“I want new! I want novel! I want exciting!” Yet, how attentive am I to a God, who operates in the normal, daily, same-old-same-old? How open am I to the possibility that, in the midst of simply doing what I usually do, that God is going to reveal Himself to me today in a definitive way?
In her book, Desperate, on the topic of quiet time and prayer she relates the following:
I am often asked about how I conduct my own times of quiet. Taking time out to be with Jesus is more than a “good idea” – it’s a necessity! Building our lives on the daily reading of God’s Word is the only way to have the foundation necessary to weather the storms of life and leave a legacy that will affect not only our own children but our neighbors, churches, and future generations.
Let me start off by saying that I do not always manage to have my quiet time at the beginning of the day. Sometimes I’m just too tired to get up! Sometimes I’ve been up nursing a sick child, or perhaps a friend needed a listening ear over the phone at an inopportune hour. Yet I know the Lord is not waiting for me with a checklist, waiting to see if I’m up before dawn! He understands my days.
Generally, though, my mornings follow a rhythm that’s been built over the habits of many, many years. Here are some things that make up the pattern of my own quiet times.
One of my first joys whenever we’ve moved to a new place is designating a special spot for my quiet times. I purchased a small Queen Anne recliner early in my marriage and we dubbed it, “Mom’s Own Chair.” I have moved that chair sixteen times now, always placing it near a window where I could look out at a beautiful scene. Lighting vanilla candles and starting a pot of water for tea clue my sleepy brain in that it’s time to wake up and meet with God. I keep a basket full of journals, my very worn Bible, and devotional books from writers spanning many centuries. After I settle in with my cup of tea and my mind is done wandering over whatever’s left over from the day before or been awakened in my dreams, I reach for my Bible and a pen. Often, I’ll read a little, then write a little about what stands out to me in God’s word.
Of course on the crazy mornings I might not find my way to my chair in the morning. I might not find my way to the chair until afternoon (nap time, in the early years with my children!) or sometimes I find my time just before bed – or sometimes, not at all.
Pope Francis’ description of prophets is: “They are people who keep the promise of God alive. A prophet is someone who listens to the words of God, who reads the spirit of the times, and who knows how to move forward towards the future.” Picture sitting in a comfortable chair, reading the Bible and thinking about one’s life. What does “reading the spirit of the times” and “moving forward towards the future” look like within that context?
How about, “What do I cook for dinner tonight? What needs to be done this afternoon? How am I doing as a mom, a dad, a husband, wife, daughter, son?” That conversation with God doesn’t seem really exciting. Actually it seems pretty routine. But that conversation is “good.” That conversation is “fulfilling.” That conversation with God is intimate and Holy. God is talking. You’re listening and responding. This is “Faith (that) is a personal act—the free response of the human person to the initiative of God, who reveals himself.” (Catechism, Para 166).
What is significant in the passage this week is that it takes place in the synagogue. These are the dedicated “church people.” And yet, the Gospel says that Jesus “was amazed at their lack of faith.” Jesus was so normal. And so some people were not yet ready to receive Christ and what he offered.
“We urge (everyone), again and again, to spare no labors and let no difficulties conquer you, but rather to become day by day more courageous and more valiant (in developing the routine of a faith practice.) Arduous indeed is the task which We propose, for We know well that … there are many obstacles and barriers to be overcome.
Do not, however, lose heart. Facing bitter combats is the mark of Christians, and to endure grave labors to the end is a mark of them who, as good soldiers of Christ, follow him closely”. Pope Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (1931) 138
Audio version of the homily is here: