Quiet moments with Jesus
A Spiritual Reflection by Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Dusk settled over the gardens. Birds swarmed toward their nightly roost. I slowly walked along the paths, oblivious to other people, meditating on the Evening Chant of Vespers. It was quiet and Jesus walked with me. He was in my thoughts. The beauty of the moment touched me.
On another occasion, I was sitting in a Cathedral. This also was a quiet time. The sounds of the great organ slowly accelerated into a mighty crescendo, and as slowly as it had begun, the Fugue came to a soft and mesmerizing end. Quiet regained, I was alone with God.
One cold January, on retreat at the Trappist Monastery in Kentucky, Gethsemane, we were encouraged to get some fresh air into our lungs. Packed up in a parka, hat and gloves, I walked outside, toward the nearest farm entrance on the other side. A thermometer attached to a barn read 5 degrees (F.), but that only bothered me for a little while. It had snowed the night before and there was a pristine white covering the world around me. Slowly, I prayed the Our Father, with full attention. Jesus was with me, and I felt the cold no more.
A similar scene also comes to mind. In the Netherlands, when I was about 10 or 11, I took long bicycle rides on days off. I remember being somewhere south of town in the fields. It had snowed that morning, and there was a mist over the fields that stretched very far. Then I heard a lonely bell, and indeed, a small steeple was visible... the bells rang at the Consecration of Holy Mass - a wonderful custom. I knew Jesus was with us, as He was with me in the Spiritual Communion I whispered.
Experiencing a touch of God is often associated with a moment of beauty. Seeing a very elderly person deep in prayer, kneeling erect, not slouching, that too is a moment of beauty. The beauty was that this soul knew Jesus.
Then again, children playing in the garden, totally unaware of anything that went on beyond their patch of green. The beauty of true love of God only as a child can love a parent. God is a parent, too.
The memory of daily Eucharistic Adoration, is a moment of beauty. In my monastic years, sitting quietly in front Jesus, listening to my Master, as He was present in Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, the Real Presence... truly a touch of God. A moment of holiness. A moment of quiet, of devotion, of total concentration on He who is beauty itself.
I long for quiet time with Jesus. So hard to find. You sit in Church and invariably someone comes over to share his or her day. That's OK, they are lonely too, but the moment of quiet is gone. Charity toward others is more important than my quiet moment. There will be another chance. I hope it is soon.
There are various Franciscan practices of withdrawing from the hustle and bustle of ministry. Old, and particularly traditional friaries used to have small houses on the property: hermitages. If we wanted to get away, we'd overnight in one of those places. It was like a mini-retreat. The particular ones I was thinking of had heat, but there were others that did not. Sometimes "roughing it" for a quiet evening with God can be a very beautiful time, but if it is too cold, it becomes a distraction. But Franciscans turn right around and offer these times of distraction for a worthy cause. No time with God is wasted. He is always with us.
As young children we're taught to say our prayers before going to bed. You kneel in front of your bed and you tell God you love Him, thank you Lord for the beautiful day, and hey Lord, please help Mom and Dad. Do we still pray like that now that we're 50, 60 or older? Well, errr... no. Either we do not pray before going to bed, or we pray Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours (particularly as Franciscans) half asleep already... we should have done this a bit earlier. The prayer of an obedient child is worth 100% more than our decrepit attempt at prayer, yet Jesus loves us equally. Another moment of beauty.
The elderly priest, obviously arthritic kneels for a long time, at the altar, adoring Jesus Christ at the conclusion of the prayers of the Consecration. The pain on the priests face is replaced by a glow of prayerful attention. That's a very big moment of beauty.
A toddler still in his mother's arms, in church, gazes around and when he sees someone, gives that person a most holy and innocent smile. Even though the child does not know the receiver of his moment of joy, his smile is a reflection of Jesus Himself.
Be at peace my friend, make time for Jesus so He can visit with you, too.
Written 2002, rev. 2019
Secular Franciscan Order
Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis
Divine Mercy Fraternity
Vero Beach, FL
Term expires: 2/10/2022
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Helen Caldarone, OFS
Mary "Jean" McGovern, OFS
Jack Reddy, OFS
Donna Haro, OFS
Joanne Giordano, OFS
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
Five Franciscan Martyrs