Every Tuesday evening at five o’clock after my Adoration hour, I meet with a small group of two to three other men to share our faith over the last week. This summer when the weather has been nice we’ve met on the bleachers in the shade of the trees behind the baseball field backstop at our parish school. We take turns talking about our progress in piety; the sincerity of our study to learn and grow our knowledge of our faith; any action we’ve taken to help others grow closer to Christ; and to relate any close God-moments we’ve had where we’ve seen or felt God’s presence at work in our lives. We also take this opportunity to help hold each other accountable.
Yesterday, it was my turn to go first. I shared that my prayer life had improved from a couple weeks prior, and, uncharacteristically for me, my study had taken off like a jackrabbit. I’d read four books in the last week – one on meditative prayer, one on life in the Spirit, a short book on devotion to Mary, and Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, Humanae Vitae – as well as listened to some of my classroom lectures. I had a couple action items worth honorable mention, and concluded that I’ve struggled lately with actively recognizing when God has been working in my life. I simply haven’t had any tremendous revelations to speak of.
Next up was my friend Mike. When he got to his study sharing he confided, with a wink in his eye, that he used to read a blog called Reflections of a Lay Catholic but for some reason it’s author had stopped writing. He added that, in fact, he would often get some of his weekly God-moments from that blog site.
Of course, his comments were intended to be a friendly jab at me for slacking off in my writing and they were taken as such. Nevertheless, I made a mental note to double down on living in the present so that I might better realize, when they come along, those small God-moments about which I often write. After my other friend, Paul, finished his sharing, we, as always, held hands, prayed for special intentions, and then together prayed the Lord’s Prayer.
During the forty-five minutes that we sat there sharing, the parking lot had filled up with the minivans and SUVs of soccer moms and their sons eager to get on the field and play. When the three of us finished our prayer we stood and walked to our own vehicles. Mine was the farthest away and as I neared my pickup truck a young mother caught my attention and told me with a sincere smile, “That was a beautiful display of your faith, the three of you praying together in public. I am so glad that my ten-year old son got to see that! Thank you so much!”
I didn’t know what to say other than, “Thank you!”. I think, but can’t say for sure, that I babbled something about doing that every Tuesday evening. I know I said, “Thank you!” more than once and I know at least one of those expressions of gratitude was not just back to the young woman but to the Lord above for creating that special moment and for allowing me to experience it.
Before driving away I sat in my truck and reflected on what had just happened. I thought about the Gospel passages from our daily scripture this week from Luke, chapter 4, the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, and how He calls us to minister as well. I thought about the quote attributed to St. Francis of Assisi, “Preach the Gospel at all times. And, when necessary, use words.” I thought about how I often fail to use words as much as I should in proclaiming my faith, but, in this case, I was grateful for the affirmation that my actions spoke so loudly.
I thought about how, just possibly, that ten-year old boy might remember, years down the road, the moment when he saw three old men sitting on the bleachers praying together, and that he may decide to do the same. I thought about the young mother who’s faith may have been severely shaken in light of the current crisis in the Church, but may have just had that same faith reawakened. I thought I will probably never know but I can hope that good will come from it.
Finally, I took a moment to give thanks again to God for allowing me to experience that moment, for showing me that small acts done with love and gratitude are especially appreciated.
And, this morning, I give thanks to God again for giving me the fodder I need to post again in Reflections of a Lay Catholic so that my friend Mike will have something to read for his daily inspiration.
“Father, I love You and I know You love me. You are there for me each and every time I turn back to You after journeying away. Thank You, Lord, for my faith in You and for allowing me to share it with others. Please, Lord, let this ministry be efficacious in bringing others closer to You. Amen.”
(Tuesdays at Five was first published on the blog Reflections of a Lay Catholic)
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