I recently attended a diocesan retreat for priests at Lumen Christi. It was a silent retreat and I enjoyed the quiet time to reflect on my life. The retreat master was Fr. Richard Champaign from the Diocese of Lafayette. While I did not always agree with his theology, he did give us some spiritual thoughts to reflect on. The following are some high points from his conferences.
Fr. Richard related the suffering of Christ and our participation in his suffering to the Good Samaritan Parable. He used the words that we teach our young people when their clothes might catch on fire – stop, drop and roll – to point out how we should act in times of crisis.
When we see someone suffering, we should STOP, not out of curiosity but out of availability. We make ourselves present to the person. We then DROP our plans and open ourselves to the one suffering and give the gift of ourselves. We feel compassion for the person suffering. Mary under Jesus’ cross can be a model for us as she identified with Jesus’ suffering.
The next step is to ROLL out our help and charity for the suffering one. We need to cultivate a sensitivity for the sufferings of others.
Mother Teresa reminds us, “The Word of God became Jesus, the poor one. He emptied himself and God was with him. God cannot fill what is full. The Almighty can only fill emptiness, deep poverty, and our saying ‘yes to God’ is the beginning of becoming empty. It is not how much we ‘have’ to give, but how empty we are. When we empty ourselves, then God can work within us.”
Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The capacity to suffer for the sake of the truth is the measure of humanity. Yet this capacity to suffer depends on the type and extent of the hope that we bear within us and build upon. The saints could make the great journey of human existence in the way that Christ had done before them, because they were brimming with great hope.”
Mother Teresa told her sisters, “No half measures with God. Let us not serve God according to our moods. The sign of our lives is inward joy. We must be able to smile 24 hours a day. Inward joy comes only from perfect obedience.”
Remember the story of the Saint Therese, the Little Flower? There was one Sister in her community who used to really annoy her and she used to avoid her whenever she could. Then she made a resolution to go out of her way to be kind and loving toward that same Sister. Whenever she met her, she would give her a warm smile. Then one day that Sister called her aside and asked, “What is it in me that you love so much?”
Nobody knew how much she had been controlling herself in her heart.
The saints have the same difficulties and troubles as we do, but the difference is that they made strong resolutions and kept them.
On the cross, Jesus totally surrendered himself to his heavenly Father. How totally have I surrendered to Christ? Am I living in the present moment, not in the past or in the future? What fruits have such a disposition borne in my life? We die the way we live and how we die we will live forever.
Do I “hear” Jesus speaking to me at each worship service? Do I offer myself with Jesus to the Father? Every time I gather with the Christ’s Body, do I worship God “in spirit and in truth?”
The way we approach the “sacrament of the moment” is the way we approach death. We can either say, “No!,” or “Well, I guess I don’t have any choice!” or “Yes!”
Jesus said, “Yes!”
Let us do likewise.