Monday, February 23, 2015

"God is nuts about you and if you want to change your life, spend 10 minutes each day with God" Homily at Free Spirit Inclusive Catholic Community, Greenville, North Carolina by Ann Harrington, ARCWP

Ann Harrington, ARCWP presiding at celebration of Eucharist on First Sunday of Lent in Greenville, North Carolina

            Last month those who attended our liturgy each put their name on a candle holder and placed it on the altar with their prayers.  At the end of the service we each took a holder with someone's name, not our own.  I had done this on retreat and thought it was a great way to encourage prayer.  I hope it did.  I suggest those of you who did take a candle last time may want to write a card or email  the person you prayed for and tell them what you prayed for them and  what it was like praying for your person.   I have decided to give one of my cherished books to the person I prayed for.   We are building community here.  Community is built on prayer.  To quote Alfred Lord Tennyson:  “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.”

            In the season of Lent, holy mother church, reminds us to renew our prayer life.  Thus I thought it a good idea to center our reflection time around prayer.  The first prayer experience I remember was my Dad teaching me the Sign of the Cross and the Hail Mary.  We never prayed as a family, not even before meals.  Years, later when I was in my agnostic phase, I was friends with a lovely couple who were Catholics in the Charismatic Renewal movement,  Rose Mary and Jim.  Jim said a beautiful blessing at a meal and I was very touched by the poetry of the words and the intimate way that he spoke to God.  So prayer seemed to me to be a conversation, at least as he was praying.  Around the same time I had a conversion experience and returned to church and started going to Jim and Rose Mary's prayer meetings and I learned to pray like them.  In the same time frame a wonderful priest mentioned this in  a homily.  

God is nuts about you and if you want to change your life, spend 10 minutes each day with just God.  Go to a quiet place and just be.  I knew my life had to change, I felt something longing inside me, something wanting to emerge, so I did as Fr. Valentine suggested and started praying everyday when the boys were napping.  I read a book on Centering Prayer and did that as best I could.  More times than not I fell asleep.  But I read where Teresa of Liseux said that was OK.  The intention was to be in God's presence.  Everyday at 1pm or so, I turned off the phone and sat quietly.  More and more I felt like I was getting the hang of it.  Not that it was easy, but I found it did something profound.  It revealed  a thirst for God or maybe I just got in touch with God's longing for me.  Eventually I did attend a Centering Prayer retreat and learned more of this technique.  And it did lead to radical changes in my life. good life enhancing changes.  

In Spiritual Direction we encourage people to find that thing that brings them to that deeper level of existence, those "aha" moments.  We have talked about these before.  I hope this Lent you will spend more of your time being in those prayerful places.  Perhaps you even want to explore a new prayer practice, there are many to choose from.  Let the Spirit be your guide.

Reflection question:  What is your experience of prayer?

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