September 10, 2010

Seeking the Face of the Lord

Keep in touch with God faithfully through simple prayer

Last week in my reflection on prayer, I mentioned that for my daily meditation I almost always use a book that guides me and keeps me focused.

A couple of weeks ago while meditating with the help of a book of reflections titled In Conversation with God (Volume 3, Scepter Press), I came across a quotation from Father Eugene Boylan. His book, This Tremendous Lover, has been a favorite of mine since the days of my novitiate at Saint Meinrad some 50 years ago.

In his book In Conversation with God, Opus Dei Father Francis Fernandez offered a reflection on “Abandonment in God and Responsibility.”

As he made the point that very often we do not know what is good for us, Father Fernandez quoted Father Boylan: “What confuses matters is that we think we do. We have our own plans for happiness, and too often we look upon God as someone who will help us carry them out. The true state of affairs is invariably the reverse of this. God has his own perfect plan for our happiness, and is waiting for us to carry them out. And let it be clear that we can in no way improve on God’s plans”

(cr. Vol. 3, p. 624).

Abandonment to this kind of trust in God does not come easily. Those of us older folks who have treaded the path of life for many years know this is true.

We have experienced enough reversals in our plans to realize that we do not control life as we want. Whether it has been the heartbreak of the loss of a loved one, whether it was anxiety due to serious illness of ourselves or others close to us, whether it was a great financial loss or whether it was sorrow that resulted from the betrayal by a friend, it is clear that life has its bumps.

I don’t believe God wants us to suffer these “bumps” on the road of life. But he permits them. I do believe that for every reversal or bad thing that happens in life there is a special grace from God to help us.

At times it may not seem like it, but God’s love is always with us and usually we figure it out. We get into difficulty when we think we can and must make it on our own.

We may get caught up in the plans we have for success in our calling or in our chosen profession or work and forget that there is a God who has his own plan for us. We forget his love for us, and that is a formula for our downfall.

This does not mean that we should take a passive approach to life. God expects us to make our way by using the talents and gifts he has given us, but surely he wills that we keep him in the picture. That, of course, pleads the case for our being faithful in prayer, in our keeping close to him in our own simple ways day in and day out.

Labor Day weekend always brings to mind my Dad, who was born on Sept. 4, 1906, and died near his 90th birthday. Particularly in his early years, especially during the Great Depression, his life was not easy. He worked hard to make a life for my Mom, brother and myself.

As for everyone else, things didn’t always go the way he would have liked. But he stayed the course as a faithful man who believed in God.

All along the way, there was a calm, steady serenity about my Dad. I have to believe it was because he kept God in the picture and did not waver. I am sure his greatest loss was the earlier death of Mom.

I have mentioned before how impressed I was to hear him pray aloud each morning before breakfast, even when he was alone. I know so because sometimes I slept later than him, and I would hear him pray. My point this week is that keeping in touch with God does not have to be complicated. But it does need to happen faithfully.

Father Boylan reminded us that God has his plan for us. Along the way, there will always be unavoidable difficulties that may hurt us or test our faith. What makes the difference is whether or not we are willing to abandon ourselves in God’s hands.

Prayer helps us keep close to God even when it doesn’t feel so good. Prayer helps us to keep alert to the final goal of every life.

No matter what happens, we live in order to some day be welcomed home to the House of the Father.

In the end, nothing else will matter. †

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