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Monday, September 22, 2014

Padre Pio

"But who do you say that I am?" Lk 9:20

One of the most important and uncomfortable steps in the spiritual life is letting go of the ideas and practices with which we grew up.  As a child I was taught, or believed, that morning prayers, prayers before class in the parochial school, meal prayers and night prayers were all I needed to learn and do as a good Catholic boy.  Of course, I was also expected to go to Mass on Sunday, confess my sins most Saturday's (as long as I could avoid Fr. D who was loud and harsh!), and learn to serve mass. But none of  these practices were my prayers. They were obligations  I had to fulfill, not celebrations to enjoy.  To be a catholic, I thought, was to wait upon God's grace and be thankful when it came.  I went to mass, waited for the priest's word to which I would respond and waited for his absolution, all actions done to me, not something I initiated.

Of course, these practices and my attitude were supposed to change as I grew into adulthood, but it was difficult.  Becoming responsible for myself, not just in the prayers I spoke or recited, but for finding time to pray quietly and enter more deeply into the mystery of God's love was a stressful transition.  Like most of us, I imagine, I preferred that mother church prepare and serve the evening meal, and I would eat gratefully and joyfully.  But the church pushed me, especially after the Second Vatican Council, to learn how to cook, to take responsibility for feeding myself and others.  It was difficult, and sometimes still is but clearly it is our personal responsibility to gather with other people of faith, reflect on the scriptures and mysteries of the church, and live an active and responsible Catholic life. We are not called to be passive recipients of grace, but active players in the mystery of salvation.

Today, let go of the God of your childhood and embrace the God of today.

Who and what has challenged you to "grow up" in faith?

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