I’ve been trying to improve my prayer life by making more time to read sacred scripture and meditate on what the Word of God is trying to tell me in relation to my life. I have to admit there are many days when, no matter how hard I try, I simply cannot make a connection. But, at other times, His message is loud and clear. Or, at least, I think it is.
Such was the case this last Sunday. The Gospel reading was from John 14:15-21, regarding the “Advocate”, the Holy Spirit:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, which the world cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows it. But, you know it, because it remains with you, and will be in you….On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.”
As I listened to this, I thought, “This is one of the problems in our faith today. People forget that Jesus is with us always by the Holy Spirit that He placed within us. It’s like we forget the whole point of our Sacrament of Confirmation. We remember the meaning of Baptism, we experience Communion every week, and, we are reminded, reluctantly for many, of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. But, we forget that the Holy Spirit was poured out upon us at our Confirmation. Imagine the difference we could make if we only remembered this!”
A few minutes later, I joined the congregation of the Holy Family Catholic Church in Shell Knob, Missouri in singing one of my favorite hymns, You Are Mine. The first verse and refrain simply reinforced my earlier thought:
“I will come to you in the silence, I will lift you from all your fears,
“You will hear my voice, I claim you as my choice,
“Be still and know I am here.
“Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name.
“Come and follow me, I will bring you home, “I love you and you are mine.”
Fast forward to last night, Monday evening. I arrived in Kansas City, Kansas to attend my first, in-residence week of formation, study and practice in the Spiritual Mentorship Program offered by the Apostles of the Interior Life, and the School of Faith of the Archdiocese of Kansas City. I’ve been studying for and looking forward to this week since January. As I knelt in the chapel after night prayers, I felt my nervousness grow. I was afraid – afraid that I won’t have what it takes to become a good spiritual mentor, and afraid that my faith was too new and poorly grounded. I feared not being able to remember everything I will need to remember, and, consequently, be inadequate in the example I set for others.
I prayed for God to open my mind and my heart to what I will be learning this week. I prayed that my detailed and analytical mind won’t blind me from understanding the concepts which will be presented (not seeing the forest for the trees has always been a struggle for me). And, I prayed for the ability to internalize the message so that I will easily be able to relate it to others. I simply prayed, “God, help me do this!”
As I took a breather from my verbal prayer, I became distracted and lost my train of thought. Normally, I get frustrated with distractions while I pray, but this time the distraction – the tune for You Are Mine that was running through my head – was a blessing. As I tried to remember the words to the song, not only it but the Gospel and my thoughts about it from Sunday’s mass came flooding back to me. And, in a moment of humiliation in front of the Lord, I saw that, through my self-righteousness, I was the one guilty of not remembering the point of my own Confirmation. I realized I was asking God to help me do this and help me do that, as if I was in this alone and the burden was all on me.
In that moment I lost the slump in my posture and knelt more upright. I felt a surge of adrenaline. My prayer changed from fear and despair to anticipation and new hope! I prayed, “Oh God, it is You Who led me to discern this opportunity and Who brought me here. I know that, through Your Holy Spirit, You are with me and You won’t leave me hanging. You have ‘come to me in silence’ and You have lifted my fears; I am not afraid because You are with me. I trust in You. I love You and I am Yours.”
“Oh, loving and forgiving God, You teach me in many ways, often uncomfortable ways. You know what I need and You set the stage in advance so that when the moment comes I may learn from the experience. Thank you, Holy Spirit, for living within me. Help me to always feel your presence. Amen.”
(You Are Mine was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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