Chapter 3 (When Faith Feels Fragile) begins with a profound statement. On the surface it is referring to gardens... "If you don't stay on top of it... nature quickly takes over." Instantly I was struck with the simple duplicity of this statement - hmmm, easy for me to say! Think about it - how our own human nature is so very hard to combat sometimes.
For most of my life, I have battled my weight - including a real aversion to exercise. Every weight loss book or guru I consulted over the years always said the same thing, "persevere, it takes 21 days to make a new habit." Sadly, I have to come to learn that while it takes 21 days to make the habit, it takes less than 1 day to revert back to your old ones! Nature takes over the minute I stop tending to this new "whatever" I'd been working on... a way of eating, a running regime, or even drinking that dreaded 18 million gallons of water daily. I don't want to return to those old habits, I truly want to do the good thing for myself but sometimes regardless of my best intentions, I fail to maintain my garden. As St. Paul would say, "For what I am doing, I do not understand; for I am not practicing what I would like to do, but I am doing the very thing I hate. " (Romans 7:15).
So what can we do to pull from our lives those weeds (distractions, obligations, "time-stealers") that threaten to strangulate our faith life? Building on the ideas from When Faith is Fragile, listed below are some practical steps for calculating where you spend your time, how you could better spend that time and then re-prioritizing it to make more time for God. In other words, "...seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." (great gardening advice from Matthew's Gospel Chapter 6, verse 33).
I'll leave you with this Sacramental thought for the day -- Fr. Hurd mentions that those who really knew and appreciated Jesus, and truly understood how much Jesus loved them were the ones who, "traveled with him, ate with him, listened to his teachings." Is that not exactly what one participating in the Mass would experience. We not only travel to the Church for our personal encounter with Jesus, but we travel back with him to the Last Supper as well as to any place, time and/or moment revealed in the Gospel. In receiving the Eucharist - Jesus offers himself as the meal - which to the unknowing heart appears morbid and vile, yet for those willing to allow God's grace to teach them the truth, it is the most beautifully mystical experience one can have this side of Heaven. Lastly, in the readings, in the music, in the prayers, even in the silence, Jesus is speaking to us - clearly, profoundly, gently and sweetly- in a way only we can hear and in the way we each, personally, need to be told.
Every Mass is an encounter with Jesus Christ. No one ever has an encounter with Jesus Christ and is the same. Even if it is only a minute change, there is a change. Grace has been poured out - and the more we come to experience this mystical meeting with Christ, the closer to Him, we will become.