This very popular quote from St. Teresa of Calcutta usually elicits one of two responses from me. Depending on the state of my prayer life, and the inflation level of my ego, I usually react one of two ways to this gem.
THAT'S A LITTLE HARSH!
I'm helping out with this faith group, I'm a lector at mass, I'm a Eucharistic minister and I go to Mass every Sunday.
I pray... I'm a Knight of Columbus (even though I haven't been to a meeting in a while)... I am doing all the things!!!! How dare you question my prayerful prowess?
More often than not, my reaction is inspired by a bruised ego. I get embarrassed because I know better. I do have to be honest, however: a lot of the things that I am doing have a Catholic flavor to them. Sometimes I feel like this:
I have to remember, however, that all the things I do for the Church, doesn't equate to building a relationship with the person who founded it. In fact, sometimes it can detract from it. Here's an example from my life.
Prayer = Work; The Slippery Slope
A few years back I was working in full time youth ministry for my local parish. I thought I had died and gone to heaven. I had an office in the parish. The chapel was right down the hall from me! How amazing! I could see Jesus anytime I wanted! Coming into the role, I was so filled with zeal and fire. I was going to change the world! I was going to introduce these students to Christ! I spent countless hours at the schools building relationships, in my office planning, and at the church leading youth nights.
At the beginning, my prayer life was great. I would go into the chapel in the morning, go to morning Mass, and offer my day to God. So Holy! As the year got going, however, I got busier and busier. People's expectations of me increased. My plate got more and more full. What were the first two things to fall? My prayer life and my physical activity (Isn't it funny how the two most important things are always the first to go?).
I ended up getting so busy that I burned out. The burn out was a result from a number of things, but my lack of prayer definitely had something to do with it. Additionally, it got to the point where I would equate prayer with my job. My job burned me out (because of my lack of balance) and made me tired. Prayer just reminded me of that. Thus, I avoided it. NOT GOOD!
After getting things under control in my life, I was able to achieve balance. As a result, my outlook on prayer changed. It was not work anymore. It was oxygen to my soul. Things turned around, but I can't forget how I slid down that slippery slope. I was too busy to pray. Therefore, I was too busy. Plain and simple.
Take Some Time
No matter what we do, it's easy to let life pile up and push prayer out. Whether we're working for the Church or in a normal 9 - 5 job, it is very important to take some time. When we're busy, our minds automatically think about what we can drop or cut from our schedule to lighten the load. Interestingly, our Lord offers some different advice:
"Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest"
- Matthew 11: 28
Take some time today, no matter how busy you are, and spend it with the Lord. Give your burdens to Him. He won't disappoint. If you have trouble making time, just remember these convicting words of St. Teresa of Calcutta:
"If you're too busy to pray... You're too busy"
This post was originally written on Tuesday, September 13, 2016
St. John Chrysostom, pray for us.
I began prayer time today by listening to Bishop Robert Barron’s Homily on this weekend’s Gospel (Luke 15:1-32), which reflects on the parables of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the prodigal son. It is such a powerful insight on three different ways of being lost, as well as three different ways of being found by God. If you have not listened to this homily already I would encourage you to do so (see link below). (A Coin, A Sheep, A Son, 2016)
He tells us that allowing yourself to be found by God is an important way to approach prayer and one which we tend to forget. I include myself in this when I say that we constantly fall into the trap of thinking that we are the ones in search for God, and yes we “search” for God to a lesser extent, but truly, as these three parables demonstrate, it is God who searches almost irrationally to find even those counted among the least. Even in the Parable of the Prodigal Son, it is the father (God) who RUNS TO MEET the Son, even when he is still far off. It is God who diligently seeks, finds and rejoices to the fullest when we have been found.
I often think back to how my little girl responds to certain situations to try and get a visual on what the interaction between God and I should be like. He has given me a living example of what “childlikeness” is and I hope to learn as much as I can from her while she is still little! This morning gave me a beautiful example of what seeking, finding and allowing yourself to be found looks like. My little girl (15 months old) was running around the living room, and stopping every few steps to “hide,” and I was crawling around the floor “finding” her. There was a look of sheer joy on her face as I would get closer and closer and she would giggle uncontrollably. There were times that she would keep running a little farther at these moments, but sometimes she just stood there, giggling and waiting to be caught…to be found. It was during these moments she would giggle even more, which in turn made my heart overflow with joy.
God uses even the smallest person to teach us big lessons. I think He allowed me to experience this moment today to give me a glimpse at His joy in finding me, and the joy that is available to me when I allow myself to be found. When we allow ourselves to be found, to just BE with our Father, there is much rejoicing in heaven and in our hearts too. As Bishop Barron says in his homily, “God is the one that searches for us…our quest [for God] is but a pale echo, a vague reflection of God’s passionate, over-the-top, unrelenting quest for us…I think your whole spiritual life will change once that idea really gets into your heart.”
May you allow yourself to be found.
Barron, Bishop Robert. “Homily: A Coin, A Sheep, A Son.” Word on Fire, Bishop Barron’s Podcast, 14:18. http://www.wordonfire.org/resources/homily/a-coin-a-sheep-a-son/5264/ (accessed September 13, 2016).