When one door closes…

November 6, 2009 | prayer

OK, well, technically my door didn’t just close. It was removed and hauled off by carpenters. And it was three doors — two in the front and one in the back. This was a huge project we’ve been wanting to do for years and it’s one of reasons I was not able to post yesterday. It was complete chaos here with three workers in our kitchen and front entry, cold air blowing through the house, children doing their usual thing and four events between the hours of 3:30 and 7 p.m. So I hope you’ll forgive me for missing my Thursday blog day. I did think of all of you around 9:30 p.m. and considered the prospect of hopping on the computer and writing something quick, but I really doubted that I could come up with anything coherent at that point.

So it’s Friday, and today promises to be no less crazy than yesterday. Later this afternoon I head downstate to visit with my grandmother. Tomorrow I present my workshop, “Lost Generation: Reaching Adult Catholics Disconnected from the Church,” to the catechists of the Archdiocese of Newark. Lots of prep work left to do even though I’ve given this workshop multiple times.

But I want to leave you with some spiritual thoughts for today and tomorrow…

Every night before bed, I read a reflection from Nearer to the Heart of God: Daily Readings with the Christian Mystics, and last night’s reading really struck a chord. It was a passage by Richard Baxter from The Saints’ Everlasting Rest, and it talked about how God is “in earnest” with us even when we are not in earnest with him, how the Holy Spirit is “grieved” when we resist him, how God is “afflicted with us” and regards every “groan and sigh” we utter.

I loved this image and this reminder. Grieved and afflicted are usually words that convey negative feelings, but in this case those words are flipped on their heads in a way that makes us feel loved and wanted. God yearns for us, aches for our attention. What a beautiful reality. It made me flash back to the days when I was writing the Complete Idiot’s Guide to the Catholic Catechism. I was working on the chapter that focuses on the Holy Spirit and I came to the part where the catechism quotes St. Paul and tells us that the Holy Spirit is the “master of prayer” who intercedes in our lives “with sighs too deep for words.”

“Sighs too deep for words.” I remember that phrase hitting me like a ton of bricks when I was writing. I just stopped everything I was doing to ponder that thought. When it comes to Trinity, the Holy Spirit probably gets the least of my attention. OK, that should be definitely gets the least of my attention. I tend to go directly to Father and/or Son. I love the idea of the Holy Spirit, but rarely call on the Spirit — unless it’s a weekend like this one when I’m going to speak in public. Then I call on the Holy Spirit and beg for the right words, the right tone, the right message for that particular audience. But imagining the Spirit sighing on my behalf, breathing Life into my life, grieving when I’m unaware of His presence, that gives me such incredible comfort.

So today, this weekend, as you go about your busy lives, take a moment to listen for the sighs of the Spirit whispering in the background. Open a door and let the Spirit slip in.

“In the same way, the Spirit too comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit itself intercedes with inexpressible groanings. And the one who searches hearts knows what is the intention of the Spirit, because it intercedes for the holy ones according to God’s will.” (Romans 8:26-27)



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