“We ourselves cannot gather men. We must acquire them by God and for God. All methods are empty without the foundation of prayer. The word of announcement always must be drenched in an intense life of prayer.” – Pope Benedict XVI
I am still learning and discovering what it means to be on mission full-time. The missionary life takes a lot of adjusting to because there is such an overlap between my personal life and my work life… it’s not like I “go to work” at a specific location, for a specific amount of time, like I did when I was teaching. So many aspects of my life that I consider to be ‘personal’ actually have a great effect on the work side of life too, specifically – prayer. Pope Benedict is so accurate when he talks about the importance of prayer in our lives. I’m becoming increasingly aware of the deep truth of this; of how prayer in my life is so essential to the rest of what I do. Lately, I have been re-reading “Introduction to the Devout Life” by St. Francis de Sales, a book that has had great impact on me. In one passage regarding the prayer during morning, he writes:
1. Adore God profoundly and thank him for the grace of preserving you during the preceding night and implore his pardon if you committed any sin during the course of it.
2. Remember that the present day is given to you in order to gain the future day of eternity and make a firm purpose to employ the day well for this intention.
3. Anticipate what tasks, transactions, and occasions for serving God you may meet on this day and to what temptations of offending him you will be exposed, whether by anger, vanity, or some other irregularity. By a holy resolution prepare yourself to make the best use of the means that will be offered to you to serve God and advance in devotion.
4. This done, humble yourself in the presence of God and acknowledge that by yourself you can do none of the things you have decided on, whether of avoiding evil or of doing good. As though holding your heart in your hands, offer it along with all your good purposes to his Divine Majesty, beseeching him to take it under his protection and strengthen it so that it may turn out successfully in his service.
I like this because it is practical and useful, and it doesn’t take a lengthy amount of time. Sometimes, when I am overwhelmingly busy and it seems like there is not a moment extra to squeeze out of the day… those are the times when having time set aside for prayer is the most crucial. Yes, this can definitely be a challenge. There is so much good that comes from making daily prayer an unshakable commitment though, and that is what I’ve been working on over the past few weeks. Thank you so much for all your prayers, as well!
So, the colors continue to change… beautiful, isn’t it? This was from a retreat during Oct. 12-14 called Antioch Weekend. There was a series of talks, discussion, recreation time, worship, prayer, mass, and a lot of really good food. I gave a talk on ‘being a Christian & growth in life with Christ,’ as well as sharing my experience of the way God has worked in my own life. My favorite part of the weekend was Saturday night, where we had a time of worship and an opportunity to pray for/with the students. I was part of a team near the front of the church, and students could come up with anything they wanted prayer for. So many of them came forward, burdened with fears, anxiety, and pain. I remember when I was in that same spot, making the decision to surrender and trust that God could do something about it. What an awe-inspiring thing it is to watch the Lord work visibly in the life a person standing before you. Sometimes there were tears, sometimes there was just an expression of peace on their face; in each one there was a change that took place, some work that the Lord had done. What a blessing to be part of that. It reminded me of the continual disposition of surrender and trust we must have, and the power of prayer in things both great and small. Near the end of the retreat, we paired off to make resolutions and have someone to hold us accountable to those commitments. My partner and I are going through a bible study that focuses on salvation history, and we are learning a lot together.
Oh, yes! I also wanted to show you some photos of the cupcakes I told you about last time:
It was a lot of fun handing the cupcakes out. Several students helped bring the trays of them up to central campus and promote the pro-life discussion together. We had so many cupcakes, and they were all gone in about 30 minutes. Halfway through, it started to sprinkle on us, which I was totally unprepared for! Someone had an umbrella… thank goodness, and so we all huddled around it to protect the cupcakes from getting soggy. The discussion later that night went really well. I’m definitely keeping this idea in my pocket for future events that we can promote through decorated cupcakes. Overall, a success from every side.
On non-missionary related things, I have found a way to continue playing violin… there is a community symphony here in Morgantown that I have joined. We had our first performance on Sunday. There was a guest artist who came to perform with us; a harmonica player from New York. He played on a wide variety of harmonicas, most of which I never knew existed. There was one that was only about an inch long, the smallest harmonica in the world, I’m pretty sure. It was attached to a chain and almost the whole harmonica went in his mouth. I would be afraid of swallowing it! Among the pieces he played was Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Meditation from Thais, and The Flight of the Bumblebee. Very impressive. I am glad to have found a group of musicians and an ensemble to be part of again.
Occasionally it is good to step back from the preparation, planning, and putting-on of everything we do. Jillian and I needed a little break and found this wonderful place to paint pottery. So we took a couple hours one afternoon and spent our time being creative and talking about things that were non-missionary related. Well, at least we tried to! Here’s a couple photos of the salt & pepper shakers I painted!
Oh, one more thing! Back to an exciting aspect of the SPO mission – we are in the process of developing households! This has been one of our top priorities in establishing a Saint Paul’s Outreach chapter here, and it is steadily moving towards becoming reality. Several students have expressed interest, and applications are on their way out. Matt, Jillian, and I are researching housing throughout Morgantown, which is a process most tedious and dependent on many variables. All is going well so far though. Please keep this in your prayers!
I am enjoying sharing my adventures with you all! Till next time… adios!