The Stories That Make Us

Day 6: Conclusion: The Joy of the Good News

At the beginning of the day:

            Offer a short prayer of thanksgiving for the day.  Then I suggest you listen to the attached talk first and then familiarize yourself with the suggested reflection questions and practice.

Throughout the day:

In catholic masses on the second Sunday of Lent we read one of the accounts of the Transfiguration; that event where Peter, James, and John saw Jesus as he was in all his glory. It was certainly a peak experience. Peter’s mistake was wanting to cling to it, to prolong the “high” of the experience. He did, however, learn to treasure the memory of the experience; it became a story that guided him through difficult times. We know this because some thirty years after the event he wrote of it in his second letter: “We were eyewitnesses of [Christ’s] majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, ‘This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,’ we heard this voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. …. You will do well to pay attention to this as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”

Have you had an experience, or a season in your life, when you knew and felt God’s love and acceptance; when you had a clarity about that? Perhaps that feeling is no longer with you. (It certainly left the disciples for a time as they came down from the mountain.) If not, then recall that story. Acknowledge the truth of what you experienced. Let the memory be for you “a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your heart.”

At the end of the day:

If you have a spiritual practice with which you end the day, and it’s working for you, don’t change it. If not, I’d suggest taking just a few minutes before bed to review the day. Give thanks for the day. Ask forgiveness for whatever you may you need it for. Again, don’t judge yourself too harshly: God doesn’t. Ask to be freed of anything you may be carrying as a burden from the day. Give it to God for the night. And we close this week as we began with the prayer:

“On my bed I remember You;

On you I muse through the night

For you have been my help;

In the shadow of your wings I rejoice.

My soul clings to you;

Your right hand holds me fast.”

Further thoughts and moving forward:

  • Perhaps it’s apocryphal, but it was said that President Harry Truman, frustrated from so many different opinions from his economic advisors about how to move forward asked that someone bring him a one-armed economist so that he couldn’t say, “But on the other hand…” Yet there is so often an “on the other hand.” Certainly in my presentations I’ve omitted some things that should have been said, and likely said some things that should have been omitted. Perhaps when listening you’ve heard yourself say, “But on the other hand…” That’s good: follow that lead. The only thing that’s the gospel is the gospel; everything else is open for debate.
  • Many of you already have a “rule of life” or regular pattern of prayer, reading, meditation. For those who don’t, I hope that this “mini-retreat” with its minimal structure has whetted your appetite to develop one. The “spiritual life” is not distinct from our everyday live, but something that can be integrated into our daily activities, so that even in our busiest days we’re reminded of God’s loving presence, and we can take steps to increase our awareness of that presence. Some good advice for developing a rule of can be found here:
  • I’ve been very influenced in my life by Carmelite spirituality, especially St. John of the Cross. If you are interested in learning more about Carmelite spirituality there is no end to resources on the internet. One with which you might not be familiar, but I would recommend checking out is Friends of Carmel.   If you prefer a book in hand, The Impact of God by Iain Matthew is an excellent resource into the teachings of St. John of the Cross.
  •  At the end of each day I’ve suggested a short “examen”; If you are interested in deepening this practice I recommend the article “Consciousness Examen” by George Aschenbrenner, S.J.. You can find it here:
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