Friday, February 27, 2009

I Believe in 'I Believe in Love'

...well, I believe in Jesus' Love that is told sooo well in this book that I continue to quote over, and over, and over again throughout my life and in this blog.

This morning, this was the paragraph that struck me, from the chapter on "The Apostolate" (that word is so foreign to our culture that spell check doesn't recognize it. Love it when that happens. I've seen it happen with catechesis too...yup, just did it. I'm gonna write my thesis, should I get into grad school, on why our culture fails to recongnize catechesis...anyways...):

"But you know, before the Apostolate of word and action, there is the apostolate of prayer and suffering, without which external apostolate would be nothing- nothing at all. Words and actions come only in the last place, after what I call the apostolate of silence in love, which was the great apostolate of Jesus and Mary at Nazareth for thirty years" (p. 167, I.B.I.L.)

What struck me about this, is how often our approaches to Apostolate (whatever the ministry might be- service, catechesis, etc.) are words or actions, and how that's what gets us into trouble soo often!

I also am always struck by the polarity in our Church; how we have people who live out the Church teaching very liberally or conservatively- rarely inbetween, it seems (and I am making broad generalizations here, I know). The conservative side usually chooses to minister with words, I find. And liberals focus on action. And yet here the author states that we cannot start with either one! That both are "nothing" without prayer and suffering.

We always want to skip the first steps of prayer and suffering because, well, they are HARD! You have to make time to pray, and to pray well there is vulnerability and surrender involved. And suffering, well, I don't think I need to explain why that one sometimes sucks!

But it makes so much sense that we need to make time to experience prayer and suffering and they should be the root for our word and action.

As part of my Lenten promises/penances, I am praying Stations of the Cross on Fridays. The media studies critical analyst in me is fascinated by how just the difference in the images of the stations can affect or move the prayer in a certain direction. Each artist portrays each station in a different way. Whether in wood or stained glass. Whether the officers give an evil look or a kind one. Wheter Jesus gives a loving glance or a sad one, Simon accepting the Cross with strength or reluctance- it can totally change the way we pray. Or least, the way I do :)

I am always struck, regardless of represenation, by the three times Jesus' falls. Because can't we all relate to that? And His example tells me, I don't have to be perfect! For even He fell multiple times and did until the end (though there is the not so fun realization that we will be falling over and we finally 'die' to ourselves....argh...)

But the ninth station- Jesus' last fall- was the one that struck me today. The station where I was praying at St. John's in Silver Spring had Jesus lying almost flat ontop of the cross. He looked desparate but you could sense that he was still going to get up because (well, because we know he does) but of His Love for us. I believe this image reflects what the author means about prayer and suffering being our first step.

You know in those moments Jesus was truly suffering, but at the same time praying to the Father for us and for strength. And then we all know what happens next- the prayer and suffering moves Him to continue up to Calvary and die. The words and action follow the prayer and suffering. Jesus was always moved this way.

I love the Stations of the Cross because there is no way to make the prayer ME focused. It ultimately always comes back to Jesus and His act of Salvation. HIS suffering. I can relate it to mine or others' situations, but not without first looking to Him.

I am praying that all aspects of my life can be so rooted in Him. That I will first look at Him in all things. His prayer and suffering can help us get through our first steps and move us to word or action.

God I love this book! ;)

Happy First Friday of Lent

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