It’s only day 1 and Pope Francis is already doing work and changing lives. Mine included. I love him already as a father-figure… is that odd?
Today has been a huge lesson of humility for me. Some of my thoughts included the settling reality of yesterday’s events, other thoughts were Pope Francis’ agenda for his first day, and also what he has already been teaching us about humility through small gestures. For example, this man paid the hotel bill. And last night, he rode the bus with his brother cardinals instead of the PopeMobile. Humility.
Back to the lesson—I won’t get into much detail about the inner workings of my soul because that’s just too complicating to articulate in a post, especially in the public blogosphere, but I will share what I have already reflected on and applied to prayer, through the words Pope Francis shared in his first homily as Pontiff this afternoon. Hopefully this’ll help someone out there in some way. Or maybe this is just one way God is calling me to exercise humility. Either way, hang tight.
If you weren’t able to watch the Mass, read the text of his homily here.
In his homily, Pope Francis broke down today’s Gospel into three parts: walking, building, and professing. What hit me in particular were the words he spoke on professing:
Professing: we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a pitiful NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rocks, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sand castles: everything collapses, it is without consistency. When one does not profess Jesus Christ – I recall the phrase of Leon Bloy – “Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.” When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.
That last line…ouch. How true is this?
Those words entered my ears and haven’t left since. All afternoon since the conclusion of the Mass, I sat in my office with questions I yearned to ask myself and the Lord, but it was too noisy—internally speaking. It wasn’t until my time in the Adoration Chapel when I was finally able to delve deeper into my soul to dig out the rationale of that statement’s resonance.
Quite honestly, my journey through this Lenten season has been very trying. We are more than halfway through the this liturgical season now and I feel as though I haven’t been denying myself as much as I should be, praying as much as I should be, or even professing as much as I should be. Certainly there’s been plenty of walking and building for me. In addition to those mentioned, there has also been a whole lot of stretching. Please pray for me.
Working downstairs from a Perpetual Adoration Chapel is one of the greatest blessings in my life. While that is the case, it has also challenged me in my faith life. I would think that having the Blessed Sacrament exposed 24/7 in my workplace would make me be in there as often as I want, whenever I want, praying for my own intentions and for the parish I serve. Nonetheless, I was there frequently, but sadly, it isn’t what it used to be. Going through the motions is the common thread as of late. The “comfort” was too easy to remain in. My prayers were merely requests. There would be thanksgiving from time to time, but the true quality time the Lord sought from me wasn’t there. The real communication was lacking, and like any working relationship, you can’t endure without communication. I talked to God plenty, but with Him? There’s plenty of room for improvement there.
“‘Whoever does not pray to God, prays to the devil.’ When one does not profess Jesus Christ, one professes the worldliness of the devil.” At first I was taken aback but then it hit me like a ton of bricks. To me (maybe this is because I’m still in my rookie year of youth ministry), balancing your personal prayer time and your prayer time in/for ministry is one of the hardest tasks ever. It took a good two months before I realized my personal prayer time as a daughter of God takes precedent over my vocation as a youth minister, and it took more months to be affirmed of that through my shortcomings. Those shortcomings brought about added stress, frustration, impatience, doubt, insecurity…the list goes on.
Today I was reminded of how I was made for more and that these shortcomings have been prohibiting the Holy Spirit from using me in unsurpassable ways. We all do this in some form. I would be comforted, not by what the Lord offered me, but the world—materialism, escaping reality from getting caught up in TV shows, or wasting away on social media outlets. I would let time pass until the next “high” scratched surface again. “My job is prayer” seemed to be the unspoken excuse for myself. Wrong. So wrong. This is not the way to be living a life professing Christ. While those things of “comfort” mentioned aren’t necessarily bad, I abused my freedom and they left me with unhappiness. “Am I happy?” Of course I am happy, but truly—is my soul happy? I asked myself in front of the Lord. “No”, I admitted. I am too caught up in the worldliness, the worldliness of the devil…and I refuse to remain this way. It’s time I fight back.
Pope Francis is a very humble man and I am humbled by the words spoken through him. My true happiness isn’t currently present in my heart because I haven’t been professing Christ in all that I say and do. It’s time I fight back.
I knelt there with full confidence in the Lord’s guidance, but my human nature asked what am I to do or say so that I may allow the guidance to take place? Jesus’ gentle and comforting response: “Do nothing. Say nothing. Be humble.”
In that instant, I looked up and gazed upon the Blessed Sacrament and it hit me once again. There. He is humility. Jesus is humbled before me. My God is humbled before me. All He asks is that I humble myself and spend more time with Him! Is that too much to ask? No.
Once I got home, I waited for my food to cook and actually decided on praying Vespers. And it just so happened that this was the Reading:
Submit to God; resist the devil and he will take flight. Draw close to God, and he will draw close to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, you backsliders. Begin to lament, to mourn, and to weep; let your laugher be turned into mourning and your joy into sorrow. Be humbled in the sight of the Lord and He will raise you on high. (James 4:7-10 NAB)
So be it.