all movement is converted into rest.  And in him every creature finds its perfection and its happiness, because all things are completed when they return to their principle (Luis M. Martinez, True Devotion to the Holy Spirit).

December 4, 2015

“Lord, do not let my heart lean either to the right or to the left, but let your good Spirit guide me along the right path” (St. John Damascene).

January 6, 2016

“It is with the smallest brushes that the artist paints the most exquisitely beautiful pictures” (St. Andre Bessette).

January 27, 2016

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.  And we boast in the hope of the glory of God.  Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.  And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us (Romans 5:1-5).

March 22, 2016

Learn to abide with attention in loving waiting upon God in the state of quiet.  Contemplation is nothing else but a secret, peaceful, and loving infusion of God which, if admitted, will set the soul on fire with the Spirit of love
(St. John of the Cross).

June 20, 2016

Today when you pray, I invite you to pray mindfully to God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit.  Take time to explore your relationship with your favorite person of the Trinity.  The length of our prayer is not as important as the fact that we choose to pray.  In essence, it is our desire to pray and connect with God that is more important than what we say, think, or feel during our prayer time.  When we place ourselves in God’s presence we are praying even if we do not have any words (Monday Message by Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB: “Reverence in prayer – RB 20″).

December 13, 2016

“Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit” (St. Lucy).

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Links of interest…  Actions speak louder than words…  Atheists are lame…  Camino con Jesús: blog / prayers to the Holy Spirit  Come, Holy Spirit…  Distraction & reading in meditation (intentions)…  Evangelizing atheists…  God is Inviting You (blog: Sister Kristine Anne Harpenau, OSB)…  Holy Spirit: gifts / invoking / promptings / temples / ten ways to open up…  How not to be afraid to express your faith…  Jesus: multitasker…  Learning to be scrappy in the spiritual life…  Lectio divina: about / beginner’s guidefour moments of prayer / examplesstart prayingtaste of silence (book) / transforming power (more)…  Let the Holy Spirit possess you…  Life & light in the Word…  Look of unconditional love…  Looking down or looking up…  Power of parables…  Pray a novena to the Holy Spirit & kindle a fire within…  Prayer in five movements…  Read, think, pray, act…  Spiritual smoothies…  Three questions every woman is dying to be asked…  What we can learn about the Holy Spirit’s power from the life of Mary (video)…  Why centering is not Christian prayer…  the Word among us  (more)…

WP posts…  Angels keeping watch…  Concrete abstraction…  Dear God…  Disquieting moments…  Growing pains…  Heart of hearts…  Lenten meditations…  Lenten reflections…  Lenten resources…  Little gifts…  Making meaning…  Messages…  Prayerful ways…  A real church…  Timely message

Concrete abstraction

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A few days before Easter I received a surprising message in a dream: A man told me, “I want you to write about the resurrection.”

Hmm.  And just what am I supposed to say when I’ve never questioned it? 

What to do

The request weighed on me like a term paper.  I thought and thought, tried to ignore the request, felt discomforting disequilibrium beyond the beyond, and hoped it would go away.  Yet I knew the message would bug me until I dealt with the assignment.  So, even if I didn’t want to comply, I felt obliged to do so.

Shared thoughts

The following month Mary B stayed at her beach house, so I rode my bike over for an afternoon visit.  I took my Bible and the Word among us, since I’d read an interesting article I wanted to talk to her about.

SJC102613-76“What do you think about the resurrection, Mary?” I brazenly asked.

She wasn’t surprised.

We talk pretty much about everything, namely out beloved grandkids, but our spirituality is so intricately woven into our everyday lives that we don’t discuss our religious perspectives as a separate topic.

Both of us attended Catholic school as kids even though she’s Methodist.  We respect and value each other’s thinking and thoroughly enjoy each other’s company, so I told her about the dream.  And she didn’t make fun of me.

Restored understanding

Cool, I thought.  And, suddenly, I found myself explaining the resurrection aloud not to Mary, but to myself with the classroom in mind.

“You know, Mary, this is just what Sharon Wells does with her approach to teaching math.  Kids have to work with the concrete before they can understand the abstract.
At the start of each week’s math concept, kids work with hands-on activities.  Then, midweek, they progress to the mental math.  In my classroom, we reviewed, quizzed, and retaught on Thursday to gauge mastery for Friday’s test.  My kids were great teachers.  They cheered each other on.  We were all responsible for our success.”

I couldn’t believe it.  From that perspective, the resurrection made perfect sense!

