October 28, 2015
by Thomas Purcell
Creighton University's Accounting Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Feast of Saints Simon and Jude, Apostles
Lectionary: 666

Ephesians 2:19-22
Psalm 19:2-3, 4-5
Luke 6:12-16

Praying Ordinary Time

Life is full right now, and I received the good grace of short readings for today that immediately spoke to me, and thus I am grateful as I write this reflection for my good fortune!

Psalm 19 sings to me because we sing it so often in church – Marty Haugen’s Canticle of the Sun.  “The heavens are telling the glory of God, and all creation is shouting for joy!   . . .  And sing, sing to the glory of the Lord!”  I often wonder what the original music sounded like when psalms were sung 2,500 and more years ago.  I suspect they were inspirational.  But today’s songwriters also do an excellent job of blending music and word to create a liturgical work that does what its words suggest – raise praise to God throughout creation.  When we sing we become like birds that burst with joy as their songs fill the quiet solitude of the forest.

At first the gospel reading was a little unclear, but then I realized Christ was praying for guidance as He chose the Apostles.  He spent the night praying to discern who among the many disciples should be chosen as the true first ministers and ambassadors. 

The story reminds me of how many times in my own life I have NOT followed what I know I should do in making important decisions.  I have been a student of Ignatian spirituality, and done Ignatian retreats, and the Spiritual Exercises, for most of the past 50 years.  I know intellectually and emotionally and spiritually that the Ignatian way of making decisions is a fruitful and valuable approach that aligns my actions with my perception of God’s will and call to me.

And yet, I will many times make quick decisions on issues that deserve more deliberation.  I might be in a hurry, or I might be under pressure to move something along, or to be expedient, or I haven’t even taken enough time to determine if the issue was important.  I get impatient with process and the prayer needed to fully discern what the aspects are of the issue, and how I should proceed.  I may be pre-disposed, and unwilling to admit it.  I may be indifferent, but not in the Ignatian sense of detachment but rather in the emotional sense of not being invested very deeply.  My concerns with what is directly in front of me at that moment outweigh what I know in my heart should be considered as I make a choice.

And sometimes I realize too late that I am in a position of commitment (that I perhaps should not be in) that could have been avoided if I had been more deliberate, if I had been more patient with the process, if I had prayed and LISTENED more as part of my decision.  My regret turns to resolve, which then sometimes dissipates in the face of pressure or impatience or expediency.

And so my prayer today is not only for the freedom to sing out in glory when I encounter the awesomeness of God’s gift of creation, but also for the grace of faith in the process of making good decisions, for patience with discerning the will of God, and for detachment from the things in my life that pull me farther from God.

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