Prayer is a Gift from Him whose abundant love is always trying to help us. Is He welcome, will He be received with reciprocal love, or are we busy with something else? This became clear to me earlier this evening, as I sat in front of the television when I had the choice between praying the Rosary with the Nuns (EWTN), or watching an old episode of M*A*S*H. And I switched off the Nuns a little too hastily, and as I dwelled on that while watching Alan Alda's great sense of humor, I thought I was being way too selfish. So for the last two decades, I got back to the Rosary. And then I couldn't stop talking to the Lord, and I prayed Evening Prayer II of the feast of Christ the King, and Night Prayer after that. A real feeling of joy swept over me and I thank our Lord for making this day complete.
This Sunday was an interesting day anyway, when I visited good friends of mine in Sebastian, and they had invited two other good friends so we had dinner together. One of the guests remarked that there was always a feeling of peace in that house, and indeed there was. Having supper with friends is always great, not so much because home-cooked meals are a luxury for me, but because of the company, the good humor, and the sure knowledge that Jesus also loved having supper with friends and followers. I once saw a devotional card, actually it was an image often associated with newly ordained ministers or priests... where the Apostles stand in a circle, with Jesus among them, on the shore of Lake Genasseret, and they are preparing for a meal of fresh-caught fish, perhaps. That image has stayed with me throughout the years, as it so strong reminds me of His love for all of us.
But what are we doing in return? We live in a world where nations are at war, and our nation is involved. Any kind of hostility displeases God, because hostility and war is the opposite of love and therefore it is not of Him. War is never the right response. This world is increasingly a dangerous place, with terrorist threat, people suspicious and distrustful of one another, where God is more often forgotten than not. I thank Him for leading me to prayer, as I hope He will lead you to prayer also, so that we will continue to honor His Kingship, His love for us. When we do not accept this love, we go completely astray. We leave ourselves open to temptation and our defenses are down. But when we listen to Him, to the Holy Spirit as He whispers to us what we should do (see Catholic Catechism, para 2650), we are strenghtened to withstand temptation and other evils.
From the first minute of the day, after we awaken, we are (perhaps dimly) aware of God's Grace. Breakfast might to consist of cereal grains, from His bounty, milk, coffee, all natural products that came about from His love. No matter what we do during any given day, you can bet on it that God had something to do with it, and this should come as no surprise since the Gift of our lungs, the air we breathe, is what keeps us going.
Thanks to a few years of schooling, good mentors, beautiful parents who told us the right things, and a loving teacher, the Holy Spirit, who keeps inspiring us, so that we can be set free by the Truth, we know that He is with us always. So do make time for Him, and especially for Mary, our Mother, and His Mother. Ask Mary to intercede for us that we will always honor her Son, and never do anything that is inappropriate. God's love really is all free. It costs us nothing. All we have to do is accept it, and love Him, and love our Sisters and Brothers more than we love ourselves. Therein lies the key - a person who loves the self too much in proportion to loving God and other people, is someone who is living dangerously. All things not of God, and most of that represents sin in some form or another, take us away from that budding friendship in our soul between Master and subject. It diverts our attention from goodness and peace, and as long as we live in this dangerous world full of temptation, we cannot afford to take our eyes off the Lord.
In a few days, Advent will be here, and we will again prepare for His coming. For many of us, elas not most, the Kingdom of God is already within us, so many people have to get prepared. Use this beautiful feast of Christmas, as the gateway to filling you heart and soul with His Grace, by being open to His teaching. Pray often, so that He will also hear your voice, for friendship and love is not a one-sided deal, it goes both ways. We already know Jesus loves us, let us strive to love Him too. In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, Triune God, whose abundant love never ends.
Peace and all Good,
Fred Schaeffer, OFS