Mary B just sat there grinning as I continued.

“God knew that people couldn’t fathom the abstract without first experiencing the concrete.  This is why he sent Jesus to live among his people.  And, when Jesus vanished from the tomb, Jesus appeared to his mother so she’d tell the others.  Then, when Mary, the apostles, and the others who loved Jesus were in hiding, Jesus appeared once more.  He wanted Thomas to see him and touch his wounds so he’d stop doubting.  The Paraclete on Pentecost was the transition between the concrete and the abstract.”

Epiphany

Wow!

The way I checked for understanding through Thursday’s quiz was the way God checked for understanding through Jesus.  Once the apostles and the others in the room on Pentecost understood what was about to happen— that Jesus had to leave for the Paraclete (the Comforter, the Helper, the Holy Spirit) to be among them— God knew he’d successfully taught his lesson.

The Holy Spirit is the abstraction that helps restore the concrete memory of Jesus!

How awesome is that?!!

The bigger picture

Still, I believe that Jesus was just an instrument in God’s master plan.  God understood human nature, that seeing is believing.  So, for people to believe in himand know he’s real— he had to reveal himself through Jesus.  Otherwise, how would we know that he’s always here for us and that his love is unconditional?

“Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed” (John 20:29).

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Prayers

O Holy Spirit, in these days of doubt, confusion, and uncertainty, come into our hearts with your light, your strength, and your consolation.

Come with the light of truth and teach us the will of God in our daily living, especially now when God’s basic laws are challenged or ignored.

Come with your strength that purifies our heart and our desires and guards us against the danger of pride and self-conceit.

Bring your consolation so that, with a heart attuned to your holy love, we may live in peace and harmony in our families and give to our communities the spirit of cooperation, tolerance, and understanding.

O God, you have instructed the faithful with the light of the Holy Spirit.  Grant that, through this same Holy Spirit, we may be truly wise and enjoy his consolation always.  Amen.

OLCC6714-69Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love.  Send forth your spirit and they shall be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, you have taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit.  Grant that, by the gift of the same Spirit, we may be always truly wise and ever rejoice in his consolation.  Through Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Come, Holy Spirit, fill my heart with your holy gifts.

Let my weakness be penetrated with your strength this very day that I may fulfill all the duties of my state conscientiously so that I may do what is right and just.  Let my charity be such as to offend no one and hurt no one’s feelings, so generous as to pardon sincerely any wrong done to me.

Assist me, O Holy Spirit, in all my trials of life, enlighten me in my ignorance, advise me in my doubts, strengthen me in my weakness, help me in all my needs, protect me in temptations, and console me in afflictions.

Graciously hear me, O Holy Spirit, and pour your light into my heart, my soul, and my mind.

Assist me to life a holy life and to grow in goodness and grace.  Amen.

Holy Trinity…  Glory be to the Father, who by his almighty power and love created me, making me in the image and likeness of God.  Glory to the Son, who by his precious blood delivered me from hell and opened for me the gates of heaven.  Glory be to the Holy Spirit, who has sanctified me in the sacrament of baptism and continues to sanctify me by the graces I receive daily from his bounty.  Glory be to the three adorable persons of the Holy Trinity now and forever.  Amen.

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Contact information

To receive prayer leaflets like the one on the Holy Spirit (R-12 R), contact Father Primo at Franciscan Mission Associates, P.O. Box 598, Mt. Vernon, NY 10551-0598.

January 10, 2013

God was incomprehensible, inapproachable, invisible, and hard to imagine.  He became man, came close to us in a manger so that we could see and understand him (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, 1090-1153).

August 24, 2013

Come, Holy Spirit, open my eyes to the glory of God that is all around me.  Help me to see Jesus with the eyes of faith, so I can become his witness
(the Word among us, July/August, p. 74).

October 30, 2013

The Spirit comes to the aid of our weaknesses for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes with inexpressible groanings.  And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit because he intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will (Romans 8:26-27).

January 2, 2014

“The spirit raises our hearts to heaven, guides the steps of the weak, and brings perfection to those who are making progress” (St. Basil the Great).

April 20, 2014

Resurrectio Domini, spes nostra!  The resurrection of the Lord is our hope! (St. Augustine).

May 29, 2014

“If the sun is going down, look up at the stars” (Father Lasance).

