Deacon’s Beacon: Where Are You On Your Spiritual Journey?
|“Day unto day… The clouds change. The seasons pass over … in their slow and regular procession, and time is gone before you are aware of it.
Christ pours down the Holy Spirit upon you from heaven in the fire of June, and then you look about you and realize that the … cold wind of the last days of October surround you. And then, in a minute or so, it is Christmas, and Christ is born.”
The above statement is from Thomas Merton’s autobiography, “The Seven Storey Mountain.” The quote is near the end of the book where the (still young at 33) Merton reflects on his life and how fast time passes.
From an atheist to a believer, Merton’s story is one of an individual’s gradual awakening to the spirit of God alive within him and the joys that come from living that God-given grace.
Merton’s Spiritual Journey
Merton’s reflections center on his spiritual journey from his days as a dissolute youth, intent on enjoying all possible worldly pleasures to his gradual discovery of God in his life, and his eventual entry into a monastery.
He regrets the time wasted on mere earthly pleasures, while he was overlooking the glory of God.
If he thinks time passes fast when he’s in his early 30’s, he should talk to those of us in our 40’s, 50’s, and beyond – to hear our thoughts on how quickly time passes.
He spends only a few moments on this reflection; and then returns to his focus on the presence of God in his daily life. He was focused on maintaining a proper balance in his life – God first, then the other priorities.
Where is our focus?
It occurred to me that this is a relevant issue for us – especially at this time of year. The confusing days of a very unusual summer are fading behind us.
We watch the sun set more quickly each day, and realize this hectic pace we have will probably quicken and remain stress-filled in the coming weeks and months. Hopefully this year’s election will be over; but new issues seem to develop daily.
Even with the shutdown, the pace continues – that’s life in the 21st century. There are children to care for, studies to complete; work assignments; and adjusting for unknown challenges.
Where is our Spiritual Journey?
Just as Thomas Merton needed time to reflect and pray, so do we need to take the time to see how are we progressing on our journey. We need to take the time to reflect on where God is in our lives. Is He in the driver’s seat? Or is He a distant vision in the rear view mirror?
With the “shutdown” restrictions as a result of the coronavirus impact, it’s difficult for many to attend Sunday Mass. The Masses are available to us on the internet and our gospel readings give us insight into the important issues we need to consider. And our daily prayer life guides us on our journey.
Today’s gospel is the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom to arrive that night. Five of them prepare for the wait by having extra oil for their lamps. Five of them do not have extra oil and have to leave to obtain more oil. While they are gone, the bridegroom arrives and those five are excluded.
The message is that we must always be prepared because we do not know when God will call us home to Him.
… “For the Coming of the Lord”
We are rapidly approaching the end of the church year, which ends with the celebration of Christ the King on November 22.
Our gospel reading this year for Christ the King is from Matthew. It tells the story of Christ coming in His glory for the final judgment – to separate the sheep from the goats.
What are His criteria? Jesus says that those who fed the hungry, clothed the naked, or cared for the sick and needy in His name will join Him for eternal life.
We need to ask ourselves – are we prepared for the coming of the Lord? We need reflect on where God is in our lives and how we can better recognize His presence in our world.
Our prayer life is the foundation on which each of us build our eternal relationship with God. When we celebrate Christ’s birth this year, will we be prepared to welcome Him into our hearts?
Merton said, “Christ pours down the Holy Spirit on us.” Are we willing to accept that grace?
If we don’t take the time for God now, we may have an eternity to regret it.
Thank you and God Bless!
Deacon Tom Corcoran
“You are the light of the world. Do not light a lamp then put it under a bushel basket…. your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:5-16
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