My husband recently had some health issues that involved a medical procedure that was supposed to take an hour but instead took three. I am sure you have had moments like this when you just don’t know if things are going to turn out OK. You pray differently under such circumstances. My coping mechanism was to read Scripture. You hear Scripture differently under such circumstances. God’s Word sounds more personal when we are frightened, suffering, alone, anxious. Maybe in our vulnerability we have ears to hear.
Honestly, it is the same way I feel about the Sacraments. I most often look forward to being at Mass but when I feel scared or sad or anxious, I don’t go to Mass, I run to Mass. I have found it is the routine of prayer or Scripture or participating in the Sacraments that, over time, forms some kind of cocoon of intimacy of relationship with God that feels protective, comforting, and powerful.
This is what I wish I could communicate to the younger people in my life, but I don’t know how to do that without fearing I will sound preachy. I want to share with those I love that it is in the practice of faith, the routine, the everydayness of it, when something will imperceptibly deepen in your heart and mind that will protect you on the sad days and the scary days, on the worst days.
It sounds too transactional, too practical. Too simple. Just show up. Participate. Be there. Be present. Yet, that relationship with God forged in the everyday practices of faith can make the difference in the spiritual experience of having an occasional encounter with God and dwelling in the secure place of trust we feel in the shelter of someone we know loves us for who we really are. There were those who taught this to me in my life. Though I realize, as I look back, they may never have known they led me toward a path of faith and mattered so much to me.
This is what I long for those of you I love that you will have guides that lead you to the practices that strengthen your spirit and witness God’s love. May the Presence in the Eucharist and The Word nourish your soul. May you be blessed with a heart of prayer and time to invest in it.
Pay attention to others … pay attention to those near you … pay attention to the saints in your lives, there are many of them. Pay attention. (Rev. Craig Butters)