July 3, 2014

O Glorious St. Thomas, your grief for Jesus was such that it would not let you believe he had risen unless you actually saw him and touched his wounds.  But your love for Jesus was equally great, and it led you to give up your life for him.  Pray for us that we may grieve for our sins, which were the cause of Christ’s sufferings.  Help us to spend ourselves in his service and so earn the title of “blessed” which Jesus applied to those who believe in him without seeing him.  Amen.

August 1, 2014

“Realize that you may gain more in a quarter of an hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament than in all other practices of the day” (St. Alphonsus Liguori).

August 2, 2014

“Happy is the soul that knows how to find Jesus in the Eucharist, and in the Eucharist all things!” (St. Peter Julian Eymard).

August 6, 2014

“At his Transfiguration, Christ showed his disciples the splendor of his beauty, to which he will shape and color those who are his: ‘He will reform our lowness configured to the body of his glory'” (Philippians 3:21; St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae).

May 14, 2015

From the first till the last, every grace has passed and will pass through Mary.  Just as she prayed to the Holy Spirit to come upon the apostles, she will do for all till the end of the world (Blessed James Alberione).

May 15, 2015

Whom do we want to win the battle for our mind: the flesh or the Holy Spirit?  If we want the Holy Spirit to prevail, we’ll need to take an active, rather than a passive, approach.  Unless we actively present our minds to the Lord, we’ll allow our thoughts to welcome among them the voices of evil.  Taking active concert for our minds involves both refusing the influence of the flesh and yielding to the grace of the Spirit (Bert Ghezzi, 2001).

May 17, 2015

Do you realize that Jesus is there in the tabernacle expressly for you, for you alone?  He burns with the desire to come into your heart (St. Thérèse of Lisieux).

May 19, 2015

The Holy Spirit is the fire of charity which burned up the apostles from the moment of Pentecost, when it kindled in them the flames of divine love until there was no longer love of self left in their souls.  “Our God is a consuming fire” (Dom Hubert Van Zeller in How to find God).

May 23, 2015

Be ever mindful of the Holy Spirit who is within you, and carefully cultivate purity of soul and body.  Faithfully obey his divine inspirations so that you may bring forth the fruits of the spirit— charity, joy, peace, patience, benignity, goodness, long-suffering, mildness, faith, modesty, continency, chastity (Chaplet of the Holy Spirit, 1892).

May 24, 2015

“Father of Light from whom every good gift comes, send your Spirit into our lives with the power of a mighty wind and, by the flame of your wisdom, open the horizons of our minds” (Pentecost morning prayer).

November 14, 2015

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God.  He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18).

December 10, 2015

“Those whose hearts are pure are temples of the Holy Spirit” (St. Lucy).

December 25, 2015

God was incomprehensible, inapproachable, invisible, and hard to imagine.  He became man [and] came close to us in a manger so that we could see and understand him (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

God becoming man is the great message of his love.  In it we humans see God’s face (St. Hildegard of Bingen).

April 10, 2016

“Faith in the resurrection of Christ never misleads us and hope in our own resurrection never deceives us because God… restored our Lord to life and will restore us to life, too, by his power” (St. Bede the Venerable).

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Links of interest…  28 different ways to pray (book / more)…  Alleluia…  Ascension & our Christian vocation…  Before the Age of Starbucks…  Bert Ghezzi: aboutblog & more / booksGetting free: How to overcome persistent personal problems (more) / interview…  Catholic Exchange…  Chaplet to the Holy Spirit: beadslitany (more) / prayers: one & two…  Come, Holy Spirit…  Defending the truth of the resurrection…  Dom Hubert Van Zeller, OSB (1905-1984): about / books (more / titles) / correspondence with Merton / Gospel priesthood / How to find God / spiritual master / writer’s cramp…  Easter Sunday: articles / death to life / homily (video)…  Holy Spirit: asking a favor / five ways to incorporate / gifts / homily / invokinglitany (more) / promptings…  Monasteries: Cistercian / Clairvaux / lessons from…  Novena to the Holy Spirit: audios (Poor Clare Sisters) / brochure / for the seven gifts / indulgences & more / kindle a fire within / prayers: one & two – printable (pdf)…    Resurrection: first Easter / forgotten tenet of Christian faith / meaning / why we get our bodies back…  Seeing & believing…  St. Bernard of Clairvaux…  Ten ways to open up to the Holy Spirit…  Thinking Faith…  the Word among us

WP posts…  Backtracking…  Dear God…  Dying to live…  Growing pains…  Our music…  Picturing God…  Prayerful ways…  Seven dwelling places…  Simple yet profound…  Two angels