The between times

chillaxingLife can be a whirl and flurry to things to do, places to go, people to see – and every one of them good and holy. As you can imagine, the Mass of Belonging took a good amount of effort, attention, and energy. The work and planning began about 4-5 months ahead of the celebration, took a lot of attention of the staff, and the commitment of almost 300 volunteers. While first meeting with the staff and making sure we were committed to the endeavor, I noted that this would be like “trying to rewire a house while keeping the lights on at all times.”

August and September are very busy months for the staff as we finish planning for the coming 12 months, begin to startup Faith Formation for our children and youth, restart ministries that took a summer break, and much, much more. On top of that, we were working on the Mass of Belonging. The staff was busy (…. understatement of the year!) and let me ask you, “How great a job have they done?” Seriously! So next time you talk to or meet with a staff member, give them a word of thanks, send them a card or email, and let them know how grateful you are.

The day after the Mass of Belonging, the friars attended the Diocesan Priest Convocation. All 164 active priests in the diocese were there – it was good to see them all. We celebrated Mass together, prayed together, shared a meal, attended several seminars per day, and had time off in the afternoon and evenings. I am sure you have the same type of experience: run at top speed for an extended period of time and then suddenly it is all done and you have a break.

It is in the between times, if you are attentive, that you begin to notice the tidal changes in daily life. While you try to slow down as your mind is accustomed to scanning the list for the next “to-do,” it is good to think about things. For example, what am I grateful for in my life? And then consider if you have given any demonstrable witness to that gratitude. Maybe, “I am grateful for my family” is on the list, but have you expressed it to them?

What about the foundations of your life? Do you know what they are? Be you butcher, baker, or candlestick maker; priest, prophet, or king; teacher, toddler, or tailor; whatever the life you lead, what are the foundations? Hopefully, one item that is common to us all is prayer. What is the shape, contour, and depth of your life in prayer – your conversation with God.

We friars are blessed with a communal call to prayer. Every day at 8:00 am and 5:00 pm we gather together for common prayer. Doesn’t matter if we feel like it or not. Sometimes, it is the very day your mind is somewhere else, you are anxious to get on with the next thing, and you are just showing up because you are supposed to, that God’s grace can touch you in the most unexpected way. That is just communal prayer. There is also individual prayer. It is the habitus of prayer. Habitus from the Latin meaning “the manner in which you dress yourself, your attire.” Daily prayer is the divine “dress for success” program. Just as you might pick your wardrobe based on what you have to do on this particular day, so too, prayer can be tailored, focused on what the day may present.

It was good to be forced to slow down after our Mass of Belonging. It was a good time to check the wardrobe, the habitus, to see if something new is needed, something old repaired and stitched, or just a spring cleaning. How about you? What is the status of your prayer wardrobe?

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