Prayer (again)

It seems that a lot of people at St Bede’s are thinking about prayer this lent, and I really appreciate all the thoughts about prayer people have been posting on the blog. I was also really struck by the ideas in the readings on Sunday, about seeing and not seeing, about light, and about our ideas surrounding disability. This community always inspires me to think deeper and more complexly about my assumptions, and hopefully that prompts me to change my worldview for the better. I’m not sure I can put all the ideas that are swirling around in my head down on a blog post, so today, I’ll just stick with thinking about prayer.

Many of the posts on the blog have caused me to think about prayer, but a few stand out in particular. One is Andrew’s post about prayer and how we shouldn’t pray the way others like to pray, but we should pray in the best way for ourselves. Another has been Mohan’s post about how to listen for God, and Ethan’s post about empathy. These posts have helped me think about prayer as more of a relationship, and have made me realise how terrible I really am in conversations with God.

I do prayer a lot different than I do conversations with any other person. I talk much more about myself and my problems, I whine quite a lot more, and I talk a whole lot more. I have found that a prayer journal is not good for me because I end up using too many words. Instead, I have resolved to take more time to just be with God, to listen for God, and to find my own way of praying.

~Pamela

Laetare Sunday

Today is Laetare Sunday, known at St. Bede’s as “Pink Stole Sunday” because the liturgical colour for today is rose.

It is also tradition on Laetare Sunday to make a simnel cake. Here is the recipe:

 

Combine the following ingredients and bake in a greased loaf pan at 300 for one hour

½ butter

1 cup flour

½ cup sugar

2 ounces candied citron peel

1½ cups currants (or raisins)

2 eggs

 

Cool the cake on a rack, then slice and wrap individual slices in foil or plastic wrap.

 

Food is a wonderful way of marking the changing seasons of the year. During Lent it is traditional to eat pretzels. Here is a recipe for them:

1 ½ cups water

A pinch of sugar

1 tsp yeast

4 cups flour

Salt

 

Kneed into dough, adding flour as needed. Divide into 16 equal portions. Roll each one out and shape into a pretzel. Place on cookie sheet and bake in pre-heated oven at 425 for 12-15 minutes. You may coat them with egg and sprinkle with salt.

 

What do you do to mark the changing seasons of the year?

 

Philip

This Lent, I’ve set out to spend a non-trivial amount of time everyday reflecting, reading and praying. If you’re like me, this normally only happens in irregular spurts.A passage I was reminded of recently by a friend is 1 Kings 19:9-18. Most specifically:

11 The Lord said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

A whisper! Let us pray for the grace to listen and perceive.

Staying with the theme, I’ve spent a bit of time reading blogs and articles about how God speaks. A few articles I found made some interesting (to me) observations. For most of the Old Testament, God mostly speaks directly to prophets or ‘designated individuals’, let’s say. In the New Testament, God speaks to people through Jesus. And the subject matter is never about the personal goings on of day to day life. The focus is always much larger – the people of Israel, for example. This seems plain and obvious now, but maybe it’s a curious insight when you first think about it like it was for me.

How do we expect to hear God, and what shapes those expectations? Perhaps, if we listen, we’ll hear God in the Word, or our communities, the church and other people.

Grant us the grace to be still and listen.

Mohan

The Human Condition

How do you perceive Jesus when you think of him as a perfect human being?

The concept of God’s perfection as a diety is easier to grasp for me as I perceive God, in part, as the abstract representation of perfect truth, justice, and love among other things. These are ideals that do exist in a perfect state, we just do not find them on earth. The human incarnation of Jesus is a different story. Jesus was both perfectly divine and perfectly human. I have a handle on the perfectly divine part (at least I think I do), but what about the perfect human part? What does it mean to be a perfect human? In the past, I would perceive Jesus – in his perfection – as someone who was always in control of his thoughts and emotions, never too high and never too low. Of course there is scripture which reveals that Jesus showed anger (with the merchants in the temple) as well as worry and apprehension (while praying leading up to the time when he would be arrested). For some reason I would disregard those particular passages when forming my concept of Jesus as a perfect human being. But obviously they cannot be disregarded. Since Jesus was human, he must have experienced the full range of human emotions. Jesus’ perfection was demonstrated by the fact that his emotional response would always be appropriate given the situation. Perhaps the Pharisees focused their concentration on the law so much because it is easier to define and strive for that version of higher ideals. But it is also less important than the human condition which is why we so needed Jesus to provide us with an example and show us the way.

Alan

Patience

I know what you are all thinking, “This winter is driving me crazy” and “I wish spring could come sooner!” I have been there, but we all need patience. It is an important life lesson that we all have not fully learned yet. Even Jesus’ disciples have been impatient from time to time. We all want something right now! I want an iPhone but I am told I have to wait a year. I really want that device so I can communicate with my friends, but I have to wait and I have to live with it.

Even though Spring officially started a week ago, it does not feel like it, therefore we have to wait. I was feeling sick this week, with laryngitis and I have to wait for this affliction to disappear. Hopefully the sun will come out soon and heat up all the snow!

