Collect of the Day:
Listen to our prayers, God our salvation: make us hold fast to the light and work for the truth.
Just as you have made us children of light,
so make us worthy to bear witness to you before all the world.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever.
In today’s Epistle (2Timothy 1:1-3. 6-12) Saint Paul tells us:
“I am reminding you now to fan into a flame the gift that God gave you when I laid my hands on you. God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control.”
It is so easy to see in new converts the fire and passion that they feel for Christ, His Church and the spreading of the Gospel. As a Pastor it can be extremely heart warming and encouraging to witness, but as a Pastor we often know that this is the honeymoon period that one experiences in most, if not all new relationships. It has been said that this honeymoon period can last for up to two years, until reality sets in. It is here that we can find in the Church as well as in other aspects of life those ‘who are willing to run the race to the end,’ and those who will look for fulfillment in ‘greener pastures’.
In Church terms it can be likened to when a town has a Gospel Rally and at the ‘Altar Call’ hundreds may commit or give their lives to Christ. This again is inspiring and makes good publicity for the preacher, but if we check one month, one year latter how many would we find honouring the commitment they had made or making full use of the gift they received at that occasion?
Committing your life to Christ and the Gospel can not be an impulse based decision. It is a conversion that must be daily undertaken from the day of your commitment until you exit this ‘Vale of Tears’. Saint Paul tells Timothy that he must ‘fan into a flame the gift that God gave him’, and so must we on a daily basis if we are going to survive the emotionally dark times that often follow the ‘Honeymoon Period’ after conversion.
In every Christian life there will be times of great graces, but also times of great spiritual dryness where even the very thought of prayer or Church can seem a chore or even repulsive to our natural inclinations. These feelings have been felt by Christians in every age, from the most ordinary of us to the greatest of the Saints. It is at these times that we must not lose courage but rather cling to our devotions and God much more diligently. Anybody who has ever tendered a fire knows once the fanning stops the flame soon dies out. This is why so many so called ‘Born Again’ experiences end up being stillborn.
But Saint Paul goes on to tell Timothy that he did not receive ‘a spirit of timidity’, rather the ‘Spirit of power, love and self control’. So when we are in times of great graces we must build up our strength and power for the dark times that are sure to follow, being thankful for the graces but never taking them for granted or being prideful of them. Rather in love and self control we must discipline and order our lives so that with Saint Paul we can say:
“For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)
Straw into Gold
Struggling to find You in my heart
I wade through pain and confusion,
Impatience and isolation;
I wade through what I think should be;
I wade through judgments and anger;
I wade through what I wish could be.
How did these things I loathe get in my heart again?
How do I find You in this dark, painful heart?
Yet You are always here
And You are always near
Though sometimes hard for me to find.
I beg You to help me lose
These pains and distractions.
I surrender all I am to Your Will,
To Your Sacred Heart, once again.
And then I wait, on You my Lord.
You do not lift this pain right away.
But still I wait.
The stone on this tomb is too heavy for me, my Lord.
Please help soon!
As I struggle to prepare a place for You,
I encounter my fears, my pains,
My total dependence on You.
I look to You, Lord, for only You
Can strengthen and heal me.
“I am not worthy to receive You,
But only say the word and I shall be healed,”
I chant as I clean house in my heart.
Emptying my chalice, I wait for You to fill.
I will not move until You come.
Day after day, hour after hour,
I wait, I pray, I dig, I prepare.
My heart reaches for Your Sacred Heart.
I call for You, I open the doors wider.
Contemplating Your Sacred Heart,
I remember the Thorns, the Wound, the Cross.
You know the constant pain.
You know the rejection and isolation.
You know the desire for Your people
Burning in Your Heart, a Love unrequited.
And I have asked for Your Heart!
What did I expect?
Contemplating Your abandonment
To us on Your Cross,
I draw near to Your Altar of Sacrifice;
Accepting Your Pain in mine, I let Peace in.
As Your Peace enters my heart,
Your Light overcomes the shadows
And the straw of the place I prepared
For You to rest Your head
Is turned to Gold as Your Presence
Touches it and comes to rest.
As I receive Your Body and Blood,
Our Communion, our Covenant of Love, is completed.
As I become one with Your pain,
So I become one with Your Peace.
I receive You, Jesus, into my heart once again
As You are born anew in me.
Please make me a willing carrier
Of the desire of Your Sacred Heart.
Please make me a willing example
Of Your Love through pain.
O Sacred Heart inspire me
With Your Love that knows no bounds!
And turn the unworthy straw of my heart
Into the Gold of Your Presence!
(from The Sacred Heart online Retreat.)