After lunch on Saturday I was finally able to make my walk around the Stations of the Cross area on the north side of the grounds. I took some nice photos but I’m going to save them for another post. I just took a peek ahead and realized that I will not meet my goal of finishing this series by Saturday. It’ll be close, but to do justice to the last day and a half I’ll likely run a day or two over my original estimate.
After our group rosary Saturday afternoon our next exercise touched upon the life and ministry of Jesus. Through this exercise we were striving to know Christ better, love Him more fully and imitate Him more faithfully. In this exercise was my greatest failure, and a lesson learned.
Salvation history in the Bible basically breaks down into four parts:
- The Fall
- The Second Coming
As I mentioned yesterday we have covered the first three beginning Thursday night and into this morning. All of us as Christians are awaiting the final part of this story.
St. Catherine of Siena is credited for writing something I find very good, and very interesting. I find it interesting because it was not written by a man, but by a woman. Now that will sound chauvinistic to some, but that is not my intent. What I have read of and by this amazing saint only reinforces the fact that she was just the person to write it. It’s called “What It Means to be a Christian Man.”
A Christian man:
- Is aware that this life is a great drama.
- Is able to use all of his talents to overcome the obstacles in front of him through the unification of his strengths.
- Is able to commit. Instead of being in a constant state of preparation, take action.
- Once committed, won’t hold back to collect more facts but will take action, spending himself towards the cause.
- Will be confident in his undertaking. Not pompous. Confident.
- Will never whine about circumstances or worry about ridicule.
During this exercise we were further encouraged to plunge into Christ so that He can transform us into the men we were meant to become. Because in the end you will either plunge into the freedom of Christ, or plunge into slavery.
Interesting how so many non-Christians, or even some who purport to be Christians, will say that to live fully in the life of Christ is slavery. Just a humble observation.
I hurried from the chapel to St. Isadore’s in order to finally see the church in daylight. So far my only time spent inside had been Thursday night after 11pm when it was quite dark.
However, someone from the retreat center staff was also heading across the parking lot ahead of me so I was not going to be alone at first. I was hoping to take some pictures of the inside and would have to wait until the church was empty so I would not disturb her. I entered the small church and walked to the front pew on the right where I had sat before and decided to wait, thinking that she would merely be there a few minutes. I took out my bible to read the Gospel of Mark as suggested by Deacon Andrew, planning to stop once she left and take a few pictures before continuing my reading.
Only she didn’t leave. She stayed, sitting near the back of the church. I could hear her breathing in rhythmic prayer. I sensed myself growing tense and agitated. Why won’t she leave? If another of the men on retreat come in I wouldn’t be able to take pictures. When will she leave?
I tried to calm myself and read from Mark. And it worked a little. Still I was growing frustrated and realized my reading was not bearing any fruit. I even checked the score of the Husker/Idaho St. football game from my ESPN app on my Smartphone! (42-0 Huskers in the second quarter) Good grief! A valuable opportunity wasted AND I’d checked the internet. Fail, fail, fail!
At 4pm, after one hour, she left. She had been making a Holy Hour. I quickly took my photos and just after I finished another man came in. As I slumped back to my room with only eight of the sixteen chapters read and a dozen photos taken and feeling terrible. With the realization that I had wasted valuable time I decided to put the camera/phone away for the duration of my retreat.
I had learned a valuable lesson. No matter how far you come it is still so easy to backslide. Trying to selfishly force my will into being done had resulted in a major annoyance on my part. This agitation was more readily apparent to me than normal due to the serenity I had enjoyed both inside and out for a few days. I wonder how often I’m like that in the course of a normal day at home or at work and fail to notice because it’s “normal.” I know the answer to that question.
The lyrics to a Rich Mullins song entered my head as I tried to gather myself back in my room.
We are frail
We are fearfully and wonderfully made
Forged in the fires of human passion
Choking on the fumes of selfish rage
And with these our hells and our heavens
So few inches apart
We must be awfully small
And not as strong as we think we are
I’m not even close to be as strong as I want to be. Not that It only took one hour on a Saturday afternoon to remind me how selfish and impatient I can be.
I sensed I could easily let this dissolve into a pity party when I re-read what St. Catherine had said. The first two bullet points snapped me back into the present and I took it as a nudge from God reminding me that it is “thy will be done”, not my will, in all things great and small while living this great drama of life.
Thank you St. Catherine.
All photos may be enlarged with a click.
On the front of the ambo (or pulpit) is a representation of the writers of the Gospels. The front of my bible published by Ignatius Press has a similar representation.
The Sacred Heart. Everywhere, no?
Looking west out one of the north windows, towards the hay bales where I’d spent a good part of the Friday afternoon.
In the silence … God speaks.