Friday, December 28, 2012

Emmanuel - God with Us
     Sometimes in prayer, we hear God whisper something to us. Recently, I heard God tell me, “swing little brother swing.” At first I wasn’t entirely sure what this meant. As I prayed and thought about it, it became pretty clear: when I was younger, I used to play baseball and sometimes when I went up to bat, I would get nervous, really nervous. I would be afraid to swing the bat for fear of striking out and looking like a loser or feeling like a complete failure. So instead of really trying for a hit, I would secretly hope for a walk.
     Looking back at it now, I see that I was plagued, almost paralyzed, at those moments with a deadly combination of pride and fear: afraid to failure, pridefully thinking I needed to be better than I was. Even today, I recognize this misguided sense of self-protection within myself. I want to play it safe; I want people to think highly of me, I don’t want to make any mistakes. (Sound familiar?) While I say, “please let me get a walk,” Jesus says, “swing little brother swing.” Jesus says be free and joyful – don’t be a slave to the expectations of others, don’t be a salve to this nagging fear of inadequacy. Jesus says, don’t be so concerned with the results, be concerned with a confident, joyful attitude.
     How can this be when I am surrounded by so many pressures and demands externally and internally? At times it doesn’t seem possible. The only ray of hope I can decipher is the presence of God. If God is truly with me at every moment, in all circumstances, and never abandons me no matter what the results appear to be, then maybe, maybe I be can free and daring. Maybe, if the focus is on Him and what He can do and what He has done (and not on me and what I can’t do and what I haven’t done) then maybe I don’t have to take things so seriously.

     C. K. Chesterton says that this was the glory of St. Francis: that he saw the whole world turned upside down and hanging by a hair. He wasn’t afraid or intimidated by anything because he knew it was all passing away and he knew the love of God that never passes away. In other words, all the pomp, all the power, all the ‘coolness’, all the ‘success’, all the situation and things we fear are like a puff of smoke. None of these things are as important as the love of God that endures all things and lasts forever. If God is Emmanuel, then maybe, I can swing the bat and so can you.

God bless you,
Fr. Giuseppe Siniscalchi, CFR
Most Blessed Sacrament Friary
Newark, N]

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Prayer is Easy

By Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, NY
     What is happening in your life is exciting. In the midst of work, study, friendships and all your other activities and responsibilities God is speaking to you. He has given you a greater sense of his love, his fidelity and his compassionate heart in the very “concreteness” of your daily life. You did not need to go on a journey to some far away land to discover Him. You simply opened your heart to Him a little more each day and allowed Him the opportunity to respond. And He continues to respond, much to your amazement!

     In this simple and beautiful process you have learned a valuable lesson regarding the life of prayer: honesty is always the best policy. You yourself have said that the more honest you are with God the more He seems to respond, as if He was desperately waiting for you to share the “concreteness” of your daily life.

     Since God seems to be responding so well to your honesty it appears that the future of this relationship depends a large part on your willingness to be real with Him. Prayer, after all, is supposed to be easy. It is we who make it difficult.

     I once envisioned an image of Jesus that has haunted me often through the years.  He is standing beside me “hat in hand” so to speak, waiting for me to spend a moment, just to speak with Him about what I’m actually thinking that moment, to notice and acknowledge His ever presence with me.

     How sad, how wrong, that the King of all the universe is left waiting, while we are paying attention to everything else.      He is hungering for us to talk about all of it with Him.

Carolyn Barth OFS

Pax et bonum