Laura Anthony (11 years old)

The “Romero Prayer”, university academics, and perfectionism

Probably around this time last year, Megan shared with us the Romero Prayer, part of a homily written by Catholic Bishop Ken Untener but often misattributed to Bishop Oscar Romero. It’s a profoundly encouraging and reassuring piece of writing, and I keep a copy of it posted on my wall. There are a couple parts that often jump out at me:

Nothing we do is complete,
Which is a way of saying
That the Kingdom always lies beyond us. […]

We cannot do everything,
And there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.
This enables us to do something,
And to do it very well.
It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way,
An opportunity for God’s grace to enter and do the rest.
We may never see the end results,
But that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

Bishop Untener’s homily was originally written “for a celebration of departed priests” (see link above), so it might seem to be oriented more towards an audience of ministers to encourage them in the work they do. But it occurred to me recently that it could have applications in my life as a student, as well.

I’m a notorious perfectionist, and I always want to do a thorough job on the assignments I’m given. But as I progress in my degree – and over the last couple terms especially – the workload has increased, and some of the work has become more intimidating. For example, if I’m planning original research, I can get overwhelmed when reviewing all the literature for a particular topic, and when coming up with a research plan that will hopefully answer my research question and prove my hypothesis. But the Romero Prayer’s reminders – that “we cannot do everything”, and that “we may never see the end results” – are indeed liberating, even in this area of life. Even if I know that one of my assignments isn’t going to be completed as thoroughly or as thoughtfully as I’d like it to, I can usually trust that I’m learning skills from it that will be useful later on. And even if I don’t cover everything in my literature review or come up with something earth-shattering in the research process, it can still provide greater evidence in a certain direction, and allow others to build from it.

This is one area where I’ve found the Romero Prayer applicable to my life, but I think the principle applies for any part of our lives where we’ve decided to serve God. It could be through our work, through our volunteering, through our friendships, or maybe even through our studies.

Some of the work will be frustrating. Some of it definitely won’t feel like worship. And some of it will be incomplete. But it can still be a beginning, a step along the way, and even if we don’t accomplish everything we set out to do, God’s grace can enter and do the rest.

Jonathan

Relay for Life

This will be my third year of participating in the Relay for Life, an event that raises money and awareness for the Canadian Cancer Society. My first time was during my Grade 12 year through my high school, and I was a team captain. Taking a leadership class in my senior year was probably what strengthened my desire to be an event planner, but doing the Relay for Life ever year is something that constantly re-inspires me to go the path of non-profit.

My friend Jennie, like myself, was part of the group organizing teams at our high school. Jennie had recently lost her grandfather to prostate cancer. She held a brave face at school, and in our nine years of friendship (now eleven years) I had never seen her break. For those who haven’t had a chance to participate, the Relay for Life provides luminaries that you can decorate in honour of someone you love who is currently battling, has battled, or has lost the fight against cancer. Jennie made a few that night, for friends of the family and other family members as well as her grandfather. They laid the luminaries along the track, and Jennie asked me to come with her. I wasn’t really sure why I was needed, but I went with her to visit her grandfather’s luminary … and then it became clear why I was needed.

I have been fortunate to not lose anyone to cancer, but I had to hold back tears as I held my best friend as she broke down. As close as we were before, I think that moment bonded us even more.

r4l-newspaper

From left to right: Myself, Jordy, Jennie (the angel), Maryam

Kaitlyn

Annunciation

Tomorrow is the feast of the Annunciation, so I would like to write about that today. I think that what we think about this story says a lot about what we think about many things. Does God force Mary to be the mother of Jesus? Would it have been wrong for Mary to say no?

The actual text of the story is not very clear about all this. However, there has been a long-held tradition in the Church that Mary was perfectly free to say no, and that God would not have held it against her in the slightest. I think this is a wonderful interpretation of the story.

There are several implications to this view. Choice becomes extremely important: the choice of a woman whether or not to become pregnant, and the choice of a person whether or not to collaborate with God in the transformation of this world.

Mary chooses the hard, terrifying, wonderful thing. Not out of fear of sinning, or simply out of obedience to God. Rather, she says yes freely. It was an act of grace.

Which brings us to the question I want to end this blog post with: what might we say yes to?

Philip

Walking Ten Thousand Miles

“Thank you for calling the personal credits information line, my name is Ethan, how may I help you?”

These words are spoken chirpily, with a mix of both dread and curiosity. Chirpy, because the client demands it; dread, because there’s always the possibility of receiving abuse directed at the client; and curiosity, because who wouldn’t be curious?

Most of my work is mundane and procedural: change of addresses, questions about deadlines, explanations about paperwork, and the like. But it’s the steady drip of personal stories which frankly will make someone as cold-hearted as Ioseb Jugashvili reflect on self-purpose and worth.

From the man who used four-letter words to describe incidents in residential schools and hurled them at me…to the couple who say they need money for renovations or else their home will be condemned…to the grandmother who plans to take a creative writing course to write a book about her fourteen years in (her words) “that hellhole”…to another grandmother who complained about “us real Indians” being ignored by “those people”. But why should I feel emotional about it? After all, it’s not like I can complain about my pay.

None of this comes as a surprise to anyone. But Zhuge Liang summed it up best when he said that reading ten thousand scrolls is not worth walking ten thousand miles. In his day, of course, walking literally meant walking.

As anyone who’s ever hiked back-country knows, those ten thousand miles will be riven with twists, turns, and obstacles. No one expects me to work on aboriginal issues for too long, but this is what I view from my location.

How has the view changed along your walk?

 

Ethan